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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

The Pay Window 6.16.13: My Boy D Bryan is MONEY!
Posted by Craig Stevens on 06.16.2013

In the days before debit cards and direct deposit, there was the pay window. It was (and still is, for some people) the teller window at the bank where you went every week to cash your paycheck. And in wrestling, the term was popularized by "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. "Goin' to da pay windah, babeh!" meant you'd come out on top in your match, and you were going to collect the winner's share of the purse. We all know that how much a guy (or gal) makes isn't literally determined by wins and losses, but the general idea is very much the same. If you draw more money, you get put in a position to make more money. Don't believe me? Then take it from Vincent Kennedy McMahon himself:

And that's what this column is all about as well. I'm not concerned with star ratings, match quality, workrate, or any of the other usual IWC buzzwords people seem to relish throwing around. I'm going to look at things purely from the perspective of drawing money, and which performers best set themselves and their companies up to do exactly that. Each week, we'll highlight three money-making segments: backstage, in-ring, and a match. The match is pretty self-explanatory, the in-ring segment covers anything in front of the curtain that isn't an actual match, and the backstage segment is anything behind the curtain (anything pre-taped would be included here).

So... now that I've laid the groundwork, let's jump right in. I'm Craig Stevens, and we're goin' to The Pay Window.

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Backstage Segment of the Week

Wyatt Family vignette (RAW 6.10.2013)

All of the vignettes leading up to the debut of the Wyatt Family on the main roster have been really good, but I think this one was the best yet. All three men have the act down perfectly, and should be players immediately once they hit the roster. Harper and Rowan are the current NXT tag champs, and would add a lot to the tag ranks if they're intent on rebuilding it (again) as much as they say. Rowan's inexperienced, but he plays his role well and isn't bad in the ring as I've heard others claim. And I feel like Luke Harper could be a breakout star in singles down the line. But the real money's in the patriarch of the family, Bray Wyatt. Cult leader or 'psycho' gimmicks are nothing new in wrestling, but the former Husky Harris brings a level of menace to the table that I haven't seen in a long time. When he glares at the camera, and tells you to "run", it doesn't feel like he's looking at a camera. It feels like he's looking through it, looking directly at you, and trying to burn a hole through you with his eyes. My first thought when I watched him down in NXT was that he reminded me of the kinda guy that they used to like to match up against the Undertaker. And who knows, maybe by the time Wrestlemania rolls around again, he'll be seen as a guy at a level high enough to challenge the Streak. I know it's a match I'd definitely pay to see. But there are so many possibilities for the Wyatt Family. I can see Bray targeting John Cena because of people like John who made this world inhospitable for he and his family. Or, I could see them going after the tag and US titles, being a force so wicked that it might actually turn the Shield in sympathetic figures. And there's always the natural feud with his little brother (the NXT Champion Bo Dallas) down the road. Whoever they go after though, they've already got me hooked.

 photo mask_zps362df21f.png

They're comin'. Run.

In-Ring Segment of the Week

Rampage Jackson aids Kurt Angle against Aces & Eights (Impact Wrestling 6.13.2013)

Rampage enters the fray around the 3:00 mark

Last week, I wasn't as high on the Rampage debut as some people were. Before I knew when I was going to be posting this column each week, I was starting to formulate my picks for last week just in case it was going to run a bit earlier; and at the time, I wasn't going to go anywhere near Rampage, because I felt like he didn't really do anything. His debut got a lot of publicity, but his stare-down with Kurt Angle didn't really get me too excited for a potential match between the two. Now don't get me wrong, Rampage is my guy. I'm a casual MMA fan at best, but Rampage always moved the needle for me. Maybe it was the shoot powerbombing dudes that attracted me to his fights, I dunno. But if Rampage was on a PRIDE DVD, I wanted to buy it. If Rampage was on a WFA or UFC card, I either wanted to order it, or at least go somewhere that was showing it. But whether it's TNA's long history of screwing up every good thing they've had going for them, or their recent history with King Mo, I didn't have high hopes going in. I thought he'd show up, have the confrontation with Angle, then disappear for God knows how long. So when he not only showed up again this week, but actually interjected himself into the proceedings, I found myself cautiously optimistic.

