Writer's Note: To my surprise, yesterday's column was NOT a complete failure. Instead, I received nothing but positive feedback for my RAW review. Therefore, I have decided to make the RAW (and when I can, Smackdown!) Pro & Con system a weekly thing. It may not be on par with Hustle's Running Diaries (where the hell are you, bro?), but that could always change over time. With that being said, let's look at what the LIVE episode of Smackdown! had to offer.
PRO: Booker T returning to the ring
Rumors have been circling for months now that WWE had plans for Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes to feud with the six-time (Booker must suck at counting) world heavyweight champion. At first, I was sceptic about the idea. I'm one of the few people who enjoy Booker's commentary, and although I respect everything he's done for the business, I have never been a big fan of his in-ring work. However, Rhodes has been putting on great matches with anybody and everybody all year, so I'm pretty sure he could carry Booker to an above-average match, especially if Booker has a lot of ring-rust. If done correctly, Booker T vs. Cody Rhodes could be a top match at either TLC or the Royal Rumble. Call me crazy, but I'm excited about this feud.
CON: Justin Gabriel vs. Jinder Mahal
I'm actually becoming a big fan of Justin Gabriel (he's surprisingly charismatic as a face) but anytime Jinder Mahal is on television, it's hard to be entertained. I know the guy hasn't been on the main roster for a long time, but Mahal is really, really bad. His matches are boring, regardless of the opponent. His promos are unbearable - even when he screams in Hindi for ten minutes it gets barely any heat from the crowd. Also, he has a face that is the definition of the word "douchebag", and not in a good way. Mahal sucks the life out of any arena he appears in, and the fact he's feuding with Ted DiBiase means he's going to keep appearing on television for the foreseeable future. God (or Y2J), please, save us from this nightmare!
CON: The 20-Man Battle Royal
I've seen plenty of Battle Royals over the years, but I can honestly say that last night's match was by the far the WORST. Not only was it comprised of 75% jobbers (even Michael Cole didn't know who Johnny Curtis was), but the only guy truly over was Sheamus. Just take a look at the final six - Sheamus, Tyler Reks, Hunico, Jinder Mahal, Heath Slater, and Hornswoggle. How fucking sad is that? You have four guys who many fans thought were released (or will be in the coming months), a leprechaun that had no business being in the match, and Sheamus. What's worse, Hornswoggle of all fucking people won the match, by eliminating SHEAMUS! Imagine that. It would be like Primo eliminating John Cena to win the Royal Rumble. You know, something that you joke about, but has no chance of happening. Well, hell must have froze over last night, because Hornswoggle won the lamest Battle Royal in WWE history. Who's booking this show anyways, the RAW writers?
PRO: Hornswoggle FINALLY learns to talk
The only, and I repeat THE ONLY, positive that can be taken away from the horrendous Battle Royal was what happened afterward. Hornswoggle met up with "Santa Claus" backstage and as reward for winning the match, "Santa" gave Hornswoggle the ability to speak English again. Was it cheesy? Yes, but I do not care. WWE can FINALLY stop pretending Hornswoggle is unable to speak, which made absolutely no sense, since:
1. he spoke English before he was chosen as Vince McMahon's illegitimate son.
2. he "rapped" at Wrestlemania 27
3. he has a Twitter and TWEETS IN ENGLISH! Like, are you serious bro? How stupid do you think we are?
CON: Tyson Kidd still being a jobber
A few weeks ago, I predicted who I thought would be the seven breakout superstars of 2012, and to many people's surprise, Kidd was one of them. I backed up my claim by stating that Kidd is one of the best in-ring workers on the roster, and he continues to prove that statement true week-in and week-out. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the last time Kidd won a match on television. I know Smackdown! is heel-heavy at the moment, but I think Kidd deserves a chance before Jinder Mahal or even Hunico. Unlike those two, Kidd is a crafty, in-ring technician who, despite being sparingly used, knows how to generate heel heat without cutting a promo. I knew the chances of Kidd defeating Kofi Kingston were quite slim, but WWE should really allow Kidd to pick up some more wins, as the kid could one day become a valuable asset to the roster (unlike his former partner, David Hart Smith. You know, the guy with the crybaby mama?)/
PRO: Randy Orton vs. David Otunga
One sign Smackdown! was not a good show: when a street fight between Orton and Otunga is one of the show's saving graces. Fortunately, Orton dominated most of the action (probably because Otunga was terrified of botching a move and getting fired), and we got to see another glimpse of 'Crazy Randy'. Yup, Orton's mean streak was on display last night, as he beat Otunga down all over the arena, even proceeding to shout out "Ho Ho Ho" before smacking Otunga with a Christmas wreath (a "LOL" moment for yours truly). Despite a run-in from Wade Barrett, Orton was able to pick up the win in a match that probably kept half the audience from going home early.
