WWE RAW Review
October 18, 2016
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Without question, one of the biggest and, frankly, most surprising stories of 2016 is the return of Bill Goldberg to WWE. Goldberg, the man who has gone on record to state how much he hated his one year run in WWE from 2003-2004 and harshly criticized not only the company, but the upper management, was advertised last week on RAW as appearing on this week’s episode. The WWE 2K video game series has struck again. Goldberg is the third former superstar to build a relationship with WWE to make a debut or return, joining the ranks of The Ultimate Warrior and Sting. How did Goldberg do? How was the rest of the show? Let’s review it.
Goldberg makes a truly epic return to WWE
It doesn’t always happen, but the event certainly lived up to the hype. Goldberg, who was never known as a great promo guy in WCW and WWE during his full time run, made his return and absolutely killed his promo. It was great. To be fair, WWE did a great job hyping up the return all night with clips of all his great moments being shown. The crowd was definitely excited about it all night as well.
When it came time for it, after a largely below average show, the crowd came to life for Goldberg. Goldberg went through his trademark entrance and really seemed completely moved by the reaction he got. The entire arena was chanting his name and wouldn’t even let him talk for a little while because they just wanted to shower him with adulation. It was really special to watch, and Goldberg seemed like he was fighting back tears for a few moments. The best moments in WWE are always the most real ones. What made it even better was the fact that it was completely unscripted. Goldberg went out there with bullet points and an idea of what he wanted to do, but the words were his and his alone. It was a stark contrast to the overly scripted material we get week in and week out, including this show, which I will talk about in a little bit. This rare occurrence of a performer going out there and doing his or her own promo allowed even a guy like Goldberg, who I already mentioned was nothing special in the promo department years ago, to go out and be better than nearly an entire roster of full time performers. Maybe WWE should think about that.
Anyway, the promo was really well done. Goldberg spoke from the heart about how he loved being a superhero for children and wanted to get that feeling one last time. He also cemented himself as a huge babyface by pointing out his wife and son at ringside and getting choked up about how this is their first time ever seeing him perform live. Then he went on to Brock Lesnar and cut a really good promo about how he doesn’t have any balls because he has Paul Heyman doing all the heavy lifting for him and how he accepts the challenge for one more final match. The crowd absolutely ate up everything he said. It was a perfect segment and a great promo to build up a big match. It’s too bad this couldn’t have waited until WrestleMania, but something tells me the decision makers think Lesnar vs. Shane McMahon is a bigger match than this one. Yikes.
Seth Rollins is in danger of becoming Roman Reigns V2
WWE completely dropped the ball on Seth Rollins this year. Rollins came back in May after having been gone since November 2015 with a knee injury. They produced this really great “WWE 24” documentary about him that made him come off as a super babyface… and they kept him heel on television because, you know, Roman Reigns is the guy. Instead of going with the organically over Rollins, and the crowd definitely wanted to cheer for him coming back from the devastating injury, they kept him heel. Rollins did well as a heel again, but it just wasn’t the direction they should have gone.
Now we have this brand split and it’s time for Rollins to be a face and now it just feels forced. The storyline really isn’t there. What’s Rollins mad about? That The Authority dropped him and will be cheating for Kevin Owens rather than for him? It’s not really clear why Rollins wants to destroy them other than he’s just upset that he got dropped. Also instead of learning from their mistakes with the way they booked Roman Reigns to be the face of the company, they’re making many of the same mistakes with him. Last night, Rollins cut a pretty lame promo on Chris Jericho culminating with him making fun of Jericho’s trunks by calling him, “Sparkle crotch” and “Sparkle ass.” The crowd did get behind it because this was a largely forgiving crowd, but that’s the kind of line that won’t work everywhere. It stank of many of the same scripted garbage they gave Roman Reigns like “The Viper may spew venom, but I’ve got the antidote (holds up fist)” or “Tater tots.” Rollins can get away with it a few times, but it’s eventually going to catch up to him. Compare the Goldberg promo to this one and the difference is incredible. Scripted vs. unscripted will always see unscripted win. Yes, I get it, some guys aren’t cut out to cut their own promos, but for the most part if you let people have a hand in developing their own characters, the show is always better. I’ve seen these nerdy writers at wrestling events. I remember being at a RAW in December of last year and seeing them holding their scripts and high fiving each other when an angle with Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens got over. They should just give people bullet points and let them go out and be themselves amped up to eleven.
