My Two Centsss - Finally, A Good Episode Of RAW
By Super Chrisss
Sep 4, 2012 - 4:14:06 PM
1. Day 1 - It's Time To Re-Think Open Fight Night
2. Day 2 - Finally, A Good Episode Of RAW
I guess you could say I'm a week late with this column since Open Fight Night took place last Thursday, not last night, but I'm glad I waited. Many people (including myself, other LOP columnists, even WWE loyalists) will tell you that Impact Wrestling has become the most entertaining wrestling show on broadcast television. In fact, TNA has arguably been producing the better show for quite some time now, with WWE only redeeming themselves with Pay-Per-Views, and even that is pushing the envelope, since I can name plenty of people who did NOT enjoy Money in the Bank and/or SummerSlam.
But let's go ahead and pretend WWE has put on a good - or great - PPV every month for the past year (sadly, No Way Out will be included for the sake of the argument), with almost every RAW and SmackDown being decent or not that good. Since I can still do basic math, that would mean WWE is putting on AT MOST two or three watchable shows a month. Meanwhile, Impact has been pretty damn fun to watch for about the same time period, and they only have one two-hour TV slot and one PPV per month. Simply put, it's a great time to be a TNA fan and a not-so-awesome time to be a WWE fan.
There's a reason I'm talking trash about WWE. In my opinion, if you pretend No Way Out never happened, I honestly feel they haven't produced a bad PPV since Over The Limit 2011. I've enjoyed shows that aren't universally praised like last year's Survivor Series or Elimination Chamber last February, and I LOVED TLC and Wrestlemania 28. So what puzzles me is why WWE can put together a great three-hour show one Sunday a month yet they cannot produce an entire RAW or SmackDown that will leave people buzzing with excitement. With the exception of RAW 1000, I can't recall a single episode of RAW or SmackDown that I would recommend watching in it's entirety from top to bottom since about a year ago. As a dedicated WWE fan for the past ten years, it hurts me to admit that.
That's not to say Impact is without its flaws. Over the past 365 days, we've endured some pretty gruesome stuff including the 'rise' of Garett Bischoff, Brooke Hogan's arrival, and most recently, the Claire Lynch storyline. Yet somehow, TNA has managed to keep the negatives to a minimum and let the truly good stuff shine through. They accomplished much of this through experimenting. Apparently, splitting up two long-time tag teams in Beer Money and Team 3D proved to be a great idea, as TNA found themselves with three new main-eventers and one excellent midcard champion. Who would have thought building up Austin Aries as an unstoppable X-Division Champion would allow a near-perfect transition for Aries to become the world champion. And who knew a unique idea like Open Fight Night would...
Yeah, about that. Remember when I said Impact was better than RAW and SmackDown on a consistent basis? Well, it cannot be a coincidence that about once every four weeks, Impact is NOT the better show, and that's when Open Fight Night is on. It's not surprising that last week's edition of OFN was the weakest Impact in several weeks. That's because OFN, ladies and gentlemen, is a failure.
That's a bold statement to make, especially since I don't have the ratings data to support my claims, and so I'm talking more from a viewer's perspective than anything else, but I'm going to try, anyway. Open Fight Night is not entertaining. It is not "redefining the business". I'll admit I was excited about the idea at first. The thought of having "matches booked on the fly" sounded interesting, and when Hulk Hogan announced that champions would be forced to defend their titles, I was curious. But that curiosity didn't last long. OFN disrupted the show's format by forcing the roster to call out their opponent(s). Just how many different ways could someone say, "Hey, &%#*, come out here, I'm gonna kick your ass!"? As we found out, not many. Even the backstage camera shots to the wrestlers in gorilla position got old, as it was the same thing, over and over.
Like I said, I applaud TNA for trying something new. You're probably never going to see WWE do something similar to OFN, so kudos to Dixie Carter and friends for trying to be unique. But as my LOP colleague The Crow pointed out, having OFN once a month is over-kill. If they want to do it once every two or three months, that could possibly work better, since the gimmick wouldn't be used as often as it is now. Crow also suggested turning it into a PPV, which I think is an even better idea. WWE has pimped nearly all of their monthly PPVs into gimmick shows, while TNA has very few of them. I think OFN could be successful as a PPV, since it would lure fans who are interested in more brawls and Street Fights than ordinary wrestling matches. I would have Open Fight Night replace Hardcore Justice as the "extreme, no holds barred" PPV.
Another advantage? We wouldn't have to sit through OFN once a month. As you can tell, I really don't like the concept, and I want it gone as soon as possible. Here's a good reason why - compare last night's 'regular' Impact to last week's Open Fight Night. Tell me, which show was more enjoyable? OFN, which featured EPIC match-ups like Jeff Hardy vs. Robbie T, Gunner vs. Chris Lewie, and Mr. Anderson (side note: **** that guy) vs. Bully Ray; or 'regular' Impact, with some excellent matches including RVD vs. James Storm, Aj Styles vs. Samoa Joe, as well as Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Hardy (awesome match, by the way). Just by looking at both line-ups, it should be fairly obvious which show turned out to be better.
