This past Monday saw RAW once again go old school. After the huge success of the first attempt, I was very pleased to see them bring the theme back again for a one off episode. The old school imagery, costumes and set looked so cool. It was a real blast from the past, and just made the whole show seem more interesting. It was much better on the eye seeing something new, drawing influence from the subtle differences of the past eras.. It’s funny how going back in time for inspiration can sometimes make things seem surprisingly fresher. As far as the theme itself goes, I have to say Jerry Lawler and Micheal Cole really stole the show – legendary outfits!
As for the actual content of the episode, it started poorly with more disappointment around The Undertaker. I can understand that they don’t want to go for the whole [lights out – Taker appears in the ring – Stare down] approach which has been so done to death in the last decade, excuse the pun. Nonetheless, I don’t know what they are doing with the guy this time around. With the first public, vocal acknowledgement of his return being footage recorded on a mobile phone for that pathetic attempt at social media Tout, I think it surely had to get better from there.
But this week they opened the show with more anti-climactic scenes, which I just can’t fathom. It’s like they don’t want to make a buzz about the return of the man who basically is Wrestlemania. The lights went out, the music hit, he walked to the top of the ramp, stood there for a little while, and they cut to some kind of commercial or something. That’s poor. Basically nothing in the way of developing the storyline, characters or heat. At least they followed that with a typical CM Punk promo – pure excellence. After he proclaimed that he would be coming for the streak, I’d rather they just left it there and began the reignition of their great feud from several years ago.
Instead we had three goons in Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus come to the ring and all separately outline while they all deserve to be facing Taker. And so it was proposed that a main event fatal-4-way match (why are these things never elimination matches?!) between them all would decide who will face the streak. I like the idea of putting the streak on such a pedestal that you basically have a number one contender match, like you would for a major championship. However, I just think it reeks of desperation. It gives the impression of something pasted together last minute with no real solid direction.
Now that Punk has been confirmed as the man to take on The Undertaker, I just hope they use the coming weeks leading up to Wrestlemania effectively. They don’t have too long, and they need to create a whole lotta heat to breathe some life into the match. At the moment, it has very little substance. Punk wants to take the streak, that’s it. They need to make it personal, and get Punk over as the most despicable heel in history. I genuinely think that if this is handled properly, something really special could take place this year with these two great performers.
As far as speculating on their match goes, I’m 90% sure that Undertaker won’t be doing the job for Punk, but you just never know for sure. I wonder whether they will use the death of Paul Bearer to get some cheap heat on Punk. He and the company have shown in the past that they are willing to go as close to the edge as possible for the sake of business, so I wouldn’t be shocked to hear some pretty disgraceful stuff coming from Punk soon. It has all the components to be a great match, but they better get a move on building something good, after this borefest of a return so far.
In other news, Triple H cut a decent promo on the whole Brock Lesnar affair, with what now seems to be the tag line for their feud “Are you gonna do something about it, or just sit there and bleed?” (or something to that effect) – There were the familiar sentiments for this kind of thing. It’s an interesting enough storyline, and the two of them are sure to have a great match on such a big stage. I do feel like it might be missing something though. I expect to see something big on TV concerning this one in the coming weeks.
The Rock and John Cena cut a superb ‘point counter point’ promo in the ring, which was pretty great. I felt that both guys came out of this exchange better. They did a great job putting each other over and making the match seem like a big deal and something fresh. This isn’t an easy sell, given the fact that we already saw their “Once in a Lifetime” match at the same show last year. Nevertheless, they are pulling it off.
My only criticism of the whole thing is that yet again it seems like the perfect opportunity to turn Cena heel. I know the world has been calling out for it for so long, and the company just isn’t interested, but this time it’s just criminal. It’s almost like they are teasing the angle, when they have The Rock get right in his face and remind him that he lost, and is going to lose again. All the time the fans are chanting loudly “Cena sucks!” and we aren’t talking a few. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think John Cena was the biggest heel in the business. The expression on John Cena’s face this week was one of a character who was about to snap and turn over to the dark side. We can only hope.
I was happy to see some of the legends who showed up on RAW. some of the old regulars are getting beyond stale now though. I can’t tell you how hard it is to not fall asleep when Sgt. Slaughter appears on my screen. Don’t even get me started on Hacksaw Jim Duggan – the guy was nothing at his prime, and now he is just plain annoying! I loved seeing Ted DiBiase, Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair. True legends take a lot to get played out. I really don’t think anyone remembers or cares about Duggan on the other hand. I don’t know what demo they are trying to appeal to with him, but it doesn’t seem to be working in my opinion.
The matches were decent. Ryback had an okay match with Antonio Cesaro, and the same could be said for The Miz and Dolph Ziggler. The main event match (which would have been so much better had it been elimination rules) was largely forgettable, with a decent finish featuring back to back signature moves. Punk stole in to hit the GTS on Randy Orton and secure the win. After last weeks clinic between Cena and Punk, it was inevitable that this week would be slightly disappointing in comparison, at least in the ring. That match was never going to be topped a week later, and probably be topped on TV for a while.
On the whole, the show was decent. I would give it a thumbs up. For me, as a biased fan, I’d liked to have seen Mick Foley on the show. I was also sad to see Chris Jericho not utilized on the show. This makes me wonder what the hell they are going to do with him at Wrestlemania. At times like this, it makes me even madder that they got rid of Money in The Bank and made it into a sub par PPV of it’s own. That would be the perfect match for so many great performers who are out of sorts right now, in terms of direction.
I felt that RAW was just lacking a little something, a little star power maybe. Don’t get me wrong. The card was stacked, the matches were solid, and the promos were effective. I just felt that adding those two guys could have helped heap momentum onto the product. Considering the hype for the Old School RAW, it wasn’t quite as good as I expected. It wasn’t as good as the first edition, but it was still a good show overall. I almost forgot about The New Age Outlaws making a somewhat surprise appearance. That makes my thumbs up slightly more enthusiastic. A decent show.
What did you think of this weeks RAW? Please leave a comment!