WWE Raw Review: The Top 5 Things WWE Is Telling Us as Fans This Week (April 23)
Welcome to this week's "What the WWE is trying to tell us" Raw review. For those of you who missed the first edition last week, here I will list five key messages or angles that WWE are putting out to the WWE Universe, knowingly or otherwise.
This is a combination of breaking RAW news, my opinion and asking questions regarding WWE decisions. For this RAW leading in to Extreme Rules, let us begin.
On what was an average-at-best three-hour Raw special, we saw some things fun, some things new and some things that never seem to change. A warning to those of you still to watch Raw: these slides may contain some spoilers.
From Lord Tensai fast becoming a waste of time to CM Punk and Chris Jericho's different approach to the same story, we saw ups and downs and the current plight of WWE's creative team: a thin roster and a lack of creativity.
Whether we like the things we see or not, here are the primary things pushed by creative on this week's episode of Raw.
1. Lord Tensai Is Very Impressive, Is to Be Feared and We Should Care...Again
This is what they want us to think. Is it just me, or is Lord Tensai absolutely boring? Sure, he is strong and can move, but he is not connecting with the crowd in any way and is just mowing through wrestlers with no direction whatsoever.
Again this week on Raw, we saw yet another dominant victory for Tensai, this time at the expense of R-Truth. Was it that long ago that R-Truth had some relevancy and looked destined for bigger things?
Green mist—yeah, yeah, yeah. Enough with the Japanese babble. Enough with the poor martial arts poses in the ring. Enough with wasting the time of fans with the same boring segment each week.
Either give "Albert" some gimmick change that connects with the audience, or give him an angle.
I know the whole "squashing" of other wrestlers and building a streak can work (Goldberg), but it has to be done with some sort of physical explosiveness and charisma that Tensai just does not have. So what is the WWE telling us?
WHAT THEY ARE TELLING US SUMMARY: Lord Tensai is important. He has beaten John Cena and has now beaten a very capable and partially over R-Truth, so we should care and take notice. His Green Mist move hurts.
R-Truth has fallen so far down the ranks that he is no longer relevant. Shame.
2. Kane Is a True Monster, and Randy Orton Is the Next Triple H
Did this feud matter at any point? I thought Kane was trying to make John Cena embrace the hate. I must have missed something.
Kane attacked Orton's father last week and has now officially engaged "The Viper." So Orton takes revenge by abducting Paul Bearer and shutting him in an industrial freezer this week.
We are all shocked and appalled because Kane doesn't care, but we cheer the mind games and purpose of Randy Orton as he attacks Kane on the ramp.
I think it's clear what we are supposed to think: Kane is a monster for attacking family and disregarding his own. Kane will stop at nothing; however, he has enraged "The Viper" who is now playing mind of his own and gaining the upper hand in a style that is reminiscent of the "Cerebral Assassin" before him.
The WWE want us to see Orton as a smart, strong and authoritative face who takes action into his own hands. While that may be working to a point, this feud just doesn't have enough energy for this to truly sink in. It feels very mid-card.
I like both of these wrestlers, I do, but we all know that this was a feud that was thrown together last minute. It shows. I look forward to the return of Wade Barrett and for Kane to feud with a mid-card talent post-Extreme Rules. I feel this is a waste of Orton.
WHAT THEY ARE TELLING US SUMMARY: Randy Orton is smart, sneaky, tough and will right the wrongs Kane has thrust upon him. Kane is an evil monster who deserves what is undoubtedly coming. This is main event caliber stuff. Yeah right.
3. CM Punk Is Very Clever and Is Up Against Eve, Laurinaitis and Chris Jericho
There seem to be many out there who are tiring of this whole "CM Drunk" angle. I am one of them. CM Punk and Chris Jericho are two of my all-time favorites, but despite their excellence in delivering this storyline, WWE creative have given them very little to work with.
This week saw a nice change, however. This week, CM Punk got the upper hand.
Alex Riley let Chris Jericho know that CM Punk was drinking backstage. Jericho went crying to Johnny Ace about this and demanded that Punk be stripped of the title. Eve was all for it, and her endorsement seemed enough for Laurinaitis to order Punk to perform a sobriety test in the ring.
In seeing Punk backstage upon receiving the news and then again during the test itself, we saw what seemed like (fairly convincingly, I might add) a drunken CM Punk.
Just before Teddy Long, under the orders or Johnny Ace, could award Jericho the title, Punk demanded one more chance. He recited the alphabet backwards (yes, he got a couple round the wrong way) and danced up and down the line before ambushing a confused Jericho.
I was worried about this segment. It seemed like WWE could genuinely strip Punk for the title, and I wouldn't put it past them. However, we were shown Punk being clever and turning the tables on Chris Jericho.
This was a welcome change to Jericho doing the ambushing and shows Punk still has his edge. Despite having tired of the theme of this feud, I did enjoy this twist and seeing CM Punk start to gain some ascendancy.
Can't wait for their match. Also, can't wait for the end of the whole alcohol angle. These two men deserve better material.