Once again, I'm not saying Open Fight Night, or RAW for that matter, is nothing but hot garbage, because that would be untrue. I did enjoy Tara vs. Miss Tessmacher and the triple threat from last week's OFN, while recent RAWs have provided us with gems such as Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus, CM Punk's heel turn, Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler, and the Anger Management skits. But WWE is simply not clicking, and they won't until they learn how to fill three-hours correctly and stop making SmackDown the continuation/recap of RAW. As for TNA, they're doing great, but Open Fight Night needs to take a backseat to the actual product.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh on Open Fight Night? Over-rating Impact in general? Flying higher than RVD? Then let me know!
It took a few weeks, but WWE finally gave us a good, non-Pay-Per-View, three-hour edition of RAW. Keep in mind the show was anything but perfect, as it dragged at times, but I thought last night's show was the most entertaining RAW since RAW 1000.
Since I didn't plan on reviewing RAW, as I usually leave it to the pros - Al Laimam and Hustle - I won't give you a full-blown, 100% detailed recap of the show. Instead, I'll quickly go over what made the show rather enjoyable and what didn't seem to work. Makes sense?
What helped make RAW so good? Let's see...
-No Big Show. I can't stress my hatred for this man's character enough. I know some of you are fans of Paul Wight, but since his horribly-executed heel turn at No Way Out last June, Big Show has been putting me to sleep with everything he does. His promos are like lullabies, his matches are slow and boring, and what's worse, he took a lot of attention away from "The Summer of Punk II" with his mere presence. So having a Big Show-free RAW is never a bad thing, and I'm sure the Chicago fans were more than happy to be minus a giant.
-No Jerry Lawler on commentary. A lot of people I talked to on Twitter last night have mixed feelings about The Miz's performance on commentary during RAW. Some feel he did a bad job, coming across as Michael Cole's goofy side-kick. Others, like myself, thought he did an awesome job (pun intended, of course) filling in for The King. I really liked the way Miz called the hug segment between Kane and Daniel Bryan as if it were a legit match. But whether you were impressed with Miz or not, I think we can all agree that having Lawler take the night off made for a better show to watch at home. Could this storyline be the beginning of the end for Lawler's run as a commentator? God, I hope so...
-Anger management. Speaking of Kane and Bryan, you have to give the company props for dedicating so much time to their feud. The anger management skits are not only taking up RAW's airtime, but SmackDown's as well. WWE have given these guys plenty of time to play out their angle, and both are doing everything in their power to make it work. Sure, the whole hugging segment might have gone a few minutes too long, but don't tell me it wasn't worth it to see those two awkwardly embrace in front of thousands of people!
-Some good wrestling. Last night, we didn't get a LOT of matches, but we got some pretty good ones. Unlike SummerSlam, the midcard bouts didn't really shine (Cesaro vs. Santino was too short, as were Ryback vs. Mahal and Ryder vs. Slater) but the double main-event of Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler and John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio both delivered. Both matches were quite good, and I was surprised to see both Cena and Orton lose in the same night. Still, it's quality matches like these that allow me to remain fairly optimistic about future three-hour RAWs.
-CM Punk & Paul Heyman! I'm sorry, but if you weren't marking the **** out after seeing two of the greatest men to work a microphone team up at the end of RAW, you're probably not a real IWCer. I have no idea where this angle is headed, but I'm thrilled Heyman is sticking around and won't be forced to appear exclusively for Brock Lesnar. I've see several people speculate that this could lead to a Team Lesnar vs. Team HHH match at Survivor Series, and eventually Punk vs. Lesnar, but I don't want to worry about the future just yet. I want to see what happens next week and whether Heyman will be the key to Punk remaining WWE Champion until the Royal Rumble...
-Chicago is a great city for wrestling. The icing on the cake? The crowd involvement from start to finish. WWE should never take cities like Chicago, Miami, and New York City for granted when it comes to putting on a show. These people never fail to make their voices heard, which makes the show more fun for the viewers watching at home. Next week, RAW comes to us from MY hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and it'll be interesting to see the kind of reaction Punk gets, since he got the pop of the night at a house show last March. Either way, kudos to Chicago for making a decent show even better. Oh, and LOL @ the "hug him back" chant they started.
RAW was pretty much full of win, and while I could list the negatives, I think I'll end today's column on a high note. For the first time in weeks, I can honestly say I'm looking forward to next week's show, and even this week's episode of SmackDown. In addition to Night of Champions next Sunday, I want to see what happens next between Kane and Bryan, whether Aj will continue to revert to "CrAjy", and of course, seeing Punk and Heyman stand inside a WWE ring together.
Last week, things didn't look so good for WWE moving forward. I now stand corrected.
What about you? Loved the show? Hated it? Did you dig Miz on commentary? Or the shocking conclusion? I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts!
Did You Know?
The last three times WWE has been in Chicago, CM Punk has left as WWE Champion.
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I'm out for now, see you next time!