WWE Raw, making this viewer cringe
I’ve been a wrestling fan for more than 15 years, and in that time I’ve laughed, cried, got angry, excited and sat on the edge of my seat more than once – “holy shit!” is a phrase that’s passed my lips more time times than I can count over the years. In recent months I’ve found myself preferring to do other things over watching any wrestling though. TNA is a company I gave up on a long time ago – the six sided ring idea, a Pay-Per-View consisting entirely of needless cage matches plus numerous other really stupid ideas put me right off that. WWE is something I lost interest in as well for various reasons, Smackdown and ECW seemed to plod along aimlessly and Raw’s domination by John Cena and/or Triple H gradually made me turn to other shows to occupy my time. However this week I decided to catch up and see if I was missing anything good, and maybe, just maybe, call myself a proper wrestling fan again.
Despite wrestling on the whole being considered largely ‘uncool’ and ‘fake’ by the average guy who dislikes wrestling one thing the product has rarely made me do is cringe with embarrassment. I’ve watched muscular 300lb oiled up men getting hot and sweaty with other oiled up men in nothing by latex underwear for a long time and never thought anything of it despite the homoerotic nature of it all, but lately I’ve found myself being almost embarrassed watching certain storylines and segments which is another thing that turned me off (bad wording I know) wrestling a while back. None more so that this previous Monday on Raw unfortunately, the show which I hoped would get me back into the world of sports entertainment.
Being a citizen of the United Kingdom WWE shows are shown over here live, but at 2am so I either record them for later viewing or more often watch the Thursday night repeat hence the rather late posting of this blog entry. Over the past year or so as mentioned I’ve watched very little wrestling so decided that because there was nothing better going on I’d see what was happening. I tuned into the program a little late to see Jack Swagger preparing to take on Evan Bourne, two former top ECW guys who I expect to see join the jobber division on Raw eventually because they made the jump to the ‘A’ show a little too early. I’ve always been a fan of Bourne’s high-flying antics as well as Swaggers amateur style, but bringing the two together didn’t really get my hopes up for a good match that the crowd would get behind. I found myself pleasantly surprised however as the two had a very good outing together, ultimately ending in a clean victory for Swagger and a brief segment afterwards building towards an eventual match between him and a very much over Montel Vontavius Porter. Swagger pencilled in a match for next weeks show but putting them against each other at SummerSlam seems more logical, the build-up of this feud has been pretty good and it deserves a match at a big occasion like that.
So far so good I thought, then came the return of Eugene. Why this guys gets cheered for the nature of his character I’ll never understand, and why he got re-hired after getting pissed in England and passing out in an arena hallway I’ll never understand either. He took on ‘The Calgary Kid’ who looked somewhat familiar in a ‘contract on a pole’ match, doing his usual nonsense and emulating The Rock throughout the mercifully short bout. Cut to the ending and The Calgary Kid grabbed the contract, revealing himself as The Miz in the process. Despite having not watched Raw I do still read the news and results on various websites dedicated to wrestling, so I was aware that Miz had been banned from Raw after losing to John Cena last week. That was something not too surprising, but again pretty good work on behalf of the writers. Since splitting from Morrison I’ve really liked what Miz has been doing on his own, like many others I expected him to be a part of the jobber division before too long but his natural charisma and decent wrestling ability has kept him firmly planted in the midcard scene. His feud with Cena was something I really liked, although the way it was all planned out was disappointing. Cena was as usual made to look superhuman and passed off The Miz as merely a annoyance as he wanted to (as usual) focus on the WWE Title hunt, ultimately beating him in what was little more than a squash match. Still, good to see him back, hopefully he can start a much better feud this time around.
