Mike Tedesco’s RAW Thoughts
January 6, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
I knew last week was too good to be true. I knew when I was writing about how the show took a step in the right direction that it was probably more wishful thinking than anything else. Damn it – I wanted to believe that we were turning the corner. Instead, we got last night’s offering of Monday Night RAW, whatever the hell that was. My dear friend Jason Namako talked about how Wrestle Kingdom 9 set the bar for the year in terms of greatness (while I haven’t seen the show yet, I’ll take his word for it). Not to be outdone, WWE has set the bar for how bad a show could possibly be.
Historically, WWE has kicked off the first RAW of the year with a loaded show with either a big main event or a theme to it. Two years ago they did CM Punk vs. Ryback in a TLC match. Last year they had an Old School RAW theme. This year, they took a page from the “same old, same old” book they were using from September to the end of November, when watching the show was insufferable. WWE has started out 2015 with anything but a bang. This show barely registered a thud.
There was a ton of follow up on The Authority’s return, but not much else. It was all about making sure The Authority looked good coming back in and making the babyface roster look like a bunch of morons, yet again. Where was the follow up with Daniel Bryan’s announcement? Did they even mention that? Where was the motivation on getting the year off on the right foot? Where was the big hype for the Royal Rumble? Around this time we should be building to get to a fever pitch to see what will happen. Instead, (and I know I can’t speak for the entire fanbase) the crowd at Corpus Christi reacted largely how I imagine many, many viewers reacted: complete silence and utter disgust. If that three-hour pile of rubbish entertained you, my hat is off to you. You have my respect.
It’s hard to list all the problems and what can be done to fix them. I’ve listed them all throughout the fall and winter, so what’s the point of doing it again? It hurts my mind watching the show. Due to the fact that you have a bunch of babyfaces who just sit back and take it without a fight or even saying a word whenever the heels do something malicious, no one can get behind them or care. That to me is the really glaring problem with this product. The babyfaces are so stupid and helpless that it’s impossible to get behind them.
That’s saying nothing about the severe lack of character development. I see and hear questions literally every week about the roster such as, “Oh, this guy is a good wrestler, but why should I care about him?” At this point I just throw my hands up in the air. I don’t know why we should care about anyone. We don’t know anything about these people other than the one vague character point they have. Dolph Ziggler likes to “steal the show.” Who cares? His whole life is predicated on that? Erick Rowan is… well I don’t know what the hell he is to be honest. I’m still not even sure why he became a face (I don’t think the writing staff is either). Ryback is literally the first “WWE Superstar” to add any wrinkles to his character development last week when he cut that promo, so his firing actually makes sense in that you can actually feel bad for a guy who went through depression and worked insanely hard to get back. Then you have to talk about the matches and stipulations that mean nothing.
Bottom line is that it’s bad, so let’s get on to reviewing the show.
The Authority is back, and they’re burying their own show
The show opened up with the entire WWE roster surrounding the ring with John Cena in the center of it. The WWE Network just recently did a “12 Days of Attitude” theme, and one of the shows was a RAW from January 2000 (which I could remember like it was yesterday) where the entire roster threatened to walk out if the McMahon-Helmsley regime didn’t reinstate Mick Foley. Two things ran through my head. The first thing was, “Oh my god – it’s 2015 and we still have essentially the same freaking storyline from 2000 with the same two authority figures,” and I had to resist the urge to tear off my clothes and throw fecal matter around from going insane. The second thing was that it was a great angle that stood out to me as something totally memorable and great.
I was so hoping that when the entire roster was surrounding the ring that something like that would happen. Then I remembered it’s 2015 and there are about 30 writers on employed whose only objective is to get brownie points by making sure Triple H and Stephanie McMahon always come off looking strong. For the life of me, I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the decision-makers can watch these shows and think they’re good. Not only do they think they’re good, but they think they’re so good that they can send the TV authority figures out there and say they were actually bad because they weren’t there. Here’s the news flash: the shows without The Authority (with the exception of last week) were bad. The only thing is that the shows with The Authority were actually worse. It’s one thing if the show was good. The fact that the shows were so pathetic makes WWE look bad. You’re going out on television and validating the opinion of every person who thought the shows were actually bad. That’s probably not a good idea. The problem is no one in the writing room has the stones to raise their hand and say so.
