The broadcast started with Adamle in the ring addressing his new General Manager status and admitting that he was not the best play-by-play guy the business has ever seen. Despite the obvious, I thought this live admission took some guts that others might not have had. To actually confront a wrestling crowd, which can be one of the most hostile in the “sports” world, and admit your flaws is not only risky but it paints an enormous target across the back of your ass. I give credit to Mike and creative for taking the truthful approach to the explanation of him as GM instead of coming up with some hokey story that no one would believe. Simply put, Adamle sold his new appointment as “hey, I stunk as an announcer, maybe I’ll do a better job as a GM.” The truth may hurt, but it’s the truth nonetheless, and the direct approach worked in this situation.
Adamle was quickly interrupted by JBL who continued his quest to receive a title shot. JBL was then interrupted by Y2J, I mean, Chris Jericho, who then pleaded his case for a title shot. Adamle then made what would turn out to be a tremendous match: CM Punk vs JBL vs Jericho, with the stipulation that if JBL or Jericho won the match, the winner would become the number one contender to Punk’s title. It was at this point that I forgot about Mike Adamle entirely. I was no longer bothered that he was GM, I didn’t care anymore that the Detroit Tigers gave up Pudge to the Yankees, I didn’t really even care that my rent for August was four days late. My only concern was, “here we go, JBL is finally gonna become the number one contender tonight.” So our title matches at Summerslam are going to be Henry vs Hardy, Khali vs HHH and JBL vs Punk? Does WWE want people to pay for this show or have their cable shut off entirely? Those are three lousy looking title matches, and no matter what anyone thinks of Mike Adamle, Summerslam’s future is what bothered me last night.
Back from commercial break and it’s time for our first of three title matches, Kofi Kingston(c) vs Paul Burchill. These two guys work very well together, and tonight was the best of the matches they’ve had. Good back and forth action with both guys placing speed over power and demonstrating some nice chain wrestling. It’s a shame, however, that Burchill has not been established as a credible contender to the IC title throughout the brief program him and Kofi have been working. The same thing has happened to Katie Lea. Both siblings have worked hard against their respective opponents, but in the end we’re left feeling like they’re still nowhere in the same league as the champions. If that isn’t bad enough, the title shots are now going to Santino and Beth at Summerslam, without either of them having to do anything to earn them. Santino has had one win in the last what, 5 months? How does that qualify him for a title match at SS and not someone else? Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this opening contest 6 stars.
Following the match, Katie Lea attempted to distract Kofi so that Burchill could get the post match attack from behind, but Kofi saw it coming and tossed Burchill out of the ring. This prompted Mickie James to hit the ring and we went directly into title match number two of the night, Mickie James(c) vs Katie Lea Burchill. This was a great match. Both ladies worked very hard, much like their male counterparts before them, and had what I thought to be their best bout together. Katie Lea looked great here, and fortunately looked closer to a victory than her brother did. I like the idea of Beth Phoenix and Mickie wrestling for the title, but wish it didn’t come as abruptly as it did last night on Raw. 7 Stars.
Back from commercial break and Adamle is seen in his office on the phone congratulating Stephanie McMahon on her new baby by saying “Mazal tov.” Awkward. He is then greeted by Santino and Beth and proceeds to make the first of two Summerslam matches made during Raw, both of which I haven’t much of a desire to see. I don’t like mixed tag matches much to begin with, but having to see one on a PPV just seems rather useless to me. My feeling is that it will serve more as a comedy match between Beth and Santino rather than what could possibly be two great title matches if they were competed in the singles environment.
The next segment was both strange and interesting at the same time. It began with Layla uselessly dancing in the ring much like she used to on ECW which prompted William Regal to hit the ring and end the nonsense. He introduces himself to the crowd and reminds everyone that he is “The King,” only to be interrupted by Jamie Noble who is on a quest to remind everyone that he is short. A brawl between the two immediately breaks out and what could potentially be a great feud is foreshadowed. I think these two guys could have a series of great matches but fear that it will be a one time deal before creative pulls the rug out from underneath them and Jamie Noble moves on to his next defeat.
Next up is our hour one main event, and the match of the night, CM Punk vs Chris Jericho and JBL in a 2 on 1 handicap match. I liked the stipulations involved here. It added layers to the match which in turn added intensity that the wrestlers already did a great job of creating. Jericho is REALLY going all the way with his character change, this time appearing in new wrestling attire and altering his ring entrance. Each week this guy finds new ways of deepening what is already the best character on Raw. As for the match, it was fantastic. Tons of back and forth action and near falls from all three wrestlers and a well done finish. My only complaint, and I hate to have one here, is that the winner had been telegraphed since the beginning of Raw, if not for a couple of weeks now. Since Batista and Cena are facing each other at Summerslam and it appeared obvious that Jericho would be working with HBK, this only left the possibility of JBL challenging for the title. It’s a terrible idea. For two reasons. One, I don’t like the combination of JBL and Punk in a wrestling match. JBL is a brawler. He works well with other brawlers. When he wrestles technical talent, the opponent is always forced to adjust to JBL’s style of gound-n-pound and it never seems to work. Secondly, anytime JBL is in a title match there is a possibility he could actually win the title, and does anyone really want to see that? Especially now, when WWE is experimenting so well with fresh talent. Let’s hope Punk is not a transitional champion and more accurately that JBL is a transitional challenger. 8 Stars.
