WWE Monday Night Raw is officially in the books from Tulsa, Oklahoma tonight (Aug. 29, 2011) and that means it's time to break it all down. I'll do an entirely separate post for the ongoing angle featuring Triple H, CM Punk, Kevin Nash and Johnny Laurinaitis. Let's jump right into the rest of Raw:
- I think we need to resign ourselves to the fact that Triple H is going to open every show for the remainder of his existence in the WWE.
- An interesting thing that Triple H mentioned during his opening segment was that for now and "into the foreseeable future," both Raw and Smackdown superstars would be appearing on the same shows. Dave Meltzer quickly opined that this is likely because of poor attendance at Smackdown house shows due to a perceived lack of talent. Well, perception is reality. It's odd, though, because it's hard to believe they'll completely go away from the brand split, as they've always done really well with the annual WWE draft. Michael Cole seemed to hint at this being a one-time thing, so there were mixed messages throughout the broadcast. I've been an advocate of doing away with the brand split for some time now, so I'll continue to hope for the best. But that opens up a whole can of worms regarding the WWE title and the world heavyweight title. Stay tuned.
- Dolph Ziggler was given one hell of an opportunity in being awarded a TV match with Randy Orton right after the hot opening segment. It's a pressure situation for a younger guy up against the "Viper," because he's prone to bury talent that messes up in any way against him. Perks of being the golden child and all that. But Ziggler delivered big, selling like a mad man for all of Orton's offense, most notably super selling the catapult into the turnbuckle, and made the RKO finish look amazing. Kudos to Ziggler for making the most of his time with the champ, even if he had to job.
- John Cena doesn't make himself seen until coming out and cutting a decidedly mediocre promo close to an hour into the show. Mark Henry cut him off to come out and cut an incredibly average promo of his own. He said he's going to add everyone to his "Hall of Pain," which quickly made me add him to my "Hall of Lame." Next out was Christian, who added to the shit pile by telling Cena he's an embarrassment. The whole thing felt flat. Once Henry and Christian acted as though they were going to attack Cena, Sheamus came running out to assist Cena. At this point, Christian was booked to again look like a cowardly bitch by basically hauling ass out of the ring. Henry eventually did the same but saved face by doing so slowly and calling out Christian for running. Remember that mismatched tag team main event featuring both shows that I didn't want? Boom, here it was.
- They set up that match as the main event with a backstage segment in which Johnny Laurinitis told referee Charles Robinson it was a good idea and he was putting it together. To which Triple H quickly entered the picture and flat out told Johnny Ace who the boss is and basically just put him in his place. This is the kind of thing we're going to have to get used to for the future.
After the jump, I'll break down the rest of the night's action.
- CM Punk vs. The Miz was up next and was only announced just before the commercial break preceding it. Which made little sense. Even more bizarre was Punk already being in the ring coming back from break. Miz came out and cut a promo pushing his "really?" gimmick as hard as ever. The ensuing match was what it was. Nothing special and the crowd was basically dead the entire match. Not a good sign, especially considering how into the Orton-Ziggler match the crowd was just before it.
- R-Truth came out to cause a disqualification so nobody got over on anyone else. Punk squashed both members of CONspiracy until Kevin Nash came out to again distract him. I'll get more into this in the separate post on that whole program.
- Jack Swagger was back on my TV and I still can't figure out exactly why. They continued the program between he, Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero. It has little to no heat but it looks as though they're going to go through with it anyway. Whatever.
- Swagger worked with Sin Cara, who appeared to be Hunico, not Mistico. As of today, Mistico hasn't been fired and they've been switching back and forth between the two, apparently at the whim of Vince McMahon. Whoever is in favor at any particular moment is the guy who gets to play the character. I'm actually starting to wonder if he's not doing this just to mess with smart marks. Which, I guess, would be us Cagesiders. Thoughts?
- Another interesting thing regarding Sin Cara tonight was that he's advertised for a WWE championship match against Alberto Del Rio on the live Smackdown supershow tomorrow night. Only they did absolutely nothing to set that match up. Literally, nothing. In fact, Del Rio didn't even appear on this show ... at all. Super odd, all things considered.
- The WWE tag team titles were on the line again this week. Champions Evan Bourned and Kofi Kingston had a rematch against David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty. Last week's match in Edmonton was pretty incredible; this one? Not so much. Tulsa, Oklahoma is not Edmonton, Alberta, though, and it showed big time. The champs went over clean and Otunga and McGillitcutty went after Jerry Lawler after the match. As speculated in the Raw live blog from a couple of our commenters, maybe "The King" is being set up for a managerial role to introduce the KINGS of Wrestling. We'll see.
- The less said about the main event, the better. It went exactly the way one would assume it would. Cena went over clean, pinning Christian. Question: does Cena have to look strong EVERY TIME?!?!? It's maddening that after all these years, this man is still getting booked in main events and smashing everyone. I get it, the kids love him. But give me a fugging break already. This was the kind of main event match that would have seriously pissed me off had I been a paying customer in attendance. Thankfully, I wasn't.
- The real payoff to the show was the quick backstage segment they did before going off the air. I'll expand on that in the Punk-Nash-Triple H post that is coming here in a bit.
This show was designed mostly to help promote the live Smackdown show tomorrow but it felt an awful lot like they failed to do that. They announced some match-ups but didn't really set anything up. Overall, the show gets a C+ grade from me.
How about you?