Yes! Yes! Yes! The Raw Review (#YYYTRR)
by, 10-21-2013 at 11:11 PM (4484 Views)
The last time I wrote anything about WWE was the Monday Night Raw after August’s SummerSlam.
To give you all an idea of how long that is in the WWE Universe, I have a few examples of changes which have occurred since my last blog to throw your way:
- Daniel Bryan is now a two-time WWE Champion (that’s right, he now has two short-lived claims to the title),
- John Cena’s 4-6 month spell on the sidelines has become just two (with his return imminent this Sunday), and
- An unknown who goes only by the name ‘Vacant’ has somehow been awarded with the WWE Championship.
The reason I have been so silent (outside of my Twitter account) in terms of WWE over the past couple of months is simple – the WWE product has been very entertaining and I’ve been quite content with enjoying it without trying to analyse it every week.
I did, however, decide that with Hell in a Cell coming up this Sunday, I would offer a few views on this week’s Raw and what I expect to see inside the Cell.
The mid-card uprising
It may not be so obvious now, but the aftermath of SummerSlam gave us two major things – a refreshing look at the WWE Championship picture (which had, since WrestleMania, been a plethora of matches designed to put Cena’s latest title reign over), and also a fresh look at the mid-card roster of WWE.
The likes of Dolph Ziggler, Big Show and The Miz are all past champions (be it WWE of World Heavyweight), but in the months leading to SummerSlam their stars were either slowly falling or had completely vanished.
In the eyes of many fans, the approach WWE has taken since August has garnered comments which play on the ‘Triple H is just looking to give himself the spotlight’ angle in an effort to make WWE look like they are regressing rather than ushering a new group of hungry talent. I do not necessarily agree with these comments, but I can see their merit in the way which many episodes of Raw have opened, closed, or been highlighted by the actions of WWE’s COO and his better half.
The catalysts for such comments are also there for all to see.
It is obvious that Big Show is not a young talent, and this plays into the hands of those who seek to criticise the WWE product at every corner – most notably the IWC, an area of the WWE Universe which WWE rarely addresses but you can count on the company knowing of its existence. Much like Rockstar purposely looks for negative reviews of the GTA series, WWE has played on the known reputation of Triple H and his reputation for ‘burying’ superstars who try to break through the glass ceiling.
This tactic has succeeded in making a) the WWE fans jeer the ‘King of Kings’ (something we all loved doing when he was the top heel in professional wrestling in 1999/00), and b) raising the profile of the mid-card talent.
This is most evident in the way in which Triple H would have the entire roster watch the destruction of Bryan from atop the stage. It willed the fans to get someone to react (a call which was answered by the three superstars I named at the outset), and turned a WWE Championship rivalry into a matter of company power and the rights to be the “face of WWE”.
This initial start to the Authority’s tyranny over WWE has seen mid-card talent take a more central role in both weekly show and PPV surroundings. If the last two months are not evidence enough of this (just go back and look at some of the matches which Dolph Ziggler and The Miz have been involved in and the consequences of their losses), this week’s Raw was the first time I’ve found a reason to enjoy the middle hour of programming in a while due solely to the Randy Orton/Dolph Ziggler match. It was a spectacle which saw Ziggler very nearly defeat Randy Orton cleanly, and the fact that it had myself (and I suspect many others) thinking Dolph could have upset the “face of WWE” suggests that the mid-card is on a whole new level of relevancy.
Another example is in the form of the ‘Hounds of Justice’, The Shield. Since their initial alliance with the Authority they have re-emerged as a force (they were close to becoming dull and uninteresting before SummerSlam, just holding championships with no real direction) and their programme with Cody Rhodes & Goldust and The Usos is bringing out the absolute best in all involved.
Who will dethrone the unknown ‘Vacant’?
Putting to one side the fact that my repeated allusions to ‘Vacant’ being a mystery superstar could easily be fitted into the brief character description of V for Vendetta’s ‘V’ (if you have somehow missed out on seeing the movie, I recommend it as a ‘must-see’), the abeyance of the WWE Championship has been somewhat of a curveball in what I initially saw as a modern day re-telling of the Austin/McMahon saga of the Attitude Era.
Anybody who did read my last blog entry may recall that I expected Randy Orton to hold on to the title until somewhere around Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, cementing his place as a legitimate ‘face of WWE’ before Daniel Bryan finally grabbed the brass ring for himself to set up a WrestleMania XXX dream match between himself and CM Punk.
Two months down the road, and I find that my prediction for this storyline is a little off.
In my own defence, I do see the Punk/Bryan match as a real possibility. They are both heading down parallel roads where they will both be looking at the main event of WrestleMania come January, and I really cannot see another road for both superstars’ to head down. The difference in my prediction is that WWE has not felt the need to have Bryan earn his spot against Orton, and rightly so.
By cleanly defeating John Cena for the WWE Championship, Bryan had already established his claim to the main event (much like CM Punk at the 2011 Money in the Bank PPV). Furthermore, his road to that match saw him defeat Orton on one occasion (a fact WWE would love for us to forget, it would seem).
Bryan’s place in the main event is already established, and I suspect he will be one of the few superstars who will manage to stay in that position even when Cena inevitably decides to chase the WWE Championship again.
The one definite thing about Sunday night is very simple – no matter who wins inside Hell in a Cell, this rivalry still has at least one more match before it is settled, and to my count it will go to Orton to make Survivor Series the rubber match.
Given that I have been away from blogging on WWE for a couple of months, I hope you understand that this is a rather long entry (even for me). To those of you who made it this far without falling asleep on your computer’s ‘Z’ key, congratulations! I kid, but I would like to thank anybody who does take the time to read my blog entries.
As far as this week’s Raw goes, my brief mentions of it this time around are not an indication of my displeasure at my viewing experience. On the contrary, I really enjoyed it. Having missed last week’s due to an early start at work, and struggling through a few (I may have fallen asleep a couple of times…) episodes before that, this week was refreshing.
It started strong (it’s hard not to love any match involving Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan), got better with the Orton/Ziggler match, and, although it wasn’t a pier-six brawl, the contract signing was an intriguing segment with a powerful ending from Bryan and Big Show rising above the Authority.
This week’s question: What are your thoughts on the CM Punk/Paul Heyman saga at this point?
As ever, you can follow me on Twitter (@SpringerAJ) to read more of my thoughts, and tweet me your own using #YYYTRR.