To my knowledge (and maybe I have a stalker who can prove me wrong…) I have never done a Raw Review for Wrestlezone. Normally I would leave the recapping to good ole' Josh Isenberg, but after last night's show I really wanted to share a few thoughts on what I thought was an overall great show by the WWE.
I'm going to skim past most of the first hour (plus) of Raw because I think everyone is pretty much in agreement on how that went over… I do want to go over a few key moments of the night though, and for a full review of the entire three-hour show you can check out Isenberg's column HERE.
The D-O-Double-G returns!
Road Dogg was one of my favorite stars of the Attitude Era, and one of the best mic workers in the business. It's so good to see that he's still in great shape and can cut a great promo. In fact, if they brought him back for a Rumble appearance or a short-term run akin to Kevin Nash I wouldn't have any problem with it. And how great was the video package for the "Pipebomb" award? Seriously exceptional work by the production team (as always) and I love how many people were spotlighted. Sure it was goofy, but it was also damn entertaining!
CM Punk's "tribute" to John Laurinaitis
I can't help but think Punk's spot suffered due to the fact that at least half the audience didn't "get" what he was talking about. The Johnny Ace video package had me rolling on the ground in laughter, but I seriously doubt if the mainstream audience understood the references…or maybe they just care that little about the "Funk Man". You can tell that people were lost by the severe apathy shown after Punk's reference to Point Blank. I'm sure he thinks he's hilarious and clever, and I'd personally agree. But that segment was just not relatable for most of the people watching it.
Triple H returns!
The Game returned, sporting an angry look and his leather jacket attire that has inspired some of his best work. It was a great dichotomy against his suit-wearing persona that he's been forced into for the past several months. He did his best to build momentum for this weekend's PPV match, but with no appearance by Kevin Nash, there was only so much excitement I could take from it. To me it just felt like they were trying to skip past the Ladder match and build to a WrestleMania rematch with the Undertaker. As good as their last encounter was, I really have no interest in seeing yet another HHH/Taker match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Zack Ryder vs. Daniel Bryan
Screw the ring breaking, this was the true "Holy $#!%" moment of the night in my opinion. What a phenomenal match! At this point it's not a coincidence that my favorite three matches of the entire year involve the United States champion Dolph Ziggler. As he says… "How damn good am I at this?" It truly isn't bragging if you back it up every single week in the ring. Bryan also proved why he's the best pure worker in the business, Rhodes shined through playing off Ziggler throughout the match, and all three men were able to make Ryder's somewhat limited in-ring work look amazing. Normally I hate gimmicky endings with finishers being hit all over the place, but it was booked so fluidly and felt incredibly natural. Outstanding job by all four men, and it truly built up the US Championship match for this Sunday. The future of the WWE is bright…
Christian returns/ Cena speaks
I've never been high on Christian, but he made a very good case for himself… How can a guy who broke free and won the World Heavyweight Championship twice not be nominated for Superstar of the Year? I for one, am excited for his return to the ring… Great promo by Cena that bordered on heel territory. I almost spit out my beer at the line "I apologize for Team Bring-It… not bringing it." It appears that Cena does not have a match this Sunday (I honestly can't believe it…) but he's doing a great job of continuing to sell WrestleMania.
Miz and ADR's post-match beatdown on CM Punk
Thoroughly enjoyed the action between two completely over faces, and two extremely hated heels. Barrett's interference continued their feud into this Sunday, but the real gem was the post-match beatdown on the WWE Champion. Punk has been relatively protected as the current top face and champion, but the heels really needed a strong go-home to their title match at TLC. Not only did they pick up the win in the match, but they weakened their opponent and made it look believable. The cross-armbar between the ladder was a sick spot, and Miz's promo was excellent. I have no doubt that Punk will retain, but I'm now incredibly excited for their match!
Sheamus kicks that one guy…
I'm asking the same question as everyone else…why? Even the announcers couldn't keep it together! I guess they needed to kill time, but I wouldn't have minded if that three minutes went to the main event instead. Seriously…why?
The Jericho Promo
These promos have been excellent, and whether or not you believe Jericho's Twitter denial, his return is what is currently being reported. Many people have asked me, and I honestly have no idea who the "she" that was recently introduced is, or what it may allude to…but it's awesome. I've heard Stephanie McMahon, with Jericho returning to finally reveal who the Anonymous GM was. I've even heard Chyna… I have no idea, but I'm probably more excited than anybody to potentially see my favorite of all-time return in just a few weeks.
Kane returns, the WWE burns!
The promos hyping the return of Kane have been nothing short of extraordinary. The internet has been buzzing about a come-back of the mask, but I didn't believe it was going to happen. It turns out that not only did he bring back the mask, the long hair, and the attitude…but he stole Jeff Hardy's metal mask thing as well! Seriously the best return in a long time, and Kane has been instantly re-launched as a credible…well, whatever he is. You'd think he'll go after Mark Henry, but attacking John Cena may allude to a heel turn. Granted, attacking the most hated man in all of pro wrestling is not the best way to go heel… Regardless, his return is all kinds of intriguing, and I legitimately marked out for the remixed theme song. Welcome back Big Red Machine, it's been too long.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm just as upset about the first hour of Raw as everyone else, but if you pretend it doesn't exist…it may have been the best Raw of 2011. Kane's return was the icing on the cake, with a phenomenal four-way match, a great tag team bout, no Divas action, some great promos, legendary appearances, and a whole hell of a lot of build to this weekend's TLC pay-per-view.
This time last year I was seriously doubting the WWE's future, and heavily criticized them for a lackluster roster and terrible feuds. Now it seems as if the "building season" is just about over, and I'll throw out a few names if you're not excited about the near future of the WWE going into WrestleMania: Dolph Ziggler. Cody Rhodes. Daniel Bryan. CM Punk. Kane. Mark Henry. Triple H….Chris Jericho.
Finally a mix of great legendary talent and well-built newcomers ready to take hold of the future of the industry. I've said it twice now in the last few days, but…it's a damn good time to be a wrestling fan!