WWE: 5 Talking Points from Monday Night's Raw
Unfortunately, I felt that this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw was a decidedly average show. Certainly, it was not as enjoyable as it has been in recent weeks during the mini-renaissance that we were starting to see from the WWE.
There were a number of reasons for this dip in quality, and though the absence of John Cena wasn’t as damaging as many had forecast, it probably didn’t help matters.
Nonetheless, the show wasn’t a complete failure. I, for one, found there were enough moments to capture my attention, and there were some interesting plot developments.
Rather than adulate or condemn this week’s Raw, let's a closer look at the five talking points that emanated from this broadcast.
Is AJ's Time Up?
Raw’s opening scene built on the events of last week, when Paul Heyman awkwardly proposed to AJ Lee in a bid to mock the General Manager.
Heyman and CM Punk once again shared mic duties effectively before the former revealed a memo sent from the Board of Directors stating that AJ is forbidden from laying her hands on anyone ever again.
But the interesting development here was Heyman’s call for himself to be instilled as Raw GM.
I think this would be a great move. The former ECW chief is perfectly suited for the role. He is a great talker and a controversial character, while he also fits McMahon’s preferred bill of heel authority figure.
Dolph Ziggler’s proposal of an alliance between Heyman and Vickie Guerrero was also an interesting move, though perhaps not a more appealing prospect.
Either way, it would appear the WWE is sowing the seeds for a potential removal of AJ from her position as GM.
Whether this is the right move or not remains to be seen, but it will surely result in a very watchable storyline development. Personally, I feel that all signs are pointing toward a Team AJ vs. Team Heyman showdown at Survivor Series in a battle for control of the WWE’s flagship television show.
Tag Team Tournament
The idea of a tag team tournament is a good idea. It makes the competition seem more legitimate, much like—dare I say it—the Bound for Glory series in TNA.
It is also giving us a good insight into who the WWE is prioritising and who it is currently less concerned with.
This week suggested that the exciting team of Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara is certainly rather high on its agenda.
Not only does this alignment make for some thrilling, high-octane action, but it also gives Sin Cara the much-needed opportunity to learn from one of the very best and adapt to the American style of professional wrestling.
It’s no secret that the man otherwise known as Mystico is far from the finished article in a WWE ring. But with some time and help, he may well develop into the star that many believe he can be.
Furthermore, teaming the two together also opens the possibility of securing the much-rumoured WrestleMania clash between the two somewhere down the line.
Facilitating such a feud may seem a long way off now, but the clichéd, yet effective, partners-turned-enemies angle has definitely worked in the past.
All in all, teaming the two together and giving them the win this week was a wise move by WWE Creative.
Cesaro is yet to engage in a true feud in the WWE, but I remain confident that he will be a future star and a world champion one day.
He has been on the receiving end of a decent push since his debut this past April, and the United States champion’s run continued with a win over Brodus Clay this week.
Though Clay isn’t the biggest win that Cesaro could have claimed, he is certainly a superstar who WWE has tried to build up since his rebranding as the Funkasaurus at the turn of the year. He boasts an extraordinary win/loss record of 31-2-1, second only to the immaculate Ryback, according the Pro Wrestling Torch.
It shows that the WWE is definitely taking Cesaro seriously by having him cleanly beat a star that it vested so much time and effort into.
Also, the manner of his victory was particularly convincing. He showed brilliant strength and balance to hoist Clay up for his Neutralizer finishing maneuver when he could easily have failed to lift the 375-pound behemoth.
At one point, the U.S. Champion was struggling to properly execute the move, but he dug in and showed his worth by heaving his opponent up and scoring another impressive win.
A great display of power from one of the hottest new talents in the WWE.
World Championship Debate
This was one of those segments that sounded both ridiculous yet intriguing, but it was nice to see the WWE being a little more creative and relying on something other than the usual out-of-control contract signing to build a feud.
And in my view, Big Show’s performance was a real highlight of the debate.
He was amusing and entertaining, yet simultaneously candid and serious about the confrontation with Sheamus at Hell in a Cell. That is more than can be said for the reigning World Champion, who for me seems to be getting less and less tolerable each week.
This Big Show has been sorely missed from WWE programming. Not the Big Show who comes out and squashes the tag division or a ring full of lesser-known stars, but the more legitimate and determined giant, who will stop at nothing to win the World title.
This is how the man should be booked—an unstoppable main-event calibre giant—because at the end of the day, that’s exactly what he is.
Another positive of this feud is that there are four weeks before Hell in a Cell at the end of this month.
This is plenty of time to establish the feud and get fans truly excited about a World Heavyweight Championship match—something that hasn’t really happened for a number of months now.
Let’s hope the WWE keeps up the good work and gives us a match worth watching at the October 28 pay-per-view.
The performance of this man has been arguably the biggest talking point to come from the show this week. Unfortunately, it's for all the wrong reasons.
In a rematch from SmackDown against Tensai, Ryback went for his trademark Shell Shocked finisher, but for the first time ever, he could not lift his opponent.
But was this entirely Ryback’s fault?
Many have postulated that Tensai sandbagged him, especially when one considers that Ryback successfully pulled off the move just last week on Smackdown.
But in my opinion, Tensai didn’t appear to aid his opponent during the SmackDown tapings, yet Ryback still managed to hit the move. This would suggest that the latter does indeed have the strength to dead-lift the former, but for some reason on Raw, he just couldn’t do it.
While Tensai must be blamed for not helping his opponent on either occasion, there remain questions over Ryback’s involvement.
Was he just having an off day?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s easy to lift a man of almost 400 pounds, but when the likes of John Cena and Wade Barrett can lift men like Mark Henry and the Big Show, one must assume that a man of Ryback’s gargantuan stature could surely lift Tensai.
Either way, this botch will definitely go down as a blemish on the newcomer’s record, particularly since he seemed lost after failing to complete the move.
Had he feigned injury as the reason for being unable to lift Tensai—as others have done in the past—Ryback would have escaped the incident with a little more credibility.
In his defence though, he did manage to continue the show and secure the victory with another stiff clothesline, but doesn’t that just demonstrate the limited nature of his move set?
Perhaps I’m being overly critical, but Ryback’s ascendancy in the WWE may indeed have come too soon.
Nonetheless, the WWE seems intent on pushing him, as he was featured once again to intimidate WWE Champion CM Punk.
Whether the WWE wanted to push ahead with this move, despite the earlier incident, or it was grudgingly forced to follow the evening’s script remains unknown.
But Ryback has been exposed. Now’s the time for him to step up and prove he’s the real deal.
This week’s Raw was definitely not one of the WWE’s greatest showings, though it was not a disaster.
Perhaps mediocre is the best way to describe it.
This was largely due to very few significant events that really make us fans sit up and take notice.
But there were, of course, positives to take, and that is the note that I would like to end on.
With the tag team division really heating up and several weeks worth of build before Hell in a Cell, the coming episodes of Raw and SmackDown will be intriguing to say the least.
It appears likely that the AJ/Heyman feud could really materialise into something significant somewhere down the line.
But until then, make sure you comment below with your thoughts on this past Monday night’s Raw, as well as the talking points that were discussed in the article.