WHAT THEY ARE TELLING US SUMMARY: CM Punk is smart, charismatic and still has his edge. He has also now gained some momentum and the upper hand. Chris Jericho is a whinger and is about to get his rear end handed to him. Eve has Johnny Ace in her sights.
4. Daniel Bryan Is Slimy, and Sheamus Is Against the Odds
Sheamus lost to Mark Henry this week. How did that happen? Daniel Bryan was the special guest referee—that's how.
In knowing Sheamus would be fired and fined should he lay hands on any WWE official, Bryan did his best to incite the Great White and practically begged Sheamus to attack him.
This distraction allowed Henry to clothesline Sheamus to the ground and attempt the pin. This was followed with the fastest three-count you will see.
Bryan celebrated his dastardly act, letting us all know that he is a cheating, slippery heel, but removed his referee shirt in doing so. Big mistake. As the match was over and the shirt was off, he was no longer an official. Sheamus could attack.
Sheamus chased a slippery Bryan and cleaned up Henry with a monster Brogue Kick. This was an impressive sell by Henry. However, this allowed a chance for Bryan to apply the "Yes Lock" to Sheamus and hold it for some time.
As Daniel Bryan and the crowd madly screamed "YES!" at the top of the ramp, it was clear, Daniel Bryan has many angles that will allow him to beat the Great White at Extreme Rules. He has the referee and I'm sure he will have AJ. What will Sheamus do?
The odds are being stacked against Sheamus in a bid to paint him as the underdog and get the crowd onside. Who doesn't like to see someone overcome the odds? Again, I just hope it's not done in a John Cena fashion.
WHAT THEY ARE TELLING US SUMMARY: Daniel Bryan is no longer just cowardly. He is sneaky, will have different ways to win over Sheamus and is much stronger now than he was before WrestleMania.
Sheamus has the odds stacked against him. He will not only have to battle Bryan but be cautious of referees. He is the underdog everyone should cheer for.
5. Brock Lesnar Is Dominant, and WWE Will Do Anything to Put Cena over with Fans
We saw a lot of footage and talk of Brock Lesnar tonight. We were reminded that he destroyed Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle and Hulk Hogan.
We were also again reminded of his dominance as a wrestler and as a UFC champion and that he has already bloodied up Cena since his return. WWE clearly don't want us forgetting that Lesnar is a force of nature and this is all real.
Then we have Lesnar put down the crowd, make outlandish demands from John Laurinaitis and truly become the egotistical super-heel.
Was it just me, or was the pop for Cena coming to the ring to interrupt Lesnar's promo, chain in hand, the most positive reaction he has received in a while? How did you rate Lesnar on the mic here? I found him better than I expected.
The whole contact signing all came to a total anticlimax in the end. What a poor way to end Raw before a pay-per-view.
Fortunately, this flat ending was on the back of the WWE using Edge to endorse John Cena.
Edge, despite coming off contract in a couple of days, came to the ring to demand the return of the John Cena who was his biggest rival in the ring.
He wants the dominant superpower we all want to see to disappear and stand up against Lesnar for all the names who ever truly wanted to be wrestlers. I thought for a moment that this would mean Edge asking Cena to change. Sadly, this is not what happened.
This was just a reminder that WWE doesn't want Cena to change. They just want to find way to get him over again with the masses. If that means having forcefully retired crowd favorites pay him compliments and breathe life into him, then so be it. I sincerely hope they come to their senses.
The opening segment between Cena and Edge was great. It was amazing to hear the music for the Rated-R Superstar fire up the crowd and make us all forget about Laurinaitis and Long's bickering. But it is clear what the WWE are doing.
At least it is unclear what will happen at Extreme Rules.
WHAT THEY ARE TELLING US SUMMARY: Brock Lesnar has done it all. He will be unstoppable going into Extreme Rules. He is the biggest, most egotistical heel on the roster.
John Cena is amazing and the best ever. Even Edge said so.
Honorable Mentions and Conclusion
Before I sign off, some honorable mentions. What the WWE is telling us about:
He is a joke, and they will not take him seriously or push him again any time soon. He was paired up with a comedian, dominated by poorly booked tag-team champions and had to have Santino pull out the win.
He is the best mid-card talent going around. He is still receiving a push, and the crowd are loving him. Almost definitely the most popular mid-card talent and might only be used to relaunch The Miz.
He is amazing in the ring. He can sell moves for Hornswaggle. He isn't going anywhere soon, and there is no push planned as he is stuck with Swagger and Vicki against Brodus Clay. Has he done something wrong?
Mid-card stocks are thin, and we are out of ideas. Poor tag-team matches, terrible story lines and poor use of superstars should fix it.
Overall, this show was not great. I thought with a three-hour special, we might have seen a great Raw to make a final sales pitch for Extreme Rules. I don't think this episode would have garnered any more buys, to be honest.
WWE stocks are truly low at the moment, in terms of both the economic kind and in terms of their roster. They also seem to be running out of decent creative angles. I do worry but still look forward to the pay-per-view this weekend.
The messages I have listed here are just some of the things WWE are telling us as fans and the way I saw things. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below.
See you next week.