Dave’s RAW Thoughts
April 16, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com
Things were back to normal this week on Monday Night RAW. Gone were the international and crazed fans of last week’s post-Wrestlemania blowout. Instead we were treated to good old Greensville, South Carolina. It’s not that the fans didn’t enjoy the show - it’s just that clapping and cheering have yet to be invented in that part of the country.
Coming into this week the number one story on everyone’s minds seemed to be Fandango. Yes, the crowd gave him a very rambunctious reception last week but as I warned it was not Fandango that they were excited for on RAW. It was his theme. It always was and will be his theme.
Just ask Zack Ryder. If there is any star that managed to keep a contract longer than most it was him. Luckily he has a dynamite theme that people loved and he was able to position that into online success which not only kept him under contract but consistently put Zack Ryder gear in the Top 10 Sellers over on the WWE Shop. Fandango would do well to learn from that approach.
Monday night was what I anticipated from the crowd in regards to his character. It would be generous to say that one out of six fans in attendance were humming his theme and dancing. Very generous. As I expected the reaction just wasn’t there. Look we’ve seen this before it’s nothing new. The crowd gets super amped, chants for whatever they feel like, and then completely forgets about the talent. Credit to the WWE because they really tried hard to push this gimmick.
I did get a laugh at the expense of the IWC for thinking they were breaking the mold and starting a little revolution with the Fandango appreciation. I laughed because it was always Vince’s pet project and for the IWC to latch onto his character as a way of saying screw you to Vince was literally one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in the wrestling community. Though I suppose common sense would be asking a bit too much from the armchair quarterbacks.
I’ve never made any qualms about my involvement in professionally wrestling. I’m not here to tell you that I know better than anyone who currently sits on the creative board. I don’t fantasy book, I don’t say that something is terrible because I didn’t get the match result that I wanted. I treat professional wrestling as an entertainment entity. I review RAW much the same way that someone would review a movie or a TV show. At the end of the day I watch professional wrestling to be entertained. I take the entertainment aspect and compare that to how it affects the company from a business perspective and then give my opinions.
Yea, I realize that most columnists, recappers and bloggers have a different approach than mine – and I’m okay with that. If you like that style, go read what they put out. What I can tell you is that I’m always going to be honest. I may be biased (I did once try and convince the PWI Publisher to put Paul London at the top of the PWI 500) but I think that’s why my readers return week after week. After three years covering RAW here for WrestleView you guys have learned my style and I appreciate the support over the years.
I say all this because I know that my stance on Fandango is not going to be well received. From day one I had trouble getting behind the gimmick and was open with my distaste. I gave him a fair shot at Wrestlemania as I did not invest time in his NXT work as Johnny Curtis. Since debuting I haven’t been impressed by his mic work and his ring work is standard fare for WWE Developmental. His saving graces at the moment are the way he moves around the ring and his theme song.
If Fandango was not Vince’s pet project the exposure of his character would never have been this massive. No disrespect to Steve Austin because he has forgotten more about the wrestling business than I will ever learn – but Fandango is not going to be the Champion in 6 months. He’ll fade to midcard obscurity. Maybe he’ll teach Clay & Sweet T a new dance. Maybe he’ll form a stable with Zack Ryder in which they bask in the glory of their themes. But what he won’t be doing is holding the World Championship above his head.
Let’s be real, the WWE gave Fandango every resource and push that they could possibly manage. Just like last week was not an indicator that Fandango would have long term success, neither is Monday an indicator that he’ll be future endeavored by next year. All I can really say at this point is that aside from the fun the fans are having with his theme I do not see the appeal of Fandango lasting for a long duration. Gimmick aside he has yet to display any sort of ability that would wow me in the way that the internet seems to have manufactured. It’s just not happening.
