Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 04/25/11 from Raleigh, NC.

The Big News: John Cena was drafted to Smackdown.

Well, he was.

Show Analysis:

Big Show and Kofi Kingston won a battle royal. They started the show with this match in progress. Everyone wore those lame blue and red shirts in the battle royal and throughout the show. Kane and Great Khali were two of the first out. It came down to Mason Ryan, Kofi Kingston, Big Show, Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Evan Bourne. Ryan threw out Rhodes. Kingston pulled out Bryan. Bourne and Kingston did a bunch of cool spots trying to eliminate each other. Bourne came off the top on Show but was caught and thrown out. Show then threw out Ryan to end the match.

This led to the first draft pick of the night, John Cena. It seemed highly unlikely Cena would end up on Smackdown, and indeed, this didn’t last long. Cena did an interview and put it over as a huge move. He said he would bring the WWE title to Smackdown. Miz then came in and said he won’t have to see Cena anymore after Extreme Rules.

R. Truth came out with no music. He spent the entire promo kind of distracted by “what” chants but did a good job handling it and cutting a solid heel promo. Truth said he accepted the match against John Morrison and lost because of the fans. He spent his career trying to please the fans and it got him nowhere. He said that he rapped and danced so people could dance along and some people need to get some rhythm. That was amusing.

Truth vowed to give the people the boot. He said that he is letting go of years of frustration and disappointment and it feels great. Truth has set him free, he concluded. At that point, Morrison jumped Truth from behind. It was nice of him to wait for Truth to finish his ten minute promo. Morrison beat up Truth, was pulled back, and beat Truth up some more. I’d have let Truth keep his heat for a week.

Throughout the show they ran commercials saying next week will be the “biggest birthday party in the history of television” for the Rock. Really, I’d say it’s the biggest birthday party in the history of birthdays and the history of parties. This week’s Awesome Kong vignette showed her face clearly and debuted her new name of Kharma.

Eve Torres beat Layla. They went about 20 seconds and horribly botched their only spot, at which point Michelle McCool distracted Layla and Layla slapped Michelle. Michael Cole got up and started talking about how he needed to go train for Jim Ross. In the midst of all this, Eve rolled up Layla for the win. It really is time to dump the women’s division already. It serves absolutely no positive purpose. Lay Cool fought each other on the outside after the match with an upset Layla getting the best of it.

Rey Mysterio was drafted to Raw. Cody Rhodes backstage said he would give Rey a going away present after their match at Extreme Rules, a new mask that Rey can wear to the hospital.

Kofi Kingston beat Sheamus. Sheamus was in control until he accidentally ran into the post. Kingston hit a frog crossbody and avoided the razor’s edge and Brogue kick. Kingston hit trouble in paradise twice for the clean pin. It’s weird to book a champion to lose clean to a midcarder on the other show, but maybe one of these guys will be moved in the supplemental draft at Noon Eastern tomorrow. Randy Orton was drafted to Smackdown.

Jim Ross beat Michael Cole via DQ. Cole made fun of Ross’ weight and stalled forever. They stalled more time here than the average Raw match lasts. Eventually, Cole went for a body slam but Ross fell on him and got mount. He threw punches down on Cole and in the process busted open his hand and Cole’s lip. Cole was bleeding from the mouth.

Cole ran to the outside but Lawler threw him back in. Swagger took out Lawler and ran in for the DQ. He applied the ankle lock on Ross and Cole whipped Ross with a belt. Lawler made the save and whipped Cole with the belt a couple times before Cole ran away. The GM announced a tag team country whipping match for the PPV. Miz backstage said he will keep his title and that if he is drafted to Smackdown, Raw will be cancelled.

Randy Orton beat Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler used a neck breaker, fireman carry and dropkick. Orton came back with clotheslines, a power slam and an Angle slam. He went for the RKO but was distracted for a moment by Vickie Guerrero. He regained his concentration and hit the RKO for the pin. Punk interrupted the pick announcement to basically say he’s wrestling Orton in a last man standing match at the PPV without actually saying that. The match was worth two picks and Mark Henry and Sin Cara are headed to Smackdown.

Rey Mysterio beat Wade Barrett. Barrett worked over Rey. Rey came back with a top rope spinning head scissors, 619 and top rope splash for the win. This match was for two picks, and Big Show and Alberto Del Rio were drafted to Raw. They showed Del Rio backstage talking to Ricardo Rodriguez about his destiny and blowing off Brodus Clay.

CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio and Miz beat John Cena, Christian and Mark Henry. The heels worked over Christian. Cena got the tag and hit the Cena slam on Miz but was immediately cut off by a clothesline from Henry. Henry press slammed Christian onto the steps and left. Miz gave Cena the skull crushing finale and got the pin. They then announced the final pick, which was Cena returning to Raw. Cena attacked and laid out the heels.

Final Thoughts:

I really didn’t like the Cena to Smackdown and then back to Raw story that dominated the show.

First, it’s unfulfilling storytelling in basically any medium to take a character through a fake journey only to have them end up exactly where they started. It makes the audience feel like the two hours were a pointless waste and that they were cheated if they bought into it.

Second, the idea of the draft ought to be to get fans excited about the new landscape and various possibilities going forward. But by instead beginning and ending with Cena, it left the impression that everything is the same as always, which is the exact opposite of what the draft ought to be doing. They would have been much better off focusing on the moves that are actually going to matter like Del Rio and Orton.

Third, the move had basically no positive purpose. It didn’t build up the pay-per-view on Sunday. It didn’t build interest in Smackdown. I don’t see it having any positive effect on the one night’s rating, and even if it did, that’s basically insignificant. It felt like the goal was just to “swerve” fans, and if they were thinking in terms of their own interests they would have come up with a completely different scenario.

Finally, everyone knows Cena is the franchise player for WWE and Raw is the flagship show. I think the vast majority of the audience watching knew Cena wasn’t going to Smackdown. So it just left the audience thinking, “How are they going to get out of this?” That’s the sort of detached attitude and emotion that makes it so hard to invest in storylines and matches. And then when they do the obvious thing and move him right back it makes the whole thing feel contrived and fake.


Blogger hwrestlinguy said...

I may be alone on this one, but I think you should lay off the Divas. Sure, there are some that don't pull their weight but there are others that do. The WWE for some reason forgot how to successfully run their women's division, but there is still hope. You can't possibly tell me that with the likes of Melina, Gail Kim, Natalya, McCool, Beth Phoenix and now Awesome Kong that they don't have the talent. Creative is clueless and has been for a while, no need to punish hardworking people because of that. And it's really only the Raw Diva segments, Smackdown is fine.

As for the rest of the show, I found it hilarious that they don't have enough faith in their product to allow Cena to switch shows. Granted, I was wondering who the top face would be when Orton was dratfted too and then I considered Mysterio and although that didn't quite fit I was still interested in the possibilites. The product is so stale now that I though they would take this opportunity to hit the refresh button. Or maybe they could create some new stars, but I won't hold my breath.

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Tony said...

The Cena thing didn't shock me. It was obviously done to get people talking for 2 hours. There's nothing wrong with that IMO.

However, I still hate the Draft concept. That and the Slammys are the 2 WWE concepts I hate the most. 1) There was the problem of people appearing on both shows for the past 3 months.
2) The concept doesn't make any sense. Why are the wrestlers, uh entertainers, fighting for exactly in these matches ? Especially heels. To have someone come from another brand and thake their spot ? Or get title matches before they do ? Heels have no reason to win matches. And brand loyalty doesn't mean anything except for 4 weeks before Bragging Rights when they need it.

Now I know logic isn't a priority for WWE "Creative" currently but I mean, c'mon...

I wish they went back and used the Draft formula from 2005 when they had one pick per show and they stretched it over a month. Or even the one from 2004 with the GM's picking names. It's better that a computer randomly selecting that just happen to be big names each time out. What a coincidence.

The only thing I can say is thankfully, this year was only 2 hours long. 3 hour Raw's are usually a chore to sit through, especially for such an artificial, lame concept.

And we may have a winner for the heel turn this year absolutely nobody cared about. MARK HENRY CONGRATS!!!

5:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EGM3 asks:

Isn't it odd how in a supposedly 'random' draft, only the top guys end up getting picked? Why are no Zack Riders or Primos ever selected on the prime time show?

Also, why do the backstage roster guys cheer when someone is drafted to their side? You'd think RAW guys would be happy with Cena and Orton gone that it opens up a path to the top for them. Instead they cheer that another 'top guy' is coming over, thus killing their chances of ever getting ahead.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous mike said...

The anonymous guy above is right (are you the Raw GM?). It makes no sense to have guys cheered when someone switches sides.

7:56 AM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

Worst. Draft. Ever.

More proof that Vince McMahon has lost his mind, and it's reflected in the panic that the writers have to deal with.

