Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - 20th Anniversary episode, Rock concert, Punk vs. Funkasaurus, Flair and Miz have a Woooo off, Raw moments replayed, Cena vs. Ziggler in a cage, and more!
By Will Pruett
- Very few things on this show captured the special anniversary feel, but the opening was really special. I'm a fan of almost every Raw theme and it was great to relive them. My favorite is still the original, which I would be fine hearing on a weekly basis.
- Nickelback is still awful.
- Vince McMahon opening the show with a self-aggrandizing promo, a toned-down suit, and a thank you to the fans was fun. Alberto Del Rio and Big Show getting involved with McMahon actually helped their feud and the World Heavyweight Championship. Showing that McMahon might care about the big gold belt makes the title see, more prestigious.
- WWE, in two shows, is doing great work to erase Alberto Del Rio's odd end of 2012. Del Rio is doing some fine work as a babyface.
- My only qualm with the babyface Del Rio is the way WWE is focusing on the "Latino crowd and people." Big Show mentioned this. Del Rio mentioned this. WWE is doing a bit of pandering in an attempt to get Del Rio over as the Latino hero. It's heavy handed and I worry about the crowd rebelling against it.
- The confetti bucket was awesome.
- I'd make a snarky comment about WWE showing a TNA Tag Team Champion getting beat up by Bob Barker, but I strongly doubt WWE is even aware that Chavo is a tag champion.
- Wade Barrett's victory over Randy Orton was a major one for him. It was great to see a heel mid-card champion win a match (and win one clean). The match was pretty good as well. Barrett could be in the main event within the next year with a sustained push.
- The return of Dr. Shelby was one of my favorite parts of Raw. The anger management check up made me laugh the way the original anger management segments did. Kane and Daniel Bryan are great as a comedic duo and as a tag team. I'm still enjoying this act and I believe it could actually work through WrestleMania.
- I was surprised by how easily Kane disposed of Damien Sandow. There was a point where Sandow was a little more protected in the ring. Lucky for him, his act is over enough that he can sustain a loss and keep his heat.
- Congratulations to Mick Foley on making it into the Hall of Fame. He definitely deserves it, given the amazing career he had. Foley pioneered a hardcore style of brawling, but he also pioneered a very psychological style. The way Foley reinvented himself halfway through his career was stunning.
- Mick Foley's interruption from The Shield was a really fun moment. I also appreciated the run in from Ryback to make the save. The ensuing brawl with Randy Orton and Sheamus was great as well. I didn't mind The Shield backing off once the odds were even, as this is who they are.
- Ryback's post-brawl promo was pretty good. He got his point across. He seemed like an angry monster. The fans were into it. What more could one ask?
- Any Raw with a Man Mountain Rock reference is a winner to me.
- Eve vs. Kaitlyn was a great Diva's match. Both women worked hard and worked an unexpectedly snug style. I normally don't enjoy Kaitlyn in the ring, but this match was an exception.
- I'm very sad to see Eve leaving WWE and this match is a great example as to why. She's been a great act over the past year. She has a convincing and fun character that is easy to hate. Eve is also one of the best wrestlers we may have ever seen in the Diva's division. Had she come along at a higher point in the division's history, we would be discussing her as an all-time great.
- Kaitlyn's spear on Eve was huge. Eve sold it like a champ. Kaitlyn delivered it like a champ. It was the perfect end to a hard worked match. Kaitlyn worked really hard here and I hope she is able to continue to do so. She can change my mind with a couple more performances like this one.
- Brodus Clay was born to shuck and jive. I liked the intensity of this promo, as much I was hoping for more of a character shift from the Funkasaurus.
- C.M. Punk vs. Brodus Clay was a logical followup to last week's Punk promo. It was also a good match that went exactly as it should have. Punk squashing Clay was the only logical step given how Clay's character has been used recently.
- Punk's post-match promo was short and sweet. He delivered the necessary message in a short amount of time. After last week's possible overload of Punk mic time, this was a welcome change.
- The Rock and Sock reunion backstage was fantastic. On a show that lacked special returns and big moments, this was one that stands out. Mick Foley and The Rock still have the great chemistry that made them so fun to watch in 1999.
- One of my least favorite things WWE does to build to the Royal Rumble is the annual "explain how the Rumble works" battle royal. They're never exciting and they always miss a little bit of the magic the Rumble contains.
- Sheamus lost to 3MB. Should I change my Rumble pick to Heath Slater now?
- John Cena's Braden Walker reference made me smile. I still love the Braden Walker Hall of Fame tribute. Leave the memories alone, John. Don't change a thing.
- MizTV was an almost TNA quality Ric Flair verbal segment. It was more crazy old man than respected legend. All it was missing was Flair suddenly bleeding for no reason.
- Antonio Cesaro tearing apart Ric Flair is something I'm totally fine with. This was a nice showcase for Cesaro. This show didn't ignore young talent in favor of returning legends.
- Flair giving The Miz the Figure Four probably shouldn't stick. No offense to Miz, but he's no Nature Boy.
- I feel bad for Miz if he actually paid Ric Flair's bar tab last night.
- Why was Eve's promo on the WWE App? Does anyone actually use the App during Raw? Trying to do so is overwhelming for me. Why can't Raw just happen on Raw?
- I didn't expect Daniel Bryan to win as quickly as he did against Cody Rhodes. I don't know if this was an effort to get Bryan over as a submission specialist or if time as just running short. Either way, it was fairly effective.
- I was happy to hear Jim Ross on commentary for the main event. This was a very nice use of him, as Ross' voice is still able to get just about anything over.
- John Cena and Dolph Ziggler had a good match. The main issue I had with it was the similarities it shared with both their Ladder Match and their match on Raw last week. WWE going to the well with rematches so quickly really makes it easy to see how similar these matches are.
- Why can Dolph Ziggler hit every finisher he has, use the advantage of outside interference, and come so close to beating Cena, but never actually do so? Ziggler really loses something in all of these matches when nothing he does is effective.
- Can John Cena really not take a loss due to interference from a monster like Big E Langston? I'm not usually one to complain about Cena not losing, but this is an egregious example of it.
- The Rock concert started off silly and off pitch. Literally, The Rock was off pitch. His comments towards Paul Heyman and Vickie Guerrero came off as extremely mean spirited, not funny. Maybe I'm being over sensitive.
- What I liked about Rock's promo was how serious he got as he called out C.M. Punk. It was vitally important for Rock to treat Punk with the level of seriousness he did last week. All the pretense of the concert was dropped once these two locked eyes and that was perfect.
- While I would have enjoyed another verbal exchange between the two, I totally understand saving that until next week. Rock and Punk's pull apart brawl was intense and fun to watch. It's fun to see Rock actually getting angry, as opposed to trying to be constantly witty as he did with Cena.
The closing of this show was the best moment. Few things on this show were actually bad, but even fewer actually stood out as special. WWE has conditioned viewers to believe major returns and nostalgia create a special show. Without those elements on this show, disappointment began to set in. The lack of surprises hurt the high expectations for this show.
This show continued the great build towards Punk vs. Rock, but it also let me down as far as building the Royal Rumble match itself. Sure, that match tends to sell itself, but WWE can make it feel special and make the Rumble feel like a mega-show on the caliber of WrestleMania.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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