By Will Pruett
For a moment I thought the two major wrestling worlds suddenly collided. Maybe I dozed off or maybe I had a little too much to drink. I'm not quite sure what happened. Vickie Guerrero came to the ring, the lights dimmed, and Jeremy Borash was there informing her that this was her Gut Check.
Instead of the poorly dressed Impact Wrestling trio, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H were in the ring. Instead of waiting for a "No" from a judge, Vickie launched straight into her kick out promo. She begged and pleaded, explaining how good she is for "this business" and how much she loves wrestling. The judges looked unimpressed and the crowd treated her as if she had played guitar on her way to the ring.
First up was Vince McMahon, who played Al Snow for this evening. McMahon was ultimately supportive of Vickie while playing a heel to the fans who often greet him as a hero. He ended up voting to give her a TNA developmental contract, meaning Vickie needed just one more vote to join Taeler Hendrix as a TNA developmental diva.
When it was Triple H's turn to be Danny Davis or Taz or Ric Flair, he rose to the occasion. He was hard on Vickie, encouraging the fans to boo her and dressing her down. Triple H played an odd role here, as Vickie seemed defenseless against Impact Wrestling's toughest judge. He wasn't kind. He was basically a jerk. It made me wonder why good people do bad things, which is the type of existential question I ask far too often during wrestling shows.
The final judge was Stephanie McMahon (does this make her Bruce Prichard?), who decided not to make a choice and deferred to the opinions of the fans. It was odd to see the final choice in a segment ultimately dressing down a woman come down to another woman. If the idea was to reduce any idea of sexism, it didn't work. If the idea was to give Vickie, one of the most hated characters on WWE television since 2007, a proper send off from her authority figure position, WWE succeeded.
People wanted to boo Vickie. WWE let them. The segment was a trainwreck full of uninteresting television, but it served its purpose. Hopefully we can get to the great stories WWE is telling and lose the odd McMahon mask soon. As for WWE's TNA Impact Wrestling Gut Check, I'd rather not see it become a regular thing. The original is bad enough.
- Vickie began this show on a ladder with a nice heat-garnering promo. It was a little too long, but it worked to set up the rest of the show.
- I'm enjoying the way WWE is promoting matches in the main event of Raw from the top of the show on. It's important to allow time for fans to anticipate something. I figured they would end this show with something other than in-ring action, but they didn't. This is a nice change of pace.
- The replays of Rob Van Dam's prior Ladder Match moments allowed me time to eagerly anticipate his return. Notice how WWE is highlighting his athletic ability and not his promo ability. Not having RVD talk is probably the best choice right now.
- Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus was a fun exhibition match from two guys capable of greatness. The roll Bryan is on is continuing. I hope this means we will see him win on Sunday, but it also establishes him well if he doesn't.
- The trip to the Wyatt compound was really oddly edited for a news story, even though it fit in with the prior work done for the Wyatt family. These vignettes throughout the night were actually really fun and a great way to allow fans to anticipate the Family's debut.
- Dolph Ziggler and A.J. Lee acknowledged their relationship on this show by beginning the road to a breakup. I had hoped to see these two together for a long time, but with their allegiances on different sides of the roster, I understand why is must happen. I believe the babyface run is best for Ziggler at the moment.
- Tons of Funk occasionally show what they could be capable of as a monster tag team running over the division. This was one of those nights. Sweet T and Brodus Clay are oddly packaged wrestlers in a fun, but pointless act. I would love to see them get serious, even if just for a short run.
- The Shield fighting on the Money in the Bank preshow doesn't feel like a demotion to me. Sheamus was in the same slot last month and made the most of it. The Shield vs. The Uso's should be a fun matchup. Maybe WWE just wants quality in their preshow.
- John Cena has never met a promo he won't slip a silly line into.
- Cena and Mark Henry did some good work once again to promo their match on Sunday. I'm not sure if the match quality will stand up to the build quality, but if it does, WWE is going to have something special on their hands. If the match is even half as good as the build, I'll be satisfied.
- Part of me would be fine with another Randy Orton vs. John Cena feud. After all, it has been four years since their tedious 2009 feud ended. The other part of me still remembers 2009 and never wants to see these two touch again.
- Chris Jericho and Curtis Axel had an okay match made less entertaining by Miz on commentary. Jericho's win over Axel was an odd choice, but I guess WWE doesn't want any undefeated streaks hanging around long enough to become a major story. This prevented that.
- The heel Money in the Bank match still feels weird to me. I know many of the wrestlers are young and athletic, but it's just odd booking.
- Dolph Ziggler interrupting a match was strange. Dolph Ziggler's promo was a whole new level of strange.
- I hope Brad Maddox sticks as Raw General Manager for a little while. He's great.
- I'll bet Ryback gives the best hugs.
- The Wyatt Family debut easily out-shined a boring Kane vs. Christian match.
- I didn't dig the LED lantern casting off white light instead of an amber glow. It was a little too stark to seem out of the same world as Bray Wyatt.
- I did dig the attack from the Wyatt Family on Kane. It looked vicious, but was ultimately safe. The crowd was very into it. More than just those things, it established a clear hierarchy in The Wyatt Family and gave their characters a nice edge.
- Sometimes fans are dumb. If you chanted "Husky Harris" at Bray Wyatt, you are dumb.
- C.M. Punk vs. Randy Orton was a nice main event for Raw. It has been fun to see wrestlers reestablish the main event of Raw.
- Once again WWE made me ask why presumably good people do bad things with Daniel Bryan's unprovoked and instant attack on C.M. Punk. I know it was in the name of establishing a match, but there are some moments when a star I being made that WWE should be extra careful. Bryan was attacking a guy most of the fans who love him also love.
This edition of Raw had a ton of momentum, hit a wall with the Gut Check, then gradually improved. It offered solid hype for Money in the Bank. It told some fun stories. It was also a kind of maintenance show. The big debut will hopefully be remembered, but it will depend on how The Wyatt Family does over the next few months.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Vickie Guerrero faces her Gut Check, The Wyatt Family debuts, Mark Henry and C.M. Punk have a conversation, and more!
Jul 9, 2013 - 06:48 PM
Jul 9, 2013 - 06:48 PM
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