Off a cliff, and other stories about RAW (2/13)

Oh my…that’s about all I have to offer as my thoughts on a VERY promo heavy edition of RAW. It was a sloppily produced two hours of television that started off well with a good promo and a couple good TV matches, but once Triple H and Shawn Michaels got into the ring for their way too long promo things quickly went downhill, quite literally.

I’m assuming you watched the show, so I’m not about to offer a play by play, but my reaction to each individual segment.

Segment One: Elimination Chamber Debate Moderated by Jerry Lawler.

My initial reaction when the show opened to the six guys in the ring with the podiums was, “Oh great, here we go”. But, after the segment was over, it was a good way for four of the guys (Kofi, Ziggler, Truth, and Miz) to get some promo time in before the PPV on Sunday. The standouts were Jericho explaining he has the most Chamber Eliminations, and the most experience in Chamber, and how he’s essentially the best man in the match. R Truth did well by being the crazy guy thinking it was a Presidential debate and offering Ziggler & Vickie for a trade to Smackdown for Hornswoggle and a box of spiders. His Spider Stew rant was very funny. CM Punk just looked bored the whole time (probably because he was). Miz shines on the mic, and I’m glad they kept having the buzzer go off as he was talking. Overall, it was a good bit of business and put over the Elimination Chamber as a big deal.

Match One: Kofi Kingston vs. Chris Jericho

This wasn’t a bad TV match. Kofi had some offense, and even hit his finisher (TROUBLE IN PARADISE!) but neglected to hook the outside leg and Jericho got to the ropes to break the pin attempt. Jericho used the ol’ thumb to the eye to hit the CODEBREAKER out of nowhere for the win. If Kofi ever gets a main event level push, he should work with Y2J as they had great chemistry together.

Match Two: Big Show vs. Randy Orton

I wrote last week how I have admired Show’s work rate for such a big guy. He proved it again tonight by delivering a near eight minute match against one of WWE’s top workers. Big Show definitely did his share in this one by taking Orton’s Rope DDT, and a few RKOs. Trust me, I’m not saying this was Flair/Steamboat, but so far the match delivered two good matches for TV and a decent promo to get over Sunday’s PPV. Sure, this match ended by DQ, but it served to further Bryan’s heel persona. And, it protects both Orton and Show for the Chamber match.

Segment Two: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and the ballad of the Undertaker.

I’ll say it right now. Shawn Michaels needs to stay home. I could never have imagined myself saying this a few years back, but Michaels needs to go home and stay there. I’m not a big fan of legends coming back a delivering promos for whatever reason. Triple H is close on the list of stay home too. Undertaker? Sure, send him home too. I’m not sure how Undertaker has pulled off his string of impressive performances the last decade or so at WrestleMania. The guy is truly someone who can turn it on when he needs to. But, I’m not so certain he can do it with an entire year off. I know Triple H has lost a step (or three) in the past year as evidenced in his matches with CM Punk and Kevin Nash. Throwing another guy that hasn’t been around since last year doesn’t give me all that much faith.

The reason for the match is kind of weird too. Last week, I wrote I liked the setup. I liked the idea that Undertaker looked at this as a way to get his pride back. But, frankly, he already beat Triple H twice JUST IN WRESTLEMANIA matches. What the hell does Undertaker need to prove? The Steve Austin/Rock trilogy made a lot of sense for the Rock to pursue. The Rock had been defeated twice for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania events. So, for the Rock to get that one big one at a WrestleMania made a lot of sense. Even though Undertaker had to be carted off at WrestleMania, even though Triple H delivered probably the worst beating of the Undertaker’s career, he still won. Undertaker still found a way to reach deep down and get the win, and was the better man. If Triple H doesn’t want a match, who cares? Wrestle someone who wants to wrestle.

