Thoughts on RAW 8/22/2011
I wanted to post this yesterday, but I was rather busy plus some of the media I wanted was slow in going up. Yes, that’s my excuse. Oh well, here we go!
1. Everybody Wants a Title Shot
That’s meant to be read in the tune of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” You’re welcome for getting that song stuck in your head. Hey, the WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio opens the show once again! Naturally, this brings out Cena (before Del Rio can even say his name; how rude!). He starts out with a handshake while introducing himself. Yeah, I think that might have been a wink at the current Young Buck situation (Nash would do something like this later on, as well). We get the usual Cena stuff which culminates with an ass kicking threat. So, basically the same thing as what ended RAW last week, just a bit more coherent than whatever that was.
CM Punk, come on down! Punk, like all of us, has a feeling of déjà vu. John Cena wants a title shot? Really? That’s never happened before. He brings up a good point in that he has beaten Cena twice in a row, so why should Cena get a rematch before him? Good question. Punk even name drops Jack Tunney during this part! If you got the Tears for Fears reference, you probably got the Tunney one, too. Hooray for being old! Del Rio, upset at the party crashers, eventually says, “Screw you guys, I’m going home,” as Cena and Punk start to have a measuring contest with one another. Do you really have to ask? Enter Triple H who sets up Cena/Punk III later tonight to see who gets the title shot at Night of Champions. Why can’t they just call it the Clash of the Champions? That’s basically what they’re doing anyway.
Overall, I liked this segment. Del Rio, while not quite on the same level as Cena or Punk just yet, showed that he at least can stand credibly in the ring with both of them. That’s definitely a plus for him (not to mention how much Vince likes the guy). Triple H coming out at the end makes perfect sense as this segment was falling apart and going nowhere fast (by design), so it was up to the boss to make a decision. Question: what was with Cena and the 10,000 car line? We know it’s a gimmick, John. I think Punk needs to give you some lessons, sir.
2. Non-title: WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio (c) d. John Morrison
John Morrison is an odd case. If someone should say his name in a promo (like Triple H a few weeks ago, for example), the crowd reacts quite strongly. However, when the actual John Morrison comes out, they seem to have an, “Oh, hey, this guy is pretty good” kind of attitude. It doesn’t really make sense to me, either. Regardless, this was another solid outing by Del Rio as they continue to cement his legitimacy at the top guy (for the time being at least). He’s proving that he can work with pretty much anyone and deliver a good match. Morrison did much of the same as he always does, but that’s what he’s good at. Del Rio gets the submission win with the armbar.
3. Eve Torres (w/ Kelly Kelly) d. Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella)
Oh boy, it’s time for Jerry Lawler’s Masturbation Theatre! I have to ask: aren’t these ladies a bit old for him? Oh, come on, you had to know I was going there. Like it’s my fault what his preferences are. Anyway, the Interview Window is back! This time we get Beth Phoenix and Natalya, the Divas of Doom, talking about stuff. No, I don’t know what the point of that was, so don’t ask me. Anyway, short match with not much to note here. Eve gets the win after a neckbreaker. That looked pretty cool, to be honest. Afterward, Kelly hits the Rockerdropper on Brie Bella. Remember what I said about her acting like a heel? Even the announcers didn’t know what was up with that. Well, Jim Ross and Michael Cole didn’t know; Lawler didn’t really care. He was too busy, ahem, finishing up. More on him later.
4. Alex Riley d. Jack Swagger
Did these two really need another go around after last week? I’m all for redemption, but I don’t think these two are even going to get the opportunity do that. Vickie Guerrero introduces Swagger as a potential new client. This eventually draws out Dolph Ziggler and, once again, our attention is taken away from the match. They make their way to the ring and Vickie falls somehow. How, I don’t really know. This distracts Swagger long enough for Riley to get a roll up and the pin. Alrighty then. Well, that’s one way to progress an angle, I guess, but they really need to get this one moving. Good news: no fat jokes!
