Wednesday, February 3, 2010


So Raw was very good Monday night. As always, Edge hit all cylinders in his promo, and while fans were unsure whether to receive him as a heel or face (and ultimately I think they will play this as open to interpretation for awhile), clearly WWE was looking for the fans to pop for him Monday night as he took out Sheamus. He put former tag team partner Chris Jericho on notice, and definitely made the smart choice on a variety of levels to put off his decision as to which world championship he'd pursue until after the elimination chambers at No Way Out - why choose to go after a belt that could be held by someone else 3 weeks hence? He did a great job of paying some grudging respect to Undertaker while disparaging Sheamus (and a great recovery from Sheamus' mistake that Edge never beat John Cena for the WWE title - "I made a CAREER out of beating Cena for the title), and it was just great work from both men.

The wrestling on the show was great as well because each match served a purpose in putting the competitors into the Elimination Chamber for the World Title at NWO. Vince Russo should take note in his mouthing off of late, that this is where in-ring work and storytelling come together - good creative guides USE the wrestling format (which yes, sorry, involves some work in the ring) to help tell their story, rather than considering that stupid square incumbrance in the middle of the room nothing more than 'in the way'. While almost all matches were definitely TV matches (although also definitely high quality ones), and some were predictable in their outcome (sorry Jack Swagger), some weren't (hello Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton), and they all played out well - having Orton and Ted Dibiase both in the Elimination Chamber should be interesting, for example - and what of Cody Rhodes, the only member of the (ex?-)Legacy to have not earned a Chamber berth?

I of course admit that I sort of hoped of course that Shawn would end up in the EC, but objectively this is more intriguing, making the Chamber host to some Legacy drama and the world title focus itself, without throwing just one major storyline too many in there in the form of Shawn Michaels. I have no doubt his frustrations and demons re-emerging will lead him to cost the Undertaker his title (perhaps to Chris Jericho, leading to his inevitable match with Edge at WM to be a title match, as Edge has the right to face a champ of his choosing), and leaving Shawn versus UT at Mania. Again, disappointed on a personal level Shawn's not making a championship run, but objectively understand this match doesn't need the title as much as others might - especially since Shawn likely won't win anyway. Where this all will leave DX at the end of the day ...? Who knows. Shawn as a heel while Triple H stays a face is a distinct possibility, and wouldn't that be a shock?!

Good follow up with Bret Hart and Vince McMahon as well, with Vince hitting all the right buttons to provoke Bret - getting back into amped, gelled hair, cool dude all-business mode - into attacking him, and Batista's coming in on Vince's behalf at the end worked OK as well ... although his and Cena's involvement concerns me that Bret vs. Vince has turned into a tag match with Cena and Batista as respective partners - or worse, that Bret and Vince will simply act as cornermen. I suppose neither of the above are bad if Bret is still in truly bad shape; and no question I'd certainly rather see either of those options than a slower and weaker Bret Hart, or - and much more importantly - see Bret risk getting seriously hurt or injured. But I will cop to having hoped - and still hoping - for Bret v. Vince one on one. Let Cena-Batista have their own matchup ... perhaps for a world title.

Oh ... and who could forget William Shatner's guest hosting? It was absolutely deliciously cheesy and self-parodying, right down to his 'The Negotiator' schtick, and his spoken-word rendition of "Sexy Boy" and "My Time is Now" etc. I'd buy that CD if it were real, dudes! His interactions, from Vince to Jerry Lawler to Bret, were great, tongue in cheek Shatner stuff. Thumbs up dude! You took a great show from a B+/A- and took it to a straight-up A. Keep it up Raw - you've been on a roll in the new year. And I HOPE it continues beyond WM season.

A last note, on something we'll be speaking of more in-depth tomorrow on In This Very Ring podcast - Vince McMahon last night announced that ECW would be going off the air in three weeks time, to be replaced by WWE NXT - which sounds like a program designed to do what ECW has ended up doing - promoting the up and coming WWE superstars fresh from Florida Championship Wrestling, highlighting them and giving them an opportunity to shine, before hitting either of the bigger two brands. While it is sad the ECW name will now be retired, it is a reality that the brand has been long gone now, and really has little to do with its origins. I am excited to remember ECW as it was in the 1990s, and even some of the more positive highlights of WWECW. I hope WWE NXT treats the young'uns with respect, and gets some good press and attention, as it is serving one of the more important functions in this business, that of star-making ... something both WWE and TNA have been lacking in one way or another of late.

But again - that's a topic for tomorrow night, along with more in-depth discussion of the Royal Rumble and Raw. We MIGHT put off the show until Friday to include TNA ... I will post tomorrow night if we do. But unless that happens, you can check in around 11pm/midnight for the podcast. We hope to see you then! XO


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