WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Nov. 12, 2012) from Columbus, Ohio featuring the go home show to the Survivor Series pay-per-view (PPV) event this weekend.
And the return of Jerry Lawler!
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.
- There's an entirely different post on the front page (as of 6:10 a.m. CT, at least) detailing in depth my feelings on how WWE handled Jerry Lawler's return to Raw. The short version for this bullet point is that his promo was heartfelt and created the feel good moment of the year, CM Punk's ensuing heel promo was arguably one of the best he's ever done, and WWE was brilliant in its use of the situation to get heat for its champion who has struggled to find the hatred he's been searching for since turning heel and joining forces with Paul Heyman. All that was fine, and not only fine but amazing. Then, WWE aired the footage of cameras filming the paramedics rushing to save Lawler's life and it was sickening. Read more about all that in the other post.
- I was surprised to see that Jim Ross was used only to buy time so WWE could make a big production about bringing Lawler out in a prime time slot. I don't have a problem with it but I expected Ross would be there the entire night for support. No one could have known that "The King" would jump back in and hardly miss a beat, which is exactly what he managed to pull off. Seriously, this man was dead two months ago and now he's back and looking almost as good as he did before and doing his job almost as well. That's pretty fucking amazing and I'm glad it worked out this way.
- There's an argument to be made that WWE should start every show with a match instead of an in ring segment/promo. Last night, Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler put together a solid singles match before it turned into a tag team affair that included Kofi Kingston and Alberto Del Rio, a mini preview to the elimination match at Survivor Series this weekend. The crowd was into it and found it easy to get up for the action inside the ring. Had this been a promo and it bombed, the crowd may not have ever recovered, and that's a very real problem in the three-hour era. Kudos to the Nationwide Arena folks who were hot all throughout the night. I'm crediting that, at least partially, to opening the show with a good match.
- Perhaps proving my point was the ensuing segment between Vickie Guerrero and AJ Lee with the new "evidence" that AJ is boning down with John Cena. At this point, because Lee is no longer in power, would it even matter? Anyway, the evidence presented was flimsy and I came away feeling like the creative team stole this entire angle from TNA with the idea that while it bombed as hard as any angle has been bombed in Orlando at the Impact Zone, WWE could get it over with bigger stars and better execution. That hasn't even come close to happening and one need only read the Raw live blog thread to know how fans feel about this program. Look for the collective cringe in the comments section.
- To cap off this dumb shit angle, it looks AJ is going to fall for Cena, like she fell for Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Kane before him. Because remember, folks, if you're a women who works in WWE, you must be a slut.
- I know Big Show and Sheamus are primarily SmackDown talents but they were featured so little on this show I forgot they have a world heavyweight championship match in just six days at the PPV. That's not the worst thing in the world because, again, they have an entire show on Friday night to make up for that but you would think they would get more time. I'm not sure anyone would care even if they did, though.
- Going back to the Lawler-Punk segment, how awesome was Mick Foley? When that dude gets a solid talking point and really sinks his teeth into a subject, he destroys it with the fire of 1,000 suns. He's just about shot as a pro wrestling performer but damned if he can't still bring the torch every now and again and burn the ring to the ground using only that microphone.
- The eight man tag team match was one of the most fun tag team matches I've seen in a long time. We all waited and wondered why reports kept coming out that Triple H was going to save the tag team division and all that happened was Kofi Kingston and R-Truth came together and won the belts before never defending them and losing in singles matches on every show. Now, we've got legitimate teams that are highly entertaining and if they put on matches like this to help pace shows in between promo segments, crowds across America won't have as much to complain about. Sometimes it's fun to just enjoy cool matches instead of dissect storylines and angles and promos and all that other shit.
- Also, someone .gif Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara doing the MILLIONS OF DOLLARS dance.
- Paul Heyman and Brad Maddox were seen plotting and planning prior to the latter's match against Ryback with a $1 million contract on the line. That was a set up for something somewhere down the line but it wasn't for anything last night. Ryback systematically destroyed Maddox, hit his finishers, got the pin, destroyed him after the bell, threw him into an ambulance, and walked away. Just like that. So either Heyman told Maddox to let that happen in exchange for something later, or ... well ... okay, I don't have clue one what the hell that was or where the hell it's going. Maybe a run-in at Survivor Series where Maddox costs Ryback the belt again and that's how Punk retains for this PPV?
- The most entertaining part about the Maddox stuff last night was watching June react to him getting beat. He shows up on television and it's like nothing else exists. Her eyes glue to the screen and stay there until he's no longer on it. She even audibly gasped when Ryback hit the first powerbomb, which really was particularly brutal. Who knows how talented he is as a wrestler (we didn't get to see last night) or a performer on a larger scale but the ladies -- or at least my lady -- think he's swell.
- I'd like to point out to you that Tensai used to have Lord in front of his name and he beat John Cena in a Raw main event months ago. That happened.
- If R-Truth started every single promo with a knock knock joke, I wouldn't hate it. I really wouldn't.
- Why is everyone so surprised The Miz won that poll against Zack Ryder and Santino Marella to be partnered with Kane and join Team Foley? WWE would never fudge a poll, we know that much. What must have happened is Ryder's fans simply didn't want him teaming up with Kane because they don't want him to die. There were also obviously a few very vocal Team CoBro marks who made sure Miz won. Obviously.
- Face Miz is going to be so bad.
- Was anyone else surprised to see Cena and Punk go so hard in the main event? They worked a main event style match with a big spot or two thrown in and kept the crowd into it the entire way. This was a great match to close the go home show to Survivor Series, and Cena getting the pin really sets up the fact that he's not getting it this weekend.
This was an outstanding show with my only real complaint being the continued garbage put out in the AJ-Cena-Vickie-Ziggler program. I mean, at least Claire Lynch was an awesomely bad actor we could all laugh at.
This is just sad.
Even with that segment dragging it down, this was an awesome edition of Raw.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's time for you to sound off with all your thoughts on the show in the comments section below.