Thursday, 15 September 2016

A Glimpse at 2016 (part 4)

Roman Reigns v Sami Zayn v Sheamus v Chris Jericho (RAW, 7/25/16)

Thought this was pretty decent. I don't tend to like 4-ways, but I guess I'm less bothered about their limitations as I get older and more understanding of the concessions that need to be made while watching a fatal 4-way on WWE TV. This also had a hook right from the start with Jericho and Sheamus teaming up to go after Reigns, while Zayn briefly questioned whether or not he wanted to be a part of that. You fly with the crows you get shot with the crows, his granny used to tell him. Jericho isn't good these days and his offence is almost always lousy, but he looks like a scuzzy dad going through his midlife crisis, with his dodgy tats, grey goatee and sparkling jacket, and his character work is usually pretty fun. Sheamus has also changed his look since I last saw him and his beard is phenomenal. His skin is so white he looked translucent during his intro, like a mohawk'd Doctor Manhattan. The Jericho/Sheamus partnership goes to the dogs like you knew it would and I liked how Jericho would turn on him in semi-obvious fashion, while simultaneously trying to be sneaky about it. It's like he thought he was being smart taking that cheapshot when he did, but everybody bar Sheamus - because he's either too trusting or just a stupid idiot - could see it coming a mile away. Reigns was Reigns, which is a good thing. He was stoic, unperturbed by the boos, and ready to steamroll people when he needed to. His big swan dive is really awesome and looked super cool in slow motion. There was this great bit where he was cleaning house with Superman punches and he and Jericho tried to do a Codebreaker-into-Superman punch that ended with Jericho just falling over, so Reigns just lifted him up and KO'd him like it wasn't even a thing.

Roman Reigns v Finn Balor (RAW, 7/25/16)

This was really dang good and pretty much exactly what I thought it should've been. Roman worked dominant, he kept moving forward, but he sold with just the right amount of vulnerability when he needed to. Balor, who I don't like nor care about, hit his stuff clean and in spurts, with most of it coming off of counters where he looked really nippy, and got tossed around in plenty of fun ways. One of my favourite things about Reigns is how he manages to get into position for things in very organic-seeming ways. He's subtle in lots of what he does, whether it's selling or facials or even body language at times, and that really works for him when it comes to setting up spots that other guys are blatantly obvious about. I mean, modern WWE is not a style that strikes me as being very organic. I can watch a bunch of WWE in one sitting and enjoy a good amount of it, but it's micro-managed and produced step by step and it can sometimes looks clearly pre-planned. But Reigns has a knack for makings things look like they weren't necessarily laid out to a tee beforehand (I'm not saying everything is anyway, but you know plenty of it is). There was one bit in this where Balor was hanging over the bottom rope and Roman went around to do his running apron dropkick, but Balor moved and countered with a double stomp as Roman landed on the apron. The cool part about it was how Roman made it look like he wasn't just laying there after the missed dropkick waiting to be double stomped by Balor. When he landed on the apron he grabbed his sides and really exhaled like he'd winded himself, grimacing with eyes closed tight just as Balor came down onto him with the stomp. It was only a two second thing, but it was as if he'd tried something, missed it, genuinely hurt himself in the process, and even closing his eyes while grimacing was enough for him not to see his opponent trying to capitalize (and Balor was rapid fast about it as well). I'm sure it was a planned spot, but it actually looked organic, as if it was something that happened naturally during the course of the contest, and that's something Reigns is generally pretty great at. They introduced a little bit of leg work in the middle of the match that never had much impact on the narrative, but I liked the idea of it. Smaller guy taking out the leg of a bigger opponent has been done in wrestling since time immemorial, and it made sense in this context even if it never had a payoff. Plus I thought Roman was great at selling it for a while, only dropping it once it was obvious Balor wasn't planning on going back to it. Finish also played off the theme of Balor mostly attacking through quick counters, hitting the Slingblade to counter the Spear before following up with a one-two punch of corner dropkick-Coup de GrĂ¢ce. Don't think I've ever enjoyed Balor more, and the more of Roman I watch the more convinced I am that he's no worse than top 3 in the company.

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