CON: The holiday theme in general
Can someone please explain to me why we got a Christmas edition of Smackdown! even though we're still in November? I don't mind when WWE does episodes like these a week or two before the holiday, but come on, it's WAY too early to decorate the ringside area with Christmas trees and have the announcers dress up in reindeer and elf costumes. The backstage segments were decent (Sheamus continues to show off his amazing comic-timing), but nothing really contributed to the show or the main-event. Speaking of which...
PRO: Mark Henry vs. Daniel Bryan
If you follow me on Twitter (@ChrisssLOP), then you might recall me tweeting that Henry vs. Bryan would have to be a five-star classic in order to save the show. Although that's not quite what happened, both men put in a great effort to steal the show, and that they did. Bryan using Henry's injured foot to his advantage was well-executed, as he kept kicking at Henry's leg and tried to scale the cage any chance he got. Rather than play up the David vs. Goliath sequence, Bryan was made to look like Henry's equal, as there were several times I was convinced Bryan would be leaving North Carolina with the world heavyweight title. Alas, it was not to be on this night, as Henry caught Bryan trying to escape and nailed him with a Super World's Strongest Slam off the top turnbuckle to retain his title. A really good match and Henry's best since Vengeance.
Just for Hustle:
#ThankYouHustle: Mick Foley being on TV again...The developing feud between Booker T and Cody Rhodes...Orton vs. Otunga...'Crazy Randy' making a return...Hornswoggle no longer pretending to be an idiot...Henry vs. Bryan...Henry's 'Super' World's Strongest Slam...Bryan looking good even in defeat
#FuckYouWhoeverKidnappedHustle: Jinder Mahal vs. Justin Gabriel...Mahal for having a job...Tyson Kidd continuing to job...The 20-man Battle Royal...Hornswoggle winning the Battle Royal...Sheamus for not Brogue Kicking the stupid smile off Swoggle's face...The holiday theme in general...No Kaitlyn strip-tease.
2. Day 391
Today's column comes at the request of Leore, who messaged me on Facebook the other day asking for my opinion on the presence and effect of backstage topics in professional wrestling. More specifically, Leore wants to know if certain wrestlers are pushed because of their personal relationships, while others are held-back for stepping on the wrong guy's toes.
First of all, let me make something clear - backstage politics do exist in wrestling. Every workplace on Earth has one or more people calling the shots behind the scenes, and there will always be other people starting rumors about anyone and anything. That's not my opinion, that's a fact. On the other hand, as far as WWE is concerned, while backstage politics can make or break some superstars and divas, there are other facts to consider when determining their success and longevity in the business. The best way I can explain this is by providing you with several examples.
Let's take the man who people have been insisting for YEARS is only where he's at now because he married the boss's daughter - of course I'm talking about Triple H. Hunter Hearst Hemsley debuted for the WWE in the mid-90s, and remains under contract to them to this day. Since his debut, Triple H has won 13 world titles, the Intercontinental title, the tag team titles, the European title, King Of The Ring, the Royal Rumble, led several main-event factions like D-generation X and Evolution, and was recently the kayfabe Chief Operating Officer on television. It's no secret that Triple H has one of the best resumes in the history of the WWE, and it's no secret either that many credit his relationship with Stephanie McMahon for being key to that success.
