Ugghh. That is my immediate reaction to last night’s episode of RAW. I don’t know what it was but the show seemed to drag on longer than normal. I knew that I was going to be reviewing the episode today so I kept tuned in for as long as I could, hoping that something interesting was going to happen. That never really happened. After last week’s post Rumble RAW, it seemed like the WWE was fine with just ho-humming through another week of programming as we continue towards the Elimination Chamber PPV and ultimately Wrestlemania. This review won’t be all negative though, as there were a few bright spots (emphasis on few) sprinkled in.
OPENING SEGMENT: CM Punk Promo
Last night’s RAW opened the same way most RAW’s do, with CM Punk coming out and talking about the championship. CM Punk wasn’t as fiery as he was last week but it still worked ok. He came out to defend Paul Heyman and to back him up on his stance that it wasn’t him in the video colluding with The SHIELD. It worked ok. Punk obviously is going to have Heyman’s back regardless. Also, Punk got to once again accuse Vince McMahon of trying to hold him down, hold Heyman down, etc. The only issue I had with the promo is Punk calling fans the lamest names in the book. Calling someone with glasses “four-eyes” in the year 2013 isn’t going to get you any heat. I’m all for cheap shots at the crowd, but make it creative. If you want to insult the location where RAW is at, have fun with it. He could have made fun of the Atlanta Falcons for choking in the playoffs or something. Generic heat doesn’t even register on the radar of most fans anymore.
Booker T came out to interrupt Punk and say he would be in action tonight. Also, this began RAW’s three hour commercial for the WWE app for smartphones. Clearly, they want to get people to download the app but last night’s plugging was a bit excessive. They even had a prerecorded video from earlier that day (I know this because the graphic said “earlier today”) of Michael Cole showing people how to download the app. Anyway, the WWE Universe would choose which one of Punk’s previous Wrestlemania opponents he’d be facing that night. And yes, we all dig it, sucka.
RYBACK VS ANTONIO CESARO
The opening match of the night was a battle of the bald, relative newcomers in Antonio Cesaro and Ryback. This match was actually quite good. Ryback especially has come a long way since fighting “2 Is Greater Than One” jobber matches and the Antonio Cesaro gamble continues to pay-off for the WWE. I always like when the WWE puts two guys together who are just monsters. This match had that Godzilla VS Mecha-Godzilla feel to it. I like that Cesaro kept getting up after getting hit with the Meat Hook clothesline. Even though Ryback ultimately got the victory, it didn’t hurt Cesaro at all.
I would like to see this feud continue. I know that the Miz is sorta in the US Title hunt or whatever (at least I think he is, it seems all he does lately is host Miz TV, but more on that later) but I think Ryback should go after the belt. If he wins, awesome, he finally gets his first title win. If they decide to keep it on Cesaro, that also works because it legitimizes Cesaro and could give him the boost to go for the World Title eventually. Sadly, this probably won’t happen and Ryback will be Shell-Shocking 3MB or whatever until the end of time. Or he’ll continue to get pushed toward the WWE title, have a cool spot at Elimination Chamber, and then float around aimlessly until after Wrestlemania.
JOHN CENA PROMO/MORE RAW ACTIVE PLUGS
Two segments in, and we’ve already had 3 RAW active cutaways. Why do I need to download the app when you keep showing me everything that is happening on it? Anyway, typical John Cena promo from backstage.” Blah blah, I’ve had a terrible year, blah blah, gonna go after the WWE title.” I hate it when they go out of their way to make Cena an underdog. He isn’t and they need to accept that. Just because he didn’t win the title last year, doesn’t mean suddenly his power level isn’t over 9000. Even when Superman fights Doomsday or Darkseid, he’s still Superman and most likely going to win. All John Cena needs is to get in direct sunlight or whatever and he’ll be back to kicking out of infinite finishers and 5 Knuckle Shuffling CM Punk or The Rock before long.
