This is a super-sized week for WWE, with "Raw" and "SmackDown" Superstars appearing live on both shows. So what better way for Tha O Show to cover it than with a 2-for-1 Super Review of the live editions of "Raw" and "SmackDown." Let's start with "Raw," which ended with the abrupt announcement of a new main event for Night of Champions.
I give WWE credit for trying to draw out the 'Who sent the text?' story that involves Triple H, Kevin Nash, CM Punk, John Laurinaitis and Stephanie McMahon-Levesque. By drawing it out, they're trying to build interest, and keep the fans guessing. The story is getting just a little confusing, though:
- To start "Raw," Triple H announced that Punk would face Nash at Night of Champions. But at the end of the show, Triple H told Punk that the Board of Directors have instead booked Triple H vs. Punk.
So who actually has the power in WWE? Any time an angle starts to resemble "The Network" angle in TNA, that's not a good thing.
- Unbeknownst to Triple H, Nash was signed to a WWE contract by Head of Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis.
- Nash admitted he lied about getting in a car wreck -- or John Laurinaitis lied for him -- but didn't lie about getting the text.
- Nash told Triple H that he needs to stop hiding from behind Stephanie, yet needed to be restrained by Triple H when Punk said essentially the same thing about Triple H.
Aside from all of that, perhaps my main concern with the storyline is with what this story is and isn't doing for CM Punk. Punk's character is getting away from what should be his main focus -- that either Nash or Triple H, or both, cost him the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. I don't recall him ever mentioning this in any of his promos. Instead, he's spending most of his time making some snide remark about how Nash walks, or how Triple H wears Stephanie's panties.
Not to mention, I'm not sure this story is doing a good job of getting Punk more over than he was when he was working with Cena. Yes, he's involved in a major storyline, but he's also become intertwined in the same sort of thing that he was railing against in his shoot promo earlier in the summer. Punk has become part of the system he hates, and it hurts his character's credibility.
Moreover, at least to me, Punk's character is becoming less likeable by the week. Punk's 'pipe bomb' line at the end of the first segment was particularly annoying, and his fake-puking routine was over-the-top too.
Here's hoping that the babyface and heel roles in this program will become more clearly defined after Triple H and Punk wrestle at Night of Champions.
Let's also hope that Punk comes out a bigger star than he was before.
Other thoughts on tha show:
- Kevin Nash cut his best promo since returning to WWE for this CM Punk angle, in what was supposed to set up Nash vs. Punk at Night of Champions.
However, to end the first segment, the heat was quickly shifted back to Triple H-CM Punk, with Punk telling Triple H he wears Stephanie's 'panties'. It seemed counter-intuitive at the time, but makes sense now that we know the actual match is Triple H vs. Punk.
- CM Punk burying Nash for having old knees, and for forcing the fans to change the channel when he's on the show goes against all the rules of wrestling promos. Both guys have buried the other to the point that if they ever do wrestle, it'll mean nothing.
What does a win do for Punk? He's beaten an old man with bad knees.
What does a win do for Nash? He's beaten an 'indy-riffic' guy who needs to hit the gym.
- I O'd when I heard Nash come out to the old nWo music. It was weird, though, hearing that music and not seeing Hollywood Hulk Hogan air-guitaring his way to the ring.
- Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler had a great match. Although he lost clean to the RKO, Ziggler was very competitive, and had some near falls. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Ziggler is quickly becoming one of my favourite acts -- he's a bumping, selling machine.
And perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but that Ziggler was allowed to use the superkick (better known to Shawn Michaels' fans as the Sweet Chin Music) against Orton, is maybe a sign that they are getting behind his character.
- Jim Ross adds SO much to "Raw." During the Ziggler-Orton match, he put over the history of managers having multiple clients, as well as Ziggler's ability, and the U.S. Championship. It's very refreshing, especially since we're so used to hearing Michael Cole burying the talent every week.
- Speaking of commentary, perhaps Jerry Lawler's comments about Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga are leading to a program between the three after all. If not, having the King tear apart the former Tag Team Champions every week makes no sense at all.
- The Alex Riley video was a nice way to put him over, but I still think he's better suited to be a heel at this point in his career.
