MIGUELITO'S RAW THOUGHTS
August 2, 2002
The big story in WWE right now is obviously the talent shuffle between brands. The talent shuffle is eating up most of the non-match time on both Smackdown and Raw. The question is, will the talent shuffle work?
WWE seems to be putting all their hopes behind this. And, in all fairness, a lot of the moves are good moves. Brock Lesnar will gain a lot more legitimacy in a shorter amount of time as he destroys the established stars on Smackdown. Raw can use the Tag Team titles, especially now that the Island Boyz have been called up. Don't be surprised to see the Samoans wearing tag team gold in a very short amount of time.
Moving the Un-Americans to Raw was also a good idea. The heavyweights on Raw are mostly smaller wrestlers who can work a great match in the ring. All four Un-Americans fall into this mode. And I think it is safe to say that Chris Jericho will quickly rise to the top of Raw.
There are some mistakes already made, however. First and foremost, moving the Intercontinental title to Smackdown is a big mistake. Raw needs the intercontinental championship much more than Smackdown does. The Intercontinental title gave Raw's singles wrestlers something to focus on. I think we were all looking towards a series of Benoit/RVD title matches. In the long run, I think moving the Intercontinental title to Smackdown is going to hurt Raw even more than losing Benoit and Guerrero.
Unfortunately, with the talent shuffle comes an overabundance of the General Managers. As I said last week, we are already pretty close to overexposure for both Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon. Minimizing each's on-screen role is going to quickly be a requirement. Then we may find the answer to the question: Will the talent swap fix WWE's problems?
As with everything else concerning WWE, we'll have to wait and see. My guess, though, is that the talent shift won't do much to keep mainstream fans watching wrestling. The fact of the matter is that wrestling is entering another down cycle. Mainstream fans are leaving, and won't be back for a few years. Eventually, WWE will come up with something that brings the casual fans back (my guess is that Chris Benoit or Chris Jericho will figure largely into that something). Until then, however, ratings will continue to decline.
The Rock is starting to do what he always seems to do as champ: put other wrestlers over. Eddie Guerrero came within a whisker of beating Rock last week on Raw, and then Chris Benoit made Rock tap out to the Crippler Crossface on Smackdown. Once The Rock has the WWE/F Title, he appears to be more than willing to not just sell for other wrestlers, but also to put other wrestlers over.
Raw was talk-heavy this week, mostly due to the talent shuffle. This unfortunately took time away from the main event, a surprisingly enjoyable Rock -vs Ric Flair main event. Ric Flair is my all-time second favorite wrestler (Barry Windham is my favorite wrestler ever), but I can realistically say that Flair shouldn't be in the main event any more. His match against The Rock changed my mind. I think it would be fun to see these two get 20 minutes or so on a PPV.
What I am impressed with is that, for the second week in a row, the Raw main event was a non-title match. I hope WWE keeps this up. Not putting the WWE Title on the line on normal shows makes the title seem more prestigious. If the title is only defended on pay-per-views, then the title seems more important to fans.
The cruiserweight division is actually finally starting to come together. We've gone through literally years of Jim Ross saying, "I wish we'd start getting serious about the cruiserweight division." The Brand Extension has given WWE the push needed to let the cruisers shine. Rey Mysterio and Taijiri put on a great match on Smackdown and Jamie Knoble got more mic time to get his character over. I would've liked to see one more cruiserweight match on Smackdown, but that's a minor gripe.
Congrats to Tommy Dreamer for walking out with some WWE gold! Dreamer is one of the most dedicated company men in the lockerroom. Dreamer stayed with ECW 'til the bitter end, doing anything possible to try to help keep ECW over. Since coming to WWE, Dreamer has proven that he'll do anything needed for WWE, also. I am glad to see that Tommy got rewarded for his dedication and hard work.
WWE is doing a great job building up to Brock Lesnar -vs- The Rock at SummerSlam. WWE is building anticipation for this match by mostly keeping Brock and Rock apart from each other. I think it is safe to say we'll see some type of physical altercation between the two over the next couple of weeks. But the longer that WWE holds out, the more it'll make fans want to buy the PPV to see the match. I don't know about you, but I smell Heyman all over this angle. Bravo!
That's all for me this week! I am heading out to Los Angeles this weekend, and won't be back 'til next weekend. That means there won't be a Raw Thoughts for this coming week. I am pretty sure you'll manage to get by without me.
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