October 10th was the one year anniversary of the culmination of TNA’s awful They storyline. It will also go down in wrestling history as the night John ‘Johnny Ace’ Laurinaitis was finally given the on-screen promotion he’s clearly been scheming for for the last several months. It may have been an incredibly enjoyable development but it was also one that made sense and was executed well. Sometimes you don’t need surprises in wrestling, you just need things to make sense. Arguably one of the times when things need to make sense the most is in storylines focusing on fictional political wrangling concerning who’s in charge.
After twenty minutes of promos from Triple H, Sheamus, John Cena and CM Punk (during which we were told the rest of the contracted WWE employees were in the car park (but weren’t told who was working the camera and cueing up entrance music)) the first match of the show started between Sheamus and John Cena, with Punk on commentary and timekeeper duty and ‘The Game’ functioning as ref.
Viewers got to see about two minutes of this match before Vince McMahon made a surprise appearance to cut another lengthy promo, in which he stated that the Board of Directors couldn’t keep Triple H in the role of COO if it meant wrestlers walking out and that they’d decided to replace him with an “interim General Manager”. That IGM was Johnny Ace.
Why the Board had opted to replace the COO with a General Manager of RAW and the identity of the anonymous RAW GM who hasn’t been heard from in months (and whom Laurinaitis has now presumably replaced) were questions that weren’t answered. It was also unfortunate that there was nobody at commentary to explain how Vince McMahon was still able to stroll out onto RAW despite having been removed from TV a few months ago. It would have been useful had JR been there to state that Vince was just removed as the head of day-to-day operations for WWE and that he was still the Chairman of the Board of Directors. If WWE want to do these power grab storylines they need to make them understandable for people who don’t watch every single week.
Throughout the evening Laurinaitis displayed his trademark lack of charisma in a backstage segment in which he was alleged to be on the phone to his wife, welcomed wrestlers back into the building following their protest, and was threatened by Triple H. He also demonstrated a wonderful misunderstanding of how to successfully deploy the dramatic pause. Promos never were his strong point. But then they didn’t need to be when he was throwing out Ace Crushers and lariats in Japan.
The main event was briefly CM Punk v Alberto Del Rio but was changed to a tag team match when the interim GM became bored and or drunk on his own power. The opponents? The newly re-signed Awesome Truth.
This was a nice development as it furthers the conspiracy storyline that’s been bubbling under for a while now by clearly showing that Laurinaitis, Miz and Truth were in cahoots. Why else would the fired wrestlers have been in Oklahoma City with their wrestling gear? Why else would Laurinaitis have been so quick to re-sign them to contracts? I think it was a nice twist and allowed RAW to end on a much more dramatic note than if we’d just had Punk v ADR.
Del Rio ended up walking out on Punk, allowing The Awesome Truth to brutalise ‘The Voice of the Voiceless’, resulting in them getting disqualified. That didn’t seem to bother them as they continued beating him down until Triple H made the save. As the faces made a comeback and cleaned house a random shot of Laurinaitis and David Otunga (of all people!) was shown in which the new RAW head honcho made CM Punk and Triple H v The Awesome Truth for Vengeance.
It was also announced that John Cena will face Alberto Del Rio again at Vengeance (“remember what I’ve been saying about elevating new stars?” he asked rhetorically). Hopefully this will be the last singles match between those two for a while because their feud has been far less successful than most people thought it would be. I wouldn’t be surprised if Del Rio is one of the opponents for the Rock and Cena team and Survivor Series. The two should no longer be facing each other after that event.
Elsewhere on the show...
Randy Orton faced off with Mark Henry and looked as though he was finally going to get that (recently) elusive win over him until Intercontinental champion Cody Rhodes interfered. This is good news as it indicates WWE are moving towards an Orton v Rhodes feud which should provide ‘The Viper’ with an opponent who can give him good matches while elevating Rhodes up the card.
Laurinaitis fired Jim Ross for being “a hayseed, redneck, Oklahoman ingrate”. He felt this way because JR walked out on Triple H last week. No reason was given as to why Laurinaitis didn’t feel exactly the same way about everyone else who walked out. I don’t expect one will ever be given. JR will be back on TV sooner or later.
Christian won a brief but enjoyable match against John Morrison, which both wrestled in their street clothes as they’d “only just returned from the strike”. After the match Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Cody Rhodes (he was on double run-in duty) came in and hit their finishers on ‘The Monday Night Delight’. Hopefully this will set up a rematch between Morrison and ‘Captain Charisma’ at Vengeance. I think they could put on a good match if given the time.
Eve and Kelly Kelly beat Rosa and Tamina in a match that meant less than nothing. Beth Phoenix and Natalya were shown watching on a monitor after the match. Looks like Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix will scrap again at Vengeance. It’s a shame WWE hasn’t done more to hold on to talented female workers this year, then Beth would have brighter prospects for her future title defences.
David Otunga teamed with Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger (as I’ve said before this team should be known as Zig Swag) in a losing effort to Mason Ryan and Air Boom. This will likely lead to another tag title match at Vengeance. Better that than a singles match between Otunga and Ryan...
In the ring RAW wasn’t a bad show but it was clearly more about advancing the promotion’s lead storylines and feuds before Vengeance. With WWE television coming from Mexico next week it made sense to set up Vengeance earlier than would have been usual because a show heavy on English promos would create a restless crowd south of the border. That said I do think a Del Rio and Punk v Awesome Truth match would have been much better received in Mexico than in Oklahoma. Hopefully WWE have devised another way of making ADR look like a babyface next week, because he’s clearly going to be very popular. Everyone will have to work hard to better this week’s show though. It was a good effort from all involved.