- Do we need to see (or more accurately, not see) another movie with Triple H playing a convict just released from prison? WWE Films writers are less creative than WWE Creative.
- Why did Mark Henry and Christian come out to interrupt John Cena's promo? So they could tell him that they were going to be the next World Heavyweight Champion, which has absolutely nothing to do with Cena?
It was such as obvious and non-creative way to put Henry, Christian, Cena and Sheamus together for the main event tag team match.
- A cheap win for Sin Cara (who appears to now be played permanently by WWE Developmental wrestler Hunico, not Mistico) over Jack Swagger was hardly a good way to build up Cara for his World Heavyweight Championship match against Alberto Del Rio on "SmackDown."
(Of course, as we found out Tuesday night, that match didn't happen anyways.)
- Triple H announced that "for the foreseeable future," the Superstars of "SmackDown" will also appear on "Raw" for what will be called the "Raw SuperShow." This appears to be the end of the brand split -- and perhaps it's also a hint that "SmackDown" could be permanently moving to Tuesday nights live on SyFy.
I'd love to see the permanent move to Tuesday. I know DVR is changing the way people watch TV, but a lot of people still don't own them (myself included), and from talking to some people who do, watching "SmackDown" during a busy weekend is not always doable.
Having the show live every Tuesday will increase its importance in the eyes of fans, and make it more of a must-see TV show.
So ... how did they do on the first-ever live "SmackDown"?
Randy Orton vs. Christian for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Steel Cage Match, which peaked with Orton winning after giving Christian an RKO off the top rope, was the highlight of a decent show on Tuesday night.
The commercial breaks made it harder to get into than their previous PPV outings, but it was still a really good match.
And even though these two have had SEVERAL matches against one another since April, the crowd was still into all of the false finishes. It's a credit to both performers that they've been able to work together for so long, while maintaining fan interest.
In my opinion, Christian is the best overall performer in WWE. He can do it all. I think he's the best worker in WWE, and only CM Punk is on par with him when it comes to cutting promos.
I don't think Orton is going to have as much fun working with Mark Henry.
Other thoughts on tha show:
- The Triple H-CM Punk contract signing was one of the stronger parts of the show as well. It was more focussed than previous promos between the two. The main issue was that Punk doesn't think Triple H is better for WWE than Vince McMahon, and that Triple H thinks Punk is more selfish than he is letting on. And they both want to kick the other's ass.
I could have gone without the "I'm going to kick your skinny fat ass" line (for reasons I've stated before), but it was still an entertaining and intense segment.
- I'm confused as to who is responsible for making the Punk vs. Triple H match. On "Raw," I thought Triple H said that the Board of Directors booked the match, but during the contract signing, both Punk and Triple H said that Hunter made the match.
- Yes, Booker T said that "with limited skills," Cena has dominated the WWE. WHAT THE FUCK, Booker! Aside from J.R.'s return to the booth, between Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Booker T, the announcing in WWE is worse than it's ever been.
- It was sort of nice that they called back to the Cena-Wade Barrett feud from a year ago. We're just supposed to forget that it was a one-sided feud, and that Barrett has been wallowing around in the mid-card ever since.
- If Mark Henry is the No. 1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, then shouldn't he be facing Orton in the Steel Cage?
- Did I miss something? Wasn't Sin Cara supposed to face Alberto Del Rio? Did they even try to explain what happened?
- After pinning Daniel Bryan, Sin Cara shook Bryan's hand and appeared to be leaving the ring. Instead, he turned around and kicked Bryan in the face.
I can't see the Sin Cara character being heel long-term, so I expect the original Sin Cara (Mistico) to return to feud with Hunico, who is currently playing the character.
- Daniel Bryan has been losing way too often since winning the Money in the Bank briefcase.
- Natalya and Beth Phoenix have made Divas matches watchable. Both women are great workers, and deserve to have decent opponents to work with.
- Sheamus appears to be catching on as a babyface, something I wouldn't have believed a month ago.
- I feel sorry for Great Khali. He looks like he's in constant pain and discomfort. And I also feel bad for anyone who has to work with him.