10 Things the WWE Is Doing Right
Honestly, this Monday's Raw was one of the worst I have ever seen. And I've been watching Raw since the first one.
The rating for the show was a 2.7. This isn't all that surprising as Monday Night Football generally destroys all in its path.
However, if the WWE continues to put out more mundane, inept and just plain horrible shows like the one they did on Monday, 2.7 is going to be a good day this time next year—NFL towering over the WWE, or not.
It's hard not to bury the WWE when they put out product like they do. Monday Night was a shining example of why it's so hard to say anything nice about them these days.
However, in what is sure to be a barrage of insults against the WWE in the coming week, that will barrel right on through what is sure to be a flaccid Night of Champions, I am going to go against the grain.
I am going to try, somehow, to dig deep and challenge myself to find 10, yes, you heard me correctly, ten whole things that the WWE is doing correctly with the product.
I believe that I would have better odds of successfully winging a brain operation, with no experience whatsoever, but, I slept at a Holiday Inn last night, so I can pretty much do anything.
Here we go.
Not Depushing CM Punk
Triple H said recently in an interview that people think that the WWE wings this stuff and that they don't think things through.
I think saying that, out loud, into a live microphone, when gauging what the WWE is giving us on television these days, is pretty stupid.
If I were Triple H, I would lie. I would tell the whole world we made that stuff up on the fly while so inebriated on gin and whiskey that Jim Ross' hat served as a substitute bathroom for half of the writers while producing the show.
At least then, they'd have an excuse.
But, even though the WWE does write the product like a pack of drunken monkeys, and they do make decisions that make Forrest Gump seem lucid, I must applaud them on not making the hasty decision to quit on the CM Punk angle.
It would be easy for them to bury his push like so many others in the past, simply because their own writing missteps have sabotaged an angle or wrestler's ascent.
They haven't done that, so far.
On Monday, Punk got the prime spot. He was in the main-event segment, and was advertised with Triple H as the biggest event of the night. And it was. It wasn't particularly great, as CM Punk and Triple H appear to have run out of things to say. (Which tends to happen when you rely solely on work-shooting, without building any story of any kind in the ring.)
But it was top billing.
Whether this will remain the case after Night of Champions remains to be seen.
But for now, kudos to the WWE for not being imbecilic enough to bury Punk.
Not Prematurely Detonating the CM Punk Angle
Also, let's give the WWE a brownie with sprinkles and a "good job" sticker for not completely dumping the "Reality Era" angle with CM Punk, either.
It is going nowhere fast.
It's going to probably end badly, because let's face it, while the common phrase is: "The IWC thinks they can produce WWE television better than the writers, but they can't", at this point in time, I believe the first seven people to comment on this article could probably replace the WWE's "Creative" team wholesale and probably produce a better product at this point.
Watch Monday Night Raw again.
This angle will probably end disastrously because the "creative" team just doesn't know how to manage it properly.
Really? This angle is probably already dead and most of us just don't know it, yet.
Nevertheless, they haven't just had Punk come out, say nothing, and act like it never happened.
Thus far, this angle hasn't completely up and disappeared into thin air, like the New Nexus or The Raw General Manager.
No WWE, we haven't forgotten either one of those things.
And until this all goes away, and we have to learn to live with the "status quo" that is Superman wrestling amongst the mere mortals of Metropolis again, we have to at least give the WWE a small hand clap for keeping a faint glimmer of hope alive.
But I will sure hate (love) to see the fan backlash when they finally snuff out the hope for change they teased us with in CM Punk.
It's going to be nasty.
Because nobody likes a tease.
Keeping Kevin Nash off of Television
This is going to be one of those "for now" compliments.
It's truly a reach, because it's pretty difficult to find 10 things to congratulate the WWE on, but the WWE is like a "special" child. And so whether they've finally learned to color in between the lines (at age 39) or they recognize that the crowd goes into an anaphylactic shock at the appearance of a bad hire like Kevin Nash, you have to give them a cookie when they get something right.
Kevin Nash has been an absolute disaster since showing up in the WWE again.
I can't even explain it. I've seen guys get old and lose their moves in the ring. Nash did that six or seven years ago. But, I've never seen a guy get old and lose his charisma.
Ric Flair is older than my great grandfather, and he can still go on the mic. Hulk Hogan is my great grandfather and can still deliver a promo.*
So, why has age caused Nash to sound like he's been drinking jet fuel by the gallon? Is he actually drinking jet fuel by the gallon? (Could be.) I don't understand it.
And the prospects of him wrestling a full match is laughable.
The WWE is going to have to restart the NWO and put eight guys in it, just so whenever Kevin Nash has a match, it can be a 10-man tag, and he can stay unnoticed on the apron.