You know what I think about Triple H's future Hall Of Fame career? He deserves it. So what if he's married to the boss's daughter? Do you really think Vince McMahon would let his daughter's husband become a multiple-time world champion and main-event superstar if he didn't think Triple H was worthy? Triple H may never have been the best promo guy, or put on five-star classics in the ring, but he was good at doing both. Furthermore, whether as a face or a heel, Triple H was OVER (and he still is). Another thing to consider is Triple H's loyalty to Vince all these years. Apart from an infamous moment or two in the 90s, HHH has been a company man nearly his entire career, and he pushed himself to the top. Obviously, being married to the boss's daughter is a great way to secure one's job, but Triple H would have become a huge superstar whether or not he hooked up with his "bonehead wife".
On the flip side of the coin, there are people in charge who don't mind "pulling some strings" to get some spotlight for the family. A good and recent example of this is Garrett Bischoff from TNA. For those of you unaware, Garrett is Eric Bischoff's real-life son, and he spent years competing as a TNA referee until he was exposed as Bischoff's son on television a few months back. Since then, Garrett has been involved with one major angle after another despite not being a trained wrestler. Yet, Bischoff and Hulk Hogan are doing everything in their power to make Garrett a top face and get him over with the audience. If you're not keeping track, Bischoff and Hogan are pushing Bischoff's son, a non-wrestler, over a roster full of WERESTLERS. That's a blatant, unfair use of backstage pull. Unlike Triple H (who only became a part of the McMahon family years after his WWE debut), Garrett Bischoff is complete garbage. Get him the fuck off our TV screens already.
Going back to the WWE, one man who has been a fortunate victim of backstage politics is Zack Ryder. Months ago, when Z! True Long Island Story was in it's early stages, and Ryder was still appearing on Superstars every week, top guys like CM Punk, The Miz, and John Cena were praising Ryder every chance they got, whether it was on Twitter, media interviews, or even cameos on RAW. Do you really think Vince woke up one morning, logged onto YouTube, watched a few episodes of Z!TLIS, and decided to push Ryder the following week? Probably not. Instead, word probably got to Vince that Ryder's YouTube show was getting a lot of hits, his merchandise (one 'basics" t-shirt at the time) was selling out, and that a lot of stars wanted Ryder on television, so Vince gave in and allowed The Ryder Revolution to begin. Ryder got himself over, true, but if everyone kept their mouths shut backstage, chances are Ryder would still be a regular on "Superstars" to this day.
Just so we're clear, I have no proof that any of these stories are true. Unless you actually work for the WWE, and are backstage at every show, you have no more knowledge than I do about what goes on behind the curtain. There will always exist internet rumors, things being said by former employees when interviewed, and wrestlers will sometimes include “secret stuff” in their autobiographies. Chances are, we will never know if Triple H won so many world titles because he banged Stephanie until she said yes. We will never know if Randy Orton is truly responsible for getting Mr. Kennedy/Anderson fired (I doubt it, but that’s another story). We just have to choose which rumors to believe, and decide for ourselves which ones are fake.
The moral of the story? Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Some if it may be true, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.
3. Day 392
I hate to sound like a broken record, but today's column comes at the request of long-time reader and part-time stalker, Sean Jensen. Sean wants to know WHY. WHY did I start writing wrestling columns over two years ago? WHY did I start posting daily a year-and-a-half-ago? So many why's, where to start?
Well, Sean (and anyone else who cares), I started writing after reading none other than Lords of Pain veteran DaveyBoy's weekly column. For those of you unfamiliar with DaveyBoy, many say that he is one of the best writers to ever grace the LOP main page, and hundreds of readers will tell you that DaveyBoy and Tito's columns are what made this website a must-read. Sadly, I did not become a regular visitor of LOP until after Tito stopped writing for several years, but I was able to keep up with most of Davey's work. I remember reading DaveyBoy's epic Pay-Per-View recaps and thinking to myself, "Hey, I can do that."
And that's what I did. I signed up to LOPForums, and posted my very first column (if I recall correctly, it was telling the world why I was a huge Tommy Dreamer fan). Like most writer's debut columns, it was met with mostly negative reviews, but not the kind of stuff that makes you want to shoot yourself in the head out of embarrassment. Rather than leaving feedback along the lines of "You suck, kid. Take an English class" or "That was the most boring piece of shit ever", every single person who commented on my column gave me advice on how to improve my writing. "Shorten your paragraphs", "Get straight to the point", and "Don't lecture; entertain" were some of the suggestions that were offered, and despite my debut column not being the piece of art I thought it was, I took these comments and used them to improve my writing.