5. CM Punk Cares Not Who You Are
I actually like Triple H in his role at the moment. He’s walking that line very well. Of course, we all know something is going to happen in the future, but this is good for the time being. He brings Nash out and they’re now on the same page. It was just a misunderstanding, you see. Of course it was (*wink wink*). I also like how Nash was cool with Triple H, but he wasn’t about to apologize to that jerk, in his mind, CM Punk. It plays on the ego that we know they all have. Some nice work from Triple H in this segment as he was going through the whole, “Come on, Big Man, do it for me…don’t be like that” with Nash, but as soon as Punk’s music hit, he had this great, “Fuck!” reaction. Excuse my language, but it’s the best fitting word for his response. In fact, he very well may have said it. I like that Punk and Triple H got physical here, planting potential seeds for things to come. Punk never fails to keep me entertained and this was no exception.
6. Tag Team Championship: Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne d. David Otunga/Michael McGillicutty (c)
Return of the (Backwards) Cap! Dude, come on. One time is a rib. More than that, you’re just being a dick. This was an alright match. I like how they’ve experimented in consecutive weeks with Kofi and Bourne playing the Ricky Morton role. Kofi played it here, but I think it’d be smarter for Bourne to be the part from here on out. The belts needed to be moved from Otunga and McGillicutty (there’s that name again). Kofi and Bourne are both very likable high flying babyfaces that the crowd can get behind. See how they started popping when Evan started climbing the ropes? See how they got louder when he pinned Otunga with the Shooting Star Press to win the belts? Much like a segment that’s still to come: it worked. Also note how Kofi and Bourne reacted upon winning the belts. They made it seem like a big deal. Regardless how meaningless the belts are right now, you have to make something like this seem important. They did so very well.
I also liked the Zack Ryder led celebration. Was it stupid? Yes, but they’re faces and basic face characters are idiotic in one way or another. How else do they all fall for the same tricks for the past century? Sure, they have their morals, but as a wise man once said, “evil will always triumph because good is dumb.” Granted, I didn’t know who most of the people celebrating were, but that’s another issue altogether. Plus, again, it made the win seem that much more significant. Another nice touch: Kofi mentioning that the pair had been talking about teaming for a while now and how it’s been a great couple of weeks doing so. Once more, making actions seem meaningful; the little things add up.
7. Don’t Fall For That! Oh…You Fell For It, Mr. “Cerebral Assassin”
Earlier Nash did the whole, “Man, you put on a suit and now look at you. You’ve changed,” guilt trip on Triple H. We knew that was coming eventually. Anyway, a frantic Johnny Ace catches up to Triple H and tells him that Nash has been in a car accident! No way! This doesn’t seem fishy. Nope, not at all. It was an effective way of getting Triple H out of the building for events to come.
Futhermore, the real issue is the following: did the anonymous texter (whoever is pulling the strings behind it all) really want Triple H out of there or was it a rouse to make sure Triple H wasn’t present for the main event and, therefore, wouldn’t receive any blame for what would transpire? In conclusion, this makes one wonder. Or maybe it doesn’t. Whatever. And yes, this paragraph is my Jack Tunney tribute for all of you.
8. Santino Finds Out That The Awesome Truth Hurts
Santino comes out and I’m wondering if it’s The Miz’s turn to beat him. That question gets answered as he immediately gets attacked from behind (and his ass handed to him) by The Miz and R-Truth. This was the segment of the show. As they showed weeks prior, Miz and Truth are simply outstanding together. Putting them together is pretty much a no-brainer and they’ll make for a great foil for the new Tag Team Champions. Let’s face it, the WWE title picture is a bit crowded right now with Del Rio, Cena, and Punk. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for Miz and Truth as they’re both above the US title level. Why not put them together? It helps that the crowd were completely hot at them right off the bat. Again, this worked.
Last week I complained about Truth getting music again. I must admit that if he and Miz come out rapping (with Truth improvising even!), shouting, “You suck!” at the crowd, I’m all for him having music again. Also: STEREO SPIDER SQUISHING!
9. John Cena d. CM Punk
“I’m flying!” Yet another very good match in the series these two have had lately. In addition to that, it was also another very good RAW main event, continuing that streak. The fans throwing Cena’s shirt back twice was great, by the way. I really only have one issue. I think the timing of the Nash distraction (which allowed Cena to hit the Attitude Adjustment for the pin and the first shot at Del Rio) could have been better. It lasted a bit too long and made Punk look kinda dumb. It’s a thin line, but seconds matter. Something was obviously missed. That said, we won’t really remember that in a few days, so this is a minor quibble. Of course, all of that could have been solved by Nash getting more involved in the match, but what can you do?
