World champion Bryan kicked off the show with a heel promo that was interrupted by Miz. He suggested that the two form a tag team sometime in the future, before Sheamus interrupted him. Nothing in the segment was particularly memorable and it seemed very understated considering it’s building up to a World Heavyweight title match at the biggest show of the year.
Nobody entered a bad performance, it’s simply that nothing was said or done that we haven’t seen during the majority of title feuds over the last few years. The answer is simple: WWE needs to allow its stars (particularly top talent) more creative freedom in promos and character development. This has been a particular concern with Sheamus over the last month: his Royal Rumble win has been followed up with a fairly indifferent storyline and weekly promos in which he basically says “I’ll say who I’m facing at WrestleMania soon.” Perhaps the trend will change and there are plans to make him look like the massive star he should be over the next five weeks, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
The Long v Laurinaitis storyline is centred on the latter’s newfound desire to run both of WWE’s big shows. Teddy Long, instead of lying down and taking Laurinaitis’s aggressive corporate attitude, has stated that he’d be willing to run both shows too. This has resulted in a game of one-upmanship between the two which is likely to come to a head at WrestleMania XXVIII in a winner-take-all match of some kind.
I’ll be very surprised if this story doesn’t end with Laurinaitis running both shows. He’s younger and more over than Long, and is newer in the role too. That means he can do more without it seeming as tired and clichéd as when Teddy does it. I’m also of the opinion that RAW’s GM is the better TV character. He may be tedious and deliver his promos in a flat monotone, but that’s his gimmick. It’s funny and it works.
A six, eight or ten man tag match between Team Laurinaitis and Team Long at WrestleMania would be a good way of getting the likes of Drew McIntyre, David Otunga, the Great Khali, Heath Slater, Santino and other TV regulars unlikely to get a meaningful match onto the card. As you’ll see in the tweets below I wouldn’t be surprised if the match provides Aksana with a reason to exist on WWE TV. Having her turn heel on Long in favour of Laurinaitis wouldn’t be the most interesting or exciting heel turn ever but it would be just shocking enough to be worth doing.
With access to both RAW’s stars as well as the SmackDown crew WWE was able to put on a far more star heavy show than usual, which was a mixed blessing. On the one hand it meant we got to see CM Punk, Miz, Dolph Ziggler and other Monday night personalities receiving extra airtime. On the other it meant Friday night regulars such as Hunico, Ted Dibiase and (far more importantly) Cody Rhodes found themselves in reduced roles.
Missing a week of the interminable Dibiase v Hunico affair is fine if we get to see bigger names make a rare appearance, but it shouldn’t be eating into the time of rising stars like Cody Rhodes. Next time a live Tuesday night SmackDown airs WWE should consider cutting Khali and McIntyre from the broadcast and giving someone with a far better chance at cracking the main event scene do more on the show.
A side note on Cody before I post my tweets from Friday night: it looks like he’s on course for a confrontation with Big Show at WrestleMania. The rumours of Big Show facing Shaquille O’Neal at the event are looking more untrue every day, and the current booking of ‘The Dashing One’ indicates that he’s been picked as the replacement. Cody deserves far better than that and I hope WWE reconsiders the bout (if it’s been discussed) before it’s officially announced.
Opening segment, featuring Daniel Bryan, Miz, and Sheamus
Tweet 1: Edge is still on the strobe lighting warning. And it shows Punk with long hair.Tweet 2: Brodus Clay is on the intro. Hmmm... click here
Tweet 3: Mark Henry v Big Show is happening AGAIN. Why are they subjecting us that? On the plus side Daniel Bryan's opening the show.
Tweet 4: Yes! Yes!! YES!!
Tweet 5: I believed you, Bryan.
Tweet 6: “Yes!” is the new wooooooooo.
Tweet 7: This time last year I rated Miz. He's nowhere near as good now.
Tweet 8: Miz and Bryan to form a tag team. That'd be a waste of Bryan. He needs to avoid dropping back to the middle of the card.
Tweet 9: Does Sheamus dye his hair?
Tweet 10: You know you're in trouble when Daniel Bryan has the most natural-looking tan in the ring.
Tweet 11: Decent enough opening segment. Didn't establish much though, beyond getting some light work started on Sheamus v Bryan.
Sheamus v Miz
Tweet 12: Sheamus v Miz. Teddy randomly started it during the break apparently. I hope he danced.
Tweet 13: "Sheamus is feelin' it, dawg!" #Bookerisms
Tweet 14: Sheamus weighs 275 pounds, does he? Whatever...
