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What's up wrestling fans? I'm back with another in depth look at Monday Night Raw, which came to us live and commercial-free last night from Green Bay.
Donald Trump's first night as the owner of Raw brought 2 uninterrupted hours of TV, refunded the live audience the money they paid for their tickets, and ironically ended with the return of Mr. McMahon as the sole owner of the Raw brand. So Trump's first night ended with his last night, and the show fared decently in between. That said, let's take a look at The Good, The Bad, and The Wrestling from last night's broadcast.
This week it's going to be hard for me to focus on the good and the bad as separate entities because it seemed like I couldn't find something good about Raw without finding something bad about it a minute later or sometimes within the same minute! I will say, however, there were a few stand alone great moments on Raw last night.
The Triple H vs Randy Orton Last Man Standing Match was fantastic. It would have been a good bout on PPV which made it an excellent bout on free TV last night. This was an example of the commercial-free gimmick working to its full potential. All of the matches were uninterrupted last night, which, for one night only, put an end to the momentum break that you usually suffer when commercials approach, assuming you haven't recorded the show and are able to fast forward through the breaks. The last man standing match received the largest benefit from the break-free show considering it was over 20 minutes long and would most likely have contained two commercial breaks if this were any other week.
The match itself was a great brawl, and creative did a really nice job of convincing me to buy "The Bash" on Sunday night even though I just watched the main event 6 days prior to the show. The 3 Stages of Hell stipulation has the potential to rival the Last Man Standing bout so my hat's tipped to WWE for coming up with something bigger and better to draw fans into buying the PPV.
The comedy segments with Vince last night were also very well done and were actually funny for a change. Another nod goes to the camera guys for that terrific shot of Santina exiting and Santino entering the frame quickly almost to indicate that even though everyone "knew" Santina was Santino they actually are two different people. Smart, funny, and well done. Of course you do have to kick logic slightly to the curb where Vince was concerned last night because two things made no sense:
1. Why did he have a camera crew with him when he no longer owns Raw? I guess you could argue that he still owns WWE so he could have a Smackdown or ECW crew with him, but then they should have offered us some kind of an explanation.
2. Why didn't Trump just have McMahon thrown out? How was McMahon allowed to enter the building? How was he allowed to make his way to the ring? Again, I suppose it could be argued that McMahon does still own WWE and considering Raw is a WWE product Vince is allowed to be there anytime. But creative should have explained the fine print of the "sale" so that we fully understood all ramifications.
The opening segment with The Miz and John Cena was great, and this is the best feud Cena has been in for quite sometime. Both guys were terrific on the mic and I love that they're taking real, personal life shots at each other during the promos. It fuels the flames between the two of them perfectly and makes for some great promos week-in and week-out. Here's to hoping WWE does not make the same mistake with Cena/Miz that they did with Cena/Big Show and have Cena dominate The Miz in their first PPV encounter. The Miz has way too much of an upside in this program with Cena to simply throw him to the dogs this Sunday night. The Miz has to go over in their match at the PPV, because if he does, then he will be solidified as a top player on the Raw brand.
So as much fun as the commercial-free gimmick was, I don't think WWE used it to its full advantage, and at times I was more bored than I was excited that Raw went commercial free. In fact, some segments were so drawn out that they actually felt like commercial breaks. As most of you know I am a wrestling purist so I was amazed that in a 2 hour, commercial-free edition of Raw, WWE still only featured 5 matches, and 3 of them clocked in at 5 minutes or less. This isn't even as much wrestling as WWE features on Raw with commercials, so I really think they could have used the time better from an in-ring perspective. Granted the Last Man Standing Match was over 20 minutes long, and you rarely see a match that long on Raw, but overall the wrestling was sub par for a show that was a straight 125 minutes long.
The details of the "sale" of Raw were murky at best and there were so many logic problems with the angle that I sometimes tuned out because I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around things. How would Trump delivering free Raw's hurt Vince financially? It's independently owned and operated, so realistically Trump is only hurting himself by making Raw free every week. If there was a real threat to Vince, then why didn't anyone bother to explain it to us?