I'm still somewhat apprehensive, since both shows were at the same taping, but this gives me even more hope that Rampage might be a semi-regular on Impact Wrestling. He said he "wanted to be a target" of the Aces and Eights, so maybe he'll team up with Kurt Angle before they have their match, or perhaps even join Sting's new Main Event Mafia. I don't wanna get too excited, 'cause this is TNA, and I've gotten burned before. But if the day ever comes that it's Rampage Jackson vs. Kurt Angle on a TNA PPV, then that will be the first TNA PPV I'll ever buy.

Match of the Week

Team Hell No & Randy Orton vs The Shield (Smackdown! 6.14.2013)

Down goes the Shield! Down goes the Shield! After six months plus, the Shield finally suffered their first defeat as a three-man team. To show you just how big a deal this is, let's take a look at the numbers:

The Shield's record in televised six man tags prior to Friday: 12-0

The Hit List:

- Daniel Bryan (x5)
- Kane (x5)
- Ryback (x2)
- John Cena (x2)
- Sheamus (x3)
- Percy Watson
- Axl Keegan
- Scott Dawson
- Zack Ryder
- The Great Khali
- Justin Gabriel
- Randy Orton (x3)
- The Big Show
- Kofi Kingston (x4)
- Brodus Clay
- Tensai
- The Undertaker
- Jimmy Uso
- Jey Uso

Now, if you wanna get technical, they lost a six-man elimination match to Team Hell No and Cena on the May 13th RAW. But, since that wasn't a straight up six-man, it doesn't count. They were still calling them undefeated on TV, and that's what I'm going with. Regardless, it's a HUGE deal. (When's the last time you remember a ring announcer going out of their way to announce that it was someone's first loss?) Apart, they've been shown as slightly vulnerable. But as a three man unit, they've been the most protected and dominant entity in the entire company since their debut. Outside of winning the WWE Championship, beating the Shield in a six-man tag is arguably the biggest accomplishment in the WWE right now. So the fact they there are willing to give away the Shield's first six-man loss on free TV, on the B-show no less, tells me me two things:

1.) They see more money in the Shield as individuals than as a unit, and
2.) They see even more in someone else...

 photo dbryan_zps7d8d4167.png

Daniel Bryan is nuclear hot right now, probably the hottest that anyone's been since Punk leading into Money in the Bank back in 2011. That, coupled with his long history with the Shield made him the perfect choice to be the one that finally put them down. But if the rumors are to be believed, this is only the tip of the iceberg for the American Dragon. Two different reports having him challenging John Cena for the WWE at either Money in the Bank or Summerslam, if not both. And if you're in a summer angle with John Cena, involving the WWE Championship, then that means you're in THE top angle in the company.

Who would've thought, "Summerslam main event" watching THAT a decade ago?

It almost seems hard to believe at first, but honestly, who else would you put in that spot right now? And who doesn't want to see that match as a PPV main event? Honestly, I don't care if they turn Bryan heel or not, and I don't even care if they feed him to Cena. Bryan's bulletproof at this point, and no matter what they ask of him, he seems to come out on the other side of things unscathed. He won't bomb like Ryback. I honestly think if they put Bryan in the MAIN main event (no offense, Ziggles) one time, he gets permanently elevated the way Punk did in 2011. And once he's there, Vince can just sit back and be like...

 photo scrooge_zps487dee1c.gif

But these aren't the only guys on the upswing (or the downswing)... let's take a look at who's hot and who's not in this week's Stock Watch.

