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Posted in: The PEN15 Mightier
The PEN15 Mightier - Live Raw Blog (Feb 3 )
By PEN15
Feb 3, 2014 - 11:26:10 PM

Table of Contents

Monday Morning Thoughts


What I Am Looking Forward To

Live Raw Blog

Post Raw Thoughts

Monday Morning Thoughts

CM Punk

I miss you, Phil. My love letter to you will be in the mail soon.

The Shield

As much as I’m enjoying the Wyatt Family, I still feel that The Shield is the premiere 3-man stable in WWE. Most likely, we will soon see them split up to make room for the Wyatt’s to be the dominant faction, but the past 14 months have been so tremendous for the Hounds of Justice that the cult family will just not match up.

On top of that, but The Shield deserves a lot of credit for how they’ve changed the entire WWE. Since I post a lot on the message board of LOP, I can never tell if I share specific thoughts in a column or blog, or in a post on the forums. So I may be repeating myself, but thankfully this subject will always deserve repeating.

While we watch the New Age Outlaws take over the tag division after only a couple of appearances recently, it’s easy to forget how important the tag division has been over the course of over a year for every card WWE has produced. The rejuvenation started a couple of months before The Shield debuted at Survivor Series 2012, but they took the pieces of what was being rebuilt, and completely rewrote the blueprint.

Tag teams are in a safe spot booking wise for a variety of reasons. The obvious is that you can take a fall but not lose as much momentum as you would in a singles match. It goes even further than that. The Shield had wins over Undertaker, John Cena, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, The Big Show, Ryback, and several others over the course of 2013. That leads to a whole lot of credibility for the 3 man squad. They won the tag titles, and remained dominant champions for a significant portion of the year, while Dean Ambrose is still the US Champion. Yet, now that they are facing extinction as a unit, and everything is up in the air. If we see Roman Reigns break out of the trio, he’s got instant credibility. Despite that, as a singles star, the question will remain as to whether or not he can defeat the same men that the group steamrolled over. Reigns has pinned several of WWE’s top names, and he’s got momentum on his side, but there will still be a giant slab of unpredictability with any singles match as to who may walk out victorious. It is almost like he is starting over with a clean slate.

How has this had an effect on the tag team division? It has changed their booking significantly. The Shield had lots of success headlining several TV programs against major opponents. This started from having a few successful 6 man tag victories on PPV. A 3 man team of rookies were taking on these major WWE superstars, and walking out victorious. Did any of those top stars suddenly start being jobbed out due to these tag losses? Did any of them suddenly leave the main event spot they had beforehand? Not at all.

So we saw other tag teams suddenly get some decent victories and getting genuine promotion. Not too long ago, we had the Usos in a Raw main event match against Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt that was held inside a steel cage. When was the last time a true tag team headlined a Raw without the titles on the line? The Shield opened up the doors of possibility for tag teams to be used in a more prominent role. By doing this for the teams, it made the titles and the division all the more important. Usos could beat a team of Orton and HHH on Raw tonight to earn a future title shot, and the Authority wouldn’t be damaged in the least.

If only WWE realized how many top stars could stand to lose once in a while and still keep their spots...

The Shield also changed how WWE booked their cards. I mentioned how tag matches have main evented more often on TV. Let’s expand on that a little bit. WWE in 2014 is booking their TV programs (especially Raw) like they were 1980s SummerSlam events. Both 1988 and 1989 Slams were main evented by tag team matches (as was 1991, and every Survivor Series until the mid 90s). None of the stars are being held off TV, yet there is still a draw to see them wrestle the big matches on Pay Per View, because the monthly Sunday events are booked like WrestleManias of the same era.

You can use Cena, Sheamus, and Daniel Bryan as a team on Raw to headline a show and still tell a great story in both the ring and into the angles leading into buying PPVs. All 3 of those men are taking something of a break in matches like these as they are performing for shorter periods of time than main event singles matches.

By the way, the Usos won that match against Wyatt and Bryan. Two major singles stars lost to a tag team who weren’t even champions. It certainly is a new day for tag wrestling. Thank you, Shield.

Sudden Heel Turns for the Road to WrestleMania

I think I see a lot more potential from Brodus Clay than most it seems, and many have commented on how Titus seems to have some untapped potential.

But the timing of their recent turns is strikingly odd. Two teams who weren’t really a factor into the tag division recently are splitting up without any real build up or reason. Brodus turned a month ago, and has yet to do anything with it, while Tensai is calling NXT matches. Big ****ing deal. It didn’t get either of them a spot in the Royal Rumble, a match generally known for finding spots of every relevant talent on the roster. Titus attacked Darren Young within a week of the reports (with pictures to prove it) that they would be collaborating on some sort of program for the WWE Network.