After watching Goldberg succeed at a ridiculous level on the same show, they’ve got to see the difference and rethink their strategy on promos and the show in general. Since they’ve gone to micromanaged, scripted promos years back, the quality of the product presented has greatly diminished and the amount of memorable characters is extremely low. There’s a reason why they’re trying to sell the WWE Network lately by showcasing all the great old stuff they have on there. Just flashes of the older stuff look so much more entertaining than anything presented on a typical three-hour RAW. None of those things could’ve happened on today’s product. I understand that the things that happened in the Attitude Era can never happen again and for good reason. I’m not advocating for that. I’m advocating for real personalities to be let out and allowed to shine. Where is the next Ric Flair? Where is the next Steve Austin? Where are those guys with the over the top personalities? You’re certainly not going to create them by scripting “Sparkle crotch.”
* Even though the Seth Rollins promo was a bust, Chris Jericho is one of the few guys that seems to have a hand in his character development and given some leeway to do his own thing. “The List of Jericho” is one of the most over things in WWE, as is his “friendship” with Kevin Owens.
* Seth Rollins and Chris Jericho have great chemistry together. I didn’t mind them working back-to-back weeks. This week’s offering was great and added a great wrinkle to the Jericho/Owens storyline. WWE has done a great job building up the breakup of the “friendship.”
* Charlotte did a good job delivering her lines in her sit-down interview with Lita.
* You know there is just too much time to kill on this show when The Golden Truth and Mark Henry are fighting The Shining Stars and Titus O’Neil over fake Rolexes.
* I normally like matches where two guys go out and beat the crap out of each other, but Big E and Sheamus just didn’t gel together at all. I did enjoy The New Day’s promo with all the 420 references, though.
* I couldn’t care less about the implosion of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel and apparently the crowd in Denver felt the same way I did.
* Bayley versus Dana Brooke was truly awful. This is not the way to get Bayley over by putting her in there to have awful matches against the very wooden Dana Brooke.
* Paul Heyman’s promo against Goldberg was great. I love how he kept sarcastically calling him “Bill.” No one is better at verbally building up a match than Heyman is.
* Man, I was really hoping they were building Braun Strowman up to be squashed by either Brock Lesnar or Goldberg heading into Survivor Series. Having him feud with Sami Zayn is not going to do either man any favors. Still, Strowman did have a really fun squash with the Mile High Trio.
* I loved Rusev showing photos of his family and putting them over huge. As usual, Roman Reigns’ promo, albeit short, was scripted garbage. The physical angle with Rusev destroying Reigns needed to happen and was well done. Reigns has gotten the better of Rusev at every turn in this angle, so Rusev really needed to shine in order to justify this being inside Hell in a Cell.
* Big Cass easily disposed of Karl Anderson. How is this supposed to get Gallows and Anderson over?
* Sorry people, but Sasha Banks just isn’t a good promo. She comes off as such a mark and was pretty bad in her interview with Lita.
* The Cruiserweights had a largely pointless six-man tag team match. Put T.J. Perkins in the category of poorly booked babyface with his “Sir Lancelot” line earlier in the night. I’m about ready to call it for the Cruiserweights. It’s not getting over and feels like a time killer every week.
* RAW looks very stacked next week with the return of Brock Lesnar, Cesaro and Sheamus taking on The New Day in a non-title match, and a big triple threat with Kevin Owens taking on Chris Jericho and Seth Rollins. Hopefully all these things happen. It wasn’t long ago that they advertised T.J. Perkins defending the Cruiserweight Title against Brian Kendrick on RAW only for the show to actually happen and it’s inexplicably a non-title match.
Even though the show was pretty below average for two hours and fifty minutes, it was completely saved by the Goldberg return. It was truly one of the best moments on RAW this year. I’m really looking forward to the build-up and the Survivor Series match itself. It should be really entertaining.
Bump of the Night: Braun Strowman killing The Mile High Trio
Match of the Night: Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho ** 1/2
Final Rating: ** 1/2
Well those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of the other two options to get in contact with me.
Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.