MIGUELITO'S RAW THOUGHTS
Well, if there's one thing that I've learned this week, it is to be careful what one wishes for, because one just may get it. After last week's Raw (or, as I wanted to call it, "Will You Pick a Damned Format Already,") I wished that WWFE would make up their mind exactly what kind of show they wanted Raw to be. This week I got my wish. And it really was not what I was hoping for.
The first Raw of the post-Brand Extension era was aweseome. It started off with an awesome 7+ minute Intercontinental title match. Up until the end, it kept most of the Entertainment segments short, there was excellent matches throughout, matches got decent amount of time to develop... Except for the over-abundance of Vince McMahon (who wasn't supposed to be there to begin with), the initial Raw ruled.
Last week, the show opened with a 20 minute promo. And, through the rest of the show, it seemed to try to walk the line between actually having some wrestling taking place and having too many Entertainment segments. It was a show that couldn't decide what it wanted to be.
This week, WWFE made the decision. And it wasn't a good one. This week's Raw might as well have been titled, "We Picked the Wrong Format to Stick With." Far too much Entertainment, far too little ring work as a result, all leading up to a less-than-satisfying show.
Things immediately started off on the wrong foot with a 20+ minute promo. Don't get me wrong, I *love* Ric Flair. Flair is still a God in my book. And he is as entertaining on the mic as he has ever been. Had this been just a 5 minute Ric Flair promo, I would have had no problem with things. But instead, Steve Austin comes down to the ring to add his own 10 minutes. And then the undertaker comes in for a good five minutes of his own. And, to top it off, the nWo join the party, as Scott Hall gets some words in. And, finally, Bradshaw joins in at the end to complete the schmozz.
The worst part about all of this is that very little was actually said throughout this entire 20+ minutes (I think it clocked in somewhere close to 23 minutes of air time; it felt like approximately four and a half days worth of real time). What the WWF script writers need are editors. Someone who can go through this entire mess, cut out all the chaff, and compress this thing down to about 10 minutes. Everything that was said could have been said in 10 minutes, or could have been split out into a separate 3 minute promo later in the show. The opening segment ran FAR too long. And the rest of the show suffered, because there was not enough time to dedicate to anything else.
I do realize that promos need to be done. Wrestlers need to get themselves and the storylines over. I am not saying that WWFE should get rid of the promos; I *am* saying that WWFE should work to shorten the promos for Raw. Give mid-card wrestlers two minutes for promos, give the Intercontinental-tier wrestlers three minutes, and give the main eventers a max of five minutes. People will still get over, and there'll be time for wrestlers to tell their story in the ring, too.
As an illustration of this point, let's compare two promos from last night. First was Austin's rambling, drawn-out, 10-minute promo. For all the talking that Austin did, he basically got over one point: there's some friction between Flair and Austin. Well, maybe two points: Austin didn't want Flair to ever help him. Those are two good points to get over; I am sure both will fit into future storylines. But should it have taken 10 minutes to get those two points over?
Now, consider Eddie Guererro's interview. Eddie got two minutes on the stick, and was able to get over the following ideas: Eddies is pissed because the Intercontinental title was stolen from him, RVD shares blame, since RVD now holds the title, RVD stole the Frog Splash from Eddie, Eddie is going after RVD for vengeance, Eddie is still a ladies-man (with his non-discreet oogling of Terri). And, Eddie managed to bring back both "Mamacita" and "Latino Heat" (and the crowd popped for both!).
If Eddie can get that many points over in two minutes, if he can get his dickish personality over in two minutes, if Eddie can hype a match that much in two minutes, then why can't anyone else? Why does Austin take 10 minutes to get through his spiel? (Besides all the "WHAT?"'s of course.) Why does it take the Undertaker 5 minutes to say that Austin needs Flair's help to beat him? Why does it take HHH 10 minutes to hype the match at Backlash (against someone who isn't on this show)? THIS is what WWFE needs to work on.
Hell, even the nWo did a better job keeping their promos concise than did the main eventers. Scott Hall effectively got over both the match on Raw and the match at Backlash, along with keeping the heat on feuds with Kane, Bradshaw and Austin, in a total of 5:00 or so (about two minutes at the start of Raw, and three minutes towards the end).
