For Your Considerationâ€¦The RAW Judicial Review for 9/13/11
Welcome back to the longest running, action-adventure, passive-aggressive, surprisingly late but chock full of excuses column on the world wide web, For Your Consideration. Iâ€™m your tardy host Andrew Wheeler, and the absence of a â€œliveâ€ column is due in large part to the Miami Dolphins. I had every intention of covering RAW last night until I got a call from my buddy who said he had sideline passes for the game, and thatâ€™s one of those experiences that â€“ by law â€“ I couldnâ€™t pass up. So what does that mean for all of you? A very condensed recap of the show (which should sate some of the people who complain that Iâ€™m too long-winded).
The RAW Judicial Review for 9/13/11
â€œThe maker of champions.â€
The show opened with the cartoonish chicanery of Alberto Del Rio. My guess is that they wanted to keep the wacky kid-friendly Cena/Del Rio feud as far away from the Punk/Hunter feud so that we, as fans, donâ€™t suffer from promo-induced whiplash. Anyway, Alberto cut the same exact promo he has delivered since his inception; you all boo him because you are jealous, you mock him because you are jealous, you hate him because youâ€™re jealous, obligatory Rey Mysterio reference, creepy smile, lather, rinse repeat. He got one pretty good line about illegal Canadians cleaning his bathrooms, which is funny because heâ€™s Mexican and people usually associate illegal immigrants who do menial work as being from Mexico.
Bret Hart came out to continue waging his war against wearing pants. His hair was already soaking wet, which means he either dumped a bottle of water over his head or he was standing next to Mark Henry and got some residual dew. Hart talked about what it took to be a champion, though he really should give Alberto credit for being one of the rare few who actually wears the belt around his waist. The two of them do the standard Bret Hart v. Cocky Heel promo weâ€™ve heard before, but Iâ€™m not going to object to it because theyâ€™re in Canada and those fans go nuts over this kind of stuff.
Before getting into fisticuffs, John Cena comes out. Here was a classic example of the flaw of his character; he comes out to save Hart from taking a beating but decides to pause first to acknowledge the crowd reaction. And to think people got mad at Punk for breaking the fourth wall. Anyway, Cena and Del Rio go back and forth saying the same rhetoric (notice a pattern for this promo?) and it ends with Cena believing that he will face Del Rio. Instead, Alberto throws Ricardo Rodriguez into the fire and says it will be Ricardo versus Cena one-on-one.
If I may take a moment (and since itâ€™s my column, I can), I just want to point out how awesome Ricardo Rodriguez was during this show. He plays the sycophant role so well that itâ€™s hard to believe heâ€™s a relative rookie in terms of WWE years. Hell, heâ€™s still technically working FCW shows. But the fact of the matter is, he knows his role and he plays it to perfection. He knows when to look sneaky, when to look terrified and when the pantomime the old â€œlocking up my mouth and throwing away the keyâ€. Since the WWE is now half-pregnant when it comes to bringing back managers, itâ€™s nice to see that when someone is given the chance that they shine. Bravo Ricardo for doing that voodoo that you do so wellâ€¦but seriously, what the hell is wrong with your eyes?
Anyway, Cena agrees to the match and then, because he thought this was TNA where everyone has the power to book, he declares that itâ€™s Del Rio versus Bret Hart for the title. Now hereâ€™s an interesting thought: What if John Cena booked this because he planned on helping Bret win only to turn around and destroy him since he knew heâ€™d be facing Hart at Night of Champions? Can you imagine the nuclear heat he would have for doing that in Canada? Oh but dipping my toe in the â€œWhat if John Cena turned heelâ€ pool always ends poorly, so Iâ€™ll forego the rest of my â€œwackyâ€ thoughts and transition back to the pat repartee.
Johnny Ace comes out to raspily inform us in his best New Jersey waitress accent that tonight it would beâ€¦dramatic pauseâ€¦the tag match you all probably predicted the moment you saw these four guys in the ring. While I know heâ€™s a heel and this was supposed to be a dastardly move to rob Hart of his title shot, can anyone really be upset about the fact that Ace prevented Bret from having to go out there and work a match? In theory, Alberto Del Rio, as the WWE Champion, is the best wrestler on the planet (hence the big, shiny belt), so who could believe he couldnâ€™t beat the hell out of a retired, broken down ex-wrestler?
