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Posted in: The PEN15 Mightier
The PEN15 Mightier - Live Raw Blog (Feb 10) + Pre-Show Thoughts
By PEN15
Feb 10, 2014 - 11:25:22 PM

Table of Contents

Monday Morning Thoughts


What I Am Looking Forward To

Live Raw Blog

Post Raw Thoughts

Monday Morning Thoughts

I Almost Forgot

While I didnèt forget about Raw, I almost forgot to prepare these Monday Morning Thoughts as an intro for the Live Blog tonight. If this seems rushed compared to recent Monday postings, I apologize.

CM Punk

I have gathered a series of posts of mine from the LOPforums and formed it into a column of sorts, and I have been holding back on posting it on the main page. It would have made sense immediately after the news broke, but 2 weeks later without any real updates, I find it’s a bit out of place. I’ll hold onto it with hopes that something will change soon, and that there will be some relevance once again.

To quickly summarize, I was pointing out that while I didn’t agree with how he’s dealing with his frustrations, I definitely see why he’d be frustrated. I’ll cover it in some more detail in the “What I Am Looking Forward To” section concerning the live audience, but in general it feels WWE has ignored what has been clicking with the WWE Universe, and continued to push whoever they want. I definitely understand the long term potential of their handpicked guys, and many of them have honest talent I would consider to make them draws. My problem is that sometimes someone or something unexpected catches on, and instead of dropping that ball, WWE should roll with it. The reason Stone Cold and The Rock became such hot commodities was because the fans decided when it was their time, not WWE. I understand that Vince wanted to make a star out of Rocky Maivia from the start, as you can tell from his face push in 1996-1997. But it was once they backed off a bit and let him be comfortable in his midcard position instead of as a main eventer waiting to happen, The Rock made himself a main event quality talent.

With CM Punk, WWE has just not given him the opportunities that many stars from the past were able to take advantage of to ensure their superstardom. It’s easy to say “he was champion for 434 days” and therefore blow off the idea that he was wasted or buried. I don’t think he was buried, but I think there was definitely a few times it felt like the momentum he was riding on was wasted.

Simply put, consider his entire WWE career path, and pick a single time he had any solid runs. I’m not talking about character pushes, but wins. Whether it was as ECW Champion, World Champion, or WWE Champion, CM Punk was never presented as someone with the ability to win against any opponent. I’m not asking for him to beat Cena and Big Show nightly. But consider how Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were booked when they were on top. Bret had credible wins over guys like Flair, Razor, Yokozuna, Owen, Diesel and Undertaker. Shawn had wins over Bret, Diesel, Bulldog, Vader, Sid, and Undertaker. I understand that Punk had wins over Cena and Jericho. The Cena wins should be a bigger part of his career, but despite those wins Punk is obviously still viewed as below John. As for Jericho, he isn’t exactly the big name victory needed to propel Punk onto more. Besides, even if we count those 2 opponents as top wins, it’s buried under Punk’s losses to Cena, Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, The Rock and of course HHH.

Overall, CM Punk was never booked like a champion, even while he was holding the title for record time. From being below the main event for 90% of the PPVs he was booked on, to spending 2013 erasing any benefit of that title reign with loss after loss against anyone with real credibility, CM Punk has a lot to be personally conflicted about concerning the creative differences he has with WWE.

The man strived for change in 2011, and it wasn’t just to his career, but how WWE booked their stars. In 2014, despite how fans have been loud for Daniel Bryan, WWE shows that they haven’t changed a single ****ing thing.

And for those reasons, among many others, I understand why he’s pissed off enough to walk away. I just don’t think he should have.

Tag Teams

I did a ranking last week for the WWE title. I think I’ll do a tag team one this week. I will make it a top 10 list, because there are enough teams, but I’ll be doing it with the understanding that a couple of the teams are no longer involved in the Tag Titles, or that some of these teams are too part-time to really deserve being there. It works itself out though.

