Two weeks removed from Extreme Rules, a number of different thoughts come to mind. Whether it’s the progression of feuds, the end of feuds, or even the new alliances that have developed moving forward, it was a pay per view with a great deal of payoff. The elephant in the room is unquestionably the return of former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. The return was met with a huge ovation, and as fans embraced his return and attack on Reigns, their joy was either because they were genuinely happy to see Rollins return or grateful for the beatdown he gave after Reigns was victorious in his match against AJ Styles. The night after Extreme Rules, Rollins managed to turn those cheers into jeers, as fans displayed their displeasure to his reaction to their ovation. Given the lack of heels, Rollins’ return came at just the right time, too. The timing of his return was incredible, as the recovery time for a torn ACL is generally nine months to a year for most people. However, Rollins isn’t like most people, and his body was able to recover quicker and he returned three months ahead of schedule. The attack on Reigns allows Rollins to pick up immediately where he left off back in the fall. What is great is that the storyline of his never being beaten for the title has become the focal point for the match up at Money In the Bank.
An interesting point to note is that the rumor leading into that event when Reigns defeated Ambrose in the finals of the tournament was that he was initially booked to defeat Rollins regardless. As it turned out, Rollins was unfortunately hurt weeks before and wasn’t able to defend his title. Of course, Reigns captured the title regardless and lost it on the same night to Sheamus. So now we have the feud WWE wanted Reigns and Rollins to have in the fall. As it stands now, the program between these two should take us through the summer.
The Ambrose/Jericho Asylum Match was not for the weak of stomach, after the infamous thumbtack spot. However, for everyone that celebrated Jericho’s courage in having thumbtacks stuck into him, there are others questioning if he really needed to do it? At 45 years of age, Jericho has proven to be a leader both in the ring and out, so him being the one to take it was unnecessary in some fans’ eyes. It could be something he wanted to do because it’s a spot that he hasn’t done, and shows he isn’t above those types of things. There is an adage out there that says don’t do anything to someone else that you wouldn’t be alright with having happen to yourself. It probably applies to Jericho in this instance.
Where exactly does that put the likes of AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose? After their matches at Extreme Rules, both men competed in a Money In the Bank qualifying match. While Ambrose qualified for his match, Styles lost his match against Kevin Owens. So what does that mean for Styles now moving forward? Fans thought his push has been stymied, but that was hard to believe given his performances on the last two pay per views. The future direction for Styles was revealed a week later when he turned heel and beat down John Cena. So it seems like the man who was to a large extent the face of TNA for many years and had moved on from battling the WWE champ to battling the man who has been face of WWE for the last ten plus years. Clearly Styles is still being treated as a top of the card performer, even if his last three pay per view matches have been losses. And a match or series of matches against Cena has to have fans happy, as for many years that had been a dream match, and one that fans expressed a desire to see when AJ debuted at the Royal Rumble.
With Jericho being put in the Money In the Bank match up, the company has another top level heel to compete in this particular match. We saw the sacrifices Jericho is willing to make. As we move into the Money In The Bank match, there is no telling what types of bumps this 45 year old is willing to take to help put on a good show. What is great about this particular match is that it will allow for some great combinations of talent. Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose are among the men slated to take part in this match up, and we are sure to have something special come about. In fact, an early prediction by many have said that Kevin Owens may walk away with the briefcase. If that is the case, than I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar to what we witnessed two years ago between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. If you recall, Ambrose tried to make Rollins’ life a living hell by always interrupting his attempts to cash in the Money In The Bank briefcase. So perhaps Sami Zayn could do that to Kevin Owens, since the animosity between them doesn’t seem to end.
After the dust settled from Extreme Rules, we had a new United States Champion in Rusev. With Rusev re-capturing the title from Kalisto, this either sets up a program between the current champion and former champion or sets up the current champion to once again be booked as a monster heel that terrorizes his competition on the WWE roster. It did him and the roster right to have the Bulgarian brute portrayed in such a destructive light. What is somewhat confusing is Lana’s appearance and her character’s direction. It’s rather strange to see her no longer as a ring announcer for Rusev, but instead the happy and supportive fiancée and not someone that can control his professional future.
A spin that could be put on her character isn’t necessarily new, but could be effective since it would be portrayed by a female. Some wrestling fans will recall that during the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers’ run in the WWF, they were the ‘all-American’ boys. It was obnoxious because they weren’t really American, and appeared to be mocking the country they said they had now embraced. Could an idea like that work for Lana? Many fans are aware that Lana is in fact American. However, for storyline purposes it could work to have her now act (because she already does dress much more contemporary) like she is proud of America, but really doesn’t like Americans. It may be the best idea, but if she is supposed to simply be Rusev’s fiancé why not put a spin on the fake American pride gimmick?
It also appears as though a new feud has spawned for Apollo Crews, as he was attacked by Sheamus in the backstage area during an interview. Crews didn’t really have a program for an extensive period of time in NXT, so to have him work a feud with Sheamus, a former United States and World Champion, really does say a lot. Hopefully this means the company is invested in making Apollo a success on the main roster. We can hope that the feud will allow Crews to be used for his athleticism along with strength and size, a rare combination on the WWE’s main roster today.
If there was a question mark that remained it surrounded the New Day. While battles are being fought to become the number one contender, a question that is beginning to surface has been, have the New Day’s antics as faces taken away the shine they gained as heels? Their recent time-machine promo was met with mixed results. Personally, I found the segment amusing, but how are they seen on the whole? It appears based on recent events that The Club, Gallows and Anderson, may be the next challengers for The New Day’s crown, which makes sense since they are the only viable heel team right now.
If on-screen personas mean anything, and a team’s success can be attributed to that, then the team of Enzo and Big Cass appear to be the next WWE tag team champions. I attended WWE’s Roadblock event, and they were over with the audience, no question about it. Whether it was in a win or a defeat, they both have an on-screen personality and dynamic that works, and a chemistry that is an important key to their success. Fans can tell when it really isn’t there, and Enzo and Cass’ characters encourage audience involvement much like teams such as the New Age Outlaws. If audience reaction signified anything, then both Cass and Enzo were essentially champions in NXT without actually holding the titles. A championship run will ultimately be in this team’s future.
For all the answers about direction that came from Extreme Rules and the night that followed there are questions as well. There are successful performers such as The Usos, The Dudley Boyz, Sasha Banks, and Paige among others where we wonder what their roles will be. We can speculate, but all we are left to do is guess. It isn’t really wrong, but often times having no direction and being shown on television is better than not being seen at all. This isn’t meant as a criticism, but rather comes about from the excitement fans were left with after watching Extreme Rules. Hopefully the picture becomes clearer moving into Money In The Bank
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