On the other hand, boo Johnny Ace! Boo! Hiss! (What the hell happened to good, old fashioned hissing? That went the way of old ladies with canes hitting wrestlers I guess.)
John Slo-Mo-Rison & The Mizfit v. Dolph Ziggler & Kurt SwAngle w/ Vickie Guerrero
These poor, poor men. Morrison, since his return, has done nothing of any significance, other than enjoy the fact that he no longer has to take heat from Melina being backstage. Mizfit had all of the heat in the world for about ten seconds, and then someone finally realized that it was mainly due to the fact that they gave him theme music that would guarantee a pop. Zigglerâ€™s the U.S. Champion, a fact that I forget on an almost weekly basis. And SwAngle? He was a World Champion who is now vying for the managerial services of Vickie Guerrero because sheâ€™s done such wonders elevating Dolph toâ€¦the exact level on the card SwAngle already was at.
The tag match was formulaic but solid, with the telegraphed outcome that Ziggler chose not to save SwAngle after he took a TKO from Mizfit. This of course sets up a fatal fourway, because there is no chance the WWE would risk doing a heel versus heel match on the PPVâ€¦even though that was where this seemed to be going the entire time. At least this match is getting more people on the PPV, so thatâ€™s a plus.
Speaking of tire-spinning, The Miz and Resurrection-Truth were interviewed by Josh Matthews. Theyâ€™re awesome, theyâ€™re victims of a conspiracy and words are funny when misinterpreted. Thatâ€™s about the long and short of it.
Poor Miz. He goes from headlining Wrestlemania to tagging with Truth. Mizâ€™s career has always sort of been elevated when heâ€™s been in tag teams, whether it was with Morrison or Big Show, so maybe he can once again remind the fans why he got a main event shot (aside from the fact that he was on a reality TV show and everyone knows Vince is a bit of a star-fucker). The major benefit to these two teaming is that they have nothing really to do and they might succeed in elevating the tag divisionâ€¦for a few weeks. In hindsight, given the â€œwe have nothing for youâ€ aspect of the Miz/Truth/AirBoom feud, they probably should have stuck Morrison with Kofi and allowed Evan to be the bump machine in the US Title feud. Hell, Morrison makes more sense since heâ€™s had issues with both Miz and Truth, not to mention the fact that his whole flippity-dippity gimmick fits with Kofi the same way that Bourneâ€™s does. But I digressâ€¦
The Miz v. Kofi Kingston
They had a fine, solid little RAW match that weâ€™ve seen a few hundred times. In the end, Kofi botches one of his wacky flippy moves and eats an SCF, which should guarantee that the tag champs are retaining on Sunday. People may knock this booking, but at least small kids will learn the meaning of the word parity, because itâ€™s never too early to start preparing for the SATs.
Teddy and Vickie are in the back so they can book the four-way, and this turns into Kelly v. Vickie later in the show. No, Iâ€™m serious.
SP and Otunga are out complaining that Jerry Lawler just doesnâ€™t love them, love them (why do they sound like lambs?). Lawler insults SP for not being his father and mocks Otunga for being a lawyer, despite the fact that if it werenâ€™t for lawyers Jerry would be rotting in a cell or be one of those sex offender zits on your computer. He says he has a partner that has charisma, which leads toâ€¦
PuNexus v. Jerry Lawler & Sheamus
This was like a handicap match. Scratch that, this was like a WWE handicap match, where the credible tag team is squashed by one Superstar. This Lawler/PuNexus feud is baffling because there isnâ€™t a really satisfying conclusion. The logical finish for the heels is that they finally beat Lawler, who isnâ€™t exactly a spring chicken (an expression that denotes someone being young despite the fact that the expression itself is horribly antiquated). Itsâ€™ two young stars against one old announcer. Unless this somehow leads to them knocking Jerry off commentary for several weeks (which in WWE terms is the equivalent of missing a decade of time and thus necessitating a video tribute package), which would give them great heel heat. Conversely, itâ€™s been all Lawler so far, and the WWE could just have him team with random guys to beat them until they tire of the idea and drop it.