The Authority marched out Seth Rollins and thanked him for bringing them back before adding him into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble. That’s a move I actually do like. It was really troubling to me that Brock Lesnar’s only challenger throughout his reign would be John Cena. At least Seth Rollins being added in makes the match fresh. How much more can Cena and Lesnar do that we haven’t already seen? They then declared it John Cena Appreciation Night and that pretty much ended the segment.
Dolph Ziggler is right back to where he was
Last night should be the answer to the question many were asking. Are they going to move Dolph Ziggler to the next level? No. No, Dolph Ziggler is back home in the spot he’s had for nearly his entire WWE tenure. Then some imbecile will sit backstage and say, “Well, he can’t get over, so it’s justified.” Ziggler has had so many pushes begin and end in less than a lunar cycle that it’s so incredibly hard to take him seriously. That’s no fault of his own. It’s the booking. Unfortunately, he’s paying the price. Eventually there has to come a point where enough is enough and he’s permanently broken. Vince McMahon has the audacity to sit there on his WWE Network and say that no one wants to grab the brass ring. Even if someone wanted to, they can’t. It’s a damn joke.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Bad News Barrett, but for Pete’s sake the commentators started the match talking about how Barrett hasn’t lived up to his potential even though he’s won the Intercontinental Championship a million times, so why should anyone care about him picking up the title again? Apparently it’s below him. When Barrett got injured, he was the Intercontinental Champion as well as The Authority’s job boy. I’m assuming he’ll resume that role now.
Here’s the real joke: The Ascension
It’s bad enough that anyone who has followed wrestling through the years knows that they’re a rip off of The Road Warriors and Demolition. As I said in my Smackdown Thoughts, it’s another thing to actually go out and say that you’re rip offs. They did it on Smackdown and then again last night. Some moron in the writing room thought this would be a good way to get heat. No, it’s a good way to kill a gimmick dead. The commentators are sitting there talking about how The Ascension is nothing compared to those teams, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone to argue their point. That’s not how you get heat on heels. I’m sorry. I don’t know what was so bad about their NXT gimmick that they had to change it for the main roster. They’re killers. They’re rough and tough guys. Let them be just that. You don’t need to “improve” upon a simple model like that. One of the main problems with this company is that everything needs to be some dumb, convoluted thing. Wrestling is simple. Why are they making it so difficult?
The Roman Reigns/Big Show “saga” continues
Before I even start talking about this match, can I say something about the promo Roman Reigns cut before it? That’s a rhetorical question. It’s my column; I can talk about what I want. I’ve said things before about Roman Reigns’ promos that haven’t been kind. It’s going to continue. That was maybe the worst promo he’s cut yet. Again, no fault of his own as he’s just reciting the lines they give him, but my goodness this was bad. We’re coming off an era where the main complaint about the top guy (John Cena for those living under a rock) is that he’s always booked like Superman. Reigns, for reasons known only to Vince McMahon, despite having a handful of guys that are way more prepared, ready, and talented than he is, is the guy they seem to be going with. Why is he cutting a promo where he talks about how he’s Superman in the flesh? He is going to be destroyed by any crowd with serious wrestling fans attending.
If you’re running an entertainment company, do you really want your top guy to be eviscerated at big shows because people actually don’t like the direction of his character? The mixed reaction isn’t good. It’s fun every now and then, but every week? When you’re at the arenas, it’s uncomfortable sometimes when John Cena comes out. You’ve got grown men screaming that he sucks, little kids screaming that he’s awesome, and parents getting upset with people hurling insults at Cena. If you’re a WWE Network subscriber, go back and watch the RAW after WrestleMania 14 when Stone Cold Steve Austin came out to get the new WWF Championship belt. Listen to that reaction. It gave me goosebumps when I watched it back. Reactions like that don’t happen anymore. I want my top guy to appeal to my entire audience, not just a portion of them. First of all, Roman Reigns is not prepared for the push he’s about to receive. Don’t worry, I’ll be here to say, “I told you so” when he falls on his face. I’m not saying he’s not talented. I’m saying at least another year should pass before he gets it. Let him hone his craft and get comfortable. They’re ruining him before he ever had a chance and in the process hurting the company in the long run.
Anyway, he had another bad match against The Big Show. Michael Cole enthusiastically talked about how this is another chapter in the ongoing saga. Whatever drugs Cole is taking to be able to feign excitement about seeing more of this rivalry, sign me up. I’ll go broke buying them. I was hoping it would end last night being that it’s the first RAW of the year, but that was me forgetting for a moment that it’s 2015. Of course their first “main event” of the year would end in a non-finish. Here’s to another helping of Big Show vs. Roman Reigns…
Three segments of filler that felt like three shows
Natalya and Nikki Bella had another match. Last week, Natalya won. This week, Nikki won. They’re just trading wins, exactly what AJ Lee and Paige were doing, only they did it for like four months. Next!
