WWE News: Reviews, Analysis and Rumors for Week of Sept. 30
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
With John Cena nowhere to be found on RAW this week, as he is nursing an elbow injury, all of the focus was once again on WWE Champion CM Punk. Fans have been calling for more focus to be placed on the company's primary titleholder for quite some time, and that has finally come to fruition over the past several weeks.
Punk furthered his heel persona by bullying Hall-of-Fame announcer Jim Ross on his own appreciation night in front of his hometown fans a week after attacking Mick Foley on RAW. Punk was once again foiled by Ryback, however, as the insatiable monster escorted JR back to the ring and scared Punk off.
RAW wasn't the only WWE show to make headlines this week, though, as Main Event debuted on Wednesday on ION Television. It featured a highly-anticipated champion vs. champion match between Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus, and it received favorable reviews as well.
Although faltering RAW ratings would suggest that the product hasn't been good, things feel a lot fresher now than they have in quite a while, so I'm looking forward to the continued build toward Hell in a Cell.
Here are the biggest news pieces and rumors regarding the WWE for the week beginning on Sept. 30.
WWE Considering CM Punk vs. Mick Foley for TLC?
There is no question that the exchange between WWE Champion CM Punk and Mick Foley on last week's episode of RAW was excellent, and it seems to have fans, and the WWE brass alike, wanting more. With that in mind, Wrestling Observer (via PWTorch.com) is reporting that the WWE is discussing a potential match that would pit Punk against Foley at TLC.
TLC is set to take place in December with Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series before it, so this would obviously involve looking down the pipeline a bit, but it is a feud that I'm sure a lot of people would like to see. Whether it does happen probably has everything to do with what the plans are for John Cena, however.
As much as I like Foley and always have, I wouldn't be in favor of him taking on the WWE Champion at TLC. Foley has given so much to the business and can still contribute to it in several ways, but the act of wrestling isn't one of them.
Foley's body has taken an incredible amount of abuse over the years for the purpose of entertaining us and I simply don't believe that he can go toe-to-toe with one of the best wrestlers in the world in a brutal, 20-minute TLC match.
Also, the fact of the matter is that Punk vs. Cena can sustain itself until Royal Rumble without an interim feud being needed for Punk. Have Punk win at Hell in a Cell thanks to interference from Brock Lesnar, setting up a Team Punk vs. Team Cena match at Survivor Series, which Cena's team wins.
That gives Cena one last shot at the title at TLC. Then, the winner of that match gets The Rock at Royal Rumble, so there's honestly no reason to subject Foley to more punishment that his body doesn't need to take.
Ryback Continues to Interrupt CM Punk
With John Cena temporarily out of the picture, the writers have had to find creative ways to keep WWE Champion CM Punk interesting. That is why he has resorted to picking on WWE legends Mick Foley and Jim Ross over the past couple weeks.
Monday marked Jim Ross Appreciation Night in Oklahoma City, and it didn't come as a big surprise when Punk entered the ring while Ross was addressing the crowd.
Punk bullied Ross and tried to force him into calling him the best wrestler in the world, just as he previously did to Jerry "The King" Lawler. Ross refused just like King did, so Punk demanded that Ross leave. As he was walking away, Ryback appeared and stared down Punk, resulting in the champion retreating instead.
I'm not too sure how far the creative team is planning to take this little rivalry between Punk and Ryback, but I have certainly enjoyed it thus far. The WWE realizes what it has in Ryback and that is a monster of a man who the fans have gotten behind because they consider him a spectacle.
Rather than ruining that by humanizing Ryback and having him talk, he has simply looked like a machine that Punk is unwilling to tangle with.
You could argue that it makes Punk look weak when he gawks at Ryback or runs away from him, but it's an effective way to create heel heat. Besides, Punk is quickly closing in on a full year as WWE Champion, so there honestly isn't much that can truly make him look weak.
It feels like this is just a holdover until John Cena returns and a means of seeing how far along Ryback is. As long as nothing long-term is planned between Punk and Ryback, I have no problem with what is being done currently.
WWE Main Event Debuts to Great Ratings
WWE debuted its new weekly show Main Event on ION Television on Wednesday, and the inaugural episode can't be considered anything other than a success.