So the question is, if Guererro can keep his promos short, if Hall can keep his promos short, if Regal can keep his promos short, then why the hell is WWFE wasting so much time at the beginning of the show on a convoluted Entertainment mess? It makes for boring, uninteresting television, and doesn't give one a lot of reason to tune in next week. But I digress.
The first match of the evening was Bubba Ray Dudley defending the Hardcore championship against Raven. That match itself wasn't bad. Raven is a pro at these hardcore matches, and is getting very good at telling a story in the ring in a very short amount of time. Bubba is apparently going to be working more comedy into his character (because apparently EVERYTHING has to be funny on RAW), as the throws in some dance moves and instructs himself to get the tables. Eh. I was hoping that Bubba's Hardcore title win signalled the fed would be trying to make the Hardcore title into a more serious championship. Monday proved me wrong, as the title changed four times in the space of a minute. FOUR TIMES! True, it is cool that everyone who won (and then lost) the title are former ECW title holders, but that coolness cannot save the segment. It was silly and useless, an attempt at some comedy while throwing a bone to us ECW fans. Very poor segment, but at least it was better than the opening interview.
I don't think there is very much I can say at all about the Crash/Jackie feud, other than to say, "Can we please move on?"
The bright spot on this week's Raw was definitely the RVD/Spike Dudley -vs- William Regal/Eddie Guererro. I am literally almost drooling over the thought of Guererro -vs- RVD at Backlash. This match was a nice preview. Things started off with an EXCELLENT promo from Regal. Regal is legitimately frightening as the ultra-badass in his promos, problaby because he is a badass in real life. After threatening to destroy Spike and squash Coach, we get to the action. The match was too short, but still got a good 5 minutes. Eddie looked sharp, RVD was as awesome as ever, Regal was stiff, and Spike looked like a punching bag. And you know, this was perfectly fine by me. Eddie hits his frogsplash for the win, but then RVD makes a BIG statement. RVD's toss-into-a-dropkick on Eddie was jaw-droppingly amazing. RVD definitely deserves the I/C championship. The problem is, so does Eddie. Hopefully, we are going to have a nice, long feud develop between these two.
I know that WWFE likes to push the envelop when it comes to sex. And normally, I don't mind one bit. But I think that there comes a point when the creative team ends up distracting from the product instead of getting the product over when they push the envelop too long. And that point come about during Trish Stratus' interview on Raw. Somehow, we ended up talking about Molly's apparent virginity, and the commentators simply wouldn't drop it. Stratus started it, with a "flat on her back remark," and both JR and the King kept harping on this throughout Molly and Trish's match. Molly is an over enough personality right now as it is. This new Purity angle baffles me, I don't understand what it is supposed to add to Molly's character.
Speaking of Molly, I think I offended reader Zachary Rearick by mentioning that I think Jazz is a better wrestler than Molly. To quote Mr. Rearick:
Actually, I think that Jazz is awesome because she is awesome. Jazz has the correct look, the right attitude, and looks like a heartless monster in her matches. She can actually put some psychology in her matches, too, which puts her a step above a lot of the male wrestlers in the WWFE.
Reader Jyri agrees about Jazz. Jyri would also like to see one addition to WWFE's women's roster:
I didn't watch the WOW pay per view, mainly because we didn't get WOW tv shows here in Denver (to the best of my knowledge), so I had no idea who was who or what was what. But I am ALL for bringing more competitors into the women's division. Especially now that WWFE was stupid enough to split up their ladies roster. (It's not like there were a large number of active female competitors as it was.)
You can probably tell that I am already bored talking about this week's Raw. I've forgotten where I was... Ah, yes, the women's Number One Contender match. Complete with Lawler and Ross spending a whole lot of time discussing Molly's Purity, and spend almost no time at all putting over the fact that Molly was completely kicking Trish's ass. The worst line, courtesy JR: "That's the closest you've been to a virgin in a long time, King." Absolutely pathetic.