Part of the reason Raw is failing now is because they refuse to resolve the mystery of the Raw GM. Nearly a year later, the gimmick is one of the stalest they have. Another stale act, LayCool, is finally breaking up after nearly a year and a half together. I only wish Kharma (Kong) was a face and wipe the floor with Michelle, but that's another time......

R-Truth sounds too much like Booker T in that both seem to be needing to gargle before talking. As a heel, Truth is not going anywhere. As for "10 years", he seems to forget that there was a time in TNA when he was a heel there, too. This may be his last chance.

So Mark Henry turns heel again. Yawn. The only thing I can see is him joining the Corre or finally teaming with Ezekiel after he splits from the Corre. That combo may be the only thing that takes the tag titles away from Big Show & Kane.

Vince needs 1) new writers and 2) to retire and let Hunter run the show.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

So couple musings between studying for property..

1. As everyone else pointed out the incentive to win is rediculous.. what may be even more rediculous is the ad hoc matchmaking on draft night.. All night they show the entire locker room united caring so much about loyalty to their show.. Then the minute someone is drafted the allegiance immediately turns and they are representing the other brand in a match later on.. This happened with Cena, Del Rio, Henry, Orton and has definitely happened in the past as well..

2. As much as I knew they were going to move Cena back it would make so much sense to put him on smackdown for a year..

A.Smackdown's ratings might go up

B. While I don't work for Nielson my guess is that while Raw has higher ratings a good deal of the viewers lost on smackdown would be 18-35 males who do something other than watch wrestling on Friday night.. This is the same demographic that shits on Cena week in and week out.. Letting him go to smackdown might town down some animosity.. Wrestling has a funny way of making the heart grow fonder when someone is not on a show for a long period of time.. Look at how many vile heels come back from year long injuries to huge face pops.

3. I am really curious about Todd's opinion on the latest in WWE Branding.. I understand and even admire WWE's attempts to branch out and become an even bigger empire.. But is there any other company as embarassed by its own product and fans as WWE is.. They try to change the terminology to cast off the stereotypes of wrestling and wrestling fans but it doesn't make sense. Noone will ever seem WWE as anything but that and it really makes me as an educated person who likes the product feel like I need to be ashamed of myself, hell even the company who makes the product is ashamed of it.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

WWE may have some women that individually have talent, but the division collectively produces nothing of value. I'd be okay with retaining a handful of the most talented ones to play roles on the show and occasionally wrestle, but I think the product would be much better off if they disbanded the titles, eliminated the 2-3 women's matches a week, and devoted the time to something else. I can sympathize with the idea of not punishing the talented performers of the bunch, but honestly they rarely show the talent they do have and that time could go to other talented performers who don't get time like a Yoshi Tatsu or Zack Ryder.

I completely agree with the silliness of guys being motivated to "win for their brand" or cheering excitedly or being despondent backstage when someone is brought on to their show to take their spot or goes to the other one to open a spot up. Or in the battle royal how the Raw and Smackdown guys all work together as if they can even keep track of who's on what show without the shirts. I can understand why some would be okay with the idea - some who had been there for a while might actually feel loyalty to some degree to their show, or the top guys on one show might not want their top guys to leave if it threatened the ratings of their show which would reflect poorly on them or some guys might not want their friends to leave. But with all these different motivations, it would be a hell of a lot more logical to have different people reacting differently to moves rather than putting everyone in colored shirts and instructing the red team to cheer and blue team to be sad. But WWE has always had huge problems with subtlety. And the guys switching loyalties on a dime after a random lottery is also awfully silly. It didn't strike me with some guys who never talk about the show (like Orton) but given I remember Big Show turning on Raw years ago and then talking about how proud he is with Smackdown in multiple Raw vs. Smackdown matches in recent years, it's stupid to have him then just come on smiling with the Raw shirt and completely unconflicted. What exactly were you proud about then? Or were you just lying. WWE just doesn't have much appreciation for logic, I think because they don't have respect for the audience's intelligence, and it permeates everywhere.

The "picks" always being big stars also doesn't make logical sense, but I can accept artistic liberty there as long as they don't beat you over the head with it being a work (like with the Cena thing).

WWE's constant rebranding of itself comes across as neurotic and crazed. Dave summed up the point very succinctly in the Observer in recent weeks. He wants to run from terms like wrestling, when he is the one who has shaped how people think of wrestling in the USA. It's not like people have negative feelings about wrestling because of angles Ole Anderson did in 1982. They look at all the stupidity of the things he does and associate that with wrestling. If he ever got people to use his stupid terms, they'd have just as negative a connotation if not even more so.

12:18 PM  

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