Not Quite Yet, Kid (Raw Reactions May 4)

Raw, Wrestling
  • Obviously, given the WWE’s fickle past, it’s tough to slot New Day in as major players after being on the opening to just a single Raw. However, it has to be said that they looked natural opposite Randy Orton and Roman Reigns in the opening segment. All three have decent microphone skills (though Kofi is noticeably behind his two stablemates)  and they demonstrated that tonight. Further, they’ve become a team that people love to hate, which is an underrated skill for wrestlers in the “Reality Era”. It’s too early to judge how far this team can go, but, if tonight is any indication, they seem to have the backing of the power’s that be. Now, they just can’t screw it up (see: Kofi a few years ago in his program with Randy Orton).
  • I must admit, I was very worried that Orton and Reigns would go over the New Day cleanly in this handicap match. It’s become typical for the WWE to book it’s big-time babyfaces as characters who can overcome anything, even when it makes no sense. We’re talking about two guys who have teamed together maybe twice going against three men who are a well-oiled tag team machine who are currently the champions in that division. So it would stand to reason that Vince McMahon would have his two “money-makers” overtake the three guys who are actually a team. Or at least, that’s what I assumed would happen. Luckily, they went another way and actually gave New Day a victory (though, it was an underhanded one, but that suits the New Day characters). Maybe the WWE is beginning to make its booking more believable and the storylines will start being good again. Of course, we’re probably two weeks from New Day bringing in Hornswaggle as the fourth member of the team and dancing with the Great Khali (or whoever) on Main Event.
  • It seems like WWE crowds have decided over the last few years that they are more important than what’s actually happening in the ring. They hijack the broadcast much often than they used to and try to make their voices heard through chants that are aimed at people in the backstage. I can get behind that idea every once in awhile, but it’s just happening too much these days. Yes, Ryback is not the most engaging character on the microphone and yes, he is absolutely boring. However, you don’t even give him a chance and now we have no idea what he had to say about Bray Wyatt because the crowd decided that they were more important than that story. Who knows, maybe that was Ryback’s first great promo and we just missed out on the start of a great program between the Big Guy and the New Face of Fear? Crowd’s should be allowed to do whatever they want. They bought their ticket and that gives them a right to make their thoughts known via chants. That’s how the WWE has worked. However, I just wish they would give people a chance to speak and let everyone understand what’s going on. Save the chants for bad matches and leave the promos out of it. And please, please, stop yelling “What?”, it’s the worst chant in the history of chants.
  • Thank you WWE for reopening the wounds from aborted program between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins last fall. That was, quite simply, the best thing the WWE had put on television in quite some time and we never got a decisive end to the best feud of the year. This match highlighted how incredible these two would be against each other in a significant feud. Think about it. That was a Raw on a random Monday. What if these two had a Wrestlemania match for the title next year? It’ll never happen, but a boy can dream. Payback’s main event just more interesting; however, I can’t see any scenario where Rollins doesn’t retain. He needs to have at least one matchup with Brock Lesnar as the champion and I think that’s coming at Summerslam. There’s just too much money to be made in fans seeing Lesnar finally get his hands on the man who cost him his championship. With that said, the dirt sheets have been claiming that Ambrose is no his way to a mega-push leading into Summerslam, so who knows what’s going to happen? I wouldn’t be surprised if even Vince is still trying to figure things out.
  • Rusev and Fandango fighting over Lana? I smell a walk-off.
  • Stardust wins by plastic (rubber?) spiders. How the mighty have fallen. This episode has quickly fallen off from that incredible Ambrose-Rollins match.
  • Bret Hart said it, Heath Slator is a “great wrestler”. If the Hitman says so, it has to be true.
  • Wow, this night just turned around. John Cena delivered a very Cena promo, that was about as good as you can expect from Cena’s current character (which sounds like I’m cutting him down, but is actually a compliment. Cena has just gone as far as he can with this character and therefore his promos always leave a little to be desired by their very nature) and then the Hitman came out to announce that Sami Zayn would be answering the Open Challenge for the US strap. I knew Zayn was in the building, but never in a million years thought he’d make an actual appearance. He still has a story to tell with Kevin Owens down in Florida and the WWE really needs to spend time continuing to build Neville up before bringing in another NXT star. That said, I peed a little when Zayn came out and am more than looking forward to seeing what he can do in the ring with Cena.
  • Zayn had an incredible first showing against John Cena. It wasn’t quite as good as Neville’s first real match against Seth Rollins, but it was a great way to show off how much fighting spirit Zayn has. Plus, I don’t think this match signifies Zayn’s true call-up to the main roster. Neville had to lose to Rollins, but making it a cheating victory kept Neville looking strong while furthering Rollins’ cowardly heel persona. Zayn, on the other hand, had to lose to Cena because Cena already has a rematch with Rusev at Payback. However, there was no need to protect Zayn like they did with Neville. Zayn still has quite a bit to do in NXT and shouldn’t be called up to Raw on a nightly basis for at least a few months. This was an opportunity to put him in front of a crowd that they knew would pop huge for him and make him look like a future contender for the viewing audience. This match accomplished that in every way possible, while still making it clear that Zayn isn’t quite ready to be on the main show (from a storyline perspective, of course). It was a masterfully booked match that did everything it needed to while making both competitors look strong.
  • “Man, I just can’t get enough of Kane” -said No One, ever.
  • This main event angle feels like it’s being changed every two or three minutes. Maybe that’s the point, but so far it’s just been a boring mass of moving parts that very loosely connect with each other. You could argue that they just want to keep everyone guessing and make the finish to Payback as ambiguous as possible in the lead-up; however, it was telling that all of the mid-card matches got a better reaction tonight than the main event. You have to figure that’s the opposite of what Vince McMahon sees and, frankly, the opposite of what any fan that is tired of being force fed Cena wants to see. That said, with such lackluster writing and the constant hamstringing of stories by Kane, it’s tough to see a scenario where we aren’t right back to Cena headlining everything in the next few months. This talent roster is deep and talented. The writing roster is not. Something needs to change.
  • Final Thoughts: When you let young guns like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, Neville, and on and on just go out there and wrestle, this show is great. But when you saddle them with terrible material and an even worse supporting cast, then we have problems. Zayn’s debut against John Cena was amazing and that match between Rollins and Ambrose belongs in the main event of WrestleMania. However, the stories being told are always boring and often flat-out terrible since WrestleMania ended. There’s some evidence to support that they’re building to something good (putting Dean back in the title picture was a nice step and Internet rumblings suggest there might be some other big moments in store), but, after all the crap we had to slog through last fall, I need to see it before I believe. Here’s hoping the WWE can make me a believer in the product sooner, rather than later.