If you caught yesterday’s 10 Commandments For Raw Tonight article, it’s time to look at how many of them WWE actually adhered to.
Fingers crossed because we’re going in:
John Cena’s segment with Paul Heyman not only reminded us how stellar both men are on the mic, but managed to avert the slaying of any promising midcard players.
Their in-ring angle was especially good for Cena’s shoot on why he is a babyface and likely will always be a babyface.
It was compelling, it felt shot from the hip and made the segment feel at least moderately fresh – which was critical, considering Heyman wasn’t exactly the first to try and goad Cena into a heel turn.
Instead of going off on this subject again, I’ll just leave a GIF here, that sums up my feelings every time this feud is on my screen:
During Sheamus vs. Rollins, WWE cuts to a commercial when Cesaro enters. And, with Reigns vs. Orton, there were 2 commercials, if memory serves.
Call me a wrestling purist, but it feels difficult to creatively book your match around commercials, as the TV viewer will not witness parts of it which, given the average match duration, will likely be important to the in-ring storytelling.
While I get the argument that a break during a match stimulates your curiosity to the point where you’ll want to come back for the conclusion, I do believe there are many other ways to generate enough interest to avoid people tuning out.
I keep coming back to the UFC not cutting mid-fights and whatever other sport you can think of. And, (also) if memory serves, WWE only cuts mid-match, not mid-promo, which to me is another indicator that they just don’t give their own product (wrestling, not entertainment) enough importance.
So, why should we?
I may be biased from low expectations created by the last few weeks, but let’s review:
a) Wyatt went over on Jericho (you can debate the finish wasn’t your cup of tea, and I’ll agree to the extent that he won in a way that wasn’t very becoming of his sociopathic gimmick).
b) Ziggler, Miz and Sandow got to do something different, which had botg bits of comedy and competitiveness.
c) AJ and Paige furthered their feud by tagging together once again and letting the mind games continue.
d) Sheamus vs. Rollins let Cesaro have his moment, by costing Sheamus the match and adding some significance to their NoC match for the US Title. +100 points for Sheamus for selling the Curb Stomp with a 3-second delay.
e) Rusev and Lana’s segment is the one I could probably do without, because I think I’ve seen a foreign heel mock the US national anthem and play their own. I think.
f) The NXT guys were an obvious win, for their quick and technically-sound delivery, perfectly hammered home by Neville’s Red Arrow.
g) I’ll pretend I forgot the Bellas’ segment. Play along.
h) The Dusts beating the Matadores and then getting jumped by the Usos made total sense, in the same way Sheamus vs. Rollins did. Nothing fancy, just some undercard feud-building.
i) Rose vs. Titus puts more emphasis on the Bunny than Rose himself, but I suspect that is blatant and will eventually pay off (did I just write that?). And, by adding the “Who’s The Bunny?” mystery, we at least have that to think about, as seeing Rose have a “just because” match clearly isn’t enough to generate actual interest.
The Bellas/Springer segment and Rusev/Lana are the misses for me, which tips the balance in favor of the reasonably and freshly booked segments.
While none of the segments were earth-shaterring and we’re still recovering from a lot of sub-par WWE TV, I have to go with “OBEYED”.
I mentioned AJ vs. Stephanie and HHH vs. Jericho as prime examples of WWE stumbling onto tension-filled feuds that would probably deliver.
While I did not expect to get my way on this one, I’ll hold back a bit of hope that WWE eventually give both these feuds a shot, especially AJ and Stephanie, which we haven’t seen before.
As I mentioned, Paige was involved in a tag match with her nemesis as her partner and the match was meaningful enough to make it watchable.
It was, by no means, the best segment of their feud – it probably ranked in the bottom half of their work so far – but, hey, let’s grab this win and take it back to Gorilla, because it beats Paige being a lifeless pin in the Bella Bowling Extravaganza.
In no way do I feel the announcing was at Jim Ross level, but they did manage not to use their headsets as shovels.
Now, what will it take to get play-by-play back?
WWE tried new things, but also trotted out a lot of the old stuff. I’m guessing the best I can do is a majority draw, with 1 of 3 judges voting “Disobyed”.
Even though a good portion of segments were re-bookings (Wyatt vs. Jericho; Reigns vs. Orton), some did manage to bring it home, like Jericho did with his flying body press.
Cena and Heyman were on the usual top of their game, but there’s something familiar about a heel trying to sucker Cena into a turn. This segment encompasses Raw: the good and the bad are hand-in-hand.
Indeed, a lot of it was also painfully familiar. Cena didn’t turn heel despite someone’s best efforts, Orton and Reigns still didn’t catch on fire and the twins from hell also didn’t catch on fire (figuratively and literally).
Ok, I set this one up for an automatic “Disobey”, I know. If you notice the name of this page, I do have a reputation to live up to.
As I mentioned before, a lot of subscriptions are coming up for renewal. Which means, if you’re frustrated with the product, odds are you’re not renewing or, at the very least, are conflicted.
This week, WWE’s quality clearly picked up a bit from last week’s show, even though I will not bring out the X-Box achievement logo just yet.
While not every Raw has to be the post-Wrestlemania Raw, I have a hard time believing that it’s the same company booking that Raw and the last few Raws.
And when you want people to pay for your content, two key elements are quality and consistency, which aren’t exactly a lock for the current product.
It’s hard enough to sell your product when it’s kicking ass. But when you don’t position yourself as a consistently good product, the signal you’re sending to potential buyers isn’t “Buy”. It’s “Wait”, which equalls “Don’t Buy”.
To be fair, a few “OBEYED” were borderline and the “DISOBEYED” were pretty definite, so I would call it the most telling of tallys. So a lot of work for the next few weeks. Again, fingers crossed!
Your thoughts below, my heel friend.