This week’s edition of Raw is called the “Season Premiere” episode even though there’s not a season finale. It’s just WWE’s way of trying to pretend like they are a normal TV show with ends and beginning even though it’s just another episode.
For this week’s Canton’s Corner, I decided to try something a little different by inviting TJRWrestling’s Smackdown reviewer Jake Draper to talk with me about three topics. What we’ll do is list the topic, then go back and forth on it as best we can before moving on to the next one. Easy, right? Yes.
Topic #1: Will Seth Rollins lose the WWE Title at Night of Champions?
Canton: There’s this rumor or belief or whatever you want to call it that Rollins is facing Sting first, then Cena and that’s pissing people off. I’m not sure what the order will be, but if Rollins/Sting is on earlier then that makes me think Rollins is keeping the WWE Title. I think Cena winning back the US Title is a lock. It was just some short term reign for Rollins because WWE wanted to make headlines with Jon Stewart costing Cena the US Title. Now that it’s gone, put it back on Cena. I doubt Sting leaves as WWE Champion, but to be honest it would be cool just to see it. I’m torn on my prediction. I tell people I haven’t made up my mind yet and they get mad at me!
Draper: If Sting wins then it would be a big deal, but I don’t think him pinning Rollins clean is a good idea. Maybe Kane returns (ugh). It would be neat and protect everyone involved, but I do sense that Triple H/Rollins dissection coming so having Rollins walk in with everything and leave with nothing will help that get done. And on Smackdown one of the announcers did say, “Rollins has to face Sting, THEN he’s got to face John Cena too!” So, I’m pretty sure that’s the plan, even though Sting in a World Title scenario is what I would call the real main event.
Canton: I think you could even have J&J Security show up out of nowhere (shut up Cole) to distract Sting and help Rollins win. Then on Raw the next night that’s when Kane comes back for revenge. If the goal is to have Rollins hold the WWE Title until WrestleMania then I don’t want him to lose. Plus, Sting is 56 years old and I think a guy that old is too old to win it even if it’s all just a fictional prop anyway. It just wouldn’t be the spark that WWE needs right now.
By the way, shouldn’t Lesnar get a WWE Title shot since he never lost and never had a finish to his match? Oh right I guess we’re going to forget about that.
There’s also the Sheamus factor. He teased cashing in on Raw and Smackdown this week. Is it time? My feeling is no, but admittedly I never guess cash-ins right.
Draper: I definitely think Sting losing is best, but then we are going to have him coming in to be 0-2 and it just seems useless. Though Sting is pretty old school and I’m sure he’s more than willing to do the job, but from a business standpoint McMahon is paying him to show up and lose even with his “legendary” status.
Lesnar probably won’t get a title shot because he doesn’t NEED the title to be a huge deal. As much as I love him, I can appreciate that Rollins makes every single show, even the “B show.” It’s like with The Rock or Sting, he’s kind of a special attraction champion.
And with Sheamus it’s meh. Normally they don’t tease the cash-in before they actually do it to throw us off, but I’m not sure. It’s an easy way out of making anyone look bad at NoC. Plus, going back to Sheamus’ big push early in his career, him and Triple H are close and maybe they’ll have that play into a story where Triple H is testing Rollins with him. I honestly don’t think they know if he’s cashing yet and it will be decided like…within 24 hours of the show.
Canton: I’m still of the belief that Rollins holds the WWE Title until WrestleMania 32 and they do the Shield triple threat match there. At least that’s what I want to see.
Topic #2: The Divas Title match on Raw and a potential new champion
Canton: Next topic is the Divas Title situation. I complain about Nikki Bella’s awful promos in the Raw Deal a lot even though I don’t mind her in the ring. Do you think there will be a Divas Title change on Monday’s Raw, which would prevent Nikki from getting the Divas Title record that she keeps mentioning? Or is the change coming at a later date?
Draper: I’m thinking this is a way to get us to HOPE Charlotte wins the title, but Nikki is going to break the record. I mean, I’m not exactly angry about it only because it’s not like it’s an incredibly prestigious record quite yet. The title is only seven years old. And the record for longest World Title reign is eight years. If this was the Women’s Championship of yore then I absolutely would rampage of Nikki Bella were to break that record, but it’s more than possible that the very next person who holds that same belt breaks it. And her promos are awful. She’s not as bad in the ring as she used to be, but when she talks I sometimes consider what it would be like to light firecrackers inside of my ears.
