Editors note: I apologize for the delay in having my HITS and MISSES online today. My 8-year old son is down and out with the flu, my desktop computer’s RAM decided it wasn’t happy with my creative direction, and walked out, and my laptop is currently in having surgery and is expected to be out 6-to-8 weeks. Regardless, I did finish up watching RAW this afternoon, as my DVR has returned after a prolonged absence to a great hometown pop, and am filing this report now. As well, I highly covet your feedback to these columns. They’re my baby, and if you think my baby is beautiful, or ugly I want to hear from you. So, please, email me at [email protected] with any comments, suggestions, soup recipes, or NSFW pictures of your wives. Thank you.
Monday Night RAW HITS:
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family: I absolutely LOVED the direction WWE took last night in furthering this feud. While not officially announced as a match at the Elimination Chamber, I think it goes without a doubt that we will be seeing these two teams lock up then, perhaps even inside the Elimination Chamber structure itself. But this was wrestling storytelling at its absolute finest. The literal baby steps that were taken here, getting both teams to then ring, then on the ring, and then the “baby face” Shield inside the ring were storytelling gold, and the crowd responded in kind. It was clear, as each step was made, the fans were salivating to see these two teams get their hands on each other, and WWE did the right thing by “reign”ing them in, and saving it for at least one more week. Bravo. Must see television.
The Wyatts vs. Goldust, Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio: I watched the first hour of RAW at work with a co-worker who is a (very) casual fan. His reactions to this match are mostly what I am basing this hit on. Sometimes I forget that as immersed in wrestling as I am, fanatically consuming dozens of hours of wrestling per week, both first-run and from my vast tape library, there are also fans who only casually watch, and often react differently to things than I do. In this case, Rey Mysterio. I find Rey Mysterio to be stale. If you’ve seen one match over the past 5 years, you’ve seen them all. But my co-worker was still a rabid fan. Thus, his interaction with the Wyatt Family, and taking a devastating Sister Abigail seemingly out of nowhere made this match an enjoyable watch. Also, the continued top-notch work of Cody Rhodes, and the mind-blowing return of Goldust continue to steam right along. I’m interested to see how the eventual Cody/Goldust break-up angle comes about, but there were no signs of that happening here. WWE is pacing themselves with that story, and it’s the right thing to do.
Christian and Sheamus vs. The Real Americans: I feel the wrong team won here, but that doesn’t change the fact that this was an excellent television tag team match. Antonio Cesaro will be much better off after the Real Americans dissolve than he was going in, which actually shocks me to say. The crowd was eager to count along with the revolutions of the Cesaro Swing, and gleefully did so even as he was doing it to longtime fan-favourite Christian. But the Real Americans needed the win here more than Sheamus and Christian. I understand that Christian/Sheamus need to look strong entering into the Elimination Chamber, but there are ways around having the Real Americans job to them that would accomplish this. Regardless, as always, the Real Americans entertained me last night, and this match was a hit.
Alberto Del Rio: I’m digging the aggressive streak that Del Rio is showing, and every time he goes back to this version of his character, I am most entertained by it. It’s a shame he’s going to be fed to Batista in a few weeks at the Pay Per View, because there is still money to be made in a heel Del Rio championship run. And I don’t think his championship run would feel as tired as Orton’s, or Cena’s would.
Dean Ambrose vs. Mark Henry: I’ll open this by adding The Shield’s Promo near the beginning of the show. Having Roman Reigns take the lead in this promo, and subsequently calling Dean Ambrose out for not defending the United States Championship was an interesting step, and Ambrose’s subsequent reply of issuing an open challenge for later on in the show gave viewers something to sink their teeth into, and a reason to stay tuned to find out who the mystery opponent was. I was a bit disappointed that the slot was filled by the already advertised Mark Henry, as I had my hopes up that either Chris Jericho or Rob Van Dam may return as a lead-in to a WrestleMania match. That disappointment notwithstanding (as it wasn’t WWE’s fault my mind filled that slot with someone else), this was a fun match. Ambrose was my pick as a singles breakout star when the Shield eventually broke up, however the attention has rightfully switched to Reigns. This match served as a nice reminder than Ambrose can get it done in the ring, and bumped around for Mark Henry well. Henry looked slow, and a bit lumbering, but as he gets up there in ages, with the injuries seemingly racking up more and more by the week, that’s understandable. And, let’s face it, he’s far more mobile than The Great Khali, and I’d still much rather watch a Henry match than a Khali match.
