Much like Hustle did, today's column is going to be a bit different from usual. It won't be a full-length, insightful article, but rather five things that I want to see happen on tonight's episode of RAW. Whether or not you enjoyed last night's No Way Out Pay-Per-View (I missed it, so I can't comment on the show myself), it's time for the company to start building towards Money in the Bank, and after last year's show, they have some pretty big shoes to fill. Therefore, here are five things that I think should take place on RAW:
1. Name a new General Manager
Many people have asked me what I think about John Laurinaitis being "fired" by Vince McMahon after The Big Show lost to John Cena at last night's PPV. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about the situation. I was a huge supporter of Big Johnny before Wrestlemania 28, when he only ran RAW, but when Team Teddy lost and he became the General Manager of both brands, I began to lose interest in Laurinaitis and his new notion of "People Power". From Wrestlemania up to last night's show, I felt Johnny took up too much TV time for a non-active wrestler, and I wished Teddy Long was still in charge of SmackDown.
But now that Johnny looks to be gone from television after tonight's RAW, WWE has an opportunity to make things right again. I'll miss Big Johnny, but the product will probably be better off without him. Since I have no interest in having no authority figure for weeks - or even worse, the return of the stupid laptop at ringside - I want to see a new general manager(s) named tonight. Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Edge, Kevin Nash, Vince himself - I'll go with any of them in charge of one or both brands. I just don't want to drag this angle out any longer.
2. Money in the Bank Qualifying Matches
Not everybody will agree with this idea, and that's perfectly understandable. As I've discussed with readers in recent weeks, WWE's midcard is in such shambles that I wouldn't be surprised if the company goes with one, eight-man or ten-man MitB ladder match at next month's PPV. However, if WWE shows some intelligence, they COULD book sixteen credible competitors to compete for the briefcases. The best way to do that would be to have each guy win a qualifying match to enter the match, not just be randomly entered. Even if newer names like Damien Sandow or Antonio Cesaro end up competing for the title shot, having them win their way into the match would make them look tougher than having their picture being shown in the graphic. Of course, we'll probably have to endure a good number of squash matches, but that's nothing new for today's audience. Besides, it will be better than seeing the same two-on-two, three-on-three, or four-on-four tag matches every week until the PPV.
3. Another Ryder Revolution
You don't have to be the most observant, card-carrying member of the IWC to realize that Zack Ryder has had a pretty bad 2012 up to now. Hell, you don't even have to like the guy to realize his push has cooled off dramatically since winning the United States Championship at last December's TLC PPV.
But tonight that could all change. RAW will emanate from Ryder's hometown of Long Island, New York, and you can bet the "We Want Ryder" chants will be loud tonight. With his first-ever DVD set to be released in just over three weeks, now would be a good time for him to return to TV and start promoting it. Maybe it's grasping at straws, but tonight could be the night Ryder's push is restarted. He doesn't even have to get pushed - just win a match on RAW, something that hasn't happened in quite some time. We may not all want Ryder, but a large number of us do.
4. Kharma makes her long-awaited return
For those who missed it, or simply do not care, Layla successfully defended her Divas Championship against Beth Phoenix at No Way Out. Like their match at Over The Limit, Layla won cleanly, so with two decisive victories over The Glamazon, Beth 'should' be out of the title picture. I know some people want Aj to start a program with Layla (Hi, Hustle) but I don't see Aj mixing it up with the ladies just yet. I would rather see Kharma return on tonight's RAW and immediately go after Layla. I know Kharma was last seen as a face, but her being a heel fits her character so much better. Layla vs. Kharma at MitB would be a divas match definitely worth looking forward to.
5. CM Punk in the main-event
After his title defense last night, CM Punk is now the longest-reigning WWE Champion since John Cena. I know he has a bad history of low ratings, but can you throw the guy a bone? Let him wrestle in the main-event for Godsakes. There's no Rock, Lesnar, Laurinaitis, or Big Show for Cena to close the show with, so either let Punk main-event with his next challenger, or let Punk begin a program with Cena. Whichever option they go with, I just want to see Punk represented as the world champion, not a midcard champion, like most of his title reign so far. It's time to bring the WWE Championship back to center stage.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to tonight's RAW? Will the show focus more on the build-up to Money in the Bank, or will it stink of No Way Out hangover?
