WWE Raw: Buy or Sell for the 20th Anniversary Edition
Welcome to this week's edition of WWE Monday Night Raw: Buy or Sell.
Every Tuesday, Buy or Sell will examine the hottest angles from the latest episode of WWE Monday Night Raw and tell you what WWE is doing right (buy) or wrong (sell).
Some angles and matches won't be covered, as some things on every show don't really warrant a comment. Buy or Sell will 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. Let the world know if you agree with the choices or if you think they're off the mark.
Buy: The Opening Segment
Finally, the World Heavyweight Championship was treated like a big deal on Raw.
The first Buy for the 20th Anniversary episode of Raw is for the opening segment.
For years, SmackDown and the World Heavyweight Championship have been treated as second-tier items by WWE. While Raw is clearly WWE's flagship show, it's still a good idea to portray the WHC belt and the Friday night show as important.
By running a SmackDown recap and featuring the World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio in the opening segment of one of the most important Raw broadcasts of the year, WWE lent credibility to both the title itself and to Del Rio's budding face turn.
Because of the presence of Mr. McMahon and Big Show, Del Rio came off as a big deal. He carried himself well in the ring and seemed like a true champion. The crowd reacted strongly to him throughout the segment.
Big Show was great on the mic as well. By refusing to wrestle Del Rio on Raw, and insisting that his WHC rematch come on the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Big Show clearly demonstrated that the World Heavyweight Championship is a belt that big names want to win.
Sell: The Announce Team
There's absolutely nothing wrong with an announce team of Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler. At least on a regular night or for a PPV.
Last night, the announcer's table felt woefully light for most of the show. Jim Ross not being on the mic for the whole show is a definite Sell.
Sure, Michael Cole is the established voice of Raw these days. He absolutely needed to be on the show.
JBL was a good choice. He has a solid persona on the mic, is part of the regular SmackDown announcing team and has a long history with WWE. His comments lent perspective throughout the broadcast.
Lawler was an obvious choice, as well. The King has been a part of Monday Night Raw since 1995 (with a brief absence in 2001). It wouldn't have been the 20th anniversary show without him.
The same should have gone for Jim Ross. No one has called more episodes of Raw and according to many fans, no one has ever done it better.
Ross did make an appearance later in the broadcast (more on that later) and his call was a highlight of the show. He should have been in the chair from beginning to end. When fans think of Raw, they think of Ross.
Buy: Mick Foley to the Hall of Fame
A huge Buy for Mick Foley's selection for the WWE Hall of Fame.
When the HOF graphic went up on the TitanTron, the crowd immediately started chanting Foley's name.
A legend of the Attitude Era, Foley still resonates with WWE fans. They see his dumpy body and unkempt appearance and appreciate him for being different.
No one could sell a character like Mick Foley. No one sacrificed his body more for his craft. There is no doubt that Foley deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Sell: The Shield Steals Mick's Moment
While Foley's induction into the Hall of Fame is a huge buy, The Shield's interference in Foley's moment is an equally huge Sell.
From a purely logical point of view, The Shield should have no problem with Foley. The group purportedly exists to shield the WWE from injustice. Who could possibly be more deserving of a Hall of Fame induction than Foley?
He didn't get to the top based on his look or his connections. Foley rose to the top of WWE by sheer force of will. In theory, that should be the exact kind of person that The Shield favors.
While the heel faction never actually laid hands on Foley, their appearance killed what should have been a big moment. Fans who have followed WWE and Foley over the years know that he is a student of the history of wrestling.
Being inducted into the HOF is a big deal to him, and he would have probably given an emotional acceptance that the crowd would have loved. Instead, viewers were treated to "The Hardcore Legend" uneasily preparing himself for what looked like an imminent beat down.
Ryback, Randy Orton and Sheamus came down to the ring to rescue Foley. Or did they? As the babyfaces appeared, the announcers made a point to tell the audience that each man had a personal issue with The Shield.
They weren't coming to the ring to save Foley. They were coming for revenge. By the time the segment was over, Foley's induction was forgotten.
The Shield's entry should have come during the match between Wade Barrett and Randy Orton. That would have made more sense, and would have allowed Mick to have the spotlight.
The fact that WWE chose to interrupt a speech by Foley, one of the greatest talkers in the history of the company, to ultimately end up broadcasting Josh Mathews interviewing Ryback is a travesty. Foley deserved his moment.
Buy: Barrett's Barrage
Though it was somewhat overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of the night, Wade Barrett's match with Randy Orton deserves a Buy.
WWE seems serious about increasing the importance of its secondary title belts. The tag titles will be contested at the Royal Rumble. United States Champion Antonio Cesaro was featured onstage with the legendary Ric Flair, and Barrett, the current Intercontinental Champion, got a clean win over Randy Orton on last night's show.
The announcers did a good job of building up the history of the IC title. Michael Cole and JBL ran through a litany of the legendary names to wear the belt, including Layfield himself, Rock, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Ricky Steamboat and Bret Hart. Just running through the list underscores how important this belt has been in WWE history.
Even better than the belt itself, the clean win over a top babyface distinguishes Barrett as a legitimate force. Using his Bull Hammer finishing move to pin Orton showed that Barrett is a threat to any superstar at any time. It's been too long since the IC champion was treated with such respect.
Sell: Backstage Shenanigans
Raw is a three-hour show. No fan would be able to sit through three straight hours of in-ring action.
WWE needs to break up the programming with some backstage skits. No problem with that. However, the backstage segments need to be logical and have some entertainment value.
With a couple of notable exceptions, last night's offerings were awful. A Sell goes out to most of the backstage segments featuring current Raw talent.
