Yes! Yes! Yes! The Raw Review (#YYYTRR)
by, 01-29-2013 at 01:55 PM (2603 Views)
Anybody who happens to follow me on Twitter (probably after seeing me plug my account on a weekly basis) will know I was far from happy at the way this past Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view ended. It was a great PPV, I refuse to take that away from it since every match was good and the Royal Rumble match was awesome, but it did far too much to set the main event of WrestleMania XXIX in stone. We’re all now pretty certain we’re getting Rock vs. Cena II come April, and more disappointing is that The Rock ended CM Punk’s 434 day WWE Championship reign (rather than having someone progressive who plans to stick around for more than three months dethrone Punk). All in all, Royal Rumble got a huge reaction from the WWE Universe (that reaction being “what the hell is wrong with your creative team!?”) and we headed into Raw hopeful that the road to WrestleMania would at least start with a bang…
Unfortunately Raw Roulette was the first stop on the road to WrestleMania this year, and it delivered exactly what it does every time.
We got gimmick segments, Vince McMahon’s corny ‘comedy’, and very few matches. The only things which kept me awake were CM Punk’s mental breakdown (how WWE didn’t show #PhoenixScrewjob trending is beyond me), Brock Lesnar’s underwhelming return, and seeing Chris Jericho back on Raw.
Opportunity knocks, but WWE ignores it
You would think that after a PPV which caused such a huge reaction from its fan base WWE would have used that momentum to deliver a Monday Night Raw to keep people talking, but last night they seemed completely oblivious to everything they accomplished on Sunday.
I’m not talking about John Cena’s Royal Rumble win or The Rock’s dethroning of CM Punk here (although the thought of WWE taking a main event rematch that almost nobody wants to see to a big WWE city like New York is intriguing since both Rock and Cena received a vast amount of jeers from the Las Vegas crowd last night as it was – they need to add Punk to that match in order to have a fan favourite on the night). Rather, I am talking about the possibilities that were thrown up by the Royal Rumble match itself. The return of Chris Jericho, Goldust and Cody Rhodes facing off, Bo Dallas’ impressive performance in his first Rumble, and many other moments provided WWE with seemingly endless possibilities in building towards, at the very least, Elimination Chamber.
In fact, of the moments I mentioned WWE only really recognised one of them effectively – Bo Dallas’ elimination of Wade Barrett could, and should, lead to Dallas’ first Intercontinental Championship. Other than this we were given Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho teaming up again (this rivalry was initially started by the same stipulation), and not much else – although I do have high hopes for Jericho vs. Ziggler at WrestleMania should it happen.
It is the fact that WWE has so many options that threw me last night. Instead of riding the wave of momentum that they caused on Sunday they ignored it and gave us a throwaway show similar to that of their last visit to the UK. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m willing to bet that the Vegas crowd would have much preferred to see the start of either the split of Team Hell No or a Randy Orton vs. Sheamus rivalry instead of Tensai and Brodus Clay dancing.
My point is that WWE seems to have intentionally set the bar exceptionally low heading into Elimination Chamber. They now have two and a half weeks to build a semi-meaningful card for the final stop on the road to WrestleMania, and it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy and tedious ride for us fans.
To give WWE some credit, last night could just be a one-off given that they think we enjoy these gimmick shows, but if it isn’t WWE has dug itself into a rather large hole. With The Rock vs. John Cena pretty much set in stone, they need to build the card around another match now that many fans have shown disgust at the choice to, in my mind, undo everything CM Punk did for the WWE Championship and its relevance by booking a predictable main event for WrestleMania.
Off the top of my head I can think of maybe one or two matches that would serve better as the main event, but I’ll put it as simply as saying that any combination of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler would sell WrestleMania to me.
As a point of comparison, my all-time favourite WrestleMania match is Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIX, and that is followed closely by Jericho and Punk’s encounter last year. The similarity between the two, other than the involvement of Jericho, is that they were both well-developed rivalries which had the promise of a great technical match. They both stole the show at their respective WrestleMania’s (although Hell in a Cell at XXVIII was amazing I consider Punk vs. Jericho the match I wanted to see) because they had both elements.