2. Day 2
Writer's Note: Since I didn't get a chance to share my RAW thoughts with you yesterday, I figured I'd tackle the subject while people still care. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to skip TNA Wednesday just to give you a blog filled with complaining. Therefore, I'll quickly talk about RAW and then get into Mr. Bobby Roode. Cool?
If you read my RAW wish-list (and if you haven't, just scroll up), then you'll know I went 0/5 with picks. Now, getting a 0% success rate is never anything to be proud of, and honestly, if RAW had been a good show, I would have been fine with being wrong. However, as many of you will agree, that was not the case. Last Monday's RAW was one of the worse episodes of 2012, and I'm not just saying that because Zack Ryder didn't make an appearance (which I'll get to later). Other than Mick Foley's interaction with John Laurinaitis, the opening tag team match and Ziggler vs. Swagger, RAW was pretty much unbearable last Monday.
In a nutshell, here is what I don't understand:
-Why was there ZERO hype for next month's Pay-Per-View, Money in the Bank? No qualifying matches, no number one contender matches, nothing.
-What was the point in jobbing out Santino, the U.S. Champion, to Alberto Del Rio in seconds? It was the same lame match they had several weeks ago with the same stupid result.
-As much as I enjoyed Ziggler vs. Swagger, WWE missed the PERFECT opportunity to finally split up Ziggler and Vickie. I understand Ziggler needed the win to bounce back from his loss from last night, but Swagger needs her services 10x more than Ziggler does. It's time for Ziggler to either turn face or break off on his own.
-I'm not denying Paul Heyman and Triple H have good chemistry on the mic, but their segment went on far too long. It started off strong, but I quickly found myself losing interest.
-Whoever booked that Cyndi Lauper/Heath Slater segment should be fired and never brought back.
-WWE missed another perfect opportunity to use Zack Ryder. The Long Island crowd chanted his name all-night long, and with Foley acting as the Interim GM, he could have easily let Ryder team with Cena against Otunga and Big Johnny. But NO, let's keep Ryder off television again.
With every passing week, I become more and more convinced WWE have no idea what they're doing. What scares me the most is that last Mondays RAW actually got a good rating, which means WWE will probably view the show as a success and stick with the same formula until the show goes three hours. Hopefully Chris Jericho's return next week will shake up some storylines and help pump life into a stagnant product.
But enough WWE talk, let's switch gears to a company that has actually been improving since going live several weeks ago - TNA. For the first time in ages, I find myself more excited about watching Impact on Thursday than tuning into SmackDown on Friday. Obviously, it helps that Impact is now live and in a better time-slot, but the product is intriguing as well. The Bound For Glory series was a huge hit last summer, and with this year's participants, I'm expecting similar results this time around.
Another bright spot on Impact has to be the current World Heavyweight Champion, Bobby Roode. It's hard to believe that Roode has held the world title since last November and hasn't lost it since. This isn't a knock against X-Division Champion Austin Aries, who has held his respective title since last September, but unlike Aries, Roode has defended his title many more times than AA. Not because Aries isn't a fighting champion, but because he has little competition, while everyone is coming after Roode's world title. When Roode turned heel and beat James Storm for the title, I don't think anyone expected my fellow Canadian to keep it for such a long time.
What I'm wondering is if Roode, talented as he is, is worthy of such a lengthy title reign? While his WWE counter-part, CM Punk, has been world champion almost as long as he has, many people will tell you it's WWE's way of establishing Punk as a legit main-eventer. Yet, can the same be said about Roode? When he eventually loses the title, be it to James Storm, Jeff Hardy, or whoever, will Roode be able to maintain his spot at the top of the card? I hope he can, but I wouldn't put money on it. As in, I could see Punk still competing for the WWE Championship a year from now, while I struggle to see Roode doing the same. I'm not saying that's what will happen, but something tells me the plan is to make James Storm the 'new', ultimate star, not Roode.
Of course, I could be 100% talking out of my ass and Roode will still be in the main-event scene next summer. Considering how few top heels TNA has, it would not surprise me to see Roode maintain his spot for quite some time. Then again, how much longer will Bully Ray be denied a run with the world title?
What do you think, TNA fans? Is Bobby Roode on the cusp of greatness? Or will his epic world title reign be nothing more than a distant memory a year from now? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Did You Know?
TNA has been known to not pay their talent well, so many employees work part-time jobs. For example, Chris Sabin used to work at Subway while he was the X-Division Champion, and Miss Tessmacher, the reigning Knockouts Champion, currently puts in hours at Hooters.