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.
Last night's edition of Raw got off to a confusing start. A Sell for the garbled booking of the opening segment.
The show started out fine, with a video recap of Sunday's Royal Rumble. Then, things began to fall apart.
Raw Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero came on the screen, and gave an explanation of the Raw Roulette concept. There were three wheels (only one of which really mattered, as it turns out), one for Superstars, one for stipulations and the Vickie Vegas Challenge wheel. This was poorly explained, as the Superstars wheel was never spun on the show and the VVC wheel was used only once. Essentially, Vickie was spinning a wheel to see what stipulations would be applied to the matches on the show.
Following Vickie's explanation, the show cut back to the ring, where CM Punk cut an enraged promo about his loss to the Rock at the Royal Rumble. (More on this in the next slide.)
The whole segment was confusing and poorly executed. It would have been better to show the highlight package, cut to Punk in the ring, let him finish his encounter with Vince McMahon, and then move on to Vickie (if that part was necessary at all).
Following a historic Royal Rumble pay-per-view, the first live face that WWE wanted viewers to see was Vickie Guerrero? Bad idea.
Continuity is part of good TV. This scrambled opening segment was an epic fail.
The promo segment featuring CM Punk and Vince McMahon was almost as schizoid as the opening segment. Because of this, the segment gets a Mixed Bag.
Punk's angry promo was a Buy. His rage, as opposed to his usual superior demeanor, made him seem more relatable. How many of us have come home angry from work, convinced that our boss has screwed us over? His promo was logical, and made some valid points.
According to Punk, there was no proof that The Shield attacked the Rock. There was also no evidence of him having any connection to the Terrible Trio. Punk called the decision to re-start the match "illegal" and deemed McMahon "a thief."
All of that was good TV. Where things began to fall apart was when Vince showed up. McMahon's explanation about having a video tape with evidence of Punk and Heyman's alliance with The Shield. While this later proved "true," he didn't have the tape when he took action on Sunday night.
Further, Vince then indicated that he would be giving Heyman a "personal performance review" later in the show. (Code for "I get to say YOU'RE FIRED tonight.") Doesn't Heyman work for Punk, not WWE? If so, how can Vince be rating his performance? Vince seemed to be reading from a script that only he could see, and ignoring Punk altogether. While Punk was a Buy, Vince was a complete Sell.
WWE has been trying to push The Miz as a babyface. Unfortunately for both Miz and the creative team, he injured his ankle last week and can't perform up to par in the ring.
WWE found a way to keep Miz relevant and continue his burgeoning feud with United States champion Antonio Cesaro on last night's show. A Buy for Miz as the special referee in Cesaro's match with Randy Orton.
Placing Miz in the ring with a rising star like Cesaro and established main-eventer such as Orton raises his profile. Since he can't wrestle, WWE wisely let Miz do most of his work on the mic and with facial expressions and gestures. He's very good at these things.
During the actual match, Miz solidified his babyface status in a number of ways.
Early in the bout, he called the action right down the middle, forcing Orton to break a couple of holds, and making legitimate counts on near falls. This portrayed him as someone who would be fair, even if one of the combatants is an enemy.
Later, when Cesaro first stuck his thumb in Orton's eye, then shoved Miz, Miz reacted as a normal referee would, but also slyly distracted Cesaro until Orton was in position to hit an RKO. This was a clever act. Miz was arguably performing as any ref should, but also managed to find a way to aid Orton. His Skull Crushing Finale to Cesaro after Orton left the ring was also a crowd pleaser.
The overall effect of the match was that Miz was solidified as a babyface. His feud with Cesaro was continued. Cesaro looked strong in the match with Orton, and only lost because of Miz's interference, so he remained strong as well.
This was the first Raw after a major PPV. While some of the important storylines from Sunday night's Royal Rumble were continued, there were other things on the show that simply didn't need to be there.
A Sell for most of the Roulette-inspired "comedy" on last night's show.
The Make Me Laugh Challenge was utterly unfunny, totally predictable and a complete waste of Ryback, one of the most over acts in the company.
The whole concept of a lingerie pillow fight between Tensai and Brodus Clay is abhorrent. There was an unintentionally funny moment during that segment when Vickie told the two behemoths that she wouldn't allow them to wear lingerie to the ring as she wasn't "going to take that risk again." When, exactly, has Vickie dressed these two in lingerie? A second Sell for making the audience look at Tensai in lingerie. Wasn't this guy a monster heel a few months ago?
