The show kicked off with Chris Jericho hitting the ring to discuss what happened the previous night on Summerslam. I’ve said it before, but this is the best program in wrestling right now and in years to come will be remembered as one of the best in wrestling’s long history. The work HBK and Jericho did at Summerslam was near fascinating, and their segment was just brilliant. Jericho showing no remorse for his actions on Monday night was just another home run for the man formerly known as “Y2J.” When it came time for Jericho to wrestle Punk, I legitimately wanted to see Jericho get his ass kicked. Hey rookie heels, want people to pay to watch you get beat up, study Jericho.
What a great start to Raw. The problem was, however, it pretty much ended there. After a commercial break, we headed to the ring for our first match of the evening, Batista vs Paul Burchill. Why? Was this match necessary? Let’s see what it accomplished: it had nothing to do with the fallout from Summerslam, and it buried Paul Burchill. Batista went over Cena clean just 24 hours prior to Raw, so why did we need to see him squash a guy who is in need of one of Raw’s biggest pushes? This whole contest made absolutely no sense to me, not to mention it wasn’t a good match. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give Raw’s opening bout 3 Stars.
Next up we head backstage where Raw GM Mike Adamle introduces us to Raw’s newest member, Primo Colon. Before Primo can utter more than a breath, Adamle ditches him to make his way over to an entering John Cena. What did Primo Colon do to deserve such a horrible introduction on live TV? Oh ya, I remember, he’s Carlito’s brother. Guilty by association I suppose.
Our second match of the evening is up next and it’s a tag match featuring Mickie James and Kelly Kelly vs Katie Lea Burchill and Jillian Hall. Mickie James hits the ring with a smile on her face that looks as if she retained the women’s championship and won a million dollars in the lottery as opposed to looking the way she should have: pissed because she just lost a major woman’s title. Come on people, pay attention to details, they’re essential in creating a believable story. As for the match, it was good. All four women looked good, and Kelly continues to improve every week. 5 Stars.
Next up, we take the first match of the evening and simply replace Batista and Burchill with JBL and Jamie Noble. Again, what was the point of this? I understand, JBL lost at Summerslam so we have to be reminded that he’s big and strong because he can beat Jamie Noble. When is creative going to understand that if a wrestler can’t beat the heavyweight champion, why is he suddenly going to look like a beast to the viewers because he can cremate a guy who’s about half his size? Besides, it’s JBL. This guy never wins the money matches, so who does it benefit having him kill Noble? It certainly doesn’t benefit Noble, who has become the resident Tommy Dreamer of Raw, and it doesn’t benefit the viewers because the match sucks. 3.5 Stars.
The next segment can only be described as awkward. Just a couple weeks ago Stephanie and Shane McMahon announced Mike Adamle as the new Raw General Manager, but apparently feel he’s incapable of making the Raw main event at Unforgiven. Instead, they had him announce a new concept match called the “Championship Scramble.” I’m going to be the first person to say I like this idea. For two reasons: 1. The match should be exciting as we know it’s a guaranteed 20 minutes and all five guys will work very hard. 2. It leaves room open for more mid-card talent on both Raw and Smackdown to work the PPV. I don’t care if the match has been done before, I’m not going to jump on the “WWE stole this concept from ROH” nonsense, because they didn’t. They ran this type of match for the Hardcore title years ago. Secondly, it’s the wrestling business. Everyone takes from everyone else. Did TNA steal the street fight because WWE used it first? Did ROH steal the gauntlet match because WWE used it first years ago when the Royal Rumble debuted? NO. It’s wrestling, match types are as common as a cold. Getting back to Adamle’s announcement, however, I just thought he didn’t put the match over very well and I’m tired of him having to read everything. Can he not learn a few lines? My Grandmother could have memorized that stuff and she’s had Alzheimer’s for 20 years. Come on Mike, work hard, earn that $300 K.
It’s now time for our hour one main event of the evening, John Cena vs Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase in a 2 on 1 handicap match, otherwise known as a “we have to make Cena look like Superman again because he lost last night” match. Again, this was entirely pointless. Can Priceless defend the titles against a tag team already for the love of god?! I’m tired of them working with Cena and Batista week in and week out. It’s time for creative to focus on them as tag champions as opposed to rag dolls for main eventers. The match itself was good, but the finish made Rhodes and DiBiase look Worthless, not Priceless. 6 Stars.
Next up we saw a post Summerslam interview with Shawn Michales hosted by Michael Cole. This was again, as it has always been, phenomenal. HBK looked like a fuming mad lunatic, and indirectly told Jericho he’s coming for him. My only gripe however, is that Cole had to add that Rebecca suffered a fractured jaw. She had a fat lip, and no symptoms that indicated any kind of fractured jaw. I’ve played sports all my life, I’ve seen fractured jaws, and when you get them, you don’t walk out hand-in-hand with your husband or wife after the game. You’re in tons of pain, and your jaw is visibly messed up. So the added jaw drama was overkill, I mean come on, the woman had a huge swollen lip, that was enough for me to buy Michales’ rage.
