Monday Night RAW HITS:
Big E. Langston vs. Curtis Axel: I felt, as soon as this match was announced, that it was a foregone conclusion that Big E. Langston would gain the Intercontinental Championship. That said, this was the best match Axel has had with anyone else not named CM Punk since being given the “Paul Heyman Guy” push. It’s a real shame, too. Axel has the bloodline to be something really special, but unfortunately has fallen completely flat with what would arguably be considered once of the biggest pushes anyone has received this year. His loss is Big E’s gain, however, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Langston next.
The Miz Turns Heel: I hate the Miz. Let’s make no mistake about it. I think it was a gigantic mistake to put the WWE Championship on him, and an equally big mistake wasting one of the few matches The Rock was going to have on him, too. But, if the Miz is going to be forced down my throat (and there is no indication that he’s going anywhere any time soon), than at least for the foreseeable future, he’ll be a heel. His babyface run was terrible on every possible level. He was given the rub from Ric Frigging Flair and still couldn’t manage to substantiate that into anything worth watching. MizTV is so bad it has me longing for The Brother Love Show. He sucks, beyond the word sucks can even describe him. So having him turn on Kofi during this match was the only thing that could have saved this segment for me.
Damien Sandow vs. Dolph Ziggler: Both of these guys can see through the glass ceiling in WWE, but just can’t seem to break through in any meaningful way. It’s a shame, because they took an otherwise lame gimmick (Broadway Brawl), and turned it into a really fun match. Special props to Ziggler for the Jeff Jarrett shout-out at the end of the match.
Brad Maddox vs. Randy Orton: Maddox was given some believable (surprise) offense, and Orton looked like a completely vicious killer in this segment. Very, very well done, and a reminder of how sadistic Orton’s character can be.
12-Man Tag Team Match: Every character in any of the more interesting storylines in WWE was featured in this match. Cody and Goldust are untouchable right now. Daniel Bryan is as over as ever. CM Punk is still the best. And the combustion you can feel building between the Shield and the Wyatt’s is going to make for some must-see TV in the very near future. This was easily the match of the night, and it wasn’t even close. It was especially good down the stretch as “crash-TV” too over, and everyone began hitting their finishers in rapid fire sequence. A nod to the surprise return of Rey Mysterio, which popped the live crowd, and resulted in a nice feel-good ending to an otherwise terrible show.
Monday Night RAW MISSES:
Divas Musical Chairs: Vince McMahon should hang his head in shame for that terrible segment. It isn’t often that I’m embarrassed to be a wrestling fan, but this was absolutely one of those times. And that’s another thing. How often have you been embarrassed to be a fan of Breaking Bad? Or Community? Or House? Or NCIS? Or The Big Bang Theory? And now, how many times have you been embarrassed to be a professional wrestling fan? There is something seriously wrong with that equation.
Opening Promo: Boy it sure didn’t take long for Triple H and Stephanie to be all over television again. Even in their absence last week they were mentioned in every single segment on the show. Last night was no different. And the opening promo was a complete mess. Could Triple H’s and Stephanie’s “be-all-end-all” characters be any more ambiguous. Heels? Babyfaces? How can you build interested, and intrigue when your crowd can’t easily identify with your characters. Remember why you turned John Cena into a big colourful bowl of Fruity Pebbles? So children could identify with him? PICK A FRIGGING LANE AND STAY IN IT! Jesus Christ. *ahem* There, I feel better about that already.
Mixed Message Sent on Head Shots: We all know that WWE has ended chairshots to the head (and for good reason). While I have always felt that to end a feud, or really sell the issues between two wrestlers, a chairshot here and there isn’t necessarily a bad thing, WWE (and the larger wrestling viewing audience) disagree with that. There is absolutely no question that they are dangerous, and for a long, long time, they were completely overused (and thus, misused). However, I feel that certain circumstances require certain measures, and if both performers agree to participating in the stunt, and it’s only used once, or twice, a year, then there shouldn’t be a problem with it. What I don’t understand is the outright ban on chairshots, but other foreign object shots to the head continue to be okay. Last night we saw Randy Orton repeatedly punch Brad Maddox in the head while holding a microphone, and then later in the evening Dolph Ziggler blasted Damien Sandow with a guitar shot in the head as well. At the Tables Ladders and Chairs PPV we saw a number of ladder shots to the head, and the same can be said for the Money in the Bank Pay Per View as well. Why are these okay, but chairshots are not? Is there concrete scientific research that proves that a ladder shot to the head is safer than a chairshot to the head? Why not a blanket ban, if an exceptional ban exists? It just doesn’t make any sense, and frustrates me every single time an example crops up.
Survivor Series Hype: I realize that Vince McMahon thinks that the Survivor Series concept is a dead concept, but that doesn’t excuse the total lack of attention this “Big Four” Pay Per View has received. And, if you agree with Vince McMahon about Survivor Series outliving it’s usefulness, I beg of you to go back and watch the 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, or 2007 versions of this PPV to see how multi-man tag team elimination matches can not only be fun to watch, but be used to build towards both Royal Rumble and WrestleMania.
Overall Show: I mentioned last week that I felt like WWE has forgotten the formula that they created to producing successful, and captivating television. This episode did nothing but hammer that point home. Was there anything here that made you want to spend upwards of $70 this weekend for one of WWE’s “Big Four” PPV’s, Survivor Series? Was there anything that kept you glued to your TV, feeling like you couldn’t miss what was about to happen? Of course, three hours is too long for anybody to be expected to sit through, all week long, every week. But there are so many things wrong with the product right now (and so very little right), that the WWE is headed for a tail-spin heading into the biggest three months of their business year. There was so much filler, and so much crap, that it’s hard to wade through it all to even be remotely positive in these columns. Make no mistake about it. I love WWE. I always have, and I always will. But it’s episodes like this, and the episodes produced for the past several months, that make it very hard to continue being a fan. WWE needs to do something, and they need to do something quickly.