I would go on to publish over thirty full-length columns before becoming fascinated with Xanman and THE MONKEY's latest experiment - posting a new column every single day. I, as did many others, thought this was a great idea, as for the first time in a long while, LOP readers had two new columns to read every day (plus all the other full-length columns being posted on the Main Page and in the Columns Forums). I'm not going to lie, it was an awesome time to be a fan of LOP.
But just like the HIPE, all good things had to come to an end. For personal reasons, MONKEY stopped doing dailies, and XanMan became the sole columnist posting daily on LOP. Even though I was not yet a Main Pager, I saw this as my chance to entertain the LOP audience who had been stunned by MONKEY's disappearance. As a result, My Two Centsss was born, and after a full month of dailies, I won my first-ever Column of the Month, which let me post one of my dailies on the Main Page. That column (and the majority of my dailies) was received with a lot of positive feedback, and it wasn't long before XanMan took me under his wing, and gave me all the advice he could teach on what makes a daily so great.
After a few months of posting daily in the Forums, I got the message that changed my life. It was time for me to pack up my stuff and join the likes of Hustle, Skittlez, and my mentor, XanMan, on the Main Page. I quickly learned that writing for the Main Page was NOT like writing for the Forums. Instead of having only a few hundred people read my column, I now had THOUSANDS of readers watching my every move. But I quickly adapted to the larger audience and became used to non-constructive comments like "U suck bro, fuck off" and "You fail. Who r u?". Super Chrisss was here to stay.
Not long after my call-up to the Main Page, XanMan (who I considered a good friend) felt it was his time to go. He was no longer able to juggle writing a wrestling column every day around his work and personal life. But I kept posting daily, all by my lonesome until Hustle debuted The HIPE, a legendary streak that will not be soon forgotten by LOP readers. The rest, as they say, is history.
One last thing: all you haters who call me a "poor man's Hustle" can shut the fuck up. Not because it bothers me, but because you're incorrect. I am a poor man's XanMan. My dailies are not a tribute or mimic of The HIPE, but of XanMan's columns. Therefore, if you want to diss my columns , go right ahead, but just don't call me a "poor man's Hustle", because that I am not.
As for the story behind my Zack Ryder man-crush, well, that's a column for another day.
4. Day 393
It doesn't take a genius to realize that today's wrestling product is quite different than it was twenty years ago. Hell, ten years ago we were in the final days of the infamous "Attitude Era", yet the product has changed so much since then that you'd think the WWF was another company, not the "new" WWE. Sometimes it's nice to take a stroll down memory lane, but on this particular trip, I want to share with you some lost traditions/matches/stipulations that we no longer see in 2011. I'm not saying all of these things should make their return in the near future. I just...miss them.
Time limits: I know, I know. TNA, ROH, and other wrestling organizations still tend to include time limits to their matches every now and then, but when was the last time WWE, the world's top wrestling company, had a match contested under a specific time limit? Better yet, can you recall the most recent IronMan match or Beat The Clock gauntlet on WWE television? It has been a while since WWE used either concept, and I think they should use it more frequently. I'm not saying an IronMan match should take place once ever year (although I would mark for that), but putting a time restraint on two competitors who the fans know are in-ring technicians - let's say CM Punk and Daniel Bryan - not only makes the bout more exciting, but adds an element of realness to the action. Some people complain that timed matches often result in draws, and no victor emerges, but if booked correctly, both superstars could come away from a match looking stronger than they did going in. Just a thought.
Blood: WWE have been PG for almost four years now, and despite a strong shift in their target audience, which included a toning down of profanity, I have had little issue with the decision. However, the one thing that ahs baffled me since day one of "WWEPG" is the strict no-no about blood. I struggle to find the logic behind removing and covering up any blood that is spilled on television. What, do WWE officials think children don't know what blood looks like? Chances are, they've tripped and fallen in their young lives, and got a cut on their knee or elbow at least a handful of times. When they watch their Saturday morning cartoons, most of the villains end up dying or exploding. In other words, blood is something that every kid has seen before. Seeing a wrestler get his forehead busted open by his opponent is probably not that traumatizing. While too much blood can be a bit disturbing, removing it entirely is silly, and exposes the business even more.
