November 15, 2010

THIS IS THE BEST RAW EVER! This old school theme could have been awful, but it actually comes off really nice. It looks like you’re watching WWF TV from the early ‘90's. It’s also great to see the original WWF block logo, not the bastardized one that’s usually used for WWE Legends material, and to hear the original Monday Night RAW theme.

Dolph Ziggler . . . proves the old adage about mind and matter to be true when he beats Mark Henry by using his brain.

The Brooklyn Brawler . . . makes an open challenge, and has the same success that he always had in the ring.

Santino Marella . . . makes the most out of the time he’s given to show off how good he can really be.


Remember when Ken Doane and Johnny Jeter were supposed to be the breakout members of the Spirit Squad? This isn’t anything outstanding, but it’s decent enough for the time it’s given. The match is mostly Henry bumping Dolph around with his size, but Dolph comes up with a few nice tricks like the dropkick to the knee. Henry’s missed splash sets up Dolph rattling off a few spots of his own and he’s smart to go for the kill with the sleeper while Henry is still reeling from the jumping neckbreaker. I’m not in a big hurry for a program between these two, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them wrestle again with another eight minutes or so to work.


The match isn’t much more than a stall tactic until Tyson turns on Smith, but it’s not a total washout. It’s typical tag match formula on fast-forward. Smith actually looks pretty good when he’s bumping around Slater and Gabriel, the locomotion belly to belly suplex was certainly unexpected. Nexus look pretty bad when Smith is in trouble, they don’t seem to have anything to do other than put the boots to him. It works for establishing them as jerks, but it doesn’t say much about the WWE Tag Champions, not that being tag champs means much in 2010 WWE. Smith goes to tag, Kidd lays him out, and Gabriel gets the pin with his ugly 450.


You know, if they really wanted to do a throwback to the early days of RAW, then Brawler would have already been in the ring when the show came back from commercial and he wouldn’t have gotten on the microphone. The open challenge angle is more from 2003 than 1993, but the match itself fits the picture, Brawler gets squashed in short order.


It’d be easy to knock Cena for finishing off Riley so easily after he went back on offense, but Riley wasn’t exactly stellar when he was in control, and the camera missed what might have been his only real wrestling spot. The rest of his offense was punches and throwing Cena into the corner, along with the cheap shot from Miz. It’s nice that Cena tries to sell like Riley is really putting the hurt on, but it’s a wasted effort because, unless Riley is packing Regal’s punching power, nobody is going to believe that he can beat Cena. Cena goes back on offense with his shoulder tackles and runs through his usual spots en route to the AA and STF. It’s cool that the top guy tries to make someone barely out of developmental look good, but it’d have helped if Riley was as up to the task as Cena.

SANTINO MARELLA/VLADIMIR KOZLOV vs. JIMMY USO/JAY USO (#1 Contenders Match for the WWE Tag Team Titles)

Comedy teams shouldn’t be outworking regular tag teams, but that’s what happens here. Watching the Usos is like watching the Samoan Swat Team or Headshrinkers. The Usos may hot have the gimmick of being savages, but they work virtually the same, mostly strikes, with some decent kicks, and rest holds. Santino and Kozlov show more in thirty seconds than the Usos do in the whole match, Santino’s grounded headlock variations were a pleasant surprise and Kozlov was good about using his power, although I still think he was more effective as the ass kicking heel that he was on Smackdown, not to mention their own little throwback to the Bushwackers and the battering ram. The Cobra, Santino’s finisher, is too comical to take seriously, but the set up with him countering the superkick with a leg sweep was awesome.


It’s too bad that the match was just an excuse to trot out George Steele for the nostalgia pop, and it’s also too bad that Kofi didn’t get much time on offense. If this had some more time and if Kofi was able to get a real run, this might have turned out okay. Nexus had jumped Kofi a couple of times before, so it’d have been nice to see Kofi get some real revenge rather than just pinning Otunga after Steele gives an inadvertent assist. Otunga doesn’t have much to do here, just body slams and the elbow smash, but, like Cena, Kofi sells as much as he can to try to make them matter. Things pick up a bit when it’s Kofi’s turn to control the match, it was nice to see him unloading on Otunga in the corner with punches, and his flying was as smooth as ever. Kofi winning by using the exposed buckle to set up his finisher is a bit odd, it seems like something that would be more characteristic of Otunga, if he’s even got a finisher.


Although this short, it’s rather busy, both guys get to show off their stuff without the match looking too rushed. Barrett’s sidewalk slam to take over was a nice moment, and he was smart to continue working over Truth’s back area, which builds up to his finish to a degree. Barrett’s mean streak was also fully on display when Truth surprises him with a small package, and Barrett responds by unloading punches on him. They work a smart finish with both guys trying for their finishers too soon and getting countered, Barrett takes the opening and plants Truth with a big boot to the face to stun him and then hits Wasteland to finish off Truth. It’d probably help if Wade didn’t have such an ugly finisher, but the FU used to look like crap a lot of the time too, and Cena eventually got it down, so maybe there’s hope for Wade.


Honestly, the use of Slaughter in this capacity is the best use of any of the WWE legends. It’s hard to screw up the gimmick of Evil Foreigner vs. Sergeant Slaughter, even with Slaughter doing nothing more on offense than going for the Cobra Clutch. Slaughter sells just fine when Del Rio hits the enzuigiri to start, and the running one in the corner that finishes him off. When Del Rio escapes the Cobra Clutch the second time by rolling Slaughter off him, Slaughter follows through just fine. It’d have been fun to see Slaughter go over here to teach the young punk a lesson, but it was good to see that Sarge still has a bit left in the tank.

This bit with LayCool and Mae Young is technically a match, I suppose, but it was 100% angle. In short, LayCool runs down Mae, Mae wants to fight, a bunch of other divas attack LayCool, and Mae gets the pin with one foot.


Daniel Bryan, huh? I suppose that there were worse names to give Danielson. Somehow, despite getting the most time out of any match on this show, it still doesn’t seem like it had long enough to develop. Their early mat exchange with both guys trying for their finishers was a nice start, and Danielson missing the head kick after he escapes the ankle lock foreshadows the eventual finish. Swagger tries to use his size and strength to stay in control, but Bryan is good enough that he can usually overcome it. He uses his striking to keep Swagger at bay with kicks, and he baits him into charging so that he can send Swagger to the floor and then takes to the air with the flying knee and missile dropkick.

The only questionable moment is their second ankle lock spot, the application is fine, countering one of Bryan’s kicks, but there were better (and more realistic) ways to escape than rolling through and pitching Swagger into the corner. The finish they work is the same principal as Barrett/Truth with a bit more time to set up. They both try for their finishers again, but still get countered, Swagger doesn’t learn his lesson and tries for the powerbomb again, and Bryan knocks him silly with the roundhouse for the win. Give them a month or so to have one or two tag matches against each other, and another ten or so minutes on PPV to work, and this could be something special.

Conclusion: Honestly, the wrestling wasn’t too shabby this week. The obvious draw for this is the fact that the production and the arena look different for the first time since, essentially, 1997. But none of the wrestling is actively bad, and a few of the matches, look like they could be pretty good if they had more time to work.