I post a video with the word "rant" in the title. Before you even get to the video itself, I give you a warning, telling you that you're about to listen to damn near nothing but negative thoughts about a show. You click the link, and you listen to the show. You pinpoint specific things that were said at various points during the show, proving that you actually sat and listened to the entire thing. Once you've listened to the entire thing, you complain.. about the complaining.
Then, today rolls around, and I tweet during Raw. If you follow me on Twitter (and even if you don't, because it would appear that a lot of you simply read my tweets, but don't follow me), you saw that I had damn near nothing but positive thoughts about the show, marking quite the turnaround in a 24-hour period. What did I see? Complaint after complaint after complaint about how I'm a hypocrite because I didn't praise WrestleMania, but I praised Raw, and both shows basically had "the same crowd". Complaint after complaint after complaint about how I dislike The Rock's recent stretch, but I praised a certain return at the end of the show.
So, to recap..
- You bitch and whine that I'm too "negative", and that I should find more "positives" in the wrestling I watch
- I find a show very "positive", and you bitch and whine about that
Way to go, geniuses. I saw at least 20 of you that fall into the aforementioned group of people, and there's no telling how many of you are out there that didn't make yourselves known.
As I said, though, I had just about positive remarks all across the board for Raw this week. I won't be doing a Running Diary here, but I will be going over just why Raw was such a good episode. Let's go in chronological order..
- Arguably the best promo The Rock has cut since making his return to the company. It was in a similar vibe to the other promos.. we still had catchphrases, we still had the pause to show off goosebumps, etc.. but he seemed more focused last night. Perhaps "focused" isn't the right choice of words, but he clearly had some pep in his step, as the saying goes. In my opinion, I think he was just happy to get the year-long talkfest out of the way and move forward. That's certainly what it seemed like, anyway.
- Brodus Clay actually has a "direction" now. Instead of just squashing random jobbers in 30 seconds every week, Brodus has been inserted into a storyline involving people that get plenty of television time every week. As Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger were stalking Santino up the ramp, Brodus came out to make the save and even the odds, and he got a huge pop for doing so. Brodus has remained over with live crowds, but placing him in some sort of a team with Santino will only help him get over even more, and having him work against Ziggler and Swagger, who are two of the best overall workers on the WWE roster, can only help him improve his in-ring skills. This has the potential to be a really great thing for Brodus and fans of The Funkasaurus.
- Dolph Ziggler's bump on the ramp. I don't know whether to give praise to Dolph for the bump, or to call him an incredibly stupid man for even trying something like that. Running up the ramp, and still on the upward slope, he jumps up into the air and takes a headbutt to the chest from Brodus Clay, sending him flying through the air and crashing back down onto the ramp, back-first. It sure as hell showcases the insane athletic ability that Dolph possesses, but he has to consider himself as really lucky that he didn't hurt himself on that landing.
- Lord Tensai's impressive "debut". It was a squash against a jobber, sure, but the company took things in a different direction by making it about three minutes long, instead of the 15-30 seconds that we were used to seeing from Brodus Clay in recent months. Tensai dominated Alex Riley last night. Not only that, but he beat the holy hell out of him, working a stiffer style that he certainly picked up during his time in Japan. He was slow and methodical, but he just ripped A-Ry apart. It was a very impressive showing for the man formerly known as A-Train. He's a mountain of a man, with a unique "look" and in-ring skills that can carry him to entertaining matches with a variety of opponents. If the company plays their cards right, they might have a brand new main eventer on their hands with this guy. He's going to be 40 this year, so perhaps he won't be a long-term main eventer, but he could be a main eventer nonetheless.
- CM Punk VS Mark Henry. First and foremost, that was the best match Mark Henry has had in a long time, and it was as close as he's been to being a "monster" since he was the World Champion, inducting people into the Hall Of Pain every week. The match told a really good story, with Henry being able to stop any momentum that Punk was trying to build, but I'll admit.. the ending was a little strange. Punk being tossed out of the ring and losing by countout would normally indicate that this situation isn't over, and that Punk and Henry will face each other again soon. When Henry took his anger and frustration out on Punk after the match by hitting the World's Strongest Slam on the outside, it really looked like it would signal another match, but..
- The CM Punk/Chris Jericho storyline was taken to a different level. It wasn't something completely fresh and unique, because we've seen it before, but it escalated with Jericho pouring "alcohol" all over the notoriously Straight Edge Punk. He then went to bash Punk over the head with a liquor bottle, but if you pay close attention (or watch it in slow-motion), it was clearly a "trick" bottle, because it broke apart in Jericho's hand before it even came close to making contact with Punk's skull. Something tells me Jericho doesn't have superhuman strength all of a sudden. It wasn't initially seen by most people, though, so I can't really hate on it too much. As of right now, it's clear that the issues between Punk and Jericho aren't over, and I'm alright with that. We already know that they can both deliver on the mic, and now we also know they can deliver in the ring together. I have no problem with seeing them face off again.
