The Piledriver Report 07.03.14: Surprise, Surprise, Not So Fast
Posted by Ronny Sarnecky on 07.03.2014
Thanks in large part to the Internet, professional wrestling lacks the surprise factor that used to run rampant in the industry. However, over the last month, the WWE has been able to hit us with a few surprises that we didn’t see coming. The Piledriver Report takes a look at the surprises that made RAW memorable in the month of June.
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Well, maybe not. One of the great aspects to the wrestling business before the internet boom was the "surprise" factor in wrestling. From Hulk Hogan turning heel to the latest wrestler jumping ship to a rival company, professional wrestling featured many "holy shit!" moments. It used to be that unless you subscribed to the Wrestling Observer or one of those "insider" newsletters, you were surprised at every shocking turn. Today, it's different. The internet reports on every rumor and shocking moment before it happens.
Case in point, the night after WrestleMania XXVIII, Brock Lesnar makes what should have been a shocking return to the WWE. Instead, fans instead of the Sun Life Stadium in Miami on WrestleMania Sunday already knew Brock Lesnar was coming back to the company. Aside from chants for Daniel Bryan, most of the crowd at the next night's RAW were cheering for Brock to make his return. Don't get me wrong, it was still a great moment. One that received the pop it deserved. However, it was missing that "Oh my God!" factor that his return should have garnered.
That isn't the only example, as I can probably fill numerous columns with examples of surprises that weren't. I think the first "big" surprise that the WWE has given us in a while was earlier this year due to a false rumor. I'm talking about the non-return of CM Punk during the RAW from Chicago. Everybody from Dave Meltzer to just about every pro wrestling website was reporting on Punk's imminent return. The night came, and everyone in the arena was buzzing over when they would see CM Punk. The climactic moment in the main event came were we saw the weekly heel beat down. The fans were screaming for Punk. It was the perfect time for the WWE to give you a "surprise" moment. They did surprise the fans, as Monday Night RAW faded to black, and CM Punk was nowhere near the arena. The fans were surprised alright, as Dave Meltzer got blasted on wrestling message boards around the World Wide Web.
Last week, the WWE let what could have been a slight surprise get out of the bag when they released the cover of the DVD for their upcoming SummerSlam event in August. On the cover was John Cena and Brock Lesnar. This led to immediate speculation that Lesnar would be facing the soon to be 15 time champion John Cena at the WWE's biggest show of the summer. Obviously, that also meant that the winner of the Money in the Bank WWE World title match was ruined for the fans as well. Put two and two together, and you could have easily figured out that John Cena Junior was least the TD Bank Arena with Daddy Cena and the two championship belts by his side. Fast forward to this past Sunday, and that is exactly what happened. While an upcoming Lesnar-Cena match was not announced, a swerve tease was when Triple H mentioned a Plan B. Out came Seth Rollins, but the real Plan B looks to be Brock Lesnar. Once again, the Internet and dirt sheets ruined that surprise. LOL
Ever since the word leaked out regarding Brock Lesnar and John Cena headlining SummerSlam, I haven't spent much time on the Internet. It wasn't due to any protest for ruining a surprise. I've just been really busy lately. Since I wasn't reading the latest rumors or gossip over the weekend, I must say that I was very surprised with two segments on RAW. Segments which would have probably been non-surprises if I was glued to the wrestling websites as is my usual weekend routine.
The first surprise wasn't the Miz. I knew that he was returning shortly. The surprise was when Chris Jericho's music hit, and he interrupted the Miz's promo. I was legitimately shocked when he made his way to the ring. Of course, my first thought once it sunk in that Jericho is back was "What will happen to with the ‘Talk Is Jericho' podcast? When he started to interact with the Miz, I was excited to see a Miz-Jericho program. I remember when the Miz held the WWE title. He delivered his best work as a performer in those five plus months as champion. I felt that a feud with Chris Jericho could possibly bring out the best in the Miz. After all, Chris Jericho can work with anyone and have an entertaining feud.
That program quickly vanished as the Wyatts hit the ring, and destroyed Chris Jericho, as the Miz suddenly disappeared from the scene. Of course, my interest was now also peaked to see a Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt program. That should give us some really good matches and entertaining promos.
The next surprise of the night for me came during a Divas segment. Normally, the Divas segment is either a fast forward the Tivo if I'm behind in the show, or a bathroom/kitchen break. There is one exception to the rule. That is when AJ Lee is wrestling. As luck would have it, when Paige hit the screen, I watched the segment. Who should appear next but AJ Lee. What? I thought she was pregnant? At least that was the rumor on the ever so trusting Internet. It was great seeing her on my screen. I loved the segment as she recaptured the title the same way she lost it. That was a nice touch by the WWE creative team. When the WWE gives us a full AJ Lee vs. Paige match, it should be pretty good. It's something that I will not be fast forwarding.
Having the surprise returns of Chris Jericho and AJ Lee on this week's RAW made the show very enjoyable to me. I thought it was one of the better RAW this year. However, as much as I complain about the lack of surprises in the WWE, I would be remiss if I did not bring up the biggest surprise of the year thus far. That would be the June 2nd edition of RAW when Seth Rollins turned his back on fellow Shield members, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. That was a huge shocker. Earlier in the year, only Roman Reigns was supposed to turn face. Then, the WWE slowly turned the whole group face. A turn back to heel for Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins was not in the immediate future as the group had plenty left in the tank as a babyface trio. Watching the group over the last few months, the thought in my mind was that if they only turned one member heel, it would have been Dean Ambrose. His character just seems like a natural heel.
Then came the shot heard around the world as Seth Rollins attacked both Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose with chair shots. Immediately following RAW, wrestling message boards exploded with outrage that the Shield broke up. I was not one of those people. I am a huge Seth Rollins mark, and was thrilled that he was the only member to turn. I figured that this way, he will not get lost in the shuffle if both him and Ambrose turned. Plus, I consider this his huge break as a singles main event star. Not to mention that it was a surprise that no one saw coming. Would I have liked to see the Shield stay together? Sure, but this was the next best thing in my opinion. This shocking turn reminded me of a pre-internet era gone by.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not hating on the Internet. I love the Internet. It's the one place where you can get information on any possible topic with just one click on your keyboard. The Internet is probably one of the top five inventions in my lifetime. If it wasn't for the Internet, I wouldn't have a platform to voice my opinions in a weekly wrestling column. For that I am very grateful. I just wish that the surprise aspect in wrestling wasn't becoming a lost art. Hopefully, the WWE can think of other ways to shock the fans like they did with the Seth Rollins turn, and at least for me, this past RAW. Then, we can have more unpredictability in the product, because that's when you have the most fun.