Tuesday Morning Backlash: WWE Monday Night Raw Review, WWE Draft (Randy Orton, John Cena, Sin Cara, Rey Mysterio)

It’s time for the Tuesday Morning Backlash Raw Review. This is the hardest review to write of the year due to the draft, mostly because the supplemental draft hasn’t taken place yet, so the analysis is incomplete. This is also the one show of the year where the format isn’t all that important, it’s the results that matter most. WWE has greatly gotten away from results of matches mattering and even, to some extent, brands mattering since wrestlers switch freely. So, why does the draft matter? The basic storylines and storytelling techniques are brand-specific. Inter-brand feuding is rare, so the stories will take place with whoever is around each specific group.

The show opened with a Battle Royal to determine the first draft pick, which ended up being your standard affair with a big guy winning – here the Big Show. That’s fairly obvious, as Show regularly, in the tradition of Andre the Giant, wins Battle Royals, usually with a little buddy. John Cena was quickly drafted to Smackdown. This was pretty clearly meant to be a huge wrench into the predictability of the show, giving it an anything can happen feeling. I called, to Wheeler, the instant it happened that he’d be back on Raw by the end of the show. Ultimately, however, that wasn’t the point. The point was to make this specific show an exciting, memorable experience and, in that way, it was a success.

The R-Truth promo wasn’t perfect, but the general point that he felt the fans were holding him back as a comedy act came across. The fans also starting cheering him and his shutting them down by changing “What’s Up” to “Shut Up” was an excellent way to not only give him motivation, but anger the fans back at him. John Morrison attacking without talking works even better. After the vicious attack of Truth last week, the right move was to have Morrison assault him without speaking first. After all, what is there to say? The assault, beyond hiding Morrison’s weak promo skills, made him, finally seem a man of action.

Awesome Kong gets to be Kharma and still looks impressive. Along with this, the Divas storylines continue with Eve defeating Layla, pushing the LayCool breakup into overdrive. This is easily the most serious attention the Divas have gotten in a long time, with several compelling storylines from the Laycool breakup, to Eve’s attempt to get her title back from the conniving Bellas to the debut of Kharma. If Beth Phoenix really moves to Raw, everything gets even further interesting.

Rey Mysterio to Raw is, essentially, a tacit admission that Sin Cara can’t be on the live show. It also guaranteed that Alberto Del Rio, who hates Sin Cara from their time in Mexico, would be drafted to Raw. Rey on Raw, along with Cena and Big Show is certainly a different group, but they have quite a lot of heels between the three of them. Even with Truth occupied with Morrison, that leaves CM Punk, The Miz, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler. That’s a packed heel roster, leaving at least two top guys without feuds, unless Daniel Bryan A. doesn’t go to Smackdown in the supplemental draft and B. gets pushed again.

Kofi Kingston, having defeated Sheamus, might get to be on Raw, but, really, the solution is Sheamus to Smackdown. Wade Barrett, Jack Swagger and Cody Rhodes are the top three heels on Smackdown and none has ever really been a top guy, despite Wade’s Nexus and Swagger’s weak title run. Randy Orton and Sin Cara added to Christian, and Kane will need more than that to face atop the card, even if Drew McIntyre stays heel.. A Christian heel turn now, at least, seems imminent. I guess we can add Mark Henry to the heel side, as well, but we can’t really expect another Henry top push, unless maybe he gets a bit of Kane’s time.

Moreover, we now have our guarantees that Extreme Rules gimmick matches are to end the Del Rio-Christian, Mysterio-Rhodes and Orton-Punk feuds. Gimmick matches generally should end feuds, but beyond Del Rio vs. Christian, these were blown off at Wrestlemania. Extreme Rules has become Backlash with gimmick matches.

Michael Cole vs. Jim Ross was as bad as expected, but, worse, gave away one of the very few moments the feud had left – Jim Ross beating on Michael Cole. Amazingly, they keep finding ways to make one of the best feuds pre-Wrestlemania worse and worse now.

The draft leaves us with a more balanced face side of the ledger on Raw and Smackdown. Cena, Rey and Show on Raw are countered by Orton, Cara and Christian (soon to be Kane if/when Christian turns). The heel side, however, has never been more unbalanced. This could be great news for someone like John Morrison, but is more likely very, very bad news for a number of heels who should get pushes but will be left with squashes or lost in the shuffle. Check back tomorrow for my Supplemental Draft Analysis.

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