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.
In the glory days of Monday Night Raw, Stone Cold Steve Austin became a phenomenon. How was Austin able to rise to such unprecedented heights?
Besides great character development and a persona that hadn't been seen in wrestling before, the "Texas Rattlesnake" rose to prominence because he had a perfect foil in Vince McMahon. As the heel authority figure on Raw, McMahon provided a credible counterpoint for Austin's antihero character.
WWE doesn't have a good authority figure on its Monday night flagship these days. The supposed authority is Vickie Guerrero, who serves as the show's managing supervisor. It's time to Sell Vickie as an authority figure.
Vickie doesn't radiate authority. Last night was a good example of why Guerrero isn't a viable boss. She came out wearing ill-fitting leather clothes. McMahon and other credible authority figures look the part. Vickie looks like an escapee from Real Housewives of Ottumwa, Iowa.
Vickie lacks gravitas. When Vince shows up on Raw, you know something of consequence is going to happen. When Vickie appears, you suspect that something is going to happen to her. Even Booker T. makes a better supervisor on SmackDown.
While his character is a bit on the comedic side, he still rights wrongs and makes decisions that stick. When Vickie banned Rock from the arena last night, viewers and fans knew there was no way that "The Great One" wouldn't find a way in.
The people who work for Vickie don't take her seriously. Guerrero's two appearances on "her" show last week were as the unwanted addition to a backstage segment between Rock and Foley and as the target of a slanderous song by Rock. Can you imagine Stone Cold cutting loose on McMahon like that with no fear of reprisal?
WWE needs to put a real GM in charge of Raw as soon as possible.
WWE did a solid job of building up the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on last night's show. The competitors for the WWE championship and World Heavyweight title were featured.
Some of the entrants in the Royal Rumble were also in the spotlight, battling for the right to choose their entry number. A limited Buy goes out for the Beat the Clock concept.
In itself, Beat the Clock is a solid idea. It gives a reason for Rumble contestants to face each other, ties those matches together with a common story line, and provides a theme for the show.
However, the matches would have meant more if they were contested so that the winner actually got a spot in the Rumble match. It's been proven that any man can win the Rumble, no matter what entry number he draws.
Dolph Ziggler even referenced that fact when bragging about his win, stating that No. 27 is the most "lucky" entry number. There would have been a more "life or death" feel to the matches if the combatants were trying to earn a spot in the match.
A certain logic was missing as well. Why was Ziggler's match a Beat the Clock tilt when Ryback's wasn't? Why did only certain contestants have a chance to win the prize?
The fact that Ziggler was willing to cheat using Big E Langston and AJ Lee did make the prize seem important. The significance of the win was dimmed however, when Vickie, out of spite, allowed Ziggler to choose between entering first or second.
There are many reasons to Sell Brad Maddox as an announcer.
First of all, as Michael Cole keeps pointing out, he doesn't technically work for the company. It's not really believable that he'd be allowed to simply wander down out of the crowd and take a seat at the announcing table without being subdued by security.
If you had tickets to Monday Night Raw and decided to take it upon yourself to go down and sit next to Cole, what do you suppose would happen to you?
Even less logical is Maddox's ability to simply wander into the backstage area. Again, the story is supposed to be that he doesn't work for the company. How in the world does he continue to get backstage, with a cameraman? It defies logic.
The biggest reason to Sell Maddox as an announcer is even more basic than that. Simply put, he is awful behind the mic. Maddox shouldn't be allowed to speak in any context, much less as a trespasser.
A big Buy for the video package honoring 2013 WWE Hall of Fame inductee Mick Foley. It was a great touch to see the footage of Foley as a teenager and to have his own voice backing some of the video highlights.
It's too bad that this tribute couldn't have run last week when Foley was first announced as the first inductee in this year's HOF class. Instead, WWE interrupted Foley's moment with a meaningless run-in by The Shield. The marauders never even got to interact with Foley, since Ryback, Randy Orton and Sheamus ran out to save him.
In fact, it's a Buy One, Get One this week because of Bob Backlund's HOF announcement. It was a nice nod to WWE's past to see Backlund featured. New fans might not remember him, but the older members of the WWE Universe do. The mention of his six-year title reign made a nice connection with the current Punk story line.
All good angles must eventually come to an end. No matter how dynamic, funny or relevant a story is, it eventually loses cachet with the audience. A Sell goes out for Team Hell No's graduation from anger management classes.
In and of itself, the graduation ceremony wasn't a horrible skit. The problem is that it should have been done about a month ago.
This vignette did nothing for Team Hell No. It didn't do anything to promote the Royal Rumble and it didn't lead into any other story line.
If done a month ago, this would have been a good end to what has been a solid comedic story for WWE. Then, Daniel Bryan and Kane could have spent the time after graduation promoting a tag team title match with Team Rhodes Scholars at Sunday's PPV.
This skit, like last week's, did nothing to get Bryan or Kane over. It didn't promote the upcoming title match, and Rhodes Scholars were nowhere to be seen. The jokes felt warmed over and predictable, and the fans didn't even really pop for the bit.
