Monday Night RAW HITS:
Rhodes Bros. vs. Randy Orton: Is there a better story in the second half of 2013 than the return of Goldust to WWE rings? The Twitter campaign that the elder Rhodes made to wrestle his younger brother at WrestleMania is well known, but it actually looks like that might be a possibility. Goldust’s performances have been the highlight of every single show he has been on for months now, and last night’s RAW was no exception. While the booking leading to this match was dismal, the match itself was an excellent TV bout. I’m okay with the non-finish as it made Orton look slimy, and saved the tag champions from a loss. Also an honourable mention to Randy Orton and Big Show for their post-match brawl, and the huge chokeslam through the table from the stairs outside the ring. Although it was replayed to death, and felt less special by the end of the show, it was a really cool visual when it first happened.
Daniel Bryan and CM Punk vs. The Sheild: Another fun handicap match, and if you only have time to watch one segment from Monday’s RAW, this would be the one. This match was a great showcase for the Shield over the number two and number 3 babyfaces in the company, and then was highlighted by a great show-ending brawl between The Shield and the Wyatts, followed by the Shield and the Wyatt’s “realizing their common enemy”, and attacking Bryan/Punk until the save came from the Rhodes Bros and The Usos. This felt like the most important piece of an otherwise largely uneventful episode of RAW.
Paul Heyman: This isn’t as much of a hit as the others, but still made the column. Whatever WWE is paying Paul Heyman, it’s drastically understated to his value to the company. His promo on this episode is among my favourites of the year, and when I really think back on what was said, he wasn’t given a lot to work with. This furthered his angle with Ryback, and Punk, but not in any truly meaningful way. It was just another excuse for CM Punk to wear Paul Heyman out with a kendo stick, but also for him to get some legitimate heat from an already vocal crowd. My hat’s off to you, Mr. Heyman. You have earned every single penny Vince McMahon is paying you.
Monday Night RAW MISSES:
Overall Show: Another stinker of an episode of RAW. Nothing of consequence happened, and if you missed this episode, you’ll be able to pick up next week’s episode without feeling like you’ve missed much of anything. The Survivor Series hype (now 12 days away) was virtually non-existent and what they did “hype” felt like a half-assed effort, at best. Crowds in the United Kingdom are notoriously vocal, but it always seems like WWE rests on that knowing they won’t have to do much to get them going. In my opinion they should be using that opportunity to hot-shot something special, and use that live electric atmosphere that the UK crowds produce to create a must-see feel to the next episode of RAW back home. Thebest example I can give of this is the crowd the night after WrestleMania. Crowds are still feeding off of their energy, 6 months later. Give the people something to cheer about, and other crowds will feed off of that energy.
Handicap Matches: I guess this goes for WWE’s theory of gimmick matches in general. At Hell in the Cell we see at least 2 Cell matches. Same with Elimination Chamber. Same with Money in the Bank, etc. etc. Less is more when it comes to these types of matches, and it’s hard to create a “different” and “important” feel when you’re pulling the trigger on these more than once a night (or, for that matter, more than one in a short period of time). There were three handicap matches last night, that all followed basically the same formula. We had Cena vs. The Real Americans. It didn’t mean anything for Cena to pick up that win (he’s beating two, or more, wrestlers on a number of occasions), and hurt the Real Americans with a loss. And then the show was book-ended with the two handicap matches I mentioned in my HITS section. They were hits for match quality, not for gimmickry. Less. Is. More.
Opening Promo: Generally speaking, an opening promo featuring any of the following acts is a hit: Randy Orton, Kane, Brad Maddox, Vicky Guerrero. Instead, we have all of the above, and it was one gigantic miss. To establish Kane’s new Director of Operations title, he was booked to be overruled by the Smackdown General Manager on Monday Night RAW. The entire segment was a mess. Even though The Authority was “on vacation”, they dominated not just this segment, but were mentioned in nearly every quarter hour for the entire show. Two non-wrestlers took up more TV time than if you added up the entire mid-card of the show TOGETHER. Ridiculous on so many levels. It’s examples like this that show viewers that even WWE has forgotten their formula to exciting television, and this is all they have left.
Curtis Axel vs. Dolph Ziggler: This is not a knock on the match, or either man’s workrate. The match was quite good, and the live crowd was excited for all of Ziggler’s offense. I even enjoyed the finish as a throw-back to Mr. Perfect vs. Jerry Lawler in the AWA days. But think about where these two are on the card relative to the push they both received at the beginning of the year. It’s embarrassing to think how badly the WWE has dropped the ball on both of these guys. The only character development Axel has received is that he’s a “Paul Heyman Guy”, which has been of no value to him, as he’s jobbed out to every major name he’s been programmed with. And Ziggler was red-hot, got injured, and re-entered the mid-card upon his return. There is nobody more deserving of a World Heavyweight Championship run than him. Cena doesn’t need that belt, and a prolonged feud between Del Rio and Ziggler sounds a whole lot more appealing to me than a prolonged feud between Cena and Del Rio. (And that isn’t Cena-hate speaking…that’s just a matter-of-fact observation). WWE creative should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.