A good amount was accomplished here besides just the high quality of the match itself. It separates Cena and Punk for the moment. I have a feeling these two will forever be linked, feuding from time to time (not unlike Austin/Rock, for example). However, they currently need distance from each other. It is very obvious that Punk gets more cheers when he’s going against the WWE Machine be it in the form of Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, Johnny Ace, or Kevin Nash. Compare that when he’s with Cena and it’s just a so-so reaction in most cases. Punk needs this Austin-like storyline to get him over the top. It has been said many times before, it took Austin nearly two years and A LOT of hell raising to get from “Austin 3:16” to officially becoming the man at Wrestlemania XIV. Have patience. If they play their cards right, Punk will be much better off in the long run.
As for Cena, it allows him to chase the belt. Yes, I know this has been done countless times before, but hear me out. This time might be different. We have already seen Cena compromise his principals when you compare Monday night to Money in the Bank. Would MITB Cena taken advantage of Nash’s distraction? I’m not sure, but this Cena sure as hell did. Again, along the “Gollum” lines, he needs the belt and maybe now he’s willing to do nearly anything to get it. I don’t know if a full heel turn is coming in the coming months (still a very questionable thing to do unless Punk really catches fire), but the road could be starting to get paved for one.
And did Del Rio beat the living crap out of Cena after the match or what? I’m starting to think that Cena isn’t going to beat Del Rio at Night of Champions; or, at the very least, not leave said PPV with the title. I honestly believe that Del Rio is going to hold the belt for a good while. You may call me crazy now. I’ll wait. Got that out of your system? Good. Del Rio is essentially channeling Ric Flair (thanks Donnie! *thumbs up*). Much like the Nature Boy, he’s arrogant as can be, but he can back it up in the ring as he’s a damn good wrestler. He doesn’t cheat unless he has to. Watch his matches the past week and see how much actual cheating going on. Now, by that I mean hair pulling, eye gouging, etc and not, say, using the guard rail when the opportunity presents itself. Not too much, right? Again, it’s only when he needs to? He’s got the cars and clothes already; he just needs the girls now. Whooo, Alberto, whooo!
10. Final Thoughts
This was an extremely strong RAW. Some things were continued (the Diva stuff, the Triple H/Punk/Johnny Ace/Nash/etc storyline) and there were some much needed changes (Tag Titles changing hands, Miz/Truth together, separation between Cena and Punk). I believe things are heading in a very good direction with RAW. I have read some pretty ho-hum (and even negative) reviews of the show, but I don’t get that at all. Did the IWC miss its nap time on Monday? For me, there wasn’t a whole lot to be complained about and a lot to be entertained by. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but if the opposite were true, why would I watch the show to begin with? Of course, that’s assuming that it’s not just for making the conscious decision to write about the show. I’m a lifelong wrestling fan and even I took a break from it when I wasn’t enjoying it. I find it hard to believe that so many simply can’t seem do that.
One last thing, the announcing continues to hold the product down. There was a lot more Jim Ross and that’s a good thing (aside from a couple miscues). He needs to be the anchor of this crew. Lawler made Cole seem sane this week. I would suggest we celebrate this, as this is quite a feat, but it was just brutal. Case in point, during the tag match, Lawler flat out buried Otunga and McGillicutty. Granted, they have a lot of negatives about them, but they’re still the Tag Team Champions. The problem is a simple one: okay, you just buried the champs and there’s going to be a title change. By default, you just made the upcoming switch pretty much hollow. That’s not, as they’ve been saying, good for business. It got to the point where Cole and JR combined forces to try to salvage his nonsense.
Then there’s that anti-Punk box he was on during the main event. Here’s an hint on how to the answer to the, “Who would Del Rio rather face: John Cena or CM Punk” question: face announcer says that Del Rio wouldn’t want to face either of them; the heel announcer says that it doesn’t matter, Del Rio would beat either of them. All three get put over that way. It’s not rocket science. I said last week that I was hoping that Cole was going to get a “Come to Jesus” lecture, but maybe it’s time for Lawler to take a vacation. JR and Cole could probably do quite well with one another. Just a thought.
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