1/12 RAW: Good segments carry the show

Mike Tedesco’s RAW Thoughts
January 13, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

I’d like to start off on a positive. This show was much better from last week, but that really isn’t saying much since last week’s show was pretty abysmal. I guess the best way to describe this show is to say that it was bipolar. I felt like they delivered on the things they promoted as big for the show, but the other parts of the show were a war of attrition to try not to fall asleep or change the channel. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: three hours is too much show.

John Cena and The Authority have a decent segment

The one constant for the night was the crowd was really good. It’s been so long since they’ve been in front of a hot crowd, so this was refreshing (though to be fair, there hasn’t been anything to stay excited about). They weren’t alive for everything – i.e. the mid-card and diva matches – but they came alive and responded when they needed to. They were hot in this segment.

Cena started off his promo well enough. He addressed the firings of Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback and got the crowd going about that. Cena tried to get a Hashtag for Twitter going, but that didn’t really take. I didn’t see that as a trend, but it’s possible I may have just missed that while recapping the show. Cena said if The Authority couldn’t hear or see how the WWE Universe was feeling, then his Plan B is to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble and essentially go home and hold it hostage. Yeah… that might get people buzzing if the current champion wasn’t already doing that. I’m not a fan of bringing up the obvious problems with their championship scene right now.

The Authority then came out, and they got some decent heat from the crowd. They did a good job of milking more heat from the crowd while running down Cena and his plans. They then gave Cena an opportunity to get the men their jobs back if he could defeat Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack match containing only heel lumberjacks. If I had a criticism, it was that it took a little long for my taste to get to the overall point, but that’s the plight of having a show that’s three-hours long. It was a good segment with very good heat. I also liked how they mentioned that handicap matches are unoriginal after Cena figured he was being put in one. Hopefully we’ll see the last of those for a while. I’ve recapped enough of those types of matches to literally last me a lifetime (I know it’s wishful thinking).

John Cena vs. Seth Rollins put on a good effort

Lumberjack matches by default usually aren’t very good because there’s just too much going on, but this one wasn’t all that bad. The dynamic of having all heels played well into the match, and it told a good, simple story. Cena has a lot to overcome to get these guys their jobs back. Both men worked hard. Cena definitely raised my eyebrows a bit with the cross-body onto the lumberjacks, and he also took a very good bump on the floor when Big Show gave him the Knockout Punch. Cena usually cheeses out on bumps like that. He put his working shoes on for the evening. The finish was the right one. Killing off the firing storyline one segment into the very next RAW isn’t the right move. At least give it another week to save face. This victory was also good for Rollins because he so blatantly didn’t do it on his own and in classic heel fashion, he gloated all night about how he beat Cena all by himself.

Tag Team Turmoil – and I don’t mean the match type

The New Day… I wanted to give it a chance, but it’s not working. They’re not connecting with the crowd whatsoever. Somehow this gimmick has actually gotten each of the three men less over than they already were, and I thought all three had bottomed out before they started it. Xavier Woods – honestly, I completely forgot he was on the roster when they started this up. Kofi Kingston – he was floating around doing absolutely nothing just treading water until he could do his one Royal Rumble non-elimination spot; he’s somehow even less over. As for Big E, I guess a lot of people were expecting him to do something cool when he debuted at the tail end of 2012, but he wound up being Ziggler’s lackey, a failed Intercontinental Champion, and doing a Southern preacher thing. I didn’t think he could get any less over. Ladies and gentlemen, The New Day.

Their match against Cesaro and Tyson Kidd was just sad. It’s a situation where you just know every single person out there is struggling to keep their head above the quicksand, and they can’t do anything to make a connection with more than a handful of fans. Cesaro in particular I just have to shake my head at. Simply put, he shouldn’t be at this level. They are squandering a great talent.

Roman Reigns and Big Show… suffering succotash

Sometimes in life, you have to admit that no matter how much you want something and try to will it to happen, it just isn’t going to happen. I want to be a millionaire. I’m not no matter how much I wish that to be the case. Roman Reigns isn’t good at cutting promos, and he is certainly not close to being ready for WrestleMania XXXI, and there is nothing they can do to change that.

