Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monday Night RAW: Shifting Gears

Missed in all the hubbub about a fan getting hit was a really good showing by the WWE last week on RAW. The last twenty minutes is some of the best television they have produced this year. The story told by Vince McMahon and CM Punk is a tape that should be studied by new wrestlers to learn how to do so much with so little. It also made me want to watch this week instead of Monday Night Football. I would say that is mission accomplished.

This week was another good episode of RAW. I believe it was the episode to sell fans on the Hell in a Cell PPV. Next week is a programming nightmare as RAW goes head to head with the final Presidential debate and MNF is the Lions vs. Bears. Both will take huge chunks of the audience with them. That meant last night was really the go home show for the PPV with next week being just a week to pad the numbers. There were some road bumps, but overall another step in the right direction for the WWE.

Big Show is an underrated talent. His size alone makes him a draw but he is really good at cutting a multi-level promo. He has done a lot for Sheamus while the WWE creative team treads water with the fighting Irishman until a real feud comes along. I think Survivor Series will be a fork in the road for both men. I’m still pushing for a team up of Henry, Tensai, and Show. Or as I like to call them, “HTS” for Half Ton Savages. Think about those three doing a free bird style tag team.

It’s no mystery that Daniel Bryan and Kane are riding a hot streak right now. They are becoming a true attraction for the WWE. Bryan had that crowd going nuts just walking to the ring. These two had a great opener, and once again Bryan proves he can wrestle any person on the roster to a good showing. Show, Kane, and Bryan are all in limbo as neither is in a real feud. Using the three to push their characters is a nice touch.

It also lets Sheamus work a mini-program with Wade Barrett. What an enjoyment that was. I love their chemistry and brutality. I like that Sheamus has yet to finish a match with Barrett. It keeps building up Wade and protects the champ. When they have their real “first” match it will have tons of buzz going into it. Can anyone else say Survivor Series? If Wade Barrett isn’t World Champ by the Royal Rumble then he is my pick to win it.

What happened to Brodus Clay? No entrance and getting jobbed out in a few minutes, rough. His gimmick is limited, but damn who tied a bag of rocks around his leg and dropped him off the WWE bridge? Del Rio is becoming a top tier heel. Poor Brodus is becoming a victim. ADR is vicious and his arm breaker is a feared finisher. He should get the win against Orton. Should. We all know nothing is certain against Reefer Randy.

Side note: Anyone else notice that the DUI dancer for Clay can’t hide the fact that each time Brodus loses, and gets closer to a gimmick switch, that she is a day closer to unemployment? She really is a dead woman dancing.

Kane vs. Striker, The PTP tag match, and Ryback were a bunch of time wasters. Luckily the WWE put them in a good spots. I am guessing the PTP will be the post PPV challengers for Team Hell No. It is good to build them up now. Kane attacking announcers and the GM abusing her power is getting old. Move the storyline forward. Having Vince take control of both shows seems to be the direction they are headed. I'm guessing before Survivor Series. What about AJ managing Ryback? Not a bad team huh. Poor Ziggler is the real guy in the WWE getting no respect. His career looks like his MITB case, beat up.

When it comes to the Diva division I am going to leave that as incomplete. The WWE has done a lot to salt the earth in this division. Honestly this is the time I did some quick clean up around the house before finishing RAW in bed. This had nothing to offer me at this point.

The lowest point of the show was “The 3 Man Band”. Horrible gimmick. Mahal looks so out of place trying to be two stereotypes at once. Wrestling gimmicks are like the streams in Ghostbusters, don’t cross them. Asian Cowboy didn’t work for Jimmy Wang Yang. Rock-a-Billy Hindu isn’t doing anything for Mahal. I like all three workers. They could be a good team. Just not this team. Also the live vignette in the Nashville bar was stupid. I checked on the MNF game at this point.

Antonio Cesaro on the other hand is a gimmick that is hitting. He is a gifted worker with a great look. His, “I’m the best US Champ because I’m not American”, story is great. It doesn’t do the campy old 80’s anti-America heel stuff. It is a fresh take on an old idea. I like that the crowd chants USA during his match. I would like to see Antonio act like the crowd is chanting for him. Who else would they be cheering for? He is the US champ after all.

Also Jim Ross on commentary did amazing stuff for Cesaro last night. Pointing out the little things on the replay was huge. JR truly is the greatest of all time. How many stars have been made just because of Ross? He gives each WWE superstar depth to their character.