Stock Watch for the Week of June 10th-16th, 2013

 photo green_up_arrow_zps2ab2e5f9.png CM Punk: The "Best in the World" has been off of WWE television for over two months, but his addition to the Payback card is enough by itself to get many people to buy the show. Primed for a nice return match-up against Y2J, he looks to pick up right where he left off.

 photo red_down_arrow_zps26758601.png Ryback: At one time, Ryback had a presence, and a buzz, and it really seemed like he might be the next "Next Big Thing". But now, he's been completely stripped of everything that made him feel special, and reduced to generic heel #57d. Where does he fit in after his feud with John Cena is over? Maybe he can reboot, start killing three and four jobbers at the time again, and try to recapture some of his lost momentum.

 photo green_up_arrow_zps2ab2e5f9.png Austin Aries & Bobby Roode: Both men qualified for the BFG Series this week, and unlike Bad Influence, they each did it as singles guys. I liked their team, but I think they're even better when they get to shine on their own. Both of these guys have proven they can carry the ball for TNA in the past, and with a strong showing in the BFG Series, I've got no doubt that either of them could do it again.

 photo red_down_arrow_zps26758601.png Dolph Ziggler: The World Heavyweight Champion returned from a month long layoff due to a concussion... and was promptly pinned by Alberto Del Rio. I'm not against the WHC dropping a fall in a tag match, it's just, Dolph loses a lot. And the fact that he's the Champion doesn't seem to be making much of a difference. Here's hoping for a clean win at Payback to get the ball rolling.

 photo green_up_arrow_zps2ab2e5f9.png DOC: There was some dissension among the Aces & Eights on Impact, when DOC refused to eliminate himself from the Battle Royal. Things seemingly got smoothed over, but it could be a sign of things to come. A spot in the new Main Event Mafia, maybe? Who knows, but DOC has shown flashes here and there, so if he gets an opportunity to break out from Aces & Eights, it could mean big things.

 photo red_down_arrow_zps26758601.png Crimson: 1.) Lose undefeated streak 2.) Get sent home for a year 3.) Job to Joseph Parks 4.) ??? 5.) Profit? Nah... I doubt it.

 photo green_up_arrow_zps2ab2e5f9.png Seth Rollins: Sure, he tapped out to Daniel Bryan twice this week. But in those losses, Seth Rollins continued to shine. He's steadily working his way up from 'Shield member most likely to be forgotten' to 'Shield member most likely to break out'... that is, if he doesn't break his own neck first.

 photo red_down_arrow_zps26758601.png Big E Langston: Lost his NXT Championship to Bo Dallas, got pinned by Chris Jericho on RAW, and might've missed out on a great opportunity for a face turn. But there's still time for the secret admirer thing to develop. Big E could realize he really does have those feelings for Kaitlyn somewhere down the line. Either way, dude's too charismatic and too jacked to be down long. I feel like this is just a momentary blip for the One Man Army.

 photo green_up_arrow_zps2ab2e5f9.png AJ Lee: But not every member of this crew had a bad week. AJ revealed herself as the mastermind behind the secret admirer fiasco, and cut one heck of a promo that reminded me why everyone was so high on her around this time last year.

 photo red_down_arrow_zps26758601.png Fandango: It's totally not his fault, but FAHN-DAHN-GOOOO's untimely concussion probably cost him an Intercontinental Championship reign. Concussions suck.

Stock Watch is done... that means there's only one thing left to do...

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Ask 411 Wrestling 6.12.13: The FINAL Edition of Ask 411 as written by Mathew Sforcina
David McGregor takes a look at the Top 8 Extinct WWE PPV's in the all-new 8-Ball
The Piledriver Report 6.13.13: Part 21 of Ronny Sarnecky's look at the History of Vince McMahon's Wrestling Empire
Wrestling's 4Rs 6.14.13: Larry Csonka and Tony Acero review Raw and ROH TV
Jesse Nguyen counts down the 10 finishers he'd like to see make a comeback in the debut edition of The Ten Count
Smart Marks 6.15.13: Dino Zuko talks a little bit of everything in the world of Pro Wrestling
This week in the Brain Buster, Phil Hiotis talks last-minute rewrites

That about wraps it up for this week. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can follow me on my very own Twitter Machine. Until next time, I'm Craig Stevens, telling you to-

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