Timing is everything in WWE story lines, and this one was too late.
Everything that was missing from the Anger Management Graduation skit was there in CM Punk's promo about his upcoming WWE Championship match with Rock. For pure eloquence, Punk's promo earns a Buy.
Punk's serious promo was a nice counterpoint to the semi-playful deliveries that Rock has been offering. Punk's promo underscored his long title reign, made Rock seem like a credible, dangerous opponent and made fans want to tune in on Sunday to see the match. The reasoning was logical, and his anger seemed very real.
It was also a brilliant move to have Paul Heyman come out later and "translate" the promo for the audience. Heyman was able to underscore how eloquent Punk was, insult the audience and draw Rock to the ring all in one fell swoop.
This was an outstanding segment and everything a "go home" promo should be.
There was no reason for Kaitlyn and Alicia Fox to be on last night's show.
There is no Divas title match set for the Royal Rumble PPV on Sunday.
Fox has done nothing to earn a match with the Divas Champion.
There's no story between Kaitlyn and Fox, and no legitimate reason for Fox to jump to the top of the contenders' heap.
Worse, WWE showed Tamina Snuka watching the match on a monitor backstage (She might have been the only one paying attention). Snuka recently had a job as Vickie Guerrero's enforcer, and subsequent heat with AJ Lee. That story appears to have been dropped with no explanation.
A Sell for the Divas match. It wasn't pretty in the ring, didn't develop a storyline, wasn't promoting an upcoming match and lacked logic. There was no reason to broadcast it.
Like CM Punk's brilliant promo from earlier in the show, Rock's promo did a lot to advance the story of the WWE Championship match set for Sunday. A big Buy goes out for this entire segment.
Rock's promo was much better than last week's Rock Concert. He used his wit and cachet to make Punk seem like a credible opponent. He bashed Heyman, as he needed to and emphasized how badly he wants the WWE title belt.
The Shield's appearance here made sense, as opposed to the run-in on Foley last week. The Shield's stated objective is to protect the WWE from injustice.
What is more unjust than a part-time wrestler coming in and stealing the spotlight from a champion who's held the belt for more than a year? Lots of fans feel the same way that Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns apparently do.
The whole segment had gravitas. The only thing that was questionable was it's placement. This segment could easily have been the last thing seen on Raw. It would have made an outstanding "go home" segment. Instead, it was placed at the end of Hour Two.
The image of The Shield leaving the ring while Heyman smiled, Rock lay motionless, and Punk held the title belt over his head in a skybox was good theater. It was both complex and simple, and one of the best pieces of television that Raw has produced in a long while.
What, exactly, was the point of this match?
Alberto Del Rio faces the Big Show on Sunday for the World Heavyweight title. The two should have had some contact during this broadcast to promote that match. Instead, Show knocks out Zack Ryder in about 30 seconds, and Del Rio beats Tensai in about two minutes.
The only minor positive was that both men emphasized the Last Man Standing stipulation for Sunday's match. A Sell for the Del Rio-Tensai matchup itself and for the lack of hype for the WHC match on Sunday.
There was nothing to be gained by putting Del Rio in the ring with Tensai. If he beats the big man, big deal. Everyone beats Tensai lately. If he were to lose somehow, he looks weak going into the Rumble on Sunday.
Del Rio needed to beat Tensai quickly and cleanly. He did, and gained nothing from it. There was absolutely no reason for this match to take place.
Hopefully, Del Rio and Big Show will have a confrontation on SmackDown on Friday to promote their upcoming match.
While this segment lacked the gravitas of the Punk promo and the Rock's segment with The Shield, it still provided a satisfying end to Raw and a good look ahead to Sunday's PPV. A Buy goes out for the closing segment of Raw.
Overall, this was an interesting way to send the audience home before the big Rumble match on Sunday. Since the segment didn't carry the weight of the Rock and Punk promos, it could have been placed at the end of the second hour, but it worked as a show closer as well.
It didn't start out that well. John Cena hit the ring, did a bunch of awkward jokes and attempted to interact with the audience. That part of the segment fell a bit flat.
It's also risky to have a top babyface like Cena "guarantee" a win. Since top babyfaces generally keep their word, it seems a bit like a spoiler for the PPV on Sunday.
Things got interesting when Sheamus started a procession of Rumble entrants. Each in turn made a brief spiel about why he would win the Rumble and then headed to the ring. By the time the inevitable brawl started, there were roughly 20 men in the ring.
The only problem is that the last 10 to 15 guys who ran down to the ring didn't announce their inclusion in the Rumble, so it's unclear if they are combatants or simply ran down to break up a fight.
WWE.com is only listing nine official entrants at this time, though some of the guys who brawled last night are not listed here, such as the Prime Time Players and Team Hell No. The official list will likely be revealed on SmackDown, with a few spots left open for mystery entrants.
Overall, it was a satisfying end to what turned out to be a solid show.
What did you like about this edition of Raw? Do you agree with the Buy or Sell statements here? Have your own ideas? Speak your mind in the comments section below.