I am here to bring you this week's installment of the Raw Supershow Roster Rundown. It's a different kind of recap that focuses on the individual performers and how well they performed on a show-by-show basis, rather than looking at specific events or matches.
This one is going to be a little different than my last four. I'm trying out a slightly different format that I hope will be quicker to write, if only for this week with back-to-back episodes. Let me know what you think in the comments!
Still, each wrestler will be graded in four categories. In-Ring is simply that—their in-ring ability, though more than the others, it's graded slightly on a curve.
Well, the Big Show is never going to technically outwrestle someone like Daniel Bryan; that much is obvious. But he can still wrestle a good big-man match and look good in the ring without being maybe as athletically impressive or technically sound as a smaller wrestler of a different style.
There's also charisma, which describes their ability to connect with the audience and non-verbal acting such as posture and facial expressions.
Mic work is both the quality of their promo delivery—and to an extent—the content, though I realize oftentimes that's scripted and not their fault. Finally, their gimmick, which are how much of a character they are and how well they live it on a weekly basis.
They'll be graded from A to F, with A being excellent, B good, C average, D poor and F terrible. I confess to being a fan first, so it's possible that sometimes my own opinions will bleed through, but I maintain an effort to be objective.
As always, opinions vary, and you are always entitled to disagree with me and let me know why in the comments. I live for discussion.
That said, let's see this week's Raw Supershow Roster Rundown.
Eve: Let’s get one thing straight. The opening promo between Eve and Cena was one of the most tasteless, sexist, and ugly things I’ve seen on WWE television in a while. I try to turn my brain off to social issues when watching wrestling because otherwise the dismissive and highly sexualized attitude taken to the Divas in general would drive me up a wall, but this week was too much.
Where the hell does Cena, or the WWE writers, get off calling Eve a "skank", "disease-ridden", and getting a “hoeski” chant going? Terrible. This goes against everything that a top babyface should stand for, and pairing it up with the Be A Star campaign videos that WWE loves to air makes this most hypocritical and laughable thing I’ve ever seen. Worse, it seemed to do its job: get Cena over with the crowd.
For her part, I think Eve handled the material about as well as can be expected. With stupid planning like revealing her secret to the entire world on national television, and her less-than-stellar acting, the bar wasn’t set high, but she pulled it off. I suppose we can talk up her charisma, too, getting the crowd so firmly behind her, but with such cheaply misogynistic bating, why wouldn’t the crowd hate her?
Mic Work: C+
John Cena: No, seriously, why the hell am I supposed to like John Cena at this point? He’s smug and self-aggrandizing, throws out sexist and homophobic language to rip the Rock down, doesn’t seem to care that his “best friend” is in the hospital and seems completely unaffected by anything he goes through on a nightly basis to an almost sociopathic degree. I’ve never been a Cena hater, exactly, but this is too much for me.
I don’t have a problem with John Cena the man. But John Cena the character needs to go away. His performance was the usual nod and wink above it all bull, and his promos were full of nothing I hadn’t heard before.
Watching this a day later, I’d seen people talking up his second promo, with Jim Ross calling it the best of his career. To which I say: really? That’s it? There was some nice intensity, but that’s all I can say.
At this point, I don’t care what happens on the Road to WrestleMania when it comes to John Cena. He left a woman sobbing, on her knees, in the center of the ring, and was cheered for it. I’m done. Done.
Mic Work: C
Sheamus: On to happier news. Sheamus had another decisive and dominating venture in a match with Mark Henry. Ring-wise, he put on an impressive showing, hitting most of his signature spots and looking good doing them. Despite being two big men, he and Henry managed to put on a hard-hitting and athletic match, so kudos to them both.
Unsurprisingly, the Great White came out to a big ovation and seems to be as over as ever, despite not getting any time to speak. I really wish they’d give Sheamus some promo time on Raw at least once or twice, but I suppose he’s in the fourth angle down the card. Which is a shame all its own.
Mark Henry: On Mark Henry’s side of the match, though, I can’t be so generous. Oh, he did a fine job actually wrestling. For a man of his age, size, and recent string of injuries, I thought he looked damn good in there. He moved fast and hit hard. About his actual ability, I have no complaints.
Why is one of the top monster heels in recent months, if not years, going down in an unannounced match in five minutes? This is completely terrible booking.
You want to have Sheamus beat Mark Henry to look good going into WrestleMania? Fine. Announce it ahead of time, promote it, and make Henry look strong in the doing. Not this. It feels like Henry’s momentum has severely stalled since dropping the title, and it’s sad to see.
