Monday Night RAW HITS
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton: Given nearly 30 minutes of television time, and a large part of it uninterrupted, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan delivered arguably what might be the best match in the series of matches they’ve had in the past six months. This was smash-mouth, high-contact wrestling at its best, and the match told a magnificent story throughout. Negative points go to WWE’s production team, as I couldn’t have been the only one who noticed Kane’s fireworks attached to the ring posts through-out the match (but not throughout the matches earlier in the night), which guaranteed we were going to see some kind of a screwy finish. It’s difficult to get invested in a match when you’re literally waiting for the screw job to happen. Colour me surprised that we saw a clean finish, with Daniel Bryan hitting the running knee and pinning Orton in the middle of the ring. Shenanigans, of course, ensued shortly thereafter with Kane attacking Daniel Bryan, and Orton standing tall to send the show off the air. This hit is based solely on how well this match was wrestled, and how hard both of these guys worked to deliver a fantastic contest in the ring.
Wyatts vs. The Shield: The talking segment that followed The Wyatts vs. R-Truth/Woods/Ziggler (see below) was excellent, and may well be my favourite Wyatt family talking segment yet. The build towards this match at Elimination Chamber has been spot on, thus far, and my anticipation for this match is high. All six of these guys are excellent, and bring something different, and unique to the table, and are largely untainted by the garbage that surrounds them on the rest of the card (save for the few weeks Bray Wyatt was mixed up in that awful, awful, awful feud with Daniel Bryan). This is worth going out of you way to see.
Goldust/Cody Rhodes vs. The New Age Outlaws: Again, another hit for match quality, and not for the mess that surrounds it (see below). The Outlaws are working incredibly hard, and I would argue that Road Dogg is producing a higher match quality now than at the end of his previous WWE run. But I would be amiss not to mention Cody Rhodes’ spectacular, and incredibly painful looking, moonsault off the top of the cage. Road Dogg did little to help brace Cody’s impact, leaving Cody to absorb it all himself. Incredibly graceful move, with a very violent ending. Another YouTube gem, if you can track it down.
Monday Night RAW MISSES
Overall show: If you want to see a great wrestling match, head to YouTube and watch Orton/Bryan. If you want to see the other two highlights from RAW, it will take exactly five minutes of your time. What about the other two and a half hours that I invested into RAW last night? RAW was Bore, yet again. WWE seemingly forgot about hyping the Royal Rumble last month, and now I think they’ve forgotten that they’re knee deep in the Road to WrestleMania. Not a hell of a lot to get excited about, or look forward to, as it sits today. Randy Orton opened the show with a talking segment, and the only interesting thing about it was the fact that his recital of his lines came out of his mouth at what felt like 100 miles an hour. It didn’t occur to me until this morning that he did so to stop the “dramatic pause” he usually employs during his delivery, in effort to drown out what were often deafening “CM PUNK!” chants during what became the duration of RAW. When one of the most interesting things that happens on an episode is the crowd’s reference to a wrestling who has legitimately walked away from the company because of how disgruntled he is with the direction of not just his character, but the company in general, you have a serious problem on your hands. You can go back and re-read practically any one of the columns I have written on RAW in the past six months, and find a reoccurring theme. Something needs to change, and it needs to change now.
Titus O’Neil vs. Zack Ryder: Zack Ryder returned after an absence of what felt like 15 years, and was squashed by the newly heel Titus O’Neil in about two minutes. Probably not that big of a deal, except during the match we had the Miz on commentary, bitching about how he didn’t have a match on the show. Where was Darren Young, talking about how his tag team partner turned on him? Why was Ryder’s return wasted this way? Why was Miz bitching about not having a match on this show, when he had a match last week, and lost to Dolph Ziggler? A little over two minutes of television, and a mental train wreck that still leaves me with a headache this afternoon.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Bastisa: This talking segment was atrocious. First, Dave Batista was wearing something that probably came out of his teenaged daughter’s closet. Then Del Rio comes out wearing a velour sports jacket, and a scarf. Remember that time Steve Austin wore skinny jeans, and had a nose ring, in his epic confrontation with The Rock, who was wearing a velour jumpsuit? That lit the box office on fire. Oh wait, that never happened because neither of those two guys would be caught dead in such embarrassing fashion. But forget about that, the talking segment itself was terrible. Del Rio approaches Batista with fire and conviction in his words, and Batista retorts with “Hey man, I don’t know what you’re problem is. I don’t have a problem with you”. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THESE GUYS FIGHT NOW!! Good lord.
The Wyatts vs. Dolph Ziggler/R-Truth/Xavier Woods: Have you seen Dolph Ziggler’s promo, cut at the end of RAW last week, for WWE.com? If you haven’t, go find it. It’s still on their main page, and is easily the most talked about thing that Dolph Ziggler has done in months and months. His reward for practically exploding the Internet last week, and getting hundreds of thousands of people talking about him? Stuffed in a tag team with McMahon darling R-Truth and
Brodus Clay Xavier Woods, and then takes the pinfall. There’s no shame in losing to the Wyatt Family right now, but he shouldn’t have ever been involved in the first place. Why not put Miz in the match with Titus O’Neil, Darren Young on commentary there to address the team break up, put Zack Ryder in this match instead of Ziggler, having him take the pinfall, and put Dolph Ziggler in a match with ANYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD, using up the other 2 and a half WASTED hours of time you used for nothing. GAAAHHH! So frustrating.
New Age Outlaws: I hate having to do this, but I have to. I love the New Age Outlaws. Heel or face, they’ve always been one of my favourite teams. But therein lies the problem. Are they heels, or faces? They play to the crowd during their entrance, then act like chicken-shit heels during the match. Wash, rinse, repeat next show. Are they aligned with the Authority? Or were they just doing HHH’s bidding when they turned on CM Punk? All of these unanswered questions could be resolved in five seconds if they just took the time to pay attention to their own storyline continuity. So how about this? Not a miss for the Outlaws. A miss for WWE “Creative.” Sorry Mr. Dogg, and Mr. Ass. I will never say your names in vane again.
Dance Off between Fandango and Santino: Okay, so here’s my solution to my problem above. Fandango and Dolph Ziggler get 10 minutes at the beginning of hour two. Santino judges a dancing contest between Summer Rae and Emma, which is essentially what the segment that aired broke down to anyways. Emma, who truly is an entertaining part of NXT, was hung out to dry in this segment. WWE assumes everyone knew who she was from NXT. The trouble is, not everyone watches NXT. Actually, typically, only 10% of WWE’s RAW audience tunes in to WWE NXT on Hulu each week. And guess what? WWE got a reaction from 10% of the crowd. The other 90% were either disinterested in the segment entirely, or were entertaining themselves with other chants. So bad.
Bad News Barrett: Sucks. I’ve got some Bad News, WWE. You see, why you’re wasting a talented performer’s golden years with this inside joke that developed on JBL’s WWE.com show that, again, only 10% of your audience watches, the rest of us are sitting here screaming at our televisions, begging you to do something to fix this gigantic hole you’ve ripped in the Titanic. Bad News Barrett amuses Vince McMahon, JBL, and approximately absolutely nobody else. The other four million (and dwindling) people who watch RAW aren’t giving Barrett “I want to see this guy get beaten up” heat, they’re giving him “get off my god damn television” heat. If I were Barrett, I’d be longing for the days of The Corre right about now.