What’s up wrestling fans? I’m back with another look at Monday Night Raw, and my first review of a 3 hour special presented by WWE. Last night, Raw held a "3-For-All" broadcast, with all three major titles defended on the show, and one new champion crowned in Randy Orton for the WWE Title. The event came to us live from Charlotte, NC, and although Flair country was ready to see The Nature Boy named as the show’s new General Manager, Chairman of the Board Vince McMahon threw a huge curve ball at us and announced that he has "sold" the Raw brand to none other than Donald Trump.
Overall I have very mixed feelings about this show, because while it did provide some excellent in-ring wrestling and maintained my interest for 3 hours, the angle with Trump just felt like a big step sideways for WWE instead of forward or backward. I didn’t hate the angle, but there wasn’t much to love about it either. I’ll have more to say about the implications of WWE working this angle in my exclusive weekly column which will be posted tomorrow, but for now I’ll simply say that it was entertaining for the moment, but there is no real future value in running an angle like this because there is NO WAY Donald Trump will ever become a regular on-air personality in the pro wrestling world. The man is extremely busy, and a one-off publicity stunt like this is not the key to presenting or establishing long term story lines for the Raw brand. Having said that, let’s take a look at The Good, The Bad & The Wrestling following this week’s edition of Raw.
WWE successfully put on a hell of a wrestling show last night, and that kept me very entertained throughout the entire night. We saw several great bouts in Jericho vs Mysterio, the Four Way Title match, the Triple Threat Title match and the 10 Man Battle Royal. The match stipulations were varied, the wrestlers worked hard, and overall I felt like we definitely got our money’s worth in the wrestling department, which is refreshing since it was a free show.
John Cena was actually great last night. He worked hard and sold well in the Four Way match, and on top of that his backstage spot with Randy Orton was actually very funny. The baby oil line was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard Cena say, and the attention to detail needed to make a joke like that is the kind of stuff I’d like to see more of in wrestling. People will complain that wrestlers shouldn’t out other wrestlers’ quirks because it will kill their heat, or bury their momentum, or not put them over, but to these people I say grow a pair, these guys are commenting on each others character traits and that’s a great tool to use in promos.
The overall show had a big-time event feel to it. It didn’t feel like "just another Monday night," as there was a ton of momentum heading into the evening. WWE did a great job of providing that type of feel for next week’s show, which has two big time attractions working into it with the commercial free aspect of the show and of course the Last Man Standing Match featuring Randy Orton vs HHH for the WWE Title. If WWE can make each Raw feel unique and "big time" like this on a consistent basis, then I think in the long run it will benefit the product because people will feel a need to watch a high stakes show every week, instead of knowing nothing about the show other than it’s on at 9pm. Last night had, whether you liked how it turned out or not, a lot going into it which generated buzz, and I think next week’s experiment with Raw will provide the same effect.
I love where CM Punk’s character is right now. So many people in the Internet Wrestling Community are crying because they feel he’s lost in tweener-land, but let’s be honest, what person in the world is a true face or a heel? We, as people, are a combination of both, and CM Punk represents a wrestler who is in the WWE for one reason; to win championships. Not to make friends, not make popular decisions, but to win. Since pro wrestling emulates a pro sport, what is wrong with Punk’s current face/heel status? There are no heels or faces in Baseball for example, so why not have a character on WWE TV who is wrestling for the sake of competition, as opposed to wrestling only the bad guys because he is a good guy. Yes, at some point Punk is most likely going to turn fully heel, but the transitional period is always really fun to watch because it shows the true human side of a wrestling character.
While I didn’t think there was much that was actually bad about Raw last night, I will say that there was too much emphasis put on short term, hot shot type gimmicks as opposed to story lines that have the possibility of a real future on Monday nights. I know I said I liked the unique things the show presented last night and I do look forward to seeing what they will so with Raw next week, but on the other hand WWE has to be careful about throwing too many shock and awe type things at the audience that are only good for one night. Yes, the possibility of a commercial free Raw is enticing, but its draw back is that it’s only good for one night. It doesn’t set anything up for the future and unless it kicks of a tradition where the show goes commercial free every so often, it only suffices to entertain for one two-hour period.
WWE needs to spend more time focusing on adding depth to story lines that already exist and that have a possible future with the company. For example, where was MVP last night? He was eliminated very early on in the battle royal and had no other presence on a 3 hour show. The angle with Big Show, John Cena and The Miz was parked in favor of Show and Cena competing in the Fatal Four Way match and The Miz was left to work with Goldust and Hornswoggle in an unremarkable segment that had nothing to do with current programs.
The Hart Dynasty was showcased with little to no importance whatsoever on Raw last night. WWE cannot make the mistake of taking a "these guys are on ECW so no one cares" approach to showcasing new talent, because it diminishes both their potential and clearly states that WWE doesn’t value one of its own brands. The Hart’s should have been put over last night as the future of the company, instead of talent that you don’t need to know much about because they are on the "C" show.
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