One of the biggest mysteries in pro wrestling is how to get over and stay over. There’s no textbook or formula guaranteeing a pop from a live audience. The ebbs and flows of wrestling trends are always difficult to track. But as of right now, you’d be lucky if you bought stock in Elias and Rusev early on. Try as they might, the powers that be in WWE have difficulty in this area as well. As much as they push a superstar on the Universe, the Universe rejects said superstar. Where the stench of desperation on a guy like Roman Reigns makes the audience recoil, the sense of apathy on a team like The New Day will always keep them over. An aura of apathy and not caring what management thinks will beat out a forced push every time.
The Christmas episode of Raw opened with John Cena appearing in Chicago. If there’s one person who hasn’t lost steam in the Windy City, it’s C.M. Punk. Sometimes, not being around can ensure that you’ll stay over forever. Wrestling fans are needy like that. This, in turn keeps heat on Cena, which was then utilized by Elias. This is a great example of how heat is transferred in the science of sports entertainment. In the vain of Chris Jericho’s Y2J countdown debut and interrupting The Rock, Elias interrupted John Cena’s return to mock him and the city of Chicago. The segment was fun and lighthearted, including a little Elias/Cena singalong. It felt like the encounter was going to end friendly enough, right up until Elias suckerpunched Cena and a match ensued. Cena gave Elias the rub on Monday, keeping the Drifter relevant and in fashion.
On the subject of fashion, Breezango is still “in,” but at risk of becoming a fleeting fad. This is only due to lack of exposure. It seems the Fashion Files have been relegated to WWE.com and off the Smackdown Live card. Maybe it was time to put an end to the weekly sketch, but that doesn’t fare well for the Fashion Police. Now embroiled in a rivalry with the Bludgeon Brothers (another team that’s bound to have trouble gaining traction based on the outdated WCW gimmick alone), we can only hope that WWE doesn’t mishandle one of the most successfully funny tag teams in recent history.
It’s definitely a competitive atmosphere in the Smackdown tag division. Breezango has to deal with the four-way feud of The New Day, The Usos, Gable & Benjamin, and Rusev Day. I’m not quite sure if “Rusev Day” is the official name of Rusev and Aiden English, but this week, Big E hit the nail on the head when he called them “Oddly Charismatic” in Smackdown’s opening segment. At Clash of Champions, the Boston crowd may have sealed the deal with the pop that they gave to Rusev Day. On paper, this looks like a tag team that was just hastily thrown together because Creative had nothing for them. And it’s hard to say if Rusev and English are getting over by design, because their schtick is fairly simple and unimaginative. But for some strange reason, it just works. No matter what, Rusev is a great worker and fans want to root for a guy who deserves it. They just needed an excuse.
Similarly, a guy like Dolph Ziggler also has all the in-ring skill in the world, and the kind of look that should be envied by any wrestler. But I don’t think there’s a better example of a guy who has had more ups and downs than Ziggler. What makes his current gimmick intriguing is the idea that he’s so disgruntled that he’s given up...which may be a bit of a shoot. If I were Ziggler, I’d be fed up, too. I’ve been a fan of Ziggler for a while, but he’s a well of oil just waiting to be struck. He never really found his groove as far as a character, and at the points in his career when we was more over than anyone in history, they’ve had trouble maintaining his popularity. No one has been in the main event on one night and on the preshow the next than Dolph Ziggler. Last week, Ziggler relinquished the United States Championship that he had won at Clash of Champions just two days before. Walking in and out to no music, Ziggler seemingly quit the WWE. The internet is abuzz with speculation as to whether or not Ziggler is actually leaving WWE to work the indies and Japan like many others have done in the past few years. Considering that seems to be the only way to gain respect in WWE anymore, it wouldn’t be bad idea. Or maybe that’s just what they want you to think. Whatever the end game is for Ziggler, I personally hope it leads to him finally being as over as he deserves to be.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke