You can read my full report at this link.
RAW started off with a decent enough segment, and it was actually nice to not see HHH in the opening this week. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of his current character, but the COO has been forced down our throats a bit too much as of late. I think part of my grievance is the fact that despite his real world role behind the scenes, watching HHH make the transition from sledgehammer wielding maniac to suit wearing executive is still a bizarre on screen progression.
Like many first time Champions, Del Rio is being presented as the underdog in his WWE Championship feud against Cena. Though, given Cena’s superhuman ability to win any match against any odds, I suppose even Bob Backlund in his prime would seem like the underdog when matched against this current version of the WWE’s public face.
I really enjoy the Ricardo Rodriguez character. He adds a special dimension to the show that takes away from the exposure of Del Rio while still accentuating his Title run. Something about seeing the Spanish speaking announcer in a sleeveless muscle shirt backstage pumping out the workout really amused me.
Del Rio & Ricardo’s matchup against Cena/Hart was pretty much what I would have expected. Del Rio has walked away from Ricardo in peril in the past, so tonight’s happenings won’t really damage their relationship. Hart is pretty limited in the ring, but the audience already knows that and he was sprinkled into the match for some Canadian flavoring. Over analyzing his role would be fruitless as it was just a special addition given the location of RAW. Hart didn’t detract from the show, so I have no complaints.
Swagger/Ziggler v. Morrison/Alex Riley was nothing special. The feud between Swagger and Ziggler continues to grow, and remains one that I wish they would hold off on for another 6 months or so. Why have them feud with each other now, when they could grow together under Vickie’s command? Have them succeed and move up to the main event tier, and then break out into a feud over the #1 Contendership for the WWE Championship. The emotional investment for the fan would be greater, and Vickie would be forced to choose which horse to back for the Title.
The Miz/R-Truth segment was once again pretty hilarious. These guys were most likely matched together because their characters risked becoming stale without a meaningful feud. They’ve played on that fact within this angle, which adds just enough realism to their fantastical pandering. Oh, and I’m still laughing about the “Ninja please” line.
Air Boom remains a horrendous tag team name, topped only in awfulness with their college-DJ-wannabe theme mix. Seriously, no effort was put into that one. I’m not demanding that the WWE hire Kaskade to mix the themes together, but at least a small attempt could have been made towards quality. (You’re welcome for the Kaskade reference, EDM fans)
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not invested in the slightest with the latest Otunga & McGillicutty / Lawler feud. I actually do enjoy Otunga’s work, though admittedly I usually exaggerated my fandom. Yet, there is just nothing special about this feud. Let’s recognize it for what it is – the WWE senses that the fans don’t care about this tag team, so they are playing that up in the angle in an attempt to get them some heat with the fans by going after Lawler. It’s a careful line to walk because the “boring” chant gimmick for Lance Storm did little to help his career, so blatantly exposing the team’s lack of personality seems counterproductive.
On a side note, if David Otunga is going to be under the WWE’s employee – then when the heck is Jennifer Hudson going to sing the national anthem for WrestleMania? Also, I’d like to think that Otunga’s WWE character is how he will one day act in a courtroom. He’ll call his law firm the legal Nexus and attack judges and prosecutors alike in an attempt to cleanse the American legal system. AND, I bet Jennifer Hudson would sing his firm’s theme song. Do law firms have theme songs? His will.
Kelly Kelly v. Vickie Guerrero… happened. I already discussed Swagger/Ziggler so let’s move on.
Orton/Rhodes was easily the best match of the night. These guys have had chemistry in the ring together since the Legacy days. Let’s not underestimate the value of Cody’s win over Orton, even if it was thanks to a distraction and illegal weapon. Speaking of which, how is it that the Anonymous GM/HHH/Teddy Long doesn’t watch the show enough to realize Rhodes doesn’t need the mask anymore? It isn’t a Mr. America level nuisance, but the continuity drives me crazy.
I’ve been a fan of Mark Henry dating back to his ECW days, before then I didn’t really care for his character one way or another. He has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, and it shows.
So… did anybody else come to the realization that Mark Henry would crush you to death if Mark Henry gave you a lap dance? Because that’s what I got out of the segment with him sitting backwards on the steel chair. Don’t judge me.
For what it was, the final segment of the show was lackluster. The material was solid, but the fans in attendance were nearly dead in the water. I actually think that HHH was a bit stronger than CM Punk in the overrun, which was surprising. I’ve been cautioning that all of the shooty-shoot breaking kayfabe jargon would hurt Punk’s character – and each week he seems to progressively lose a little fraction of his edge over the rest of the locker room. The summer was the summer, risks were taken and some really paid off, but creative needs to ever so slightly tone back those elements. The Professional Wrestling world loves to remind the IWC that they make up only 10% of the viewing audience. If that’s true, then they need to expand Punk past that target base else he fades back to cult hero instead of crowd favorite.
It wasn’t a stellar RAW by any means, just a show intended to sell Sunday’s PPV. The build isn’t as strong as the past couple of PPVs, but that was an uphill climb anyway.
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