The "30-day" rule: There are some people who insist this rule still exists, but as we learnt from Evan Bourne's recent suspension, it does not. Since the beginning of time, it was written in the pro wrestling rulebook that every champion (or champions) had to defend his or her title at least once every thirty days, or else they would be stripped of their championship. I recall instances when the rule was put in effect and world champions had to surrender their belt due to an untimely injury (guys like Edge and Batista come to mind). However, ever since WWE began putting on monthly Pay-Per-Views years ago, they don't really make an effort to remind the fans of this rule. Why? Because since most of the titles are defended at the monthly PPV, the rule stays into effect. Of course, that was a lame excuse, as I can think of plenty of superstars who I know for a fact DID NOT defend their title every thirty days (I'm talking to you, Gregory Helms). Don't believe me? Well, Air Boom last defended their tag team titles in October, but then Evan Bourne - one-half of the tag team champions - got suspended for thirty days on November 1st (side note: my birthday!). Since Bourne would obviously be unable to defend his tag team title before December 1st, did he and Kofi lose or gets ripped of the titles? Nope, Air Boom are still the champs. 30-day rule? Get serious, bro.
Stables: What was the last, well-done stable in WWE? Evolution. Sorry, folks. The Nexus was not a stable, and neither was The Corre. The Smackdown! writers tried to make JBL's "Cabinet" a legitimate stable, but no one could take Orlando Jordan seriously (and they never will). Unlike TNA, who have done stables to death (Main Event Mafia, The Originals, EV 2.0, Immortal - ENOGUH ALREADY!), there are plenty of WWE talent who could benefit from being put together as a group. One of the reasons Evolution was so successful was because they were the perfect mix - Ric Flair was the past, Triple H was the current, and Orton and Batista were the future. What happened? The group dominated RAW, with Orton and Batista going on to become two of their generation's biggest stars. If WWE decides to create a new faction in 2012, it has to be done right, with the right combination of past, present, and future. Both Hustle (the European alliance - Regal, McIntyre, Sheamus, and Barrett) and Tito's (Del Rio, Miz, Truth, Nash) stable ideas made sense because each group contained a blend of past and future. Groups like The Corre and The Nexus didn't work because 75% of the audience - if not more - had no clue who these guys were. If done conservatively and correctly (sorry, TNA), a stable in professional wrestling can raise interest in the product, create new storylines, and better yet, make new stars for the future.
Those are four of the things I miss the most about today's product, but now I want to know, what do you guys miss? Blood, boobs, violence? I'm sure there's something you miss from the "good, old days".
5. Day 394
Since his monstrous ovation at the Royal Rumble nearly one year ago, "Big Daddy Cool" Kevin Nash has recently become a regular character on Monday Night RAW (don't call it RAW SuperShow!). Although Nash is yet to wrestle a televised match since his infamous return at Madison Square garden, he has already played a part in some of the company's biggest angles of 2011. The only problem is, the angles Nash were involved in have been complete duds.
When Nash unexpectedly showed up at SummerSlam to Jacknife Powerbomb CM Punk and cost him the WWE championship to Alberto Del Rio, many fans were intrigued. We didn't know if this meant Punk and Nash (two of the best promo men of their respective generations) were going to feud, or if it would be revealed that the two were in cohorts against Triple H and John Cena. Before we could find out, Nash was "fired" by HHH, and Punk was hot-shot in a mini-feud, mini-alliance with Triple H against The Awesome Truth. This would ultimately lead to the early stages of a renewed rivalry between long-time friends Nash and HHH.
But wait a minute. Why are Nash and HHH suddenly feuding? Didn't Nash cost CM Punk the title at SummerSlam? Unless I blinked and missed something, Punk never got any payback on Nash. Instead, WWE just horribly meshed all the participants together (Punk, HHH, Nash, Awesome Truth) and rushed what could have been months of storyline into maybe two or three months of television. But I guess that's what happens when you decide to book three Pay-Per-Views in less than two months.
