In reviewing this week’s episodes of Monday Night Rawand SmackDownthere are two opposite scenes that are tough to shake.
The first two come on Raw, where Kevin Owens opened the show as the new WWE Universal Champion, and hit a home run with his first big promo as the new champion. The crowd was on Owens’ side, as is to be expected. He’s an internet darling and people respect his hard work and the journey he took to finally winning a big title on the biggest stage in professional wrestling.
But Owens is a heel, and he needed to recapture that persona, so he quickly turned on the fans. He didn’t do it in a cheap way either, insulting the local sports team or talking about the people in attendance using regional stereotypes. Instead, he insulted the entire WWE audience, even the people that were sitting at home, perhaps applauding Owens from their couch.
Owens said that he didn’t need and he didn’t want their cheers. He accused the crowd of trying to “hijack his moment” after they loudly chanted “you deserve it!”
During the chant, Owens, in true heel form, said that the fans were right. He did deserve it. But then he said the fans that were chanting he deserved it were trying to make it about themselves. He told the fans that they weren’t great or special, HE was great and HE was special. He said that he knew he deserved it, and he didn’t need anyone else to tell him because he’s known that he has deserved this moment from the very moment he stepped inside a WWE ring.
It was beautiful, to be honest. The crowd stopped cheering Owens almost immediately. There were boos. The heel went out, acted like a heel, and turned the crowd. That’s quite an accomplishment, especially in 2016 when everyone and their mother thinks they are the smartest pro wrestling fan on the planet.
And let’s be honest for a minute … there is nothing more disrespectful to Kevin Owens than to cheer him. He’s a heel. You’re supposed to hate him. By cheering him or by giving him signs of respect, you’re telling him that he’s not doing a very good job being a heel. It gives off the impression that his character isn’t working. Fans paid for their ticket, so you can cheer whatever you want, I get that, but some of these crowds just like to make it about themselves. Owens is right in that regard.
“This is awesome!” chants happen three or four times every episode of Raw. I’m sorry, but Raw isn’t that awesome. The same people that chant “This is awesome!” when they’re in an arena, complain about how lame the show is week after week on Twitter.
This has been going on for years. The fans chant for JBL at the announce table when they’re bored with a match, and if that gets acknowledged, it feeds their ego. At some WWE television events, there is a crowd of people there more worried about becoming the story than following the stories being presented right in front of them.
That’s a giant sign of disrespect, in my opinion.
Speaking of things that were bad, whoever wrote Sasha Banks’ promo needs to find a new line of work.
Banks’ fake retirement promo was in poor taste and it was poorly worded. I’m not willing to put the heat on her, because ultimately she was told what to say, but it was truly awful.
WWE creative was playing off the very real emotions of Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech a few months ago. That’s such poor taste. They made everyone believe Sasha Banks was going to have to retire after her scary injury and bump at SummerSlama few weeks back. It was bad. She ended up swerving the fans at the end, saying the bad news she had to deliver was to Charlotte, because she was coming back for her Women’s Title.
So Sasha Banks, the babyface who the fans love, pulled the wool over the eyes of her fans? Yup! She fooled the people she cares about just to play a joke on Charlotte. It wasn’t something a respected babyface should do. It pulled one over on the crowd. That’s something a heel does.
Again, WWE’s creative often lacks a consistent tone. It’s frustrating. Someone who watches WWE and is a fan of Sasha Banks has a legitimate reason to be upset with her now. She preyed on her own fans’ emotions. And she’s someone you’re supposed to cheer, right?
Then there’s the closing line. Again, absolute tone deafness from whoever wrote this abomination. For the first part of the promo, Banks talked about the Divas Revolution, and how they helped get rid of Bra and Panties matches and brought real wrestling and respect back to the division. She talked about how the women were finally superstars.
In a sense, she’s talking about how the lingerie models Johnny Ace used to hire were gone, and women who wanted to be wrestlers, judged on their wrestling, were finally the ones being given chances.
Then Dana Brooke came out and Sasha dropped her, telling her that the bad news was for Charlotte. But she called Brooke “Miss Piggy.”
She insulted another woman’s looks literally seconds after talking about how great it was for women to finally get the respect they deserved as wrestlers.
Again … tone deaf!
“We’re finally respect for women’s wrestling! … But Dana, you’re ugly!”
That’s literally what she could have said. Just brutal.
There are plenty of ups and downs on any WWE episode you watch, but this week really was such a contrast in two opposite sides of the promo coin. Owens hit a grand slam. Whoever wrote Banks’ promo struck out. Bad.