WWE Monday Night RAW from Atlanta, GA || TV Review
- It's The People's Champion CM PUNK! Yes! He denies having anything to do with Heyman's hiring of The Shield and Brad Maddox and goes to the crowd, and Cole, asking if anybody (including four-eyes in the front row) saw Punk in the video. They didn't, of course, because he wasn't there. He has nothing to do with it! I knew it! Heyman either. It was an actor. Punk: "That wasn't Paul Heyman, that was Paul Giamatti. That wasn't Paul Heyman, that was CGI!". He reiterates that he is still the champ (442 days into the historic reign) and that he will be granting Rock a rematch at Elimination Chamber. Booker T comes out and he has no idea what Vickie's stupid title is. Why is she the "Managing Supervisor" and not GM? Booker is going to let the fans choose which former WrestleMania opponent via the WWE App, which they go so far as to explain how to download with a video. Punk:"These people don't even have smartphones! They're not going to download anything!" You can choose Mysterio (WM26), Orton (WM27) or Jericho (WM28). The crowd is very vocal in their support of Jericho winning. Well, time to prove that you do indeed have smartphones, crowd. Vote Jericho!
Non-title: Antonio Cesaro v. Ryback
A couple of lonely losers in the front row are trying (and failing) to get a Goldberg chant going in Atlanta. Ryback hits the ugliest leg drop of all time but slightly gets the crowd back by laying the boots into Cesaro in the corner to the tune of "Feed Me More". Cesaro dodges a clothesline in the corner and wallops Ryback with a Northern Europe Lariat and sends us face-first into a commercial. Ryback kills him with a spinebuster and Cesaro bails when we return, but Ryback makes chase and sends him back inside. Cesaro smartly snaps the neck across the top rope and throws him successively into the corner post and steel steps. He slides back inside and calls for the ref to count. Ryback starts to stir at 7 and barely gets in before 10. Cesaro climbs up top and rides Ryback's face down with his knee. That was brutal in a very good way. Ryback tries another comeback but Cesaro bails again. Back inside Ryback catches a big boot attempt with a sweet powerbomb and Shellshocked ends it. Very good match from both men. Ryback def. Cesaro, Shellshocked - 10 min, ***
- I think maybe it's time for them to toss Ryback down into the midcard ranks. Have him take the US Title and run with it for a while -- maybe give him another shot at the main event in the fall.
Jack Swagger v. Santino Marella
Swagger is back! He's got a beard and he's pissed! Santino jukes and jives, but a Swagger Bomb leads to The Patriot Act (ankle lock) and that's the end. Swagger's new look works for him and he was intense as hell. Swagger def. Santino, Patriot Act - 1 min, NR
Non-title: Alberto Del Rio v. Cody Rhodes
Del Rio gets a sweet flying headscissors from behind and unloads with kicks. He gets the jumping enzugiri to Cody's shoulder, so Rhodes responds with a kneebreaker and stomps him down in the cornr. Cody misses a charge and it's the babyface comeback 1 minute in! Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker leads to a sick superkick that gets a VERY close 2 count. He can't get the armbreaker and Cody nails the Disaster Kick, but moments later ADR locks in the cross armbreaker for the submission. Entertaining squash. Del Rio def. Rhodes, cross armbreaker - 3 min, *1/2
- ADR grabs the mic and says that he thanks the fans for helping him change his mind about looking down on people less fortunate than him. His English is especially broken here, and I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't told to intentionally sound a little less fluent than usual. Big Show pops up on the 'tron from a hotel, and ADR calls him a coward. He says he's only away from the arena because he wants to make sure he doesn't tear him limb from limb. Every time I hear that the only thing I can think of is Scott Steiner. Show says he wants a rematch at the Elimination Chamber PPV.
I couldn't find the "tear you from limb to limb' clip. Oh well.
- Daniel Bryan and Kane continue their breakup as Bryan tells Kane to stay in the back for his match with Rey Mysterio. Kane looks just slightly forlorn. Just slightly.
