Betty White hosting Raw is a sweet treat for anyone who loves the PG Era and all the excitement it offers. How did we enjoy Ms. White last evening? Did she make everyone feel good? Good. She had to. Someone had to. Because few others on that show are having that effect anymore.
It's getting tiresome. I know—if I don't like the product, don't watch. OK, I suppose I'll just watch TNA instead; however, it's remarkably harder getting excited for a product when the 60 or so there watching it live can't.
Not much of a choice. If you're a fan of professional wrestling, the WWE is the major leagues—it's the most accessible product there is. And as a fan, and a future subscriber to the WWE Network, I suppose that entitles me to whine about it. And whine about it I will, until the WWE delivers the kind of product that first made me a fan.
Last night featured arguably one of the worst opening promos on Raw I've ever seen, though anymore, it's getting difficult to separate them. The members of The Authority needed to show themselves off first, as is tradition, followed by a painfully woeful edition of "Getting Insecure with Randy Orton," because fans have responded so well to this angle.
Next, we're interrupted by the "Yes!" man himself, Daniel Bryan. I asked a few weeks ago if the infatuation over Bryan was more about the dissatisfaction overall with Creative or if it was legitimate, if fans had truly bought in.
The answer was a resounding "Yes!" on behalf of Bryan. Well, OK, so this is genuinely someone everyone enjoys watching. And I will be the first to agree that of all the performers, Bryan never leaves us wanting more...in the ring. In the ring, he deserves every "Yes!" he gets; I can appreciate his work and the bumps he routinely takes.
In the ring, the man's electric. But I challenge even the biggest Daniel Bryan fan—the guy wearing the "Fear the beard" shirt, I want that guy to talk about Bryan on the mic. Someone in the back has clearly instructed him to do everything possible to sound like a teenager arguing with his parents over curfew. What's with the prolonged inflection on every sentence?
Yeeeeesss Daaaaniel, we all hear the fans chanting “Yes!” and chanting your name. But is it necessary to acknowledge them every other sentence?
Listen for yourselves. A dialogue featuring Daniel Bryan follows a very basic trajectory: interrupt, laugh, acknowledge the fans, big smile, short assertion of ambition, close with "Yes!" Does this sound even remotely accurate?
I get that the moment on top of the cage was electric. It's a moment that everyone will remember, the night Bryan got his revenge on Bray and the arena nearly had its roof "Yessed!" off. But the WWE is doing everything it can to replicate it on a weekly basis. Is the WWE going to pan out every single time Bryan ushers a "Yes!" chant in hopes to capture another moment?
I'm sure a ton of Bryan fans are reading this and collectively wishing me an agonizing "Yes!" Lock. I'll state again: I like Daniel Bryan. But Creative is leaving our man blowing in the wind. The writers need to make him cooler. Stop having him laugh at himself, stop making the fans cut promos for him. If this is going to be the face of the business, can we at least have the chance to take him seriously?
Just watch that above video. Look at Bryan's demeanor in the cage with Bray. That is how someone who deserves to be taken seriously conducts himself.
Pay attention to where Bryan is being relegated to. Look who is picking up the beef with Kane now that CM Punk decided he’d rather pass. I'm sure this will still somehow culminate in a WrestleMania spot for Bryan, only because it would be near suicidal to not put this guy in the main event.
Batista v. Alberto Del Rio Angle
Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler before he was brutally beaten by another yawn-inducer, Batista. Batista did impressively send Del Rio through a table, but he was surprisingly reprimanded by Triple H in the back for doing so. Triple H told the Animal to keep everything in the ring going forward and that that kind of stuff isn't tolerated anymore.
Would anyone like to set an over/under on the amount of tables broken in the last three months? What a stupid, wasteful segment. All Creative is doing is trying to spin Batista as a face. The idea is to make him clash with the hated Authority and hope the universe will rally behind him.
And is the WWE truly going to try and sell me on Triple H being Mr. Clean? Stop. It’s blasphemous.
I hope we're not that easy. Batista is a Triple H prodigy. His worth is derived straight from the guys making the card. The reaction he received at the Royal Rumble was concrete. This isn't the guy. Stop trying to force him down our throats.
