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.
Mickey Foley segment: It looks like since Johnny has been fired, every week we’re going to have a Raw GM from the past return to run the program. It was great seeing Foley on Raw, especially in a leadership position. However, why was he only featured prominently in the opening segment? Johnny would make appearances throughout the show both in the ring and in backstage segments. I adore Foley and would have loved to see more of him on Raw.
I like this concept of bringing in former GMs to run Raw during the summer. The possibility of seeing Steve Austin, William Regal, or even Mike Adamle take over Raw is sure to keep things exciting leading into the 1000th episode in July.
Kane/Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus/CM Punk: One positive aspect of Punk going babyface this year, and the fact that there are two babyface major champions in the WWE at the moment, is the fact that we’re seeing Punk and Sheamus tag a lot. I don’t know why I didn’t see these two guys as great tag team partners before, but there seems to be some genuine chemistry there. Maybe years down the line, once both Sheamus and Punk have won multiple championships, the two of them can go after the tag team gold like Jericho did in the last couple of years.
This match was spectacular. I was worried that the Kane, Punk, Bryan, and AJ angle would go away from No Way Out, but things seem to be standing strong. I loved how Punk made a concerted effort to target Bryan throughout the match, while Bryan himself continued to be the wonderful scheming heel that he is every week. I was watching this Raw with my father, who hasn’t watched wrestling regularly since 1999, and he was absolutely baffled by Kane. He simply didn’t believe me that the Kane we were watching on Raw was the same Kane he saw debut at Badd Blood in 1997. It’s easy to forget that Kane, now fifteen years since his debut in 1997, is in incredible shape. His quickness and fluidity in the ring, especially for a man his size, is remarkable.
AJ, as usual, stole this segment for me. This girl is over with fans everywhere. The second AJ’s music hit and her image came up on the TitanTron, the place went wild. Seeing AJ run out the ring dressed as Kane, and subsequently skip around, before going back up the ramp was hilarious. This girl is treating the feud between Kane, Bryan, and Punk like her own personal game. At the same time, her behavior prior to the triple threat at No Way Out proved that it isn’t simple a joke to her. She cares for Kane, Bryan, and Punk, but it seems like its Kane that she adores the most. Or, does she? Once again, the booking behind this match was fantastic and continues to get better. If we don’t see Punk vs. Bryan, or Kane vs. Punk vs. Bryan at SummerSlam than I will be very disappointed.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger: It seems like this match was the final piece in the puzzle for getting Ziggler officially in the main event picture. Despite many shots at major championships in the past (Royal Rumble 2011, 2012, and No Way Out last week), Ziggler was always sent back to the mid-card. His match against Swagger, wherein the winner would get to keep Vickie as their manager, seemed to be the last jolt sending Ziggler into the top tier of WWE talent. Swagger is a great wrestler and I’m sad to see him left behind in the mid-card, but I have a feeling we’ll see some great action between these two at the Money in the Bank PPV next month.
I want Dolph Ziggler to win the Money in the Bank briefcase at the next PPV and win the belt sometime later this year. I think it’s Dolph’s time to shine and that he would be a superb representative for the WWE as a whole. The crowd is already babyfacing Ziggler, not unlike what they did to Punk this past fall, which I’m totally okay with. I’m hoping that as long as the crowd keeps getting behind Ziggler, there’s nothing holding him back from being one of the most exciting WWE champions/World Heavyweight Champions in recent memory.
Paul Heyman segment with Triple H: I loved the tension between Triple H and Paul Heyman weeks ago on Raw was so palpable, that it’s only fitting that we saw even more insight into their complicated relationship on this week’s episode. Both men took some low blows by exposing the inherent weaknesses in the other man’s character. Triple H made fun of ECW, knocked their “bingo hall” legacy, and called Heyman a liar. Triple H hit even harder by suggesting that he wasn’t drinking Paul’s “kool-aid.” Paul came back by attacking Triple H’s current corporate role, suggesting that he’s a family man now and no longer the tough guy that characterized Triple H in the 90s and early 2000s.
The words between Triple H and Paul Heyman felt very real and quite hurtful. It was somewhat scary to see Triple H blow up on Heyman at the end and punch him. I loved how this segment blurred the lines between reality and fiction the only way WWE manages to do. Heyman flatly turned down Triple H’s offer for Lesnar to fight him at SummerSlam, but we all know that match will take place. If Heyman remains involved in this feud, I for one am extremely excited to see where it goes until August.
Prime Time Players vs. Primo & Epico: The Prime Time Players are slowly becoming my favorite tag team in the company. These two men have a distinct style, personality, and character. Both O’Neil and Young seem to actually understand what they are in the company, and they place those roles exceptionally well.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Santino: What happened to Del Rio? This man went from being solidly placed in the main event picture last year to becoming an awkwardly placed mid-carder in 2012. I’m sad to see Del Rio in this position, especially since I know he has so much potential to be an interesting champion in the WWE. Push Dolph Ziggler into the main event picture on Smackdown and let him feud with Sheamus and Del Rio. Those three men are sure to put on some exceptional bouts.
Ending segment with Johnny, Big Show, and Cena: Johnny is fired, Big Show left him, and Otunga seems over People Power. What? I don’t think we got enough Johnny to feel truly upset about his firing. We’ve only really seen him on TV for less than a year. Keep the man around, let him garner heat, and then allow the firing to mean something more. Lost in the shuffle here is Otunga. I love David Otunga and consider him a rising star in the company. I’m really hoping that his separation from Johnny’s crew on Raw doesn’t mean fewer appearances on Raw.
I’m not too invested in Big Show’s separation from Johnny, nor did the handicap match of Johnny and Otunga vs. Cena keep me too interested. Otunga walked out, Cena won, and Raw ended on a bit of an anti-climactic note. I wish that the WWE would start letting both Raw and PPVs end on a strong match, such as Ziggler vs. Swagger or Bryan/Kane vs. Punk/Sheamus as a means of building anticipation for next week’s show.
Overall, I’d give this Raw a solid YES! Granted, the final segment was dull, but the rest of Raw was pretty great. I loved the tag match, which only further displayed how integral AJ is in the Kane, Bryan, and Punk relationship. When was the last time fans were this invested in a romance storyline in the WWE? Furthermore, when was the last time a newcomer surprised fans with their unique personality and dynamic presence like AJ has done? AJ is just the thing Kane needed, and somehow, she’s also making Punk and Bryan even better.Likewise, I thought Dolph’s separation from Swagger was done quite well during this episode. The Prime Time Players continue to entertain me and even Otunga came off well during the night. All in all, it seems like this summer is going to be on for the WWE that promises to push young talent. The WWE is hopefully trying to recapture some of the excitement felt last summer with the rise of CM Punk’s status in the company. I’m hoping that we see a similar trend with deserving talent like Ziggler, Otunga, and even Swagger getting bigger pushes between now and September.
- Where was Tensai? I’m curious what’s going to happen to Big Show now that he’s left Johnny. He’s most likely still a heel, but is there anything left between he and Cena? Maybe it’s time for Cena to take on Tensai for the summer.
- Did anybody else notice that Punk seemed really enthusiastic during his tag match? I thought his energy was superb, which is not to say that he isn’t always excited in the ring. I got the sense that Punk was having a really good time, which is the most you can ask for from a champion.
- What’s going to happen with Brodus now, especially after his interference in the Big Show match at No Way Out last weekend?