Last night was a big night for WWE. The mystery man behind the January 2nd promos was going to reveal himself. The WWE title was to be defended with CM Punk taking on Dolph Ziggler in what was sure to be a wrestling clinic and John Cena was to respond to how last week's RAW ended.
All-in-all, WWE's RAW from Memphis, Tennessee was already shaping up to be a must-see event for the fans, or "universe," if you will.
So why was I left with a sour taste in my mouth as the WWE logo came up after RAW went off the air? Why did I feel cheated after watching a episode of RAW that I haven't been as excited for in months, if not years?
What went wrong?
The answer is: quite a lot.
I know, I know. How could this NOT open the show?
John Cena and Kane is the only storyline actually going on in RAW besides CM Punk and John Laurinaitis. Considering that the latter two aren't going to be squaring off in the ring (any time soon), I didn't mind that this opened RAW.
Only when John Cena decided to take a microphone and talk.
Let's face it, John Cena has a lot of attributes going for him. He has the look, the intensity, the charisma and even with a limited arsenal of moves, he is still dependable for any type of match he is in.
But sweet baby Jesus! What is with his promos?
Sometimes the stars align and Cena can deliver a straightforward promo that ticks all the boxes and makes you actually happy to see him in the ring addressing an opponent.
Don't believe me? Look at his contract signing with CM Punk for their match at SummerSlam. He was on fire that day.
But—like most nights—John Cena starts to talk, and garbage just flows out. We heard him say he wasn't going to wear as much underwear, his father was banned from television and that at WrestleMania he was going to lose his ladyparts and defeat The Rock.
Sure, he ended it well with saying his convictions will remain true, but we had to get through another terrible five minutes to get the pearl at the end.
I'm surprised nobody else has commented on how WWE's "pushing" of Daniel Bryan is actually an "AA" to the IWC who praise him. Don't believe me? Let's look at the first match of the night: Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes.
Match-wise it was great, and despite the end, I didn't have a problem with it. Except for one thing:
Daniel Bryan is supposed to be the "top guy" on SmackDown, right? The World Heavyweight Champion. A title held by the greatest wrestlers of all time? You with me so far?
Well answer this: How many of the fans in the arena were wearing a Daniel Bryan T-Shirt?
I can tell you now none in the first three rows. None of the ones cheering inches from him when he holds the title high in victory. Despite his "overness" with the fans, Daniel Bryan doesn't sell merchandise like CM Punk did three years ago when he won his first world title. So are the cheers for Daniel Bryan because the fans are buying into him, or because Michael Cole is burying him?
I like Daniel Bryan, but with no larger-than-life ego like The Rock, CM Punk or Shawn Michaels—and no look like Triple H, John Cena or The Undertaker—he's kind of bland. Because of it, they scrapped his big push and had him cash-in when Mark Henry was too injured to compete every week. Now you've got this situation where he's at the top, but nobody buys his merchandise because WWE won't push him like they do with their world champions.
Like it or not, The Daniel Bryan Experiment will come to an end soon, and it will be the one and only time he ever has a world title run in the WWE.
Ever since it emerged R-Truth had been suspended for violating WWE's Wellness Policy, I was saddened by how WWE decided to write him out of the show: The Miz taking him out.
It was obvious that Vince had decided R-Truth would be a good face to bring back, what with his "Lil' Jimmy" gimmick and "What?!" crowd responses to his promos. But the big problem I had with the whole reasoning for his disappearance was simply for one reason.
WWE ended what was a great tag team combination.
Let's face it, Awesome Truth was one of the best new tag teams WWE has had for many years. The chemistry between The Miz and R-Truth was phenomenal and I, like many, believed that the duo would continue for close to a full year as the heel team in the WWE—possibly capturing the tag team championships and helping fuel the dying tag team division.
But now WWE has ended something just before it could properly begin. With R-Truth's return has ceased what had been one of the most unique and interesting heel runs in many years.
Don't get me wrong, their segments on last night's episode was one of the better things going, but for every water bottle R-Truth smashes in the head of The Miz, the bigger the hit the tag team division takes.
I hope I'm wrong, and that in the coming months this retribution angle R-Truth is on is revealed to be a hoax—adding more heat to the best duo in the company today—but sadly I don't think I am wrong.
I like the divas. I want the divas division to be good again. I think the whole Divas of Doom angle is a great idea and I want the angle to spread across the entire divas division, across both brands and giving the divas a credible storyline leading up to WrestleMania.
So why on RAW—in a show that has a lot of buzz around it—do we get saddled with Kelly Kelly and Eve vs. The Bellas in their 140,123rd encounter in the past two years?
Where was Beth Phoenix? Where was Natalya? Where was the evolution of their storyline?