Kofi vs. Miz is interesting. Miz is calling Kofi a sideshow performer when that is what most people have thought about Miz his whole career. I like that this is feud that is playing a bigger role on their ION show. It helps that product grow, and gives this feud more chances to expand. I liked their rushed match near the end of the show. That kick from Kofi was nasty. I’m sure it wasn’t planned to be so stiff, but damn did it look good. I hope Miz doesn’t have brain damage. If he is ok then that kick did a lot to open people’s eyes to this feud. Good mid-card battle here.

The Rhodes Scholars is a great team. I am so excited that tag team wrestling is on the upswing. There really are 5-6 strong teams right now. JR said it best last night when he stated that Team Hell No has restarted this division. I really hope the WWE is going to keep these teams together. They need some guys willing to give up the next 2-3 years to help bring the tag titles back to glory. I think that Hell No vs. The Scholars at the PPV could be the dark horse for match of the night. Next week against Rey and Sin Cara should be a good one too.

I’ve waited to cover the Punk-Vince-Cena story. This whole angle since last week has been the shining light for the WWE. Punk has developed this unique character that is part weasel, part ego-maniac, and part serial killer all mixed together with a sense that at the end of the day the thing that pisses you off the most about him is that he might be right; he might be “the best in the world”. Paul Heyman plays perfectly off Punk with his facial expressions. They are really a good mesh of talents. I hope the WWE doesn’t cut the legs off this beast before it gets a chance to really run its course.

Vince has been top notch the past two weeks. He hasn’t been overused. He isn’t his cheesy dancing make a dick joke self. He has a little of that attitude and swagger about him from a decade ago. You kind of expect that from a guy who two weeks ago was told by a top star that his current product is the drizzling shits. It’s weird that so many compare Punk to Austin, and it is Vince who really helps elevate both men. I would say that Vince makes Punk the anti-Austin. His in ring psychology last week was some of the best in a WWE ring this year outside of Punk and Bryan.

Finally, John Cena has done something that nobody thought possible. He has embraced the hate. He looks to be a man who HATES every bone in CM Punk’s body. He has no respect for the man. He wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire. It has been the one true emotion that Cena has lacked his entire WWE career. When the two hook up in a month or two, this will be something that makes that match up special.

The Cena injury might be the biggest gift the WWE has ever received. First nobody wants anyone to be injured. That is stupid. What I am saying is that the elbow has forced the WWE to slow down the pace of a really good story. It is no secret that Punk and Cena can deliver in the ring. Yet the WWE was ready to hot shot everything this month and leave a hole between now and the Royal Rumble. Now it is unfolding that the path to WrestleMania will be filled with tons of goodies.

This month we get Ryback vs. Punk. A match up that might draw more PPV buys than Punk/Cena Month 3. The big man is a hot ticket right now. Is he WWE championship material? Not yet. He can benefit from playing in the main event. Punk can make him look like a beast and then he can go rip the WWE mid card a new ass.  I am guessing somehow Punk gets out of HIAC with his title. Got Brock?

Next Month is the Survivor Series PPV. The last BIG PPV of 2012. It is already being leaked that a classic five man match is going be the selling point here. I am guessing either team Cena vs. team Punk or Team McMahon vs. Team Heyman. They’re kinda both the same, just depends on the angle. Ryback gets to play on team Cena and Brock can hang with team Punk. The rest fills in leading up to the PPV. I for one think having the winning team’s captain name the stipulation for Cena vs. Punk in December would be a smart decision. It adds extra buzz to the match without doing anything.

Like I said December is probably the best month for Punk vs. Cena. Not only is it the end of their feud. Not only is it for the WWE championship. The winner also goes on to face the Rock at the next PPV, Royal Rumble. That is a lot of different factors playing into this B-list PPV. It could be a real boon for the WWE to save this match for such a pay per view. It’s like a bonus pay day for them.

Finally there is the Royal Rumble and the Rock. The winner of the feud will be red hot going into this matchup. The Rock will bring it. A very huge way to start 2013. It is a great place to be heading into WrestleMania, which should be a top notch show this year.

Last night picking Ryback over John Cena, with no fight from Cena, was a move in the right direction. Cena stepped aside because he now wants something more than the WWE title. He wants the destruction of CM Punk. As I said earlier, he has embraced the hate. Now the WWE has the potential for five big PPVs leading into WrestleMania. That is something to get excited about.

Monday Night RAW had a good show for a second straight week. I think next week will be a wash with all the other options on TV. The WWE has shown some life after the shakeup in the creative team. The new blood seems to be paying off. I’m already looking forward to the PPV. I would say with these strong showings the past few weeks that the WWE brass has gotten the kick in the ass they need to finally begin shifting gears.

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