Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monday Night Raw: Back To The Future

(courtesy of the WWE)

The 995th episode of Monday Night Raw was a showcase of how good the WWE used to be. The best parts of the night involved all the people that now reside outside the active roster. Just as Vader’s return last week, the parade of former stars reminded the fans that the best WWE product is the old WWE product. Besides a handful of talent, most of which appeared in one tag match, there is nothing for fans to truly be excited for in the current roster.

RAW started strong with a cheap pop from the crowd when local boy, and WWE hall of famer, Mick Foley made his way to the ring. Mick always gets a good reaction from the crowd because for years the creative staff made sure that he was memorable to the audiences during the famed attitude era. Mick announces he’s the guest General Manager for the week after Johnny Ace was fired at the No Way Out PPV the night before.

Each week there will be a former GM coming to both Raw & Smackdown until the WWE brain trust finds a suitable replacement for Johnny Ace. A mentally handicapped monkey as the replacement would be on par with those standards. That’s when the entertainment ended and logic left the building as Johnny Ace came out to say his goodbye to the fans.
First off, Johnny Ace should come out to let the fans get closure on a storyline that has been on RAW for the better part of a year. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the lack of logic that followed. Johnny Ace was fired last night, but before the PPV he booked a main event of John Cena vs. The Big Show, David Otunga, & himself for RAW. Somehow Mick Foley & the WWE have no power to overturn his decision and tell him to hit the bricks.
Mick Foley is the new GM for the week and he can’t even make his own main event or change the plans of the guy who was fired. In what business does this happen? A guy gets fired for being a horrible boss and the company can’t change any of his plans, WTF? The even bigger head scratcher is that Mick Foley is the GM for the week and he appears briefly while Johnny Ace has multiple segments throughout the show, including his own dressing room. Like I said logic goes out the window.
Luckily the show was pulled out of the pits by a good tag match between four of the bigger talents on the show. World champ Sheamus teamed with WWE champ, and snow angel aficionado, CM Punk to face the team of Daniel Bryan & Kane, who fought each other in a three way dance the night before. The match was good, not great.
Sheamus seemed to be off during the match with miscues and timing issues. The best part of the match came when Daniel Bryan and CM Punk got to exchange a barrage of counters that reminded me of the awesome opening parts of the RVD vs. Jerry Lynn matches from ECW. The crowd really got into the match, and Kane has really been resurrected feuding with both Bryan and Punk. Again I will say a short feud with him and CM Punk as the Bryan/Punk feud is put on the back burner to simmer until Summer Slam could be really good for all talents. What about a title match at the Money in the Bank PPV while Daniel Bryan competes in the MITB ladder match? Not too complicated, and it looks like that maybe the plan.
I say that might be the plan because near the end of the match AJ, the crazy chick, comes strolling out in her Kane outfit, mask and all. Kane follows her as she skips back up the ramp and Daniel Bryan is screwed over by a monster & his hormones. Of course AJ is working with CM Punk to play games with Kane’s heart, which can only lead to mayhem for the two. Daniel Bryan is left holding the bag and that means issues between him and Kane. I smell a #1 contender’s match in their future. Overall a good segment that furthered storylines and kept Sheamus at the forefront of the WWE Universe as the World champ waits to find out who his next feud will be with.
One thing we know is that Sheamus won’t be facing Dolph Ziggler again after he was jobbed out on the PPV the night before. Now Dolph is feuding with his tag partner Jack Swagger over the “services” of Eddie Guerrero’s widow. Their emotions boil over and Vickie puts them in a match because what cougar doesn’t like a good boy toy fight.
The WWE needs to figure out what they are doing with Dolph Ziggler because each week he keeps getting buried by creative. The self-proclaimed show off faced off against Jack Swagger in a bout of the new era job squad. The match was built around a Ziggler injury that seemed to hinting towards a Dolph face turn, but in the end Swagger controlled 99% of the match only to lose in one move to Dolph. Swags not only lost the match but also Vickie Guerrero, who lays a big smacker on Ziggler. Not sure who really was the loser here. I’ll say Ziggs because the crowd wants to cheer for him and now he’s stuck in Vickie’s big shadow as he returns to playing second fiddle to the queen of the cougars.