Creative then decided it would be a good idea to introduce the live crowd to CM Punk, the hometown champion, in a backstage segment. What? He should have opened the show, plain and simple. Anyway, he went on to say he was gonna whip Jericho’s ass in the main event “Chicago style,” which translated means “I’m gonna job tonight because I’m in my hometown.”
Following Punk we headed back to the ring where in singles competition we had Santino vs D-Lo Brown. I hated the fact that they took the title off Kofi Kingston at Sumerslam for two reasons. One, because Kofi was on a roll that ended prematurely, and two, Santino is not a wrestler. His participation in the Summerslam match was pure comedy, and creative is booking him to look like a guy incapable of winning a match unless he has assistance from his girlfriend. Not only do I not want to see this in a wrestling ring because it’s inane, but the whole angle just takes a huge dump on the Intercontinental title. The predictability of the future of this angle is less than psychic. It goes like this: Santino keeps winning because Beth helps him week in and week out, but outside of the ring Santino continues to claim he’s the “man” in the relationship and “single-handedly” defeats his opponents. Yawn. 3 Stars.
Back from commercial break and Kane hits the ring to explain his actions from last week. I don’t hate this angle as much as most seem to hate it, but I did have problems with the writing of Kane’s dialogue during his promo. It was weak, and more often than not, cheesy. I wasn’t sure if Kane was attributing the “is he alive or dead” question to Rey, because it seemed quite clear last week that he was talking about himself. If he was talking about Rey, then umm, how did he not know if the man he was keeping hostage all this time was alive or dead? I mean, and keep in mind I’m not doctor, but the first clue in knowing if someone is dead is generally when they are NOT ALIVE. Man, Raw is really trying to convince me I’m an idiot tonight. I’ll reserve my judgment on this angle until I see how it plays out in the ring, but I can say at this point that Rey needs to return quickly to help the struggling Kane.
Back from break and it’s now time for our main event of the evening, CM Punk vs Chris Jericho in a non-title match. This was a great match, and one of the best TV matches I’ve seen in quite some time. If Punk is still holding the title when Jericho and HBK finish their program, this is a money feud waiting to happen. These two guys wrestled one hell of a match, but in the end Jericho scored the pin fall following Lance Cade’s interference. I have been reading many reports from angry writers claiming it was a shame to have Jericho go over Punk clean, and I suppose none of them actually watched the match. He didn’t go over clean. He was on the verge of a loss until Cade interfered. So while I agree that Punk should NOT have lost the main event in his hometown, at least get it right when looking back on it, because it didn’t make him look like less of a competitor than Jericho. 7.5 Stars.
Overall, this edition of Raw was a huge letdown from the great PPV WWE delivered with Summerslam. Too many squash matches have been the trend lately on Raw, and a lack of detail has made some storylines look ignorant and not very well thought out. If WWE wants Raw to get back to where it was a couple months ago, creative needs to re-focus its attention to smart stories and solid in-ring wrestling. Out of a possible 9 Stars, I give Monday Night Raw 4 Stars.
-The video packages WWE has been running on TV lately, in addition to the ones they ran at Summerslam, have been incredible. The editing department is really doing some of the best work I have ever seen in pro wrestling.
-Primo Colon is reportedly a great worker, so he should have a very bright future in TNA.
-Jillian’s gimmick is a guilty pleasure of mine. I have to admit it does make me laugh.
-I like that Kofi joined Cole and Lawler on commentary for Santino’s match, but does he have to smile ALL THE TIME? Just like Mickie, he LOST his IC title just a night before Raw, so why’s he bumbling around the ring with that shit eating grin on his face? Again, pay attention to detail! You just lost a major title in pro wrestling, you have to convince the audience you want it back! This guy needs to start showing some aggression, because the happy Jamaican bit won’t last forever.
-WWE just released 12 jobbers in the past 2 weeks, so is it really necessary to have Noble and Burchill play jobbers as well? Are Batista and Cena the only two guys on Raw that are allowed to win?
-What’s going on with D-Lo? Is he being pushed or is he getting lost?
-Here’s one thing I’ll say I fear about the Championship Scramble, and it’s something Adamle pointed out oh so eloquently. He said, “obviously we will see the belt change hands a number of times.” Why is that obvious? Some wrestlers have singles matches where it takes 25 minutes for one pin fall to take place. So how am I to believe it’ll change hands “many” times in 20? I hope creative doesn’t load the match with too many title changes that look unrealistic. If Cena and Batista can kick out of each others finishers 12 times in one bout, I better not see either of them get pinned or submit within 5 minutes because of a suplex.
-Kane’s new music sounds like something I’d hear at the ballet. I thought Jim Ross always said “this ain’t ballet folks.” They should go back to using his original entrance music, that was good stuff.
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