Tweet 15: Booker's commentary is somehow even more ludicrous than usual.
Teddy Long, Aksana, John Laurinatis, and David Otunga backstage
Tweet 16: Aksana is a waste of airtime.
Tweet 17: I bet she ends up turning on Teddy in favour of John Laurinaitis.
Tweet 18: This is meant to be funny. It isn't. It's boring. The best thing about it is John Laurinaitis. That's never a good sign.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth v Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler
Tweet 19: Kofi appears to be having a fit. Maybe someone should help him.Tweet 20: #LittleJimmy
Tweet 21: All American Perfection v Air Boom Take Two. This should be solid.
Tweet 22: Just tag Ziggler in!
Tweet 23: The sit-up is a nice addition to the Ziggler package. #nohomo
Tweet 24: I think Kofi's trying to out-bump Ziggler.
Tweet 25: All American Perfection win. There was never any doubt that they would. #heelsdoitbetter
Tweet 26: Stick the belts on Swagger and Ziggler and put them against Air Boom Take Two at WrestleMania. Eight minutes and they'll have a great match.
Hall of Fame video package and Santino backstage
Tweet 27: Is this a Ron Simmons video? It is!Tweet 28: I REALLY want his HOF speech to be one word. We all know the word I mean...
Tweet 29: Heath Slater knocked cups off a table? WHAT A HEEL!
Tweet 30: Santino is a grown man. That's worth keeping in mind. At all times.
From the Vault
Tweet 31: From the Vault continues its Chris Jericho season. Versus Kane. I'd like to skip this but I can't bring myself to.
Tweet 32: Comedic barrier bump from Kane there.
Tweet 33: I am always amazed by how awful Striker's commentary is.
Tweet 34: Drop the board game analogy, Grisham.
Tweet 35: This is a very sloppy match.
Tweet 36: Jericho doesn't have good matches against everyone. This match proves it. In fairness lots of people fail to have great matches with Kane.
Tweet 37: Random match followed by Daniel Bryan sitting on a bench having a chat with a camera. Why not?
Drew McIntyre v The Great Khali and Big Show v Mark Henry
Tweet 38: Ah, Drew McIntyre. This is a nice chance to plug my latest blog: click here
Tweet 39: Drew lost? WHAT A SHOCK!!
Tweet 40: Big Show dyes his beard. #fact
Tweet 41: Mark Henry's character has become a guilty pleasure of mine. Convincing badass. Great entrance music.
Tweet 42: "Go big or get lost" says Show's entrance video. Good way to promote equality.
Tweet 43: Booker claims Teddy Long makes matches nobody has ever seen. No. All he does is make tag matches.
Tweet 44: I hate Big Show’s spear. It’s rubbish.
Tweet 45: Cody Rhodes v Big Show at WrestleMania. Is that really going to happen?! I hope not. Cody deserves better.
Tweet 46: Henry with a humorous attempt to look agile there.
Tweet 47: Henry wins via counout. Does anyone pin anyone else anymore?
Ezekiel Jackson, with Teddy Long v David Otunga, with John Laurinaitis
Tweet 48: Some tremendous dancing from Teddy there. He never disappoints.Tweet 49: I am a fan of Laurinaitis dancing.
Tweet 50: I am only tolerating this match because I find Otunga entertaining.
Tweet 51: Post match pose from Otunga? A LOLfest!
Tweet 52: Another RAW recap. Really? REALLY?Tweet 53: I'd say Booker was just smiling wryly buy that man does NOTHING wryly.
Tweet 54: Copyright infringement line. Funny stuff.
Daniel Bryan v CM Punk
Tweet 55: YES! YES! YES!
Tweet 56: You should be able to guess who's making his entrance...
Tweet 57: These two deserve a proper feud.
Tweet 58: This is the matchup that should be main eventing WrestleMania: click here
Tweet 59: Bryan’s kicks > Punk’s kicksTweet 60: John Laurinaitis! #MrExcitement
Tweet 61: "Awhhh, HELL no!" - Booker T
Tweet 62: Laurinaitis is at ringside. Put him on commentary! That would be TV gold.
Tweet 63: The multiple restart gimmick is being employed. Is Dusty working on SmackDown now?
Tweet 64: I've lost count of the number of times Booker has said "dawg" tonight.
Tweet 65: Laurinaitis's chair is far more plush than Teddy's. Is this some sort of rib?
Tweet 66: Nobody knows who won! Oh the hilarity!
Tweet 67: Laurinaitis should've nailed Teddy with an Ace Crusher to end the show. That'd get people tuning in next week.
So close to seeing an Ace Crusher...