The RAW Deal – Episode 11.28.11
Added by DieHard Derek on November 29, 2011.
Every week, resident pro wrestling columnist “DieHard Derek” will analyze WWE’s Monday Night RAW programming from a creative standpoint and discuss its overall effectiveness as a pseudo-sport product. No punches will be held as DieHard offers his 20 years industry experience to give wrestling fans, The RAW Deal!
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The RAW Deal for the 11/28/11 Episode.
Last night’s effort was a HUGE improvement and an excellent display of exactly what I have been talking about for weeks on end. Long story short, last night proved that less is in fact more and that good storytelling is far more effective in the progress of the characters and the interest in the product than comedy skits and clustered matches. This episode may not have been a star-studded bonanza filled with five star matches, but it served its purpose, defined its focus and clearly took aim on its target. Simplicity and balanced pacing was the real star if last night’s show. As a fan and as an “insider”, I was able to appreciate the product more. I was able to engage with the characters and choose a side in their story. I was vested in was being built and was was to come. Last night, more than anything…it was about wrestling, NOT entertainment!
Now on to the break down!
Do wrestling fans today even understand the relevance of Rowdy Roddy Piper? Is he just viewed as that old timer who was in the main event at the first Wrestlemania? What most young viewers don’t get is that Piper was the first guy to do shoot promos in wrestling before shoot promos were cool and when kayfabe was still fully intact. Piper was taboo to the business in his heyday. In fact, he was the CM Punk of his time. perhaps Punk would have been a better guest on the pit, but then again, Punk doesn’t need the rub from the Hot Rod. I’m not saying that John Cena needed a rub, but it worked better to discuss the fans love/hate relationship rather than the origins of shoot promos.
Old school fans love Roddy Piper, but I don’t think the WWE does a good enough job remembering the all time greats and legends. How often do commentators – and even wrestlers in their promos – refer to the all time greats like Harley Race, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff, – to name a few? How often do they talk about some of the greatest matches and rivalries in the history of the business? Ironically, when they do, they only go as far back as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Every now and then they’ll mention Hogan vs. Andre or Steamboat vs. Savage, but the linear history is basically obsolete. If you watch any other sport, they always discuss the legends of the game and the records they held – some of which still stand today. Baseball, Football, Basketball, boxing… you name it. Whether it’s the world of pro wrestling or the world in general, how do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been? History is the greatest educator of progress. And the WWE needs to do better than saving their nostalgic moments for the annual Hall of Fame.
Overall, I think last night’s special edition of Piper’s Pit with John Cena was more of a push for the WWE’s anti-bullying campaign and a way to sell more of Cena’s “Rise Above Hate” t-shirts. As much as I like Piper, you can tell he was heavily muzzled by a pre-written script which made him seem more like the 480 year old and wise master Yoda than The Rowdy One.
So how is the WWE Universe feeling about the departure of John Morrison from the WWE? Whatever the backstage reasons are for his leave, I think Morrison was classy enough to help make The Miz look like a monster heel on his way out. Originally, they planned on squashing Morrison to Brodus Clay – but I really respect the change in direction to let him have one last match and show his “guts” before fading off. Personally, I think it’s a HUGE mistake by the WWE to let this talent slip away to the competition. Then again, where do you point the finger of blame if Morrison can’t control his woman (Melina) and her heat seeking Twitter comments?
And as classy as it was for Morrison to strongly put over The Miz, you had to chuckle at how the WWE took the “low road” by having John Laurinaitis and basically “future endeavor” Morrison while he was being stretchered out. If that doesn’t prove how much of a douchebag Vince Mcmahon is, I don’t know what will. Following his final WWE appearance, Morrison tweeted, “Humble pie tastes like crap!”
It was nice move by the WWE to put the spotlight on Alicia Fox, who scored the pinfall victory for her team. With Kelly Kelly “trending world wide” and on the cover of Maxim Magazine, and the Bella Twins permanently embedded in the fantasies of every male wrestling fan with a raging erection, the trio gave a nice rub to one of the under-card girls who usually doesn’t hold a prominent spot on the roster. Hopefully that will add more value to the Alicia Fox stock. Now if the Kelly Kelly/Bellas trio want to give another rub and tug, I got something for them!
Here’s a MAJOR “catch-22″ for the WWE! You’ve got to be kidding me when throughout the ENTIRE show, Lawler and Cole and building up a televised WWE title defense as a rare occasion! Just a few months ago, the WWE had been addicted to defending the strap on television since the mid-90′s. Not only was the title defended weekly, but it changed hands countless times. In fact, so many that it devalued the title, the championship matches and any legitimate reason to order a pay per view. Now, out of the clear blue sky, it becomes a rarity to have a televised title defense? I don’t recall the WWE using the flashy light stick memory eraser thing from Men In Black. Did they really expect us to forget what’s been going on for the last 15 years?
Now on to the “catch-22″… having a televised championship match for the WWE title SHOULD BE a rare occasion and it also SHOULD BE built up and treated as such. This was a PHENOMENAL move by the WWE to bring back the integrity to the title and the matches that are contested for it. This title should only be defended on pay per views and house shows, where the public has to pay to see it. By doing so, it brings prestige back to the title scene and the impending title changes. I hope the WWE realizes the true value of a championship match and follows through with their occasional televised defenses.
The only time the WWE title was defended on television back in the day was on a specialty show like Saturday Night’s Main Event. And because the title was being defended, the show not only generated huge ratings, but it gave the fans the fantasy matches they only dreamed of and made an event of the champion performing on television for those who were unable to attend a live event. This formula created the illusion that pro wrestling was in fact larger than life. If the WWE can keep their word, then I can easily forgive them for their tarnishing over the last 15 years.