Another thing that I hated about this whole promo (besides its meticulous pace) was Triple H blurring the line between reality and wrestling. Don’t just come out and tell us that the Undertaker is a “brand” that you don’t want to end because it’s bad for “business”. I realize that the entire point of the overly long promo was to push the idea that Triple H has sold out and become a corporate lackey. I get it. But, that storyline just doesn’t make sense. It makes sense for Triple H to bring up his previous two losses. It makes sense that Triple H wants to redeem himself. It doesn’t make any sense for Undertaker to even come close to acknowledging Triple H as a threat to his streak. The longer this whole “will he accept the match” crap goes on, the more I think I’m going to hate it.

Match Three: Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth

I like Truth. He’s always been a solid worker, and he’s gotten a lot better on the mic in the past year with his crazy “Little Jimmy” stuff. Ziggler is a future world champion if given the proper time and booking to build. Yet, Truth wins with a small package in less than three minutes. I’m not sure what Ziggler has done behind the scenes or if they have the proper creative direction to make something out of this. It would make a lot of sense for Ziggler to turn on Vickie and blame her for the losses and lack of direction. But, there hasn’t been a seed planted for that. Ziggler lacks any credibility and somehow is lower on the chain than mid last year. It’s a colossal waste of talent. Also, I think Shawn and Hunter’s promo hurt this match and they skimmed this one for time.

Match Four: Tamina vs. Brie Bella

Somehow Tamina is getting a title shot, and she wins here with the Bellyflop Splash. Good build to a title match…not. (Oh, the official match time was 1:27).

Next up was more promotion for The Rock who isn’t even a full time performer anymore. Week after week, we get to see Rocky hyping his shitty movies and appearing on Leno, and whatever. I’m already sick of seeing the Rock and his wonderful life. I honestly don’t care about Rock/Cena at WrestleMania. I think it was a horrible idea to announce the main event of WrestleMania a year ago. The match will be okay, but it’s not exactly the earth shattering thing that WWE is hoping for. Longtime fans don’t care about Cena. He’ll never be on Hogan’s level, or Flair, or any number of legends. Cena will be best known for presiding over one of the worst eras of the modern era of pro wrestling. Hell, RAW gets a 2.85 rating? The Feb. 15th, 1999 edition of RAW did a 5.9. Nitro pulled in a 3.9. Where did all the fans go? Is Pawn Stars more entertaining (most weeks, yes)?

I don’t blame the talent for the most part. I blame the lack of creative vision. I blame tired cliches. I blame the fact that a wrestling show is now more akin to a soap opera than a pseudo-sports hybrid. Vince has completely turned to his “sports entertainment” mantra and left wrestling long behind. A guy like CM Punk might go out there and say he’s a wrestler, but the trouble is wrestling is not important anymore. McMahon and the creative team honestly think “sports entertainment” is the way to go. The truth is in the ratings. The truth is in a lack of attendance at live events. The truth is in lower and lower Pay Per View buys. More fans check out each week. This trend will not get better until the creative staff gets better at what they do.

Segment: Kane haphazardly attempts to kidnap Eve. Cena makes the save. Eve kisses Cena.

After the Rock promo, we were “treated” to this nonsense. Cena was going to give his reaction to the Rock video, hears screams. Kane gently placed Eve in the back of an ambulance, shut the door, and was attacked by Cena. Cena fights off Kane. Kane battles back, gains the upper hand, and goes to now hijack the ambulance (where were the driver and the driver’s partner?). Eve jumps out after Kane takes way too long driving away and into Cena’s arms. They kiss. The IWC collectively doesn’t give a crap. Oh, Zack Ryder in his stupid looking neck brace and stupid wheel chair saw the whole thing and starts to cry. Cut to commercial.

Back from commercial, Eve firmly places Ryder in the infamous “Friend Zone”. Nobody over the age of 25 cares. Ryder just became the hero of many a 17 year old boy who pined over a girl but never, ever had a chance. Brilliant pandering to the 17 year old demographic. Horrible waste of time for anyone else.