Champions: New Age Outlaws
The surprise return to action and title win has taken a couple of people aback. Many use the former association to Degeneration X as a sign that behind the scenes HHH is giving his friends pushes. I question how anyone can think this run is anything but a cheap heel run while the tag division gets reshuffled. The NAO will hold the titles until someone is ready to take the spot as the top team. I think they’ve already found that team, and now we’ll see them get that push.

#1 - The Usos
The Usos are certainly the next team in line. A cage match victory over Wyatt and BRyan a few weeks back, and the big win last week on Raw which led to JBL commenting on how close they are to the titles, total up to this team taking the reigns in the division sooner rather than later. Look for them to take on the Outlaws very soon.

#2 - The Real Americans
My personal favorite team in WWE today, but they are obviously concentrating on a different storyline with their singles angles. If they aren’t going to split up anytime soon, I hope they become the top threat to the Usos when the Samoan twins take the titles.

#3 - Cody Rhodes/Goldust
As great as this team has been, the story for them as champions didn’t have a lot of legs.Now, they are sort of in a limbo, with most contemplating a split and feud between brothers. I’m not against this, but I don’t see the need for it. It’s like WWE feels that once a team is beyond the tag titles they need to split up and have a rivalry between partners. Cody Rhodes is doing alright as a face in singles action, and it’s hard to imagine the WWE Universe booing Goldust with how amazing he has been recently. So why make them face off? I say they stick in the tag division, but work a non-title feud with another team. The Wyatts would be fine, as would Ryback and Curtis Axel. I just don’t see that happening though.

#4 - The Wyatt Family (Rowan and Harper)
Most of the momentum for the Wyatts is concentrated on Bray, so the team gets placed in bodyguard type roles, and therefore not geared towards the titles in any fashion. I think this is fine for now, as they are getting established as a team without really being involved in the division. If Bray takes on Cena after the match with The Shield next month, it’ll prolong their stay at a unit. After the Cena angle is finished, I think the Wyatts will have a great time working the tag team division with the titles involved.

#5 - The Shield (Rollins and Reigns)
I would honestly prefer them to be higher, because they are still a serious threat to anyone in the division. The problem is that there’s an obvious split coming up, and none of the 3 can group have really been concentrating as a unit. They could be in the mix any time, but I think it’s safe to say this team is done. We may see another incarnation soon, like Rollins and Ambrose, but until then The Shield are only in the 5th spot.

#6 - RybAxel
This team reminds me so much of the Hart Foundation. Much like Niedhart and Hart back in 1985-1987, Ryback and Curtis Axel are directionless but seem to make sense as a cohesive unit. The physical parallels exist as well, as Ryback certainly has the size and strength to be the Anvil of the team, while Curtis Axel is being presented as a technician in the way The Hitman was as well. Are they as talented as “the pink and black attack?” No, and I doubt WWE will give them the type of time needed to find that chemistry. Teams don’t last long in WWE anymore, nor do teams who aren’t immediate successes seem to get much attention. I do sense these guys will do something at some point, but I doubt they’ll ever reach anything close to the lofty heights of the Hart Foundation.

#7 - Los Matadores
All jokes aside, these guys still have a lot to work with. They haven’t been jobbed out, and El Torito is over. Will the team succeed? They definitely can if given the right push. They don’t need to be shoved down our throats, but get them involved with other teams in the ring. Having El Torito get some goofy segments and a Rumble entry help overall, but it can’t carry them to the titles overnight.

#8 - Sin Cara/Rey Mysterio
Are these guys still a thing? They had a match on Raw recently, and Mysterio is still a brand with credibility while HuniCara has breathed new life into the Sin Cara character. I hope they get used more as a team, but I think they need opponents to work with. Heel teams are hard to find as the Wyatts are behind Bray, The Shield are splitting, and Real Americans aren’t concentrating as a team currently. I could see both the former Colon cousins or this luchadore team being great opponents for RybAxel, letting the heels use their size advantage to get over, while the speed works in favor of the faces.

#9 - R-Truth/Xavier Woods
We are sort of in the filler section of the list, but there’s no doubt that this duo deserves to be on the list more than 3MB. Xavier is getting a rub from the established R-Truth, and getting time on commentary. I wouldn’t be shocked of this team moves to the front of the line soon for these reasons.

