Welcome to the first edition of Raw: Buy or Sell.
Each week, I'll examine the hottest angles from the latest episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, and tell you whether I'm on board with what WWE is doing (buy) or if I didn't like what I saw (sell).
Some angles and matches won't be covered, as some things on every show don't really warrant a comment. I'll try to stick to the parts of the broadcast that truly matter to WWE fans.
Feel free to comment on what you'd buy or sell from the latest episode of Raw. Tell me if you agree with my choices, or if you think I'm off the mark.
While I'm giving this a Buy, there are a couple of things about Ryback's promo segment from last night's show that bother me.
It was entertaining the first time Ryback told Vickie to shut up. However, after that, the logic started to wane. He kept telling her to shut up, and then renewing his demands. How could Vickie give him what he wants when he won't let her talk?
Also, Ryback demanded that he get Punk and the NXT invaders. He got his TLC match for the upcoming PPV, but he didn't get what he demanded. He left the ring anyway, which seemed to leave his business with Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins unfinished.
I thought WWE showed good attention to detail by having "security" dressed in yellow as opposed to the normal black shirts. Since the NXT invaders were in all black, having security dressed like the interlopers would have been too much of a visual distraction.
I also enjoyed Ryback's delivery more than usual. He spoke in complete sentences, and his demands made sense. Previously, he tended to talk in disconnected phrases, or in fragments.
Overall, the Ryback segment is a buy. I'm looking forward to the TLC PPV and the havoc that he and Punk will create.
I'm going to have to sell Johnny Curtis' new character, Fandango.
There's just something about a dancing character that makes me cringe. I don't like it when Khali dances. I sort of like Brodus Clay's entrance, but not because he's dancing. Also, Brodus typically dances, then beats the hell out of someone. I can live with that.
Fandango is being portrayed as a ballroom dancer. Somehow, that just takes all the fun out of it for me. I have a hard time envisioning someone implementing the Vienna Waltz into their offensive repertoire. A wrestler should be at least somewhat threatening. I don't sense the danger in even the Lambada.
Maybe, since Chris Jericho had a semi-strong run on Dancing With the Stars, WWE is trying to position Curtis for a mainstream appearance.
Kick, one, two. Sell, three, four.
I'm giving a strong buy to WWE's apparent goal of elevating the Intercontinental and US championships.
Lately, WWE has kept the belts on traditional mid-card talents like Cody Rhodes, Antonio Cesaro, Kofi Kingston and Santino. What's changed is the level of the opponents the champs are facing week in and week out.
On Raw, Cesaro faced off with Sheamus. It was a good match, and even though Cesaro ended up losing via count-out, he looked strong. Sheamus is generally around the main-event scene and is a former WWE and World Heavyweight champion. It elevates the significance of the US title to have the champion in the ring with a main-event talent.
Kofi, the current Intercontinental title holder, also had a match. His opponent was Tensai. While Tensai is lost in the midcard, it was still a good match. What really elevated the prestige of the IC belt, though, was the presence of Wade Barrett at ringside. Barrett is on his way to main-event status, and having him show desire for the Intercontinental belt makes it seem worth having.
If these two belts can be elevated, WWE can occasionally use these secondary championship matches as main events on PPVs and broadcast shows. Years ago, such stars as Randy Savage, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels feuded over the Intercontinental Championship. I'm buying a return to glory for the secondary titles.
I've got to sell the concept of Tamina Snuka as Vickie Guerrero's new enforcer in the Divas Division.
I simply can't see the logic. What does Tamina stand to gain by protecting Vickie from AJ Lee? She hasn't been promised a title shot, she doesn't get quality opponents in the ring (see the match with Alicia Fox from Monday if you don't believe me) and she doesn't even seem particularly interested in furthering her career by aligning herself with Raw's Managing Supervisor.
I'm all for a feud between Tamina and AJ. AJ is solid in the ring, and Tamina is improving. I just want a story that makes sense.
If Vickie really wanted an enforcer, shouldn't she have enlisted Beth Phoenix instead of firing her?
I'm selling the angle, but am still hopeful for Tamina's development.
At first, I was ready to sell this angle as a Nexus ripoff, but I have to admit that The Shield impressed me on Monday night.
WWE's writing team did a good job of portraying all three men, utilizing the fact that Ambrose and Rollins are good talkers, and limiting Reigns' exposure. When Reigns did talk, he kept it simple and the delivery was believable.
I think it's also believable that three workers from the developmental territory, who all want to be promoted to the main roster, would take exception with a relative newcomer like Ryback being pushed to the top of the card and getting repeated chances at taking the WWE title away from CM Punk.
I'd love to see further development, where Ambrose and Rollins complain about the fact that they toiled for years in lesser companies and on the indy scene, and can't seem to get a break. Thus, they've decided to make their own break.
I was also impressed that both Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were realistic in their portrayal of the interview. Both expressed doubt that The Shield isn't connected to CM Punk and Paul Heyman in some way. Perhaps it will be revealed later that Heyman engaged these three mercenaries without Punk's knowledge.
The final conflict with Ryback was well-done, too. Ryback was made to look strong, fending off the attack of The Shield for a short while, but the threesome eventually overcame him, leaving all parties looking good.
I'll buy this new faction, particularly if they turn out to be "Paul Heyman guys."
My biggest sell of the show is Daniel Bryan losing a fan ballot to Kane for the right to face Punk in the Raw main event.
