Nick’s Raw Review 7-28-08: “Why?”

Nick Paglino


What’s up wrestling fans? I’m back with a look at the most anti-climactic episode of Raw I’ve seen in ages, and one can only begin to speculate if the spontaneous wrestling show we have been treated to lately will come to an end once it’s newest GM takes full command. Here’s what I don’t understand about naming Mike Assamle as the new Raw General Manager.

1. The General Manager position is one that relies solely on acting ability. It rarely requires physicality and of course is not actually a “decision making” job. Why, therefore, would WWE choose to place someone who has the most difficult time stringing words together to make coherent sentences in a performance-based position?

2. The General Manager of a brand should reflect someone capable of making the best business decisions for the brand. It should be someone who the audience accepts as capable of booking a wrestling show. Again, why would WWE therefore decide to hire someone that obviously knows absolutely nothing about the wrestling industry? If he can’t figure out the difference between Miz and Morrison then why would anyone think he’d be able to book a PPV main event?

3. The General Manager position is all about charisma. Paul Heyman, Ric Flair, William Regal, Teddy Long, Steph, Eric Bischoff, Stone Cold, Vince, Armando Estrada, as different as they all are, have one main quality in common: They all have a tremendous amount of charisma. Why, therefore, hire a GM that has the charisma of a coma?

I can only come up with 2 reasons why WWE would make the move to use Assamle as the GM. One is that his role can now be entirely scripted. It has to be clear to officials, as it is clear to us, that Mike cannot call a show on the fly, and his work on ECW has proven that. Being a play-by-play commentator means that you have to improvise, on the fly, a majority of what you say. Since Adamle can’t handle speaking let alone improvisation, the move to GM will allow creative to completely script everything he says, and they will no longer have to worry about him coming up with things like “Jamaican me crazy” and “have mercy.”

Secondly, WWE may be trying to create a second version of Vickie Guerrero, hoping that Adamle will draw similar heat because if there’s anyone people would like to see less of than Vickie, it has to be The Adamle. My guess is the longer Mike does a terrible job in his new role, the more heat he will draw from fans that are just plain tired of seeing him in the company. I have a bad feeling that within a few weeks my inbox is going to be flooded with “he’s the biggest heel on Raw” emails that I’ll have to respond to by saying “yes but he’s the biggest heel for the worst reasons.”

With that, I would like to shift focus to what I thought was an otherwise very solid edition of Monday Night Raw which came to us live from our nation’s capital city of Washington, DC.

We kicked things off tonight with an in-ring confrontation between The Animal and John Cena, with Shane-O Mac coming out to tease that a new General Manager would be announced later in the broadcast. This was a nice opener. It setup Cena and Batista’s relationship, and got the viewers excited for the announcement of a new Raw GM.

We return from our first commercial break with our first match of the evening, an inter-gender bout featuring Santino and Beth Phoenix vs Kelly Kelly and D-Lo Brown. This was a fun match, intended to further the relationship between Beth and Santino more so than focus on the wrestling. I don’t mind placing story over wrestling in this case because this pairing of BP and SM is really intriguing to me. Kudos to the creative team for this one. And did I see this wrong or did Santino actually win a match? Yes! He did! Finally, Santino picks up a huge win over…Kelly! Out of a possible 9 stars, I will give this opening bout 4 stars.

Next up we head to the back where JBL is talking to Shane, telling him that he needs to be named the number one contender to Punk’s title at Summerslam. I have a bad feeling this might actually happen. Either that or we might see a triple threat match with Kane, JBL and Punk. I don’t like either of those possibilities of a main event, especially at a major PPV like Summerslam.

We now head to the ring for our second bout of the evening, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase vs Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. This was another example of story winning the battle against wrestling, but again I didn’t mind it so much. I thought this was not only a great way to put over the tag champs as cowards, but it also foreshadowed a heel General Manager. A nice way to kill two birds with one stone, and kill Michael Cole. 4.5 Stars.

At this point Adamle came out to take over for Cole, and told Lawler that he had been asked a few weeks ago to be in DC for Raw. This was the first time I had ever been genuinely happy to see Adamle on a WWE broadcast. I thought this was a genius move. It established that the Cole substitution was premeditated by the new GM and that whoever it was planned to have Adamle take over the broadcast, subsequently making it worse. Looks like this new GM is a methodical pain in the ass. Great stuff.