#10 - Big E. Langston/Mark Henry
If only they were heels, right? Not because I want another Nation of Domination, but because they would be immediately successful. Right now, they are at the bottom of the list since they only had a single match as a combo, and a quick JBL mention last week on Raw. It wouldn’t take much for them to climb the ranks, but Langston should concentrate on his current title, or move it to someone else if this team is being primed to be a tag team threat to those championships.

CM Punk’s Departure is a Work?

I was too busy summarizing how I understood CM Punk’s supposed leave of absence, that I forgot to mention how open minded I am to the idea that this could be a work. It might be based on reality, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made part of a script.

We are making our judgments on these matters by dirtsheet headlines and rumors, right? Well, what’s one of the first rumors we read about here on LOP concerning WrestleMania XXX and the Authority angle? That Vince McMahon would come back to feud with HHH. Well, the door is wide open right now for Vince to make a statement against his daughter and son-in-law with their treatment of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.

In fact, aren’t most of the recent rumors consisting of how Vince is the true fan of Punk behind the scenes, and is putting in the effort to get him to return? While HHH, the evil boss on TV and apparently in real life (according to Punk and Bryan fans) is the one who is attempting to move on without him? It’s a bit of a worked shoot environment. We could see Vince come back after Chamber to confront how badly the Authority has been running things and perhaps screwing Bryan out of the title again, and decides to make a few changes, such as inserting Daniel Bryan into a WWE Title match and bringing back CM Punk to face HHH at WrestleMania.

Add the fact that apparently The Shield are giving promos at Live Events with direct mentioning of CM Punk, and using their characters to criticise him.

One argument to counter-point this idea is that WWE wouldn’t risk losing one of their top stars during the most important time of year. To that I say there’s more than enough star power right now without him. WrestleMania is when they bring in the big guns, with Hogan and Sting expected to make their debuts, while the Undertaker is rumored back any week now. Plus Batista’s return, as disappointing as it may seem so far, is still an attraction at this point while it is fresh. Brock’s appearances keep people tuned in as well.

I’m not saying Punk is coming back, but that the storyline is there for it to happen.

Of course, HHH is going to be around much longer than Vince. So, even though the door is open for Punk to side with Vince to be brought back, it’s still likely HHH sticks around. This might have been the storyline all along, but then Punk was told he’d lose at Mania so HHH can keep his position in kayfabe.

I hope Punk comes back. I really do. But I can’t say I’ve missed his persona on WWE TV recently. WWE has either created enough controversy to keep me distracted, or is doing everything right and making sure I haven’t noticed as much as those in attendance chanting his name. Overall, I’m still a fan.


From WWE.com

It has been a week, and the WWE Universe is still cheering over Daniel Bryan’s grueling victory over Randy Orton. Yet even though the former WWE Champion made a strong case for himself as the new “Face of WWE,” it’s a face from Bryan’s past – Kane’s – who may prove to be his undoing. While Bryan sorts out his issues with WWE’s monstrous Director of Operations, Randy Orton faces his next challenge, and the one and only Betty White drops by for this week’s Raw. Here’s what WWE.com thinks is in store.

'Face' lift
When Triple H and Stephanie McMahon said Daniel Bryan could be the new "Face of WWE" if he beat Randy Orton, they probably didn’t expect him to actually win. Still, he pulled it off, and now The Authority has some uncomfortable decisions to make. With Orton finding new reasons to complain week in and week out, and Bryan making good on his promises, might the corporate power actually consider putting a beard on WWE’s face?

Somebody's gonna get it
It has been about a month since the WWE Universe last saw Mark Henry, whose elbow was both dislocated and fractured after the former World Champion threw hands against Brock Lesnar. Now, though, The World’s Strongest Man is all healed up and ready to roll. Who’s the first check-in to the reopened Hall of Pain?

