What's up wrestling fans? I'm back with another look at Monday Night Raw, and the "big feel" trend continues tonight as WWE presents its first commercial-free episode of Raw in the history of the program's existence. Additionally, Donald Trump makes his first live WWE TV appearance since purchasing Raw from Vince McMahon last week, and the main event for the evening has been announced as Triple H vs Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship.
But, according to a press release issued by WWE which we posted yesterday, that's not all that's in store for the fans on tonight's Raw broadcast. During a pre-Raw press conference being held by Donald Trump in Green Bay this afternoon, another big announcement is expected to be made concerning tonight's edition of Raw. With all this on tap for tonight's show, let's take preview the action coming to us live and commercial free from Green Bay.
A Commercial-Free Show
I have to say that although the viewing audience might feel letdown or disappointed by the announcement that Trump has purchased Raw, you have to give credit to WWE for at least trying to give Raw a "can't miss" feel to the show lately. Presenting a commercial-free episode is a great idea, and it gives us a reason to really want to tune into the broadcast tonight, as this is something we have never seen in pro wrestling before on free TV. What WWE will do with this platform remains to be seen of course, but my biggest hope is that it will add to the ultimate flow of the show especially during matches.
We all now how frustrating it is to be watching a great TV match and then have it interrupted by a commercial break, only to come back live and see on an instant replay that we missed the most amazing move performed in a wrestling ring in years. So the commercial free aspect of the show tonight will present bouts to us the way we see them on PPV, thus creating a more dynamic, dramatic flow to the match. Hopefully, anyways. I hope WWE does not make the mistake of running longer in-ring/backstage vignettes to take up commercial break time. The have the opportunity tonight to create a fantastic wrestling show as no other promotion has ever done this before, so they need to capitalize with good wrestling. Other TV shows have run commercial free in the past, so WWE needs to make this a unique event tonight by offering more in the way of wrestling than entertainment.
The Last Man Standing Match for The WWE Title: Triple H vs Randy Orton
This is a match that can and should benefit the most from the commercial free gimmick tonight. This is a PPV caliber bout that will no doubt be given near-PPV length time on the show tonight, so watching it straight through without commercial interruption should, in the end, present this as an actual PPV match. I certainly hope I'm right here.
As far as the match itself is concerned, I'm of course hoping that Orton retains the title. I feel it's too soon to see Triple H back on top, as he just returned to TV and had a lengthy title run on Smackdown several months ago. Whether or not you liked the title switch that happened at Extreme Rules with Batista, one thing it did was break-up the momentum that Orton had as champion going into the PPV, and WWE needs to get that back. They need to establish Orton as a dominant champion and solidify his title win last week on Raw with a title reign that proves he is the number one guy on the "A" show. Giving the title to Triple H so soon after Orton just lost it to Batista would make him look like a paper champion and give the impression that Orton couldn't hold a candle to either Batista or Triple H.
I understand that Orton is the heel in this situation and needs to be booked as such, but WWE has to make sure that he doesn't come off as completely inept or weak, or Legacy will find itself in a terrible situation when none of the viewing audience buys them as credible threats to the main event of the card.
We also have to keep in mind that this will be encounter number 1 between Triple H and Orton this week with the second taking place just 6 days from now at The Bash. How will tonight's match effect next week's bout? Creative has a difficult task tonight. They have to book the Last Man Standing Match in a way that not only entertains for tonight's purposes, but also keeps us interested in HHH vs Orton enough so that we buy the PPV this Sunday night. It is with this in mind that not only do I predict Orton winning tonight, but there will be some sort of interference involved on the part of Priceless, which will lead to the inevitable rematch Orton and HHH will have at The Bash in just 6 days.
The Donald's Big Announcement
Here's the deal. I said this during my Raw review last week, and I will reiterate it again here: WWE has to be smart about these "big announcements." I like them. They certainly add suspense to a show, and are always fun for a fan's speculative side, but in the end there aren't going to be enough of them to go around if they only pertain to one show. WWE has to start making announcements that will effect the future of its programming instead of just satisfying one single broadcast of Raw, Smackdown or ECW. While I think the commercial-free announcement is intriguing, it only pertains to tonight's show and has no effect on future story lines or angles. How many of these ideas can WWE come up with before they run out or start falling very flat on the creative side of things?
It is due to the question I just asked that I suggest WWE take an approach to their big announcements that will see them unfold over time as opposed to a one night hot shot bit.
This is the general problem I had with the announcement of Trump as the new owner of Raw. Certainly it "changes the face of the show" and provides an affect to future story lines on the show, but how long will it last? Trump will not be around on TV for very long, so was the "sale" angle one that actually will see repercussions being felt for months to come? I'd guess no.My guess is that Donald won't be around for much longer than a week to two more weeks, and the "big announcement" he makes at the press conference today might very well be that he is going to name a new General Manager of Raw live tonight on the broadcast. This way he can make his appearance tonight, leave the show in the hands of the new GM, and be gone from WWE TV for awhile. In which case, did the "sale" Raw really change anything?