WWE Raw: 5 Positives to Take from This Monday Night's Show
Raw was, in my opinion, another solid show this week. And in all honesty, it has yet to disappoint me since the switch to a three-hour running time back in July.
This past Monday’s event was always going to be a tricky one given that John Cena, the face of the company, has been forced to take some time off to recover from his elbow surgery. The fact that this lay-off has come at a time smack-bang in the middle of his feud with WWE Champion CM Punk only complicates matters further.
But Raw battled on nonetheless, making the best of a bad situation and actually producing another enjoyable show.
This article discusses five of the best moments from Raw this week.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
The first match of the card saw Mr. Money in the Bank, Dolph Ziggler, take on Kofi Kingston.
At first, I questioned the booking of this one. I wondered if this was perhaps a return to the singles division for Kingston after recently losing the Tag Titles to Kane and Daniel Bryan, but the presence of R-Truth discounted that idea.
Thus, having Ziggler face a member of the tag division seemed somewhat myopic, a quick fix to fill the night without any real regard for long-term potential.
But the quality of the encounter soon changed my mind.
It was a high-tempo clash, an exhibition of magnificent athleticism from two of the WWE’s most agile competitors. Lasting over 10 minutes, in my view, it was certainly a match of pay-per-view quality.
As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that this high standard of matches is a result of the extension to a three-hour show. Matches that would usually last maybe six or seven minutes are being stretched out into real back-and-forth contests in order to fill the time.
Exciting spots, numerous near falls and all-round great matches, which is definitely a positive in my book. A short-term booking choice it may have been, but it was a highlight of the night nonetheless.
CM Punk's Display
Punk appeared in three key promos throughout the night, though unfortunately, he didn’t feature in a match.
His absence from in-ring competition was slightly puzzling given that Cena was also not in action, but the level of Punk’s mic work more than made up for this wrestling inactivity.
When he sat in the ring during the show’s opening segment, I was worried that Paul Heyman would be doing all the talking, as he did for his other client, Brock Lesnar.
But Punk soon erupted before delivering a fine speech to AJ, suggesting that his “Best in the World” tag applied to other activities outside of a wrestling ring.
His promo with Mick Foley was also memorable, but one thing I was particularly impressed with was Punk’s interaction with the crowd. I actually criticised the WWE Champion during his promo with Cena and Bret Hart in Montreal, as he appeared to seek cheap heat by talking trash to the Toronto crowd.
And he did the same in Albany this week, though the manner in which he did so was infinitely better. His tirades directed at the crowd were intense and passionate, and a throwback to the kind of CM Punk that could be found talking his way into trouble years ago on the Independent scene, albeit a somewhat tamer version.
This is the CM Punk that we want and need. Now that his heel turn is complete, I’m sure we will see more of it in the future, and in doing so, understand why he is indeed the “Best in the World."
Mick Foley's Appearance
Mick Foley is one of the most highly-respected men in the world of wrestling, and I, for one, am a huge fan. Just to see him back in a WWE ring was great, but the promo that he proceeded to deliver was even better.
It may have been rather predictable, as it was slightly reminiscent of the Foley pep-talk speeches that we have seen him deliver to the likes of Edge in recent years.
But it was excellent nonetheless.
The “do you want to be a statistic, or do you want to be a legend?” line was brilliant, and he put together a fantastic argument in telling Punk that he does indeed need one more moment by which to define himself.
He summed up the feelings of many a WWE fan in describing how it is in fact these moments of greatness, not mere statistics, which really make a superstar a legend.
It was heartfelt and genuine and proved that Foley is still more than capable of handling himself on the mic in the WWE.
It may have been another short-term move from the company, but it was well worth it and certainly added hype and further built the feud between CM Punk and John Cena.
Team Hell No
This week saw the comedic segments involving the Tag Team Champions continue, and once again, I feel they were a success.
Each week, I worry that the WWE will overdo it with these two, but week after week, they manage to ensure they are entertaining and even beneficial to current storylines.
The footage of the tag partners in the diner was as amusing as ever, but it was the in-ring Raw active segment that I found particularly intriguing.
It seems to me that each week, of the three Twitter poll options, there is always one obvious choice put forward by the WWE, with two other less-appealing options that they hope the fans will avoid.
In this case, I felt that option No. 3, Team Friendship, was the name that the WWE wanted the Universe to vote for. But somewhat surprisingly, an overwhelming 59 percent of fans voted for Team Hell No.
The WWE may, of course, have had no preference as to what the result of the vote was, but I can’t help but feel that Team Hell No was not the desired outcome.
Either way, it was good to see the champs getting further exposure, and we even saw what could be a future feud brewing between the newly-formed “Rhodes Scholars."
Creative's Handling of Ryback
At first, I wasn’t a fan of this decision.
It was bad enough having Ryback thrust into the Intercontinental Championship picture, but to then elevate him to the main title picture seemed borderline absurd.
But one thing’s for sure, this move certainly shocked me, which must be a good thing?
I know Ryback has been on the receiving end of a monumental push since his redebut under his new gimmick, but I felt for sure he would not be granted main event status quite so soon.
So while this may not be a popular move amongst much of the IWC, it acted as proof the WWE Creative still has the ability to surprise us.
With many fans calling for the Creative team to begin thinking outside the box, to then criticise them for doing exactly that would be rather hypocritical. Thus, their ideas should, on this occasion, be commended.
Besides, a Ryback vs. CM Punk match would appear to be simply a filler-feud while John Cena recovers from injury. It may well result in a title match, but surely, the WWE wouldn’t spring further surprises upon us by ending CM Punk’s 300-plus day title reign by the hand of a relative newcomer?
Though many of the positives from Raw were short-term measures, they made for another entertaining show in my eyes.
Perhaps it was not the greatest of the three-hour shows, but it was certainly a perfectly enjoyable showing nonetheless. And besides, such short-term booking choices were necessitated by out-of-the-ordinary circumstances that will soon be rectified, such as the injury to John Cena.
However, the night was not faultless.
There were several less memorable moments from Raw that could have been improved upon, though they were not significant enough to ruin the show.
Stay tuned for the second part of my Raw review, where these negative aspects will be observed and discussed in greater detail.
But until then, remember to comment below with your views on how Raw went and whether or not you agree with the points that I put forward.