R-Truth: A less-than-stellar response to Truth coming out of a less-than-stellar Chamber attempt. It got better once he was in the ring, but it was doubtless still a little disappointing for WWE to see when they’re launching a new line of merchandise for him. He was serviceable in the ring, not very outstanding but keeping things going nicely. All in all, pretty bland.
Kofi Kingston: Truth’s tag team partner fared a little better. I’m impressed with him selling his back as he did his entrance, though that seemed to evaporate when he did his traditional Air Boom style hot tag. His work was as good as ever, though, and his Trouble in Paradise was crisp and perfect. He had the crowd going and worked a strong reaction.
Epico and Primo: Once again, a good in-ring segment that still seemed booked poorly. The tag champions go down that quickly to a randomly thrown-together duo?
I know that Kofi and Truth are WWE title contenders, sort of, but they’re coming out of the Elimination Chamber, hurt, and are wrestling a second match later tonight anyway. Can’t they have thrown together two face mid-carders to go against Epico and Primo instead?
That said, Primo and Epico both seemed to work decently hard. They look good in the ring, and though their heat wasn’t great, they got some going, especially working against a pair of babyfaces like Kofi and Truth. I do think they have a future if only they get some work done.
David Otunga: Honestly, I really do find Otunga growing on me. Sure, he started off limited and poor on the mic, with a career earned from his physique and his wife more than any personal talent.
But he makes an amusing heel with a unique gimmick and he really has been working at being better in the ring, you can see it. If he keeps up the improvement, I wouldn’t mind seeing him take a run at the US title, say, or another tag team title run.
Mic Work: C
Ezekiel Jackson: About what you can expect from Big Zeke. The crowd likes him, because he seems like a nice guy and like he can put the hurt on an obnoxious heel. He doesn’t have much going for him as a character, or diversity as a wrestler, but he hits a mighty good clothesline and he’s faster than some guys his size. Decent, if not setting the world on fire.
Undertaker: I am a shameless Undertaker mark. The moment that gong sounds, I get shivers up my spine and I am dead focused on what’s going on in front of me.
The crowd tonight nearly ruined that, with their idiotic chanting and some jerk trying to tell the Undertaker, of all people, "You Suck," but they couldn’t steal the energy or the electricity from that promo.
To be fair, he started off slow, stumbled a bit, and clearly took some time to find his rhythm. Given that he’s been out of the spotlight for almost a full year, that’s kind of understandable. Once Triple H got in there, though, they drove the match home completely.
I wasn’t a fan of the idea, and I thought [and still do, to an extent], that Undertaker should give someone young or fresh a crack at the Streak. But they sold me on it, completely, and the Hell in a Cell stip is perfect.
Mic Work: B-
Triple H: Basically the same can be said for Trips. He hit a few more of those “we are the last of an era and better than everyone” points that I didn’t like very much last week, but that seems to be par for the course in this feud.
They also went longer than I would have liked, clocking in at around 18 minutes for one promo, but it was almost all good stuff, so I’m not even sure where I’d cut.
The fact of the matter is, this is probably going to be the best angle going into WrestleMania, at this rate. The world title matches will be better, and Rock and Cena will get more hype, but this is the one with legacy, emotional impact, and weight bar none. I give up. I’m hooked.
Mic Work: B
Daniel Bryan: A brief showing for Daniel Bryan, and it’s questionable how much it really accomplished. The return of his “Role Model” shtick wasn’t exactly welcome, and did squashing Santino so completely really do anything for anyone?
The crowd already hates him and I doubt anyone thinks Santino could really beat him on an even keel at this point.
Mic Work: B-
Santino Marella: Something magical has happened. I remember when Santino and Kozlov were the tag team champions. I hated it. I hated that a comedy character was running around with a belt, I hated the Cobra, I hated basically everything about it.
And now suddenly, I find myself wanting Santino to be taken a little more seriously. I don’t want him to win the world title, but a modest push wouldn’t go awry.
You’d have to be deaf not to realize how over he is with the crowd, now, and he’s not bad in the ring. If actually given time to work and cut loose, he might put on some decent matches, and he’s a better babyface than some options on the roster.
Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing him be the one to dethrone Cody Rhodes at this point. Cody has held the IC Title plenty long enough, and it’s time for him to move on.
Nikki Bella: Well, the Bellas are still terrible actresses. On the upside, they’re also halfway decent in the ring these days. Nikki clearly tried her hardest to make Aksana look good, but there was only so much she could do, really. And as always with the Diva’s division, that’s about all I have to say.
Aksana: Oof. I’ve been wondering why Aksana has been stuck in pointless backstage segments with Teddy Long for so long [oops, pun not intended] and now it becomes clear.