Match Five: CM Punk (WWE Champion) vs. The Miz

How do you reward a guy who nearly injured someone last week? Give him the main event match on RAW against the champion. I’m sure Miz learned his lesson. The match was alright, but never got out of first gear. Punk wins with the ANACONDA VICE!

Segment: Cena promo in ring, Ryder interrupts, and Kane sends the whole episode off a cliff.

Cena came out in ring as the overrun started and delivered another passionless, by the numbers, promo about no matter what Kane does he won’t “embrace the hate”. He’ll beat Kane so horribly that Kane will need to be taken out by an ambulance on Sunday, but…he won’t do it with hate…(it’s just another problem with WWE creative that even within the same promo people don’t make coherent sense).

Ryder comes out to interrupt and cry a bit more to Cena. He yelled at Cena that they were never friends. Actually, Mr. Ryder, without Cena’s help either kayfabe or not, you would have never gotten the sniff of a push you got. You would have firmly, and I mean firmly, placed in the mid card where you belong. Your no talent ass was (and still is) on the verge of being released. Cena’s not to blame here. You’re booked as an idiot because you are an idiot. Hell, you can’t even use crutches the right way. Have I mentioned I hate Ryder?

So, Ryder in his goofy neck brace takes a swing. Cena blocks it. No one cares. Ryder limps his way back to the ramp and stays there for no reason. Kane does a promo on the Tron and says since Cena kissed Eve he’s sunk lower than Kane ever has because Kane would never steal someone’s girl. Just wait a second! This is the same guy who lit Jim Ross on fire. This is the same guy who tombstoned Linda McMahon. And, this is the same guy who tried to electrocute Shane McMahon’s testicles. But, yeah, I guess he never tried to steal anyone’s girl…wait, what was the Kane/Matt Hardy/Lita storyline? Nevermind.

After the thankfully brief promo, Kane came out and pushed Ryder (who was in a wheelchair) off the ramp. End show.

RAW Wrap up

I thought the show started off good enough. The debate was good enough. The first two matches were good, yet short, TV matches. But once Shawn and Triple H came out, the show descended down a path of head scratchingly bad scripting and booking. Ziggler losing makes no sense. The Michaels/Triple H promo was way too long and the reason for Undertaker to want the match makes no sense. The Ryder/Eve/Cena love triangle is terrible. No one can do a triangle like Hogan/Savage/Elizabeth. People need to care about the people involved in a love triangle. Most people could care less about Eve or Ryder. There’s no emotional attachment to the characters. Hence, there’s no payoff. CM Punk’s match was treated as an afterthought. The entire 2nd half of the show was absolutely horrendous.

What I liked:

  • Kofi Kingston vs. Chris Jericho – a good TV match, and the match of the night despite the odd booking at the end.
  • The debate – I like the idea of giving everyone involved in the match some time.

What I didn’t like:

  • The Cena/Ryder/Eve love triangle nonsense. Just stop, please.
  • Giving Tamina a title shot. Her top rope bellyflop looks bad, real bad.
  • No Brodus Clay again. I guess someone done called his mama.
  • Jack Swagger and his US title are MIA as well.

What I hated (and wouldn’t have done)

  • Far too promo heavy an episode. Triple H and Shawn Michaels are notorious for long, meticulous promos. If there’s a coherent point, I don’t mind those type of promos. But, the one tonight just went on and on. Neither guy has any business in the 10PM slot. Sorry, HBK.
  • If it doesn’t relate to wrestling or WWE, leave the Rock off of TV. It wastes precious TV time to hype someone who won’t be around come April 2nd. Build up your current stars, for God’s sake.

Overall: A horrible step back. WWE has been so inconsistent of late. They had a great show after the Rumble, an average show last week, and now a bad show. I’m just not confident in WWE to deliver a cohesive, tight show. And, I shudder to think about the fallout from the Love triangle storyline.

Rating: 3.5 of 10

Last Week: 6.5 of 10


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