I'll never be convinced that the WWE Universe would rather see Kane wrestle anyone than Daniel Bryan, with the possible exception of the Undertaker. Even casual fans drool at the thought of a Bryan-Punk match.
To me, this result calls into question the legitimacy of the WWE fan ballot process. Why would anyone bother to vote when it's clear that WWE is going to make the match that Vince wants instead of what the audience actually votes for?
That said, the match between Bryan and Rey Mysterio was a great television match. Too bad there was no story behind it, and it won't lead to anything in the future.
Buy this fan vote? No! No! No!
Overall, I'm going to give the build to the TLC pay-per-view a buy.
WWE has done a good job of promoting matches that I actually want to see.
I'm very interested in the TLC match between Punk and Ryback. I'm also curious to see how The Shield will be involved.
I'm looking forward to seeing Wade Barrett wrestle Kofi Kingston for the Intercontinental Championship. I think having a strong opponent will make Kingston stronger, and raise the profile of the IC title.
I was pleased to see Antonio Cesaro featured in a match with Sheamus. I'd love to see those two battle for the US Championship at TLC.
Though I'm not a fan of the overall angle (more on that later), I am excited to see John Cena take on Dolph Ziggler. It's time for Ziggler to take on the names at the top of the card. I only hope they give him a clean win.
I'm not as thrilled to watch Sheamus take on Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship in a chairs match, but I can see the logic in having another showdown between the two. I'm hoping that Ziggler cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase on the winner.
The only two matchups that haven't been officially announced are the US title match and the matchup for the WWE tag team titles. I assume that both belts will be defended at the PPV, and there are still almost three weeks to make these matches.
Overall, Raw made me more interested in the TLC PPV. That's a good trend.
I'm selling the concept of Hornswoggle in general, and his decision to bite Ricardo Rodriguez in the butt in specific.
Since Raw expanded to three hours, more filler is needed for each broadcast. This is clearly a case of WWE having too much time on its hands.
Carrying Hornswoggle on the roster in the first place is a dubious decision. Having him hang out with Great Khali, the biggest man on the roster, is another poor choice. Having him bite people makes him more than annoying. It makes him dangerous.
There's nothing wrong with an occasional comedy sketch to lighten the mood on Raw. I do, however, believe that the skits should be funny. A little person who bites people doesn't strike me as amusing.
Couple that with the fact that Rodriguez is part of Alberto Del Rio's act, and you compound the issue. Del Rio is a main-event level heel. Heels and comedy can go together, but it's never been a strong part of Del Rio's act. To have his associate in a skit with Hornswoggle demeans Del Rio.
I'm selling Hornswoggle. Sadly, I doubt anybody's buying.
Though I'm not a huge fan of Vickie Guerrero's character, I am buying her decision to match CM Punk and Ryback in a TLC match at the upcoming pay-per-view.
Make no mistake. Vickie is a heel. She aligns with heel wrestlers, fights with babyfaces, and annoys the audience with her trademark bleat, "Excuse me."
As Raw's Managing Supervisor, Guerrero could be expected to make decisions like a heel. She is antagonizing John Cena, the company's lead babyface. She has a heel bodyguard in Tamina, and she is associated with one of WWE's top heels, Dolph Ziggler.
So, it would be natural for her to side with CM Punk, the current WWE Champion, and probably the top heel in the company.
Fortunately for the WWE Universe, Vickie acted responsibly in making the championship bout for TLC. She even went so far as to tell Punk that she isn't happy about the way he's defeated Ryback on the last two pay-per-views.
It's okay to have a heel in control of the main show. It's even better when that heel occasionally makes a logical business decision, even if it goes against her normal character.
I've been hoping for over a week now that WWE would drop the John Cena/AJ Lee/Vickie angle. Instead, Dolph Ziggler has been added to the mix, and Tamina was a newcomer to the story this week. I'm selling the whole illogical, convoluted mess.
First of all, Vickie originally started this "scandal" by insinuating that AJ, the general manager of Raw at the time, was involved in an inappropriate affair with Cena. The logic behind this is simple. If AJ was relieved of duty, Vickie stood a good chance of taking over the job.
Lee was removed from office, though not specifically for fraternizing with Cena. Vickie was given the role of Managing Supervisor. Thus, since she has what she wants, Guerrero should logically be willing to stop harassing Cena and AJ. Unfortunately, she simply continues badgering the two babyfaces.
There seems to be no point in this. If she's already got the job, Vickie can only lose by continuing to pursue this "scandal." If she proves that the two have a relationship, who will care? Lee has already been demoted, and there's no reason Cena can't date anyone he wants. If she's ultimately proven wrong, it makes Vickie look vindictive and foolish. There's no good outcome for her in this situation.
Ziggler's involvement seems to be purely because he's aligned with Vickie. Again, since Vickie is already in the job, what does he stand to gain from this pursuit? Nothing. Ziggler could be booked into matches with John Cena for any reason (or no reason) at all. There's no need for him to be involved in this.
Tamina's involvement is even more confusing. She has taken Vickie's side in this matter, with no hope of a reward. It would be too obvious for Vickie to simply grant her a Divas Championship match. Tamina has no prior history with AJ, and she doesn't appear to be romantically interested in Cena. There's no good reason for her to be involved in this angle at all.
All things considered, there is no longer any logic to this angle. Ziggler and Cena should have their match at TLC, and then everyone should go their separate ways.
That's Buy or Sell for this week. See you after next Monday's Raw.