Hey, Night of Champions Spoilers Ahead. You’ve been warned.
I don’t know when exactly it happened, but I realized that I was really burned out on the current WWE product this past month. Normally I do end up taking a few weeks off from watching Monday Night Raw in the early summer, filling the time with other interests instead until I start to miss the show, and inevitably return a few weeks later when I miss it, or when I hear that something can’t-miss is going to happen. I come back rejuvenated, and excited to watch Raw week-to-week.
For whatever reason, though, I didn’t this year. WWE will proudly say in their promotional materials that there is no off-season in the world of Sports Entertainment, but I can’t always agree that it’s a good thing. WIth the breadth and depth of the available content from week-to-week, it’s little wonder after watching nearly everything in the last 10 months on offer from WWE (at least everything of importance; who watches Smackdown anyhow?) that even a big, life-long fan like me would be a little bit tired of the week in, week out.
This isn’t a treatise on the state of modern wrestling in WWE, though. I’m not here to solely complain that there’s too much content demanding my attention, because the one nice thing that all of this content does allow for is the opportunity to allow things to grow organically. WWE has had the ability to plant seeds and allow them the time to grow over time and really come to a head months, or even years, later.
Think about Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker. This was a story, a typical three-match rivalry, that after two and a half years is set to be finally settled once and for all (I assume) at Hell in a Cell next month. This is the sort of slow-burning rivalry that I truly love in the present day era of WWE programming. After the end of the streak, Undertaker was off in Death Valley or wherever it is he hangs out (from a kayfabe perspective) when he’s not on WWE TV, Brock Lesnar was the juggernaut of the WWE Locker Room, and they did their separate things for a while. Once the time was right, though, their rivalry was re-ignited and became the main event of Summerslam (problematic finish or not), and will main event Summerslam.
(Just as a side-note, you could argue that the Undertaker’s feud all this time has been with Paul Heyman and really stretches back to the last days of American Bad Ass Taker, but that’s not the article I’m writing right now…and honestly the less said about Kanyon dressed up as Boy George the better)
WWE has done a good job in the past few years of setting up longer arcs to their stories, or at the very least threading pieces that seemed to be nonsensical into a cohesive, overall, story. Look, for example, to Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose’s match against the Wyatts last night. This feud traces its lineage back two years as well, and the last time Chris Jericho was an active member of the WWE roster was in a rivalry with Bray Wyatt and the OG Wyatt Family. The Family vs. The 2/3 Shield will likely continue until they find the right partner, and the babyfaces win, and I’m certain that the right partner will be a guy who has had history with Reigns and Ambrose, and has a long-standing beef with the Wyatts (my money is on Bryan, for the record). It’s what WWE is doing best these days – the setup to the longer story.
This was why I was happy to see Demon Kane return last night; there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing one of these long-standing, to-be-settled disputes fizzle and never get their finalization. Rollins and Kane have been butting heads for almost as long as the Authority has been a thing. It’s ebbed and flowed, obviously, but there was always a little undercurrent of “ok, when are these two going to get it on? When is Kane going to finally snap and give that snivelling, cocky, brash yuppy Seth Rollins what’s coming to him?” It had to happen eventually, and given how much emphasis Rollins put on how pathetic Corporate Kane was, it was clear to me that we’d see the return of the
Malibu Beach House Kane Demon Kane to do the business.
The problem, of course, is that Seth Rollins is the hottest property in WWE today. With Daniel Bryan absent, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns tied up with the Wyatts, John Cena busy with his career revival with the US Championship Open Challenge, and Dolph Ziggler in some weird Salvatore Sincere-esque purgatory, there’s really been no one else with as much importance as Seth Rollins in 2015. Seth needs to be doing important stuff if he’s to be the absolute pinnacle of the WWE’s focus.
With that in mind, it’s really hard to pull the guy away to feud with Kane, even if it’s something that the story demands be done. The reaction on Twitter to Kane’s return and attack on Seth Rollins (and, to really cement that he’s a babyface, his saving all of us from WWE Champion Sheamus) was mixed to say the least. I saw countless complaints that Vince and Co. believe that Kane is a top babyface in 2015, and that there’s no way that he should be main eventing against Seth Rollins. Of course, I’d argue that these people entirely miss the mark.
I want to be clear, if the circumstances were different I would have been rolling my eyes along with everyone else. There was a little period prior to Brock Lesnar coming back where it appeared that they were going to pull the trigger on the long-building Seth Rollins/Kane rivalry. It looked like Corporate Kane, Walmart Slacks and all, would be challenging for the WWE title against Rollins during the summer, and would be the focus of the absolute main event for a few months. This would have been everything that everyone was complaining about last night, and more.
Luckily, both then and now, this is and was not the case. Demon Kane is back, and is a much more dynamic character than his Corporate Monster image. After spending so much time calling Kane pathetic, Rollins has to try and contend with one of the most dangerous and destructive forces of the last 20 years in the WWE. The stakes were placed months back, and were raised last night.
But, you say, it’s still just Kane. No one wants to see Kane main eventing in 2015; he’s got the Big Show stink all over him. Well, why waste a more important feud for Rollins on a show where he won’t be the focus? Let’s be clear, this is tying up a loose end for Rollins and Kane, and this will not be the main event of Hell in a Cell. What a match with Kane offers Rollins is a chance to be doing something important while not having to worry about being overshined by Taker/Brock III.
Sure, WWE isn’t always 100% spot on, but I think they got this one right. Besides, at least Sheamus isn’t the champ.