It’s been two days since an episode of Raw that I thought packed a bigger punch than the one before, yet this morning’s ratings report reflect slightly lower numbers than last week. Odd. Racing against the clock with tons to mull over. Rumor (news) mill is running rampant as usual…providing fodder for a possible new “hot topics” blog. Certain returns or new hires for example. DVDs and the TNA One Night Only series may add to an expansion of this column here. And of course, we’ll look at last week’s indy events in the area. As one of my admins @TheEPWF likes to say, walk with me…
5/6 WWE Raw (Roanoke, VA.)
- As I said, the consensus last week in many places was that WWE “mailed it in” on Raw. I saw several sites and boards with comments making this claim. Rather that’s true or not will always be left to debate. I felt as though the program began strong this week with the immediate announcement of the “Workplace Invasion” that had taken place at WWE HQ in Stamford, CT. Those who witnessed the story break and play out via Twitter during the day were privy to whatever may have went down. Those in the dark had to be intrigued from the moment the vision flashed across their screens, and I think this was a very strong way to start the show and set future events in motion with high drama.
- “Vintage” Cena promo, but an advancement came with Ryback choosing the Last Man Standing stipulation after Cena deferred Vicky Guerrero’s ruling. I spoke last week about telling the story in the ring, and you’re seeing more of that here mixed into their present issues. Will Cena’s decision come back to haunt him? I still like (The) Ryback as a “bad guy”, but the verbiage may need to come few and far between.
- What kind of match should Randy Orton and Big Show have at Extreme Rules? Orton has been red hot lately…clearly upset about the way things went at ‘Mania. I loved the sudden ambush by Big Show at the end of the segment. Not seen Live on TV, but the crowd reaction was heard to accompany Michael Cole’s great reaction. The little things that add unpredictability to the show was always one of my favorite hallmarks of wrestling.
- I thought the Fandango segment was well done. The issue between he and Chris Jericho is clearly not over, and I always like the “role-reversals” when done right. It’s only right that Y2J lead a panel of judges after the way Fandango danced into the Universe critiquing his peers and fans alike. Jericho giving Fandango a “2” on his mic skills was hilarious! As was R-Truth’s dance score. The ending to this one protects the position of both if Truth is indeed in the midst of a push. All the while propelling us to next week’s Raw DWTS!!!
- I liked the backstage encounter between Ryback and Team Hell No. Mainly because you knew Kane wasn’t far from the scene, and Ryback’s “half a man” line made for the perfect entry of the Big Red Machine, saying what needed to be said to take the conflict to the next level. Ryback, to his credit, came back with a credible response that plays off of the views of smart marks and majority of the IWC…as well as many insiders. The notion that Kane isn’t close to the monster he once was and “everybody knows it”. Good shit-talking banter usually leads to highly charged in-ring bouts. Paul Heyman is obviously very good at this and we’ll definitely get more into that later on.
- We’ve seen Del Rio/Ziggler before and will again, so let’s skip to the ending…which is the meat and potatoes of matches like this. A lot of different dynamics have been thrown out to advance this program going back to WrestleMania XXIX, but more importantly Raw the night after. It seems Big E. Langston awoke a sleeping beast with his cheap shot on Swagger this past Monday. Team Ziggler has been doing pretty much whatever they want to people for quite some time now in a bullyish, stop-me-if-you-can fashion…and that mentality pushed the already-volatile “Real American” over the edge. Talk about a one-man wrecking machine. The former All American went a long way in showing he may be a favorite to win at Extreme Rules after laying out everyone with a ladder except for poor AJ, who could only jump and scream. Honestly, I thought Swag might get her too at one point. C’mon admit it…it would’ve been good.
- I said last week that Kaitlyn’s secret admirer must not like her judging by that first gift. While I was just joking around, something is definitely amiss here and I don’t think this will have the happy ending most secret admirer stories have. Something about the Bellas involvement tells me there won’t be wedding bells in the Divas Champion’s future. Sneaking out from the shadows this week leads me to believe the Bellas may have known last week that the initial gift wasn’t for them, and snatched it from the stagehand prematurely on purpose. Maybe they’re behind it? I have always been a fan of mystery angles, although some have been given away prior to the true delivery dates, but it’s all good. The angle still has potential to add to any broadcast if presented properly.