There was little purpose to the Booker T. and Eve confrontation. Booker is from Houston; maybe that was the justification. Logically, it would have been Vickie's job to tell Eve the stipulations for her Raw title match.
Ultimately, this led to Eve quitting the WWE. Maybe she will return as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble.
The Kane/Daniel Bryan and Dr. Shelby segment was long and pointless as well. Why would Kane accuse Bryan of cross-dressing for no apparent reason? This segment did more to get Damien Sandow's arrogant intellectual character over than anything else.
Since Sandow was set to face Kane later in the show, and Rhodes was taking on Daniel Bryan, there was no need for this confrontation. They could have set up the tag title match for Royal Rumble during either of those matches.
An indication of the humor level of the Anger Management spot? My 10-year-old son laughed hysterically at Dr. Shelby's antics. I didn't.
John Cena's promo had a lot of good references in it, but felt forced and canned. Even solid material doesn't work if delivered poorly. Picture Rock or Foley delivering Cena's promo, either would have done it more justice.
The segment featuring AJ Lee and Big E Langston was almost painful to watch. Lee wildly over-acted and Langston mainly stood around looking as if he smelled something foul.
Interestingly, Lee is better when she uses facial expressions and body language to make her point. Langston seems more effective when he speaks.
None of these segments added anything of value to the show.
Buy: Rock and Foley
When it comes to backstage segments, WWE would do well to study the tape of the interaction between Mick Foley and The Rock. A Buy to the former "Rock and Sock Connection" for providing the best bit of backstage entertainment of the night.
Foley and Rock hit all of the right notes. They referenced the current situation, with Foley being inducted into the WWE HOF. They teased events from the past and sampled heavily from Rock's iconic Attitude Era promos.
They even withstood the insertion of Vickie Guerrero into the angle. This is what a backstage segment should be about.
Mixed Bag: Flair and Friends
The interaction between Ric Flair, The Miz and Antonio Cesaro had both highs and lows. It's the first-ever Buy or Sell Mixed Bag.
The fact that Miz and Cesaro were onstage with a legend was good. So was the interaction between Cesaro and Miz. It appears that these two are setting up a future feud over the U.S. title. Cesaro's promo on Flair was also good.
What wasn't as good was the fact that all of the negative things that Cesaro said about Flair reminded the audience of just how far The Nature Boy has fallen. Flair didn't even counter the attack, instead seeming to deflate as Cesaro continued to mock him.
By the end of the segment, Flair came off as a has-been who was desperately trying to cash in on his past glory.
The interactions between Miz and Flair were more sad than nostalgic. They seemed forced and a little desperate. This was an odd segment. It was too good to sell and too sad to buy.
Sell: Raw Lowlights
Throughout the night, WWE presented video clips from past episodes of Raw.
They highlighted vehicular hijinks and the greatest catchphrases of the past 20 years. We got to see Bob Barker and Donald Trump.
A Sell goes out to one package however. What in the world possessed the creative team to convince them that a montage of the worst gimmicks in WWE history would make compelling television?
There was admittedly a nostalgia factor to seeing some of these old, horrible gimmicks. However, it was the kind of nostalgia that you have when you get together with old friends and remember all of the stupid stuff you used to do. It wasn't something that would remind fans of how excellent Raw can be.
Instead, it was a montage of the moments that non-wrestling fans point to when they say that wrestling is juvenile and obtuse. It was as if WWE intentionally chose every clip they could find that would make me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan.
It just goes to show that for every CM Punk shoot promo, there's a Bastion Booger in the film vault.
Buy: JR on the Call
The biggest Buy of the night goes to Jim Ross and the cage match between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler.
Any match called by Ross is automatically a big deal. Just hearing his voice on commentary brings fans back to their favorite Raw memories.
The match itself was good. Cena and Ziggler work well together, and the match had a realistic feel. The chemistry between these two is so good that each man can play his established role (Cena as Superman babyface and Ziggler as opportunistic heel) without coming off as weak or unbelievable.
There were several excellent near-falls in the match, and the crowd was utterly behind Cena by the end of the match.
Having Ross call the action only added to the cachet of the match. His use of vocal inflection and his familiar catch phrases took the audience back to a time when Raw main events were special almost every week. WWE should strongly consider bringing Ross back full-time.
Sell: Rock (Bottom) Concert
As a standalone bit, a "Rock Concert" on Raw isn't a bad idea.
As a repeat skit, it's a Sell.
Rock is funny, talented and creative. There's no doubt about that. But we've seen this act before.
Rock did the same schtick before his match with John Cena at WrestleMania 28. At the time, it was funny. It was different and new and something only Rock could pull off.
It's not as funny the second time. Somehow, this makes Rock seem less cool in his confrontation with CM Punk. While Punk's promos are different every time he takes the mic, Rock appeared to be falling back on past glories.
Rock also has an unfair advantage over Punk and the rest of the current roster.
In today's PG-13 WWE, the stars don't curse. They don't use direct anatomical references, either. Rock does both. This does set him apart from the other stars. Unfortunately, not in a good way.
Rock is starting to come off as a guy who needs foul language and body-part jokes in order to get over on his opponents.
How wild do you think Punk's promos would be if he didn't have a PG-13 filter built in?
The whole scene felt predictable. Rock picked on Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero. It wasn't groundbreaking commentary.
The pull-apart brawl between Punk and Rock saved what was a sinking segment. In the future, WWE would do well to let Rock be more serious. Don't do away with all of his catch phrases, but make him seem relevant instead of a blast from the past.
What would you buy or sell from this week's show? Is there something on the list you disagree with? Have a segment of your own to talk about? Make yourself heard in the comments section below.
See you next week.