According to Wrestling News World, WWE and ION issued a press release that revealed Main Event garnered ION its biggest male audience of the year and it even managed to beat the final game of the MLB season on ESPN and ESPN2 on the same night.
Many fans seemed skeptical about the WWE's chances of having a successful show on ION and about the possible quality of the show. Most people who tuned it had to be satisfied, though, as we were given a great champion vs. champion match between CM Punk and Sheamus and some top-notch video packages as well.
I can understand why a lot of people weren't particularly optimistic about Main Event, considering how Superstars went by the wayside despite early promise, but I had little doubt that it would go over well.
If the WWE wasn't committed to making Main Event a great show, then it wouldn't have given up a pay-per-view quality match like Punk vs. Sheamus. There were only two matches and there were several video packages, but those videos were new and of the utmost quality, so I really enjoyed them.
On top of the great first show, WWE announced Randy Orton vs. Big Show for next week, so an obvious effort is being made to feature upper-tier talent.
I don't expect every episode of Main Event to draw such a large viewership, but it is obviously going to become ION's flagship show and it will help the network remain competitive against much larger opponents during the time slot. WWE and ION have the makings of a very lucrative relationship.
Jim Ross Appreciation Night Takes Place at RAW in Oklahoma
Most wrestling fans would probably agree that Jim Ross is the greatest announcer in WWE history and perhaps professional wrestling history, so his appreciation night in Oklahoma on Monday was certainly well deserved.
There have been several instances of JR getting embarrassed by the WWE over the past few years, especially since relinquishing full-time announcing duties, so it was great to see him treated like the legend he is.
Old friends like "Cowboy" Bill Watts and Danny Hodge and even the boss himself, Vince McMahon, were in attendance to offer congratulations to Ross. I have thoroughly enjoyed JR filling in for Jerry "The King" Lawler while he recovers from his heart attack, and even though Ross may not quite be the announcer he once was, he definitely deserves to be celebrated.
Truth be told, I was a bit worried that Ross would be made fun of or embarrassed in some way on his appreciation night since the WWE has a penchant for doing things like that, but thankfully, JR came away from it looking great.
He was involved in an excellent segment with CM Punk where he refused to call him the best in the world. That led to Punk berating him, but Ryback made the save and helped preserve Ross' special night.
Ross has always had a way of making every match seem important, and that is why I consider him the all-time greatest at his craft. With that in mind, I sincerely hope that Ross is back for the long haul.
Lawler has said that he would return to announcing as soon as he is cleared by his doctors, but rather than pushing Ross out, I would like to see a three-man booth. JR has great chemistry with King as it is, so I believe that would be a major asset to the WWE.
RAW Scores Lowest Ratings of the Year
It is no secret that Monday Night RAW's ratings have steadily decreased over the past few years, but WWE hoped that adding a third hour to the show could increase ratings and overall interest as well.
That hasn't been the case, though, as viewership continues to plummet. According to Wrestling News World, RAW earned a 2.54 cable rating this week, which was the company's worst figure of the year so far.
Ratings aren't quite as important to the WWE now as they once were, particularly during the Monday Night Wars, but they obviously still matter. Advertisers are always looking at the ratings, as is USA Network.
If things continue to go drastically downhill, then the three-hour experiment could potentially come to an end, but we really shouldn't read too far into the drop.
I have to believe that there are two main contributing factors to RAW's poor ratings this week. The first and most obvious one is the presence of Monday Night Football. WWE weathered the storm for the first few weeks, but the Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears game dominated viewership during that time slot.
Monday Night Football is always going to obliterate RAW due to the NFL's mainstream appeal, but that is especially true when a team with a fanbase as large as the Cowboys plays.
The other reason for the low RAW rating may have been the absence of John Cena. He wasn't advertised for the show and didn't appear due to his elbow injury, so that could have deterred a lot of potential viewers.
Whether you love Cena or you hate him, he obviously draws a reaction and that helps bring in viewers. As soon as Cena returns, perhaps as soon as this week, I believe we'll see a ratings bump of some kind.