“Did any of you kids see Old Yeller? I cried. Dusty Rhodes KO’ed by Big Show.” — Jim Ross
If brevity is the soul of wit, the recently “retired” Jim Ross is a master at putting over an angle no matter where he is at on this planet. Social media, television, radio, it doesn’t matter. JR knows how to sell an angle and his tweet about The American Dream was perfect.
RAW was a textbook example of a McMahon-heavy show where some flaws could be pointed out with execution but don’t kid yourself, the angle & theme construction was great. After Night of Champions, this was the night where the bad guys acted like The Bad Guys and went over strong. In wrestling, a heel is only as credible as their dastardly deeds and the heels went wild on RAW. I loved it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have sympathy for those who are mad about CM Punk’s angle being relegated to second-fiddle. But even on a night when the Bad Guys went over strong, who couldn’t love Paul Heyman’s bragging of pinning CM Punk and Ryback exclaiming that he hates bullies? Ryback is 100 times a better fit with Heyman than Curtis Axel, even with the fans chanting “Goldberg!” during the Heyman promo.
The predictable angle of Hunter stripping Daniel Bryan of the WWE title was what it was, but the possible twist of Scott Armstrong being involved with an ‘inside job’ with the McMahon family to set up Bryan in case Orton got pinned was clever. The “firing” of Armstrong was an interesting touch that obviously left that part of the angle open-ended for the future.
And if that wasn’t enough, Stephanie McMahon decided to light a fire under Randy Orton’s ass by sending him back on the chase for the title. That gave us a traditional Vince McMahon ritual of humiliating a hometown wrestler by having Orton pound the crap out of The Miz in Cleveland. Miz’s mother at ringside sold the beatdown like a pro, especially when her son had his head trapped in a chair and Orton gave a running knee to finish him off for the night. An old-school angle with modern presentation.
Orton, of course, fled the scene at the end of the night when Bryan got his revenge on The Shield after the Locker Room decided to join him in his coup against the Establishment. Live to fight another day.
In order to set up the triumph at the end of RAW, someone had to pay the piper during the show and the victim was Dusty Rhodes. The American Dream is as good of a speaker today as he was 30 years ago. Damn, he is a great presence. The classic wrestling personality who personified The Common Man knows how to take over a room on a whim. Rhodes is such a pro, he makes you sit there and say, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” On script or off script, the Dream is incredible at relating to the every day struggles of the average person and tying in those struggles to the battle happening in the ring. The Rhodes vs. McMahon family feud over the last few weeks deserves an A grade. It is as traditional as you can get. Cody gets fired out of nowhere because of a Hunter power trip and “the good son” joins the unemployment line as he is about to get married. “The bad son” tries to atone for past sins by avenging his brother’s firing and instead gets beat by Randy Orton, too, and in the process gets sent out of the building in degrading fashion by Stephanie McMahon.
And then comes a unique twist — Dusty Rhodes gets fired as commissioner of NXT in Florida. The Rhodes/McMahon angle now extends into the minor league system. It’s a twist reminiscent of Vince McMahon first becoming a heel in the USWA in the early 90s against Jerry Lawler in Memphis. The Mid-South world knew about heel Vince years before the national audience discovered Heel Vince after The Montreal Screwjob.
After seeing his two son shamed on RAW and getting fired as NXT commissioner, the Dream had enough and decided to stand up to the powers-that-be. Rhodes got a respectable pop coming to the ring and once he got on the mic, it was magic. The scars on his forehead and the tone of his voice told the story. He went from eating pork ‘n beans to dining with Kings and Queens and now back to the Outhouse. Dream name dropped his real name, Virgil Runnels, which is a confusing trend & tactic by Hunter & Steph that comes across as Russo-ific. Hopefully it stops because the message it sends is that “yeah, what you’ve been watching was somewhat real, but mentioning a real name makes this REALLY real.”
After seeing Cody lose his job, Dusty wanted to give a piece of his mind to Stephanie. The Princess came out and the two pros on the microphone had a hell of a showdown. So enjoyable to watch. Stephanie mocked the Dream by giving him a Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift card to give to Cody for his wedding registry. The Dream was pissed and I was laughing. The only thing that could make that slap-in-the-face even better is if BBB actually paid for the name drop on RAW. She then started talking about Rhodes being “the son of a plumber,” which gave me flashbacks to Terry Funk saying he couldn’t beat up a son of a plumber but he could sure beat up “a son of a son of a plumber.” Stephanie stated that she could relate since, after all, she’s the daughter of a genius.
She baited the Dream into walking away by saying that she would give Cody his job back, only to throw out there that either Cody or Dustin could get a job and that Dusty would have to chose which kid would get gainful employment. Dream got pissed and fell for the bait, so Stephanie gave Dream two options for his demise — a Shield beatdown or a Big Show KO. Big Show brought back the waterworks once again, which is over the top, but paid the angle off by knocking out Rhodes only to hold his limp body and help him to the ambulance. Against any one else, that angle wouldn’t have garnered the reaction that it did against the Dream because no one knows how to garner sympathy from a crowd like Dusty Rhodes. He is a master at his craft and knows how to make everyone around him get excited & energized to step up their game to the next level.
You should see the comments from fans on Twitter after the angle. Wrestling is still real, dammit.
The bad guys had to show why they were the bad guys on RAW and the American Dream’s appearance in the ring was his family’s ongoing Nightmare. Dusty Rhodes got his own dose of Old Yeller while Big Show & JR cried.