Before I start, for those of you not in the know, you can follow me on twitter at @RTVWOW where you will get opinions and interaction about what is going on in wrestling as it happens along with my insight during RAW and PPV’s which I live-tweet most weeks (or months in the case of PPV’s). http://twitter.com/#!/RTVWOW
The opening to this RAW was actually very surreal. Whenever WWE tapes in Britain, there is a different atmosphere anyway, but having mid-carders open the show only added to the strangeness. It was R-Truth, and the pre-match segment was awful. Truth is very personable, but he is not charismatic. At this point, he was pinnacle of the ‘face chase’: he was a mid-carder who had made it to a main event spot, but while he was struggling to get out a promo, the crowd were booing him out of the building. Luckily, it was tonight that Truth would be abandoning his face persona. Morrison, tho only guy in WWE worse on the mic, came out and shamed Truth in to a rematch for the #1 contenders shot having shown him to be struggling to keep up with the pace of the main event, taking water before Cena hit the ring (something people have been suggesting could have been a legitimate reason for his losing the spot). Morrison beat him in a decent match and celebrated like he’d done nothing to Truth. In reaction to this, the genuinely hard-done-by Truth turned on his former friend in a brutal and emotionally fascinating beat-down which was hugely better than the opening segment. Truth looked more aggressive than usual, but was really shocked and torn by what his former friend had done to him, going between cradling Morrison, and sorrowfully explaining why he was doing what he was doing before continuing to beat him down. It looks like Truth is in receipt in a push, then, and it’ll be interesting to see where it takes him. I’m still not convinced that he deserves a main event spot, but I am convinced that he will work better as a heel. I remember on Smackdown vs RAW, Truth depicted a heel character alligned with Mike Knox which was called ‘Truth and Consequences’, and which actually worked really well. He and Morrison will no doubt enter a feud, with him possibly costing Morrison the match at Extreme Rules. If there’s a good storyline, it could make him a star.
Next up was Dolph Ziggler vs Evan Bourne. Decent match, but what I really want to talk about, perhaps surprisingly, is Ziggler’s new haircut. Basically, it was a terrible idea! His hair really spoke to his character and made him unique looking. His new hair is tidy and all, but it makes him so less distinctive that it makes the whole show he puts on less interesting. Horrible decision.
Miz and Riley came out at the top of the hour with the somewhat legitimate gripe that the opening segment threw Miz’s planning for his Extreme Rules title defense and basically stole a Jericho promo, protesting against the ‘conspiracy’ he was a victim of. This was all fine, if a little long-winded, when Sin Cara came out, tweaking his trampoline entrance a little to make it less open to botching. This eventually turned in to a tag match between Cara/Cena and Miz/Riley which was pretty cool. Cara was all over the ring, and didn’t seem that inhibited in his move-set, pulling all sorts of lucha-style moves. This was broken up with some appropriate dominance from the WWE Champion and his associate. Another decent enough match, and a better showcase of Cara’s skills. The only problem was the finish. Cara went for a springboard moonsault, and his athleticism and agility was impressive, but he almost completely missed the moonsault (what I like to call a ‘Morrison connection’). That undermined all of what he was doing to a degree, though not enough to hurt him too badly you would hope. I suppose the storyline progression, if you can call it that, was that Miz, seeing that a loss was on the cards, abandoned Riley to let Cena get the win. This was good in a way because it showed an arrogance in Miz which was perfect for his character: the message he was sending that, as WWE Champion, he doesn’t need to be involved in matches like this, and whether he wins or loses, he’s still at the pinnacle of the company. There’s a part warranted/part unwarranted confidence there which is great on Miz. Saying that, it didn’t do much to build actual heat between Cena and Miz for Extreme Rules, which is a bad thing.
I thought Cole getting ‘knighted’ was a great idea. And though it probably could have been done in half the time, I liked it. What a way to draw heat in Britain. Not that everyone (or even most people) like the Royals, but the idea of having a ‘yank’ make a mockery of the institution is something that would draw heat from many nonetheless. Having J.R. kiss Cole’s disgusting foot was a nice spot, especially given Lawler has always embraced that sort of thing as part of his ‘King’ gimmick (most obviously in his ‘kiss my foot’ match with Bret Hart. Fun as well as heat drawing, but still way too long. I really hope the blow-off comes at Extreme Rules because, as good a heel as Cole is, he’s taking too much time from the talented, young guys on the roster.
The main event was a great match between Randy Orton and CM Punk. It being a ‘WrestleMania rematch’ I thought this might be a blow-off, but as you will see, that wasn’t the case. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was a five star classic, but it was very good. These two obviously provide great psychology, and this was again on show this week. There was some gradual, believable back and forth, and there was quite a long period when Punk was in-charge. This was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the high point of the match psychologically. He was enjoying himself while inflicting punishment, but not in a cookie-cutter psychopath fashion, his enjoyment was almost child-like. Following a flying clothesline from the apron to the floor, for instance, he grinned and jokingly asked the referee if he could get a pin out there. Fighting back, the fight got more intense as Orton actually bit Punk’s finger trying to escape a triangle choke. This led to a period of Orton resurgence leading ultimately to his hangman DDT attempt. With the match quickening in pace, however, Punk tried a nice counter of this in to a GTS. This however, was countered into a roll-up, and, surprisingly, a roll-up from Orton for the win. A surprising finish, but a welcome change from the RKO out of nowhere model, and one that made clear that the feud wasn’t over, given the lack of a completely dominant victory from the face. As Orton celebrated and Punk whined, the Nexus music hit and we were treated to the familiar Nexus beat-down. I noticed throughout how Mason Ryan was taking a leading roll in all this, and when Orton ended up in perfect punt position, he set up to Punt the Viper. This, Punk interrupted, saying it was a good idea, but he wanted to do it, something Ryan for a long time actually argued about before eventually submitting. All this distraction, however, allowed Orton to recover, and when Punk went for the punt, Orton recovered and hit an RKO before retreating to safety, leaving Punk and Nexus distraught in the ring. It seems, then, that there are cracks in Nexus. I really hope they haven’t just brought them back to split them up. I was of the opinion that if they were to come back, it would have to be as shocking as their greatest shocking moments rather than just more of the same. Unfortunately, more of the same is what we got. I want new members and some sick angles, not a weak shell of the formerly must-see faction. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Now that Orton and Punk have had two great matches (especially their one at WrestleMania), I am looking forward to their last man standing match at Extreme Rules. Big promise.
A decent but unspectacular show. The Truth angle was fresh and interesting, most of the matches were at least decent and the main event was very good, but nothing special happened and there was certainly not enough attention paid to building for Extreme Rules. They will have to try to address that amongst the chaos of next week’s draft. One of my favourite nights of the year! I might even try to post about it in the coming week.