The WWE rarely stops forcing things down the fans throats. Whether it's John Cena, Alberto Del Rio or The Great Khali, they're going to force their will on you until you like it. (While disturbingly quoting lines from Silence of the Lambs.) They're rather sadistic (stupid) that way.
So for them to realize that a guy is murdering their ratings like Hannibal Lecter and pull the plug on it, that's pretty commendable for the WWE.
Of course, he's coming right back at Night of Champions, so this compliment will go right out of the window just like any segment Nash is in, but for now...
Kudos to you, WWE.
*Hulk Hogan is not my grandfather. I have better genes than that, anyway.
Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne
Another good move is the pairing of Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne. (Who, I will never, ever, not even if you gave me Maryse, call "Air Boom.")
They are both exciting wrestlers, tremendously over with the fans as faces, and Kofi can even carry them on the microphone.
It was a good way to ignite the stagnant tag-team division and a way to utilize two severely under-utilized talents.
In fact, I'm so behind the move, I'm not even going to craft this slide to be a left-handed compliment.
Just a plain good move, WWE.
For you, anyway. (I tried. I really did try not to slide in a shot.)
Oh, and yes, I would call them "Air Boom" if you gave me Maryse, I just want to clear that up.
She's probably slept with the Miz?
Nah, you can keep her, then.
The Awesome Truth
Speaking of the Miz, "The Awesome Truth" is another good move by the WWE.
But, I am going to temper that with this:
This shouldn't have been a good move by the WWE. The Awesome Truth is really just a side effect of sloppy booking by the WWE.
When CM Punk's work-shoot went over like it did, and the WWE put him in a program with John Cena, it left The Miz and The Truth floating in limbo.
So, basically, the WWE pulled a "We're busy in here, you boys go outside and find something to do." With Mike Mizanin and Ron Killings and the two of them are so good as performers, they created something wonderful.
In fact, I dare say, they created the only truly entertaining thing you'll find outside of a CM Punk segment or Kofi/Bourne match on Raw.
So, while someone in Creative would love to take credit for "The Awesome Truth," I don't think anyone has forgotten that they had The Miz doing an angle with Jared from Subway, just before it happened.
"The Awesome Truth," along with Kofi and Bourne, (I'm not kidding, I simply won't refer to them as "Air Boom") are setting the stage for a nice tag team division.
Now, if only the WWE had six more tag teams that people cared about...
Side note: How did The Miz land Maryse? Seriously, that's ridiculous.
The Mark Henry World Title Chase
Mark Henry is in no way, shape or form a credible World Champion.
He has the same limited moveset he has always had since 1996.
He has the same limited mic-skills he has always had since 1996.
He has the same played out gimmick he has always had since 1996. (Newsflash, WWE, when one types in "World's Strongest Man" into Google? Mark Henry does not show up. Why? Because he hasn't been the World's Strongest Man since 1996. Zydrunas Savickas is the World's Strongest Man.)
But honestly, it really doesn't matter if Mark Henry isn't World Champion material. So many guys have held the title who didn't deserve it, or weren't ready for it, from Mysterio to Khali to Jack Swagger—Mark Henry holding the belt won't cheapen it anymore than it already has been.
Nevertheless, I have watched Mark Henry waddle around the WWE for fifteen years. I have seen him go through the same cycle of "Oh no! Mark's mad! Hide the kids! Hide the wife!" to "Oh, isn't that cute? He's having sex with a septuagenarian!" so many times, that I never thought he would ever convince me that he would hold a World Title in his lifetime.
And yet, the WWE has surprisingly done a fantastic job of making me feel like Mark Henry has a chance against Randy Orton.
But, they at least make me feel like he does.
From breaking the legs of The Big Show, Kane and Vladamir Koslov, to putting Sheamus through a barricade, to ravaging Randy Orton a couple of times now, Mark Henry seems like a credible threat for once.
Of course, if you think he'll take that title from Randy Orton this Sunday, I have some utterly shocking news for you...he won't. (Gasp!)
There is a reason why the announcers keep screaming "Randy can't RKO Mark Henry! He's too big!", even though he's already RKO'ed The Big Show, Kane, The Undertaker and The Great Khali.
So that when he does RKO Mark Henry this Sunday, Randy will seem like Superman.
Wait, that's Cena, my bad.
The Cody Rhodes Push
I don't know who is handling the booking for Cody Rhodes' career.
But, when rabid wrestling fans finally storm WWE Headquarters in revolt and savagely beat everyone in sight, in an uncontrollable fit of rage and euphoria, they should probably spare that one writer. (Unless he's also responsible for Hornswoggle. Then have at him.)
The handling of Cody Rhodes' has been a throwback to the good old days, when wrestlers were given a character, given mic time to allow it to grow and given important wins at the right time, in the right pace, in order to systematically work them up into a top star.