I’m baffled.

Generally, this is a bad time of year to turn the page in your career. WrestleMania plans involve only the top names on the roster, so anyone who needs extra attention that is best required elsewhere to help sell the show will just be left off. Expect lots of camera time for Botoxta coming up as WWE tries to rectify that major disappointment. And the more time he’s spent on TV, means less time for Clay and O’Neil to kickstart their new heel characters, for Emma as she seems to be pushing towards a debut match soon, or Xavier Woods who hasn’t done much of significance other than leading to the Brodus heel turn and taking his old music and dancers.

It’s just a very strange time for these people to make an impact. It seems poorly timed, as these character switches and debuts feel rather meaningless. That’s a shame, because Titus O’Neil is someone I could see doing some real damage if given the right opportunities.

Ranking System

I spent my Saturday night watching the UFC 169 event, and I wondered of WWE would be wise to implement some sort of ranking system. With the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship unifying the previous 2 title setup, maybe giving a monthly list of the top stars and contenders would add some legitimacy to the entire roster. It is something that was done by WCW early on in the 90s, and it’s something that I would be in favor of returning.

In a perfect world, they’d have rankings for all the titles, but I think it would be best if they merely went with a singles ranking of top 10. How would that look after the Royal Rumble and this past week’s TV events? Let’s keep Randy Orton as champion, but fill in the rest.
1 - Botoxta (winner of the title shot at WrestleMania)
2 - Brock Lesnar (defeated The Big Show and CM Punk in last 2 matches)
3 - John Cena (previous #1 contender with a big tag win on Raw)
4 - CM Punk (defeated The Shield at TLC, lasted longest in the Rumble)
5 - Roman Reigns (broke record at Rumble and Survivor Series, won 6 man on SD)
6 - Antonio Cesaro (qualified for Chamber in a singles match; success in Real Americans)
7 - Daniel Bryan (qualified for Chamber)
8 - Big E Langston (Intercontinental Champion with several TV title defenses)
9 - Bray Wyatt (victory over Daniel Bryan at Rumble)
10 - Alberto Del Rio (recent TV wins over Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston

Notable mentions: Big Show (injured), Christian (just returned), Sheamus (just returned)

I think it would have potential, and would help flesh out storylines. I could see Cesaro seeing himself ranked at 6 and saying that makes him a contender for the Intercontinental Championship since the title holder is 2 spots below him.

And, this would still be open enough for top contenders to become distracted. If Cena is feuding with Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, it would be an opening for Reigns to get a shot despite being below him on the rankings. This occurs often in UFC, and seemed to in WCW as well. I think it would be worth trying.

WrestleMania Audience

I understand WWE’s intent when they try to ignore the crowd and deliver their intended scripts, but as they learned twice last week (and possibly again at NXT tapings), some people are learning the impact of “hijacking” a show. This seems to be most commonly risky in smarky cities. The CM Punk drama will reach an interesting point when Raw is live in Chicago in 4 weeks on March 3rd.

But the WrestleMania audience has shown itself to be wildly adventurous due to the nature of the event as a tourist attraction. People who are willing to fly from all over the world to be live in New Orleans are the type of devoted fans who are driven enough to join online communities to discuss wrestling. That means an influx of smarks in Louisiana for the biggest show of the year. Is WWE aware of this enough to present the type of show that won’t be potentially ruined? A match here and there is no big deal, a TV show can be corrected easily, the Rumble was bad enough but not unsalvageable… but WrestleMania is most likely untouchable in Vince’s eyes, so he better be prepared to book a show that is near bulletproof.


From WWE.com

What a difference a week makes. Just seven days ago, Daniel Bryan was the people’s pariah after being denied the chance to enter the Royal Rumble Match. Now, thanks to some serendipity, he’s headed into the Elimination Chamber to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Similarly, The Shield seemed to be coming apart at the seams last week; now, in the face of a new enemy, they’ve cried unity more than ever before. Will Bryan’s momentum — and The Shield’s resolve — hold? WWE.com previews this week’s Raw for some hints.

Justice for all
The Shield took its biggest hit ever in the Royal Rumble Match when Roman Reigns — angered by Dean Ambrose’s attempt to eliminate him, which also drew an angry reaction from Seth Rollins — eliminated both of his teammates only to be thrown over the top rope by the winner, Batista. A potential implosion was stopped, or at least delayed, when The Hounds of Justice set their sights on The Wyatt Family after the freaky tro cost The Shield their trip into the Elimination Chamber. With one more faction in WWE left to topple, can the men in black pull themselves together?

