RAW opened this week with the punishment of the Nexus seven for their several attacks on WWE superstars, legends and officials. The punishment was to ban them all from title opportunities for three months (only affecting Wade Barrett really – I can’t imagine any of the others getting title shoits for the forseeable future), but most significantly for the storyline, lifting the ban on physicality between them. Immediately, out came Cena, with his serious face on. It seemed like the battle lines had been drawn, and each side were allowed to fire at will. What happened was something slightly more complicated, with significant heels from the RAW lockerroom (Sheamus, Edge, Miz, Chris Jericho) not quite siding against the WWE, but taking a neutral point of view. This was a very good move considering that there are only seven in Nexus, and many more WWE Originals (if you will …). This makes the jeopardy WWE is supposed to be under much more credible, and consequently, makes the whole storyline more believeable.
I’m still not sure how I feel about the anonymous GM. It’s very interesting to think about who it is (there are many candidates – the only one we can rule out is Stone Cold Steve Austin), and what effect this will have on the Nexus storyline. The only thing I don’t really like is the way the GM gets the message across: the flashing lights and email. It’s awkward, with Cole (one of the likely candidates) having to get up every time, saying “excuse me … and I quote.” I hope they can find a way to make it more efficient.
Following this was a promising match between Ted DiBiase and John Morrison. Both will be future main eventers, but are still quite distant from that level for now, making everything they do on TV very important. They had a very good match that could have been better if it had been given more time. The dynamic with Maryse, who suits the valet role very well, gives DiBiase an edge that he’s missed since leaving Legacy, getting away from the association with his father. If these two are given a decent feud with a genuine storyline, they could drag each other towards the main event.
Kozlov & Santino vs Regal and Khali gave us some much needed relief. This new tag team doesn’t show off the wrestling accumen of either Kozlov or Santino, but nonetheless, they seem to thrive in the role. Unlike no one else who is considered main event material, Khali has absolutely no credibility. It’s almost proposterous to imagine that he was one World Heavyweight Champion when you see him now. He is good as a comedy monster now though, and I really like Ranjun Singh as a manager though. Without him, he’d be not worth any attention.
Sheamus had a great backstage segment with Arn Anderson. Not only is Sheamus getting more and more confident at centre-stage, but here, another moral was being added with Sheamus playing the complacent younger generation refusing to pay his dues to those that paved the way for the guys that are thriving today. A youthful naivity has been added to what is recognisably a youthful Nexus movement, and pressumably, they’ll all receive a powerful lesson in respect.
The Miz appeared to undergo something of a character tweek against R-Truth. The premise of the Miz since splitting from John Morrison has been that he’s been more aggressive, but now he seems to have turned more serious too, assaulting R-Truth systematically and brutally, and delivering his catchphrase far more soberly than usual. I thought the bombastic Miz was worthy of main event booking. It’ll remain to be seen how well the more ruthless Miz will fit in, but there is a good chance his seriousness will give him that extra bit of credibility to make him a main event star. This left a space open in the RAW MITB match with Truth injured. There are no obvious candidates to replace him, which makes me think Truth may be legitimately injured or something. Perhaps someone like Justin Gabriel from the Nexus could take his place (either him or a more credible champion like Barrett or Otunga).
The tag match between Edge & Jericho and Orton & Bourne presented some great build-up for Money in the Bank. In it’s own right, it was a very good tag match, with lots of good isolation storytelling and also good ‘every man for himself’ storytelling. Everyone of them shined and it helped Bourne’s push no end being booked with these three. The match also subtly referenced Jericho and Edge’s recent past with the hesitating tags – truly a veteran move. Next to Orton, I still got the feeling that perhaps Bourne didn’t belong there. He’s just a little … unintimidating. However, he is getting more and more credible with every good performance he puts on. This was a long match, and one in which everyone shone. Probably the match of the night.
There then came the main event, the moment of truce, or so it was supposed to be. It was clear since it was announced at the top of the show that no truce would take place, and indeed, no peace was forthcoming. Nothing particularly new come forth during this segment other than the storyline gaining in intensity. I suppose we needed a moment where the lockerroom would come out on top, which was forthcoming at Darren Young’s expense. John Cena hammed it up playing an angry Bruce Banner and taking Young apart long after everyone else had left the scene. He certainly had a different intensity, which is welcome, but I think what he and everyone else is really crying out for is a heel turn, with him defecting to the Nexus side, or at least among the indifferent heels. Indeed, Edge and Jericho had been almost auditioning for the role of Nexus leader (which I don’t actually think they need), so it looks like there is an opening there. Eventhough I am still very interested by the Nexus storyline, I think there needs to be a noticeable twist or progression, either the GM being unveiled, or something like a defection. Something will surely happen at Money in the Bank!