Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Big Show snaps for a crowd pop, John Cena's return is awkwardly announced, Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan adds a Heartbreaking special referee, and more!
By Will Pruett
Big Show finally snapped. In the words of the late, great Owen Hart "Enough is enough and it's time for a change." This change came in the form of a fist to the face of Triple H after Big Show's "iron clad" contract was terminated by Stephanie McMahon earlier in the night. This move was easy to see coming, but the consequences of it are currently unknown.
In these editorials, I have hypothesized about Big Show's current predicament. To me, the character was far too damaged and had too much of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's will to be redeemed. The pop from the crowd on this show should contradict me. It was the loudest the exceptionally quiet crowd was all night. These people were happy to see Show snap and Triple H get his.
Sadly, I still don't see this as the major moment Big Show needs it to be. Big Show knocked out Daniel Bryan multiple times. Big Show knocked out Dusty Rhodes. Big Show caused an inconclusive finish to a pay-per-view main event and took $55 away from fans. Big Show, while he wasn't the mastermind of evil, was the tool of evil. Why should I cheer him because of one errant punch?
The very nature of this "babyface" turn plays on an odd lack of memory and morality WWE assumes of their fans. Why would we cheer someone who cares more about money than morals. The loosely defined idea of "no one ever hiring a giant" is ridiculous, as is Big Show being broke these days. Big Show would have never knocked out our heroes if he had managed his finances better. Why should I admire and cheer him now?
The WWE method of thinking wants us to believe that the last action is more important than the aggregate, but this is not true. I know Big Show will come out and get cheered from now on, but why? Are wrestling fans so conditioned to Pavlovian responses that they don't expect any real redemption from their stars? Are we all so starved for babyfaces that we'll except one who knocked out Dusty Rhodes and cried on a weekly basis?
I cannot deny the reaction Show received for punching Triple H. The pop was huge. The pop doesn't justify what this character has been through in the last two months. I want to cheer a wrestler who will do the right thing every time, not just when he's exhausted all other options. WWE, since the late 1990's, has proven to have issues figuring out what a real babyface is. This angle proves how far away they are.
And now for some random thoughts...
- This was the first time I have watched a post-pay-per-view Raw without seeing the pay-per-view before it since 1997. I really didn't feel like I missed too much. I definitely didn't feel the need to go back and spend $55 on a replay. WWE doesn't add value to shows after the fact, which is a big issue.
- The opening segment was all about Big Show and Stephanie McMahon, without a real mention of the WWE Championship. How is this belt not the focus of the show continuously? We actually didn't even hear a promo from Randy Orton or Daniel Bryan about it. Is WWE moving away from pushing both of these guys right now? They are victims of an exceptionally weak creative effort.
- Stephanie slapped Big Show quite a bit. It was uncomfortable.
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow was decent, but not very entertaining. Viewers dedicated enough to tune into a pay-per-view preshow were probably bored during this one. Ziggler seems to only get victories over wrestlers WWE is determined to make job. Both of these guys are in a sad place on the card and should probably not be matched up against each other.
- How does WWE have Bruno Sammartino on Raw (I'm pretty sure for the first time ever) and not actually have the birthday moment in front of the live crowd?
- The Divas match on this show had to have been planned to be purposefully clumsy to make for Total Divas drama between JoJo and Eva Marie, right? They wouldn't just randomly throw green wrestlers out there on Raw with no reason behind it.
- Brad Maddox's once promising character has become another casualty of the ongoing McMahon family drama. Maddox would be a really effective manager for the right kind of wrestler.
- The announcement of a special referee at Hell in a Cell for Bryan vs. Orton is intriguing. Sadly, given who the referee is, I am guessing we will see more drama between Triple H and him than between Bryan and Orton.
- Booker T would have been a very awkward choice for referee.
- When El Torito gets a chance (and he has pretty much every match) to show his athleticism, he is wildly entertaining. I really believe this athleticism will get Los Matadores over, despite how silly it is. I'm not saying the act is amazing and there aren't better uses for the talented mini, but I'm currently okay with Los Matadores.
- I love how often WWE shows us replays of opening segments these days. I was able to switch over to the football game, which turned out to be a very entertaining upset.
- Paul Heyman's promo was good. I'm running out of superlatives for him. I question the booking decision to have Punk go over Ryback at Battleground, but Heyman is capable of putting the heat right back on this feud.
- You may think R-Truth being in a match that also involves C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman would negate my promise to fast-forward through all R-Truth segments, but you would be wrong. I am a man of my word.
- What was Punk doing with his tongue after the tag match?
- I truly wish the fans WWE allows to vote on their app (people not on the West Coast) would have voted for Bob Backlund. I could deal with and few weeks of crazy Backlund promos.
- Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton had a very sleepy match. It was far less exciting than their standard efforts. Hopefully the new old Orton doesn't mean we will see Orton's chin locks and boring matches return.
- The attack from Daniel Bryan was really good. His intensity actually sold me on their future Hell in a Cell match, despite how many times I have seen these two wrestlers face each other. I do wish we had seen some promo time for both men. I want to hear Bryan talk about being robbed of the title three times now.
- Shawn Michaels made the best case for being the special referee, as he should have. Hopefully this means he will consider breaking out the SummerSlam 1997 referee shorts. If there is one thing he could do to help this match, it is that.
- At first, I thought the announcement of John Cena's return was a joke from Vickie Guerrero. She said it, then laughed. Alberto Del Rio lost his match because of it. I didn't think we would actually see Cena this soon. His return is a definite shock, as is his placement in a feud with Del Rio.
- This will be the second time John Cena has returned from injury to a World Heavyweight Championship match. The first was at Survivor Series 2008 against Chris Jericho. I expect this build to be much like the Survivor Series build, culminating with Cena winning.
- In a way, John Cena winning the secondary World Championship is kind of interesting. The top star in the business giving a rub to what is not a top title works for me. It also gives Cena a goal (defending said title). He could have a C.M. Punk-like reign with the World Heavyweight Championship and hold it for a year or two and I would be fine with it.
- The John Cena announcement itself was not well thought out. There needed to be a true moment where his return is announced, not a joke from Vickie.
- This will be the second time John Cena and Alberto Del Rio have met at Hell in a Cell. The first was a Triple Threat match inside the Cell also involving C.M. Punk for the WWE Championship. Yes, I am a trivia nerd.
- The backstage segment with the three potential referees showing the voting results was awkward. It was wonderfully awkward.
- I'm glad Antonio Cesaro is getting over with something and I find myself enjoying his team with Jack Swagger more and more, but I do wonder when his next gimmick is going to come. Cesaro has gone through quite a few characters in his short time in WWE.
- Miz TV with The Wyatt Family was the best Miz TV ever. It could only be better if Miz had been decimated by the Wyatt's.
- Speaking of wrestlers lacking promo time, why didn't the Rhodes boys get to talk? WWE has three hours to fill and tends to give us a ton of filler on a weekly basis, but the wrestlers in the most compelling match at Battleground didn't get a chance to talk at all.
- The six man tag team main event was just kind of there. It was only meant to be a setup for Triple H and Big Show anyways.
- Daniel Bryan, who Triple H seems to have taken the most from, didn't get a chance to get his vengeance on Triple H. Instead, Bryan had to settle for Big Show's vengeance. I'm glad WWE is getting behind young talent like Big Show instead of older veterans like Bryan. Wait... What?
The end of this show made one audience jump to its feet, but the undercurrents of the story don't work. What about Hell in a Cell? The main event will be about the special referee. The World Heavyweight Championship match will feature WWE's biggest star returning. I'm guessing Big Show and Triple H have an Attitude Era reunion match as well. The days of focusing on Daniel Bryan seem to be quickly ending. WWE supported this effort with some of their weakest storytelling ever.
I'm disappointed in WWE's use of the panic button here. I'm disappointed in the creative effort being shown. WWE can and has done better. They aren't telling good stories when they can.
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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