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?
If a segment works, it will receive a resounding YES! Conversely, if a segment just didn’t pan out, it will receive a CHANGE THE CHANNEL! (one of the best ECW chants of all time). A grade of WHAT? will be given to any segment or match that was just downright stupid or confusing.
Let’s get it on.
– Luring in viewers by promising a contract signing at the opening of Raw and then having Brock Lesnar show up later was pretty interesting. Placing the blame on both Lesnar and Johnny was brilliant. Johnny came out as the bearer of bad news and ruined everything, which only further added to his scorching heat. Having Brock show up later, thereby doing things on his own terms, inflated his image as an arrogant bully. Likewise, Brock making his own schedule reminded fans that he’s not there for them; he’s there for him.
– Jericho and Kingston was a great match. These two have been fighting on house shows and wrestled a brief match on Smackdown before WrestleMania. It was great to see Kofi getting a solid match on Raw. He’s a superb young talent who is deserving of a strong feud. I have high hopes for Kofi and would love to see what he could do with a serious opponent like Jericho or another main eventer.
– Daniel Bryan is my favorite special guest referee of all time. He not only wore the traditional referee shirt, but also threw on some black shoes and pants. Most guys simply toss on the referee shirt over their trunks, but Bryan owned this job and totally took it seriously. He is the ultimate over-achiever. Bryan’s interactions with Sheamus were great, only further building his image as the most unique heel in the company. Bryan came out to a solid pop and walked backstage to immense heat at the end of the night. Job well done, WWE.
The YES! chants were big here throughout this match. This was a decent crowd who definitely loved Bryan’s super-fast count at the end of the match and his Yes Lock on Sheamus. At this point, Bryan seems to be the center of attention everywhere he goes. Bryan has more momentum than Sheamus and deserves the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules.
– Eve is now working with Johnny as an Executive Administrator. I think Eve has a lot of potential as a fantastic female heel in the company. She’s never been given much of a chance to show her wrestling skills (which I do believe exist), but giving her a chance to talk and be a complete jerk could work in her favor. Her interruption of a Diva’s match during Raw foreshadowed a Johnny type role in the future. Stephanie McMahon was a fantastic GM in the past on Smackdown years ago. Why not give a female the opportunity to shine as GM down the line? Eve already has tons of heat, which only adds to Johnny’s opposition from fans.
– Kane promo/Orton backstage segment: All along I’ve been saying that this feud has been high on wrestling, but low on storytelling. Orton is great and Kane is amazing. Combined, these two have put on some high-quality matches. On Raw this week, Kane continued to prove why he is one of the most underrated talkers in the WWE. His promo was succinct and cutting, with the right amount of creepiness that only Kane can accomplish without sounding silly. What was Kane’s reaction to Randy putting his father, Paul Bearer, in a freezer? Laughter. Kane handled this situation perfectly and came off as fearless. Randy’s revenge on Kane when he came out at the end left of the segment left Orton looking strong and certainly built up their feud a little bit. This isn’t a perfect storyline, but it’s far from the worst we’ve seen Kane involved in over the years.
– Chris Jericho in-ring segment/CM Punk sobriety test: I was a bit weary on this idea. I love Punk and adore Jericho. So far, I think this feud has been some of their best in years. However, I was nervous to see Punk pretend to be drunk live on television. If not done correctly, it could come off as extremely dumb. Thankfully, they did a solid job. Punk played the role of a drunk goof perfectly, even purposefully saying WWF instead of WWE Universe. When Punk said the alphabet backwards, I was genuinely impressed! Drunk or sober, not many individuals can do that! In the end, Punk attacking Jericho just felt right. They’re both pissed off and they’re done being sneaky. There’s no more time to outsmart one another; it’s time to fight. I’m ready.
