Welcome to The Raw Report.
Every week I’ll be dissecting WWE’s Monday Night Raw and analyzing what worked, what didn’t work, and what left audiences thinking wtf by breaking the show down into three categories: YES!, CHANGE THE CHANNEL! or WHAT?
Let’s get it on.
Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger (w/ Vickie Guerrero) vs Kofi Kingston & R-Truth: Another week of Raw, and another week of me praising Ziggler and Swagger as being the best tag team in the company. But, wait…is Ziggler teasing a break-up? Could we see a Ziggler singles run? I hope so! Unlike when most tag teams have broken up in the past (see: The Hart Dynasty), I’m hoping that Ziggler comes out strong and we see a rejuvenation of both he and Swagger’s singles career. As a tag team, Ziggler and Swagger lost a lot, which did little to emphasize their abilities to the average wrestling fan. I’m hoping that in a singles run we’ll see a more motivated Ziggler who is eager to prove that he’s no tag-team wrestler. What complicates this scenario is that we have seen Ziggler as a singles-competitor for most of his career. He’s not new to the singles competition scene. Maybe Ziggler is suggesting that this time is going to be different and he’s going to strive to remain the main event spotlight? The only downside to this scenario is the possibility of Vickie and Ziggler separating. I love those two together and think Guerrero garners more heat than nearly anyone in the WWE. In order for Ziggler to cement himself as a top heel in the main event picture, I think he absolutely needs Vickie by his side.
John Laurinaitis (w/Eve and Otunga) segment and CM Punk for WWE13: WWE’13 is sure to be a big video game for pro-wrestling fans everywhere. How dare WWE tease us by suggesting that Big Johnny was going to be on the cover of the game! I was so excited to go pre-order my copy and represent the People Power movement everyday on my XBox 360. That being said, CM Punk’s interruption of John Laurinaitis and the subsequent announcement that he’s actually the one on the cover of WWE 13 was awesome. Being on the cover of WWE13, as Punk noted, is a big deal. The cover of a WWE video game is usually reserved for veterans or main eventers. The opportunity to be on the cover is a major way to represent the company to fans everywhere. Punk has been an incredible champion this past year and he totally deserves to be on the cover of WWE’13.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan: I’m a total fanboy for these two man, which should come as no surprise if you’ve read previous Raw Reports. Punk and Bryan are arguably the two best wrestlers in the industry today. As usual, these two put on a perfect match that went roughly fifteen minutes long. Giving Punk and Bryan that much time on Raw hopefully signals that the company is finally comfortable allowing the two to carry a feud together. I kind of like the concept of helping further a feud by simply letting the two men just wrestle.
The inclusion of Kane at the end of the match (and on Smackdown the week prior) is intriguing. I’m a big Kane fan and am curious how a triple threat match would work with the three. I’m definitely in support of adding Kane to the main event scene on Raw. Likewise, AJ standing at ringside in a CM Punk shirt was a fantastic addition to this already brilliant feud. AJ’s presence seems to add another layer of complexity to this program. Punk and Bryan are single-handily making me excited to tune in each week.
Christian vs. Miz: Both men are great workers who deserve more TV time. Given that Christian is now the Intercontinental Champion, we are obviously going to see more of him. Having Cody Rhodes at ringside on commentary suggests that we’re definitely going to witness a feud between the two, which is sure to delight fans. While many feel that Cody is ready for the main event scene, I’m happy to see him feud with Christian this summer and remain in the Intercontinental Championship picture. Miz on the other hand seems to be preparing for a feud with Orton based on the RKO handed to him by the Viper at the end of the match. I think a Miz/Orton feud would be great, since it will give Miz the TV time that he so badly deserves.
David Otunga vs. Sheamus: Otunga and Sheamus are workers whom the audience had yet to totally wrap their head around. Of course Sheamus is over with the fans as a face, but we’re yet to see him grow as a character beyond the face turn in the past twelve months. I want some depth to Sheamus. I loved his little history lessons last year, so why not bring those back? Otunga is hardly a one-dimensional individual either. I will say that Otunga has more to work with at this point, since he continues to play the perfect lackey to Big Johnny. Unlike most lackeys in the past, Otunga is genuinely talented and seems to add a subtle sense of legitimacy to Johnny’s power in the WWE.
Big Show vs. Brodus Clay: I know what you’re thinking. On paper this is probably a dull bout. Instead, the WWE somehow managed to add a much needed sense of depth to Brodus on Raw this week! We’re finally seeing something more to Brodus Clay than simply a few dance moves. Big Show’s line about embarrassing himself at Wrestlemania once, while Brodus does it every night was actually a brilliant insult. Unfortunately, Big Show dominated throughout the match and didn’t let Clay shine in the way I was anticipating. Brodus gave some decent offense, but in the end the match erupted into chaos.
Big Show opening promo: It’s no surprise that I’m not a huge fan of heel Big Show. Considering the fact that I haven’t been a huge supporter of the Big Show character since his early debut in the WWE, I’m not seeing anything new with his heel turn. Big Show is angry at John Cena. Big Show wants to beat John Cena at No Way Out. But what about after that? What’s going to happen to Big Show in the broader context of the WWE as a whole? It seems almost below him to remain the enforcer of Big Johnny’s “People Power” crew; Tensai already fills that role. I’m having trouble getting into this feud because I’m all too aware that the pay off at No Way Out might not be too great and the feud will fizzle shortly there-after.
Santino Marella vs. Alberto Del Rio: This wasn’t a terrible match; in fact I think Marella is often overlooked as being a talented worker. However, I’m not sure why Del Rio is suddenly thrust back into the mid-card. I understand that there’s an implicit feud brewing between Del Rio’s manager Ricardo Rodriguez, which was played out well by having the manager screaming, “Del Rio! Del Rio!” in Santino’s face as he lay on the mat after the pinfall. At the same time, is there a better way to build some heat between Ricardo and Santino without directly involving Del Rio? I’d rather see Del Rio remain strong in the main event picture, which we will hopefully see more of when he faces Sheamus at No Way Out.
No Tensai on Raw: Don’t forget that Tensai beat both John Cena and CM Punk clean on Raw in the past. This man was given a strict gimmick and seemed to be stepping away from it slightly as of late. He’s no longer wearing the robe and even dropped the “Lord” in the name. I hope WWE lets Tensai just act like the unstoppable beast of a wrestler that gained him praise in Japan. Despite the complaints of other fans, I’m comfortable separating Tensai from his former Albert persona. I like his “big guy” style and think he’s a good fit on Raw.
Overall, I’d have to give this Raw a cautious YES! I’m slightly hesitant to give Raw a confident YES because there were few moments in this episode that truly blew me away. However, in the end, the fact that WWE devoted about fifteen minutes to Daniel Bryan vs. Punk on live TV was spectacular. Likewise, Ziggler’s impending separation from Swagger is intriguing. I liked that we saw some depth added to Brodus and hope that continues. Likewise, stars whom I enjoy greatly such as Del Rio, Sheamus, and especially Otunga received TV time, which is always great. Next week I’d obviously love to see some Tensai on Raw and hopefully further explanations why Ziggler feels he needs to break away from Swagger and Vickie.