Next, we had Erick Rowan and Luke Harper fight in an unadvertised match yet again. I believe they’ve already fought (so much “stuff” happens on these shows that everything if forgotten about almost immediately), but still. These guys teamed up for nearly two years, broke up for no reason whatsoever, and now they’re fighting? Then you have Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury as guest referees, so you automatically know it’s not going to be any good. At least it was over in about a minute.
Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt work hard
At least this show had the Ambulance Match, the one saving grace in this shepherds pie of garbage. I thought these two had a great match. They worked hard and took some chances. Unfortunately, the crowd reaction wasn’t there for it. That’s probably due to the storyline itself not being all it could have been. Instead of being mad at Bray Wyatt for costing him his opportunity at Seth Rollins that he had been waiting months for, Ambrose instead concentrated on being mad that he said something about his dad in prison. They want to kill each other for no discernable reason. Regardless, in every match they worked hard and were extremely entertaining.
I figured eventually the crowd would come around for this, and they sort of did when Ambrose dropped the elbow on him from the top of the ambulance. Still, it wasn’t at the level they deserved. Their brawling was fun, their high-risk spots were great, and the final result was the right one. If Wyatt truly is going to face The Undertaker, he shouldn’t lose a match between now and WrestleMania. He needs to be built strong. I only wish Dean Ambrose could have won at least one match in the series. The Boot Camp Match at Tribute To The Troops doesn’t really count in WWE canon. I read a crazy stat that Ambrose hasn’t won a PPV match since The Shield broke up. Then someone will wonder backstage why he’s eventually not getting the crowd reactions he was.
The return of the never-ending handicap matches
One of the perks to not having The Authority on television was the absence of handicap matches. Well, that stipulation reared its ugly head around last night with Seth Rollins and Kane defeating Ryback. This match went way too long and was completely dead. I’m sick of handicap matches. I know someone is going to say, “Well it’s a heel thing, Mike, you’re supposed to be angry.” No, my feelings move beyond that simple argument. It’s one thing to do it every so often to punish a face and get some heat on the heel; it’s an entirely different thing to be doing it on every show. Before The Authority left, it was on every show. They’re back, and it’s on their first show back. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of this crap match in the future. It’s lazy booking and makes me not want to watch the show because the face never gets even.
Oh, and where was Rusev throughout all of this? Couldn’t they have used Rusev in this match instead of Kane since Rusev is the one involved in the feud with Ryback? I don’t even think they brought up that feud once this week, just like they didn’t mention Daniel Bryan even once. Ugh…
More filler stuff happens
I guess they’re actually not done with the Jimmy Uso/Naomi problems because they implied that she accidentally distracted her husband, causing him to lose the match for his team last night. Then we had Adam Rose against Big E for whatever reason. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd attacked The New Day, so I guess they’re the next feud. Can you feel my excitement at seeing Cesaro and Tyson Kidd lose to The New Day? On a side note, I actually felt bad for The New Day as they were doing their chant and one person responded.
The Authority gets the last laugh
The Authority celebrated John Cena Appreciation Night by bringing out the three members of Team Cena and firing them. This was actually some good heel stuff, but unfortunately we had to sit through an entire show of these fired faces getting destroyed with barely a fight put up. Then they just stood there and took it like good little boys. That’s what I want from my heroes. I want them to be spineless. I can really get behind that. The other problem is we’re conditioned to think that WWE stipulations mean nothing. They’ll most likely be back either next week or the week after because they need to be in the Royal Rumble match, so in the end, what did this accomplish? The confetti, music, and John Cena’s pouty face were a nice touch to end the show, but the show was too far gone by that point for anyone to truly care.
This show was bad, plain and simple. I’ve gone on and on about how bad it is, but nothing will change. The decision-makers in WWE probably left the arena patting themselves on the back thinking they did an amazing job. I’m hoping it’ll get better as we get to Royal Rumble and move past it, but with Roman Reigns projected to be “the guy” and a few months before The Authority winds up with egg on its face at WrestleMania, I just don’t see how good it can get.
Bump of the Night: Dean Ambrose dropping an elbow off the top of the ambulance!
Match of the Night: The Ambulance Match **
Final Rating: 1/2 *
Check out my recap of this week’s RAW 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.