Rey Mysterio v. Daniel Bryan
I hope this one gets more time than their criminally short match a few months ago. Bryan starts by kicking Rey down, but he returns with a lucha armdrag and some strongstyle knees! Well, not quite. Bryan blocks a headscissor attempt by dropping Rey chest first onto his knees but runs into the post on a charge, taking us to break. Bryan is working on the arm when we come back. He's really heeling it up here. The crowd doesn't want to boo him, and I think it's a bad idea to turn him heel right now. I don't care how awesome he is as a dick heel, he needs to be the one who goes face, not Kane. Mysterio comes back with a headscissor takedown and a kick to the head but only gets 2. He sets up the 619 but Bryan catches him and tries the No Lock, but Mysterio rolls him up for 2. Rey gets it on a second try but D-Bryan dodges the top rope splash and makes Rey tap. Good, but still disappointing. Bryan def. Mysterio, No Lock - 8 min, **1/2
- It's Mark Henry! Oooooooooh shit! Bryan goes right out after him but gets clobbered! Mysterio is down in the ring! HYOOOOGE RUNNING SPINEBUSTER! Sin Cara runs in for the save but springboards right into a big World's Strongest Slam. Rey uses the distraction to fight back, but it's short-lived and he takes a WSM as well. Henry finishes him off with the Vader Bomb. The crowd's certainly awake now.
- Bryan is backstage and he's mad at Kane. "Daniel, I'm hurt by your tone. Words hurt."
- Big Show gets room service. Seriously. That was it.
Sheamus v. Kane
They lock up and trade punches, and Kane comes out on top of that fight. Kane gets a side slam as King goes to the "we have nothing better to talk about" standby of talking about how you don't realize how big somebody is until you stand next to them. In this instance he's talking about Sheamus, who hits the Irish Curse backbreaker and clotheslines Kane out. The crowd is quiet. They react to the clubbing forearms in the ropes ('cuz they get 'ta count!) but Kane snaps the neck over the rope. He wriggles out of White Noise and Sheamus gets out of a powerslam attempt, but Daniel Bryan runs out for the distraction. Kane gets his face kicked in and that's all she wrote. I can't believe they're going to be turning Bryan heel. Match was okay, but I was hoping for a longer one with some old-fashioned big-man brawlery. Oh well. Sheamus def. Kane, Brogue Kick - 4 min, **
- MizTV is now, and Heyman interrupts his own introduction because Miz is a shit-stirring asshole. Paul E. immediately wishes Vince well in his recovery from hip surgery. Heyman and Miz go back and forth about whether or not Paul E. is a liar. Miz: "You're crowding me, Paul." Vickie is here and she reveals that it was she who brought Lesnar back, not Heyman. Sweet vindication! (somewhat). Vickie is sobbing over what happened, because she didn't intend to have Brock take out Vince. They propose a moment of silence for Vince. Heyman and Vickie NEED to be a permanent on-screen duo. They are the fucking best together. I'm enjoying this segment and Miz is good here, but what the hell happened to his feud with Cesaro? This is such bullshit.
- Anyway, here comes Brock (or the pain, whatever), to interrupt Miz. Mi refuses to back down and pushes Brock, and the crowd is shocked. Lesnar clotheslines his ass down and tosses him, then tosses a couch. Miz comes back to fight and the crowd wants to see him take out Lesnar! Wow! It doesn't last long, as the F-5 kills him dead. Heyman apologizes profusely to The Miz. I'm surprised at the crowd being 100% behind The Miz here. Didn't see that coming.