The Miz Angle
The Miz once again commandeered the announcer's table as Santino wrestled Fandango. Miz made a good point about the wrestlers we're being forced to watch as opposed to him, but can WWE find any more of a creative way to make The Miz relevant again? I personally have little interest in this angle, and that's Creative's problem, not mine. Make it more interesting—we appreciate interesting.
The Tag Team Championship Angle
The New Age Outlaws (NAO) were there last night to provide comic relief and nothing else. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes and Goldust were performing in a six-man tag with six-man tag journeyman Rey Mysterio Jr. against The Wyatts.
I was a huge NAO fan as a kid. But this team is a shell of its former self. The reason I'm most disappointed by their return is because it stripped the belts from two very deserving performers. The Rhodes Brothers are everything I appreciate about professional wrestling. They're compelling and they aren't afraid of the high spots.
Cody Rhodes will give fans everything he has; he does it on a nightly basis. He'll moonsault off the top of the cage, he'll leap from the top turnbuckle, he'll take the bumps most guys bail from. The NAO won't. We all saw last week that Road Dogg wouldn't even receive the moonsault.
I'm confident there is some intense cardio happening behind the scenes for the NAO, but these guys cannot deliver what the previous champions can. It's criminal for them to have the belts.
The Usos beat Rybaxel. I'm calling it now: The Usos are going to get the belts from the NAO. While this team is extremely deserving, that doesn't signal good news for the Rhodes Brothers, who may fade from the title picture while Triple H's drinking buddies feud with Rikishi's offspring.
The Shield vs. The Wyatts Angle
The Shield has a few compelling angles happening at the moment, both of which I think are the seeds of The Shield's breakup. Roman Reign's quip to Dean Ambrose about not defending his United States Championship was less than subtle. Ambrose ultimately extended an open challenge for his belt, which was answered by the master of open-invite rumbles, Mark Henry.
The match was less than stellar. It was basically Mark Henry throwing Dean Ambrose into things and out of the ring, affirming he is indeed stronger. When it looked like he was going to get a victory, Seth Rollins interfered and the match was called in favor of Henry.
While the Dean Ambrose title reign seems intact for now, that entire angle plays second-fiddle to the biggest angle the WWE has going.
The Shield vs. The Wyatts is pure gold. If you're a Daniel Bryan fan upset with my criticism about his mic skills, please pay attention to these two stables. This is how good promos are cut. This is how you build anticipation and excitement for a match. The right amount of words, a tension you can feel, a perfect tease.
It was the most entertaining moment on Raw last night, when The Wyatts stood across from The Shield. Two awesome, respected heel stables. This was the kind of moment that lends itself to any kind of viewer, wrestling fan or not. The politics were irrelevant, the story's trajectory, too. All that mattered during that moment was The Shield and The Wyatts.
This feud should both begin and end the next Raw, especially if the alternative is another Authority council session with Orton and Bryan.
Randy Orton's Bout-with-Insecurity Angle
John Cena and Randy Orton wrestled again last night. In case you forgot about the last two pay-per-views when Cena and Orton wrestled for the belt, the WWE was sure to revisit this amazing rivalry that somehow wasn't already fresh in our minds, despite being fresh on my cable bill. In fact, I watched these guys wrestle at the last house show I went to, just a month ago.
I suppose the stakes were raised a bit when Cena proclaimed that this match would be the end of his rivalry with Randy Orton. The only thing I can say about that is good. It's beyond that time; I was over this rivalry after the inflated TLC match.
There's just nothing else these guys can offer. We can only witness both kick out after each other's finishing move so many times. We can only witness Cena get handcuffed and beaten so many times. I’ve watched Orton get to the rope in spite of the STF more times than I can count. It’s not a criticism of the performers; it’s more a dig at Creative.
Cena won, the rivalry is over, rejoice for the hope of something new. Sadly, if I had to guess, Orton is taking these losses on Raw in an effort to break his confidence, making him unsure of himself, only to allow him to win the Elimination Chamber and solidify the greatness bestowed upon him by The Authority.