At this point the show started to rapidly go down hill into cringe-worthy territory. Chris Masters is back wrestling and we all know he’ll soon start his decline to the jobber division, he looks more roided up than he did before he was fired and taking on MVP was a match everyone knew the result of before the opening bell rang. It was pretty standard stuff with MVP eventually reversing the Masterlock into the Playmaker finisher, a move which I consider to be one of the tamest and lamest finishers in wrestling today. Cue Swagger to come out, taunt Porter and allow Masters to slap on the Masterlock from behind, follwed by Swagger’s own finisher. Again, good build-up to an eventual match but nothing we haven’t seen dozens of times before.
Big Show vs Randy Orton was one of the two big matches of the evening, so of course it ended via a countout. It always annoys me to see most matches featuring top superstars never having a clean ending. Big Show dominated and Orton walked out, no doubt that annoyed a lot of people who’d paid a lot of money to see that match. I cringed for those people I have to admit.
Now, throughout the show we watched Triple H in Shawn Michaels’ home town of San Antonio looking for him in various skits, which is what really made me feel embarrassed for both of them. The acting was poor and the idea ridiculous – Trips eventually found HBK working in a very poorly staged corporate kitchen being tormented by a little girl. Ultimately he set fire to the grill in what was an amusing moment, but at the end when he decided being a ‘chef’ wasn’t for him and that he’d reform DX I couldn’t help but cringe at an old lady shouting ‘suck it’ after the company ‘boss’ and the ‘vice-presidents daughter’ had received some sweet chin music. It seemed to me like whoever wrote the whole segment was a 50 year old social recluse who wanted to recreate the old controversy of DX but for an audience of under 12’s… which was never going to work. It reminded me very much of when the two of them dressed up as Vince and Shane McMahon and proceeded to mock them for 10 minutes without the faintest clue of what they should be doing to a live audience stunned into silence at how crap it was. Go back to the DX of 1998 when they dressed up and mocked The Nation of Domination and you had a very funny skit that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable television as the entire old WWF was doing at the time. What the guys behind the Raw of today really need to decide is whether their product will continue to appeal to young children or whether they’ll bring the edgey material back, because combining the two really makes for cringe-worthy television. Maybe because I’m a 24 year old male, but I’m sure a lot of viewers felt the same way when watching it.
Two guys I consider to be very good at the moment is Legacy, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase. As traditional heels they’re not child-friendly or anything like that, they appeal to someone like me as I’m roughly the same age as them. In the next match they took on a Hornswaggle character that wore out its appeal a long time ago and a converted Mark Henry. He’s gone from a bad-ass wrecking machine to some sort of loveable teddy bear, even wearing a leprechaun’s hat and dancing around like an overweight folk singer. This is a guy I used to like for his brutality in the ring,but seeing him wearing a little green hat and dancing with a midget wearing a big goofy smile made me once again cringe at what I was witnessing. Oddly he absolutely dominated Legacy on his own during the match, eventually tagging Hornswoggle in to get himself pinned after missing the Tadpole Splash finisher. It’s interesting how Triple H spent the entire show looking for Shawn Michaels, he could have just sent Mark Henry in to obliterate them at his leisure.
The main event was a lot like the earlier bout between Big Show and Orton in that it didn’t have a clean finish, Orton came out and the referee called for the bell before he even did anything. He and Cena argued before Jericho hit the codebreaker on the Doctor of Thuganomics, then Orton threw Y2J out of the ring. There seemed to be little reason for Orton to come out there as he made no effort to attack Cena before their usual title match at the PPV, but of course a clean finish between two top WWE Superstars couldn’t possibly take place on a Raw show. After all this the inevitable happened and guest host Sergeant Slaughter made a tag team match featuring Big Show and Jericho taking on Orton and Cena, at which point the latter two dumped Big Show out of the ring. Jericho made a swift return only to be lifted up for the F-U… sorry, the Attitude Adjustment finisher but Orton hit a nasty-looking RKO on him to end the show.
All in all, despite this weeks Raw show being incredibly cringe-worthy at times I did enjoy it. There were just enough good matches and storylines to allow me to largely ignore the embarrassing moments, so I’ll probably be tuning in more often than I have been recently.