Last week’s RAW was a complex and loaded episode. It’s raison d’etre was to get over, again, that WWE is entering a new era, and did so by showing us the coup de grace of Mr. McMahon for Triple H. It also had to address, in some sort of clear way, the future of the now more prestigious WWE Championship, which they did with the tournament to crown a new paper champion. Finally, they had to make sure CM Punk remained, in some way, in the minds of the audience. WWE achieved these objectives with varied success. To me, Triple H and McMahon were very successful, creating an earnest moment which followed the ‘worked shoot’ philosophy of Punk. Announcing the tournament made complete sense – what else would WWE do to try and paper over the loss of the title? One problem, however, was that the tournament filled the show with wrestling and didn’t allow enough time to contemplate just what had happened the night before. I think this would have worked better if they had started the tournament, advertising the finals for Summerslam, while using the saved time for backstage encounters with the wrestlers discussing/worrying about the situation etc in a hushed/worried way; have the announcers and even the tournament competitors question whether the winner would be a legitimate champion. The bit that I think was the key reason for a lot of criticism for last week’s RAW was a subtle but problematic decision on WWE’s part not to mention Punk’s name. This, again, made sense, but it meant that Punk seemed like an afterthought and was less of a presence on TV. Punk wasn’t there two weeks before, but it was hugely successful, and it was simply because he was discussed extensively and seemed like an important figure – almost mythological.
So that’s the first change WWE needs to make; I know McMahon said Punk’s name would never be mentioned again, but HHH is in charge now, so they really need to take advantage of that to make the Punk situation the forefront of the show. I’m going to try keep out of intricate fantasy booking, but I would have HHH open the show and mark his territory, address his confrontation with CM Punk at Comic Con and show the footage before stating that he wont be able to get away with what he’s done. He calls out World Heavyweight Champion Christian and says that, until further notice, he will appear on both shows. He then says the show will end with him addressing John Cena’s status before the new WWE Championship. This would take a while, but after that, get on with the show. Have the wrestlers talking backstage mentioning Punk’s name and giving him that aura I was talking about, maybe even have some visibly supporting Punk, with HHH always in the background, disapproving
(Jeez, that staying away from fantasy booking isn’t really working out … I CAN’T HELP IT!)
We get to main event time and it’s HHH calling out Cena. He says he values Cena, and how good he is for business too much to allow him to be fired, for real this time, and that to apologise, he’s granting him his re-match by giving him a bye to the WWE Championship finals, which happen next! This draws McMahon as a bad guy, but one with some principles at least before business, while HHH, in full corporate mode becomes instantly dislikeable, kissing Cena’s ass and raising the ire of the fans. Cena would have to be reluctant to do this, but willing simply because he’s doing his job and wants the title, setting up a more complex face character for him, with a more complex relationship with ‘management’. Miz out first and Rey (who Punk also confronted) last. Soon in to the match, we need to feel the presence of Punk again. Punk himself can’t appear, at least in a conventional way, but the thought of him has to interrupt the match, causing it to be delayed until Summerslam. At that point a furious HHH enters the ring, losing the professional cool he had before, finally saying that he saved Cena’s job, and he can take it away, so if he loves the WWE, and if the Championship means anything to him, he’ll go and get after Punk and bring back the title. This means Cena can enter in to this viral/guerilla story as a face, just with a different valid point.
My slightly awkward fantasy aside, there are things they need to do/address, and as long as they achieve most of them , it will work really well:
Make CM Punk the central presence from the start.
Don’t dwell on on Vince apart from maybe at the very start.
Establish HHH as a heel authority.
Address the RAW GM, reveal and either keep as an auxiliary authority figure or fire – this is about HHH marking territory
Delay WWE Championship match.
Perhaps it’s wrong to speculate, and it’s almost certainly wrong to dictate to WWE who have thus far provided great TV with this angle, so I wont talk too much more. It is important that, as fans, we give this a chance to develop organically and not expect unrealistic instant results. As long as these themes are addressed, I have faith in a great RAW.