Anyways, all this confusion and booking madness has somehow brought us to the current Nash/HHH feud (which is on hiatus because of HHH's kayfabe injury). With HHH "out of action", Nash has made several random RAW appearances, showing up one week to crush Santino, and delivering some botched promos about how much he hates The Game (the C.O.O., not Oni's column). On paper, this looks like a great idea. A veteran, big-name talent returning to the company to feud with one of the top superstars of the 21st Century? What's not to like?
A lot, surprisingly. Not only is Nash NOT the promo guy he once was, but the majority of his RAW appearances have left both old-school and new-school wrestling fans with the feeling that Nash is wasting their time rather than contributing to the product. In their defense, Nash has not given them a lot to appreciate since his SummerSlam return. From tripping over his words to delivering some poorly-executed powerbombs, the man once known as Diesel is not having a great comeback year. It's gotten to the point that most fans are dreading the thought of Nash and HHH feuding every week, even though they haven't wrestled each other since 2003.
But alas, all hope is not lost. While some would say Nash left TNA for WWE just to get a bigger paycheck, I disagree. I think Nash feels at home in WWE, and if he doesn't want to get evicted, he must start proving to the head office he deserves the television time. Nash needs to stop playing up the fact he's in his 50s, and start showing signs that the old Diesel still exists. I'm not expecting Nash to show up on RAW tomorrow night, cut a flawless promo, and then wrestle a four-star match against CM Punk, but the next time we do see Nash, I believe we'll see a more focused and motivated man.
2011 probably won't go down as Nash's proudest year as a wrestler (although that Royal Rumble reception was quite epic), but that doesn't mean Nash's ship has sailed. If WWE are willing to put Nash in one big angle after another, they must believe he is still able to deliver, and not because he's HHH's real-life buddy or they're desperate for a big name star. Something tells me that Kevin Nash still has some fight left in him, and that includes one last feud with one of the biggest names in the business.
I don't know about you, but I'm willing to give Nash one...more...chance.
6. Day 395
We are less than two hours away from another edition of Monday Night RAW, and if you've visited WWE.COM at least once since last week's show went off the air, then you might have noticed the website plugging another assault from The Miz on tonight's show. The site noted that two weeks ago The Miz put R-Truth out of action (although we know what really happened), and last week, Miz crippled John Morrison and put him out indefinitely (again, we know the real story). So what will happen on tonight's show? Will The Miz take out another superstar who's on the brink of suspension, or who's contract is on it's final page? Will The Awesome One punish a jobber or midcarder? Or will Miz start a program with a much bigger star?
The only way to find out is to tune into RAW tonight...or, you could take a look at my list of candidates on Miz's hit list. It's up to you:
Alex Riley: Some of you may be thinking, "Alex WHO?". If you are, that's nothing to be ashamed of, since Miz's former protege has made only a handful of RAW appearances since competing in the Money in the Bank ladder match last July. That being said, Riley is still one of the top candidates to return to RAW and confront The Miz. Partly because the show is short of babyfaces, but mainly because of their past. Don't forget: Riley stood in Miz's corner when he successfully defended the WWE Championship against John Cena at Wrestlemania 27, but then "turned his back on The Miz" (according to Michael Cole) a short while later. For storyline purposes, it makes sense for Riley to be Miz's next victim. But I don't see it happening, at least not tonight.
Evan Bourne: I've seen plenty members of the Internet Wrestling Community predict that Air Boom will drop the tag team titles on RAW tonight as punishment for Bourne's suspension. I disagree. For over a month, WWE's tag team division has pretty much disappeared, so any team to win the belts from Air Boom at this point of time wouldn't be deemed credible in most fans' eyes. Therefore, I think there's a good chance that WWE punishes Bourne instead by feeding him to The Miz tonight on RAW. The only problem with that scenario is that Bourne is not of big as a name as Truth or Morrison. So technically, Miz would be taking a step backwards by squashing Bourne. Oh, well. Moving on...
Zack Ryder: It doesn't matter whether you call him lucky, or being in the right place at the right time, but you cannot deny Ryder's rise to popularity in recent months. Love him or hate him, Long Island Iced Z is super-over. That popularity could make him a potential target for The Miz tonight. I for one hope that doesn't happen as Ryder has been booked rather strongly recently, and having his momentum halted just to further an angle would do more harm than good. There's a possibility that Miz does go after Ryder tonight, but I don't think WWE's foolish enough to let that happen. Ryder vs. Miz will be a cool rivalry one day, but not today.