JACK SWAGGER VS SANTINO
Like many of you know, Jack Swagger made his triumphant return last Friday on Smackdown. This is after being gone for a few months after going on a long losing streak. Jack is back now and means business. I know this because he has a business beard. Also, his hair is longer. I guess the WWE subscribes to the Samson form of logic where long hair equals more power. Regardless, I am glad Jack Swagger is back. He is talented but just doesn’t have a lot of charisma. He has the wrestling ability of Kurt Angle but lacks the humor Angle brought to his character. He’s serious all the time. Swagger was most over when he had Chavo Guerrero dressing up like an Eagle. That’s the Swagger that’s enjoyable to watch. Granted, we are only a few days into his return, so the angle might surprise me, but I hope they don’t make him “Generic Wrestler Return With Bad Attitude #5.” This match was a typical squash match for returning guys. Swagger wins easily.
ALBERTO DEL RIO VS CODY RHODES
Poor Cody Rhodes and his mustache. Last week, he was fed to Cena and this week he gets decimated by Alberto Del Rio. I miss the days when Cody was bagging people in the audience or legitimizing the Intercontinental Title. Now, he has failed to capture the tag-team titles for 3 months, had a great Royal Rumble only to be overshadowed by the guys the WWE wants to get over. The match wasn’t as bad as the one against Cena was last week at least. Del Rio continues to look strong as a face but he received a lukewarm reaction from the Atlanta crowd. At this point, the Del Rio better hope the entire Road to Wrestlemania takes place near Texas or Arizona or else he’s going to get the same indifferent reaction he got as a heel.
Post match, the Big Show is live via satellite at a hotel. He doesn’t want to be at the arena in fear of ADR’s safety. He said he would sign a contract for a World Heavyweight Title rematch if it were sent over. He then made some threats towards Del Rio and Ricardo. It’s typical heel stuff that we’ve seen forever. Later in the night, the Big Show orders room service and doesn’t tip the waiter. What a monster.
The RAW active poll results are announced following the Big Show’s segment. Tonight, CM Punk will take on Chris Jericho because that’s what the people voted for.
DANIEL BRYAN VS REY MYSTERIO
This is the part of RAW when I started getting antsy, nothing of any significance had really happened up until this point. Mysterio and Bryan was a fun match. Two light weight guys flying around the ring and working well together. I’m still not digging Rey Mysterio’s ring attire that is the equivalent of swimming with your shirt on. I know that sounds kind of bizarre but ring attire can sometimes deter my liking of a wrestler. Antonio Cesaro, despite being amazing, still kind of bothers me with his thigh-wraps and my Cody Rhodes love was put on hold when he stopped wearing knee-pads. It just doesn’t look right. I have no idea how people enjoyed the AWA when no one wore kneepads. After trading back and forth, MY BOI RIGHT DARE D-BRY picked up the victory with the No Lock.
And then, RAW finally got interesting (or Active, I feel like that has been embedded in me) when Mark Henry’s music hit. He came out and picked up where he left off: destroying everyone. The WWE did a great job of making him look like an absolute beast swatting the tiny guys around. The only part that made me roll my eyes was Sin Cara running down and then waiting for Mark Henry to turn around. That was nice of Sin Cara to just leap into Henry’s arms for the World’s Strongest Slam. I loved how on fire Henry got, shouting things like “THAT’S NOT ENOUGH” and “THAT’S WHAT I DO.” Henry once again positions himself as a top contender.
SHEAMUS VS KANE
This match was pleasantly surprising. I enjoy Kane more than I probably should and Sheamus can put on great matches. While this match wasn’t a contender for match of the year, it was an effective storyteller. It gave Sheamus a win over a fellow big man, and also helped complicate the already complicated relationship between Kane and Daniel Bryan. It looks like this could be the beginning of the end for Team Hell No. Then again, it’s looked like that from the beginning. Overall, a fun match that served its purpose.
MIZ TV SEGMENT
Miz TV as a whole isn’t a bad concept. Wrestlers having talk shows has been around since Roddy Piper and Piper’s Pit. They work in small doses though. This is the third or fourth week in a row we’ve had a Miz TV segment. It doesn’t normally progress anything. The biggest Miz TV segment accomplishment lately was The Miz learning the Figure-Four from Ric Flair. Last night, his guest was Paul Heyman.
