I’m going to open as honestly as I can: I hated last night’s Raw. I know a lot of people will rush to defend it. Seven matches, they’ll say. So much wrestling. A game-changing closing segment. A fantastic emotional performance by Vince McMahon. A new regime is in place, rejoice and be glad. I can understand what could have made the show enjoyable for some of you. To me, it was a heap of garbage. But I ask you to bear in mind, this is professional wrestling, it’s often polarizing, and everybody digs different things. If you get defensive over what you like in this silly hobby of ours, maybe you shouldn’t continue. If you, too, despised last night’s display of melodrama and mediocrity, then by all means, follow me to the other side of this jump.
- Vince McMahon, in the world’s ugliest sports coat, opened Raw with his “big announcement,” a one night tournament to crown a new WWE Champion. He was accompanied by the new Patterson / Brisco, John Laurinitis, whose mere presence detracts from the quality of the show. In response to the crowd chanting for CM Punk, Vince said that he’d never speak that name again. He will however, speak the name of John Cena, who will face “major consequences” for losing to Punk last night. Wasn’t the stipulation that he’d be fired? Isn’t that the biggest consequence possible? Anyway, as far as the tournament to crown a new Champion, it’ll be a single elimination eight man affair that’ll feature Dolph Ziggler, Rey Mysterio, R-Truth, Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston, Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, and Alex Riley. I love one night tournaments as much as the next guy; WrestleMania IV and Survivor Series ’98 are a couple of my favorite pay-per-views ever. That being said, this lineup doesn’t excite me at all.
- The Miz went over Alex Riley in the first round of the tournament, thankfully. The thought of A-Ry as Champion makes me shudder. Of the eight men in the tournament, The Miz is the only one to ever hold the WWE Championship before. With that in mind, I feel like he’s the most logical choice to win the tournament. Regardless of who is awarded the title, they’re going to be a transitional Champion while this Punk angle is going on, and I hate to see anyone’s first reign be executed as such. Good to see Miz finally get some retribution against his former protegé, too.
- R-Truth advanced to the second round of the tournament with a win over Jack Swagger. The crowd was uncharacteristically hot for a bout between two heels. Great reaction for R-Truth. Michael Cole insisted that Truth winning was an upset, which is absolutely ridiculous if you ask me. The dude is coming off of an extremely hot run at the title just a few weeks ago, and while he’s far from well established in the main event scene, he’s one of the bigger stars on Raw at this moment. Jack Swagger, meanwhile, is the personification of “meh” these days.
- There was a hype video for the return of John Morrison, and although I believe he’s still weeks away from returning, I’m anxiously anticipating him rejoining the roster. The looming Morrison vs Truth feud has monster potential.
- Ricardo Rodriguez returned! Pretty happy about that, I’ve actually missed the guy while he’s been gone. Following the reappearance of Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer, Mr. Money in the Bank was eliminated from the WWE Championship tournament by Kofi Kingston, who upset the Mexican superstar with a rollup. Post match, Kingston delivered a short promo about becoming the Champion. Remember when this guy had a thick Jamaican accent?
- Rey Mysterio defeated Dolph Ziggler to advance in the tournament and…and I hate Rey Mysterio. The last time I was interested in his character, his knee was being wrapped around a ring post by Chris Jericho at WCW Souled Out. I apologize for the rant, but it’s gotten to the point that I find myself grinding my teeth and shaking my head during his matches. At one point, Dolph Ziggler dodged a 619 and hit the perpetual underdog with some kind of gutwrench slam, which was pretty sweet. Seconds later, Rey nailed Ziggler with the two most annoying moves in wrestling, the 619 and that terrible dead fish splash. Nothing but hate for Rey Mysterio.
- There was a 7-on-7 divas match. It lasted less than two minutes. Faces won when Beth Phoenix pinned Rosa Mendes. God, I hate the divas division. Michael Cole and Jerry the King both called Joey Styles a moron during this hiccup of a match too, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t annoy me to hear those two chuckleheads insult one of my favorite commentators ever.
