Monday, May 31, 2010

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/31/10 from Austin, TX.

The Big News: For one week anyway, WWE seemed serious about getting over some new stars. Here’s to a sustained effort.

Show Analysis:

The show started abruptly with Edge attacking Evan Bourne in the ring. The announcers explained that Bourne had challenged Edge to a match for his Fatal Four Way shot at the title before the show started. I liked this start as a little change of pace from the Raw norm. Bourne hit double knees to Edge and a high knee. However, he missed the shooting star press and Edge hit a spear.

Edge said that this would happen to his opponents at the PPV. He talked about the other competitors and vowed to be a 10 time champion. He didn’t really have anything of note to say. Randy Orton then came out. Edge pointed out Orton isn’t 100 percent, but Orton gave him the RKO anyway.

Ashton Kutcher backstage was getting into an online dispute with Zack Ryder. He announced he put a hit on Ryder. Miz then came in and Kutcher put him in a match with Daniel Bryan. Bryan got a better reaction than he has received on Raw previously. Kutcher said that Bryan would make Miz tap. Kutcher was good here and throughout the show.

R. Truth beat Chris Jericho. Truth hit a pescado on Jericho. Jericho used a suplex and bulldog but missed the lionsault. He went for the Walls but Truth got out. They did a messed up, dangerous looking spot where Jericho got dropped on his head. Jericho then went for the Walls again but Truth reversed into a small package for the pin.

Clearly they are trying to run with Truth. I’ve liked Truth for much of his career and I think he is a fine candidate to try to elevate, but if they are going to give him a renewed push he desperately needs a new entrance song. A hip hop character is supposed to be cool, and only children are going to find a guy who raps the same damn thing every single week for years on end to be cool.

Bret Hart met with the Hart Dynasty backstage. Bret said he knew the Usos and signed them to Raw. He didn’t know they would attack the Hart Dynasty, but told the Dynasty that he wasn’t there to protect them. Bret asked them what they were going to do about the Usos.

Santino and Eve Torres beat William Regal and Maryse. Vladimir Kozlov was with William Regal and prior to the match Santino again tried to get Kozlov to join his side. Regal worked over Santino with forearms. A brawl with all four broke out and in the process Kozlov came in and gave Regal a choke slam. Santino covered for the pin. This was a weird segment.

Bret Hart did a promo in the ring next. He said that he and Teddy Long got together to do something special next week, bring all the Raw and Smackdown guys together. Why not just announce that the show will be special because Edge will appear while you’re at it, Bret? He announced that next week’s Raw will be three hours. That got no pop.

Bret added that he wanted suggestions from fans and wrestlers about next week. Ted DiBiase immediately came out and wanted to be in control. He offered to pay Bret but Bret basically declined. Ashton Kutcher then appeared on the screen and suggested “viewer’s choice,” where fans pick the matches and stipulations. Bret liked this.

Vince McMahon then immediately came out. He planted the question as to why exactly he made Bret GM. He then said that the fans are like children and you’ve got to do what’s best for them. He added that he hoped Bret’s story as GM has a happy ending. The basic idea was Vince is up to something but we don’t know what. Vince was overacting terribly yet again.

Two notes on this segment. First, I hope they have ideas for making this “viewer’s choice” idea feel like the fans actually have a say in what’s going on. WWE is so controlling of everything and I suspect the gimmick of giving fans control will make it even more apparent than usual how little WWE listens to its fans.

Second, this is a frequent problem but this segment felt so unbelievably contrived. Bret announces he is soliciting ideas for next week and Ted DiBiase is just waiting right behind the curtain with his idea already in his head. Then Ashton Kutcher is on the screen and has a plan of his own already devised. Bret thinks this ambiguously devised plan over for a few seconds and agrees, at which point Vince McMahon is backstage right behind the curtain ready to immediately comment on this idea that developed in the previous minute. It all felt particularly fake and thus less effective.

When one character is supposedly reacting to another, there needs to be some period of recognition and thought prior to response. This is just basic logic. Tell the story over a two or three week period, or at the very least break it up so Bret says he’s looking for ideas early in the show, DiBiase and Kutcher approach him backstage in the middle, and Vince comes out to respond towards the end.