Bad News Barrett: I’VE GOT SOME GREAT NEWS! There was no Bad News Barrett, and therefore no mass exodus of viewers last night on Monday Night RAW. I’m sure the ratings will rightfully reflect a drastic change in the tune-out rate during that quarter hour.
Monday Night RAW MISSES:
Overall Show: Please don’t mistake the fact that I’ve listed more HITS than usual in this column for thinking that this was a good episode of RAW. It wasn’t. It was a very, very ho-hum episode that was once again largely filler. The WWE Network is only two weeks away, and I feel like there was a bigger sense of urgency when they announced it 2 years ago than with it only being 2 weeks away. We all know we’re in for a huge episode of RAW the night after Elimination Chamber, and the day the WWE Network finally makes its long-awaited debut. But getting to that episode has been an incredibly painful process.
Randy Orton vs. John Cena: This was a decent match. But it very clearly demonstrates a number of problems in WWE’s creative, and booking process. First, as Orton’s series of matches continues with his upcoming Eliminator Chamber opponents, does it not make sense to build towards this being his final, and toughest challenge, given the history between these two superstars? Further, haven’t we seen this match a number of times already in the past 12 months, ignoring the number of times we have seen this match in the past 10 years? With that in mind, how many more times am I going to see John Cena kick out of an RKO, or Randy Orton kick out of an Attitude Adjustment? Those two finishing moves are dead to me, thanks to how many times I’ve seen them burned in these matches. The first RKO is just a setup to a second (or third) RKO in a match, now. And the Attitude Adjustment is nothing more than a setup to the STF, and later one or two more Attitude Adjustments. It’s mind-boggling to me that WWE would allow their two biggest superstars to waste their biggest, and arguably most important moves in a fashion like this, not just once, but repeatedly in every match they have together. Earlier, in a Facebook conversation, someone said that this builds drama in a match, and pointed to Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels as an example. To that I asked, who many times have you seen the Tombstone kicked out of? Very, very, very rarely, and that’s what makes/made it special. At this point, I’m convinced RAW Guest Host Betty White can kick out of an Attitude Adjustment, and jobber-of-the-year Heath Slater would give the RKO a run for it’s money. That’s not how you present your main attractions signature finishing moves in effort to sell tickets. How many people have kicked out of Hulk Hogan’s legdrop in 40 years?
The Bellas and Cameron vs. Aksana, Alicia Fox and AJ Lee: All of these woman have defined characters, and most have the ability to carry a 5 minute singles television match. On a week where RAW replayed last week’s RAW a half a dozen times, featured the same tired WWE Network promotional videos at least the same number of times, and spent a considerable amount of time just spinning it’s wheels, this match could have been split into two (or even three), and featured in each one of the three broadcast hours. This would allow the women to grow as performers, allow the WWE Universe to connect with them on a more personal level, and fill more time with first-run content, instead of showing so many replays, and repeat featurettes. Ignore the fact that we have seen some combination of this exact same match on nearly every RAW in 2014.
RAW is Replay: I touched on this in the above MISS, but RAW has really just become a replay of what happened on last week’s RAW. I appreciate the recaps when they further a story, but they’ve gone into overdrive, and make an already long 3-hour episode into a 3-hour episode I have to split into viewing over the course of two days because nothing of note is happening, and I start to feel like I could be doing better things with my time. There is very little “must see” on WWE TV these days, and when something does occur, it’s replayed enough times that even Dorey from Finding Nemo could recite it word-for-word (keeping in mind my 8-year old is sick today, and that was on the viewing docket).
Misuse of Dolph Ziggler: Can anybody explain to me why it had to be Dolph Ziggler, the guy with all the potential in the world, and a proven track-record when given a chance, had to be the guy who was squashed by Alberto Del Rio in under two minutes? Why not the Miz? He’s no good for anything? Or someone like Drew MacIntyre? Or anybody else but Ziggler? They’re doing irreparable damage to a commodity that should be a cash cow for them. It’s frustrating, and mind-boggling.
Emma: Poor Emma. She’s quirky and fun on NXT. But the main roster writers have made her weird, and awkward on RAW. She had so much more potential than being stuffed into a lower card comedy mixed tag team with Santino Marella. Hopefully someone realizes this, and takes the steps to fix it soon.