Her transparent outfit can’t hide the fact that she is terrible in the ring, with one of the worst elbow drops I have ever seen in my life. The bodyslam wasn’t bad, and it’s nice to see power moves in a Diva’s match, but that’s it.
And for the second show in a row we close with a Battle Royale. As established on Smackdown, tracking individual performances in this kind of match is difficult at best, so I’m going to take the easy way out and do a general assessment. In fact, since it raised so many questions this week rather than provide answers, let’s look at them one by one.
Why are we shoving 10 men who fought in brutal Elimination Chamber matches into a battle royale the next night? That seems like it’s begging for injuries.
Why are Smackdown stars wrestling for a Raw title? Again? I firmly deny removing the brand split whenever it’s brought up, but as the waters are muddied more and more between it mattering, maybe I have to concede the idea.
The roster is as thin as it’s ever been and maybe it’s time to just call it quits. Or maybe it’s time to, I don’t know, utilize the mid-card and build up new stars and call up some of the excellent FCW talent that’s just being wasted in Florida. Maybe.
Why is the Great Khali even back if he’s just going to be eliminated in thirty seconds each time? Not that I want to see 20 solid minutes of him stumbling around like a Power Rangers villain.
What on god’s green earth is Dolph Ziggler wearing and when will he stop?
Why aren’t Cody and Wade a tag team yet? They could bring prestige back to those belts.
Why is Miz only allowed to look tough and dominant on PPVs and never on WWE TV these days? He actually seemed like a legitimate threat to Punk in the Chamber.
It occurs to me that he’d do great in the Attitude Era wrestling in hardcore matches. Some might call this blasphemy, but he reminds me of Road Dogg: lot of charisma, mediocre wrestling.
That was perhaps the ugliest Codebreaker I've ever seen on the Big Show.
So, is Santino really in line for a push? Because it almost seems like it.
Was that spot of Big Show throwing Dolph Ziggler into the table even remotely necessary? Given the bevy of injuries and near-injuries it caused, I’m going with no. That was stupid and reckless, especially after the extremely physically taxing PPV they just concluded the night before.
I am relieved that Jerry Lawler skipped the lazy fat joke Punk lobbed at him on commentary, and disappointed Punk even went that route. So relieved. Those were beyond tasteless and tired and I’m glad he was told to drop it.
Do I want to see a Kofi-Jericho feud? Yes. Do I think one is in the works? Possibly! They’ve been working together a lot, it seems, and letting them duke it out at a PPV would displease no one, I think.
Big Show’s reverse-double-suplex-whatever to Cody and Jericho was quite surely the move of the night, it must be said.
Is Rhodes going to feud with Big Show or Santino next? It seems like it could go either way. Part of me honestly hopes the latter, even if the former would be more prestigious for the ex-Dashing One.
Was literally anyone surprised when Jericho won the match? No. Does that make it a bad call? Not really. I saw a lot of people ragging on the Chamber for being predictable, but predictable isn’t always bad. Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one.
Anyway, weren’t people complaining that the Rumble didn’t end “correctly” because Jericho didn’t win? Would that have been predictable?
But I digress. It was a messy, chaotic match and probably entirely unnecessary. I wish they had found a different and safer way to get Jericho into the main event of WrestleMania, and I’m sure there were many options.
Instead, Wade Barrett seems like he’s going to miss WrestleMania and Dolph came inches away from a broken jaw or maybe even a broken neck, let alone Truth and Kofi.
I confess, the opening segment of Raw this week put such a sour taste in my mouth it's hard to like the rest of what we got.
Triple H and the Undertaker brought it in their promo, and there was some entertaining action scattered in the ring, but this show was light on wrestling and heavy on promos, as usual, and at least two of those promos made my skin crawl. That aside, a lot of it felt sloppy, rushed, and not particularly exciting.
It is my desperate and fervent hope that we can move on from this Eve debacle and just ignore it, but it'll be hard to look at Cena and enjoying anything he says, for me, I must admit.
I just hope we continue to get stand out performances from the likes of the Undertaker, Triple H, Punk, Jericho, and all the other feuds going into Mania. WWE needs to kick it into gear for the next few weeks, and so far, I'm not feeling it.
Stars of the Night: A tough pick. Cena dominated the landscape, though, and Jericho won the battle royale, so I have to give it to the two of them.
Duds of the Night: Aksana, Aksana, Aksana.
Match of the Night: There isn't really a stand out this week, but if pushed, I'd say the Colons vs. Truth and Kofi for sheer athleticism.
Match to Forget: Aksana and Kelly Kelly vs. The Bellas
Move of the Night: Big Show's inverted double suplex or whatever you want to call it.
Show Grade: C-
And there you have it. See you next week for the Rundown.