- While we’re on the Bella Twins. Is there ever going to be a protest for the referee’s decision reversal from last week?
- The Shield continues to impress and their collective stock is likely rising as a result. They had another good outing on SmackDown last week, as well as this past Monday in the 6-Man Tag. Good action between the Usos and the members of the group leading to the big tag from Kofi Kingston that took the match up right along with the crowd. Dean Ambrose uncorking his modified bulldog finisher seemed to get everyone’s attention…even Roman Reigns as he watched from the floor. Cole made sure to point out Ambrose’s pinfall over the US Champion, raising question about the “championship structure” of The Shield. Will they be a team that assumes tag team gold for all members, as we’ve seen with the likes of the Spirit Squad or the legendary Fabulous Freebirds? Or does the tag team consist of Rollins and Reigns, leaving Ambrose to go after singles gold? Time may tell.
- I guess all the Antonio Cesaro fans out there can rest easy after this week’s efforts against Zach Ryder. The notion that he was about to be forever buried after dropping a title he held for nearly a year only made the amount of sense it did perhaps because of the manner in which he lost it. I’ll leave that to debate. It seems to me he is in firm standing, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, I’d bet that the ROH standout has a bright future ahead of him. Losing is definitely not the only thing in this business, as so many have shown in the past. Cesaro himself showed it last Wednesday on Main Event when he executed one of the greatest superplexes I’ve ever seen…and I’d beg anyone to show me one more impressive. When judging on brute strength and in-ring ability, it’ll be hard to find one. It’s a shame that match wasn’t seen on a main show.
- Again, I love high drama stories. They’ve made for some of WWE’s most memorable programming and is something I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of. It began well at the top of the show and continued throughout the rest of the evening with the still photos drowned by dramatic music of the chaos at Titan Tower. Now with Paul Heyman via satellite, we get the video of what went down and newer fans got to see another rare glimpse of the worldwide HQs in Stamford, CT. “Where it all goes down”, as they say. Great footage at the Tower. For those who don’t know, there isn’t a great deal of history of filming high-level angles at the big office, but it has happened. One of the most memorable would have to be the time HHH and Shawn Michaels spray painted a giant green “DX” on the facade of the edifice a few years back. However, long time fans will recall “Raw On The Roof” being filmed on the roof of the HQs for the opening of the flagship program. Never has anything happened like what is now being dubbed the “Workplace Invasion”, perpetrated by Brock Lesnar and his adviser Paul Heyman. Aside from the destruction caused by Brock and the fact that he didn’t know where Triple H’s office was, I was greatly entertained by Heyman. Whistling the Fandango theme to heckle the employee in the elevator was just the beginning. The “Father of Extreme” took it further and further with hilarious one-liners that goes back to that trash talking thing I mentioned earlier. Calling the assistant prettier than Stephanie, asking who Killer Kowalski ever trained when he obviously trained HHH, saying HHH married into trash or that the size of the WWE logo in the office was equal to HHH’s ego…all good stuff. After Raw 1000, kind of really makes you wonder when Stephanie is going to return to shut Heyman up. It shouldn’t be Vince, and I really think it has to be Steph. The name plate on the office was obviously made for this taping. For those who may not know, while it read Paul Levesque, Chief Operating Officer is not his official corporate title. The sarcasm surrounding respect for Taker or HBK, and World title chances under the HHH regime was a nice touch. Worked-shooting has clearly proven successful in the past. Brock’s reaction to the phone call (lol!). KO punch to the monitor (LOL!). Also laughed when the TV broke the logo on the wall. I was waiting for Heyman to drop a line to the effect of HHH’s ego now being bruised or shrunk. Leaving the business card would be called “gangsta” where I’m from. Yes, pretty extreme. I also liked the follow up with Heyman telling the story of always restraining Lesnar, but now the chains have been cut loose. Did the smashed championship resemble HHH, or the WWE as a whole? HHH’s response was equally on par as he exposed his enemies as frauds…claiming they knew exactly where he was if they wanted to “meet” with him. Some more tongue-in-cheek banter about HHH “knowing something about extreme” due to DX and him blazing through the Attitude Era. Anyone worth their salt knows that Attitude Era that HHH and many others blazed through and benefited from was born in South Philly in the real ECW.
