Tag Archives: RAW Review

RAW Review 4-15-13, a.k.a. “Land of Diminishing Storylines”

This review will not be the typical Mr. Morris review you may have grown accustomed to reading.  For starters this piece is being crafted with a little under forty-five minutes left in the show.  There also won’t be many pictures from the evening, as the WWE has more than likely not published them prior to the show actually ending.

Much like last week a lot of “significant” things have happened on tonight’s episode of RAW, but those things were largely overshadowed by the not-New-Jersey crowd in Greenville, South Carolina and the annual creative reset that happens after WrestleMania.

Before launching into those two spiels, it must be noted that most of the champions that wrestled tonight—with the exception of the Tag Team Champions Team Hell No—all lost their matches.  While the Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler suffered non-title defeats to their opponents (R-Truth and Jack Swagger respectively), former United States Champion Antonio Cesaro fell victim to Kofi Kingston’s patented Trouble in Paradise finishing maneuver, giving the Ghanaian athlete the victory and the United States Championship.

As of this point right now (10:25 PM EST), John Cena has yet to appear in the ring with his WWE Title.  He did make one appearance in a backstage segment with Matt Stryker, which received no reaction whatsoever from the audience in Greenville…interesting…

This brings us back to one of the aforementioned points; my fellow L.E.W.D. writer Mr. Lamb spoke at length about the necessity of filler.  Apparently the same applies for the types of crowds a WWE show appears before.  Tonight’s crowd in Greenville, compared to the red hot crowd at the post-WrestleMania RAW in New Jersey, is close to being the one friend who nods off before everyone else at a sleepover.  I wonder how much more entertaining this show could be (and could have been) if the crowd tonight had not been the exact polar opposite of last week’s crowd.

The other concerning issue is that the product is in a rebuilding phase right now, setting up entirely new and different feuds than what we were presented with specifically for WrestleMania XXIX.  It’s going to take time and some exceptionally great writing to get fans behind these new stories, but the action surrounding said stories feels dry, stale and uninspired.  In the same spirit of Mr. Lamb’s piece, perhaps this “phase” is a filler phase for the product, a moment for us to catch our breath before things are kicked into high gear once again.

I wouldn’t go as far as to characterize this as a “bad” RAW, because there have been worse shows than this.  However tonight’s episode, while good on in-ring work, was not one of those shows that would cause me to call one of the L.E.W.D. brothers or sisters and enthusiastically scream into my cell phone about the show.

The three major things that stuck out to me in the show (now with twenty minutes remaining):

  • The Absurdity of Antonio Cesaro
  • The Ryback Has Feelings Too
  • Fan-dahn-NOOOOOOOOOOOO

For those fans keeping count, not only has Antonio Cesaro lost his United States Championship, but he’s also been saddled with a yodeling gimmick.  I’m sure someone somewhere in the company thought this would be hilarious and get Cesaro “more over” with the fans.  I won’t point fingers or name names, but instead I’ll allow this video to reveal a possible suspect:


Let’s recap the storied history of Antonio Cesaro: here we have a new WWE superstar who was a former Rugby player in Europe, but was kicked out of the sport for being too rough.  At some unspecified time in his life, this same former Rugby player also learned how to yodel during his time working on a Swiss farm training St. Bernards, all of which became world renowned rescue animals in their generation under his tutelage.

SMH.

Update: Nikki/Brie Bella just defeated WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn (10:49 PM EST)
Tonight we also found out why The Ryback attacked WWE Champion John Cena last week, as if wanting to challenge him for the WWE Title wasn’t a good enough reason.  The story told by Ryback made perfect sense, but felt a little too much like the the same overly complicated year long storylines that have been resurrected in sports entertainment since Hulk Hogan’s return to prime time television in 2010.  Sometimes it just feels like wrestling is far more complicated than it should be; again, not a bad thing at all, but a simple “I want the WWE Championship” promo would’ve made sense.  However, that same promo after several high-profile losses would not have made sense, so I guess some sort of convoluted back story was necessary to focus our attention elsewhere.
Lastly, Fandango was not a Fanfavorite with the Greenville audience.  It took hard work for poor Johnny Curtis to get the crowd to even start the Fandangoing, a craze that didn’t occur until he actually left the ring.  Well…maybe things will look better for him during next week’s show from London, England.
And with that we get the show closing in-ring promo from John Cena and the eventual Ryback confrontation that will happen.  Please leave your thoughts on the show below…because I do believe I’m done.

