Mike Tedesco’s RAW Thoughts
November 4, 2014
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
For the first time in what has felt like an eternity, the WWE has produced a three-hour show that is worthy of carrying the Monday Night RAW title. That eternity lasted nearly two months when they put on a very presentable “Season Premiere” episode that featured a good cage match between Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt as well as a match between Randy Orton and Roman Reigns. That show no doubt contained flaws, but that was the last time I felt excited about literally anything on this show except for that appearance by The Rock, but that was in the middle of what turned out to be the lowest show of them all.
Yes, tonight was a presentation they should have been putting on since Monday Night Football started up and things started to go to hell. I offer the opinion that the pathetic WWE Network numbers where they grew only 4% since the mid-summer due to a rash of cancelations was directly caused by them resting on their laurels. Earlier in the year (I can’t remember if I said it on a radio show or one of these thoughts sections), I said that the WWE Network would either be the greatest thing in the world for fans, or the worst. It would be the greatest because, in theory, it would force them to have to be creative and put out compelling storylines every month to try and motivate people to subscribe to the WWE Network to watch the PPV programming. I then opined it could wind up to be the worst thing for fans if that first theory didn’t hold true because they also had the option of getting their beginning stash of subscribers and resting on their laurels for six-months until the next billing cycle happens, producing sub-par programming just because they had people locked in to buying a PPV months down the road without a main event even announced.
I think the WWE Network numbers (partly) showed the effect of resting on those laurels. After watching five hours of near 1995 levels of bad WWE television every week for the past two months, how in the name of all that is good and holy could you justify to yourself paying $9.99 to see more of it?
They got humbled on Thursday and put their proverbial tail between their legs. Tonight could wind up being an anomaly and they’ll go back to putting out more terrible shows in the coming weeks. I’m hoping tonight was the beginning of the sleeping beast waking up and fighting back.
Like I said in my column I posted Thursday, “Creative needs to get better for there to be any upward mobility not just for the network, but the company as a whole.” Yes, I just quoted myself in my own column. Shut tup, I know. And yes, I purposely misspelled that. Read that like Lana would.
What better way to kick off the show than having the owner of the formerly mentioned sleeping beast making a surprise return after nearly a yearlong absence? Vince McMahon came back to a great reception, and even I sitting at home had to smile as he did his ridiculous pose at the top of the ramp and jumped up in jubilation as he made his way down to the ring. The guy is pushing 70 and still looks great. McMahon then introduced a big time PPV stipulation that probably changed the minds of everyone who thought the Team Cena versus Team Authority match was just a throwaway because they were giving it away for free (that would include me): If Team Authority loses at Survivor Series, they’re out of power. Even I was surprised by that announcement. I figured he was just out there to promote the free month of the WWE Network. That bombshell did exactly what it should have done: it got people buzzing and set the tone for the rest of the evening where The Authority was trying to make the best team possible while punishing anyone who would associate with John Cena.
Maybe the one misstep of the night came in the first contest. I thought the follow-up with Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt was poor last week, but it was even lamer this week. Wyatt interferes in a PPV main event and costs this man a match. Then we pretty much get one lame backstage promo from Wyatt and no other explanation. This week he’s just sitting at the top of the ramp in a rocking chair laughing for no apparent reason. I’d like to hear a little more explanation from Wyatt and hear Ambrose share his thoughts. It’s just missing something at the moment.
On the other side of the ring, is anyone surprised that Cesaro states a week and a half ago that he’s “sick and tired” of seeing John Cena versus Randy Orton and since then he lost a 2/3 Falls match in two straight falls, was annihilated by Ambrose last week on RAW, wore a pumpkin on his head on Friday, and was again soundly defeated tonight? It seems like someone is in the doghouse at the moment.
Most of the night actually featured positive, forward steps for the mid-card. Sheamus and Rusev both had tune-up matches for their confrontation on the WWE Network after RAW. The announcers did a tremendous job playing that confrontation up as well as plugging the WWE Network all evening.
