WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Oct. 29, 2012) from Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring all the fallout from the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) event this past weekend, not to mention the start of the set up to Survivor Series in just three weeks.
And boy oh boy was it disappointing.
Let's jump right in to reactions because there's plenty to get to:
- When I praised WWE for its handling of the CM Punk vs. Ryback finish at Hell in a Cell, it was deserved. The promotion booked itself into a corner and scratched and clawed its way out while doing minimal damage to all parties involved. In fact, one could argue everyone came out looking even better than they did going in. Of course, that was without knowing Raw would go three hours with nary an appearance from Brad Maddox, the referee who inexplicably helped Punk keep his title while screwing over Ryback. The Wrestling Observer told us the finish wasn't backed up with any long term plan and they look right based on Raw. Maddox was explained away as being AWOL and everyone basically just moved forward, on to the next show. That's fine but I like my stories to have endings, not just drop off the page with no hint of tying up the loose ends.
- Maddox may be out of the picture, at least for now, but Punk and Ryback will continue their mini-feud to kill time until The Rock returns for Royal Rumble. And to that end, I suppose WWE found yet another creative way to ensure Ryback gets his receipt on Punk for doing the job to him on Sunday night, even if it was by way of smoz. A traditional Survivor Series match involving both guys ensures Punk can be pinned by Ryback without losing his title because it won't be on the line. It also solves the problem of expecting the two to have a 20 minute main event level match without any outside help. To that end, great.
- On the other side, I couldn't be less excited about the traditional Survivor Series match that I had been looking forward to before the teams were announced. The way they did so was fine but how convenient was it that Punk and Mick Foley both picked the exact right team of babyfaces and heels who are all currently embroiled in feuds with each other right now? I mean, what are the chances, right? I didn't honestly expect Brock Lesnar or The Rock to return for the match or anything but they locked up half the damn roster in one match, including three titles. That means the Survivor Series undercard is going to be terribly weak.
- At least Foley isn't coming back to actually wrestle a match, even if it would have been the type of match to protect him.
- Tell me: What was the point of running vignettes for Wade Barrett and heavily hyping his return only to short change it on a taped episode of SmackDown without properly promoting it before a short win streak gave way to a series of matches that failed to showcase or emphasis anything good about his new character? I just don't get it. If they want him to be a WrestleMania main event level player, they need to actually commit to getting him in that position at some point.
- Who the hell in WWE watched TNA run the Claire Lynch storyline and then thought it would be a good idea to copy it on Raw with AJ Lee, John Cena and Vickie Guerrero? I'm an AJ fan but this is beyond ridiculous. It's so silly and see through every single fan with half a brain can see through the nonsense and there is no twist or turn that would ultimately satisfy anyone to feel as though it would ever be worth the time to get invested in the angle. At least the actors involved are a million times more talented than Lynch.
- Definitely looking forward to a John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler match at Survivor Series, if it happens.
- Cesaro proving he can work a faster paced match with Kofi Kingston bodes well for his future. The guy continues to impress with his range and if you're not seeing it by now, you're not looking hard enough. He's good, damn good, and deserves better than what he's getting.
- The 3MB may very well be the greatest band in the history of music. Just don't pressure them to perform. They're the best ever and you'll just have to take my word for it. Also, Jinder Mahal is really funny. Such a funny guy. Drew McIntrye and Heath Slater are also Hall of Famers and you should cherish every second we have of them on television each week.
- Goodbye Beth Phoenix. You were the best.
- Sheamus really is John Cena now. How bland, boring, and squeaky clean was that promo last night? He loses his world heavyweight title to Big Show clean in the center of the ring but he's a happy smiling guy who only lost a battle but he'll win the war. Contrast that with how he reacted when Show called him a "red-headed ginger snap," which was the line of the night. He went from super bland to super pissed and back to smiling like an idiot despite no longer having any appeal now that he's not champion. I'm curious to see if they give him the belt back next month but Show deserves it more.
- The Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara (let's think of a name for these two, Cagesiders, if you have something good, we'll do a story on it) was easily the match of the night. Watching this show with casual wrestling fans really shows the appeal of guys like Mysterio and Sin Cara, who are visually appealing with an aesthetically pleasing style. They're also exciting and provide a much needed boost to a show that too often drags over its three hour run every week.
- If you watched Cena give that speech in the ring while presenting the $1 million donation to the Susan G. Komen organization, you probably realized, once and for all, that he's not turning heel. Not now, not soon, not in a year, not in a few years, not ever. It's just not going to happen, folks.
- Still don't care, Alberto Del Rio.
- The Miz's "Haters love me" shirt with a gigantic heart in place of the word love is the worst article of clothing ever mass produced. He actually wears that thing in public with people looking at him. I almost feel bad for the guy but he's enough of a douche bag on TV to just point and laugh. He's a heel so it's okay, you guys.
This was a rough show. Survivor Series has its main event but it's not exactly compelling and we got almost no explanation for Brad Maddox's actions. A poor effort after a hotly anticipated PPV.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on the show. What grade did you give it and why?