Most painful of all was the Karaoke Challenge between Zack Ryder and Great Khali. The WWE Universe has known for a long time that Khali can't wrestle. Now it knows that he can't sing either. It was uncomfortable to watch, as if the audience were somehow participating in the humiliation of a defenseless child. It didn't get much better when 3MB came to the ring, only to get beat up by Khali. The members of 3MB stumbled through what was clearly a scripted promo, their forced delivery only making a bad segment worse. It probably hurt more to watch Khali's chops than to receive them. Has there ever been a less graceful person in WWE? Or anywhere?
After some of the painfully unfunny comedy segments, it was a pleasure to see a solid match.
A Buy for the tables match between Sheamus and Damien Sandow.
Both men got in solid offense during the match, and Sandow sold the Great White's power moves like a pro. The end of the match, which saw Sheamus put Sandow through a table by raising him to his shoulders and launching backward, was a high-impact finish. Both men came out of the match looking strong.
Buy Tables match between Sheamus and Sandow. Both men got in solid offense and Sheamus putting Sandow through a table by driving himself backward while holding Sandow on his shoulders was a high-impact finish. Both men came out looking better.
The only downer about this segment was that Sandow, like his tag team partner Cody Rhodes, lost in a clean finish. I didn't have a problem with either of the singles matches, but would rather have seen Rhodes Scholars face off with Team Hell No in a match for the Tag Team titles.
Lately, there has been an influx of new talent on the WWE roster from the NXT developmental territory.
The Shield, Big E Langston and now Bo Dallas have all popped up on WWE TV lately. All have been at least moderately impressive so far.
However, Dallas' win over Wade Barrett in last night's Player's Choice challenge earns a Sell.
Most of this segment was good.
It made sense for Barrett, who was eliminated by Dallas at the Rumble, to choose the rookie as his opponent. It keeps Dallas in a relatively high-profile spot, and is in keeping with Barrett's heel character.
Even the beginning of the match was fine. Dallas showcased his quickness, and got some offense in on the Intercontinental champ. That made him seem legit.
Barrett starting to take over the match also made perfect sense. He's an experienced worker. While he may have been caught off guard initially by Dallas' sheer speed, his savvy would allow him to find a way to counter the rookie's attack.
Where it all went wrong was when Dallas rolled up Barrett for a fluky win. Since the win was pure luck, it doesn't really help Dallas, and it makes Barrett look weak. With a tournament to determine the next challenger for the Intercontinental championship in the works on Main Event, it's not a good idea to make the reigning champ look like a buffoon. Barrett has done a lot to raise the cachet of the IC belt. Last night, a lot of that work was undone.
Winning the Intercontinental title should be something that superstars work for, not something that happens within days of their TV debut. These two need to meet again, and Barrett needs to score a decisive win if the IC title is to remain relevant.
It was announced on last night's Raw that John Cena will be replacing Fred Flintstone on boxes of Fruity Pebbles cereal.
This is how WWE wants to promote the man that everyone is expected to take seriously? Cena is the winner of the Royal Rumble, a multiple-time World champion, and the No. 1 contender for the WWE title. He is also, apparently, a good match for a cartoon character. This whole circus started when Rock insulted Cena for his multicolored attire leading up to their match at last year's WrestleMania. Instead of defending himself from the verbal abuse, Cena decided to take an endorsement deal.
Nothing says, "Take me seriously" like being compared to a cartoon character. Not even a superhero, but a 1960s caveman that wears a dress and tie. On second thought, after viewing Cena's recent promo work, he might just be a cartoon character.
Even Cena's choice to challenge for the WWE championship at WrestleMania was poorly handled.
No one in the WWE Universe thought for a second that Cena would challenge for the World Heavyweight belt. WWE wants Cena to face Rock again. There was no doubt which title he would chase.
Instead of coming out and saying that he was making the only obvious choice, Cena tried to build drama. He stated that it would be smarter to take on the WHC, stating, "No matter who the champ is, I have a better chance to beat him" (than either Punk or Rock). Way to bury a major championship belt.
Cena stated that he failed to beat Rock, despite spending a whole year thinking of nothing else while "The Great One" was out shooting movies. He went on to point out that he has failed to defeat Punk six consecutive times. He stated that he has virtually no chance to defeat either man. (Though it's clearly evident that Punk is unlikely to be involved in the WrestleMania match.)
So now, Cena has buried the WHC, and declared that he has almost no chance of being successful in a battle for the WWE belt. Then, he chooses to go for the WWE championship anyway. Doesn't this pretty much make him an idiot?
Hopefully, Cena promotes cereal better than PPVs.
While it would be nice to see The Shield in a legitimate feud instead of watching the trio randomly attack people for no apparent reason, they still get a Buy for beating up John Cena on last night's show.