In the back Ricardo is doing push-ups and drinking goat milk because itâ€™s an aphrodisiac. If this were the late 90s and Russo was booking, this would mean that during the match Rodriguez would have gotten an erection and would lose because he was trying to cover it up. On the plus side, at least something in a WWE ring would have gotten a rise out of someone.
John Cena & Bret Hart v. JBLatino & Ricardo Rodrigues
Part of me wishes that Ricardo wrestled in the tux. This, like most matches tonight, was what youâ€™d expect; Cena and Del Rio barely touch, Ricardo takes the Five Moves of Mediocrity, Bret Hart gets the obligatory Sharpshooter win as Alberto bails. It was predictable, but again, it made the Canadians happy.
After the match, Cena again promises to take the title back from Del Rio. Shake harder, boy. Man, if Del Rio winds up losing this Sunday, he may go down as one of the lamest lame-duck champions in recent memory. Take that Christian, Kurt SwAngle, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, The Great Khali, Sheamus and (probably) Mark Henry.
We then get the long-expected 9/11 package that really only serves as a self-congratulatory moment to remind everyone that Vince and that ugly Tommy Bahama shirt bravely saved us from terrorism by holding Smackdown.
Kelly Kelly v. Vickie Vickie
Screeching sounds and fake tans. SwAngle distracts Vickie and Kelly beats her. Oh, and she someone manages to escape Beth Phoenix ripping her limb from limb. By the way, if Beth doesnâ€™t absolutely slaughter Kelly on Sunday then this entire Diva revitalization has been for naught.
Did you forget that Triple H spent the better part of a decade dominating the main event? You did? Well hereâ€™s an interminably long video package to remind you. I get that they need to do some re-establishment stuff, but this seemed unnecessary. Most fans who are watching now were watching around Wrestlemania time, where the WWE spent a lot of time building Hunter up for his match with Undertaker. And as for those fans who only started watching again because of Punk? Chances are they all remembered Triple H. Not fondly, but they remembered.
Randy Orton v. Cody Rhodes w/ (Not Tea) Baggers
These two had a really spirited match (again with the old person speak), but the story of the match was Mark Henry appearing. On top of that, it was him sitting in a chairâ€¦that didnâ€™t break. Remarkable. In the end, Orton gets distracted by this engineering feat and gets clocked in the face with Codyâ€™s mask. He then takes CrossRhodes for the pin. Well maybe they are, in fact, going to do something with Cody. Glad to see he didnâ€™t wear that mask for nothing.
The main event promo between CM Punk and Triple H was the most hyped face-off since Rock/Cena. And we all know how that went.
Punk starts off with the company-mandated â€œI respect you, Triple Hâ€, before letting us know he doesnâ€™t like him. He puts over the fact that Nash is gone, which should all but guarantee his interference on Sunday (provided he starts walking down the aisle today so he makes it to the ring in time). Punk whines about how Hunter didnâ€™t like him because he was small and beloved by the IWC. Yes, I said whines. CM Punkâ€™s character went from edgy guy who says whatâ€™s on his mind to a guy who is made to look like a whiner. And thatâ€™s by design. This CM Punk storyline from the moment it got hot became the perfect catalyst for the Vince/Hunter story, which is why they hijacked it. Then, by shifting Punk from guy with attitude to whiner, his heat could diminish and thus justify Hunterâ€™s claim that Punkâ€™s momentum was temporary.
Or, you know, maybe Punkâ€™s heat disappeared because he just doesnâ€™t have that â€œitâ€ factor that Triple H has. Coughsarcasmcough
Punk starts down the â€œyouâ€™re the same as Vinceâ€ path, which didnâ€™t take long for him to draw water from that well. While part of me was hoping that this was a sly wink that Vince hasnâ€™t really ceded any power, I may just be giving them too much credit. To his credit, CM Punk did make the lucid, logical argument as opposed to just being a perceived crybaby. The WWE, since falling into Hunterâ€™s hands, hasnâ€™t changed very much. They got one (1) feud that felt different and then went right back into SuperCena versus Insert Bad Guy Here.