- The Miz suffered a bloody lip en route to a win over Kofi Kingston, securing himself a spot in the finals of the tournament. Some CM Punk chants permeated this one. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.
- R-Truth was interviewed, promising that the WWE Championship was about to get got. I could watch this guy cut promos all night.
- An Andy Levine vignette aired, and I have never been less enthused for a debut. Silent Rage is a horrible moniker, and it’s an even worse gimmick. The “I come from the ghetto” schtick stinks too. Andy was my favorite on this year’s Tough Enough from day one, but I’m far from into this character. I feel like I’ll be writing an edition of Ghastly Gimmicks about him in no time.
- Rey Mysterio had his hand raised after a semi-final tournament match with R-Truth. Surprise, surprise – Rey won with the same stupid two-move combination as he did earlier in the night, a 619 and that ridiculous splash. He also managed to make a split-legged moonsault look lame, which I previously thought was an impossible feat. We’re headed towards a Mysterio vs Miz final with the title on the line.
- Just before the Rey Mysterio vs Miz match could begin, Vince McMahon came out and insisted that the tournament final had to be postponed until next week. He gave a speech about nobody being bigger than the company, which was the cue for John Cena to march to the ring. Cena went on a tirade about retaining his dignity and refusing to kiss ass, pretty typical John Cena fare. It seems like all Cena talks about anymore is standing up and doing what’s right, and while that has its place in wrestling, it gets boring after a while. He did tease a departure from the ‘E to TNA, saying that if Vince fired him he’d take his game “somewhere else, brother” in a nod to Hulk Hogan. So that was pretty sweet. Not phased by Cena’s words, it looked like Vince McMahon was about to fire him anyway. And that’s when things got weird…
- Before the Chairman could terminate anyone, he was interrupted by the music of his doofus son-in-law. Triple H made his way down to the ring in a suit and informed Vince that he had been at a board of directors meeting, and that they were concerned about him. Long story short, Triple H tearfully told Vince he was relieved of his duties and that The Game himself would be the new man in charge. Loads of melodrama. Hunter spewed the line “I love you pop.” I hate that this is the same guy who once masterminded an attempted vehicular homicide. The crowd, not sure what to make of the weirdness, went from singing “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” to chanting “Thank you, Vince.” Vince’s reaction was pitch-perfect, as he welled up and started to sob at the news. Look, if this is the write-off of the Vince McMahon character from WWE programming, then well done. But I have a strong suspicion that it’s not. The Vince character has been removed from television on a number of occasions, and he’s always come back, regardless of what the original plan was. I fully expect a super-heel Vince to be back around in a few weeks, maybe even next week, hellbent on regaining control of the company that he built. As long as this notion is alive in me, I can’t bring myself to accept the mushy ending to an already boring Raw.
I enjoyed next to nothing on this week’s Raw. The opening round matches were rushed, any bout with Rey Mysterio in it stinks before the opening bell even sounds, and the Divas don’t even belong on television at this point. The closing segment was overly sentimental, although I am thankful that it prevented a third Rey match from taking place. Again, if this is the end of the Vince character, I won’t be as adamantly against it, but as of now, I feel like it was ridiculously sappy for no reason at all. I think a lot of my beef with this angle is that I’ve never cared about Vince McMahon’s character, I haven’t liked Cena since he turned face in 2003, and the last time Triple H was relevant to me was when he was wearing a denim vest over a leather jacket. After not caring about anyone involved in last night’s drama for so long, I’m not about to start just because two of them cried in the ring. I’m not writing the angle off moving forward, but it’s done nothing to sell me on it yet. Maybe this is something new and refreshing, but I feel like it’s just as likely the start of a Triple H vs Vince McMahon feud for control of the company, and that is about as uninteresting as it gets.
Granted, I think I’d struggle to care about anything not related to CM Punk right now. And the WWE did the right thing by keeping him off TV this week. He shouldn’t be on next week, either. Or the week that follows. I’d curse them if they brought him back too soon, this angle needs time to come to fruition. That being said, they’re fighting an uphill battle every week that he’s gone to keep my attention.