The second hour of RAW was two good segments, and as Heath Slater said, “A Train Wreck”. It started out with Paul Heyman, another non-regular, coming out to chants of ECW. The exchange between him and HHH was better than the promo HHH cut on PPV last night, and it was free. That’s got to sting. Almost as much as not seeing Ryback on free TV and knowing you paid to watch his RAW match the night before.
Paul Heyman might be the best weasel in the business. Who didn’t get a big smile on their face when thinking about him running the WWE? Oh what a tease that is. When Heyman said he had something for Stephanie, I was hoping it was booking lessons. In the end HHH gets the cheap pop by knocking out Paul Heyman with a right cross, but it looks like Paul won the war as now he’ll own the former WWE champ.
We moved on to the return of Albert Del Rio as he destroyed the US champion Santino. It continued the Santino feud with ADR’s ring announcer from their Tuxedo Match the night before. It’s like previewing the fact that I’ll be water boarded for the next few weeks. It was later topped by the tag team match.
Who are the Prime Time Players, and who cares about Primo & Epico?  The match tried to establish the PTPs as slimy egomaniacs who walked out on their match because they’re #1 contenders already. That works when you’re facing the tag champs in non-title match. It doesn’t work when you’re facing a team nobody thinks much of. If the Prime Time Players are the next contenders for the tag titles, and nobody knows who they are, then maybe racking up a few wins to build their credibility won’t hurt. Having them walk out of a match against two low card talents doesn’t do much to make me believe they have a shot against the champs.
When Cyndi Lauper came out with Wendi Richter I gave a small pop. No matter what you say, Lauper did a lot to get the WWF into the main stream that launched their success today. She had wrestlers in her videos, including the video for the title track for “The Goonies”. In the 80’s that was huge. Whenever she appeared in a WWF ring she looked more like the talent than a guest. Something only a handful of celebs like Andy Kaufman have been able to do.
The Heath Slater part was disjointed and could have been better. The Rowdy Roddy Piper entrance was great but had its hills & valleys. In the end Slater takes a gold record to the skull and the WWF 80’s all-stars celebrate. It looks like after his squash by Vader last week and getting smashed this week that Heath will be the legends jobber leading up to the 1000th episode of RAW. At least we can look forward to some good trips down memory lane over the next few weeks.
To end RAW there was hopefully the last appearance of Johnny Ace with Otunga & the Big Show. Again I will state, WHY? Why is Show even coming out for the match? Why is Otunga kissing the ass of a guy who holds no power? Why is this match the main event, not a tag match with both the World & WWE champs? Why didn’t John Cena just come out to start the show and end this whole storyline? Why am I still watching this as even Rick Martel under a blindfold could see what was coming?
The Big Show walks out and says goodbye to his former boss. It makes some sense. Would have made more sense at 9:10 PM not 10:57 PM. Otunga stays to help Ace against Cena because well, I don’t know. Cena comes out and slaps around Otunga for a bit. I will say David Otunga is still green but, like the Miz years ago, he is really making strides in the ring. He has great charisma and mic skills. He could have a bright future down the road if handled correctly. He also came to his senses when he realized Ace wasn’t hurt.
Johnny Ace gets smashed by Cena, and the crowd gets closure on this horrible storyline. Now John Cena can move on into another feud, possibly with Dolph Ziggler. Johnny Ace can be off the television. I can move on from this whole mess. That is until next week when somehow Ace appears on TV for nine more segments because being fired ain’t what it used to be.
Overall Raw was better than last week, and better than the Pay Per View. It was still a middle of the road show. When they go to three hours starting on July 23rd the WWE better figure out a lot of the bumps, or they are going to fall flat on their faces. It’s not like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk can wrestle all three hours … or could they?
Next week is in Fart Wayne, IN at the memorial coliseum, which is my old stomping ground. It’s the armpit of the Midwest, and possibly the birth place of the term slack jawed yokel. That means the WWE should fit right in with their current intelligence and creativity. Look out for a mullet on a pole match!

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