RAW Review 10-1-12, a.k.a. “Still Got Something to Prove…”

Gary always knows how to cheer us up around here.

I’ve got to be honest with you guys…I really wasn’t into Monday night’s episode of RAW.  In fact I was so not into the episode that in order to do this review properly, I watched the show again on YouTube.  I actually watched it while typing this review.

In the past few months, pro wrestling fans have flexed their critically cynical muscles by lambasting the WWE for producing subpar programming, particularly with respect to the product offered by other companies.  But this is a RAW review, and we’re not here to compare oranges to crab apples; if we’re going to rake RAW over the coals, we can do it without mentioning who does what better.

My feelings from last week haven’t changed; pro wrestling/sports entertainment seems to be in a dormancy period that is in turn making everything seem boring.  This is unfortunate for the WWE because there are a lot of great things going on for the company right now, most noteworthy being the revitalization of the tag team division.

But everything else is just blah to me.  Fact is that if you missed this show, you could get the gist of it by watching the 40 billion RAW Rewinds that will air on the 900 hours of WWE programming airing between now and Friday.

I’m not one for ultimatums, but I can say that Monday’s RAW  left me anxious for this week’s episode of NXT.  Terrible thing when the flagship show makes you appreciate the show that doesn’t even air in this country.

Those feelings aside, here are three things that stuck out to me:

  • Live from Oklahoma City, it’s Monday Night RAWWWWW!
  • MinoriTEAMS featuring Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
  • Newfound Respect: Cesaro and Sandow
All that top talent in one segment gone straight to hell. | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I was initially amazed at the talent in the ring at the beginning of the show…and those feelings quickly dissipated once the segment reached its climax.

When conversations begin about the next generation of WWE Superstars (something I’ll hit on in a future post), it’s amazing to consider the abilities and skills of the superstars and divas surging down the pipeline.  As Paul Heyman mentioned during the segment, the “here-and-now” of the WWE was gathered in the ring at once and it was a beautiful sight.  To see CM Punk with Heyman, Dolph Ziggler with Vickie Guerrero, Kane and Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee all in the ring at once…it was quite the sexy sight.

It was when Daniel Bryan interrupted the segment to talk about his looks, his beard, and his reign as the tag team champions that the whole thing just got silly.  What was an interesting back and forth between Team Best In the World and Team Money In the Bank turned into an opening monologue for Saturday Night Live.  It depressed me.

This isn’t to say that all opening segments have to be as serious as a soteriological debate between Lance Storm and Dean Malenko, but the reality of a sports entertainment doctrine was very evident during that opening segment.  I understand and agree with the idea that pro wrestling has to be entertaining, and the segment was entertaining before the introduction of shtick.

It was entertaining for me mostly because of Paul Heyman.  Watching the man work a crowd and turn a phrase is like witnessing Michelangelo craft a masterpiece.  His mannerisms, facial expressions, and poignant comments made the whole thing pop, and to see him verbally spar with the equally abrasive Vickie Guerrero was near perfect.

The whole purpose for AJ, Kane and Daniel Bryan was to set up the main event and that’s fine; but I just really feel like it took the entire segment in a different direction, a direction that really had to do with AJ more than it did the superstars and managers in the ring.

If that truly is the case then we can understand why (kayfabe) CM Punk feels disrespected.  Even with John Cena missing from television, the show is still not about the WWE Champion.  A fan can only hope a payoff to all this is coming in the near future.

“It’s us against the world, Rey…us against the world…” | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WWE has done wonders to revitalize its dying tag team division. From having a single-elimination tournament to decide the number one contenders, to having the tag teammates dress alike, these minor improvements have gone a long way to show fans that WWE truly “cares” about tag team wrestling…well, at least Triple H does.

Did anyone else notice how the teams made up of minorities were facing each other in the tournament?  Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara faced Epico and Primo Monday night, and on Friday The Prime Time Players will face R-Truth and Kofi Kingston on Smackdown.

That type of wrestling brings back memories…

Disciples of Apocalypse
Los Boricuas
Nation of Domination

And people said they wanted the Attitude Era back.

Antonio Cesaro putting them hoo-has to Brodus Clay. | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Occasionally there are moments in a given company where superstars will go above and beyond what is expected of them.  We can only assume that these superstars have, at some point, become aware of an opportunity for career advancement.  In other words, no John Cena equals prime opportunity to run with the ball.

