Here's my take on the first "Raw" I've watched in its (near) entirety in a very long time ...
The main reason why I was interested in this episode was because of the King of the Ring tournament. I must admit, I'm a mark for the gimmick.
The tournament provided us with some solid in-ring action, and having Sheamus win the tournament made sense too. A "King of the Ring" vs. "King of Kings" match, upon Triple H's return, seems inevitable.
- Speaking of solid in-ring action, I enjoyed the main event of Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. The Miz for the WWE Championship in a TLC Match. They did a great job building towards the match too - from Lawler's promo interrupting The Miz's title celebration, to the conversation between Arn Anderson and Lawler backstage, to the video package on Lawler's career, to the commentators emphasizing that King had never received a shot at the gold before, etc.
The main event told a great story, reminiscent of the Edge-Flair TLC match from "Raw" in 2006 - the old-timer with one more shot at the title. Although we knew Lawler was not going to win only one week removed from Miz winning the title, I still wanted to believe Lawler had a chance, and I let myself get caught up in the story.
Moreover, CM Punk and Michael Cole actually did a good job enhancing the story. Punk said that all it would take was one mistake by Miz for Lawler to become champion. When Miz made that one mistake (not putting Lawler away when he had the chance), and was laid out through a table on the outside of the ring, it seemed as if -- if only for a moment -- that Lawler had a chance.
(Of course, having an over-the-hill announcer go toe-to-toe with the new World Champion isn't exactly the best way to build up The Miz. But it's fine with me because I don't see Miz as a viable long-term option as champ anyways.)
- Overall, however, as Dan-e-o pointed out, it was not a good night for Punk. I, too, caught the Morrison line: "Well John Morrison has...look at him, he has bedazzled trunks...uh tights. Actually, you know what? I don't think John Morrison would make a good king at all."
I think Punk realized that he was complimenting a babyface when he shouldn't have been, and then abruptly tried to change his tune without explanation. Yes, he sounded very foolish in doing so.
Punk seems to be in a weird spot as colour commentator. For one, I can't tell if he's supposed to be heel or face, and I'm not sure if he knows either. It seems as if he just plays the opposite of what Cole is playing.
And for two, he's technically still an active wrestler, so unlike another commentator (whose job it is to put over the wrestlers in the ring), Punk spends a lot of time putting himself over as well.
It all makes for a weird mix.
I am, however, willing to give him a chance. He does seem to have potential - he's a funny guy and has made some good observations. Let's not forget that this was only his second week commentating on live TV.
- I think I'd be more disappointed in John Cena's appearance on the show if stipulations actually meant anything anymore. In particular, retirement/you're fired stips never hold up. So taking that into consideration, and that Cena worked a house show over the weekend, I think it's safe to say that many fans in Philadelphia on Monday night and watching at home expected a Cena sighting.
It should be said, though, that Cena looks like a bit of a douche after what he said in his promo last week. It was a great promo and a great performance by Cena. He got emotional talking about getting to see his mother and family more often ... but I guess he's changed his mind now. Not exactly a great way to make your top babyface look honest and admirable.
- Was is just me, or did Alberto Del Rio not look a step slow tonight, particularly in his match against Daniel Bryan? He seemed sluggish and wasn't hitting the ropes hard. I liked the match, but I expected a little more out of two of main favourite wrestlers and characters in the WWE.
- Pop of the night goes to Jerry Lawler for laying out Michael Cole after Cole interfered in the main event.
- I'm digging Del Rio's entrance, and I don't care that it's a JBL rip-off. His personal ring announcer is hilarious.
- Worst ring announcer of the year award goes to Miss USA.
- I think the double-countout-so-that-one-half-of-the-bracket-has-an-automatic-bye-to-the-next-round has become mandatory in all pro wrestling tournaments.