Maybe the biggest shame of the Fandango insanity last week is that it over-shadowed a historic moment in the career of Dolph Ziggler. The fans gave him a massive ovation when he won which should have been the front page story on all of the sites. Instead, Ziggler was glossed over in the eyes of many fans and that is a shame. From all accounts Ziggler is a very hard worker and obviously has the “it” factor. Thanks to Teddy Long’s incompetence Ziggler will defend his Title in a Triple Threat Match against Swagger and Del Rio. I would be surprised if Ziggler does not walk out of that encounter as the victor. A victory in that match will be a confidence booster to the fans in terms of Ziggler’s legitimacy. Remember, the people that are reading this recap are the more in tuned than most wrestling fans in the world. You guys are on the news sites, posting memes, chatting etc. Still, the Internet Wrestling Community remains a minority faction in the world of Sports Entertainment. Just because online fans salivate over Ziggler doesn’t mean that the majority of fans feel the same way. Ziggler is right on the cusp of greatness and it’s obvious that he feels it. His run will be a treat to watch.
I unfortunately missed the first hour of the show due to a DVR mix-up (thanks again Comcast) so I don’t want to delve too far into that part of the show. I know, call me crazy, but I don’t feel I should give commentary on something I haven’t watched. This separates me from 90% of columnists who have no problem voicing their views on a show they haven’t watched. Trust me it happens far more than you realize.
Kane and Bryan fought the PTP yet again on RAW. I’d have to pull out the recaps to check, but it feels like this is the third time in the past five weeks that this match has occurred. Once was even with Kane and Bryan handicapped. Why this match continues to occur I have absolutely no idea. It’s not like the outcome is changing.
Kane and Bryan will be teaming with The Undertaker next week in England to take on The Shield. I’m excited to see the Deadman wrestle on RAW as it has been years since we’ve been treated to a showing. I do worry that this will be yet another instance of the match is too good to be true. I fear a pre-match attack that will keep Taker out of action. That being said this is one of the last times that The Undertaker will be with the crew as they travel over to England. Let the RAW match happen across the pond before The Deadman retires for good.
Truth beat Wade Barrett this week. The only explanation I have for this match is that apparently if you have a singles Championship on RAW this week – you’re going to lose your match or get beat up. Just ask Cena, Ziggler, Cesaro & Kaitlyn.
Not much to say about the Great Khali match. Hornswoggle still cracks me up. I don’t know why but I’ve always had a soft spot for the little guy. Always makes me chuckle.
CM Punk was expected to take a few months off to heal from injuries so that storyline was put into motion. Punk walking out was certainly a “lost his smile” moment. I enjoy the fact that they did not give an abundance of explanation for his exit so as to allow for a multitude of storylines upon his return. We will probably see Punk in two or three months. Not a bad way to handle his exit. It will certainly get people talking and the exit off to the side instead of up the ramp was a nice touch.
Ryback v. John Cena. Where to even start with this one? Cena had chased the Title for almost two years before finally winning it from The Rock. It’s pretty safe to say that he will beat Ryback in their matchup yet WWE likes to throw in twists and turns so we’ll have to wait creative out on this one. Ryback was pretty fired up in his segment with Cena and the walk out during The Shield attack was a nice full circle moment.
I do have to complain from a production standpoint about that Ryback pre-taped interview early in the evening. That was horrendous. It sounded like Ryback did twenty takes and the atmospheric lighting killed the drama. The bizarre cuts to recaps and live shots of a disinterested crowd did nothing to help his case. I was a bit surprised as to how lousy of a promo they produced. Ryback has been given little live mic time and it is clearly evident that he’s not the greatest promo guy in history. I understand trying to make up for that deficit in production, but that promo fell way short of even WWE’s standards.
RAW was important this week in regards to a few storylines, however it lacked the buzz (expectedly so) of last week’s show. I don’t toss out grades, but it was mid-range this week. Send your thoughts my way here or on twitter. Vitriolic or flirty – I accept either. And if my relationship history is any standard bearer it’s usually one in the same.
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“The Teacher’s Lounge” is a weekly podcast archived every Sunday on the Wrestleview Radio Network featuring hosts David Stephens and “Mr. V” Anthony Valvo. The show reviews all of the news from the week, tosses out Gold Stars and Detentions, PPV previews and special guests. Past Interviews include: Colt Cabana, Hernandez, Sara Del Rey, CZW Owner DJ Hyde, Shane Douglas and more!
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