However, unlike my millionaire aspirations (which could happen if I have a long lost great aunt leave a fortune to me [please exist]), I believe Reigns will get better at cutting promos. However, that can only happen if he’s given material that he has a hand in creating and isn’t written by some out of touch writer who has no clue how to write for professional wrestling. I mean, come on, the guy is coming out and telling the story of Jack and the Beanstalk in front of a live television audience. Reigns undoubtedly got a very good reaction when he made his entrance, but the reaction at the end of his promo was very noticeably light. I honestly feel it’s only a matter of time before the crowd turns on this, and yes, I’ll be here to say, “I told you so.” It’s a shame that it’ll probably happen because WWE will have squandered yet another opportunity to create a star. It seems there are two ways to kill off an up and coming superstar: either job him out despite the fact that they’re getting good reactions from the crowd or you put a rocket to the moon on his back when he is clearly not ready for it yet. The keyword is “yet.”

Roman Reigns wasn’t the only one with a poor promo. Big Show’s promo played out as time filler and completely pointless. The difference between him and Reigns is that he can at least take garbage material and deliver it well.

Unbelievably enough, some genius in the back will watch his match against Luke Harper in which the crowd went completely dead and blame it on Harper for not being over. The crowd tailed off right at the conclusion of Reigns’ promo and didn’t return until Big Show grabbed the heat back by attacking him. Also, Reigns’ match-work and selling leaves a lot to be desired. It was yet another rough night for Roman Reigns.

Let’s talk about the filler stuff real quick

Naomi, who had one arm tied behind her back, lost to Alicia Fox. Naomi was being punished for The Usos saying something negative about The Authority on Smackdown. That was what it was. Then we had a second Diva match later in the night with Brie Bella beating Paige after Tyson Kidd provided a distraction. Whatever. We also saw The Miz defeat Jey Uso in a lightening quick match that benefits no one except those looking to waste time for the show. I did like The Miz and Damien Mizdow doing the Golden Globes After Party skits. Finally, The Ascension had another squash match. This time they pre-taped a promo where they just said they’re better than a bunch of ancient teams. These two are lined up for a very lame WWE career. For the record, there weren’t any matches that would be considered good on this other than John Cena and Seth Rollins, which was right at good and no more than that.

Great stuff from Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman

Well, really Paul Heyman, but Brock Lesnar did a great job of standing there and looking tough. Heyman got great heat and did a great job digging in the fact that Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker’s streak in that city. Heyman did a great job placing extreme significance back on that accomplishment, and it totally angered the crowd. No surprise here as Heyman is the best promo guy on the roster. It was fun to watch and listen to. It was pretty much in essence a promo reintroducing Brock Lesnar as an annihilator and beast in case people have forgotten.

Daniel Bryan is an absolute superstar

Maybe he’s not the biggest guy and doesn’t cut the best promo, but this man is the most over guy they have on the roster. The reaction he got made every single other reaction from the night pale in comparison. It’s not even fair to make the comparison. Bryan is coming back at the perfect time. If they want to hold off on Reigns a little while longer, no one is going to argue about another Daniel Bryan run into WrestleMania. It seems to be the story most people are anxious to see.

Bryan did a great job feeding off the energy of the crowd and announcing his intention to win the Royal Rumble. That brought out Stephanie McMahon, who had some very good interactions with Bryan. Unlike in the past, she didn’t out and out bury him. She said just enough and then set it up so he could get the zinger in there about her exercise DVD not being that good. Bryan then made a great speech about overcoming obstacles. She then gave him an obstacle to overcome this Thursday: Kane.

They then brawled with Bryan getting the better of him. One scary part saw Bryan give him a dropkick at ringside, and he landed flat on his back. I immediately thought of his neck. It’s going to take a while for me to get over it. It reminds me of when Triple H came back from the quadriceps injury, and I would cringe every time he would do a Pedigree or land on his knees. My first official night as the RAW Recapper was Bryan’s last night when he faced Alberto Del Rio. I’m so glad I get to recap him again. What a comeback story.

