With the Night of Champions 2010 Pay-Per-View now in the books and with Hell In A Cell coming only a couple weeks away, Raw gave us a good opportunity to see where the future of the WWE seems to be headed.
When Randy Orton was introduced to a giant pop to open up the show, I couldn't help but think the picture seemed somewhat out of place. Certainly Orton is one of the best workers in the company and makes for a great show every time he hits the ring, but I don't know if I'm okay with him smiling and glad-handing with fans, like a good babyface should do. I find Orton much more believable as a brooding, self-interested, borderline-schizophrenic. When his music plays the line "I hear voices in my head...", we believe he's mental enough to be like that. With that being said, his promo with Sheamus was pretty good, with the belt-toss/RKO being the icing on the cake. I've always thought that Orton's mic work was better-than-average, with his slow inflection and broken delivery, but when it works, it works well. Sheamus showed decent mic work, but nothing particularly spectacular.
The tag-team match came across real, real bad. Having McIntyre/Rhodes go up against another of WWE's hastily thrown together tag teams made for poor television, with the Hart Dynasty with backup commentary adding nothing. Tyson Kidd sounded like his last name was all too fitting, but David Hart-Smith did have some good one-liners and his McIntyre impression was pretty darn amusing. Still, the Harts were rough on the mic, the matchup was poorly thought-out and not having Natalya around was a giant bummer.
Jericho versus Morrisson had to be the match of the night. Pairing a great ring worker in Jericho with JoMo is aces as far as the booking is concerned, and Y2J must be given his due credit when he gives the young superstars solid, clean wins. Jericho's promo for his DVD set with Orton's run-in gave us a good taste of the future (sorry, read the spoilers), but I again had the problem of my personal perception of Orton when he threatened Y2J with a boot to the head. I don't know if it's just me, but I don't know if I'm okay with my babyfaces threatening their competitors with lasting head trauma (keeping in mind, this is the company that helped to bring us Chris Benoit).
The Edge/Bryan matchup certainly was the runner-up for match of the night, with Miz giving us a good heel commentary, Bryan and Edge providing some world-class wrestling and a solid continuation of a pretty engaging storyline. However, I'm starting to despise the GM's decision-reversals. Are refs no longer relevant? Do they have no say? While instant replay would help baseball and certainly has not hurt college or pro football, having the equivalent in professional wrestling is ridiculous, which is what the GM's reversal of Edge's win amounted to. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of the mystery GM and his/her antics. The whole storyline has stretched the limits of credulity. However, Edge's reaction was priceless and fitting, and hopefully this leads well into Edge moving to Smackdown. The run-in with Alex Riley and the Miz was typical heel behavior, but Miz sold his hatred of Daniel Bryan incredibly well. Say what you will about his in-ring abilities (or lack thereof), but Mike Mizanin can work a program with the best of them.
The Divas came out with Melina taking on Layla with McTaker on commentary. I balanced my checkbook during this segment with the volume turned down, though I did see a pretty weak "Matrix-move" by Melina and a pretty damn good-looking Springboard-Stunner (best description I have) by Layla.
Ditto R-Truth & Eve Torres v. DiBiase & Maryse. I was given no reason to have interest in this matchup, so I gave it none. Ted DiBiase has become friends with my fast-forward button only six short months after WrestleMania. You do the Million-Dollar Man proud, junior.
Another Raw, another main event with Cena in the match. The setup for the match was interesting enough with Wade Barrett changing the rules before the match, but the Super-Cena gig is certainly getting old. Thankfully, not all of Nexus was victimized by Cena, as Barrett never even entered the match and Justin Gabriel didn't lose to Cena on a clean pin. To me, this says that WWE has enough stock in those two to allow them to rise and make their way up on the ladder without losing face along the way. Gabriel showed some surprising power, perhaps indicating that we finally have a wrestler who combines strong mat skills, a decent power moveset and high-flying maneuvers.
The end is where the beef was. In a move that may prove to be great if the WWE can take a risk, Cena agreed to a match where he would join Nexus if he lost. If Cena is victorious, then Nexus is gone. Suddenly the WWE provides us with a clean, simple story with high stakes and a win-win scenario concerning its outcome. While I think the WWE botched the Rey Mysterio/CM Punk storyline when similar stakes were offered, this match presents us with no downside either way you go. If Cena loses, having him join Nexus provides the WWE with a golden opportunity to start out a heel program for Cena by making him the reluctant heel. If he loses, well, we get rid of the Nexus and send some guys back down to FCW and some stay up. It wouldn't be an awful way to end the storyline and busts up the stable without any complications.
Suffice to say, while Night of Champions may have been a halfway-decent PPV, it served more as a midway show built to set up Hell In A Cell. Then again, how the 'Dub sets up its Pay-Per-View schedule is an article by itself. Still, this episode of Raw was like so many others of the past year: spotted with good matches, filled with bad ones, and no lasting memorable moments. Nothing leads me to believe we won't get more of the same next week, but I'll watch in the hopes that the WWE can pull its collective heads out of their asses and provide some must-watch television before the Cubs win a World Series.