Normally it is Monday Night RAW that has a moment (or an entire hour) that takes the smile off my face. This week I can’t say that. Following a strong pay per view the WWE hit the ground running on the road to WrestleMania. Not only was the announcement of New Orleans huge for next year’s Mania, but the overall three hours was jammed packed with goodness.
The start with Cena and Punk again showed that Superman in Jorts isn’t in Punk’s league when it comes to mic work. Cena is completely over the top and looks like an idiot. Punk baits him into putting his rumble golden ticket on the line and he jumps in feet first. Remember kids eat your fruity pebbles and say your catchphrases so you can grow up to be a meathead sucker. Now next week we get Punk vs. Cena in the main event. I like that and the ratings should be good.
Mark Henry is a beast. Since coming back he has looked amazing. I don’t know what a feud with Khali is going to do for him. I hope that isn’t his WrestleMania opponent. Maybe the WWE is building towards a massive six man with Khali, Tensai, and Brodus vs. Henry, Big Show, and ?.
I actually wouldn’t mind combining the circus of Khali (with Hornswoggle & Natalya) and the sideshow of Brodus & Tensai (with the two big booty strippers). While we’re at it throw Santino & Zack Ryder in there. Oh a big 10 man tag of the goofballs vs. the ass kickers. That would be a good Mania undercard match. Plus I want to see Natayla dancing with the big booty strippers. Yeah, that’s good stuff.
It looks like The Miz and Antonio Cesaro will continue their feud over the US title. The WWE doesn’t do hardcore matches very much anymore. This was some decent plunder and the win by the Miz signals that these two will probably dance once more at Mania. I’m guessing a flag match. Good opening hour match up. I like the logic of the follow up to a DQ loss is a no DQ weapons match. It’s simple and makes sense. That figure four is still ugly.
Zeb and Swagger are a good heel gimmick. Some say it is racist, and it is. It also is how a large sect of people in this country (and my office building) think. I’m very involved in politics, and that kind of speak with that “don’t tread on me” flag in the background aren’t a rarity in this country. Hell that video could have been a weekend segment on Fox News. I do like how the WWE is trying to really push that these are crazy views. I still believe this feud between Del Rio and Swagger would have been better post-Mania.
The Bryan and Kane slow split continues. We do get two good singles matches out of it. That is good. The bad acting between Vickie and Heyman continues. We get an in ring segment with them later. That is also good. I kid about the bad acting, the backstage promos just stick out lately. I think it is the way they are shooting them that changed.
Del Rio vs. Dolph was a fun match and just a way to keep Alberto strong while reminding us Dolph has the money in the bank. The tease and the stealing of the case was great. Kudos to the WWE for keeping the MITB case fresh for this many months. Dolph has kept that case longer than anyone else, but he needs to act soon before it gets stale.
Wade Barrett is pushing his movie. Sheamus has a Hollywood friend who is the real star of Wade’s movie. Sheamus insults Barrett. Now we have the seeds for a feud. It is simple, but it makes sense. I wonder how Bo Dallas will play into this story. I don’t see Sheamus wanting an IC title run. I could see him as the guy that costs Wade the title on RAW against Bo Dallas and then Sheamus & Wade have a physical match at Mania. Fingers crossed.
The mixed six man tag was what it was. They got Tensai and Brodus more established as a team. They got dancing involved to get the crowd hyped. The big booty strippers danced and wrestled. A nice way to lighten the mood before Uncle Zeb comes out to talk about “Real America”.
They are really putting a lot behind Jack Swagger. Uncle Zeb is great on the mic. He always has been. I like when the WWE does something like this because wrestling has always been an exaggerated microscope to look at our current culture. ECW was the grunge and anti-establishment movement of the 90’s symbolized in a wrestling promotion. Sgt. Slaughter joined Iraq’s army to fight Hogan. It is what wrestling does well. It finds the real life heroes and villains, then lets the masses watch them fight. I know I’d like to punch people like Zeb in the face on a daily basis. Now millions will pay to see it.
Swagger has always put on good matches when working with good talent. He can’t carry talent, but he is a serviceable hand when working with talented wrestlers. Daniel Bryan is a top three talent inside the ring. Their match was really strong and did a lot to make Swagger look like a true threat to the title. If ADR is the worker he looks to be then him and Swagger should have a great match at Mania. Again I just wish this feud was saved until after Mania for the summer months. I would have liked to see Swagger’s gimmick develop more against like Rey Mysterio or Sin Cara.
Side note: I’m like 2.3% hoping that Del Wilkes does a WrestleMania run in as The Patriot to help Del Rio. Or even help out Swagger. Sure Wilkes is 50, but when has that ever stopped wrestlers from returning for a final run. Imagine the Patriot in the background standing beside Swagger as Uncle Zeb cuts his “Real America” promos. It would be a unique visual.
Brad Maddox is now the assistant to the temporary figure head of RAW. So what. I have no care for this character at all. Maybe now that he has a solid spot (kinda) on the roster I’ll develop a care for him. As of right now I couldn’t tell you if he appears on TV or not because he isn’t a blip on my radar, just a fly in my soup. We do get Vince McMahon fighting Paul Heyman next week. I like it.
HOLY CRAP! That six man tag was awesome. During the promo with Jericho I had the feeling he would turn on Sheamus and Ryback to be revealed as the man behind The Shield. I was wrong and I’m glad. I really hope Jericho is part of the Shield’s match at Mania. He works well with all three members. I don’t think the WWE can keep doing thrown together six man tags with the Shield, but for right now it is awesome stuff.
They had that crowd going last night and could do no wrong. In fact I would take a photo of that match and put it in the wrestling dictionary next to “Hot Tag” because they had like three of them last night. I could have watched those six wrestle for an entire hour.
Kofi and Sandow happened. It was merely taking place so R-Truth could come back and so that he could tag with Kofi against Team Rhodes Scholars. I’m in favor of that. I hope both stay in the tag division, especially with Kane and Bryan headed towards singles action. Nothing truly special here.
Kane and Orton was fun. They push the breakup of Team Hell No. Orton gets a win to stay strong after losing the chamber match last night. This was a match serving multiple purposes. Another strong segment for the WWE.
The Rock strolls down to the ring for his end of the show segment. The ratings info shows that is when he needs to come out. Plus it lets him swear and talk about sex organs. Without a true opponent for WrestleMania yet, he unveils a new belt. I also like that when he was about to announce who he wants to face, the music cut him off. They’re leaving the door open for Rock vs. Punk 3 and Rock vs. Cena 2, or Rock vs. Cena vs. Punk. It keeps me interested for the future, and that is all I ask for.
As for the new belt, I’m a fan. It looks way better than that spinner belt. An upgrade and, as the picture from above shows, the side plates are interchangeable. Right now they have bulls for Rock. They could end up being “X’s” for Punk or Mini-spinners for Cena. Randy Orton could win it and they could use pot leaves. Hell Steve Austin could win it and they could be smoking skulls. I like the option to individualize the title to fit the champion. They could also just put the generic “WWE” plates in after Rock drops the belt. Either way it is a better title than what they have had for 8 years.
The new title gives the WWE product a feeling that a new era really is upon us. The booking would say the same thing. Swagger is getting a monster push. The Shield is beating everyone under the sun. CM Punk was presented as Rock’s equal on the PPV with a legit gripe that he had Rock beat in the center for the ring for an 18 count. All in all, it is a new beginning for the WWE and I’m digging it.