Non-title: Wade Barrett v. Randy Orton
Bo Dallas gets the picture-in-picture promo during Barrett's entrance. He was smily and looked incredibly uncomfortable. Bring his brother in already! Barrett jumps Orton at the bell, so Orton throws his crotch at Wade's face. They screw up the spot where Wade follows Orton directly and clotheslines him over the rope. It's chinlock city inside the ring. The crowd was hot for this until Barrett did that. Orton comes back with the powerslam and rope-hang DDT to wake them back up, but Barrett rolls out before he can slither into the RKO. The Winds of Change (Bossman slam) gets two and Orton gets the RKO after blocking the Wasteland. What happened to the clean loss to Barrett being the impetus for a heel turn? Did they just scrap it for no reason? Match existed, I guess. Orton def. Barrett, RKO - 6 min, *1/2
- FANDANGO COMMERCIAL! I was really hoping they would drop this. He said "FAN-DAN-GO" with some shitty sort of accent, so they're going to do that, too. Why couldn't they just go with the character he was using in NXT? Curtis was just a really weird fucking guy, and it was great. Tons of charisma there. This Fandango thing is doomed to fail before they get a chance to bury him like they did with Brodus.
Chris Jericho v. CM Punk
Jericho chops the crap out of him and levels him with an elbow. Crowd with the dueling "CM Punk! Y2J!" chant. Jericho with his awesome littleman's big man vertical suplex (I don't know), but Punk buries the knee in the gut and slows the pace. Punk goes for a tornado DDT, but he taunted the crowd first and allowed Jericho to counter. Punk gets clotheslined out of the ring but cuts Jericho off on a dive attempt. Back from commercial and Punk is in control. Jericho fights back and dodges a springboard clothesline attempt from Punk. Jericho doesn't miss with his top-rope elbow smash and the facebuster leads to a Lionsault attempt, but Punk gets the knees up. Jericho catches him and tries the Walls, but Punk blocks. Jericho dodges the corner running knee and takes Punk over with a frankensteiner from the top. That eventually gets 2. Punk tries to counter the Lionsault to the GTS but Jericho blocks and goes for the Walls of Jericho. Punk gets a small package out of it for 2. Jericho reverses the roll up for 2 of his own and Punk gets 2 off a neckbreaker. He gets that corner knee and clotheslines Jericho down but he waits way too long with the Savage Elbow and eats canvas. Lionsault finally connects but only gets 2. Punk gets 2 off a high kick and transitions to the Anaconda Vise, but Jericho makes the ropes. Jericho counters the Go To Sleep with the Walls and the crowd is going banana! Punk craaaawls and makes it to the bottom rope. Punk recovers and tosses Jericho into the post and follows with the GTS to get the pin. Great TV match. CM Punk def. Jericho, GTS - 16 min, ***1/2
- In the segment that should have happened an hour ago, Del Rio jumps Big Show at the hotel after a random indy wrestler gives him the contract. Show breaks a table to use the leg, but ADR uses the fire extinguisher, which apparently knocks him out. They waited until 11 o'clock for this why?
- And now Brad Maddox is in the ring. It's 11:04 you assholes! What the fuck? He says he's the tragic hero of the story or some dumb shit and he calls out The Shield. Okay then. They come out, finally. They stalk all the way down to the ring and kill him dead with the three-man powerbomb. Cena waits until after that's done to make his way out, and I'm glad they did it that way. He's coming through the crowd! Ryback too! And Sheamus! It's brawl city! The Shield runs away scared and that's all she wrote.
Overall RAW Thoughts
Well, it's been worse. Ryback and Cesaro had a very strong match to start the show and Punk/Jericho was great. Punk was awesome every time he spoke (as usual) and there was good angle advancement throughout the show for the most part. Mark Henry is BACK! Where was Ziggler? The Del Rio/Big Show stuff was horrendous, MizTV was okay and Bryan/Rey was pretty good. The show wasn't boring, at least, and outside of all of the Show/Del Rio angle stuff nothing was outwardly bad. I can't help but feel like the closing segment was rushed, too. What happened there? Oh, and Bruno is finally in the hall, and there will be a DVD set! I'm already sold.