Betty White!
Yep, that Betty White. The legendary comedian is headed to Raw as this week’s guest star, and shenanigans are sure to unfold when the famously outspoken “Hot in Cleveland” star meets the always interesting WWE locker room. Personally, we’re hoping she runs into Goldust in the first five minutes, but let’s face it: There’s no way this isn’t going to end up awesome.

Pick your poison
It’s a rough time to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Randy Orton — under orders from The Authority to go through each of his Elimination Chamber opponents one-by-one — is batting .500 after losing to Daniel Bryan on Raw and beating Christian on SmackDown. Next up for the Champion of Champions is John Cena, who’s dominant on his worst day and has never quite repaid Orton for beating up his father. Will the payback be too much for The Apex Predator to stand?

Hell (no) to pay?
Of all the things that could derail the “YES!” Movement, Daniel Bryan probably never expected Kane to be among them. The former WWE Tag Team Champions seem to have finally come to their long-awaited loggerheads, with The Devil’s Favorite Director of Operations attacking Bryan after his win over Orton on Monday, and costing him a match against Antonio Cesaro on SmackDown. Will Raw bring about another confrontation between the two? Safe to say hugging it out won’t fix their problems this time around.

What I Am Looking Forward To

Live Crowd - I can’t help it. There’s been some solid debate on the conduct of the WWE Universe on LOPforums recently. A small minority says it is disrespectful to the wrestlers for fans to hijack a show and chant for Daniel Bryan or CM Punk in a segment those men have no involvement, such as during a taping of NXT. I’m of the other camp that says it might be disrespectful of the fans, but that the fans are merely retaliating for feeling disrespected by WWE for not listening to them. At all. I used the example of how WWE pushed John Cena as the top guy of the company despite the very quick turnaround on his popularity in 2005 (that is now backed up with evidence that he wasn’t the ratings draw WWE would like us to believe, with only 0.11 of a ratings increase in 2006 over what Chris Benoit’s reign helped achieve in 2004. In fact, other than 2 years, Benoit had better ratings as champ than John Cena has in the last decade? Despite this, and the fans booing of who I still feel is the best overall wrestler in the company, Vince and HHH have kept him in the spotlight while fan favorites have been ignored. Now, it’s reached a new level, where the fans are refusing to accept WWE’s ideal superstars in Cena, Orton and Batista, and augmenting their support of Bryan and Punk.

Live Raw Discussion

Intro - Betty White/The Authority

Quick appearance for Betty White right off the bat makes sense. I’m not a huge fan of hers, but she’s an interesting character.

As for the power couple in charge standing in the ring tonight… they have their moments.

Randy Orton’s promo is geared towards Batista, that’s a major sign of the Mania plans, sadly.

Great pop for Daniel Bryan. No shock there.

Not too much happened here. Daniel Bryan gets the night off, but we all know he’ll be back. Meh.

6 Man Tag

Rey Mysterio and RhodesDust vs the Wyatt Family
One team is directionless, while the other has the 2nd match booked for the upcoming PPV. I’m betting Cody pins Bray. Obviously.

That was a great example of how tag wrestling works. Predictable in result, but amazing delivery. That ending sequence was solid. Great match to kick things off in the ring.

The Shield have really set the bar high for tag team wrestling, 4 or 6 man tag matches, but the Wyatts are proving to be able to hold their own.

Backstage Segments

Not too much going on backstage. The Outlaws protecting Betty White seems to be an open door for trouble, but I’m not sure where it’s going. I’m hoping it involves the Usos.

The Shield segment was not to my liking. I understand that they have to split up, but Roman had a very different character. Flirting with Renee Young, and smiling? I don’t know… I think he’s going to try too hard to be The Rock.

At least there’s an open challenge for the US Title later on. Any predictions? Mark Henry, maybe?

Santino vs Fandango

A quick match is needed here, as both men need to have some development before expecting the crowd to stick around with a match like this.

Fandango definitely nails that leg drop well.

I’m interested in the Emma character, but that wasn’t a great way to get her back on TV. Then again, subtlety might be the best way to go with her.