Prime Time no more
Well, we did not see this coming. One of WWE’s tightest tandems, The Prime Time Players, abruptly collapsed on SmackDown when Titus O’Neil blamed Darren Young for a quick loss to “Rybaxel” and promptly stomped his former friend into a stupor. With “The Big Deal” gone solo and D. Young reeling, what’s next for the former partners ?

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide
The Rhodes Brothers’ bid to reclaim the WWE Tag Team Championships from The New Age Outlaws was abruptly derailed by an enraged Brock Lesnar, but WWE COO Triple H has granted Cody Rhodes & Goldust a Steel Cage championship rematch this Monday on Raw. With nothing to interfere in their match, can The Outlaws prove they do, indeed, still have it? Or will their “Attitudinal” victory at Royal Rumble Kickoff be proved to have been a fluke?

The most dangerous game
Alberto Del Rio promised for weeks that he’d embarrass Batista in the Royal Rumble Match. It didn’t quite work out that way, and The Essence of Excellence vowed on Monday to ensure The Animal doesn’t even make it to WrestleMania. He got a win over Kofi Kingston to start his campaign off on the right foot, but will Del Rio find his mark and hit Batista where he lives? Or is The Animal truly ready for anything the former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion can throw at him?

The #YESMovement begins
Daniel Bryan has taken his first official step toward the WWE World Heavyweight Championship by claiming one of the six spots in the Elimination Chamber Match, and the WWE Universe’s legions have firmly placed themselves at his back. With John Cena, Sheamus, Antonio Cesaro, Christian and current champion Randy Orton opposing him, though, the submission specialist’s path to the WrestleMania’s main event against Batista is anything but guaranteed. Can the people’s hero keep his momentum going? Or has the other shoe simply not dropped yet for the former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion?

Live Raw Discussion

Intro - Orton

The champ to start things off. Announcers are doing a decent job highlighting the low chance of success for the champ to retain - I guess this means he’s walking out of the Chamber with the championships.

Randy’s obviously been schooled on ignoring the chants. He’s blasting through this promo at full speed and not allowing the audience any chance to “hijack” the segment.

As I expected, they used Daniel Bryan to kill CM Punk chants. I mentioned damage control earlier, and that’s what this is. I’ll predict we won’t see much of Orton or the Authority until the main event match between the champ and Bryan, as I doubt anything will get Punk chants going as much as those 3 characters.

From LOPforums poster Cult Icon, concerning the odd face/heel dynamic of The Authority
The whole point is that The Authority is corrupt, but are trying to keep the appearance that they aren't, hence these segments with Orton where they don't seem to favor him. It could also just be that they are neutral with everyone who they deem worthy, and that Bryan is deemed unworthy. Who really knows; either way it doesn't come across well.

Well said. I’ve commented on this several times, but the characters aren’t playing their allegiances very well.

Full speed ahead into the action too.

The Shield vs Rey Mysterio, Big E. Langston, and Kofi Kingston

No breathing room between the quick opening segment and this first match, and the announce booth is filling in every gap possible. The intent is to swallow the CM Punk chants, but the result might be a fast paced, and dare I say improved, Raw.

Another hot 6 man tag to highlight the points I made above about The Shield.

Having the US Champion pin the IC Champ in this match will only push the discussion of merging the 2 midcard titles. Ultimately I think that would be a bad idea. While both titles seem in a limbo state at times, I think the smarter course of action is to modify one of the championships. My suggestion would be to make the US title more of a WCW-era TV title, with constant defenses between members of the lower midcard. Someone who isn’t quite on the level of Big E. Langston and the TV title could work the US/TV title, like Fandango, Titus O’Neil, or Xavier Woods.

Bad News Barrett

I still love this gimmick. The guy is solid on the microphone as a heel, and giving him a podium is a great showcase for those talents. This will get him heat, and will translate once he moves into the ring again. I truly see lots of gold in it.

Cole Tells Me How to Download Apps

To quote Cyrus from Trailer Park Boys: “**** off, I’ve got work to do.”

Cole’s a turd.

Christian vs Jack Swagger

I wish I could say I was excited about this recent return from injury and push for the former ECW and Worldchampion, but there is no bloody way anything will come of the entry into the Elimination Chamber. I doubt he’ll even get a storyline to bounce into after that PPV to find a spot on WrestleMania.