It's not clear what injustice The Shield was protesting, but their attack shut Cena up for a while, and was worth it for that alone.
Of course, the attack on Cena caused Sheamus and Ryback to rush to his aid.
Apparently, the two babyfaces don't have much sense of timing. They ran down at intervals just long enough to allow The Shield to maintain a three-on-one advantage.
First, Cena was laid out. While he lay recovering, Sheamus came out and took his beating.
With both Cena and Sheamus incapacitated, Ryback came down to get pounded. Wouldn't it have made more sense for Sheamus and Ryback to come to the ring together? Apparently, the babyfaces in the back don't talk to each other.
Maybe they were afflicted with Royal Rumble Syndrome, and were only able to enter the ring at 90-second intervals.
Alberto Del Rio has had a surprisingly effective babyface turn and early reign as World Heavyweight champion.
He's looked good in his matches with Big Show, and the crowd is buying into his good guy routine.
That said, a Sell for Del Rio taking on Big Show in a Body Slam challenge on last night's Raw.
Babyfaces are supposed to overcome overwhelming odds and emerge victorious. Del Rio managed to do that in a believable way in two Last Man Standing matches against Show.
Using a the announcer's table to defeat the giant in the first match, and having Ricardo Rodriguez tape him to the ropes in the second made Del Rio look smart and opportunistic. The WWE Universe loved the outcomes and was behind Del Rio 100 percent.
It stretches credibility to believe that Del Rio would have a chance against Big Show in a Body Slam match. Even if Show were unconscious, it's doubtful that Del Rio would be able to lift him up. Thus, the outcome of this match was predictable. Either Big Show would win, or there would be a DQ finish.
It was clear from the beginning that Big Show wasn't interested in winning the match. That defies logic. If Show wants another shot at the World Heavyweight championship, wouldn't a decisive win over the current champ make his case?
While it's logical that Big Show would want to take revenge on Rodriguez, it's not sensible for him to do so at the cost of the match. It would have made more sense for him to tape Del Rio to the ropes, knock him out, then beat up Ricardo. When he was finished, he could free Del Rio from the ropes and slam him to win the match AND get his revenge.
Instead, he taped Del Rio to the ropes (twice) and brutalized both men. This doesn't make Big Show seem like an unstoppable giant. It makes him a cowardly heel and a bully.
Be A Star, indeed.
Recently, The Rock's appearances on WWE TV have been a mixed bag.
He comes off as somewhat silly when doing things like the recent Rock Concert, but seems like the old Attitude Era version of himself when simply interacting with other superstars.
Last night, he was the old-school Rock again. A Buy for Rock's promo.
The promo was vintage Rock. He was playful at times, getting the crowd involved in the segment. He used his catch phrases and established how important being WWE champion was to him.
He seemed fully engaged, and became even more intense when Punk emerged.
Another Buy to Punk for his performance during this segment. Punk remained consistent, still angry about being "screwed" out of the championship the night before. He derided Rock for cursing and referenced "The Great One's" pedigree. This made him seem legitimately aggrieved and proved he is a student of the business.
Punk took risks. Calling out the Rock for using vulgarity could make Punk seem less cool by comparison. Highlighting the fact that Punk will be at the next three live events while Rock will not risks painting Punk as a lesser talent. (It also seems to encourage those fans who are tuning in to see Rock to take those nights off.) However, this approach is consistent with Punk's character. He points out the things that WWE might want the audience to miss.
John Cena could take lessons.
When Punk challenged Rock to a rematch at Elimination Chamber, it made some sense. Punk is mad, and that PPV will be his first chance to win back the title. In reality, Punk's challenge virtually guarantees another win for Rock, and the way to cement his upcoming match with Cena at WrestleMania 29.
It would have been more interesting if Punk had said he was invoking his rematch clause at WrestleMania. Since Cena is guaranteed a title shot, and Rock is the current champion, it would have caused some controversy. If McMahon were to disallow Punk's rematch, Punk could file a grievance with the WWE Board of Directors. At least there would be some mystery on the Road to WrestleMania that way.
When Chris Jericho came out as the second entrant in Sunday's Royal Rumble, the crowd went berserk.
While it was great to see Y2J back in the ring, it wasn't clear if he was making a one-time appearance of if he was back to stay.
It appears that Jericho is going to be around for a while. His appearance on Raw last night showed that he's back in business, and ready to get back into his feud with Dolph Ziggler. Vickie Guerrero cemented the return, announcing on the TitanTron that she had re-signed Jericho.
A Buy for Jericho's return to the roster and his interactions with Ziggler and company on Raw.
