411 Instant Analysis 12.04.12: WWE Monday Night Raw
Welcome to this week’s Instant Analysis of Monday Night Raw. I’m your humble reviewer, Chad Nevett and December is here. Still no snow yet, though, which is a pity. I have no idea what to expect from Raw tonight. Vince McMahon is supposed to appear. Remember when that meant something interesting might happen? Last time he showed up, he ruined the one big draw of the Survivor Series as a concept pay per view. What’s tonight? Taking away the TLC match from this month’s show? Uh oh. I’m already taking the easy, sarcastic way out. That cannot be good. Let’s get to it…
SEGMENT ONE: Team Hell No vs. the Prime Time Players
Match Result: Daniel Bryan pinned Darren Young
Match Length: Around 12 minutes
The in ring action was solid, built around the suspense of the Shield coming down to the ring. Team Hell No led things at first, determined and focus, because of the Shield. But, when Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose began making their way down, the Prime Time Players took control and every time Team Hell No would attempt a comeback, the distraction of the Shield would prove their undoing until, finally, they managed to pick up a lucky win and get attacked. The focus around CM Punk and Kane so far (Daniel Bryan seems like collateral damage in a way) is a little puzzling. Not a ‘great’ way to kick the show off. Definitely an interesting way to kick the show off.
Rating: 7.0 out of 10
SEGMENT TWO: AJ vs. Tamina Snuka
Match Result: AJ pinned Tamina Snuka
Match Length: A little over three minutes
Ah, the old ‘smaller face Diva manages to get a quick pin on the dominant heel Diva after the dominant heel Diva spent the entire match absolutely destroying the smaller face Diva.’ My god, I will suspend my disbelief when possible, but, at this point, is there anyone who buys a quick pin like this ending a Divas match? Given how often it happens, you would assume that’s what they spend 95% of their time training to do. You’d think they cut down a little and devote some time to learning to counter it.
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
SEGMENT THREE: The Miz Challenges CM Punk Live to Appear Live on Miz TV Live Later Tonight Live on Raw… LIVE!
That was a bit goofy and stupid. The Miz getting involved comes out of nowhere and there is something appealing about CM Punk proving his arguments via lie detector. And there’s an obvious bit of animosity between Punk and Miz that carries over — actually, the Miz seems amused by Punk more than anything, which is a fresh reaction. But, this felt labored and forced. I would have rather they skipped over this and just went to Miz TV. Have Punk as his guest where Miz challenges him to take a polygraph right there and then and go. I know, the goal is to get people talking and boost ratings later in the evening, but the storytelling is crap. This would be tolerable, maybe even entertaining as a single segment. As two, it will no doubt be too much.
Rating: 5.0 out of 10
SEGMENT FOUR: John Cena & Sheamus vs. the Big Show & Dolph Ziggler
Match Result: John Cena pinned Dolph Ziggler
Match Length: Twelve and a half minutes
This match seemed constructed to create a comparison between John Cena and Sheamus where Sheamus looks better or, at least, on the same level. At the beginning of the match, Cena was completely ineffective against the Big Show. He just bounced off the giant and was completely manhandled. Sheamus, on the other hand, took the Big Show off his feet. He didn’t bounce off the Big Show, he ran through him. And there’s the end of the match where Cena delivers the Attitude Adjustment to the smaller guy while Sheamus has the Big Show on his shoulders. Cena may have got the win here, but Sheamus was ‘the guy’ in this match.
Rating: 7.0 out of 10
SEGMENT FIVE: Damien Sandow vs. Santino Marella
Match Result: Damien Sandow pinned Santino Marella
Match Length: A bit over two and a half minutes (joined in progress)
Dammit, I knew it was Keats! I was expecting a hard question for that third one. Instead, Sandow tossed that fool a softball and he didn’t even swing, he just stood blankly and watched it sail by. Pathetic.
Have Santino and Sandow feuded briefly before? For some reason, I think they have, but I don’t believe that’s right. It seems like a natural fit. Sandow’s pompous attitude naturally leads to comedy and that’s Santino’s niche in the WWE. Add to that Santino’s popularity, so, when Sandow defeats Santino, he is hated more. It’s a smart bit of booking and the match was entertaining.
