January 27th, the night after the biggest pay-per-view let down in recent WWE history. For all the ‘wrong’ that WWE did unto its fans at the Royal Rumble, they had an opportunity to make it right the next night on Raw. However, CM Punk went home and, it seems the entire creative team has packed their bags as well.
Last week on Chair Shot Reality, which I co-host with @JustinLaBar and @JoshIsenberg4, Josh and I went one-on-one during our “Fired Up” segment. If you missed it, view here ( http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/453341-kurt-angle-to-wwe-vince-mcmahon-back-on-tv-sting-rumors-csr-508) before you continue reading. What came from that ‘heated’ conversation was my overall evaluation that WWE has dropped the proverbial ball on recent Monday Night Raw’s.
Now, while some people either confuse math skills – or just don’t care – I felt like it was time to dive in to each segment on last night’s show, grading on Twitter throughout the night. While doing so, I also asked on Twitter for fan grades as the show proceeded through the 9:00 and 10:00 hours. What I discovered was the truth – WWE Raw continues to underachieve, which is especially troubling heading in to a PPV weekend.
Raw started with John Cena coming to the ring….
ACTUALLY – Raw started with a production error from the start! Did you notice the still shot of the video hold from “last week” for a second before Cena made his way to the ring? IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE!
…to the usual mixed reaction of Let’s Go Cena and Cena Sucks. I was actually intrigued as to why Cena would start out the go home show, rather than Orton or HHH/Step, even the Wyatt Family and their build. That said, it was refreshing to hear Cena start the show. BUT, from the moment Cesaro and Zeb Coulter made their way to the ring, this opening segment was a repeated, washed up and unessecary start to the show.
Ok – EVERYONE in the Elimination Chamber match was going to have their music hit, say a one-liner, only to be cut off by the next competitor, and so on. Quite frankly, it was 12 minutes of “I’m going to beat you… NO, I am going to do this and win the title… Sorry FELLA, the only thing paler than this segment is the color of my skin… BOOM! No, actually, Kane is pastier than Sheamus.”
This did nothing for the show, for the pay-per-view, or for the fans. By the time the A block was all said and done, it was announced that Cena would face Cesaro, and Daniel Bryan would face Christian – NOW! So, to recap, we needed 15 minutes, 7 entrance themes, and Kane to tell us there were two big matches scheduled for Raw… yes, my friends – that is wasted space.
(Somewhere C.M. Punk is shaking his head and thinking of his next theme song to return to.)
While I expected Daniel Bryan to get his usual pop and put on a great match, what I didn’t expect was Christian to take heel heat just for facing Bryan. ***Remember, Vince doesn’t want faces and heels anymore – which is why Christian vs. Bryan can work!***
It did work, but it did so due to the fact that Christian attacked Bryan in heel like fashion before the match. What came out of it all was a sweet finishing sequence and a win by Bryan. Oh, and then Corporate Kane announces Bryan has a second match, against Kane and it’s NOW! Oh joy, more random AWESOMENESS – NOT! Daniel Bryan couldn’t even save this match, as the fans were clearly heard chanting BORING, BORING. They get it, we get it, but – the WWE doesn’t.
For starters, NO ONE wants to see Kane anymore without a mask and in character! It’s played out and run its course. It was catchy the first 2 weeks of the angle, but now – it’s just another boring part of the show. And, before I forget, how can Kane have a “birds eye view” of the Bryan/Christian match from ringside?!
As mentioned on twitter – the opening segment was a C- and the Bryan/Christian match was a B… 1/6th of the way in to the go-home show and Raw was average, at best. Bryan vs. Kane killed all the momentum that the opening match built up and, personally, I saw it as a D at best. Now, we have a C- Raw through 38 minutes (8:38pm eastern).
Next up, we get Santino and Fandango again. Fandango has fallen so far, his entrance isn’t even a big hit anymore and not worthy of being televised. Santino always gets a pop – and that is what should be expected for a goofy jabroni! It’s comic relief for the awkward boring beginning of the show. I do get it, this is more about Emma and Summer Rae than anything – but folks, Emma and Summer Rae aren’t Trish and Lita, Torrie Wilson or Stacey Keibler… Summer has some looks, and sure, maybe Emma does as well, but do we see either being a Divas champion? Speaking of Divas champion, I wonder if she is laughing at home with CM Punk during this part of the show?! This match gets a C for comedy and nothing else.
Mark Henry and Reigns then peaked my intrigue for the show, as my bedtime was quickly approaching. The Samoan Slam that Reigns executed was an OK show of strength, it’s not like he F5’d him or anything! Great spear to end an otherwise B’ish match. After the fact, we get more of Dean Ambrose doing what the heel ‘leader’ of an otherwise babyface faction does, jumps on to show strength in a cowardly way.
LIGHTS OUT – They’re here!
After some in-ring and on screen interaction, the Wyatt’s make their way to the ring for a face off against the Shield. Not forced like the opening segment, this encounter is what BUILDS a PPV pay-off, and it was executed perfectly. Overall, this match/segment scored an B+ due to the fact that I was hoping for a slightly better match than we saw. At 9:06pm, Raw was still an average show- C.
Jack Swagger v. Kofi Kingston left something, perhaps, to be desired? Highlight of the match was Kofi executing the S.O.S. to Swagger, on to see Jack kick out. Explain to me in character building how Kofi Kingston can defeat Randy Orton (Jan 13th RAW), then a few weeks later tap out to Jack Swagger? I understand Swagger is in a title match Sunday, but is he really going to defeat Big E after all the stock and time that has been built up and put in to him? If Raw was a C going in to this match, it was a C- after.