Edge injured Randy Orton’s shoulder backstage with a door. Randy Orton was previously announced as John Cena’s partner in the main event of this show, but this was done to write him out so Cena would have to find a new partner.

Daniel Bryan beat Miz. Bryan hit some punches and went for an armbar. Miz was in the ropes. Miz hit a clothesline to the back of the head and Michael Cole began just tearing into Bryan. I enjoyed this but I suspect it’s weird for the majority of Raw viewers who don’t watch NXT when the longtime face announcer is going over-the-top heel on a random guy they don’t know.

Bryan applied his omoplata/crossface submission. Bryan reversed into a rollup but Bryan reversed that into a rollup of his own for the pin. It’s certainly good that Bryan won here, but they should have built this up more and given it more time. On the positive side, the crowd seemed much more into Bryan than we’ve seen before.

The Usos and Tamina came out to cut a terribly scripted promo. Tamina got in two “WWE Universe” references, because regurgitating company buzzwords is exactly how heels should be talking. They acknowledged that the Usos are Rikishi’s sons and Tamina is Jimmy Snuka’s daughter. Honestly, I wouldn’t do that any more. It’s a good idea if there are a few wrestlers like that, but it seems like every other new wrestler (and half the FCW roster) is second generation, and it raises the question why exactly nobody is breaking into wrestling who didn’t grow up in wrestling. The Usos vowed to dominate.

The Hart Dynasty ran in to attack the Usos. They went for the Hart attack but Tamina tripped Tyson Kidd and gave Natalya a clothesline. The Usos used a double crescent kick and double team into a Samoan drop. They then hit the three top rope splashes.

Zack Ryder came to the ring and wanted to know who Ashton Kutcher called to take out Ryder. Jerry Lawler came into the ring from behind with a chair, but Kutcher said it wasn’t Lawler so Lawler just left. No explanation was given as to why Lawler did that other than to set up a pointless swerve. Great Khali came out but that was just a swerve too and he left. Goldust was next and he left. Kutcher said Ryder would never see it coming, so of course Alicia Fox attacked Ryder with a horrendous looking kick. This was an awful, completely illogical swervefest.

Backstage Edge suggested to Sheamus that they be smart and take out Cena together. Sheamus said that if Edge tried to take advantage of him it would be Edge’s last mistake. They announced three of the stars of the A-Team as the guest hosts for next week (everyone but Liam Neeson).

John Cena and Evan Bourne beat Edge and Sheamus. Cena did a great job prior to the match introducing Bourne as his partner and putting Bourne over. The heels worked over Bourne. Bourne came back with kicks but couldn’t get the tag and Sheamus gave him an ax handle to the head. Bourne came back again later with an enzuigiri to Edge and tagged Cena.

Cena came in with a Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle on Sheamus. He went for the FU but Sheamus escaped and hit a power slam. Sheamus went for the big boot but was caught with a Bourne kick. Cena hit the FU and tagged Bourne. Bourne hit the shooting star press for the pin.

This was a very good match and it was booked absolutely perfectly to make Bourne look strong. They linked him with a top guy, let him do his stuff, and allowed him to score the pin. You can’t ask for anything more and the crowd reacted very well to it.

Final Thoughts:

With WWE’s roster precariously shallow, there is an obvious and immediate need to get over new stars. If nothing else, tonight’s edition of Raw demonstrated that WWE is aware of that reality. There were attempts throughout the show to promote and elevate newer talent (Evan Bourne, R. Truth, Daniel Bryan, the Usos) and that’s a very good thing. I didn’t care for the execution of some of these segments, but WWE was trying to do the right things and that gets a thumbs up from me. The main event was the best and most effective segment of the show, and that’s always a good thing as well.


Anonymous PeteW said...

