This RAW was always going to be a struggle, and there were a few weak points, for sure, but I can’t help but think some of the certain detractors are being too scathing. As already mentioned on this blog, the RAW crew (barring HHH who didn’t go to Europe) were trapped in Ireland due to Iceland’s volcanic episode.
This meant that Smackdown talent had to cover much of the job, and probably that ‘MacGruber’ would have to take a bigger role in the show. I’ll start by talking about the MacGruber segments. Personally, I found the backstage segments and promos funny, though I wasn’t too keen on the Cold War element being brought in. As for the R-Truth accident, it was also funny, but a little too goofy I feel. What was genuinely bad was the ‘match’ he had with Kozlov. That was really where the guest host took up too much of the show, and Khali turning up in a wig added to the ridiculousness (though he obviously went out of his way to be there (seen as he’s meant to be on a break), which was admirable). I think if the match had been cut and replaced with a match including someone like Dolph Ziggler, it would have been a pretty good guest-hosting.
The whole concept is getting more and more controversial among fans it seems, and I can understand why. My view has been that, as long as the hosts know about and are enthusiastic about wrestling, and stay away from the ring (unless they’re allumni), then it works well. This isn’t always the case, and there has been some horrible hosts (e.g., off the top of my head, Kyle Busch and Joey Lagano), and I think that it shouldn’t be a permanant concept. However, my view is that, while it lasts, it’s a good thing. It gets more exposure and generates excitement for the spectacle that we love so much, not to mention the fact that it fits RAW quite well as flagship pop-culture show in wrestling and on cable. Even before this, RAW enjoyed the prsecence of celebrities like Mike Tyson and Johnny Knoxville and it was a good thing. The WWE just have to be more selective on who they approach.
In my post preceding this one, I told of my excitement about seeing Drew McIntyre on RAW. I’m not going to claim this was a great match, but then again, I respect that they had little to work on at short notice. Despite the slightly anticlimactic ending, this match continued to tell the physical story of Matt and his head injuries etc. In his overview of RAW (http://www.ewrestlingnews.com/stories/bWWE_RAW_Results_419_-_SmackDown_Invades_RAWb.shtml), Ryan Clark seemed non-plussed by this, but it was partly because he admitted to not watching Drew’s matches on Smackdown. While the ramifications of the end certainly weren’t clear, as a fan of Drew McIntyre and viewer of this feud, I still understood why Matt went down to the top-rope leg-sweep. RAW was obviously be a victim of this. Smackdown gets fewer viewers, so not everyone watching RAW will understand the dynamics of the Smackdown stories. That isn’t to completely defend the match. I would have liked it, as the opening bout, to have been double the time at least.
Swagger has been getting really pushed against the top guys (Orton, Edge, Jericho, Cena to an extent, and now, The Deadman). This is a great thing for both Swagger, the main event scene and the fans. It was great to hear the gong and see Taker make an effort to be on RAW. He was clearly hurting through the match but managed to put on a great show for around fifteen minutes. That’s how you get respect. The result of this match has been controversial for the same reasons his match with Orton was, i.e. the new champ didn’t go over. I understood when he lost to Orton. Orton’s thing at the minute is that he is on a hot streak, physically unstoppable in the ring (though not in the John Cena sense), and so him losing would hurt him. This wasn’t the case with Taker who is off TV and between feuds. It would no doubt have been shocking for Swagger to win, but that’s no reason not to do it. I would have liked to have seen Taker going for a finishing move which Swagger reverses with a thumb to the eye (or something other form of cheating) to gain the upper hand and hit his finishing move (if he could) for the win. That would have been the best all round, and it was a shame to cast that shadow over what was otherwise a great match.
The main event didn’t do much in the way of hyping Extreme Rules, which was a shame, but it was no doubt star-studded, with a lot of combinations I would like to see in the future (Edge feuding with HHH would be great to see, for instance). The match was pretty good, though there the short-notice in putting it together I think held it back from being any better than ok. I think it would have been nice to have seen the Swagger-Taker match as the main event instead. It certainly had more of a big fight feel.
Its unfair to rate the show in a sense, as it wasn’t a regular RAW, but I think, with a few hiccups, it held its own. The Smackdown guys hopefully got some good exposure (although there was only so much they could do seen as they could only go so far so as to not ruin the smackdown plans). I’d just like to reiterate, however much I liked the show, what can’t be denied is that the people who performed are doing a great job to keep up our diet of wrestling! Kudos.