Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday Night RAW: More Means Less

A friend of mine lives his life by this motto, “Low expectations leads to higher returns”. That is how I should have gone into the 1000th episode of WWE Monday Night RAW. I couldn’t help myself because in my brain this was a can’t miss show. It was stacked with talent new and old. There were already hyped segments in a WrestleMania size Main Event, the reunion of DX, and Brock Lesnar answering HHH. As far as big nights go, this had all the ingredients and more. Then I looked at my watch at 8:51 and noticed there had been about 8 minutes of wrestling. That’s when I knew this was going to be more of a talk show than a wrestling show. That’s when my expectations came crashing down to earth.
The show wasn’t horrible; it was a walk down memory lane. Now looking back at the show I can see this is exactly what episode 1000 should be. The older talent isn’t going to light things up in the ring, and this wasn’t the show to highlight the new guys. It was like going to a Huey Lewis concert where you want to hear the old stuff so you can sing along. The new stuff is just back burner material. Add in some storylines being advanced, and it wasn’t a horrible show for what is was. It just wasn’t the WrestleMania caliber event that most of us had hoped for.
Kicking it off with Vince McMahon was the right choice. This is his baby, and he should be the one to welcome us all to his major milestone. I liked that he kept it short and sweet.
DX is a fun time, but being a fan who watched every moment from 1997 on, I can see how watered down they have become. Seeing Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, and X-Pac was cool. Besides being there, only Road Dogg really added to show. They did their shtick and looked to be having fun, which always makes a segment more enjoyable for the viewers.
If Damian Sandow is supposed to be a smart guy, he sure does some stupid stuff. I liked him the first time when he was Lanny Poffo calling himself, The Genius. He walks into a ring with the five originators of WWE rule bending faces, and doesn’t expect to have his teeth kicked in. He’s lucky he didn’t eat a fame-asser, a pump handle slam, and an X-factor for his stupidity. Somebody was going to get screwed with but a small part of me wishes it was Sgt. Slaughter or Michael Cole for old times’ sake. Also a Rick Rude reference wouldn’t have killed anyone either. He was a DX original, and he wasn’t bat shit crazy like Chyna.
Last week I called 5 of the six men who would be in the World title six man tag. The WWE has a script they follow when place holding a title that doesn’t have a defined challenger. The six man tag is that. I can’t stand having Ziggler and Jericho on the same team, but I guess having him be on team Sheamus wouldn’t make sense either if he isn’t fully a face. He did get screwed by Ziggs, so that made some sense. I’m thinking Sheamus vs. ADR vs. Rey Mysterio at SummerSlam with Ziggler and Jericho going at it, so Y2J can make Ziggler before he goes back on tour.
Having Jim Ross come out to call the six man was cool because he is the best announcer in the RAW era. Wasting him in the 8 o’clock hour was a mistake. He should have been saved to add more importance to the main event. Especially with all the storytelling that happened between Punk and Cena. Congrats on the payday JR, but shame on the WWE for not doing the right thing, and having him stay there all night. Calling the main event was the bare minimum they could have done, and the WWE screwed that up.
I’ll get into Charlie Sheen later. Also the product placement through the night reminds me we aren’t in Kansas anymore. They need to make money somehow. I guess trying hard with compelling storylines and larger than life stars to get ratings back to attitude era heights so you can charge more for ad buys is out of the question. Instead we get a sonic waitress that has more camera time than Trish Stratus. There was also Mae Young’s son. Creative can remember that, but they can’t remember that the Big Show shouldn’t have a job because of a board of director’s order to fire talent who interfere in a match between Cena and Johnny Ace. Good job guys.
Brodus Clay and Dude Love have a dance segment. Yes there was match in between, but does it really count. I like Dude Love. His theme song, just like Brodus’ song, makes me smile. I don’t think Swagger needed to be abused like this. He is a former World champion. A former champion who took two moves before starring up at the lights. Even Barry Horowitz could take more than that.
Slick was a great surprise to lead the wedding. He’s an old pro and showed it in his role. The wedding was just a bait and switch. AJ is the new GM, and Daniel Bryan gets screwed. Actually I think we all got screwed on this one. I love the AJ character. I just don’t love it as the all-powerful GM. Johnny Ace got fired for being incompetent, but the solution was to give all that power to a nut job with zero experience. Why not just elect a fan to be the GM of the week? Then they can tout it.
It looked like Daniel Bryan was going to be moving up in the world with The Rock and CM Punk. They had a great duel on the mic. I am geeked for Punk vs. Rock at the Royal Rumble. When he named that PPV, I knew it was Punk because it will take place right after Punk passes the one year mark as champion. Then Bryan got Rock Bottomed, which is symbolic of his situation as he went from being in the WWE title picture & marrying AJ to fighting Charlie Sheen at Summer Slam.
I’m never one to root for a celebrity to be in a ring with a wrestler. In reality Sheen should last 20 seconds before Bryan stretches him into a pretzel. Then again it’s great for publicity. Sheen always draws media attention, and Bryan is best suited for protecting Sheen in the ring to make him not look like a total fool. I hope Daniel gets something out of this once Summer Slam is said and done.