Why were we given a pointless match between the divas that was filled with botches and screw-ups?
I love all four divas, but when you have the chance to build up the divas division with a good contest with either Beth or Natalya, why do you instead put in at least three divas who can't take a single bump properly? You watch that match from start to finish, and no one hits the mat flat on their back once.
It's aggravating that the WWE thinks so low of their divas division when they have good talent that they could use. Instead, they prefer to give us dross every week and let any credible talent leave as soon as they ask.
Ten years ago we had Austin, Undertaker, Triple H and Angle all announcing their inclusion in the Royal Rumble match. Ten years ago the Royal Rumble was built up as the be-all-end-all of a WWE superstar's chance to headline WrestleMania.
I'm not gonna rant about how much better it was back then, but for several years, the significance of the Royal Rumble has been greatly diminished. When you have two top titles, two Elimination Chamber matches and the odd inclusion of a potential third man in a WrestleMania title match, the obstacle of the Royal Rumble tends to lose some of its allure.
But it doesn't mean that one of the oldest and most loved matches and pay-per-views should be overlooked as greatly as it has been.
So far we've had two superstars announced: Wade Barrett and Santino Marella, and neither man in my mind will win. But nonetheless, we have two inclusions with the intention of winning it.
We do have some way to go before the event, but the lack of announced participants for the Royal Rumble match is just the tip of the iceberg.
We only have one other match announced: CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE title. Add in a throwaway gesture by John Laurinaitis, and it's likely the outcome of Daniel Bryan and The Big Show won't be resolved until a week down the line, and John Cena's program with Kane has yet to build up to where a match is likely instead of just a given.
Right now, story lines should be well underway. Not just for matches on the night, but also during the Rumble. So far we've had three RAWs and no emphasis on one of the Big Four PPVs just around the corner—except for a couple of highlight reels.
Ever since the "It Begins" promos started in November, the Internet was abuzz with who it might be. Every day more and more reasons for every name under the sun kept being thought up.
And last night we had our big reveal: Chris Jericho.
He came out all smiles, prancing about, working the crowd without even using a microphone. It was great to see him back, and the crowd was into it, and so was everyone else watching via a television screen.
And then it kept going.
I get what Jericho was doing, unsettling the crowd and generating heat. We knew if he returned it'd be as a heel, with a new gimmick and needed to turn the cheers into boos at the first attempt. I understand why we got 11 minutes of nothing that really started to get on the nerves of everyone watching.
But why in the middle of the show? Why not at the end to close the show? He didn't need to show up and cost CM Punk the WWE title. Instead, his return wound up being a big ball of nothing.
I'll let this slide because I trust that next week more will be revealed. But as it stands, this huge return came like a wet fart instead of a crescendo.
When Kane failed to come out for the main event of the night, we knew he'd show up at the end. It was a given, and we were fine with it.
We were treated to a very standard but still effective three-on-two handicap match, even though the faces were the team with more men, and when Henry and Show were eliminated we waited for Cena and Ryder to win the match.
And they did. And then we waited for Kane's music to hit. And it did.
And then Kane pops out through the floor and grabs Zack, trying to pull him down to hell. And John Cena dives to save his friend, starting a tug of war against the Big Red Machine. All goes according to plan.
But then something odd happens: Cena manages to save Ryder, and after several seconds the hole Kane emerged from explodes in a pillar of fire.
So...what was the whole point of that?
If Kane had managed to drag Ryder down with him and then the fire erupted, it would've been a perfect end to a show where another potential show ender was subjugated to a pointless half-time filler spot, and it would have helped build up the Cena/Kane feud.
But no, instead SuperCena saved Ryder from Kane in a pointless end to the show.
Just what was the point of that struggle if Cena saved Ryder and all was well? What did this achieve with the Cena/Kane story? How does this help Ryder in any way?
Just what was the whole point of this ending?
Don't let the title fool you, there was some good to come out of RAW last night, albeit, only a little.
We did get Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes tearing it up in a good back-and-forth match—unfortunately with a rushed end that only slightly takes away from the great opening contest.
We got a good WWE Championship match on free TV with CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler both showing why they have what it takes to be headlining WrestleManias for the next few years.
We also from this match got to see more development of the Punk/Laurinaitis storyline, egging us on to carry on watching and see the moment Johnny Ace becomes a fully-fledged mad-with-power authoritarian.
And, while many are still fuming at the sheer audacity for its length, we were given a unique and generally well-executed return promo by Chris Jericho that left the Internet buzzing as to what just happened.
Sure, there were a great number of things that were more easy for the WWE to get right than go the route they have taken.
But come on, this is the WWE. Why get everything right in one week when you can take four to get everything to make sense?
Thanks for reading.