- Abraham Washington. If you weren't one of the 28 people that watched the "WWECW" show a few years back, you won't know who Abraham Washington is, so let me just say that he had a "talk show" that would occasionally air. He has a ridiculous amount of charisma, and is a pretty good "talker". His in-ring work in FCW isn't anywhere near as good as his mic skills, though, so I'm actually glad to see him return in this new "sports agent" role. He targeted Mark Henry as his first potential client, but that's the thing.. if you know anything about sports agents, they don't just represent one athlete. They represent an entire group of them. This could be the beginning stages of Washington putting together a new stable of "clients", and one thing that I've seen people complain about a lot in the last few years is the severe lack of stables in wrestling these days. Stay tuned, because that could be about to change soon.
- Brock Fucking Lesnar. We all read the rumors about Lesnar possibly returning to the company. Some of us were excited about the idea. Others weren't. However, when the opening guitar riff to his entrance music hit, it's safe to say that the entire arena exploded with one of the loudest face pops the company has seen in a while. The crowd was already expecting him, chanting "We Want Lesnar" on two different occasions during John Cena's show-closing promo, but even then, they went ballistic to see Brock again. It really was a magical moment. One that will go down in WWE history. Brock never even said anything, but he made an amazing statement by coming to the ring and hitting an F5 on Cena, taking him out. WWE pays close attention to Twitter, of course, so they will probably take notice of the fact that Brock Lesnar just now stopped trending on Twitter, nearly nine hours after Raw went off the air. That doesn't happen with wrestling trends. It hasn't happened for The Rock or any of his catchphrases. It hasn't happened for John Cena. It hasn't happened for The Undertaker. It hasn't happened for Randy Orton. It didn't even happen for WrestleMania. That's just amazing to know that so many people were talking about Brock and his return, long after Raw ended. Raw ended in every time zone, even way out here in Hawaii, and his name was still trending. That's insane. In case you're wondering, the early report is that Brock has signed a one-year deal with the company, that would take him through WrestleMania 29. He won't be a full-time performer, but he would make a couple appearances every month between now and WrestleMania 29, so he might as well be.
- One of the hottest crowds in WWE history. I have no idea what happened. In my WrestleMania review, I made note that I felt the crowd was dead for long stretches of the show. Maybe it was because WrestleMania was four hours long, plus the pre-show action and all of the tailgating and partying people were doing, so they were just excited. Maybe they were really upset over the result of the Daniel Bryan VS Sheamus match. Maybe they realized that they were at WrestleMania, but to get there, they had to sell their first born children to purchase tickets. Whatever it was, there were plenty of dead moments where the crowd wasn't doing much of anything. Not on Raw, though. From beginning to end, that crowd was molten hot, chanting and reacting to everything that was happening. They gave multiple people the biggest reactions of their career. They were really quick in putting chants together, just like an old ECW crowd would do, or like a Duke basketball crowd would do. By the way..
- Daniel Bryan becoming one of the most over people on the entire roster. I still have no idea what the hell happened. I know that some schmucks will try to play the "you got negative about the WrestleMania match result, and now you look dumb because it helped Daniel Bryan's career" card, and to those people, I kindly invite you to get SMOOTH THE FUCK OUT OF HERE with that jibba jabba. Nobody saw this coming. Nobody sat there, immediately after Daniel Bryan lost the World Title in 18 seconds, and said "I guarantee you this is going to make Daniel Bryan a huge star overnight". Watching Raw, you would have thought Daniel Bryan was The Rock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair combined. They chanted for the guy all night long. Literally.. all night long, there were chants about or involving him. The "YES! YES! YES!" chants dominated the night, even branching out into "NO! NO! NO!" chants for random heels and a hilariously clever "SI! SI! SI!" version for the returning Alberto Del Rrrrrio. The dueling "YES! NO! YES! NO!" chant replaced the usual "YAY! BOO! YAY! BOO!" dueling chant. It was one of the most surreal things I've seen in all my years of watching wrestling. Nobody on the planet can convince me the WWE "Creative" Team did this on purpose. However, they might be the luckiest people on the planet right now, because they may have accidentally caused someone to become an absolute megastar. The question now, though, is simple.. was the reaction a sign that Daniel Bryan is a new "made man", or was it just a result of an overly excited crowd? If you read the Smackdown spoilers, you'll probably find out tonight, as I'm sure any spoiler report you see will say that either the response for Bryan was similar to what he saw on Raw last night, or that things were closer to "normal".
What a night. WWE has placed themselves in a very interesting spot now. Time and time again, they've shown us that they can come up with things that grab our attention. Time and time again, though, they've also shown us that they can't come up with things to keep our attention. Well, they have our attention now. Can they keep it? Whether it's Lord Tensai, Brodus Clay's advancement up the card, Brock Lesnar's return, Daniel Bryan's new found stardom, or Abraham Washington's potential stable (Nation Of Domination discussion is swirling on the internet already), it's going to be interesting to see what the company does from this point. This is their chance to put together a special run. They have the pieces in place. Now, just imagine if, on top of all that, they could actually pull the trigger on a John Cena heel turn. Will it happen? At this point, probably not, but it would certainly help out.
Raw gets an "A" grade from me this week. Next week.. Washington, DC.. the ball is in your court. Can you come close to what Miami gave us last night? Only time will tell.