Jericho's take on Big E Langston was vintage Y2J. He also took shots at AJ Lee and Ziggler himself.
Another Buy goes out for Jericho's performance in the Strange Bedfellows challenge with Ziggler against Team Hell No. Watching Jericho wrestle with Daniel Bryan made the audience drool at the future possibilities. His clever assistance of Hell No cost Ziggler a pinfall, and cemented the feud.
A minor Sell for the interactions between Kane and Bryan. Their discord seems to be hinting at a future breakup, but they remain successful in the ring. Isn't that how this whole gimmick started? After almost a year, we're right back where we started. Either way, Hell No was overshadowed by Jericho in the segment. Their situation should have been played out in a different scenario.
Trish Stratus was announced as the third member of WWE's Hall of Fame class of 2013 on last night's show.
Buy the induction.
If there's any diva from the past 15 years that deserves to be honored with induction to the HOF, it's Stratus, who started out on Raw as purely eye candy and ended her career as arguably the greatest Women's champion in company history.
The video package announcing Trish's induction was nicely done. Having Jim Ross' voice on the video, calling Stratus the best there ever was adds credence to Stratus' HOF credentials.
Stratus' inclusion in the Class of 2013, along with Mick Foley and Bob Backlund, makes this class one of the most prestigious in recent WWE history.
The closing segment of last night's show was another Mixed Bag.
Only the appearance of Brock Lesnar at the end of the show saved this from being an utter Sell.
The whole concept of Vince giving Paul Heyman a performance review didn't make sense. As stated on an earlier slide, Heyman supposedly works for CM Punk, not WWE. If that's the case, Vince has no authority to give him a performance review. At best, he could ban Heyman from WWE venues, forcing him to do all of his work with Punk behind the scenes.
The videotape of Heyman interacting with Brad Maddox and The Shield didn't make sense either. During the video, Heyman told the cameraman to shut off the camera. Obviously, he didn't want to be recorded at that time. So, when the cameraman turned the camera back on, wouldn't Heyman have noticed the lens being pointed at him? It's a plot hole big enough to drive a bus through. Sell the lack of logic.
From a purely logistical point of view, the existence of the tape doesn't really make sense either. Sure, Brad Maddox's cameraman could have delivered the video to Vince immediately after taking it (supposedly in Las Vegas), but wouldn't anyone with any sense spend some time verifying the legitimacy of the footage? Apparently, McMahon wouldn't. If he had, he'd certainly have presented this evidence to Heyman. There simply wouldn't have been enough time to do that sort of analysis of the tape and its content. Sell the video evidence.
Another Sell for Heyman's response. There were some high points. Heyman admitting to Vince that he has lied "every day" of his life is good. Everyone knows he's lied. Lying to Vince about the veracity of the taped evidence doesn't make any sense. If it wasn't Heyman on the tape, he would have been outraged, not begging. If it was him, lying about it isn't going to help.
Sell Vince's response to Heyman. As in the opening segment with Punk, it was like Vince was working from a different script from everyone else. He asked Heyman if he lied. Heyman admitted doing so. In a total non-sequitur, Vince responded by asking him if he was an honorable man. He just admitted to lying every day of his life. Then, when Heyman responded that he'd become an honorable man "if that's what it takes," Vince continued to respond as if he hadn't heard him. He ordered a close shot of Heyman's face and asked the crowd if this was an honorable man. Heyman just stated that he wasn't, but would become one. It's true that Vince is getting older, but he should be able to hear the responses of a man standing five inches away.
Enter Lesnar. This is a Buy for a number of reasons.
First of all, the return of Lesnar opens up numerous storylines for WWE. He could feud with HHH. He could go after Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight championship. He would make a great opponent for Ryback or Sheamus or any of the powerful babyfaces on the roster. Lesnar, if working a full-time schedule, adds a killer heel to the roster.
Secondly, Lesnar's return and the videotape presented by McMahon indicate that Heyman may have suddenly formed the best heel stable in professional wrestling since the Four Horsemen. If the storylines hold true, Heyman is now associated with The Shield, Lesnar and CM Punk. There's no telling what havoc he could wreak in the coming months.
Lastly, Lesnar's attack on Vince resulted in a broken pelvis for the WWE Chairman. (At least in a storyline sense.) This should keep Vince off of TV for a while, which is a good thing given his recent performances. It also opens the door for HHH to return to avenge his father-in-law, and solidifies Heyman as a power player.
What were your favorite moments from last night's show? What did you hate? Agree or disagree with this week's Buy or Sell? Speak your mind in the comments section below.