Tuesday 5 June 2012

That RAW Recap 04.06.12

The episode of RAW that aired on Monday 4th June convinced me of one thing: WWE has no intention of elevating any new talent any time soon. With three of its top stars currently suspended (Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio for violations of the Wellness Policy and Chris Jericho for jobbing out a Brazilian flag) now would be the perfect time to shove some new guys up to the top of the card. This is something that has been neglected by WWE for too long as it is. The current suspensions are illustrating that perfectly.

Instead of doing something that would benefit their young stars or help to set someone on the path to the top WWE decided that the best thing for business this week would be to promote a match between John Cena and Michael Cole. There’s nothing wrong with Cena headlining RAW. It’s not exactly an uncommon sight and a match or short programme with him could help to raise the profile of a promising mid-card talent

Sadly Michael Cole is not a promising mid-card talent.

While they are not reaching the ludicrous levels they did during 2010 and 2011 (when he was the most heavily pushed heel act in the company and ate up time at WrestleMania) Cole is slowly beginning to become a heavier presence on WWE television again. It seems that WWE is panicked by lack of star power and is taking the easy route of falling back on to the Michael Cole push. It’s worked once and will again, that will be the reasoning. It’s a short term solution to a long-term problem: Cole may have earned some heat last night but he is not an option when it comes to headlining pay-per-views or shifting merchandise.

It’s true that Tensai (no longer a Lord apparently) wrestled Cena before Cole did but he was not given the star treatment either in terms of booking or by his more over foe. I’m not saying he would be the ideal candidate but Tensai could be an option for headliner status: he’s a decent worker that can, when booked flatteringly, be an effective bad guy.

He was not protected on Monday’s RAW. In addition to having his gimmick reformatted over the last several weeks (losing the robe, having his ring name altered and having his time in Japan downplayed) Tensai did the job on RAW and was then reduced to interfering on behalf of a commentator a few minutes later. Treatment like that won’t help fans see him as a threat to Super Cena anytime soon.

The opening segment of RAW saw Michael Cole interview Cena. They mainly exchanged words about Big Show’s recent heel turn. Being a heel himself Cole reasoned that Show was justified in his actions and complained that Cena was in the wrong for not standing up for a man purported to be his friend. Cena naturally disagreed and the two went around in circles until GM John Laurinaitis turned up and announced that, in the interest of People Power, Cena could pick his opponent for the evening.

Cena chose Cole as his opponent.

It says quite a lot that the highlight of RAW’s opening segment was John Laurinaitis comically driving a mobility scooter. None of what it says is good.

The first match of the night improved things a little. World Heavyweight champion Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler in a non-title affair. It was a perfectly satisfactory bout but I expected better considering how over they both are and the styles they both work: ‘The Show Off’s’ big bumps should have synced up nicely with ‘Great White’s’ powerful offence but the match never really clicked.

Sheamus nails Dolph Ziggler with a Brogue Kick

Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez attacked Sheamus as he posed on the stage after his win. ‘The Essence of Excellence’ applied his cross arm breaker submission against the metal edge of the stage. That was the only notable aspect of an otherwise by-the-numbers beating.

Backstage David Otunga casually chatted to John Laurinaitis about an article on the WWE website announcing that Vince McMahon will be on RAW next week. In the storyline Laurinaitis is General Manager of both RAW and SmackDown and is head of the federation’s talent relations department (the latter job is his genuine position when the cameras aren’t rolling) and Otunga is his legal advisor.

Shouldn’t they have more pressing matters to attend to during a live broadcast than chinwagging about a story on a website? And what sort of company is WWE where a man as important as Laurinaitis only finds out his boss is showing up via a website? Although, as WWE has in previous years let performers find out which brand they are being assigned (or reassigned) to during Draft Lotteries by checking the company website perhaps that backstage skit isn’t as absurd as it first appears.

Vince’s appearance on next week’s three hour RAW was one of the talking points for the remainder of the show. It soon became tedious.

Sin Cara defeated Hunico in a slow-paced bout that did nothing to make me care about either performer. It was noteworthy only for the fact that they had been in a heated feud last year and are now reduced to working filler bouts. Cara’s special lighting was more noticeable than ever.