Following the match we see Shawn Michaels in his home preparing for his live interview. Back from break and Lawler and Cole introduce HBK and begin what I thought was a strangely ambiguous segment. Creative is really trying hard to make us believe that HBK’s eye injury could really be career ending. The problem is, this is an angle so we know that it’s not career ending. On the other hand, we do know, as Michaels pointed out last night, that he is not injury free and that at some point he will inevitably have to quit working a full-time WWE schedule. The question is, will that time be sooner or later? Whatever the answer, we know that he is capable of wrestling at Summerslam so why not have Jericho vs Michales at one of the years biggest events? If creative wants to continue the feud into Unforgiven they very well could in addition to having them wrestle at Summerslam. The bottom line here is that they need a second match to save what looks to be a very weak SSlam card at this point, because I don’t think Hell In A Cell can pull it off all by itself.
This took us into our next segment which was fun albeit disappointing. Matt Striker is shown standing in the ring with his trusty chalk board to cut what was his first in-ring promo since being drafted to Raw. I have always thought Striker is excellent on the mic and actually thought he would have made a great choice for the GM position. Nevertheless, here he is, “finally,” as he pointed out, “teaching” the students of The University of Tennessee, when he was abruptly cut off by Kane. What is creative doing with this guy? He was the focal point of Raw just a few weeks ago and now he is relegated to Kane vs Striker which was a glorified run-in followed by a chokeslam. The angle appeared to be over when Kane made up his mind by declaring that “he is dead,” and a wash of calm seemed to cover him. Is that it? Are we done? I thought so until we cut to the back and saw Adamle telling Kelly Kelly that next week on Raw he will demand that Kane reveal what’s in the bag or he will “take it” from him. It should be fun watching Adamle try to take Kane’s bag, but honestly, if we don’t get the payoff to all this sometime soon, people will just flat out not care about this already waning angle. 2.5 Stars.
It’s now time for our main event of the evening, a tag title match featuring Batista and John Cena vs Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. This was another great match, and a solid main event to close out the show. I know a lot of people will complain that Rhodes and DiBiase shouldn’t have lost the titles and that now they, as well as the tag division, will look weak, but I wholeheartedly disagree. These two rookies are on a roll right now. They may not have the gold, but they have been main eventing with Raw’s top players and are gaining something far more important than gold which is status. These two guys are becoming top talents, and in the long run that is more important than a run with the titles. Besides, they’ll get the titles back in the future, so they’ll have their chance at the top of the tag team mountain again. The main focus of this match was generating heat for Batista vs Cena at Summerslam, which is Raw’s main event at the PPV. Yes, I did say it’s Raw’s main event. Punk vs JBL is the title match, but not the money draw. It will be interesting to see how Batista and Cena work as tag champs, and furthermore how it will affect their match at Summerslam. Regardless, this was a fun main event tonight that capped off a well done episode of Monday Night Raw. 6.5 Stars.
Overall, last night’s edition of Monday Night Raw was a hit. There were individual misses but they mostly had to do with the direction of Summerslam and not the actual Raw broadcast itself. I think over time, Mike Adamle will prove to be a good GM. He was rocky last night, but did a much better job than expected, and the concept of the “Adamle Original” is just that: original. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give Monday Night Raw 6 stars.
-I like that Raw seems to be focusing more on the wrestling along with interesting storylines they seem to be creating. The quantity of wrestling was not great last night, but the quality was. Three very good matches in the broadcast.
-When Adamle started the show off with his glasses on and paper in hand, I kinda thought he was gonna say “ok Melissa, do you know what the password is for tonight? That’s right! You just won 2 dollars!”
-If Adamle’s comparing his General Manager future to the legacy of Ronald Regan, I sure hope it turns out to be better than the 80’s did.
-So this is what Summerslam looks like:
Ummmmmm, really? Why not just put this one to bed with Jenny McCarthy vs Autism in a “cure on a poll match.”
-I’d like it if we find out that Kane’s bag contains another bag that looks just like it.
-I really hope that Regal’s suspension has not hurt his chances of being a competitive wrestler on Raw. I don’t need him to be involved in a complex storyline, I don’t need him to be pushed to the top, just let him do what he does best: wrestle. The same goes for Jamie Noble, I have always liked his work.
Thanks for reading, and as always, please send any and all feedback to VOWNick@gmail.com