The wrestler who has been playing hurt on television had surgery IRL this week, putting a good Wrestlemania match in jeopardy.
Maybe the WWE always intended for Jason Jordan to become a heel. Maybe when Kurt Angle announced that then-member of American Alpha was his illegitimate son, WWE writers knew that crowds wouldn’t buy it or him. They certainly reacted to him with suspicious indifference, then wariness. Theoretically, he was a babyface, but once he became Seth Rollins’ tag team partner, Jordan got real heel heat, particularly as his serial bumbling cost them the tag team belt. Last week, he claimed to be too injured to tag with Rollins in one last title shot against The Bar, but he wasn’t so injured that he stayed backstage while Rollins and Roman Reigns faced Cesaro and Sheamus. When Cesaro and Sheamus tried to leave the ring area, Jordan stopped them, decked them, and got Rollins and Reigns DQ’ed for outside interference. That got Jordan and Rollins one step closer to a match at Wrestlemania, but the injury that has been part of the angle manifested in real life. Last week, he had neck surgery that messed with his story’s future. He hasn’t been ruled out for Wrestlemania, but his heel turn is based not in a bad attitude or meanness, but in a performance-based ineptitude. it will be hard to complete that turn with promos and skits, which is a shame because he has built the tension to where you want to see him face Rollins and can imagine it being a good match.
More awkward was the announcement this week via Twitter that Shane McMahon has added the winner of this week’s Dolph Ziggler/Baron Corbin match to the A.J. Styles/Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn match at the upcoming “Fastlane” pay-per-view. So Ziggler won the U.S. Championship late last year, walked away from it, walked out of wrestling, then came back to get in line for a different title? That seems pretty random in a year that Ziggler would probably like to do over. His lengthy campaign against elaborate introductions went nowhere, and he was in a number of forgettable matches with uninspiring opponents, one of which was Baron Corbin. In current Ziggler fashion, he tweeted enigmatically in response to McMahon’s announcement, writing, “Ahh, I see my agent finally returned your calls. He tells me you agree to the wrestlemania implications, in my rider….” It’s like he doesn’t want anyone to care about his matches.
- In Raw news, it’s good to see Elias getting a push. The Singing Asshole is a great gimmick, even if I find him pedestrian in the ring. Still, he didn’t look out of place in the Elimination Chamber seeding match against John Cena and Braun Strowman, stealing a win by pinning a motionless John Cena, who took a running power bomb from Strowman. Elias then pushed Strowman out of the ring and took advantage of the situation left to him.
- Another tease of a Sasha Banks/Bayley feud? That on-again/off-again dance needs to happen or be shelved for good.
- Without Paige, Mandy Rose or Sonya Deville need to show some personality to give Absolution a chance to be meaningful heels. Rose didn’t bring much to her mixed match with Goldust last week, but maybe more exposure will speed her development. Since she’s going to be in the Women’s Elimination Chamber match, she’s going to get a chance.
- Nia Jax spent the last year as a dominant, powerful loser, but last week she faced a jobber and demolished her. It's the Bludgeon Brothers playbook: Face local poindexters and crush them. The WWE clearly wants her strong to face Asuka at Wrestlemania, but it’s disappointing that it’s has taken so long to build Jax as unstoppable.
- In Smackdown Live news, Shane McMahon returned, insulted Daniel Bryan and made the A.J. Styles/Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn situation murkier again. Fortunately, the feud involves three of Smackdown’s best, and Owens and Zayn had a very entertaining match.
- It’s time for the Bludgeon Brothers to face someone other than jobbers. Clearly, they’re moving toward The Usos, but we’ve now seem them wreck enough little guys. What will it look like when they face actual competition?
- Dolph Ziggler’s weeks of screeds railing against wrestlers who were all introduction/no chokehold led to a mini-feud with Bobby Roode, whose time in the WWE has made Dolph look right. After his “Glorious” introduction, Roode has been uninspired in the ring, and he had nothing to say when he spent time at the announce table. Last week, he even made Rusev boring. Roode was a classic heel in NXT, and as a heel, his old school style is perfect. On Smackdown Live, every face has a more dynamic arsenal than he does, so he just seems weak.