- Not sure about Total Divas yet. I mean, of course I’m gonna check it out, but I’m waiting for Legend’s House! That one seems much more intriguing and almost can’t fail as compelling TV that will leave me chomping at the bit. Having met a few of the legends cast, I was really looking forward to it, and am happy to hear WWE is currently trying to fast-track the show’s debut on another channel since the Network is still in limbo. Would anybody support a reality show featuring the WWE Superstars?
- I continue to enjoy every aspect of the Mark Henry character. He comes off as one of the biggest and baddest of legit bad asses and that freakish power and physicality only adds to the entree. There isn’t a person walking that can tell me he isn’t intimidating. Absolutely loved how he played the fans chanting “WHAT?”. I still think the chant is funny at times, but not all the time. It doesn’t fit anywhere and shouldn’t be applied to everyone who cuts a promo in a fashion that encourages this chant. Then again, I guess the best way to combat this behavior from fans is to develop a different style. Good promo to bring in the PPV match against Sheamus.
- I felt as though the following match itself served as kind of a buffer to continue the business being handled in the preceding promo. The game of one-upsmanship between Sheamus and Henry continued during the “Celtic Warrior’s” match with Wade Barrett. The “fifty-two fake out” however, initiated by Sheamus, proved to be ill-advised in the end. The “Silverback” was on top of him the moment the match ended and proceeded to beat him with a belt like a red headed stepchild. (no pun intended) Solid return attack by Henry as he got in several wide open shots…telling Sheamus he was going to whoop him like he stole something while administering the beating. (LMAO!) The verbal lashing was almost as good as the punishing beat down, and this could likely lead to a Leather Strap Match at Extreme Rules in St. Louis.
- I feel the classic set up and historic aspect of the main event added to the overall atmosphere as it was the first-ever encounter between the two monsters. The potential for chaos was present due to the angles arcing from either end and the outcome didn’t disappoint. Outside of the occasional Goldberg chants, the crowd didn’t really seem that into Ryback…and seemed to chant “boring” at times. Seems like Kane held it together in this one. I find myself agreeing with a lot of JBL’s commentary, and it happened again when he said he thinks Kane is still the same monster he’s always been. The inner fan in me agrees, and desperately wants to see him presented as such again. I really thought we were headed that way when Kane put the mask back on. Nevertheless, I stand firm on my belief that Kane, not Undertaker or Andre, is the best big man in the history of the business, and it was good to see him in the main event spot this week. Of course, that same inner fan wishes Kane would’ve won. As expected, all elements came into play post match…beginning with The Shield. I continue to like Ryback’s choice of actions. Fleeing the ring after Bryan entered…only to draw Cena out. Returning to the ring when he did almost baited Bryan to take the dive outside…leaving Cena alone to fall victim to the chair assault. Story being Ryback is smart, calculated, and extremely dangerous. A wounded Cena increasing the danger his championship is already in. While we all know to never count Cena out; this is the same man that lost the title to Sheamus in a Tables Match and no one saw it coming. Although Cena has experience in Last Man Standing matches, could history repeat itself in the same fashion at Extreme Rules?
- This past weekend had its fair share of great indy wrestling events, including in the greater Philadelphia area. WWWA with all its history continued to expand as the city of Souderton, PA. welcomed them back for a second time in what looks like the beginning of a beautiful partnership with the Perseverance Volunteer Fire Co. The folks of Lancaster also came out to witness a special event that featured ECW Original “The Franchise” Shane Douglas and WWE Hall of Famer “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. As I said last week, there are many other shows on the horizon for the Philly, South Jersey, and North Delaware areas, and the updates I spoke of will be coming this week. Some great material has come out for some…a lot of hype and speculation building as cards build for others. Stay tuned!
- Later this week, I’ll be covering TNA, this week’s Impact Live, and the road to SlammiVersary.
- Plus a Weekend-At-A-Glance looking ahead at this upcoming weekend’s Indy events in the Philadelphia Tri-State area.
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