WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Nov. 19, 2012) from Dayton, Ohio featuring the fallout show from the Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV) event this past weekend.
This show has received a mix of good, bad, and baffled reviews, and now it's my turn to sink my teeth in. Let's get right to it, ladies and sirs.
- I understand Ryback's gimmick is that he's just a hungry ass kicker who only thinks of everything as though it's his next meal, which is kind of a rib on the real life Ryan Reeves, but it occurred to me during his opening promo last night that he's got a tone and cadence that he doesn't need to talk in those terms. If he just came out and started screaming that he was going to murder kill people, I would buy into him in a second. But the goofy shit about "feasting" and "prey" and "feeding" and all that nonsense turns me off. He's a beast, sure, but don't be so literal.
- I'm a fan of slow burns in pro wrestling. If I'm watching a television show with a 12 episode season and it takes four episodes to advance a single plot point -- I'm looking at you, Walking Dead -- I would be pissed but Raw has been rolling since 1993. They have all the time in the world to take it nice and slow with this storyline involving Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Ramon Reigns. For what it's worth, though I still don't know much about the two not named Ambrose, I'm encouraged just based on their run-ins. These guys get after it with gusto like they really want to get in and fuck shit up. Ambrose, in particular, looks like a psycho and he stands out already. But they all have a unique look, including Reigns, and I'm hoping this continues down the line and improves every week. So far so good.
- Ballsy move on WWE's part to have Tensai go out there for another match with Ryback. I guess they wanted him to get his heat back and the best way to do it was to let him have another go at lifting Albert's big ass up over his head. He pulled it off, too, thanks to the lack of any sandbagging. Looked impressive.
- I will never be okay with WWE using the lazy booking strategy of having a guy defeat a titleholder so they can get a shot at a title. Can you imagine if this happened in MMA? Like if Carlos Condit beat Georges St. Pierre at UFC 154 this past weekend and Dana White announced that now that Condit won the fight, he now gets a shot at "GSP's" belt. Not a single fan on Earth would put up with that and that's because it's utter and complete nonsense.
- Why the hell does Wade Barrett want Kofi Kingston's Intercontinental championship? Remember when this guy came back with a bunch of vignettes like he was going to be a big deal again? Yeah, me neither.
- IT WAS AKSANA! IT WAS AKSANA ALL ALONG! *Crickets*
- Antonio Cesaro hitting the Neutralizer on Brodus Clay will always look impressive. That said, I'm not sure what it does for his stock. Clay is a big fat dinosaur jobber and nothing more at this point, why would Cesaro even be in a match with him. That's a widespread problem with WWE. There are way too many matches that take place for no discernible reason.
- Good god, this AJ-Cena-Vickie-Ziggler thing is the worst thing in the history of the world. It's even worse than the Bears offense sans Jay Cutler. Essentially, they had Cena come out and tell Guerrero to shut up so he can just go ahead and prove all her claims right in front of her by kissing AJ. The creepy part was saying he hoped she was okay with it before he did it. Yeah, it wasn't meant to be creepy and I'm probably the only one who thought that but his slow speech and weird facial expression weirded me out. AJ turning him around and voraciously making out with him right, meanwhile, made me upchuck a little bit. I don't understand the arc to this story telling. Vickie said they were banging, they weren't but after being accused of it enough they start getting busy right in front of her? What sense does this make? I guess Cena is just the latest guy AJ has fallen for because oh man, she's a crazy chick. Or some dumb shit like that.
- If Cena's injury is legit and they wrote it into the show in real time, that would be pretty impressive. I don't think they did and it's probably a work but he definitely got twisted up running after Ziggler. The beat down in the locker room may have been a way to explain Cena's absence if it becomes necessary. And if that's the case, questions are going to start coming up about how hard Cena pushes himself. His new shirt might talk about how he's still going strong after a decade with WWE, but he's piling up injuries fast. Good timing on Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns then, huh?
- One night after Matt Roth and I spent a few minutes trashing Alberto Del Rio for being boring and not really doing anything for either of us, he goes out and puts on an extremely entertaining match with Randy Orton. And I'll be damned if they didn't use awesome psychology for their 2-out-of-3 falls match, something we get in the three hour Raw era. So at least there's that.
- Big Show and Sheamus really are amazing, or at least their feud has been. I just can't muster any energy at all to care about it but they deliver big time once they hook up for a match on PPV. It looks like we're going to be getting a Chairs match at TLC, too, mostly because Show is too damn big for ladders or tables. Once again, I'm not feeling any hype for it but it's probably going to be a good match.
- One thing about Sheamus that others have pointed out already: Why is he the one who is always in the long matches on Raw? Can we get someone else in that slot? Damien Sandow was good working with him but without Cody Rhodes, it looks like he's going to get left behind and that really, really sucks.
- Remember Cageside Live! when I was talking about Titus O'Neil being a guy who has that thing we can't describe but you just know is there and it's what makes guys stars? Yeah, go back and watch the video of Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Daniel Bryan and Kane where he's on commentary. The guy is phenomenal, a million miles ahead of his partner Darren Young, and I'm going to put myself over by saying I was talking about how good I thought this guy was when he was floundering on NXT a long time ago.
- I really like the tag team division's rebirth. If this is indeed the work of Triple H, he deserves praise and a great deal of it. Mysterio and Sin Cara wouldn't be doing anything special as singles competitors, and they're just a natural fit as a tag team. Bryan and Kane are still awesome together and the aforementioned Prime Time Players are also great. There's depth, too, although having Primo and Epico get beat by Great Khali doesn't accomplish much of anything.
- Was really underwhelmed by CM Punk's celebration. It's also kind of funny that WWE has been doing its damnedest to put over how long Punk has held the title because the title still doesn't mean anything. You have to defend it proper and pick up legitimate victories to build up the guy holding it for the belt itself to mean anything. It has no value because they haven't really done that. Too many smoz finishes, too much time in the co-main event, not enough Punk being a badass who is just better than you. Coward heel champion works but not when you're trying to put a guy over for holding the title forever. And they aren't doing it in the smarmy way where they are recognizing he's keeping the strap using underhanded tactics, not really. It's also amazing to think that Punk's big reign is building the belt up just to lose it to a much bigger star before he loses it to a slightly less big star but a big star who is still bigger than Punk.
- Speaking of which, things are going to heat up soon. Hang in everybody, this is the calm before the storm.
This wasn't a bad show, but it wasn't really anything special. One of those "move it along" type shows that are necessary to keep stories going but don't really feature anything truly special because no one stood out.
Average is average, folks. But that's just me, of course. Maybe you feel differently and if that's the case, let's hear why you think so. What did you grade the show?