The worst part, though, is that the match was actually pretty decent. Molly and Trish got over three minutes of match time, which is an eternity in the women's divison. Molly completely played up her heel routine. And her transformation to full-fledged heel has been amazing. Molly oozes heelishness in every move, every gesture, every facial expression, both in and out of the ring. I can't remember the last time anyone, man or woman, has done this good of a job of submersing themselves into a heel role. Molly ranks right up there with Jericho! Great match, horrible commentary, poor storytelling by the Raw writers.
Raw then went on a seemingly endless string of Entertainment packages. Bradshaw's promo was short, but centered around genitalia for some reason. The nWo pulled off their surprisingly well-presented promo on Austin, Bradshaw and Kane, all in the same three-minute promo. And then we get a bunch of crap featuring Paul Heyman and Lita.
There was something fundamentally disturbing about this bit. I can't quite put my finger on it. Normally, I like any segment where Heyman gets to unleash his creepy, disturbing persona. And, as I said earlier, usually I don't mind sexually-oriented segments. But something about the combination of the two really squicked me out. I wasn't entertained by this segment, I was creeped out by it. And not creeped out in a good way. All I can say is, thank god that segment is over.
Raw tried to get the taste of that segment out of our mouths by giving us a Hardyz -vs- Booker T/Goldust match. Unfortunately, this wasn't really a distraction, since we all knew that this was just filler until Brock Lesnar could make a run-in. Normally, I'd be pretty ticked about that. But Lesnar's push has been just about perfect; I will cut Raw some slack here.
And, once Lesnar did make his appearance, the segment went almost perfectly. There were two things wrong with it. First, they connected it to the creepy segment between Heyman and Lita by having Heyman come out and show the world Lita's undies. Apparently, the fact that Lesnar has kicked both the Hardy's asses TWICE is not enough to sustain a Hardyz/Lesnar feud. I don't agree, but no one asked me. The second problem with the segment is that Lesnar ran away from Jeff Hardy and a chair. Why would Lesnar run away? After no selling two massive chair shots last week, Lesnar should have just held his ground, then beat the tar out of Jeff when Jeff got to the top of the ramp.
But that is a small gripe. Otherwise, the segment was fantasic. From Lesnar catching Hardy's spear, to Matt temporarily gaining an advantage with a low kick, to Lesnar destroying Matt by hitting Matt with Lesnar's finisher on the STEEL stage. It was an awesome segment, and showed what the Raw writers can do when they put their minds to it. If, by some odd chance, anyone from the Raw creative team is reading this, remember: We want great segments like this, not 20 minutes of crap to start the show!
I would like to mention something right here: Raw missed a HUGE opportunity to turn Booker T in this match. The Texas crowd wanted to see Booker beat the crap out of Goldust. It was obvious in the way that the crowd cheered every word that Booker said against Goldust. Fans want to like Booker T. Booker has been great as a heel, but fans want him to be a face. WWFE won't have a choice soon; fans are popping more and more often for Booker. And, sadly, for the Spinaroonie. (More damn dancing!)
For some reason, Raw also decided to let HHH talk for a good 6-7 minutes about a wrestler from some other show. I think the show's name is something like Smack Up or Slap Down or something like that. Anyway, HHH goes on and on about this guy named Hogan (Who?) and I quickly lost interest in the segment. Who would've thought that becoming a face would make HHH so boring? On to the next segment.
Which just happened to be the main event. I can sum up the seven minutes of match time with one of CRZ's favorite words: "Eh." It wasn't horrible. But Bradshaw's weaknesses were definitely highlighted, and the lack of coherency really hurt the match. Like I said, it wasn't a horrible match, it just wasn't very exciting, either. As a matter of fact, the only thing that I kept thinking throughout the entire match was, "What happened to Debra? She just poured coffee on the 'Taker!" Some mysteries are never meant to be solved, I guess. Sorta like the Blond Bitch Project featuring Steven Richards!
All in all, this week's Raw was disappointing on far too many levels. Hopefully, now that all the PPV hype is over, Raw's creative team can get back on track. I hope and pray that next week's show is not another Talk Show. Here's hoping that I still care about Raw by the time that next Monday rolls around.
Who can say for sure?