Monday Night RAW HITS:
Daniel Bryan turns on The Wyatt Family: The fact that this makes the hit list is bizarre for two reasons. One, the entire angle (all three weeks of it) were an absolute, complete miss. It might make this year’s 2014 all-time misses column. Secondly, if they were going to attempt a Daniel Bryan turn, they should have at least committed to the mistake they were making. But there were huge cracks in this right from the very first day. Instead of telling a well-developed, thought-provoking story (which, admittedly, they had the opportunity to do), they jammed 4-to-6 months’ worth of storylines into three weeks of storytelling, and hit the panic button at the first opportunity. One questions whether or not this would have happened had it not been for SportsCentre featuring the “YES!” chants during the Michigan State game last week, showing how this phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Regardless of all of that negativity, there is no denying that the reaction the crowd gave Daniel Bryan last night was not only one of the loudest of his career, but could very well prove be the one of the loudest, most passionate crowd reactions of all time. The crowd went absolutely bananas for his turn on Bray Wyatt, and the moment Bryan shared with the crowd on top of the cage after the turn was hard not to be excited about. And, for his part, Bray Wyatt is absolutely one of the most captivating and awe-inspiring performers in WWE right now. This is going to make for a great Royal Rumble match, leading to whatever these two are involved in at WrestleMania.
Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston: I think I enjoyed this match a lot more than the live crowd did, as they sat on their hands throughout most of this match. I think that’s telling to Kingston’s start-stop pushes over the past few years. I firmly believe that no one expected Kofi to pick up the win, but lo and behold, he did. These two have good in-ring chemistry, and general produce good matches, and this was certainly one of the better matches they’ve been in. The post-match angle with John Cena’s father fell a little flat with me, if only because we’ve seen something similar to this done a number of times in the past, but it did add an interesting wrinkle of personal rivalry between Cena and Orton leading into the Royal Rumble Championship match. Worth going out of your way to see.
WWE Network Hype: As you’re going to hear on the next episode of Chinlock Radio, Jan, Sideshow and I are all very excited for the WWE Network. Yes, we’re all Canadian, and yes we won’t get it as soon as it’s available in the United States, but our excitement is palatable. This was the best use of WWE’s “Did You Know” autofelation ads since their debut several years ago. Throughout the course of the show, multiple ads were used to give us vital information about the content that will be available on “day one,” as well as build excitement for its eventual launch. I can’t get my money to Vince McMahon fast enough when this network does launch, there is no doubt about that.
John Cena vs. Damien Sandow: This was the best use of Sandow since he lost to John Cena cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. The only reason this match suffered was because no one really believed that Sandow would beat Cena heading into Cena’s match with Orton at Royal Rumble (much the same way Orton’s match with Kingston suffered). That said, it was a solid outing, and Sandow brought his A game to the table. Another match worth going out of your way to see.
The New Age Outlaws: And I’m going to lump Goldust into this as well. I made mention in a previous column that Goldust proves that younger isn’t always better. I would suggest the New Age Outlaws performance last night plays into that same adage. I didn’t see the Outlaws turn on CM Punk coming at all, and it wasn’t until CM Punk made mention later on in the night that their association with Triple H shouldn’t have left him surprised either that I put the pieces together. Sometimes that’s fun for me, in watching wrestling on television. I don’t like having all of the answers, and this was a simple piece of story telling that was incredibly effective in the end. Hats off to Billy Gunn and Road Dogg too, as both guys looked, and wrestled like they were 15 years younger than they are.
The Usos: The Uso Brothers had a great night, and in a smaller way, tag team wrestling had a great night on RAW last night. The Usos opened and closed the show last night in two of the better matches on the show, and looked every bit the main eventers they were portrayed to be. In addition, there was a focus on the tag team championships as Goldust and Cody Rhodes defended their championships against Curtis Axel and Ryback. Although the former wasn’t exactly a great match, there was a clear focus on tag team wrestling, and that’s important going forward. WWE has great depth in its tag-team division, and it’s arguably as talented as the tag-team division has been in years.
Ultimate Warrior Hall of Fame Announcement: The argument can be made that the Warrior’s contributions to professional wrestling are limited, and that there are a dozen other wrestlers more deserving of the honour, but I will point to everyone who went into the Hall of Fame before Bruno Sammartino as not being as deserving, or contributing as much as him, but still being worthy of their inductions. The Ultimate Warrior is a name synonymous with an era of professional wrestling, and as far as I’m concerned, his induction is long overdue. Bravo to WWE for putting this together.
Monday Night RAW Misses:
Overall Show: Even with a show weighing heavier in hits than misses, this show fell flat with me overall. With the exception of the show closing angle, and maybe Kofi defeating Orton, there weren’t many newsworthy happenings on RAW. It felt like they were treading water until next week’s pay-per-view go-home episode, where the real Royal Rumble hype will set in. On a week that was so newsworthy in WWE, and coming off the heels of last week’s fun Old School RAW, there wasn’t a lot to get excited for on this week’s episode. Overall a miss.
Big Show knocks out Zeb Coulter: Yeah, everyone loves seeing a wrestling manager get punched in the face (some of my fondest childhood memories come from Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan’s over the top bumps from various wrestler’s punches), but the guy who’s wrestling Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble shouldn’t be involved in this silliness. Save that for a different match and a different segment, and focus on getting Big Show over as a bad ass, especially considering the damage done to his character at various times during his career.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio: There was nothing here for me to sink my teeth into. Mysterio has nothing going on for him, and has never meant less, and Del Rio doesn’t mean a whole lot more. This is where the strength of a secondary title is important. Whether it is the Intercontinental Championship, or the United States Championship, that would give “upper” mid-card guys like Del Rio, Mysterio, and others, something to focus on, and build toward. Because those titles have been devalued so badly, guys like this sit in mid-card purgatory until they’re plucked up for a 4-8 week run with John Cena or Randy Orton. It’s a shame.