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  1. #1

    Full Production Feedback: Why Seth Rollins Must Lose the Universal Championship to Rey Mysterio

    Full Production Feedback: Why Seth Rollins Must Lose the Universal Championship to Rey Mysterio
    by pennycook mills



    I’m going to insist that Seth Rollins must lose the Universal Heavyweight Championship this coming Monday on RAW’s “season premiere.” The reasons why are myriad, but those that weigh most heavily in favor of my position have nothing to do with Rollins nor his challenger, Rey Mysterio.

    Rey Mysterio is no stranger to WWE’s top prize; he is a two-time World Heavyweight Champion and former WWE Champion. He has yet to hold the Universal Heavyweight Championship, however—the title’s relative newness and Mysterio’s absence from both WWE and its main event scene in recent years have kept he and the title apart. To be frank, prior to last Monday’s Fatal Five Way elimination match, it didn’t seem like Mysterio’s current run in WWE was intended to bring him into proximity with the main event scene. His most recent bouts have been against the likes of Cesaro, Gran Metalik, Sami Zayn, and Andrade. It looked as though Mysterio’s new role were simply to elevate younger talent, perhaps to pave a way for his son Dominic to enter WWE, and to provide solid midcard action while pleasing the youth demographic that so adore him. But this opportunity says that there may be more.

    For Rey Mysterio, at 44 years old, a run with the top prize on RAW would be a fine feather in the cap. And a large swath of the fanbase would eat a Mysterio victory up. Moreover, a Mysterio victory would be a great way to kick off a new “season” of RAW, proving to viewers that they must tune in weekly, because “anything can happen in WWE.” There are plenty of great reasons for Mysterio to secure a victory against Rollins and collect the Universal Championship.

    We turn our attention now to Seth Rollins. Considering Seth Rollins’ career and character trajectory, it’s difficult to support my argument that he needs to lose the title. Very rarely can it be argued that a Champion would be better served by losing his title; perhaps in the case of a stale champion whose egress from the main event would afford a reprieve from overexposure, but such is not the case with Rollins. No, Rollins is not well-served by losing to Rey Mysterio on RAW next week.

    I’d temper that by arguing that he is also not ill-served by losing to Rey Mysterio. Rey is a veteran, a still-capable performer, and there’s no shame in losing to him. Certainly, if Rollins were to lose to Rey and then regain his title within a matter of weeks, it would be a mere blip in Rollins’ time atop the promotion. There’d be no falling stock, no loss of face with the fans. If anything, it would prove an interesting side-quest in Rollins’ ongoing Championship story.

    The reason Rollins must lose the Universal Championship to Rey Mysterio is to prepare for Hell in a Cell, where I believe that Bray Wyatt must decisively beat Seth Rollins and not move forward as Universal Champion. The only way for that to happen is to remove the title from the equation.

    Why must Bray win the match but not leave the Cell with the title in hand? He must win because the repackaged Bray Wyatt, who wrestles under the Fiend persona, needs to be established as a greater threat than Bray has proven to be at any point in his career thus far. Bray’s momentum has chronically been cut off just shy of him attaining “perennial threat” status. Where he has seemed ordained to take up the mantle of supernatural icon in the Undertaker’s wake, booking has failed to make him actually iconic. At various times, Bray has rattled off strings of victories, has disseminated unhinged philosophies and earned the adoration of fans, but he’s failed to maintain persistent relevance at the top of the card.

    Case in point? In Bray’s single WWE Championship reign his Wrestlemania opponent, Randy Orton, managed to overcome Bray’s physical assault as well as the psychological warfare levelled when the image of writhing maggots was projected onto the ring canvas in an apparent supernatural summoning. Bray’s reign, in total, lasted less than two months. While not a burial, it certainly sent a resounding message to the audience that Bray was not the man, but a quality opponent for anyone who wanted to be the man. This is a single example, but there are a number of instance in Bray Wyatt’s WWE run where his momentum has stalled on the heels of a decisive loss.

    As The Fiend is still new, with a single match and single victory under his belt, it is essential WWE substantiates the buzz and expectation surrounding the persona by putting Bray over not just in the upcoming Hell in a Cell bout, but in a string of matches that take place over the next six months to a year. The Fiend is a character with potential to be the WWE’s boogeyman (lowercase “b” there, to differentiate from the worm eater) for years to come—his foundations must be firm or he’ll be no more than a spooky novelty act.

    As for the Universal Championship, WWE needs to keep Bray far away for the time being. Rumor has it that WWE would like to use The Fiend sparingly so as not to overexpose the character. That’s a good choice. At the same time, RAW’s top title ought to be front and center, especially as we’ve only recently (and thankfully) moved on from the Brock Lesnar-era of absentee championing. Marrying Bray Wyatt to the title now would necessitate Bray either losing it in the near future, or RAW marching forward with a champion that appears on a less-than weekly basis.