Ohhh yeah – Macho Man is going to the Hall of Fame

Finally, one of the most glaring omissions from the Hall of Fame has been added. My early childhood memories of wrestling are chockfull of “Macho Man” Randy Savage memories. He was a special character whose stuff is still entertaining to watch all these years later. Nothing can make you smile faster than a wild Macho Man promo. I’m wishing they can get Miss Elizabeth in this year as well, but maybe they don’t want two posthumous inductions in one year. Still, they should be a package deal.

Dean Ambrose vs. Rusev quick, but painful

Before I talk about the match, I have to say that I enjoyed the Dean Ambrose psychologist segments. The picture therapy was a particular favorite, even with the set up gag of calling Stephanie McMahon a “HOO” after seeing a picture of “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan immediately before. A rare win for the WWE comedy team. The final segment where Ambrose is so crazy that the psychologist looks for Ambrose to understand his own feelings got a laugh out of me as well. If they just kept it there, it would have been a great night for Ambrose.

Instead, they took it too far. This was a match that just screamed to be cut for time constraints. Rusev and Lana should have just kept it as laughing at Ryback being fired and that’s it. Then you can send out Bad News Barrett to lose to Sin Cara again. Maybe Hornswoggle. Instead, they squeezed in a match with Rusev and Ambrose that started during the commercial, never had time to build heat, and had an awful finish. It would be one thing if they gave Rusev a string of cheap victories or narrow escapes against bigger stars and the commentators made those connections (like against Dolph Ziggler and Roman Reigns over the past few week), but instead we’re getting cheap finishes for the sake of having a cheap finish. It’s beyond the groan-level and the epitome of lazy writing.

It’s just baffling that they put Ambrose in situations where he can only come out of it looking weak. If this keeps up, he’ll make the slow, painful transition into being just another guy. I’m not saying, “Oh my god, pull the trigger on this guy and make him champion!” I’m saying just take care of him a bit. Ambrose doesn’t have to win every match, but don’t job him out completely and make him look weak. He doesn’t have the credibility yet to be able to lose with it not affecting him. If that keeps up, it’s only a matter of time before the good reactions he gets coming out become decent and then golf claps. The problem with the company is a lack of stars. They can’t afford to keep squandering opportunities to nurture and sustain them.

The very rare great contract signing occurred

Most WWE contract signings wind up not being that good. There’s not much to say and then they brawl. That’s the formula. They followed the same formula, but they maximized on the opportunities, something I can’t say they’ve done many times in the past few months. They took this opportunity to make Seth Rollins look like a guy who legitimately deserves to be in the match and can hang with them, and they succeeded. Rollins cut a very good promo after Paul Heyman had finished his, and his delivery was fantastic. Rollins didn’t do the Dr. Evil laugh or the drawn out, whining thing. He was tough and to the point. Brock Lesnar even got some promo time, which was short, sweet, and to the point as well. The one who wasn’t that great on the promo was John Cena, the one you’d least expect. It’s not “Cena hate” here. It just wasn’t as impactful as the others.

I really liked the brawl after the contract was signed. Each man got a big move in, but it was Rollins who got the better of the other two. Rollins gave each man a Curb Stomp and was the last one standing. It was a great night for Seth Rollins and contributed to his star making efforts even more. A part of me feels like he’s actually going to win the match. I’ll be there to see it if he does as I just secured my Royal Rumble tickets last night.

Overall impression

They succeeded with all the stuff that they advertised for the show. The contract signing was great, the Daniel Bryan promo was awesome, and the Macho Man Hall of Fame video gave me goosebumps. They had some other hits with the opening promo, the Cena/Rollins match, and the Dean Ambrose skits as well. Unfortunately, getting through the rest of the show was like running a marathon if you’re not in shape. There are obvious issues with the mid-card that still need to be addressed. Then of course there’s Roman Reigns, who is completely unprepared for where he’s projected at this moment. Still, it was a big improvement from last week, and they’ve got another big angle in the can when they bring back Rowan, Ziggler, and Ryback. Hopefully this is a sign that things will be heating up after Royal Rumble.

Bump of the Night: Daniel Bryan dropkicking Kane at ringside
Match of the Night: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins * 3/4

Final Rating: ***

E-Mail – MikeyT817@gmail.com
Twitter – @MikeTedescoWV

Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Be sure to check out my Smackdown recap this Thursday!

Thanks for reading!

Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.