Watching WWE Raw live tonight was a complete waste of my time. As a WWE super fan, I watch a lot of WWE programming each month and for the most part my social life more or less revolves around it. There have even been times where I’ve been unable to watch a pay-per-view or Raw until the following night and I avoid all of my friends who are wrestling fans, Twitter and the entire Internet just so I won’t be spoiled by anything that happens. I even went so far during last year’s Money In The Bank PPV when I was at a wedding to completely turn my phone off and then stay up until 3am watching the replay when I got home. However, tonight’s episode of WWE Raw was such a waste of three hours, with barely anything positive to write about, that I would not have minded if I had missed the show and read about it online tomorrow.
Most weeks I will write about the highlight of the show, but this week there wasn’t one. The anger management classes with Daniel Bryan and Kane (which I’ll expand on later) were hilarious and the very final match/segment of the night had a “wow” moment, but you’re talking about maybe a total of 15 minutes out of a three-hour show. Yes, there were nine matches, more than on most shows (even since Raw expanded to three hours), but most of the matches were questionably booked, some made no sense to have at all and most of the show was dedicated to highlights from Triple H’s career, as if he is really going to retire.
So, with no real highlights to speak of, here are my thoughts on tonight’s episode, more or less in chronological order:
The show kicked off with Jerry Lawler getting into the ring and demanding an apology from CM Punk for kicking him in the back of the head at the end of Raw last week. Right off the bat we were off to a bad start when Lawler noted that he knows Raw doesn’t start this way. Did he really say that Raw doesn’t usually start with people in the ring getting things off their chest? Does he actually watch the show for which he sits and ringside and commentates each week? Anyway, CM Punk came out and refused to apologize for the kick, instead apologizing for the fact that it is so easy to get into the WWE Hall of Fame when all Lawler did was beat up a bunch of no-names in Memphis, not win the WWE Championship and act like a 14 year-old boy when doing commentary. With the exception of beating up no-names, as Lawler did face some pretty big names in the Memphis territory in his day, CM Punk was spot on). Of course, when Drew Carey is in the WWE Hall of Fame for appearing at the Royal Rumble for all of 30 seconds, it’s hard to argue with anyone questioning the hall’s validity. Punk then challenges Lawler to a match later in the night to prove that he’s the best in the world and Lawler says that he’ll think about it, and later on in the night he accepts.
Throughout the night the fans are given the opportunity to vote for what type of match they will have via Twitter – a cage match, a tables match or a no disqualification match. It’s a good thing that cage match won with 48% of the vote, because otherwise the ring crew would have wasted all that time building the cage and the script for the very end of the show would have had to be re-written at the last minute. You see, Punk easily defeated Lawler in the cage match, making Lawler tap out to the Anaconda Vice to end the match. After the match, Punk continued to beat Lawler up, demanding that Lawler say he is the best in the world and Lawler refusing and continuing to get beat up. Punk even went so far as to lock the cage door with a padlock and chain, which was effective because when John Cena came out to make the save, he started yelling for someone to raise the cage. You see, John Cena apparently forgot that just like you can win a cage match by climbing up a wall and escaping through the open roof, you can do the same from the outside to get in. But, eventually, the cage was raised and CM Punk ran away before Cena could get to him. Oh, it was also announced during the show by Raw General Manager AJ Lee that Cena would face Punk for the WWE Championship at Night of Champions in Boston, Cena’s hometown. A lot of people are going to be upset about Cena getting yet another title shot, but the truth is he hasn’t had many in 2012 (I believe just one or two off the top of my head) and the match itself will be a great one.
The best segments of the night saw Daniel Bryan and Kane having to go to anger management classes, per AJ’s orders. In the first video it was just Bryan and the rest of the group, without Kane, and Bryan flips out when a kid in a goat mask walks in. Bryan goes off on the kid until the doctor explains that it’s his son, who is playing a goat in a school production about Noah’s ark. In the second segment, Harold, one of the other group members, is saying how much he hates his job, and Bryan goes off on him about how that’s nothing compared to having your fiancee leave you at the altar and then be your boss. The doctor then announces that the final patient has arrived and in walks Kane, which causes all of the other group members to cower together. In the third and final video, the doctor asks Kane to talk about what makes him so angry and to go back to his childhood, and Kane goes on a long speech recounting all of the great WWE storylines he’s been involved in – growing up chained in the basement, Undertaker setting his parents and their house on fire, finding out who is real father is and recently locking him in a meat locker, Katie Vick, getting married and divorced, tombstoning a priest during his girlfriend’s wedding ceremony and so on. Suffice to say, I was practically on the floor laughing the entire time. The segment ended with the doctor asking everyone to make anger collages for next week, which had Bryan flipping out yet again. Harold turned to Kane to thank him for sharing, and Kane grabbed him by the throat but just said he was welcome. These three videos saved the show and I highly recommend that anyone who missed them watch them right away.
The first match of the night was Ryback versus Jack Swagger, with Ryback obviously win. Swagger did get in more offense than any opponent thus far, but he still lost. Poor Jack Swagger – I had almost forgotten he was even on the roster and Michael Cole even noted how he hasn’t won a match since January. What a waste of great talent. After the match, Swagger was screaming “That’s enough,” so he is either quitting WWE (which might be the right move at this point in his career) or that is part of a storyline which will see him either get a push or at least more TV time.
