WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Nov. 18, 2013) from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring the go home show to the Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV) that is now just days away in Boston, Massachusetts.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions, which are going old school this week.
- I really love the McMahon family characters. Triple H and Stephanie are really good at making me hate them. That's why I don't understand why they so often book themselves like babyfaces, or sympathetic in the face of screaming heels like Randy Orton. We're supposed to hate someone here. Booking Orton against Brad Maddox to make them pay for booking Raw so terrible last week? I mean, okay, I suppose I see the idea behind doing such a thing but I'm not clear on where exactly this is supposed to be going. It doesn't feel like a storyline so much as the McMahon's just sort of doing what they want and to hell with it.
- Perhaps I was the only one, but boy was I marking out when Maddox clocked Orton with a microphone before hitting a DDT and nearly pinning the WWE champion. That would have immediately become one of the greatest moments ever. Alas, it was simply a set up for Orton to go all "Apex Predator/Viper" and murder death kill Maddox. Honestly, I thought Orton might have taken some liberties with Maddox with those microphone shots during the finish.
- As for all the segments with Orton backstage throughout the evening, this whole coddling act with The Authority and his petulant man child act with The Shield is wearing thin. I'm almost assuming he does the job for Show this Sunday night. We can talk about how Daniel Bryan was booked over the past few months but when you look at it, Orton may have been booked even worse. He's looked awful in all but a few segments during that time, and one of those was when he destroyed Miz in front of his family, which almost qualifies as cheap heat.
- No, but seriously, what is Curtis Axel doing when he tears at his bare chest and screams loudly? What is that supposed to be? Is he ripping off an invisible shirt? And why is he always yelling things like "BOOM, BABY" and overpronouncing every syllable in Intercontinental? I will say this, though: He's at least somewhat effective as a heel here because I badly wanted to see him lose the belt to Big E. Langston and I popped big when that's exactly what happened. Now if they just send him off to TNA, I'll be happy all around.
- Divas musical chairs was a segment that happened last night because apparently Eugene was booking this shit.
- Big Show vs. Ryback was a veritable HOSS FIGHT and I actually enjoyed it. BIG TRAPS, NO TAP. The Shell Shock to Show looked great, the follow up trash talk that he's a "stupid giant" was even better, and Ryback ultimately doing the job just made me laugh. So did Orton's failed run in. Whole lot of incompetence running wild in WWE right now and it's either maddening or hilarious. Last night, I let it be the latter.
- The Miz turned heel, I guess, but he was never really a babyface, just a dick who people were cheering because he was being a dick to the heels on whatever show he was working. Now, he's being a dick to the babyfaces, and that means we can boo him without feeling bad for it.
- I popped for the Vickie Guerrero fake feinting gag. Loved AJ Lee's reaction to it when it happened in the ring, too. Really, I could just watch AJ Lee react to things. I definitely think the dehydration bit in the ring with AJ was a rib after Lee collapsed at the house show overseas last week, but whatever.
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow in a "Broadway Brawl" was dumb fun. The dig at Jeff Jarrett was kind of funny but I won't take the low hanging slapnuts fruit.
- Here's the issue with John Cena and why he's the worst kind of babyface, at least as far as his challengers go: He's booked to look like he's always in peril but he ALWAYS overcomes. This creates problems like what we saw last night. Even if he was playing up his arm injury to sucker Alberto Del Rio in for a quick sneak attack, he's still working with only one fully functioning arm. If Del Rio can't hang with him in a situation like that, it adversely affects him when he leaves his feud with Cena. Really, how many stars has Cena made during his time at the top? He's booked so strong that everyone he faces is made to look weak in comparison. He had a great match with Damien Sandow but ultimately overcame a busted arm to halt Sandow's Money in the Bank cash-in. Sandow's effort was valiant but ultimately, he couldn't beat a one-armed man, even if that man is John Cena. And what's he doing now? Jobbing to Ziggler in random gimmick matches on random gimmick shows. If you went down the long line of opponents who have gone up against Cena and failed, I reckon it would look awfully similar. And yes, I did just say reckon.
- I'm a Xavier Woods fan, so it's good to see him on Raw and going over on the best damn jobbers in history, 3MB. Or the Rhinestone Cowboys. What an awesome gimmick they have. I hope they never go away.
- All I'm going to say about the Florida Georgia Line performance is the dude with the mohawk jamming like he was working a heavy metal show was freaking me out.
- To hell with six-man tag matches, let's go with 12-man tags every week. I'm beyond happy that WWE has given us a couple weeks of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, the Rhodes brothers, The Shield, and the Wyatts working the main event in programs that feel important. It's so much more fun than the nonsense with Big Show and Orton and The Authority. By the way, the streak of awesome matches involving The Shield has continued. Big ups to Roman Reigns for his sell job of the Cross Rhodes, and big ups to the producers of these matches who put the finishes together. I can't believe how good these guys are with their timing and execution when everything breaks down into chaos.
- Maybe I'm bogus for this but I was sincerely hoping Antonio Cesaro would finish that powerbomb he had set up on Rey Mysterio right after he ran in during his big return. Trolling is mostly awful unless it's done right and while I've enjoyed some of Mysterio's work throughout his career, he's long past his expiration date. If there's a guy to do this with, it's Mysterio, and if there's a time to do it, it was right then. Can you imagine how amazing that would have been? Mysterio, the returning hero, runs in to save his fellow good guys only to slide right into the awaiting arms of the far more powerful bad guy who just kills him dead with a monster powerbomb, completely crushing the comeback. Cesaro would have been a made man, at least in my book.
This was a fine show. The headliner was great fun. It could have been better as far as go home shows go, but it was mostly just fun.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you feel about it?