He’s still one of the best wrestlers on the roster, but the injuries that lead to his stop-and-go career over the last couple of years have sorely dampened the interest in seeing him. A rematch with Swagger won’t do much more to change that.

After Titus and Brodus recently turned heel on their partners, are we really seeing a face turn to break up the Real Americans? And are they really going with Jack Swagger to turn? Odd…

Tag Team Championship - New Age Outlaws vs Cody Rhodes and Goldust

Is there a specific reason they are making this a non-traditional steel cage match, where escapes don’t matter? Something tells me this will have an effect on the result.

Either way, I love tag team steel cage matches.

I guess Omaha doesn’t love them as much as I do, as we just had CM Punk chant #2, and so far it has been no sold by everyone in WWE.

Did anyone else notice the last chant? “Use the cage.” It does sort of defeat the purpose of a steel cage match if there’s no use of the cage, and no escape…

And before they go to commercial, it becomes “We Want Punk” for chant #3.

Finally, this match picked up at the end, but that was a major disappointment. It also removes the Rhodes Bros from title contention, so I guess it’ll be time for the Usos to move in. I think that’s a good thing, but it’s an odd end to the story of the brothers Rhodes.

Dance Off

I missed whatever happened with Titus, Miz and Ryder. Damn. But I was back just in time for Summer Rae vs Emma in a dance off!

I like Emma a lot, and the dancing is a big part of her gimmick, but I don’t know if that would have been the best way to debut her. She should have at least had some mic time first, because the WWE Universe wasn’t ready to cheer for her because she’s goofy. Had she shown her goofy but likable personality first, it would have made it easier to cheer for her.

Sheamus vs Curtis Axel

This could be pretty good. I know Sheamus needs the win to move onto the Chamber, but Axel is a solid in ring talent. I don’t expect the crowd to stay in it though. More Punk and Goldberg chants to come.

Botoxta/Del Rio segment

I figured out what’s wrong with The Animal’s face: his eyebrows. Those are ****ed up.

So is the idea that Del Rio is in a position to take on the #1 contender. This is the perfect segment to lose interest enough to hijack. So far, that hasn’t happened. For better or worse.

But no one is really giving Alberto any heat.

Ziggler/Woods/Truth vs The Wyatt Family

Are Truth and Woods going to be a permanent team? Or a semi-regular team like Sin Cara and Mysterio?

“We Want Ziggler” chants. Nice. Of course it means he’ll take the fall. But, tag match losses don’t hurt too much at all, as mentioned above.

Funkadactyls vs FoXana

AJ holding her own on commentary, and being the best part of this match. I just wish I could see her bum.

Daniel Bryan vs Randy Orton

I am betting this match was rushed in the schedule. I’m sure the plan was for Orton to face the challengers in singles action, but to face Bryan first? I’m thinking this was done to patch up a recent walk out from leading the crowd to stay focused.

Raw is continuing to regular occurrence of strong wrestling content in the main event.

And one thing this match definitely confirms is that we won’t see Bryan vs Orton at WrestleMania. Had they been kept apart until Mania, it might have been possible, but with with a Raw main event match so soon before WrestleMania.

Awesome match, as expected from these two. A Daniel Bryan win is huge, but it could also end up being that false hope WWE delivers before a PPV. Either way, I’d rather a random win than no win.

Beatdown leads to a save, but not CM Punk. John Cena, maybe? He’s been missing all night.

No, just a Kane revenge twist. Hmm…

Overall Thoughts

Alright guys. I spent most my work day actually working, but I thought everything over, and caught up on LOPforums to get a sense of the general consensus. And I’ve got to say that it looks like I enjoyed Raw a bit more than most.

Everyone seemed to love the main event, though there was a sense of people being not entirely comfortable with the result. A win for Daniel Bryan on Raw usually means a loss on Pay Per View. I’m still of the belief that there’s no need for Bryan to get the title before or at WrestleMania. I can see the storylines involving him defying the odds as champion, but I think there will always be more to work with if he’s fighting an uphill battle. Let him be dicked out of winning the Chamber, and moving on to face HHH at WrestleMania. With that major win under his belt, he becomes a solid force towards the championship before the regular slump from Mania to Money in the Bank.

As for the lack of answers about CM Punk… I don’t know. It’s just a shame. I want so bad for this to be a work, but the fact that it most likely isn’t, or the fact that the reason it would work is because of all the real drama involved with being anyone in the main event scene not named Cena or Orton, is what is ultimately depressing.

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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