The Divas Champion Layla faced Natalya in a match that was weird match right from the start. First, before it started, Vickie Guerrero came out to say that the women had better be quick because she had a big announcement to make. She then stayed on the top of the ring steps during the entire match and, when Layla won, demanded that the champ get out of the ring so she could make her announcement. As if the Divas division weren’t buried enough as it is, the WWE goes and pulls this. What would have been the harm in having Vickie come out after the match and just interrupt Layla’s celebration? And furthermore, where was Kaitlyn, the #1 contender for the Divas title? If I’m in charge, I am putting Kaitlyn in these matches instead of Layla to build her up before her title match and also make sure the fans know who she is and get behind her.
Anyway, Vickie’s big announcement was that she did not think AJ had been doing a good job as the GM and she wanted the Board of Directors to put her, an adult, in charge instead of AJ, a deranged lunatic of a child. This brought out AJ, who was about to say something but slapped Vickie across the face instead before the two of them brawled in the ring. I’m all for a power struggle for the GM position, but I hope that we don’t see a change in leadership so quickly.
The Intercontinental Champion The Miz lost to John Cena in a non-title match. For those of you keeping score at home, The Miz has won just one match since winning the title back in July. What exactly was the point of having him lose to Cena? It’s not like Cena needed the win in order to gain anything and all it did was continue to bury the IC Champ and the title he holds.
Heath Slater and Santino Marella faced off in a match that made no sense. First, after winning his first match in months last week, Slater posted tweets and videos about how he was about to go on a massive winning streak. This would have been a great storyline and a nice boost for Slater who jobbed to WWE legends for two months, but instead he lost to Marella. To make matters worse, Marella continued to act as if his cobra sock puppet was alive and real, as it got distracted when Aksana came out to the ramp but recovered long enough to get the win. Just typing all that makes my head hurt.
Brodus Clay & Sin Cara teamed up to take on the team of Damien Sandow & Cody Rhodes. At least Clay and Sandow and Sin Cara and Rhodes are all engaged in storylines with each other, so having the match made sense, but having Clay and Sin Cara when when Clay pinned Rhodes did not. Sandow and Rhodes have more more upside to their characters and careers then their opponents and should be getting as many wins as possible. Instead, Rhodes has lost his last four matches, all of them involving Sin Cara. Hopefully Rhodes eventually wins the war as he has lost every battle up to this point and he is a Superstar who deserves to be in the main event and not where he is now.
R-Truth faced Daniel Bryan in a match that made no sense. After all, R-Truth is one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions and last week there was a huge brawl backstage between all of the established tag teams in the company fighting over who gets the next shot at the titles. So why in the world would R-Truth face off against a Superstar like Bryan who is not part of a tag team at all, was not part of the brawl last week and is in the middle of a great storyline with Kane? And, to make matters worse, R-Truth won via count out when Bryan was outside the ring yelling at the fans.
A huge portion of the night was spent highlighting Triple H’s WWE career and questioning whether or not he was going to retire following his defeat at the hands of Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. After two hours of these videos, he finally came out to address the crowd and didn’t give a definitive answer. He said that he never wanted to be one of those guys who came out just to get a cheap pop and that he would only go on if he could continue to dominate in the ring. He said he would love to say that he was going to get his arm healed and then come back and get his revenge on Lesnar, but he didn’t know if he would be able to. He thanked the fans for always caring about him, whether they cheered or booed him, and said that no matter what happens he will never forget us and hopes that we never forget him. Seriously? First of all, there is no way that Triple H is retiring from in-ring action when his last match was a loss to a guy like Lesnar. Second of all, even if he was, he is still the COO of the company and, when Vince McMahon finally retires, he will be the top guy in charge of it all. So forgive me if I save my #ThankYouHHH tweets for another time.
We got another tag match next, this time Alberto Del Rio & Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton & Sheamus. Given the recent treatment of Ziggler since he won the MITB briefcase, with the exception of ending Chris Jericho’s career, I will give you one guess as to what happened and who took the pinfall. If you guess that it was Ziggler who took the fall for his team, you’re right! And if you guessed anyone else, you haven’t been watching enough WWE television lately. It ended when Ziggler tried to use the briefcase to his Sheamus, but Orton hit him with a back breaker first and then Sheamus nailed the Brogue Kick for the win. It was then announced that Ziggler would face Orton one-on-one on Smackdown, a match that I assume Ziggler will lose despite holding in his hands a contract that more or less guarantees he will be a world champion sometime between now and April.
Zack Ryder defeated David Otunga in a quick match while Kane was sitting at ringside with a headset on but not speaking at all. After the match, Kane went to chokeslam Ryder but decided to nail Otunga instead, so apparently his anger management classes are at least starting to work.
One more small minor comment regarding WWE matches in general – during the main event, Lawler threw Punk into the cage and Punk was busted open, with blood all over his head, face and arms. Unlike in the past, the referee did not stop the match to tend to the blood, which I hope is now normal procedure for all matches. However, the referee did put on gloves as soon as it happened, which is smart from a health and medical point of view. However, the gloves were those latex gloves that all the doctors wear and the referee could not get them on all the way while still working the match and so it just looked ridiculous. If the WWE is going to require that all the referees wear gloves whenever there is blood in the match, which is a decision I agree with, they should at least let them wear the cool black ones like the referees for all the MMA fights. I agree that now I’m just nitpicking, but it looked so ridiculous tonight that having the referee wear black gloves that fit and can be quickly and easily put on would have been a small step in the right direction for the overall product. It is also interesting to note that as of this writing (12:00am) there are no photos from that final match in which there was blood anywhere on the WWE website.