Both Antonio Cesaro and Damien Sandow showed their asses Monday night by doing some impressive things in the ring.  Cesaro’s moment arrived when he leveled the massive Brodus Clay with his finisher, The Neutralizer.

Ho…leee… | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
CRAP!!!! | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Damien Sandow’s spot in the sunshine came during his entire match with Sheamus, where he literally went toe-to-toe with the brutish son of Ireland and held his own for the majority of a very lengthy match.

Sandow: “Say it…say it…SAY IT!!!” Sheamus: “Maaaa-ttteeee!” | Photo © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I won’t sit and predict that either man will hold a major championship before the sun sets on the year, but I can say that both men performed as if they had something to prove to someone watching the show.  Creatively speaking Sandow and Cesaro’s characters have been stuck in neutral for quite some time; their performances injected some much needed life into the two stock, generic characters.

For example: up until Monday Cesaro dominated his competition with relative ease.  While he did not give Clay a sound thrashing, he did manage to lift the behemoth off of his feet for his finisher.  Keep in mind that there are only a select few individuals that put Brodus Clay on his duff.

Meanwhile Damien Sandow shed his typically foppishly dandy demeanor to prove that he could be just as ruthless and relentless as Mankind.  I still think the character is a tool, but kudos to the man and his work by showing that he can hold his own against opponents of substance.

Those are just my thoughts on the show; what do YOU think???

So Wait…Money In The Bank Wasn’t It?!?

7-16-12 RAW Thoughts

I decided to take a page from Da Infamous DiZ’s book, and do an audio post.  I hope you like it.  It might be amateur at best, but I just wanted to make some points.  (Believe me, this is harder than it seems!)

Let me know what you think.

RAW Review 4-30-12, a.k.a. “A Night of Lowered Expectations”

Another episode of Monday Night RAW is in the books, this one fresh off the heels of an extremely well produced and executed Pay-Per-View.

While most of us anticipated this particular showing of RAW to be off the charts as far as action, excitement, and entertainment is concerning, the actual end result was a tad bit…underwhelming.  If you read my previous piece, then you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it was whelm deficient.

I’m sure many fans will disagree with that assessment for various reasons, but in my humble and 8-times-out-ot-10-right opinion, this show was just average; some pretty awesome things happened, but it was a particularly safe show and probably so on purpose.

Most of us here at L.E.W.D. learned long ago that not every show should be expected to be a five star offering; if this were to happen, then what exactly would a five star show be?  So habitually a company will offer a less than stellar show in order to bring fans expectations down slightly in order to enhance the potency of the next show or event.

Think of it like this: there was a reasonwhythe Divas match yesterday was placed between the CM Punk/Chris Jericho match and the Brock Lesnar/John Cena match.

Given that WWE Over the Limit is taking place in three weeks, it’s slightly understandable why the show lacked some chutzpah; the build for the WWE’s gimmick-less Pay Per View is potentially building up for the June 17 No Way Out event.  If you’ve seen the leaked poster for the Pay Per View, then you’ll too agree that tonight’s sub par showcase was a necessary evil.

With that intro out of the way, let’s look at a few of the things that made the show important:

  1. The Bellas get “fired;” Ash is partly wrong, and there’s a disturbance in the force.
  2. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan at Over the Limit: Don’t blow your wad just yet.
  3. The Ace Crusher Returneth for John Cena

Leave it to the WWE to throw another wrench in the plans of this idealistic sports entertainment pseudo-analyst…

I crafted quite the post yesterday detailing, in so many words, what I thought the WWE was going to do with the departing Bella twins.  My plans were whimsical and involved the missing-in-action WWE anti-Diva Kharma, the one person I was SURE would return tonight during the Bellas’ rematch to destroy the twins in one easy and swift motion.

At least I was right about the rematch…

My boss, a closet casual fan at best (which means he’ll talk about how silly pro wrestling is but will watch it with us for at least fifty minutes), made a very interesting comment after the Bellas’ blink-and-you’ll-miss-it title rematch:

Ash’s Boss -”Clearly there’s something more to the story than this…”

Ironically enough this singular thought from a semi-casual fan would serve as the theme for most of the show.  While we’ve yet to see even the slightest clue as to how Kharma will re-debut for the company, the Bellas’ weird departure has to be intertwined with a story line somehow, someway.

Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks were “fired” in a similar fashion and they’ve received little corporate fanfare, noticeably missing the infamous “Best in all your future endeavors” WWE.com announcement that follows a release.  Only the WWE knows where they’re going with this, so we’ll just have to wait and see…

In a move that shocked all of three fans in the WWE Universe, Daniel Bryan defeated Jerry Lawler in the Beat the Clock Challenge to become the #1 Contender for CM Punk’s WWE Title.  Suffice it to say that hundreds of thousands of WWE fans climaxed at this turn of events.

While this is great news for any fan of Punk and Bryan’s work together, this upcoming match is also something that we’ll have to watch unfold.  I’m not so sure we should get our hopes up so soon and mess ourselves over the anticipation of the match as opposed to the execution of the resulting story line and actual match.

CM Punk’s reign thus far can be summarized as five months of wrestling excellence. He’s actually wrestled everyone he’s had to defend his belt against; if we’re being honest with ourselves, Punk is actually one of the few “wrestling champions” out there.

But that’s about it; besides having a very strong showing during the street fight against Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules, Punk is still fighting for the one match/feud that will catapult him into super stardom.  He’s hungry for the match that will make his reign more important than John Cena.

With three weeks to go until the Over the Limit Pay Per View, there isn’t enough time for the WWE to craft such a feud between Punk and Bryan.  Sure it’s a great thing that we’ll get another classic wrestling match between two professional wrestlers that is guaranteed to get money, but it’s only going to play second fiddle to John Cena’s match against Johnny Ace.

This match is the answer to most fans’ prayers, but it is not and will not be Punk or Bryan’s defining WWE moment; that is still to come and we shouldn’t spooge our shorts until we get a better feel for how they’re going to build up to this match.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

Everyone was positive last night that Lord Tensai would be named as John Cena’s opponent at the Over the Limit Pay Per View.  I shuddered in my seat at the thought of that match mostly because…well…to me it just didn’t make sense.

But before we get to that point, we must recall that everyone was positive Sunday night that John Cena would be taking some much needed time off.  Cena’s cryptic speech at the conclusion of the Pay Per View, plus this tidbit from WWE.com had us all assuming that the Champ was going to gracefully bow out for awhile to heal himself.

Leave it to Mr. Invincible to do right by the fans and risk injuring himself even further for the business that he loves.  After defeating Brock Lesnar and summarily embarrassing the People Powered EVP of Talent Relations and the GM of both RAW and Smackdown,Cena had to return last night to reclaim his spot as the face of the company.

Earlier in the night, Johnny Ace attempted to redeem Brock Lesnar by bringing him out for whatever reason.  Lesnar’s mic time was spent explaining that his “loss” was really a “victory” seeing as all he intended to do was “bring the pain.”  And that is exactly what happened.

At that point, WWE COO Triple H entered the arena and attempted to put a leash on Ace’s monster…

Needless to say that didn’t work out well for the COO, who received a broken arm via the Kimora Lock from Lesnar.  Is it just me or does Triple H get beat up each time he comes out and tries to assert his authority as the COO?

Laurinaitis then paints a picture for Cena, a pretty Crayola-drawn portrait of what he envisioned as the way to bring the best out of the superstar.  Cena and much of the audience in attendence hated Laurinaitis’ picture but, in a gesture of good will, promised to place in on the refrigerator for everyone to see.

Lord Tensai creeps into the picture and is teased as Cena’s upcoming opponent in one month.  As Cena hulked up and prepared for a two-on-one assault, Johnny Ace attacks him from behind and names himself as Cena’s challenger at the Pay Per View.

This interesting turn of events left me feeling enthused and confused at the same time; I was conthused

While terribly happy that Lord Tensai would be far away from a Pay Per View match against Cena, I was bewildered at the progression of Cena’s story line in the form of one John Laurinaitis.  A parking lot conversation with DiZ cleared up a lot of that confusion, but also left me wanting more.

I guess that’s the purpose of a decent show, to leave fans eagerly anticipating the next show by giving them a cliff-hanging ending that reels them deeper into the story.  But a match between these two Johns, both of whom tend to excel in providing moments of blandness, kind of reminds me of the match between Vince McMahon and Bret Hart.  Who is going to carry who in this match?

Those thoughts aside, the development has intrigued me and much like the rest of the show, we’ll just have to…wait and see…

In the end, those are just my thoughts; the real question is, what do YOU think???