Dave's RAW Thoughts
October 30, 2013
By: David Stephens of Wrestleview.com
John Cena kicked off RAW and kicked me square in the jaw. I try to caution myself not to get too invested with my own expectations. It's a fallacy that most of us suffer as fans. It's natural. A favorite artist or movie star is the person that you spend your money on and want to see succeed. The concept is no different in wrestling. When a star I feel should be treated a certain way is sloshed to the side or used in a bizarre manner I get upset. But I have to breathe. After all I am a constant preacher that RAW is a television show. Still, just as many of us were upset that [LOST SPOILER ALERT] the characters on LOST were dead the entire time, many of us were upset that Damien Sandow lost his Title shot. We don't need to be.
[EDIT: Thanks to my new favorite reader I just learned that the plane wreckage at the end of LOST was slid in by ABC and NOT actually part of the show. If I was a producer I would be pissed. I'm so much happier about the finale now.]
Mick Foley tweeted, I'm paraphrasing here, that this is in fact the dawning of the age of Sandow-mania. It's possible. Look at it from a booking perspective. There is nothing that seems to grate at a certain segment of the fans more than to see John Cena beat their favorite star. One of the brilliant aspects of Cena's duality as both a face and heel is the fact that he elevates the people that he wrestles – even by beating them. Take Mark Henry for example. He was becoming less and less of a factor in the eyes of fans. It was generally accepted that he was at the end of his run. The crowd showed their appreciation when he was about to announce his retirement, but instead he targeted Cena. Immediately Henry was respected. Unfortunately he is back on the injury wagon at the moment but his feud with Cena renewed his career. Cena's duality allows him to fight against good guys or bad guys. It's a position that makes him such a valuable asset to the company, because it's a rarity. No Superstar in history has made better use of mixed reactions than John Cena.
Damien Sandow has a lot to gain from this loss. I would first question whether or not Sandow was ready for the Title. It is a hard sell that Damien would be as valuable of a Title holder as Cena at this point in his career. The beauty of the loss is that fans are enraged. While it might seem counterproductive to anger the fans it can actually create a lot of passion. Don't give up on Sandow or his staying power in the company. His time will come. Until then the WWE has managed to turn people who were simply supporters into ravenous diehards. That's what's best for business after all.
The match itself needs to be addressed. Critiquing the Super Cena character is pointless. It is now a part of his persona as much as The Undertaker is a demonic force. I take issue with the commercial breaks. For some reason Cena was granted an immediate reprieve after the outside attack. That does not make sense to me at all. I cannot think of a precedent, at least not one that lasted for so long. The whole point of the cash-in was to take advantage of the injured performer. Even more bizarre was the commercial break shortly into the match. By 8:21 EST RAW had already taken two commercial breaks. The show has quite often not even taken one break before that point. If Triple H were giving a lecture in the ring the break would have waited even longer. The flow of the moment felt unnatural.
Cena and Sandow had a solid bout. Yet, they cannot control the production of the show. As a fan I just felt as though the breaks pulled me out of the drama. The high tension that always exists during a cash-in attempt was not present. Not at the level that it should have been.
Kane's return was a twist. It's weird to deal with such surreal characters in this day and age. Kane's devotion to Stephanie is not a huge stretch. Last we saw Kane he was being torn apart by the Wyatt Family. Before that he was in an incredibly successful tag team with Daniel Bryan. During Kane's absence he watched his former partner move on to both great successes and failures. If anyone knows the true ability and potential of Bryan it would be Kane. He has watched his former teammate struggle against the machine and it has not worked. In this age of the Authority skill is not the final determinant. Strap that theory to the fact that Kane has a movie coming out soon for the company and this makes sense. Perhaps working in that environment helped brainwash him or at least helped him see the reality of the current situation. The mask is a twist. It's going to take another week before we see exactly what that means for Kane's character and appearance.
Big E. Langston works well with Dean Ambrose. The Shield has not lost all of their Titles as Ambrose still maintains the United States Championship. This presents a few advantages. The US Title will gain more focus. It also elevates Ambrose as the clear leader of the group. He has been growing in that mold over the last few months. Now the Sasquatch print has been cast so to speak.
Shawn Michaels brought back the arrogant heel that has not been seen since 2005. The beauty of the Wyatt attack to Bryan is that it holds the door open for the Michaels and Bryan feud to occur, but maybe not until down the road. It does not necessitate that Bryan faces off against Michaels. HBK could come in with a new student and have him fight Bryan. I would love it personally if the student took on the teacher. Bryan versus Michaels would be a great match and a true moment to remember in wrestling history. That being said if Michaels wants to respect his retirement at the hands of The Undertaker then I will respect that decision. I can't fault him for sticking to his word.
AJ Lee and Tamina are a good fit. AJ is a fantastic wrestler but benefits from the bodyguard type character that Tamina fulfills.
Summer Rae is a great addition to the Divas division. Her work in NXT has not been seen by most fans but from what I have seen she could be a force to be reckoned with in the division. She ran through more moves in the match than most Divas seem to possess. She also exhibited strong character reactions. Being ringside to watch Fandango has paid off. She has seen not only his skill, but also that of his opponents. Rae understands the importance of character work in the ring.
The reason the Divas division has been getting stronger is two fold. First, they have been granted more screen time since the debut of Total Divas. Second, the Divas are actually playing characters. For what felt like years the majority of the division was like a parade of swimsuit models coming down to the ring for five minutes so people could buy merchandise and snacks. Now the fans have actual characters to invest themselves in during the matches.
CM Punk and Ryback followed their PPV showing with another tough bout. The ability for both men to put their bodies through a Street Fight less than 24 hours removed from their Hell in a Cell encounter is impressive. I certainly wouldn't be so nimble if I had been relentlessly thwacked with foreign objects the night prior.
The Wyatt attack on CM Punk was a surprise. Bryan and Punk would be fascinating to watch as a team. I hope the WWE pulls the trigger and is not just teasing the fans. Feuding together against the Wyatts would help elevate Harper & Rowan. The problem with the Wyatts at this point is that Bray is over but his henchmen are not. A few matches against Bryan and Punk could drastically change that perception.
The Real Americans are getting an opportunity to capitalize on their current popularity. Cesaro is doing wonders for the team and his Big Swing has become a must see attraction. The crowd gets louder by the week with the "We The People" salute.
Big Show is replacing Daniel Bryan in the WWE Title picture. The feud between Orton and Bryan had become stale. The fans did not appreciate the constant false starts to Bryan's Title aspirations. The problem from the start was that for the Authority angle to last Bryan could not truly win the Title. Not for any length of time that would thwart the power of Triple H and Stephanie. A decision had to be made; either Bryan could be the Champion or the Authority could continue their progression. It's clear which direction the company chose. The progression is also important for the very fact that whosoever can finally vanquish the Authority will soar during their WWE Title reign.
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