12/28 RAW: And the crowd goes mild

WWE Monday Night RAW Review
December 29, 2015
By: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com

With the return of John Cena announced a week in advance and the addition of Vince McMahon over the weekend, it seemed like the final episode of RAW had some potential with a sold out crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Instead we were treated to another RAW episode with a cringeworthy opener, a bored Brooklyn audience and a tease for next week that left many underwhelmed.

“DID THEY LET AN 8 YEAR OLD WRITE THAT OPENING SEGMENT?”

The above title is a text I received from a buddy of mine that has dived back into WWE programming pretty heavy over the last year after spending time away from wrestling. We would disagree from time to time on what we found to be entertaining about the WWE product. Lately, we both have come to the conclusion that RAW flat out stinks right now.

And while I hate to prove Joey Styles right, the opening segment on Monday night involving Vince McMahon, Roman Reigns and Stephanie McMahon was bad. Like, really bad. I was astonished at how uncomfortable Vince came off on the microphone. I was even more astonished at how forced Reigns still comes off on the microphone as the center piece of this programming. And I was flat out distracted at Stephanie’s overacting.

Arrest angles in wrestling can be fun. Rewind back to last year when a really well executed segment took place involving the arrest of Stephanie McMahon. It came off very organic and didn’t include a series of odd verbal jabs on the microphone. They just let it play out and allowed the audience to react. Stephanie was off the charts amazing with her acting back in 2014 and really sold the moment as if she wasn’t expecting it.

WWE attempting to recreate an Attitude Era rift between Vince McMahon and Roman Reigns isn’t working in 2015 as we head into 2016. This is just one of those things you can’t recycle and repackage over 15 years later. I completely understand the addition of Vince to programming with the start of the issues between Reigns and Triple H planted a few weeks ago. Still, dipping your toe in the pool of classic Stone Cold presentation isn’t the way to go. It comes off as a cheap imitation of an era that had its moment. We are all ready to move on and I don’t think Reigns is really the problem here. From the arrest of Vince to the extremely corny “Renee Young reporting live” segments and then the big Vince announcement that saw the crowd go mild in Brooklyn, everything came off really bad. This was a giant swing and a miss for WWE and a disappointing way to close 2015.

JOHN CENA FIRES UP AN AUDIENCE

After a break from WWE since October, I was looking forward to seeing the return of John Cena in the always hostile Brooklyn environment. Although it was pretty apparent WWE was muting the crowd during Cena plugs throughout the night, they let it fly when he walked out and Cena was clearly enjoying himself. Del Rio is a great dance partner for Cena in the ring and I really enjoyed the verbal exchange between the two. Solid main event.

KEVIN OWENS SHINES IN BROOKLYN

One of the rare bright spots of the show on Monday night was the use of Kevin Owens. I really enjoyed the “slipping on a banana peel” finish with Neville to the later attacks on both Neville and Dean Ambrose. Owens brings a big fight presence to the television screen and it’s one of the things WWE creative is executing well right now. I’m really looking forward to seeing more between Owens and Ambrose as we head into the Royal Rumble.

THE NEW DAY = ENTERTAINMENT

All three members of The New Day are just flat out entertaining and fun to watch right now. Sure, RAW might completely stink and be a pretty hard three hours to get through. These guys now have freaking light-up unicorn headbands. Seriously, go look at WWE Shop. WWE programming needs an act like New Day to keep things fresh and fun. Big E, Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston accomplish just that every time they perform.

QUICK THOUGHTS

* That was a well executed and creative finish for Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch.

* Big props to Sin Cara for finishing his match with Big E with a dislocated shoulder.

* Big Show trolling the crowd in Brooklyn was very entertaining.

* The League of Nations had some potential and now just feels like a “thing” now.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

It’s hard to give this show a thumbs up with such a poor opening segment and a lackluster close, both featuring Vince McMahon. I have to admit I was starting to get used to evil Mr. McMahon being off WWE programming. It had its day and oh boy do we need to move on. This is the last thing the Roman Reigns character needs right now just as things are starting to get going during his title run. This could be a long three weeks until the Rumble.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know your RAW thoughts in the comments below.

Follow me on Twitter: @adamwrestleview