Canton: I think it will be something where they have the match before the record comes to an end, then Charlotte’s about to win and Brie/Alicia end up causing the disqualification. Then they do the rematch at Night of Champions next Sunday with Charlotte getting the title. That makes sense to me as a way to build up the win more. The NOC match could have a stipulation that guarantees no interference too. Not saying it should be a cage match, but just something that suggests there won’t be interference.
Hopefully once they do the title change they can focus less on the teams and more on the title. I’m tired of the teams.
Draper: I’m very tired of the teams too. They’re stretching out the time to incorporate all the Divas instead of having it focus on a couple at a time and it’s hurting them individually. Like, a 3 on 3 match given 12 minutes means each girl gets 2 minutes to shine. 1 on 1 they both get all the time. Which is why I’m considering the idea that the teams start splitting on Monday and Charlotte loses because her own team screws up. I’m sure WWE knows it’s for the best to let the women have more time to show that they’re good at stuff other than random brawls.
Canton: I think most fans would agree that they have taken several steps in the right direction with the “divas revolution” thing, but they need to keep the focus on the title. It also wouldn’t be a bad thing if they called it the “Women’s Title” again although they may never get back to that.
Draper: I’ve been thinking that too. “Divas” kinda implies that they’re somewhat catty and juvenile. I mean, it’s not like it’s sexist, but it’s definitely an odd term to use considering how “PC” WWE is constantly trying to be. A metal butterfly just screams that it’s a high school girl’s belt and not a strong woman. With the crazy athletic and brutal style of the women they have now I think it’s time to go back to “Women’s Division.” But, they probably won’t because that’s not as easy to brand.
Canton: Yeah I know it’s all about branding. I just think it’s easier to say Women’s Title and have it mean more than the stupid WWE buzzwords. Sometimes they overdo it. This is one of those times. The moral of the story is…cut back on the Nikki Bella promos. Please.
Draper: In the end that’s all we asked for. It’s like watching Mean Girls…except not clever at all like Mean Girls.
Canton: I watched that once when I was drunk. Just like I wish I was drunk during a Nikki Bella promo.
Draper: I’ve found that self-harm is a good way to kill the pain.
Topic #3: The future direction of WWE for the rest of this year
Draper: The last topic I think would be cool to touch on the future direction the WWE is going to need to go. The ratings are sinking, in no small part to the NFL, and it happens every year and usually they respond with a Cena title win when ratings slump. Obviously Cena’s place is with the U.S. Title now, so I wonder what stops they’ll pull out to try dragging in a few new “casual” viewers now that we are so far from another big PPV (The Royal Rumble) and they need to hook people in order to sell the Network.
Canton: I think it would be cool to see Undertaker and Sting on the same team at Survivor Series. Plus, it is Undertaker’s 25th year in WWE so that would be cool. I don’t think he’s going to be there, though. Other than that, I think they’ll just go through the motions the rest of the year. No major heel turns or angles. They’ll save the big stuff for January because it’s important that they get as many people as possible in the crowd at WrestleMania 32. Of course, they’re going to say 100,000 even if it’s 75,000 people.
Draper: Undertaker is booked to compete in October on their Mexican tour, so I’m hard-pressed to believe they won’t utilize his drawing ability on TV. I feel like they want something “big” to happen, but it won’t be huge to their hardcore audience.
Stuff like putting the World Title on Cena every time ratings fall isn’t what WE want, but I guess fans who know who he is but don’t watch every Monday might kick it on. I’m probably going to cancel my Network subscription until January since things are looking pretty dull until then, and if I’m considering it then I’m sure other people are too. They’ll need to pull out some stops in order to prevent that.
Canton: They know that the audience is lower in these four months and there’s not much that is going to change things. It’s not just the NFL, which I love, but other first run television shows. WWE is used to it, though. The ratings don’t matter as much as they used to although Vince is probably grumpy about it these days.