How to Make The Moments Stick
Dolph Ziggler said two things in a recent interview that stood out to me. The first was a response to the question of whether or not the three-hour episodes of RAW are too long. He said that the extra hour gives more guys a chance to get on the show. I don't think that is necessarily untrue, but all I see on TV most weeks is extra time being allotted to things like Great Khali "comedy" segments. The part of the interview I want to focus on, though, is Ziggler's assertion that if done right, they can keep the fans engaged and make the show fly by. In reality, the show has been 'flying by' for me over the past few weeks, but I feel the need to address the idea of keeping the fans engaged. Engagement segment-by-segment is one thing, but the more important matter is making sure that when something significant occurs it actually sticks with the viewers. I have mentioned on a number of occasions that often by the time 11:05PM comes along and RAW goes off the air, things that happened in the first hour have become distant memories; in fact there have been times that unless I look it up I couldn't tell you what happened in the period between 8:15 and 8:55. It's like a dead zone.
I believe that one very important omission has been made over and over again on RAW. They're not following up. Something goes down between two wrestlers during that 40 minute span (any point, really, but that time period is at the beginning of a long show) and you don't see or hear about either of those guys for the rest of the night. Generally the next time the occurrence is mentioned is when a commentator makes a comment in passing during a (often unrelated) match on Main Event or SmackDown. At that point, why bother even bringing it up? A good example of lack of follow-up is what happened last week on RAW between The Miz and Antonio Cesaro. The show's opening match saw Cesaro versus Randy Orton with Miz as the referee. Antonio lost via RKO after he got distracted due to arguing with Miz and immediately following the match Miz picked him up only to drop him right back down with the Skull Crushing Finale. The crowd gave it a good pop, it was a great way to end the segment and it was good to move along the feud. The problem is that once it was over, that was it. Neither guy was seen or heard from for the rest of the show, and there were two hours left! The fans needed to be reminded that Miz did that so it could be meaningful. Did Cesaro just pick his ass up and sulk all the way to the next town? Why would be do that? Logically (there's that word again) Cesaro would have responded in some manner later on in the evening, be it via attacking Miz during a brief backstage interview or doing his own interview talking about the atrocity that was brought upon the United States of Antonio due to Miz' behaviour. Isn't that what Matt Striker is employed to facilitate? He exists solely to get reactions!
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that they really need to start following up on the angles throughout the show. Instead of showing unnecessary video packages for angles that DO get multiple live segments, WWE should be using some of that time to give the mid-card guys some exposure. And they wonder why they have trouble getting people over.
Shane Douglas making some sense!
- El Generico has passed WWE's physical evaluation and is now an officially signed member of the developmental roster. I wonder what PAC v. Generico would look like in NXT. I assume we'll find out soon enough.
- TNA is finally taking Impact on the road! The first episode will be live on Thursday, March 14, which is the first episode of Impact after LockDown. They will be doing one episode live and then following up by immediately taping the following week's show. I don't know if that part has officially been announced outwardly by TNA, but I believe that's what the plan is. This is a step TNA needed to take, and while some people say it's long overdue (and it may be), the point is that they're doing it now, and that's a big deal. I'm SO looking forward to this. I can't find anything negative about this decision. TNA has now made 2 big announcements this year, and both of them are what people have been begging to see (less PPVs being the other). Some people are obviously bitching about it for one reason or another, but fuck them. I'm excited.
- WWE canceled the Intercontinental Cup out of nowhere because they decided that only one person can want the title at a time. Oy.
- Word is that Undertaker might not be able to wrestle at WrestleMania this year. That's been the word every year for a few years, so unless he is nowhere to be seen come mid-late February, there's no need to speculate about what Punk will be doing yet.
- Bret Hart doesn't think Triple H has had any "great" matches. I disagree, but we can leave it at that.
From TJ Hawke:"This was a really enjoyable match that told a good story to set up Reed Bentley's character for season 2 of Class Wars. Billy Roc is such a treat to watch, and I wish I could see him in more place. Bentley is very talented, and he should be getting more exposure soon."