Riddle me this Batman – Has anyone else asked the following question: Is Randy Orton in the WWE dog house? Since he was drafted to Smackdown, he’s done nothing but put over lesser talent. I’m not knocking guys like Christian, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes or even Wade Barrett. What I’m saying is that Randy Orton is considered one of the WWE elite. He’s as high in the food chain as guys like Cena, Triple H, Undertaker and even CM Punk. So why is doing jobs to get other guys over? Is this a direct result of creative having nothing for a guy like Orton who is only 31 years old and has already won the heavyweight title 9 times?
Now allow me to backtrack my last statement…slightly. When I just asked about Randy Orton putting over lesser talent, Dolph Ziggler was not part of that list. Ziggler is absolutely deserving enough of the push, and the way it was done last night was absolutely brilliant! Not only did Ziggler score a clean pinfall victory over the peaking and established veteran Randy Orton, but he did so in a manner that made him look strong, took NOTHING away from Orton’s value, and even enhanced the feud with Orton and Barrett. What made it so effective was that Barrett did not need to get physically involved to give Ziggler the cheap win or to keep Orton looking strong. Don;t know if you all caught it, but Ziggler made a classy move by whispering a ‘thank you’ in Orton’s ear during the three count! That match was PURE GOLD!!! And everyone involved walked out so much stronger for it! THIS IS WRESTLING!
Is Mick Foley eligible for the Hall of Fame? Afterall, guys like Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin are already in there without having to wait years till they’ve aged into old men. Foley is no longer an active in-ring performer. He’s more of a WWE goodwill ambassador. He’s bled and sacrificed like no other for this business. His nod into the Hall is deserving and would be a great companion piece if The Rock gets inducted this year. How about it people? Mick Foley for the class of 2012?
Why does Daniel Bryan look smaller in the ring? He IS smaller – I get it. And compared to Mark Henry, a Volkswagon is smaller. My point is – when referring to Daniel Bryan as your “heavyweight” champion, does size really matter? If this is solely based on work ethic and ring skills – he over qualified to be champion. But from physical perspective…??? Kinda hard to stand nose to nose with your heavyweight contenders. This is the problem Taz had in the WWE.
Perhaps WWE is taking a more competitive approach to their champions, similar to the Japanese style. If this holds true, I would love to see the more competitive discipline it brings, similar to what you see in Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate and Evolve. With guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan as champions, fans could easily embrace a stricter Japanese style that does not need to rely on the entertainment value, but rather on the fierce intensity of contenders colliding with their eyes on the prize.
With everything that has been said thus far, I think the WWE creative team is starting to smarten up – or they are at least reading my articles, posts and tweets. Last night’s episode was just about as DEAD ON as you can get with what I have been saying the last few weeks here on The RAW Deal. Rather than have comedy sketches, last night’s promos were actually enhancing the storylines and helping talent get over. Michael Cole generally sucks behind the mic, but he did a great job offering the audience cliff notes and a short recap of the storylines. It also gave Daniel Bryan some very good and much needed mic time. I’m very impressed with the WWE’s creative efforts in just one night and can only hope that this trend follows as much as those hashtags on Twitter.
I do have a quick question about the Daniel Bryan/Michael Cole/Mark Henry promo…. Was this designed to turn mark Henry face and Daniel Bryan heel? If so, I don’t think it worked. Bryan came off very arrogant and aggressive while Henry downplayed the gimmick that made him champion. Michael Cole was caught in the cross fire interrogating Bryan under the hard light and defending the now somber beast Henry. I was pretty confused… and so was the crowd. Does anyone else smell a swerve where Cole backs Bryan in taking the title from Henry? I hope they clean this up better on Smackdown.
CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio was a GREAT old school style match! I’ve grown to accept that Del Rio brings the old school heel vibe to his character and you can tell in his promos that he’s easily frustrated with the comedy skits. Del Rio just wants to wrestle! His match with Punk proved it and he did a great job selling as a threatening contender.
The finish saw the heel cheat and have his tactic backfire with NO RUN-INS! It was a clean victory for the champion is a n old school fashion that made everybody look strong. This was a prime example of the old school classic Saturday Night’s Main Event title defenses I mentioned before. Now Punk needs to move on from Del Rio. And Del Rio needs to attack mid-carders to work his way up the ladder again. typical Ted Dibiasie (Million Dollar Man) mold. Always a potential threat but doesn’t need a title run or title chase to be over as a heel. This is where creative comes to play. how do we still keep him as a top heel but out of the title picture? DiBiasie did it with Virgil, Jake Roberts, Big Bossman and list of others. He made main event caliber matches (ok, not so much with Virgil) without polluting the title scene. This is what made him a classic and the same can hold true for Del Rio.
Last but not least, Id like to end this with John Cena. Roddy Piper hit the nail on the head when he called Cena “the face of the company”. No matter what Cena does, he’s the main attraction, champion or not. And last night proved it. Cena DID NOT wrestle on Raw but was still effective. His face is on the merchandise, the posters, the magazines, everything and everywhere. his value speaks volumes to the company. he is in fact the Hulk Hogan ad Stone Col Steve Austin of this era. Not letting him wrestle every week is a brilliant way to save his value. He just needs a small presence on the show – like he did with the promo on Piper’s Pit. That’s all he needs…A presence. And then when he finally does wrestle, it becomes an event….an event the fans will pay for! Not only is this WRESTLING… but it’s the wrestling BUSINESS! I can only hope the WWE continues to do business as good as they did it last night….!!!
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