If the IC title changes hands and nobody cares, does it count? Last night Miz beat Christian and the reaction by the crowd told the story. He filmed a crappy straight to DVD movie and was rewarded with the IC title. Santino hosts a bad internet show on WWE.com and he’s the US champ. I’m starting to see the qualifications to be a champion in the WWE. Hopefully with Miz as champ the IC title can get a boost because of Miz’s ability in and out of the ring. Then again somebody might make Chaperone 2, and they’ll get the title.
Paul Heyman is great in his role as Brock’s slime ball spokesman. He and HHH have had some great back and forth exchanges. When Stephanie came out I noticed she left her boobs in the attitude era. She looks good still though. Having her jump Heyman was great too, but I would have loved to see Brock get her cornered. The fight between HHH and Lesnar was fun, but I still have trouble believing Lesnar can’t just rip through HHH. He tore Cena a new ass on PPV, yet he can’t manhandle a semi-retired COO of WWE? It’s a thin ice. I’m still sold on seeing this match at Summer Slam. It’s gonna be brutal in a good way.
The Heath Slater angle comes to an end and the big payoff is … LITA? Another example of expectations being too high. It’s great to see Lita as she is a true pioneer of women’s wrestling in the modern era. She looked great in the ring. The addition of the APA was a cool sight, and the old legends coming out got the crowd going. Lita’s moonsault is still better than most. Ron Simmons gets in a DAMN, and we all go home happy.
At this point I knew Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t coming out for the night. It just can’t be a real celebration of RAW without him. I get that he had another commitment with Grown Ups 2, but the WWE could pull some strings. Maybe offer up some free advertising in exchange for getting him for the night. He’s bigger than Hogan when it comes to RAW, and he needed to be on this show. This was a BIG drop the ball moment.
Watching Undertaker’s entrance might be the coolest thing in wrestling. His whole character is a once and a life time thing. There won’t be another like him. The New Age Job Squad got laid out by the Brothers of Destruction. I get that Taker can’t wrestle as much as he used to, but what about a run with his brother as tag champs. He could work a reduced schedule, and it would make the tag belts mean something again. Plus Kane can take all the heat in the matches, and Taker can handle the comebacks. It would be something nice to bridge him over until WrestleMania time.
The Main Event didn’t get going until 10:59, what the fuck!?! This is a top tier match, and you don’t get it going until there is a few minutes left on a three hour show. Even in the seven minutes they wrestled, CM Punk and John Cena put on a good match. It never got into high gear, because it never had the time. I look forward to seeing them lock up at Summer Slam without time constraints.
The whole CM Punk turn began when Cena tossed him into the ref. He got hit with the AA, and he was beat. His title run should have ended. It was that moment of reality that hit Punk. He sold his fight with his decision to pick the bones perfectly. Cena gets him again with the STFU, and Punk knows his title is slipping away. That’s when Big Show comes in again, and Punk slithers to the corner. That’s when he goes dark side.
The title is more important to CM Punk than doing the right thing. Cena had him beat twice, and he knows it. He walks away from Show killing Cena, because now he is concerned with only staying champion. This was a perfect twist that will set Punk up for his eventual meeting at the Royal Rumble with The Rock, who came down to save Cena.
The crowd popped huge for The Rock as he flew down the ramp and passed CM Punk. Everyone thought it was going to be a few Rock moves to send everyone home happy. Then Punk lays out The Rock, and the Royal Rumble gets sold out & buy rates jump through the roof. We’ve seen Cena vs. Rock, now we get Rock vs. Punk, which should be a better overall match up.
Punk can play the heel better than most, and he can do it by justifying his actions. If you’re the champ then why not let Big Show beat up Cena. Punk never made Cena smack Show in the head last week with the brief case. He’s only reaping what he sowed. He’ll also be able to talk with the Rock, who better be on his toes because Punk will pipe bomb him back to Hollywood.
So for the next few months Punk will lay the ground work for Royal Rumble as he cements his dynasty as one of the greatest WWE champions in the history of the WWE. He’ll get booed out of every building in the country, and the WWE will smile all the way to the bank. Also at the Royal Rumble, it’s going to be a big toss up on who wins because Punk going over on the Rock could set him up to be a Stone Cold type star. Who coincidently is waiting in the wings for a matchup at WrestleMania. Cha-Ching!
The WWE made some bad decision last night, but like any offering, it’s the end that really influences the final verdict. The WWE gave us a great twist ending that will have people tuning in. Cena is kind of aligned with Rock. Daniel Bryan kind of hates the Rock. The Rock really hates Punk. What about Cena & Rock vs. Bryan & Punk at Survivor Series? It’ll take some work, but it’s a possibility.
It’s these kinds of possibilities that make last night’s show more than the stinker it probably came off as to the average fan. If you’re looking at only last night’s show then it was below average, but if you’re looking at the next few months, it’s better than average. After last night, I’ll take that … for now.

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