Back to the ring and Jamie Noble is front and center challenging Kofi Kingston to a match. Out comes Kofi and in singles competition we have Jamie Noble vs Kofi Kingston. I was disappointed that this wasn’t much of a match, because these two could have put on one hell of a show. I hope creative doesn’t forget that Noble is a very talented wrestler and that he could be a credible contender to the IC title. Although I think he is very funny on the mic and is doing a great job in his new role as “Napoleon,” I don’t want him to lose the edge that he has in the ring. 4 Stars.

Up next CM Punk makes his way to the ring to face the “hottest free agent” in the biz. In what was the best match of the evening, CM Punk faced William Regal in a non-title match. Regal has returned, and if this match against Punk was any indication, he has returned with a vengeance. JBL joined The King and the Ass at the booth and at one point said he’d never seen Regal look as good as he was against Punk. While I don’t agree it was the best Regal has ever been, I do agree it’s the best he’s been in a long time. He was stiff, technical, brutal, and overall just plain interesting to watch. As much as I hate to see Adamle in the GM position, I am glad that Regal didn’t get the job either. Because after his match with Punk, it’s clear he is not a GM, he is a wrestler. And a damn good one at that. 7.5 Stars.

The post match saw Kane come out and attack JBL as Punk attacked Kane. Does anyone really want to see Summerslam headlined by championship matches like HHH vs Khali and Kane/JBL/Punk in a 3 way?

Chris Jericho’s bid for an Emmy continued tonight as he presented his final Highlight Reel segment. The current incarnation of the Jericho character might not only be the best version of him I’ve ever seen, but one of the best damn wrestling characters of all time. It has depth, intrigue, all of the ingredients of a perfect heel, and most of all, is taking a great risk. I love that Jericho is re-inventing the wheel with this character, and that he is working so hard at it at this point in his career. This guy truly is one of the greats.

Back from break and in a non-title Diva’s match we have Mickie James vs Jillian Hall. This was a throw away match for the most part, as it served to further the rivalry between Katie Lea and Mickie. Mickie picked up the V here, but was brutally attacked by Katie in a nice looking post match segment. Lea then got on the mic and told the viewers that she and Paul will be the next women’s and IC champions, respectively. I like both of these two and am glad Paul is finally getting the push he deserves. Let’s just hope it lasts. 4 stars.

It’s now time for our main event of the evening, JBL and Kane vs John Cena and Batista in tag team action. This was a great match. It seems like Raw’s main events lately have been fast paced, intense match ups, and tonight was no different. I’m not sure exactly why, but I don’t mind seeing JBL and Kane in the main event of a Raw broadcast, but I just don’t like the idea of them main eventing PPV’s. Maybe it’s because there’s typically no difference between a TV main event and a PPV main event for these two guys. It always feels like the same match. In any case, this was a solid contest that saw Cena pick up the victory when he hit Kane with the FU. It would seem that Cena has proven he should be the number one contender right? I guess not. The closing bell sounded, out came Shane-O, and he officially named our new GM, which put about 85% of the live crowd to sleep. Adamle’s first piece of PPV booking saw him make Batista vs John Cena official for Summerslam. 7 Stars.

Overall, this was a fun edition of Raw that was marred by the horrible decision to make Mike Adamle its newest General Manager. The show was filled with smart details that added layers to feuds that are shaping up nicely. I hope Raw can continue its trend of delivering exciting, unpredictable TV despite Adamle being “in control.” Out of a possible 9 stars, I give tonight’s edition of Monday Night Raw 5.5 Stars.

Nick’s Notes:

-After debuting on Raw last week, I think D-Lo should have been in a more focused role tonight than playing second fiddle to Santino and Beth.

-So our Summerslam line-up now looks like this: Hell in a Cell, HHH vs Khali, Henry vs Hardy and Batista vs Cena. Hmmmmm? Really? This thing needs to gain some excitement rather quickly.

-Cole has gone from yellow hair highlights to gray ones. So I guess he’s really a 13 yr old girl trapped in a 50 yr old man’s body?

-D-Lo’s Sudden Impact clothesline is great.

-I know Cole is not a wrestler, but do you need to be trained to know that you should at least take your blazer off before getting into the ring? What’s next, a singles match in a tuxedo?

-Man Regal just busted Punk up tonight. Made him bleed and damn near broke him in half a couple times. Welcome back chap.

-I wonder if Cena and Batista were more surprised that they will be facing each other at SSlam, or that Adamle is the new GM.

-I hope Lance Cade doesn’t get lost in the Y2J/HBK feud. He has to really step up if he wants to be considered part of this, because at this point Jericho’s light is shining so bright I can’t tell if Cade is standing next to him.

Thanks for reading, and as always, please send any and all feedback to VOWNick@gmail.com

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