John Cena: Now we're talking. I don't give a fuck that Cena tweeted over the weekend that he's coming for the WWE Championship, that's a red herring. Until Wrestlemania 28, I see Cena being involved in only one world title match, and that's the RAW Elimination Chamber match in February. Yes, Miz vs. Cena has been done before, but not as recently as Punk vs. Cena. Besides, I see little point in RAW's top two faces squaring off at TLC, because that would leave Miz and Alberto Del Rio with literally nothing to do. That's why I boldly predict that Cena will be The Miz's victim tonight, and the two will begin to feud until TLC and the weeks heading into the Royal Rumble. I know Cena and Miz have squared off plenty of times over the past few years, but them wrestling one more time on the PPV between Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble couldn't hurt that much.
So there you have it. I'm going with John Cena being next on The "Mizlist". What do you think? Am I right? Or do you predict someone else will be taken out by The Awesome One tonight?
7. Day 396
Writer's Note: Yes, Hustle's RAW Running Diary has returned, but that doesn't mean Chrisss's Pros & Cons are retiring. You'll just have two RAW reviews to read instead! Mine is probably a bit more biased towards Zack Ryder than Hustle's is, but that shouldn't surprise you. Enjoy!
CON: RAW's opening segment
I hate to start things off on a pessimistic note, but the beginning of last night's RAW was the weakest segment of the entire show. I had no issue with John Cena coming out and playing to the crowd, nor did I mind the inevitable clusterfuck (Hi, Hustle) of crybaby superstars, but for me, the whole segment just fell flat. It took up twenty minutes of show-time, especially since everything that was said could have been achieved in half that time. Not only that, but we didn't learn anything new about anybody. Cena is still rising above hate, Alberto Del Rio is still struggling on the mic, and Vickie Guerrero continues to get more heat than Ziggler does on his own (which should change by 2012). Anyways, although this set the tone for the rest of the night, it was definitely not a "must-see" segment.
PRO: The Miz vs. Randy Orton
You know what I liked about this brief match? Everything. Unlike their previous
encounters at TLC 2010 and this year's Royal Rumble, The Miz did not appear to be outmatched by Orton. The Viper's Scoopslam to Miz on the concrete floor was a nice touch, and it made perfect sense for Wade Barrett to cost Orton yet another match. Not only does it keep both Miz and Orton looking strong, but it adds more fuel to the Barrett/Orton war. Nothing to complain about here.
PRO: Daniel Bryan vs. Alberto Del Rio
This was another short match (which I'm sure would have received more time had the opening segment not went on, and on, and on...) but both men made the most of it. I bet a lot of people saw this as Bryan being buried, but that's not the case. Bryan was all bandaged up due to his match with Mark Henry on Smackdown! last week, and the announcers did a good job for once of selling Bryan's injured ribs. Despite the injury, Bryan almost made Del Rio submit, but it was not to be, as Bryan got caught in the Cross-Armbreaker and had to tap. In my opinion, Bryan looked fairly strong, even in defeat. #NOTburied.
CON: The Divas
I swear to God, I am THIS close to just giving up on the entire divas division. Even though Beth Phoenix is the champion, The Divas of Doom are a complete joke (through no fault of their own). When was the last time Eve or Kelly Kelly beat either Beth or Natalya by any move other than a roll-up? My guess would have to be NEVER. WWE's logic of booking this "feud" is having The Divas of Doom dominate Eve and/or Kelly Kelly 99% of the match, have them lose via roll-up, and then have Natalya and/or Beth get their heat back on Smackdown! by crushing poor Aj. This storyline is so predictable, it's more boring than The Michael Cole Challenge. Whatever. Wake me up when Kharma comes back.
PRO: Zack Ryder vs. John Cena
Say what you will about either man's wrestling ability - this was without a doubt the match of the night. Not only was it full of reversals and near-falls, but Cena did a really good job of making Ryder look like he had a legitimate chance of beating him. The crowd was really into this match as well, which only added to the fun (non-stop "Let's Go Cena"/"Cena Sucks" and "Let's Go Ryder"/"Woo Woo Woo" chants from start to finish). Of course Cena ended up getting the victory, but it was what happened afterwards that got the rest of the world talking.