Heyman essentially just rehashed everything he said to Vince last week, only this time, with more Mr. Mizanin interruptions. Vickie Guerrero comes out and says she is the reason Brock Lesnar is back. She had been secretly negotiating with him to resign and impress Mr. McMahon. This was a fun twist. Vickie breaking down and crying after causing Vince to get hurt by Lesnar, was golden.
However, the entire segment was just stalling until the “BWOWW WOWOWOW” guitar riff blared and Brock Lesnar came to the ring. Lesnar beats down The Miz as we all knew he was going to. Brock looked especially unsafe last night. He blasted The Miz in the face with one of the director’s chairs from the Miz TV set. He also gave him a super sloppy F-5 and almost put his face into the couch. I never understood why the Miz TV set has so many damn pieces of furniture. Who are they expecting that would require that much furniture? Is the 1999 version of the NWO (when 75% of the WCW roster was NWO) going to be the next guest?
RANDY ORTON VS WADE BARRETT
This match was just ok for me. It had some cool moments but ultimately was nothing we hadn’t seen before from Orton and Barrett. Maybe I’m just still burnt out from when they faced each other at 27 PPVs in a row a few years ago. Orton gets a clean win here after giving one up to Barrett a few weeks ago. I was surprised at the lack of Bo Dallas making an appearance though (aside from the video). The only glaring issue with the match, was the post-match comment by Jerry Lawler getting all excited because Orton just beat the IC champion. Yeah, he did. And he should be able to. Orton is a former WHC and WWE champion, as well as a former IC champ. He should be able to have the ability to beat Barrett. The belt didn’t give Wade magic powers or anything. Quit acting like it is an upset.
CM PUNK VS CHRIS JERICHO
This match was the best match of the night, which isn’t surprising. These guys put on a great Wrestlemania match and an awesome Street Fight at Extreme Rules. No matter how long Jericho is gone for, he has the ability to pick up where he left off and make it a seamless transition. Punk and Jericho have great chemistry together. This match felt different than the other two they had previously. There was quite a bit of cool transition work as well. Jericho going for the Walls of Jericho after having the Lionsault blocked was cool.
I hated that this match was so late in the show. You want to have your marquee match to be the main event, but it does the audience a disservice to have such a great match buried at the end of an otherwise bad show. As I rewatch last night’s episode of RAW on my DVR, I am thankful for my DVR fast forward button. I have no idea how I survived some of the segments last night. I didn’t think I would be saying that after the gimmick night that RAW Roulette was last week, but man, last night was rough. Thankfully, Jericho and Punk delivered again and saved an otherwise forgettable episode.
JOHN CENA CALLS OUT THE SHIELD
John Cena mentioned earlier that he would GO AGAINST THE ODDS AND TAKE ON THREE MEN BY CALLING OUT THE SHIELD! Before that could happen, Brad Maddox cuts a promo informing everyone that he is the victim of this whole mess, then says he is the hero of the story because he gave the footage to Mr. McMahon. This of course called the SHIELD out of hiding, which quickly beat down Maddox.
Don’t worry though, the John Cena trumpet sounded and he comes out to confront them. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Sheamus also runs through the crowd (if someone could make me a .gif of his crazy-eye’d aisle running, I’d be eternally grateful), and also Ryback comes to their aid. Collectively, they rush the ring, and force the SHIELD to go back into hiding. Yep, that’s it, that’s how RAW ended, with the SHIELD running away. They also didn’t mention where the Rock was last night or if he’d be there next week. They did do exactly what I said they’d do in a previous article, by plugging all the media that promoted the Rock winning the title last Sunday. Yep, you gave him the belt and he isn’t even on the show via satellite.
Two shows in on the Oregon Trail to Wrestlemania and it looks like we may already be coming down with cholera. Hopefully, next week’s show will be better since it’s the go home show before Elimination Chamber.
What do you think? Think last night’s show was bad or am I just being overly critical? Let me know in the comments!
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This article was first posted on February 6, 2013