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.
Opening promo between CM Punk and Big Show: I’ve never been a big fan of the Big Show. However, I think this promo showed a lot of potential for Show as a heel. There was an undertone of honesty to the exchange between Big Show and Punk, which was refreshing from a man like Show who lately just comes off like a wrecking-machine each week on Raw. Show basically pointed out that the WWE still revolves around Cena in the year since Punk’s brilliant promo in Las Vegas last summer. Show argued that Punk is still overshadowed by Cena despite his legendary 8 month title run this year. Damn. Punk showed some real intensity in his response and Big Show actually played a strong heel throughout this exchange. I’m not hoping for a feud between these two, but I applaud the WWE for injecting a sense of reality to their promo.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth vs. The Prime Time Players: This was a decent match that managed to spread across a commercial break. However, the logic leading into the bout was slightly misleading. The Prime Time Players lost every match since winning the #1 contendership (including a match at the PPV the night before). How were fans supposed to think they could actually win the belts on Raw? Despite this lapse in reasoning, the match itself was pretty entertaining. The Prime Time Players have more charisma than a solid portion of the roster combined. Likewise, I find their manager AW to be hilarious. AW’s commentary to Young/O’Neil during their matches is fantastic. The Prime Time Players are my favorite tag team in recent memory. They have a distinct gimmick and the characters are so over-the-top that fans don’t know whether to laugh or fall in love with them. How can you not smile when AW combs Darren young’s hair mid-match? AW is quite witty and Young/O’Neil are very talented performers. AW seems to be the perfect heel manager who is perhaps only matched in heat by Vickie Guerrero. Putting the tag team championship titles on the Prime Time Players would be a fantastic decision.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Zack Ryder: This was typi-WAIT! REY MYSTERIO! I’m happy to see Rey back. While lots of fans knock the guy for always being such a babyface, it’s easy to forget that he’s a truly fantastic performer. Look no further than his recent Wrestlemania matches with Cody Rhodes and CM Punk to realize the man’s diverse skills in the ring. The crowd was a bit silent before Rey’s appearance but they went wild for his trademark 619 maneuver. It was great how commentary reminded fans that Del Rio was the one who put Rey out of action nearly a year ago, thus suggesting that we’ll probably see the two feud for the next pay-per-view.
Heath Slater vs. Rikishi: This was an adorable match. Rikishi’s dance with The Usos at the end was spectacular. It genuinely looked like Rikishi was having a great time sharing a ring with his sons. I’ve really become a fan of these Heath Slater segments, especially the video package beforehand where Slater went through all of his favorite Raw moments – which just happened to be composed of his recent matches against WWE Legends! The legend beatdowns for Slater are most likely to end after the 1000th episode of Raw next week, but hopefully he will remain on television at least in a comedy capacity.
Daniel Bryan/AJ vs. The Miz/Eve: The tables were turned during this match, as it seemed Daniel Bryan and AJ played the babyfaces. If the WWE decides to turn The Miz face in order to promote his upcoming movie, I wouldn’t mind seeing a babyface Miz take on a heel Daniel Bryan in the near future, presuming that Bryan was only babyfaced for this week on Raw.I’m glad to see Miz back in action and truly believe he will return to his spot as a top heel in the company very soon.
The proposal between Bryan and AJ after the match was brilliant. This segment was succinct, funny, and featured two of the best actors int he company: Bryan and AJ. The visual of the couple enthusiastically chanting “YES!” at the end of the match was hilarious and woke up the entire crowd once again. It shows a tremendous amount of faith in Daniel Bryan and AJ to give them an entire segment on the 1000th episode of Raw. I’m certain that this move signals a continued push for Bryan and AJ. WWE weddings are always a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the Bryan/AJ wedding next week, but I hope it isn’t lost in the already packed card for the 1000th Raw.
Jack Swagger vs. Ryback: I don’t care what anyone else says, I still find Ryback matches to be highly entertaining. Swagger got a lot of offense in on this match and actually pushed the limits of what fans expect in a typical Ryback match to look like. The crowd went from chanting, “Goldberg!” to yelling, “Feed me more!” by the end. That’s how you win over a crowd. Ryback may not be entirely over yet, but I think fans are starting to finally sit back and enjoy his entertaining, albeit formulaic, matches.
Dolph Ziggler promo (including Jericho): THIS is the Dolph Ziggler promo we’ve all been waiting for. After winning the World Heavyweight Championship briefcase at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view this past Sunday, Dolph came out to assert his dominance in the company. Dolph spoke with vigor and showed incredible passion for becoming the World Heavyweight Champion. His remarks against Jericho were fantastic and helped usher in Jericho as a babyface. I’m ecstatic about the potential for a Ziggler/Jericho feud. Dolph’s remarks against Jericho being washed-up beared shades of his feud with Shawn Michaels in 2008. Howeer, this time around, it’s Dolph (not Jericho) arguing that a legend is past his prime (which Jericho clearly isn’t!)
Big Show vs. CM Punk (and John Cena): Punk managed to get a very solid match out of Big Show. The numerous kicks to the head, followed by a failed bulldog, actually created quite the suspense for the crowd. Following a dominant beatdown on Punk, we saw Cena come out to presumably cash in his WWE Championship Money in the Bank briefcase. However, Cena instead announced that he’ll be cashing in the briefcase at the 1000th Raw next week in a match against Punk should be quite exciting. I’m anticipating that Cena will be the first to cash in the briefcase and lose, which makes me suspect that Rock will have some hand in the interference (a la during Cena’s match with Miz during Wrestlemania 27) during the match.
Overall, I’d give this a solid YES! rating. This was a very fun Raw. That’s it. Every now and then we need a Raw that is simply fun. I’m excited to see the 1000th Raw not only for all the appearances by legends (including my boy Bret Hart), but also for what is sure to be an exceptional match-up between Cena and Punk. If Cena does win, then I’m sure we’ll be in for an exciting program where Punk is in pursuit of the title until SummerSlam. Many fans are concerned that the 1000th Raw will be congested. However, it’s not the 1000th Raw I’m worried about; it’s the 1001st episode. The 1001st episode will be even more important in order to see if WWE maintains the momentum and excitement it is sure to deliver on the 1000th episode.