PRO: Zack Ryder being put over big-time
The second hour of last night's episode of RAW belonged to Long Island Iced Z. Not only did he wrestle the company's top star in a great match, but he also faced the world heavyweight champion - Mark Henry - in a "last chance" match. The match was Ryder's "last chance" because Cena relinquished his title match at TLC in order for Ryder to become the number one contender to Ziggler's U.S. Championship IF Ryder could defeat Henry. Well, thanks to some assistance from Cena, Ryder shocked the world and pinned Mark Henry, and the crowd went nuts because they're finally getting what they want - Ziggler vs. Ryder for the U.S. title.
Speaking of Ziggler, he went up against Sheamus, but lost to The Great White due to Ryder making his fourth or fifth appearance on the show. In what should be a telling sign, the crowd was not tired of Ryder, as they "Woo Woo Wooed" with him after he hit a Rough Ryder on Ziggler post-match.
Last night was arguably Ryder's biggest night of his life, as he wrestled the face of the company, pinned the world heavyweight champion, and beat up the United States Champion in the same hour. Much like Mr. Tito, I'll be curious to see if Ryder helped or hurt RAW's ratings last night. A broski can only hope for the best.
PRO: Kevin Nash vs. Santino
Yes, you read that right, I'm listing Nash vs. Santino as a Pro, not a Con. Why? Because everything about the segment/match was much better than it had any right to be. Rather than cut a five-minute promo about how badly Nash is going to beat Triple H at TLC, Nash went to the ring, squashed Santino like a bug, and it took less than five minutes. In a short amount of time, Nash re-established himself as a no-nonsense giant, made the sledgehammer feared, and plugged the match with Triple H. In fact, Santino was the only negative in this angle, as his popularity has taken a major dive in recent months. He's barely over with crowds, and rarely makes me laugh. It might be time to turn Santino heel or repackage him altogether.
CON: The weird WCW/TNA booking throughout the show
Is it just me, or did it feel like Vince Russo was booking RAW last night? Think about it. Seven official matches took place, with three featuring outside interference, one ending by roll-up, another ending via count-out, and another being a complete squash. Not only that, but consider the two matches booked for TLC - a Ladder match with a Sledgehammer suspended above the ring (way too similar to a Pole match if you ask me) and the first-ever Triple Threat TLC match. Call me crazy, but something about the show felt overbooked to me. Another thing I don't get is why WWE pushed Miz adding to his hitlist tonight, but didn't follow-up on it. Also, WHERE THE HELL IS BRODUS CLAY?! I guess I know what to write about tomorrow - welcome back to WWE, Mr. Russo!
PRO: The TLC contract signing
This was a great way to end RAW. Unlike the stagnant opening segment, each man brought his A-game, even Laurinaitis played his part well. But CM Punk was the real star, as he delivered one epic line after another. His reaction to the "group photo" had me dying of laughter. I know some people are going to complain about Punk being booked strongly over his two challengers, but keep in mind that at TLC, Miz and Del Rio are going to spend a lot of time double-teaming Punk, so he might as well get his kicks in now. I also thought it was cool for Miz to try and sneak-attack Del Rio like he did to Truth and Morrison, which added to the "every man for himself" mentality. A fun way to conclude a great show.
#WooWooWooYouKnowIt: A lot of wrestling...Miz/Orton/Barrett being booked well...Del Rio and Bryan making the most out of three minutes...Ryder vs. Cena...Ryder being pushed as the next big superstar...Nash vs. HHH taking up very little TV time...One of the better contract signings in a long time.
#WooWooWooYouBlewIt: The opening segment taking up way too much time...The entire divas division...Santino's stale character...The strange booking...Brodus Clay, where art thou?
Song Of The Day:
Today has been a rather successful day for yours truly. I got my column posted, a take-home essay ready to hand in, and it's only noon! Now, all I have to do is start studying for my Psychology exam tomorrow and then I'll start another week of dailies afterwards, so you can look out for a new column anytime tomorrow evening.
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