Ryback stormed out and squashed two jobbers (Arthur Rosenberg and Stan Stansky for those wondering) in the typical blaze of power moves and grunting. He still has a pyro and it still irritates me. The Ryback character would benefit from a complete back-to-basics approach. That means no pyros.

The job boys cut a rhyme-based promo before they got beaten. I thought it was a pretty funny thing to have them do and they performed their task admirably. For that alone they deserve developmental deals. Neither man had the typical WWE physiques but they would look at home on WWE’s long-rumoured cruiserweight show.

Kane and CM Punk opened RAW’s second hour. It was another average affair. Kane matches are generally slow and pedestrian and this outing was no different. Punk got a decent match from ‘The Big Red Monster’ but both men would have been better served with different opponents for the evening.

I was surprised by the result of this match. Bryan kicked Punk when Kane’s back was turned, prompting his ex-girlfriend to scamper out. As the two bickered at ringside the WWE champion connected with a suicide dive on Bryan. Moments later Kane lumbered out and tossed ‘The Straight Edge Superstar’ back into the ring and delivered a choke slam for the three count.

Post-match AJ was cornered by Kane (though she could easily have slid under the bottom rope and escaped). After a lengthy stare-off she stood up and smiled at Kane. He just looked puzzled and then wandered off, leaving Punker unharmed. In an interview backstage later on in the show AJ revealed she likes it when guys look at her. Maybe Vince Russo is working for WWE again…

A typically well produced video package documenting Big Show’s reasons for turning heel was followed by the match of the night, a tag team skirmish between R-Truth and Kofi Kingston and the MidCard Mafia unit of Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks. It was a well-paced, engrossing bout that should, if there’s any justice in WWE, ensure the MCM further appearances on the Monday night show. The extra hour being added to RAW next month should help guys of that level gain the exposure they deserve.

After that John Cena came out for his match against Michael Cole. Laurinaitis appeared on his scooter and said Cena would get a no DQ match with the voice of WWE if he could beat Tensai. I’ve recapped that above. In short, Tensai lost.

There's no danger of Tensai looking like a star with John Cena around

The Cole v Cena scrap was pretty much exactly the same as the Laurinaitis v Cena bout from Over The Limit. ‘The Doctor of Thuganomics’ easily overpowered his non-worker opponent and spent much of the contest humiliating him. Cole was made to apologise to Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler and Jim Ross, was covered in JR’s BBQ sauce (which ‘King’ just happened to have at the announce desk) and then squirted with a fire extinguisher.

Mid-way through the fun and games Tensai returned to blast Cena with a double handed choke bomb. Cole dragged himself up to make the cover but Super Cena kicked out. The bout continued and Cena got the victory soon after with his trusty AA finisher.

The show went off the air with Cena squirting himself in the face with the fire extinguisher he’d used on Cole. That was a healthy kayfabe breaker: a real fire extinguisher would have done him some serious injury at such close range. Viewers can just about suspend their disbelief when an extinguisher is used on someone’s back or squirted briefly into the face but Cena’s display was ridiculous. Not even he could no-sell a real fire extinguisher blast.

This episode of RAW was a real let-down. Many names I’d expect to see on an episode of RAW didn’t appear in any capacity. With such glaring gaps at the top of the card WWE should be moving The Miz, Jack Swagger and Zack Ryder into positions where they can become bigger stars. Big Show, while he’s not exactly a promising newcomer, should have appeared too considering his feud with lead babyface John Cena.

Even the absence of Brodus Clay made no sense. He may have suffered a nasty beating at the hands of ‘The World’s Largest Athlete’ last week but so did R-Truth and Kofi Kingston and they both wrestled. Not only that but they won! As one of the few babyface acts to be introduced and get over during the last twelve months Clay should be appearing every week, even if it’s just in a pre-taped interview to give fans an update on his (fictional) injuries.

Next week’s RAW looks promising. With Vince announced for the show we are guaranteed at least one lively promo segment. The news that the show will run for three hours is not as welcome but it should at least mean more guys appear, which should mean more opportunities for people to get over.

No comments:

Post a Comment