I have to disagree with you about putting over new talent. It felt so contrived that every push felt like a joke. And once again, they feel they have to put new talent over at the expense of established wrestlers. Jericho always looks like a fool lately. Here’s a guy with a history of beating the greats and he can’t handle R Truth? And R Truth is so annoying to anyone over 6 he makes you want to slap him. Miz is hardly “old guard” and yet he’s one of their best new “heels” and workers to come along in ages. He could use a long time of building him up so that he becomes a headliner. Instead they constantly jerk him around. His losing to Daniel Bryan and getting no retribution – even after the match – makes him look weak. The worse was watching Cena and Bourne beat the top two heels in the company. We’re supposed to believe Bourne has a shot against Sheamus or Edge? Then to wrap up the match in time, Sheamus goes down to Cena in like 10 seconds. In order to enjoy pro-wrestling there needs to be an element of realism. You can then suspend disbelief and go along with most of the foolishness. They don’t even try to make it believable anymore. Mysterio, Bourne, Daniel Bryan…what’s next? Hornswoggle pins Sheamus just to keep the 6 year olds happy?

4:31 AM  
Blogger AKFooFighter said...

It actually felt like I was watching a wrestling show for a change, between the Edge promo and the back-and-forth between Bret and Vince.

I do believe in miracles...and yes, Vince's overacting is entertaingly astrocious.

12:06 PM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

PeteW: Apparently, you haven't been watching NXT. Miz was assigned to "Daniel Bryan" as his "mentor", which is an atrocious joke in and of itself. As "Daniel" pointed out on NXT last week, Miz was more about getting himself over. In short, Miz was the wrong guy to work with "Daniel", and they all knew it, but the joke was supposed to be on us.

So Bryan gets a pin on Miz. We all wanted to see that. Miz is where he is, despite the work he's done, because of his reality TV past, and nothing he can do from now until the end of time will change that perception, and the same thing will happen to David Otunga, who doesn't even have 1/2 of Miz's in-ring ability. Yet. Michael Cole's credibility, already questionable, takes a hit with his heel stance toward Bryan.

It kind of makes you wish Vince actually had the gumption to retire and let Joey Styles replace Cole on Raw, since JR is all but retired.

Evan Bourne getting a rub in the main event suggests that if Randy Orton can't go at Fatal 4-way, and if Triple H can't clear his schedule to be there that night, then Bourne could be the guy to replace Orton in the title match. Yes, you do have to suspend disbelief, because we've seen Sheamus squash Bourne like a bug 2-3 times already, but what else are they going to do?

As for Ashton Kutcher, I'm surprised no one remembered his last appearance on WWE-TV 10 years ago, when he was pushing "Dude, Where's My Car?" in a skit with Edge & Christian. And they kept Edge away from him to avoid that, I think. Real stupid.

You can't trust Vince McMahon. Yes, he's up to something, but the bigger mystery is just what he's up to. However, it's a waste of time. His issue with Bret should've been over at Wrestlemania, but as we all know, Vince has never been a gracious loser. He's just trying to be a little more sneaky, and that, at his age, is nearly impossible.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Todd, you left out the best part of Miz vs. Daniel Bryan, when Miz attacked Bryan after the match, and Bryan turned it around, smashed Miz into the announce table, and then torpedoed Miz into Michael Cole.

Yeah, both the Bret Hart announcement and the deal with Zakk Ryder were terribly written...

I disagree with you on Tamina appearing lame by using the term "WWE Universe". To me, the term was just dripping with disdain when it came out of her mouth. She seemed to be making fun of the concept rather than embracing it.

I just read recently that the internal WWE logic is that three-hour Raws allow talent from SmackDown. OK, so let's say the fans had somehow figured that out. Now Bret comes out and talks about how he'd talked to Teddy Long and they were going to do a Raw with both brands...and adds that it will be so special that he made it three hours. So I guess the new logic is reversed, that they can feature SmackDown talent whenever they want, but they must add an extra hour.

Anyway, a decent, if unspectacular, Raw.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Steve Khan said...

Bryan launching Miz into Cole was the greatest moment in WWE history.

I noticed the crowd started booing Tamina before she even started talking, and then it hit me -- wrestling fans are misogynists.

2:29 PM  

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