7.16.12 WWE Raw review: Wrestling and storylines mean Raw was good

WWE delivered an infinitely better episode of Raw this week than last, although the previous show was pretty horrible. Regardless, this Monday’s broadcast went back to the simplest formula: storyline introduction and advancement, intrigue to stay tuned in and look forward to next week, and actual wrestling. (It’s the new craze!)

– CM Punk kicked off the show but was interrupted by Big Show, which led to an interesting back-and-forth between the two. Punk ran down Show for always losing and being an empty giant, while Show told Punk that he’s always overshadowed by John Cena. Good effort by both men here and a nice touch by Show to “drop the pipebomb” after. I’ve always thought Big Show was an underrated talker, whatever your feelings may be about him.

– Rikishi appearing to wrestle Heath Slater was my favorite segment of the night. For one, Rikishi hasn’t been dragged out time and time again like Roddy Piper, Hacksaw Duggan and Dusty Rhodes so it felt special. (Nothing against seeing those guys, just the luster wears off a little bit after each appearance.)

Secondly, Rikishi can still go. Then he does tributes to Umaga and Yokozuna in the same match, which is worth 1000 awesomeness points. The dance with Rikishi’s sons – The Usos – replacing Scotty 2 Hotty and Brian Christopher was the icing on the cake.

Just a perfectly done nostalgia segment.
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WWE Money in the Bank review and results

Sunday night’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view was a solid effort, although my expectations were extremely low since it was a pretty much foregone conclusion that John Cena would win the WWE Title ladder match and there were only four announced matches on the card.

Below are my match-by-match thoughts:

Dolph Ziggler defeated Santino Marella, Christian, Cody Rhodes, Tensai, Damien Sandow, Tyson Kidd and Sin Cara in the World Heavyweight Championship briefcase Money in the Bank ladder match
Many people (myself included) had Ziggler winning this one and it was the right pick for him to leave with the briefcase. The match itself had a few pretty bad botches (thanks Sin Cara and Tensai!) but still managed to be an awesome spotfest. Ziggler’s steady ascension continues and it will be interesting to see how the next few months unfold with Dolph in possession of the briefcase.

The Miz returned and announced he would enter the WWE Championship briefcase Money in the Bank ladder match
This one was spoiled by the arena selling t-shirts with Miz listed as one of the participants in the match but it was still a nice surprise to see him back. He cut a deliberate promo and hopefully he can regain some momentum now that he’s had a little break.

Sheamus defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
While this match wasn’t a five star affair, it was certainly a good storytelling match. It was nice to see Del Rio work a part of the body and actually portray a strategy, something completely lost in WWE, and Sheamus’ comeback got a big pop out of the crowd.

There seems to be a lot of Twitter/Internet hate out there for Sheamus but I don’t mind him. He comes out of every match looking like he legitimately was in a battle, which adds to the matches he is in.

Dolph Ziggler attempted to cash in the MITB briefcase, but Sheamus hits him with a Brogue Kick before the referee can ring the bell
Post match, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez attacked Sheamus, beating him down. Dolph’s music hit and the crowd erupted. Del Rio tried to stop Ziggler from cashing in and took a briefcase to the head for his efforts, but it gave Sheamus enough time to recover and nail the Brogue Kick, knocking Ziggler out.
I liked the tease. WWE might as well drag out Ziggler having the briefcase a little bit, since it will only add to his star power and make it more special when he does cash in, a la The Miz cashing in on Randy Orton.
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WWE to release Rock-Cena feud DVD, featuring all those lame promos

WWE will release “The Rock vs. John Cena – Once In A Lifetime” this fall, a DVD/BluRay which chronicles the year long feud between the two that culminated with their match at WrestleMania XXVIII.

The set includes a documentary on the first disc and then a chronological look at the events from when The Rock returned to be the guest host of WrestleMania XXVII up to April 2, 2012, the night after their ‘Mania bout.

While it will certainly be a well done set, it only features three matches – John Cena v. The Miz from WM27, John Cena and The Rock v. The Miz and R-Truth from Survivor Series 2011, and the Rock v. Cena contest from WM28. The promos were a little played out by the time their one-on-one match rolled around, but if you want to re-live Rock’s nonsense humor and Cena’s Nickelodeon jokes, this is the set for you.

One thing that does intrigue me, though, is the “Film Cut” of the Cena-Rock match, which is a special feature on the third disc.

The set hits shelves September 11, 2012.

On the sad state of WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment is in horrible shape right now.

Actually, let me rephrase that. World Wrestling Entertainment is doing fine. It’s World Wrestling Entertainment that is really in trouble.

The reality of it is that now, more than ever before, WWE is emphasizing the “variety show” aspect of Raw, especially with the transition to three hours per episode less than two weeks away. It has become a show geared completely towards children, leaving long time adult fans in the dust.

As I tweeted during Monday’s Raw broadcast, complaining about Raw over and over again is akin to complaining about Nickelodeon programming. It’s for kids, which is why adults think it’s stupid, the humor is lame, and the jokes and storylines are easily spotted from the get-go.

Sadly, there are no signs of change on the horizon. As long as this formula is working, as long as kids are watching and laughing at the Nickelodeon humor, and convincing their parents to buy pay-per-views and merchandise, WWE will trumpet to its shareholders that they are an entertainment company and a profitable one at that.

Of course, this isn’t a groundbreaking revelation. WWE has been attempting to shake the label of being a wrestling company for two decades.

The worst part of it all is that WWE doesn’t care what real wrestling fans think. Take a look at this week’s Raw, for instance.

The episode focused on a cheesy love triangle, Hornswoggle, Santino Marella and the Michael Cole – Jerry Lawler feud that we all thought was dead and buried. Very little PPV hype. Very little wrestling. Very little of anything interesting to anyone over the age of 10.

Just look at the bright side, though. Soon, there will be three hours of this excellence!