Wrestling fans today’s word of the day is ambivalence.
This word, for those unfamiliar with it, means – the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.
That’s exactly how I feel about the WWE right now. And in this RAW Recap I’ll be giving you my opinions on what I love and hate about this company through the lens of last night’s show.
Love: When it comes to the history of professional wrestling and acknowledging the accomplishments of those from days gone by is something the WWE need to be commended for. Last night, Angelo Savoldi, a mainstay in the original WWWF and the former ICW/IWCCW promoter was given a memorial segment at the opening of the show. 99% of the audience had no clue who this man was, but it’s still really awesome of the WWE to remember someone like this.
Hate: It’s a small point but in the WWE “Then, Now, Forever” open you see all the greats of the WWE…Bruno, Hulk, Bret, HBK, The Rock, Austin, Taker and David Otugna. WHAT?!?! Seriously, what genius thinks that David Otugna, who can’t wrestle to save his life, who’s claim to fame is being Jennifer Hudson’s fiancee, should be in this opening? For every smart thing the WWE does, they do something dumb as hell like this.
Love: Daniel Bryan as the Main Event. The American Dragon, The Dazzler, The Goat…whatever you want to call him, right now his true name is Mr. Main Event. For all of those “worried” about his push or status in the WWE, let’s look at one strong fact — he’s main evented almost every RAW for the past three or so months. If you look at former “hot up and comers” who had programs with Triple H like Eugene, Shelton Benjamin and even guys who’ve become legends like Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam, their runs in the main event were about as long as D-Bry’s last two title reigns. Benjamin and Eugene in particular were never the same again after Triple H destroyed them. Seriously, Shelton isn’t even the company anymore and Eugene is now a trainer. With Daniel Bryan, at least, he’s got an insane amount of fan support. And this is once in a lifetime kind of support.
Hate: Daniel Bryan’s Chase for the Title. Despite what I just said, my fear in all of this is that the WWE will keep pulling the ol’ Dusty Finish with Daniel Bryan and kill off of his momentum. They’ve already screwed him out of the belt twice, how many more times can you do this before the audience just loses interest? And if they lose interest we can relegate D-Bry to the perennial and unforgiving world of the “good hand” a la Kofi Kingston, Shelton Benjamin, Tito Santana, Christian, etc. The guy who has good matches but will never get to the ultimate level.
Love: Giving New Guys a Spot. John Cena’s injury marked the final nail in the coffin for the old guard of the WWE. Not that he’s an old guy by any means, but he’s one of those guys that has stayed atop the company for so long, it just got stale. So right now you’ve got no Cena, Rock, Triple-H as a performer, Undertaker, Chris Jericho or Brock Lesnar and The Big Show has been relegated to basically a non-wrestling role. So now, after years of talking about making new stars, and after years of wasting new talent (e.g. COLT CABANA), the WWE is putting their money where their mouth is. They’ve been able to successful get The Shield and The Wyatts over and have, recently, made younger jobber status guys like Curtis Axel, The Usos, The PTP and Fandango mean something. Now they’re even reminding us that Zach Ryder and Justin Gabriel mean something. There’s plenty of guys on the roster who still need some love (Cesaro, Barrett, Kidd), who are going to return (Evan Bourne) and are on the cusp in NXT (Sami Zayn, Corey Graves, Adrian Neville). The WWE has a really bright future and if they maintain this dedication to youth, it could pay off.
Hate: Giving New Guys a Spot By Having Them Get Their Ass Kicked on the Regular. Unfortunately, it seems the WWE feels the the way to give guys more airtime is to have them get the living shit kicked out of them every week. Sure, we’ve brought Mr. Woo Woo Woo and The South African High Flyer into the mix but what happens to them? They get squashed. The same goes for Dolph, The Miz and Kofi. One has to hope these guys are allowed to get their comeuppance or else this will be the n.W.o. circa ’99 all over again.
Love: Wrestling spelt W-R-E-S-T-L-I-N-G. The influx of good wrestlers equals good, quality wrestling matches on RAW. On September 24th’s edition we had a terrific Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston match and a really strong Randy Orton vs. RVD match. The Wyatts vs. The Primetime Players was solid and even the “gaga” matches like Santino vs. Fandango and the Divas match were decent. RAW, over the past decade, has had a lot of craptastic matches but recently (outside of the Divas, of course) the quality of matches has risen exponentially.
Hate: Stephanie McMahon is an untouchable heel. Pro Wrestling Insider’s Dave Scherer made this point and I’d like to reflect on it. The Billon Dollar Princess has returned to TV and reminds me of why I would often switch channels when she came on. All she does is talk…and talk…and talk…and talk. With really no end. However, what’s worst about this incarnation of Stephie Mac is that she is an untouchable heel. She comes out and emasculates every performer she confronts. I mean she verbally castrates them. Which is great…if the babyface can get his revenge. But in today’s PG-era of WWE, will a male wrestler strike her? Will she be put through a table? My answer is no. In the Attitude Era she would’ve been put through thumb tacks, but now, even someone enjoys Death Match wrestling would not be comfortable with seeing a grown woman, who is not a wrestler, and the mother of two kids, get beat up. It’s just not cool. So, we have to hope that maybe someone like AJ Lee can put some hurt on Stephie Mac. Otherwise, she’s completely untouchable and no one can do anything to stop her…which is about as useful as a third nipple.
Love: CM Punk and Paul Heyman. This feud could go on for 10 years and I’d be perfectly fine with it, just rotate the guys Heyman sends after Punk and every once in a while give Punk an ally for a tag team match (Colt Cabana) and you’ll be printing money.
Hate: The hard sell of the WWE App. We get it. Just…stop…please.
Love: The Rhodes Angle. Yes! Yes! Yes! Give a talented Cody Rhodes something to do and let Goldust, who can still go, his 50th run in the company. This angle, if done right, will be red hot.