WWE "What If" Game: A Probing Look at Monday Night RAW
In a summer of vast change for the wrestling business, WWE RAW has done some pretty significant things that dwarf the product it had provided in the months previous.
That said, the flagship show on Monday nights has also become a baffling, chaotic playground that poses far more questions that it does answers. Far be it from me to say that all of these are provocative, ratings-inducing questions.
In fact, more often than not, the questions RAW asks open a larger world of suspicious possibilities.
With just six days to go before the WWE's Money in the Bank pay-per-view, this edition of RAW did more with the “What if” factor than any nights in recent memory. Here now is a compilation of those questions with some reasonable answers.
What if Florence Henderson is the last we see of the Guest Host idea?
As of this writing, there are no future Celebrity Guest Hosts for Monday Night RAW. While even the most jaded fan is happy to hear this news, that isn't to say the idea was a complete failure.
Some hosts were downright miserable (Ricky Hatton, ZZ Top) or did little to add to a show they had already been featured on (Batista, David Otunga). Despite this often panned year of RAW the Variety Show, some more memorable moments in the history of “sports entertainment” came out of the Guest Host concept.
The crudely reworked Brady Bunch theme from tonight's episode was a clever highlight that nodded to fans both young and old. And who can disagree that shows featuring David Hasselhoff and Bob Barker were immensely entertaining?
Yes, this is professional wrestling. But above all else, you watch the product to be entertained. And at some brief point, the company actually had the right idea.
What if Goldust was actually used properly?
Yes, this is a serious question. Dustin Rhodes has managed to do something spectacular: make a freakish, homoerotic character popular for 15 years. That said, he's also been given the shaft despite his unique talents, which more than half the roster still do not possess.
Today's wrestler could learn a thing or two from the bizarre one. He still has great technical skills and is a psychological mastermind both in the ring and on the microphone. That is, when he's playing the serious role, as he did around the 2009 Royal Rumble with his younger brother Cody.
Don't forget that he might not be useful to win too many matches, but he's got a pretty good shelf life as a jobber to the stars, putting over the next big talents on the roster.
Don't believe me? Then refer to his last big feud on television, which was with a new ECW star named Sheamus.
What if Triple H had been R-Truth's replacement for Money in the Bank?
This one may seem like a stretch, given Triple H's recent surgery, but it might also be a stroke of genius. Just imagine the following scenario:
The RAW General Manager announces that R-Truth's replacement will be a mystery heading into Sunday, adding a new spin to a match already crammed with rivalries. More fans tune in to find out just who it is, and are surprised to see the Cerebral Assassin make an intelligent last minute run-in, climbing the ladder and claiming his prize.
And then, naturally, he announces the next night on RAW that he's gunning for the man who put him on the shelf, Sheamus, and the WWE Title.
Sure, we've seen Triple H on top far too many times before, but this would be as good a time as any to make history by having someone win Money in the Bank, and then fail when they cashed it in. With the abrupt ending to Mark Henry's match, I can still hold out hope.
What if Edge knew his Money in the Bank history?
“I have been in the most Money in the Bank ladder matches and I have won the most Money in the Bank ladder matches,” Edge proclaimed during a scathing interview segment with Josh Mathews this week. The only problem with such a statement is that, as is typical with WWE history, it is completely inaccurate.
Edge did win the first MITB ladder match at WrestleMania 21, but his second briefcase came after an assault on Mr. Kennedy one week on RAW. Kennedy won the actual ladder match at WrestleMania 23. For the sake of argument, C.M. Punk is the record holder here, the only man to legitimately win two Money in the Bank ladder matches.
As if that little error wasn't bad enough, Edge's claim that he's been in the most MITB matches is, of course, false. He's competed in a whopping two contests, putting him behind Christian, Matt Hardy, C.M. Punk, MVP, Finlay, Kane (each with three appearances), and Shelton Benjamin (with five).
But of course, since this is WWE, if you're not with the company anymore, you've been erased. See: Benoit, Chris. What? Too soon?
What if Sheamus were used properly?
Fans have debated for months over whether or not the Celtic Warrior has been properly built or used for WWE Title stardom. Despite the fact that he has all the assets of a strong heel, and is reminiscent of an AWA-style, rugged individual named Big Scott Hall, Sheamus can't seem to catch a break.
And on RAW, the WWE Champion has been little more than an afterthought when his name is Sheamus. His first title run was less than remarkable, considering he defended the belt against few competent foes and was rarely in any peril. His second run has been even less stellar, considering he isn't prominently featured in his one-sided war with John Cena.
The WWE has elected to promote eight newcomers instead (now seven, wait, six), with little track record over their one beast with little track record.
What if the RAW General Manager is Eugene?
This one may infuriate you the most, but it might also be spot on. The WWE has attempted to shroud the identity of the new RAW General Manager with more red herrings than a bait-and-tackle shop could fathom.
After a week of teasing “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the WWE took another turn this week by adding a little bit of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper into the mix. As the Legends and Hall-of-Fame catchphrase club continues to build around the GM's electricity-manipulating e-mails, there is one logical solution that fits the PG Era perfectly.
RAW's first and last “special” superstar was notorious for borrowing from other wrestlers throughout his brief tenure. He's a face that most young fans would still recognize and who most old fans know was always liked within the company. But really, Eugene?
If it happens, don't say I didn't warn you first.
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