I do not like the mask, but I think the character that Cody has become is phenomenal.
I think giving him the Intercontinental title was the right move to make.
And most shockingly, allowing him to actually pin Randy "Captain Marvel" Orton on Raw was a great move to establish him as a top-level threat.
The next move should be to give him a completely clean win over Randy Orton. Which I do believe will come, as the only reason Cody was given that win, was to be the next opponent for Randy Orton after he's done banishing Mark Henry back to the mid-card, again.
In the toxic miasma that is WWE booking, where angles vanish, great stars are depushed, bad stars are pushed and things happen for no reason, the Cody Rhodes character has been a calm and steady brook, by which fans of booking sensibility may rest their weary souls.
That is until John Cena comes along and pees in the stream.
Because you know he will, eventually.
He hates you.
Jim Ross Ignoring Michael Cole's Silliness
When Jim Ross was "rehired" by Triple H, fans of good announcing rejoiced.
We would actually hear the names of moves in the ring.
We would actually get commentary about the match going on at the time, and would hear about the actual wrestlers wrestling in the match, as opposed to how John Cena would overcome his latest impossible odds.
And then Michael Cole opened his mouth, and we realized: "Nope, it's still going to be horrible."
Michael Cole is a great heel who is pretending to be an announcer, and as such, he has to overwhelm anyone who sits down at the table with his snarkiness.
This also included Jim Ross.
And with Jerry Lawler attempting to play the reasonable middle man, at times telling Cole to "Calm down" and "Focus on the match," while at others, trying to jump on Cole's awful joke train, the announcing went from awful, to downright uncomfortable to listen to.
Fortunately, Jim Ross is one of the few people in the WWE who has some intelligence and understands what does and does not help a show.
And so now, Jim Ross pretty much treats Michael Cole's attacks like he's a seven-year-old child.
"If you say so, Cole."
My favorite thing to hear is when JR says one of his iconic lines and Michael Cole attempts to make fun of him, and Jim just keeps calling the match like Cole doesn't even exist. It was very prevalent in the Lawler/Sheamus vs. "The Bland Leading The Bland" match this past Raw.
It's entertaining because Michael Cole is so annoying. I wish I could tune him out, sometimes.
By JR no longer falling into Cole's stupidity, it improves the announcing on the show tremendously, as it reduces the number of times they get carried away into inane conversations and kindergarten-like insult wars.
The Zach Ryder Push
Zach Ryder will never be anything special.
I'm sorry Ryder fans. But he won't. Zach Ryder is a "Scotty 2 Hotty". He's a popular fad, right now.
Even I like Zach Ryder right now.
But two years from now, people will be about as tired of Zach Ryder's fist bumps, webshow and "WWWYKI" as they are of John Cena right now.
Side Note: What in the world was Triple H talking about on Raw? Every time he said Cena's name, the crowd booed. He is not accepted. He is not liked in most places he goes. Only kids like him. He got booed in his own hometown, man. Is he delusional? He's about as "Over" as a limbo champion.
You know, because in Limbo, you go under...which is the exact opposite of...ne-never mind.
But much like "Too Cool," "The Boogeyman," and "Glacier," Long Island Iced-Z is not a gimmick meant for the long haul.
Even if you love Zach to death, sleep with his t-shirt and brush your teeth while staring at his poster, in time, the gimmick will get old.
But for now, he's hot. And it's smart that the WWE has listened to the fans, recognized he's hot right now, and is giving him a push.
Though, it's up to Zach to determine where he goes after the gimmick gets stale, because he does have the skills to be a long-term star in pro-wrestling. If he can continue to evolve and reinvent himself, he should be able to thrive for a long time in the mid-card of the WWE.
The Sheamus Face Turn
Man, am I reaching on this one.
There is absolutely nothing inspiring about Sheamus' face turn.
It's about as by-the-numbers as one can get.
He simply went from attacking faces to attacking heels.
He has always been an "in-your-face" character. (Except for the time the WWE totally buried his character by having him run away from the Nexus like a punk.) But, Sheamus has always been billed as the "Celtic Warrior", the brash Irishman who won't back down from a fight. Whether that fight was with Triple H as a heel or Mark Henry as a face.
There's nothing new about face Sheamus at all. Except maybe he tells more tales about his homeland now. I don't mind that, because I get a kick out of hearing Sheamus talk.
But, at least the WWE recognized that people liked Sheamus and that he would work as a face.
That counts for something. Because the WWE seems so lost at times, I wonder if they even comprehend what a "Sheamus" is.
But somehow, they stumbled their way into doing something good.
Even if it didn't take any effort.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have reached my goal of ten things to compliment the WWE on and have to wrap up this neurosurgery with my patient.
Good day to you all.