The confrontation after RAW, by the way, was a great match. The crowd was quiet because they were still recovering from the big angle that closed RAW (more on that soon), but Sheamus and Rusev pulled them back into it with a physical match. In the end, Rusev won the WWE United States Championship. Hopefully this is the beginning of the next step of Rusev’s WWE career. On the other side, hopefully this is the thing that opens the door to a very, very, very much needed Sheamus heel turn.
My hat is off to the commentators. No longer are they laughing about the $9.99 price as if it’s an ongoing gag. It’s not a punch line nor should it ever have been allowed to be portrayed as one. That’s a hell of a deal for all the stuff you get from the WWE Network, but you damn sure wouldn’t be able to tell that from the past few months. Now that it’s free for the month, they actually are – who’d have thought this was a good idea? – promoting the network based on the amazing content that is available to you! I think if they do that every week (promote value, not price), they’ll have way better numbers at the next quarterly meeting.
Also peppered in through little segments throughout the night was The Authority talking about anyone who had a good performance on the show. In particular, I really liked the meeting between Stephanie McMahon and Lana and Rusev. I just thought that was an interesting dynamic that I’d like to see more of. They also talked about approaching Mark Henry and Ryback as well.
The best stuff was the main angle of the show: where does Randy Orton’s allegiance lie? They teased The Authority not completely trusting him when Stephanie McMahon had reservations about Triple H even contacting him to be on Team Authority due to him defying them last week.
Then, after The Authority had a very good segment against Dolph Ziggler (where Ziggler showed some good fire) that led to an even better match against Seth Rollins, Orton snuck into the ring and attacked Rollins with an RKO. I loved that angle, even though it caused another non-finish, but I’ll let that one slide since it actually went somewhere.
Finally, Triple H granted Randy Orton a match against Seth Rollins in the main event. At that point, I clapped my hands and said to myself, “OK, this is a good RAW.” It wasn’t the usual bait and switch they’ve been pulling where a match is turned into a three-on-one handicap or it’s a garbage finish because Kane big booted someone. This was a legitimate RAW main event.
I honestly think the fans have been conditioned through the last few months to just be waiting for the shoe to drop and there be a disqualification because the match didn’t have all the heat I felt it should have garnered. There was definitely a buzz when it was announced. They put on a great match, but so did Cena and Rollins last week and that ended with disappointment. I still feel bad for that crowd because when the DQ happened, they looked so deflated. This week, the crowd seemed like they weren’t going to fall for the same thing. Instead, WWE surprised them and gave them a clean finish. Rollins got Orton with a backslide in a very good match.
Then came the big angle. Orton promised that after the match was over he was going to shake hands with Rollins and it would be over. Obviously the shocking finish screams unfinished business. Orton did a tremendous job milking his confliction with slow handshakes to Mercury, Noble, and Kane before taking his time with Rollins and finally giving him an RKO. It was really, really well done.
The brawl that followed was great. Orton made the turn to babyface as he fought The Authority off in a wild brawl. Triple H tried to salvage things, but even Orton punched him. Finally, Rollins got a cheap shot on Orton by giving him a Curb Stomp on the table. Triple H, in a really fine performance, acted completely torn as everyone around him was telling him that this had to end now. Triple H took his time before allowing them to finish it, but he walked off in disgust. Rollins hit the big exclamation point with a Curb Stomp on the steel steps as Triple H looked on from the titantron.
Everyone was firing on all cylinders for the big angle and it was really well written, something I’ve been dying to write about a WWE show for quite some time. All in all, it was a tremendous return to form for Monday Night RAW. We’ll see next week if this was a fluke or the beginning of a hot streak.
Bump of the Night: Rollins Curb Stomping Orton on the steel steps
Match of the Night: Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins ** 1/2
Final Rating: ****
Check out my RAW recap from last night here:
Also check out my recap of the post-RAW show featuring Rusev defeating Sheamus to become the new WWE United States Champion by clicking here. Be sure to check out my Smackdown recap this Friday!
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.