CM Punk finally opted to drop the bodybuilder knock, which would have been fine except there arenâ€™t too many examples of that existing today. If this were a few years ago, this would have been a great dig at Hunter, but the current WWE landscape doesnâ€™t have a ton of â€œbodybuildersâ€. John Cena is the example everyone is going to throw out there, but on top of being capable in the ring and great on the microphone, he had that charismatic â€œitâ€ factor. The Miz? Christian? Truth? None of those guys were the kinds of jacked up muscle men weâ€™ve been forced to endure.
However, instead of pointing this out, Hunter namechecked some smaller guys from the past; Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mick Foley and Rey Mysterio. Itâ€™s true that none of those guys are â€œhugeâ€, but at the same time none of those guys were handed spots the way bodybuilders were. All of those guys killed themselves for years before making it to the top of the card, and each of them probably cringed when they saw Mason Ryan put at the forefront of Nexus.
Hunter points out that itâ€™s the fans who dictate what the WWE does, which may be the biggest load of horseshit ever uttered in a WWE ring. If the WWE really cared about what the fans wanted, then the shows would still be drawing the numbers they did in 2000. Yes, there are always waning and waxing viewership habits, but there hasnâ€™t been a truly breakout character in almost eight years. Eight. This is one of the longest sustained droughts in WWE history, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Vince thinks that he knows the fans better than they know themselves. That argument works fine when youâ€™re dealing with an eight year old who wants ice cream for dinner, but when youâ€™re dealing with peopleâ€™s discretionary incomes, they tend to be a lot more bombastic when declaring when and how they spend their cash.
Triple H claimed that Punk didnâ€™t get over during the past six years because he wasnâ€™t â€œoverâ€ with the audience. When I started here on PulseWrestling, I wrote a column about how CM Punk needed to be turned heel for his own good. Nearly five years ago I saw the writing on the wall that this guy would get steamrolled if he wasnâ€™t immediately turned heel and allowed to do what he basically just started to do over the past year. The WWE always gets nervous when guys get over on their own, and with just cause. If a Superstar legitimately believes that he got himself over, heâ€™s going to ask for more money. If the WWE builds him, then they create a mentality that they made him and they can break him. And to a surprising extent, theyâ€™re kind of right.
When the WWE builds their own guy, they tend to use the established acts as a way to get the new guy over. Rob Van Dam, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Booker T and Eddie Guerrero were almost forming a cottage industry as established names used to put over new talent. And why not? Peopled liked RVD because he came from ECW. If his heat was real, they would love him if he lost every night. If his heat did dissipate? Then clearly it was because he wasnâ€™t â€œreally overâ€. CM Punk fit that mold because he was an indie darling and because he started out getting crowd reactions. The WWE started to break him down to rebuild him, and by that point the fans kinda abandoned ship.
What I take umbrage with is Hunter claiming that Punk wasnâ€™t over until just recently. This guy, in the most kayfabe sense, was a multi-time world champion, which means he WAS over. He WAS the best. When we were kids, we didnâ€™t think of someone with the belt as a complete joke because were conditioned otherwise. CM Punkâ€™s heel turn with Jeff Hardy was one of the best pieces of storytelling in the past decade, and everything heâ€™s done since has felt fresh even if the storylines themselves were pretty bland.
And yes, this is all a scripted promo and not at all a shoot, but the problem is that the fans see the blurring of the lines and they will start to believe that Punk hasnâ€™t done anything in the past decade. Itâ€™s a little reckless because when Punk loses on Sunday, heâ€™s going to lose to a guy that said that he was useless and then goes out and pins him.
Punk then decides to fake break kayfabe and starts using â€œreal namesâ€ before the microphone cuts out. Hunter then grabs his mic and it, too, cuts off. Punk finally gets a working mic and blasts Hunter in the face. So I guess maybe theyâ€™re trying to resurrect that Austin feelâ€¦though him kicking Hunter would have looked a lot better than a punking out (no pun intended) with the microphone.
In the end, the intrigue for this match isnâ€™t about Hunter versus Punk but rather who cut the microphones and is Johnny Ace & Kevin Nash working with Triple H. The short answer? Probably. Because if you honestly believe they are going to remove Triple H as COO, you might be..ahemâ€¦cuckoo.
This has been for your consideration.
Tags: alberto del rio, Andrew Wheeler, Andy Wheeler, Bret Hart, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, For Your Consideration, john cena, Night of Champions, randy orton, Raw, triple h, WWE