– Contract signing with Brock and Cena. Somehow, WWE managed to make Lesnar go from being the most loved man in the company to the most despised within one segment. The heat for this man when he left was incredible. It was hard to forget that this was the go-home show for Extreme Rules. The entire night built up Brock as being a monster in the WWE, and this segment further cemented his role as a badass heel. Brock was honest and straight-forward, maybe even comically so. Likewise, rather than his usual demeanor of taking everything in stride and smirking, Cena looked angry and ready to defend himself, even going so far as to bring chains to the ring.
– Lord Tensai beat John Cena last week and came off as a joke this week. Fighting R-Truth was a total downgrade. Tensai was introduced as a monster who went to Japan to take over their wrestling world who has now returned to dominate the WWE. Unfortunately, the commentary team did little to build him up. The crowd was dead and I fear that we’ll see him simply become Albert again in less than a month. Incessant “Albert” chants hurt the believability of his character, but I still love the character itself. I want to see more Tensai, and hopefully in a match where it isn’t 100% clear that he will win.
– Where the hell did Alex Riley come from during the backstage segment with Punk and Jericho? Is he a babyface ratting on the WWE Champion or is he a heel now?
– Miz wrestled on the Superstars match taped before a THREE HOUR RAW?! They couldn’t even have fed Miz to Lord Tensai or put him in that tag match against Primo and Epico? Miz won’t officially be on the Extreme Rules card as he’s wrestling Santino for the US Title on the YouTube pre-show. I fear that this poor guy will be let go soon, which is an absolute shame.
– Del Rio is now the newest member of Smackdown? Thanks for the head’s up, WWE!
CHANGE THE CHANNEL!
– I love Edge. He’s one of those wrestlers who I saw the night he debuted and followed until his retirement. However, he should probably stay retired. I’d like to see a wrestler retire and remain that way for once. His Hall of Fame appearance should have meant that he’d stay away for a short while. The Brock/Cena feud is so intense right now that there was no need for Edge to get involved, especially after Brock’s wonderful interview last week. Cena didn’t need a pep-talk and the audience didn’t need a reminder that Cena is in for a great fight. Edge is a fantastic superstar, but he felt a bit unnecessary in this segment.
– Santino/Zack Ryder vs. Primo and Epico. Why not devote this TV time to Miz? Or even Alex Riley? I’d even take a another viewing of clips from the excellent Brock Lesnar interview from last week.
– Dolph/Swagger vs. Brodus Clay/Hornswoggle. Dolph Ziggler sells better than anyone in the WWE. He’s one of the best storytellers in the company right now. Dolph’s look is great, his talent is astounding, and he’s the perfect heel. Swagger is equally charismatic and truly a beast in the ring. Why pair these two with Brodus in a joke match? Dolph and Swagger have the potential to be the greatest tag team in WWE history and single-handily bring legitimacy back to those forgotten belts. I like Brodus, but don’t think he’s the right fit for people as talented and deserving of a top-spot like Dolph and Swagger.
– Beth Phoenix losing the title to Nikki Bella? NO! Unless, this means Nikki will drop the belt to Kharma next week, which would be astounding. Heal up Beth, that ankle injury looked pretty nasty!
This was not a bad Raw. Was it a solid go-home show? YES! WWE hasn’t had the best of luck with go-home shows in the past, but I truly felt like this Raw made me excited for the pay-per-view. I’m eager to see Lesnar and Cena fight and I’m extremely excited to see CM Punk and Chris Jericho (in Punk’s hometown of Chicago no less). I have high hopes for the Bryan vs. Sheamus match and feel that a 2/3 falls bout is redemption for their brief encounter at WrestleMania 28. The time is right to put the belt on Bryan because he’s so hot with the fans. Likewise, it might be interesting to see what happens with Jericho and Punk’s characters if Punk drops the belt at Extreme Rules in front of his friends and family. Kane’s stunning promo made me excited for an otherwise lukewarm feud, and Randy’s intensity was undeniable.
This is how you successfully sell a pay-per-view.