    WWE could let Seth enter Hell in a Cell as Champion and opt for a compromise in the result—a screwy non-finish between Wyatt and Rollins in which Bray appears dominant but doesn’t pin or submit Seth and therefore doesn’t leave with the title. But that dilutes the intimidation-factor of The Fiend (and the sanctity of the Hell in a Cell concept, if there is such a thing). Bray needs to prove a formidable foe who can beat his opposition, not just turn bouts into unresolved exhibitions of his creepiness.

    Enter Rey Mysterio—a fortunate beneficiary of a narrative corner that WWE has booked itself into. It’s not essential for his career that he be Champion again. It’s not necessary for WWE’s ratings or ticket sales. But just because it’s not imperative doesn’t mean it’s not good. I, for one, will be cheering for a Mysterio victory on Monday because it will feel nice to see the old-timer climb that mountain one more time, and because I know it will give WWE a more solid footing on which to build future stories.

  2. #2
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    Totally agree. The Fiend can't lose for some time, he also isn't yet a good proposition for holding the title. The character needs to be booked wisely to avoid the fall from grace the original Wyatt character had.

    As much as I don't particularly see Rey as a title contender and never did, he does have the credibility to get away with a short run with the belt and your argument makes perfect sense.

    Nice work as always.
    Last edited by DynamiteBillington; 09-26-2019 at 07:56 AM.
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  3. #3
    The Brain
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    PCM! I'm terribly pleased to see you drop a column!

    I don't feel as strongly as you do about the points you put out there, but I think you have a strong foundation for all of them. Personally I'd be pleased to see one of the greatest and most enduringly popular wrestlers in WWE history get another run with the top title. I'm skeptical that this will happen, but I can see a definite upside if they choose to go this way. I also think there may be an argument that the Rollins' title reign isn't going as well as hoped, so this may actually be a good opportunity for him to reset a little. That's just speculation on my part through, I admit I haven't followed his reign very closely.

    As for Bray, I only wish good things for him... I actually believe there's a way to put the title on him while he's hot, keep him as a presence on the show, and still keep the Fiend as something special that doesn't need to happen each week. I have trouble seeing that happen either though. It does seem like the most likely outcome is that Seth will overcome the Fiend, either in the Cell or sometime after, and soon enough Bray will be back where he's been countless times before. At least he won't be stuck projecting holograms this time (we hope). Engaging read PCM, don't be a stranger!

  4. #4
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Good column. I wrote a piece about Wyatt back in 2017 that said similar things but boiled down to, he has to be taken seriously, for him to work as other super natural characters have, the kayfabe of the character has to be respected. The Orton example is the most egregious, what should have been a world altering scheme was shrugged off by both the commentators and Orton. That problem was a nail in that iteration of Wyatt's grave as a serious threat.

    The Fiend has given Wyatt a second chance and he absolutely cannot lose this early. To do so would be to strip him of all his power once again and once again create a super natural character who is all empty spectacle and no substance.

    And hey a Rey Mysterio upset on TV would really add a fun wrinkle to the Universal Title scene that has felt all too predictable for a long time.
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  5. #5
    Thanks Dynamite, Mizfan, and SirSam for the feedback and the responses.

    Dynamite, I like your words "fall from grace." I definitely feel like Wyatt's trajectory has seen many falls from grace. I go from believing he is a cornerstone of WWE programming to thinking maybe he's a well-crafter enhancement guy.

    Mizfan, you may be right that Rollins' title run may be something of a disappointment to WWE brass. I don't see too many people poised to be a better drawing champion until the overall product becomes more compelling, BUT Mysterio is a very popular competitor who benefits from the nostalgia factor and present-day ability. It just might be worth seeing what a Mysterio title run does for its own sake.

    SirSam, looks like we're largely of the same mind. You assessed the risk with Wyatt better than I did when yu said booking him to lose now "would be to strip him of all his power once again and once again create a super natural character who is all empty spectacle and no substance." Very nice.

  6. #6
    Good to see you back! Great argument that attracts readers and challenges their preconceptions. Moreover, I love a good moreover used well. As for Bray being used sparingly, God forbid they have to think up storylines, instead of making him a novelty. Hogan and Austin were megastars, they thought up shit for them. Here, we have the fiend, a great character, so better use him sparingly. In my opinion the right move is to give him the Title and a compelling story.
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  7. #7
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    Very refreshing to see you dropping columns again. This was extremely well-written and had a very sound logical foundation. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing The Fiend win the championship, but honestly, I don't have much in the way of argumentative ammunition to back that up - simply personal preference!

    Again, great stuff, one of the better-written pieces around here this month.

  8. #8
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    VERY late to this column as this has already played out but I thought you had an interesting reasoning as to why Rey should have won.

    Bray should not be rushed to the title as he should build up a formidable record of decimating and then defeating his opponents. They've repackaged Wyatt once again and I hope it sticks.

    As for Rey, I definitely think he deserves a "Thank You" run and then finishing his career as Cruiserweight Champion, thus going full circle.

    Good column.

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