Sheamus Interview

I missed Sheamus. He is very good on the mic. I just hope he adds more “ass kicker” to his character, as that sort of babyface is sorely lacking.

Sheamus and Christian vs Real Americans

This should be an awesome match. The Real Americans are really clicking more than ever, with both men playing their respective roles perfectly. Meanwhile Christian and Sheamus are tremendous opponents for these men. This could be the best match of the night.

No disappointment so far. This is the type of TV wrestling I ****ing love!

Batista Recaps

It makes sense for WWE to try to get The Animal over by using clips of him, because he certainly is hitting the right notes when doing his work live.

Then again, LA might be the perfect place for a fake ass bitch like Botoxta to get cheered.

Del Rio vs Ziggler

Damn. Ziggler deserves better. LA agrees. ****! They couldn’t even let Dolph make a full entrance?

He couldn’t even get a full match… Ugh.

Botoxta Beatdown

Good effort to get Batista over. Very odd segment in terms of building up a match between them at Elimination Chamber (what’s the point of the match now?), but great work in getting him a face reaction.

Hall of Fame: Lita

I am fine with this entry. While WWE will overrate her, along with many of her fans, the truth is that she did help change how women were perceived in wrestling. She was the best mix of talent, charisma and looks from that era. I’m not saying she was the best in any of those categories, but she was arguably the best at mixing all 3 necessary evils for women to succeed. Kudos Lita.

RybAxel vs Usos

It looks like they are finally looking to get the Usos in the title hunt. Awesome stuff, with RoadDogg talking the right game on commentary, utilizing his best talent (talking).

Was that Jeff Hardy’s “whisper in the wind”?

US Title Open Challenge

Any guesses?
Mark Henry is my official guess. Though Big E. Langston is another possibility.

Answer open challenges, that’s what I do.

With Big E as the IC champion, will we see a title change here? I’m betting on yes.

The reason I think Ambrose drops the championship is because there are quite a few heels that could benefit from working with Henry for the title. Examples: Wade Barrett, Bray Wyatt, Alberto Del Rio, Ryback, Damien Sandow, Fandango, Jack Swagger...etc.

But the big reason is because I expect Henry to be a transitional champion. Ambrose loses to Henry, but Roman Reigns beats the World Strongest Man, maybe as soon as next week.

Or a DQ finish to keep the title on Henry. I still think my above booking will still take place, maybe next week with The Shield banned from ringside or inside a Steel Cage.

Very well done stand off. Wow.

Divas Match

Another multi-Diva tag match?

I just want to see AJ’s bum. It is Hall of Fame worthy.

So they are just moving the Naomi push over to Cameron? I’m sure that will be great.

Kane/Bryan Attack

I know many are worried these brawls are leading towards Bryan vs Kane at WrestleMania, but I really wouldn’t worry about that. Outside of Punk coming back to take on HHH, there are no other options for Hunter to work the big card. Kane vs Bryan will be a hot TV main event match to prove himself, but it won’t be on PPV.

Cena vs Orton

I don’t expect a very welcoming crowd for this match. I hope these guys are ready to work their asses off.

It’s very strange how Cena and Orton work their matches. They are certainly entertaining (in my opinion), but it looks like they depend on being over to carry their matches. By that I mean Orton poses to get the fans back into the match, yet doesn’t he purposely do restholds to make them boo? I’m all for the wrestlers working the crowd in these ways, but it seems odd that these 2 superstars seem to bypass wrestling altogether to entertain, and instead using it as a backdrop to the rest of their production.

Here is a great example of the problem with too many rematches. This should be so much bigger than it is, and it definitely is a quality match that the live crowd is digging. But there isn’t exactly the importance and energy that a match of this magnitude deserves, and it’s because we’ve seen it too much. The TLC match was fine, because it was the first one in 4 years. But now it’s been 3 times in less than 2 months, and I can’t help but lack interest. The match has been great, but it’s still a repeat of what we saw at the Rumble.

Overall Thoughts

I’ll be back tomorrow to recap and add some further thoughts into what’s been going on in WWE. Cheers, guys.

And on that note, Peace out

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
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