Draper: Their big concern is the Network. A while back when they were struggling to get numbers up they had a poll about what it would take to get people to sign up and it was like 80% of people said they just wanted a better weekly product. Coming off of a (pardon my pun) hot SummerSlam, those numbers sinking a significant amount is going to cause some panic. Sure, they’ll get them back, but losing money for four months isn’t going to make them happy. It’s not like WWE will go out of business, but they definitely don’t like when a dollar comes up short and try preventing it.
Canton: Yeah people want more new content on WWE Network and really all they add that’s extra is a that October house show in New York City. There are also two NXT Takeover specials in October and December. For a guy like me, I’m always going to have WWE Network because it helps with what I do, but I can definitely see why casual fans are going to be turned off to it in the next four months.
Maybe they’ll do some big angle to draw people in. I just don’t know what that is except maybe a Dean Ambrose heel turn. Even something like that would be better if it was done in January either at the Royal Rumble or right before it.
Draper: I guess, combining the three, the Divas are having a decent draw now because it’s getting around that they’re real, true athletes. So putting the title on one of the new girls would definitely help the product. On the same note, Sting is a huge draw and they might consider a short title run for him to help get eyes on the product. Odds are, you’re right, business like usual, but maybe they’ll pull a fast one and try surprising us.
Canton: Surprise is fun for the viewer and great for page views! Problem is, I’m not sure what surprises they have left, if any.
Draper: A JOHN CENA HEEL TURN. Ha. Because that’s what everyone has been saying for 12 years.
Canton: I wish somebody could write a fantasy booking article about that! (Now that’s sarcasm.)
That’s it for the chat. Thanks to Jake for joining me. Let me know what you guys thought about that section because I liked it and will probably be doing it again possibly with our NXT reviewer Kurt, but I always want to hear your opinions on it.
Five Quick Hits
1. My advice to wrestlers not in WWE that are on social media is to just delete everything you’ve ever posted because you probably said something stupid that some 14 year old will look up when they’re bored in school. Then they’ll post about it on Reddit and WWE loves Reddit, so then you’re screwed.
Then in every interview you do, say the following statement: “I was influenced by a lot of people, but nobody more than Triple H. His path to the top really inspired me to be a pro wrestler.”
That comment about Triple H doesn’t have to be true. It’s all about the game and how you play it.
2. I listened to Steve Austin’s podcast with Jake Roberts recently. It was so good. Austin on his own is awesome because he’s so honest about everything and he really got the best out of Roberts. I wish Roberts worked for WWE as an agent, but even better if he was on the creative team in a position to make decisions. He’s one of the smarter wrestlers ever that could really help them right now. Listen to it here.
3. Once in a while I get people asking me about certain wrestlers not being used right. The one that comes to mind for me is Damien Sandow. He had such a great connection with the crowd doing the Damien Mizdow act with The Miz and then when that ended, they had nothing for him except a Macho Man impression. Really WWE? You should do better.
What does the creative team do all week when they can’t think of ideas for a guy who the fans loved? It’s pretty sad. I feel bad for the guy because he worked his ass off to get over, he got there and then there was no follow up.
4. I love how WWE has booked the new Wyatt Family. It’s exactly what they need right now: dominant heels. There are too many cheap heels, so seeing Braun Strowman no sell everything is actually good. People will complain about it soon, but I don’t mind it one bit. It will mean more when he does sell something down the line.
5. Great match by Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler on Main Event. I don’t always watch Main Event, but I like to read the results and if there’s an intriguing matchup I’ll watch it. They show it on Saturdays on TV here in Canada, so I DVR’d it and watched it this morning. Great stuff from two of the best workers in WWE. Owens won clean with the Popup Powerbomb.
Wrap It Up
That’s all for now. As I always say, my goal with Canton’s Corner is to get this posted on Saturdays or Sundays. I missed last week because the Writer Search kept me busy. I should be able to commit to it weekly now although I may not do it on PPV weekends.
No more live Raw Deal or the rest of the year since the NFL is back. It will be posted on Tuesday around 12pmET or so.
Have a great week. Go Blue Jays. Go Rams.
John Canton –firstname.lastname@example.org