Rating: 7.0 out of 10
SEGMENT SIX: Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara
Match Result: Alberto Del Rio made Sin Cara tap out
Match Length: A little over 12 minutes
Up until that abrupt finish, I was really digging this match. Sin Cara was showing off a bit working with a guy who knows how to best complement his style in the ring. Del Rio was very good at being in the right place and reacting perfectly to Sin Cara’s offence, while maintaining a very grounded approach to stand out against Sin Cara. I’ve read rumors of backstage heat between the two, but they gel quite well in the ring. The last few minutes were particularly good and I would have liked to see Sin Cara get the win here instead of going for the quick counter to the Cross Armbreaker and Del Rio winning somewhat out of nowhere. It does occur to me that Del Rio could be a useful link in turning Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio against one another leading up to WrestleMania. A Triple Threat between them could be a fantastic match.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
SEGMENT SEVEN: Vince McMahon Coaches Vickie Guerrero in the Fine Art of Booking
That was a little painful. Vince talking Vickie through booking matches and that’s entertaining why? Just announce matches! Instead, we go through this awkward charade. Even the drama created by it being Vickie who booked the Cena/Ziggler Ladder Match isn’t really worth it.
Rating: 2.0 out of 10
SEGMENT EIGHT: Brad Maddox vs. Randy Orton
Match Result: Randy Orton pinned Brad Maddox
Match Length: Around one minute, ten seconds
Well, that match went how you’d expect. The Shield attacking Randy Orton again raises question marks. Did Orton warrant the attack because he squashed Maddox? Was it something else? There’s still enough unknowns to the Shield that things like this only increase my interest in them. Hopefully, there actually is logic behind the attacks and they’re not just random. I figure the odds are 50/50.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
SEGMENT NINE: Fatal Fourway for the #WWEUS Title – Antonio Cesaro (C) vs. Kofi Kingston vs. R-Truth vs. Wade Barrett
Match Result: Antonio Cesaro pinned Kofi Kingston to retain the US Championship
Match Length: Around 12 minutes
Damn, that was good stuff. Conceptually, I’m not a fan of an impromptu match like this where a title is on the line, but it’s hard to argue when the in ring action is so good. There was rarely a second of down time with every possible matchup explored a few times in pretty smooth ways. The transitions kept the action lively. I found the tension of who would win palpable with the various potential outcomes. Kingston could be a dual champion, Barrett could win making the TLC match with Kingston a champion vs. champion match, R-Truth could win to advance his feud with Cesaro or, what we saw happen, Cesaro wins and looks pretty damn good doing it. Some big European Uppercuts and a few spots where he just manhandled guys. Barrett was impressive as well with his strikes. My favorite part of the match was Cesaro and Barrett just trading blows. I’m a sucker for that. While I’m not a fan of how the match came about, it had a genuine ‘anything can happen’ feel with regard to the title possibly changing hands and that only made it more compelling. Great stuff.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10
SEGMENT TEN: Miz TV with Special Guest CM Punk
The Miz/Punk portion of this was grating. I like the Miz and have for a long time now — pretty much going back to his time tagging with John Morrison. I like his obnoxious attitude and the way that he makes you hate him. And, yet, here, he’s a face. Same attitude, same tone and style on the mic, but he’s a face…? It doesn’t work. We basically have two annoying heels making snide remarks at one another, none of which are particularly witty. I talked about the Miz needing to change his approach in the ring a week or two back; well, his approach on the mic is what needs the biggest overhaul if he’s to be a face.
The Shield attacking, obviously, it meant to solidify the connection with Punk… maybe even Maddox. Which is a bit mundane, I guess. I’m still on shaky ground with this group, because what they said was their purpose and what their actions have shown are so divergent that I’m a little surprised that there was even an attempt to pay lip service to another motive. It’s been undercut so quickly that it almost smacks of a lame red herring. Now, maybe it will be turned around. I still want to see what happens next with the group, but this attack in particular seemed like a step too far if you want to maintain some sense of distance between the group and Punk. And, if you don’t, why pretend like you do? To drag it out a couple of weeks?
Ryback finally getting his hands on Punk and doing some damage was nice to see. Punk hasn’t looked in danger like that in a long time and it’s good to change things up heading towards TLC. Punk’s managed to beat Ryback twice, so him completely dominating Punk and beating him with a ladder, a chair, and a table was a good way to swing the power balance back to Ryback a bit.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Segment of the Night: The Fatal Fourway
Trash Segment of the Night: Vince Teaches Vickie How to Book
Final Analysis: A great night of wrestling. A less than great night of promos. But, that’s becoming almost the standard Raw format these days. Three hours has meant longer matches (not always better matches, though) and, tonight, they all delivered. That helped make the show go by quicker. Part of what slows the show down is seeing long, tedious, predictable matches. Tonight, they weren’t. They were structured well and executed marvelously, especially the Fatal Fourway. The de-emphasis of the Cena/AJ story was a welcome surprise. Hopefully, they keep that up. Overall, a strong show carried by the in-ring work.
411 RATINGS SCALE: