Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Let's do the Time Warp again as WWE takes us back to 2011 with Cena and Orton as champions, Punk and Bryan shuttled off to the side, fake Sin Cara, and more!
By Will Pruett
This is It's a Wonderful Life. I'm George Bailey. Wrestling right now is my own personal version of Pottersville. I'm going to try to get through this as best I can, but Clarence might have to step in and help me.
After Hell in a Cell, I wrote about the time warp we were all entering, and right now, I'm more convinced of it than ever. No one has told you yet, but it is actually June of 2011 and we are in an alternate (darkest) timeline where C.M. Punk's mind-bending and fan engaging promo never happened. Instead, Cena and Orton's title reigns continued and wrestling carried on with its standard plan.
I've already discussed Cena and Orton being the same people they were and how they are fighting over the same issues. It's quite boring. What, in this magical time warp, happened to Punk and Bryan though?
The magic of this time wrap is how it is taking care of the breakout stars we've seen since 2011. C.M. Punk is having a handicap match and feud with The Shield (other post-2011 MVP's). They are sectioned off to their own corner of the card. Joining them, Daniel Bryan, who won the Money in the Bank at Money in the Bank in 2011 and began his own ascendance, is fighting The Wyatt Family, who is just forming in developmental in this time warp.
Forcing Punk and Bryan into a corner with The Shield and The Wyatt's is brilliant. WWE doesn't want fans to remember how compelling all of these acts can be. They don't want people to reflect on The Shield's transcendent first match in WWE at TLC last year. They want us all to remember how great Cena and Orton are, instead of the stars who should be replacing them.
I know it's just a step to the left, and then a jump to the right, but doing the time warp is not what I desire at this moment. As a fan, I cannot help but feel disappointed. Wrestling is building up towards a Unified WWE Championship match and, instead of eagerly anticipating it, I feel like I'm living a combination of twelve and two years ago.
I want to enjoy this. I want to like it. Right now, nothing in WWE is really enough to allow me to do either.
And now for some random thoughts...
- C.M. Punk opened the show confronting The Authority. Stephanie McMahon and Politician Kane delivered the boredom and Punk tried to bring some life to the proceedings. It was an easy segment to zone out.
- A major positive from this show was the guarantee of a Unified WWE Champion being crowned. I'm still on alert for a shady finish at TLC, but I'm not expecting one the way I was after last week. While the actual match doesn't excite me, I'm happy to see WWE going all the way with a guarantee.
- Humorously enough, a guarantee is one of the few things in wrestling with meaning still in it.
- I want to have a Skip-It contest with Bug E Langston. I'm far too clumsy to actually win, but boy howdy would it be fun.
- Damien Sandow vs. Dolph Ziggler for the third time was a little too much for me. Both of these guys work well together, but I was grateful for a match only lasting four minutes.
- Sandow vs. Langston for the Intercontinental Championship could be a pretty fun feud. I hope WWE actually takes the time to tell a story with them instead of rushing through everything.
- Dolph Ziggler's babyface turn seems like the worst choice WWE could have made many months ago. I was extremely optimistic about it (since Ziggler can be a dynamite babyface), but nothing great has happened for Dolph since his turn.
- The biggest weakness in WWE is the lack of character and story development in the undercard. With them being poised to lose the World Heavyweight Championship as a story telling device (which has been masking this weakness) they must improve. WWE needs to tell consistent stories on every level. Why should fans invest six to nine hours per week in WWE's stories when they cannot tell consistent stories on every level.
- It was almost a joke to me when I saw a divas tag match going against the Monday Night Football kickoff. I'll go ahead and let you guess which one I actually watched.
- Since A.J. Lee was integrated into the Divas division, has her character changed or evolved at all? She seems to be trying to capture the early-2012 magic of her act on a weekly basis.
- Bad News Barrett is bad news for WWE viewers. Another repackaging of Barrett is not going to help him. He's had some bad luck in his career, but this gimmick is worse than just luck.
- Randy Orton, in his backstage promo, didn't talk about winning a match or a championship. He didn't talk about a rivalry. He talked about being bigger than a corporate entity. I don't care about corporate entities and I doubt most fans do.
- Daniel Bryan seems incapable of anger. He was kidnapped and left for dead in a random arena parking lot and just one week later, he was cheerleading his "Yes" chant. No is is ever changed by their surroundings or circumstances in WWE. Am I suddenly too smart to emotionally invest in stagnation?
- Eric Rowan isn't a great worker, but he did alright against Daniel Bryan in a relatively long match.
- Bray Wyatt's post-match promo was delightfully creepy. I like the idea of him recruiting Bryan, even though I don't see Bryan going to the bearded dark side. Bray vs. Bryan could be a very compelling feud.
- I really enjoyed fast-forwarding through this week's R-Truth segment. I don't make the rules, I just follow them.
- Sin Cara seems to have put on some weight, inches, and ink. Honestly, going back to Hunico under the mask is probably best for WWE. If they want to have any hope of Sin Cara getting over, doing it without the clumsy Mistico in the ring is best.
- How did I know we were in a 2011 time warp? Hunico dressed as Sin Cara defeated Alberto Del Rio.
- John Cena acts a little too silly in his interviews still, but referencing the lineage of the two World Championships is a nice step towards seriousness.
- The Shield continues to delight in six man tag matches on Raw. The formula is still exciting almost a year after the first great six man. These guys have great chemistry with almost everyone on the roster and have really developed into a consistent team.
- Cody Rhodes and Goldust are also tearing the house down in tag matches right now. Goldust isn't a nostalgia act, he is doing the best work of his career. It's amazing to see him, at this stage, working the way he is. Dustin Rhodes may actually be becoming "The Natural" after all these years.
- Big Show is just hanging out in the upper mid card right now. His push in the last few months was bad, but now he is directionless, which is almost worst. It's weird how the sons of the senior citizen he knocked out were super chill with teaming with him.
- C.M. Punk's backstage promo was great, not because he sang show tunes, but because he got super serious right after. Punk is exceptional when he is serious. His knowledge of the hopelessness of his situation makes the match against The Shield actually seem more compelling.
- So, Kofi Kingston and The Miz made up again, only to argue at the end of this match. I know WWE accidentally turned The Miz right before his children's movie was shown on TV, but now placing him in constant conflict with Kofi is just exacerbating the problem.
- Los Matadores are now just hanging out shilling merch. It was silly, but all of these shilling spots are.
- Mark Henry dancing will always make me remember Sexual Chocolate.
- WWE made a video package about someone vomiting on Smackdown. I didn't watch it. I also didn't watch the subsequent tag match, because the threat of vomit was clear. It was stupid and gross. This low-IQ garbage is insulting.
- The final segment of this show proved my point from last week; WWE has not done anything the develop or change Cena or Orton's characters, so this match feels stale even after four years without it.
- The physicality between Cena and Orton worked for me. They never had terrible matches together, even if they were boring. It hyped TLC, even if it gave away a lot of the TLC spots. John Cena standing tall feels like formula. They needed to get a video package shot of Cena holding both titles.
This show wasn't horrible, but I can't generate any enthusiasm about anything in WWE right now. There are some little things I don't dislike, but it's hard to like or love anything. Raw, even when fast forwarding through a great deal of it, is not an exciting show to watch every week. I want to enjoy wrestling. I want it to be good. It just isn't possible today.
I can only hope that soon, the It's a Wonderful Life analogy will come full circle and I'll be able to run around WWE's Bedford Falls like a maniac shouting "Merry Christmas" to every building and person I see.
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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