It is for this reason that I think WWE is heading in the wrong direction by having Rock vs. Cena II as a WWE Championship match after what Punk has done in the past eighteen months. Last year’s Rock vs. Cena match was a terribly built match because of The Rock’s limited dates and Cena’s inability to get the crowd behind him, but the major reason it fell short to me and many others was because there was no indication that we would be getting a great wrestling match. It was given the main event spot purely for its similarities to Hollywood Hogan vs. The Rock at ‘Mania X-8, a match that I personally loved because I was a huge Rock fan at the time. That match delivered because the crowd loved it and it was all about bragging rights and passing the torch. Rock vs. Cena last year was far below that standard and hype, and a rematch involving the WWE Championship indicates that Punk’s title reign was for nothing because we will see the landscape of WWE return to the same as it was before Punk’s infamous 2011 pipe bomb.
What this WrestleMania needs in order to preserve everything Punk did for the WWE Championship and the revolution he began is a main event which has the silver lining of a great technical match built on the foundation of a heated rivalry. I just hope WWE can find that match before the entire build of WrestleMania relies on Rock vs. Cena II.
Randy Orton pinned United States Champion Antonio Cesaro following an RKO with The Miz as Special Guest Referee; despite my negativity toward this week’s Raw, this match was a good start. It’s just a shame that Orton’s heel turn looks no closer to happening.
Ryback def. The Prime Time Players in a Make Me Laugh challenge; this was the first of many pointless segments.
Bo Dallas pinned Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett in a Players Choice match following a Belly-to-Belly Suplex; the smartest match of the night. Dallas looks set to gain a title during WrestleMania season, and Barrett can then turn his sights onto the main event spot he has long deserved.
John Cena pinned Cody Rhodes following an Attitude Adjustment – The Shield attacked Cena, Sheamus & Ryback; Rhodes was right when he said he was better than this match, but the real spotlight belongs on The Shield for asserting their dominance over Cena, Sheamus & Ryback. They looked strong and should continue to do so.
Brodus Clay and Tensai competed in a Dance-Off; pointless segment #2.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show in a Body Slam challenge ended in a No Contest after chaos ensued; this started out well and then became far too tedious because of how long it actually was.
Divas Champion Kaitlyn vs. Tamina Snuka ended in a No Contest after the match’s Lumberjills flooded the ring; a new low point for the divas, they couldn’t even finish their two minute match.
Sheamus def. Damien Sandow in a Tables match; the third real match of the night, and the second good one. A rivalry between the two would be both pointless and leave me disinterested though.
3MB crashed Zack Ryder vs. The Great Khali w/ Natalya & Hornswoggle in a Karaoke challenge; I’ve never been so happy to see 3MB, and Natalya is truly wasted in WWE.
Chris Jericho walked out on Dolph Ziggler resulting in Team Hell No picking up the victory in a Strange Bedfellows match; a Submission match would have been a much better match for the impending resumption of this rivalry, perhaps at WrestleMania?
As you can tell, I was far from thrilled with Raw this week. It had so much potential but was ultimately tarnished by a series of pointless segments and the apparent power John Cena has in booking matches for Elimination Chamber (no wonder Vickie was just the hostess for the evening).
If you really look at the happenings of last night there are some things to take away from it in the form a rematch between CM Punk and The Rock, Brock Lesnar’s (I still maintain underwhelming and predictable) return, and the fact that Jericho is back and he and Dolph could put on the show-stealer at WrestleMania.
Sadly the bad outweighed the good last night, but I’ll remain as optimistic as ever and hope for a huge improvement come next week and the settling of my Rumble disappointment.
I’ll leave you with this question; what is your favourite WrestleMania match of all-time, and who would you book as the main event for ‘Mania XXIV?
Follow me on Twitter (@SpringerAJ) and tweet me with #YYYTRR.