Speaking of Big E, he makes his way the ring immediately after Swagger gets the win and I kind of like the interaction they teased about the title match Sunday night. I don’t disagree with having Zeb on the mic the entire match of Big E vs. 3MB, but hell, it was better than listening to an announce team that has also been sub-par lately. Big E was ruthless in this match and I am surprised NO ONE was seriously injured during the course of this one. And again, at the end of the day – this was another AVERAGE match on a LESS THAN AVERAGE SHOW. Match- C. Raw- C-.
John Cena vs. Cesaro was pure magic! This match was better than EVERY SINGLE MATCH from the Royal Rumble. The WWE needed this and they needed it in a BIG WAY. Cesaro showed he could go toe-to-toe with the best in the company and hold his own. While it would have been nice to see Cesaro be pushed to the extreme with a win, it still leaves a LOT to be desired and there are only great things – hopefully – in Cesaro’s future with the WWE. Cena is Cena, nothing more – nothing less. He takes care of business in and out of the ring and saves the show in doing so. Match- A. Raw- C+.
Again, another chance for the show to capitalize on momentum and they totally LOSE it with the backstage segment between HHH, Orton, Batista and Del Rio. The star of it all was Orton, he really was. His storytelling is improving, even if it’s bland and monotone. Batista is not needed and continues to do nothing for the product since his return. Del Rio out of nowhere with a neck brace on, yeah! NOT. HHH looking lost between them all. At the end of it, we have the bully Batista pushing an injured Del Rio. Now, correct me if I am wrong but, shouldn’t the HEEL do that to the FACE? Segment- C-. Raw- C.
Something fresh was needed at this point and, sure enough, Titus O’Neil delivered! His backstage segments with Renee Young have shown a side of Titus not many knew he had. Champion – T-I-T-U-S… Throw an A in there, because this segment was all of that, and more. Now, I could dock him for the Brock Lesnar voice crack in the scream but, it gives character I guess! Be sure to pay close attention to the match Sunday between Titus and Darren Young. It has a chance to be a show-stealing performance. Don’t believe me, go back and watch Young v. Cena from RAW on March 18th of last year. Young will bring his A game, and so will Titus. Segment- A. Raw- C (trending toward C+).
Los Matador’s/Sin Cara vs. Wyatt’s… YAWN! I don’t need the Wyatt’s this much, especially when they are set for the Shield on Sunday. The WWE loves building momentum, only to break it down with a match like this in the 10:00 hour. But don’t worry, they will outdo themselves with Jey Uso vs. Billy Gunn! The best part of this match was the Outlaws intro. As my esteemed colleague Justin LaBar would say, the Outlaws are “over like Rover.” Note to WWE: Please stop trying to book the tag champs as heels! Remember when you tried to turn Daniel Bryan heel – that lasted all of two weeks! It’s not needed. Let them do their thing, get the pop, sell the merch, make the cash, and be the life support of the tag team division! Both Matches- C-. Raw- C.
The main event of the evening was Orton vs. Sheamus. It was a mediocre match, and the ending was a regurgitation of the opening segment – this time with the Shield and Wyatt’s involved, and a big brawl ensuing. Now, I am not the smartest cat in the litter, but I damn sure know that this was more of a final go-home for the Rumble than the Elimination Chamber. It just didn’t make sense. It seemed as if the WWE was building up a month of feuds in 3 hours. Perhaps the writing could have been better the prior 2 weeks and this could have been a seamless transition to Sunday?
I don’t want to hear any excuses of ‘but if CM Punk hadn’t have went home’… because that is what it is, an excuse. What, just because someone goes home, the entire WWE creative team needs to follow? Raw was once again an average show. There were more bad segments than good. There were two matches in the 10:00 hour that should have been in the 9:00 hour. The Wyatt’s didn’t need to face Los Matador’s and Sin Cara. Kane didn’t need to face Daniel Bryan. Fandango and Santino could have been a spot filled by several others in a match, to build someone up, not drag out a comedy show.
At the end of the night, Raw will be highlighted by 3 things and three things only.
1. Cesaro v. Cena
2. Shield / Wyatt confrontation
3. Daniel Bryan v. Christian
Honorable Mention: Titus O’Neil.
On the flip side, Raw will be forgotten by many more than three things! WWE, what we need is QUALITY not QUANTITY. Don’t be afraid to book multiple matches that exceed 12-15 minutes, as did Cesaro and Cena. Use the 180 minutes you have more efficiently – or whatever is left after commercials.
Next Monday night is the launch of the WWE Network, fresh off of the Elimination Chamber. Now, if the WWE is banking on several big name returns that night, as well as the Network launch and the official road to Wrestlemania to begin, shame on them. You already lost popularity by the way you booked the Rumble, and the last 3 weeks of TV. Sure, the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Hulk Hogan and Sting may all magically appear – but you can only cry wolf so many times.
At the end of the day – or year in this case year, three of those four stars could be retired. And, eventually, all your part timers that you rely on to save poor ratings will eventually go off in to the sunset. 10 years from now, those part time roles will be filled by John Cena, Randy Orton, and Daniel Bryan. You WILL eventually, and DO need NEW stars. Sure, you may not want to throw them in to the fire at a PPV such as the Rumble or Wrestlemania, but you can build them up through RAW and SMACKDOWN!
Utilize your time, your talent, and maybe even your creative staff. If not, they might as well pack their bags and go home.