Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Raw Thoughts

So I intended to do this last night but decided to take some time and get these thoughts together. Fairly detailed rundown of Raw ahead, and if you want even more, be sure and tune in to "In This Very Ring", which will be uploaded for podcast around 10pm EDT tomorrow night. But my basic reaction without my wingman giving longwinded little me even MORE food for thought to play off of - in no particular order:

  1. I liked that they had Shane McMahon out right in the first segment - it gave the show an exciting start instead of a slow build, gave us a taste, as well as something to look forward to. It created intrigue not just about the GM but about the "hottest free agent in wrestling". Way to hook the viewers into the rest of the show
  2. They also didn't just drop the GM mystery until the closing segment, as they often do with the Raw opening promo subject matter. From teasing the gender, to the reveal that whoever the GM was either greatly supported Ted Dibiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes (am I the only one who was thinking 'Million Dollar Man' here?), or had it in for Michael Cole, to JR's sudden appearance on Raw ... the list of suspects kept revolving just as you thought you had all the answers.
  3. The Adamle experiment finally reaps some success: I'm reading a lot of mixed predictions as to how universally-panned play-by-play bloke Mike Adamle will do in this new position; I think great. It will give him the opportunity to be onscreen in short, scripted and controlled segments instead of on-your-toes live play-by-play with the big McBoss screaming at you through your headset. If it flounders, he can remain a character while his edicts are passed along by others. But I think if they play him as the cocky, Colgate-smilin', 'good face for TV' guy who knows nothing about wrestling GM - think everyone's worst assumptions about Eric Bischoff, think what we say about WWE's current creative/booking team - it could be interesting, while giving fans an outlet to hate on the product when it doesn't go the way we'd all like.
  4. Jericho was tremendous in finally delivering the culmination of his promos thus far. The insinuations that he was a mature, grownup who resented all the degenerate teenyboppers for following Shawn Michaels and shitting all over his own legacy were all building up to this tremendous moment, and he is doing (far more successfully) what Bret Hart (God love him) tried and failed to do ten years ago - pointing out the hypocrisy of liking Shawn Michaels, and the degenerate past and nature of HBK, while still coming across as current, interesting and fresh (instead of a bitter old-timer who wrestling was passing by, as I sadly feel Bret came across while delivering a similar message during the heyday of his feud with Michaels). I look forward to this feud continuing, and perhaps being for a title down the line.
  5. Loving the Santino-Beth story so far; plenty of opportunities here for it to be fucked up, no doubt, but definitely fun and entertaining. Also enjoyed the return of William Regal, and the picking up where they left off of having him re-focus on wrestling, which he is great at (although, man, please, ditch the shirt). Even though he lost cleanly, his first match back from a suspension was with CM Punk. I think this was good for both of them - it was an indication Regal won't be totally depushed if he tows the line, while giving CM Punk, finally, a clean win over a quasi-credible opponent.
  6. Actually, the whole show was entertaining. My main weak point - Batista vs. John Cena. This is being pushed too quickly, just as Triple H-Edge was on Smackdown. Batista was given too much opportunity to talk given it was his hometown, and he was not strong enough to carry it, stumbling over his words. These two should at most be two participants in a three- or four-way match to begin their (hopefully slow) build to what should be a WM main event. Two PPVs straight, two legit WM main event possibilities hotshotted. I hope WWE knows where they're going with XXV, because I think they just kinda wrecked their best options.
  7. Especially since, by distracting Cena and Batista with each other - and not even for a world title, on an undercard match - they're leaving us nothing but weak offerings for the Summerslam PPV main event. The only things which have received even remotely good enough build are some combination of CM Punk, Kane and JBL. Unless some matches are going to be rejiggered (a more distinct possibility on Raw, with Adamle being new into a chaotic situation), you're dealing, on both the SD brand and Raw brand, with their second-tier offerings (Cena-Batista, Edge-Undertaker, possibly Michaels-Jericho) being more interesting than their prospective main events (Punk-JBL-Kane, Triple H-Khali).
Nonetheless, that's not a reflection on this show itself, just the long- and short-term booking currently being done by the WWE. And I'm hesitant to jump all over that as yet, given that they're trying to go in a new, unpredictable direction and things could change quickly. Even then, granted, similarly to how Edge-Triple H played out as a backdrop to a love triangle, I'm concerned that Summerslam is looking like a quasi-weak card, or else will be made stronger at the expense of build time and opportunities. But they're trying new things, which is exactly what we've wanted them to do. And as for Raw itself this week, it WAS great - the GM mystery provided continuity, amidst excellent action, and this episode brought a lot of the strands of the last 4-6 weeks of Raw together. 4 1/2 stars out of 5, Raw, for taking a page out of Smackdown's much more excellent book. Cheers!

And remember to tune in tomorrow right here, for our 3rd "ITVR" broadcast!


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