Looking over my notes for last night's Raw, I think this line I wrote at the conclusion of the program sums up my feelings on the show: Last week, a lot of us wondered how WWE would follow up the great closing angle with the NXT guys. WWE Creative's decision was to do a 1990's WCW Nitro finish, complete with wrecking cars and not giving us an ending to a main event. Unbelievable.
Up until that point, the show was solid. We had a good opening promo exchange to further the NXT storyline, a U.S. Title change, and the next step in the elevation of Evan Bourne. WWE also set up some undercard bouts for this Sunday's PPV. Of course, there were also some weak moments, highlighted (lowlighted?) by the return of the "guest host that wrestles" concept. That idea should have stayed buried with the Nitro finish of the show.
Let's just say a lot of the excitement generated by last week's Raw is gone now, at least for me. Maybe Daniel Bryan is lucky he isn't part of this!
Here's my thoughts on the show, as it happened:
I thought the opening segment went well, with all of the NXT members getting a chance to "apologize" and Otunga giving us the reason for the attack last week, which Barrett expounded on. As many of us speculated, their treatment during NXT was their motivation, with Barrett cutting a great promo about how ridiculous the show was. Bret Hart enters and goes back and forth with Barrett, during which the storyline reason for Daniel Bryan being gone (he had remorse) was given. Yeah, pretty lame. The NXT guys make their demands, and Bret Hart responds by not giving them anything, and firing Barrett, costing him his title shot. Say what you will, but that actually is logical. Why reward them for what they did at all?
I liked them doing a U.S. Title Fatal Four Way match as a preview to the ones that will take place at the PPV. This was a pretty fun bout, with some crazy bumps, like Ryder crash landing on his pescado attempt and Miz getting powerbombed off the apron by Morrison into Ryder. The match climaxed with guys breaking up near falls, and came down to Morrison hitting Starship Pain on R-Truth (after hesitating for a moment), only for Miz to steal the pin. I enjoyed the match, but was surprised to see them take the U.S. Title off Truth so quickly. I wondered if this would lead to a Truth-Miz singles match on the PPV, and later they announced it would take place. Good match and it set up a PPV undercard bout.
Randy Orton spends more time on his interview ripping on the NXT guys than talking about his title opportunity on Sunday. That seemed rather strange, especially coming from someone who is usually only concerned with himself.
Ted DiBiase tries to bribe guest host Mark Feuerstein into allowing DiBiase to be co-host. Why? They've established that the guest hosts have NO POWER to do anything. That made no sense. Feuerstein acts tough, because he has Big Show backing him up, and we're going to get Big Show & Mark Feuerstein vs. DiBiase & Virgil later. Really?
I enjoyed the Evan Bourne vs. Chris Jericho match. Bourne with the fast paced offense to throw Jericho off, then Jericho trying to grind down Bourne. Good back and forth, then Jericho catches Bourne with a Codebreaker, but Bourne manages a kickout. Jericho goes nuts for the disappointing DQ finish, but then Bourne kicks Jericho in the head and gets to hit the Shooting Star anyway. So, Bourne gets to look strong, and there is good reason for a rematch. Unfortunately, they don't announce one for the PPV.
John Cena comes out to talk about the NXT guys attacking him. It was a solid promo, but honestly, the whole bit about "your beef is with WWE management, not the wrestlers and fans" was weak to me. After all, what better way to send the message to WWE management than by messing with the show? Cena wants a piece of them, even if they are fired, and we're back on track. We get a big brawl with some undercard guys helping Cena, then Edge, Sheamus and Orton are all there, so we have unity amongst the Raw guys, even if they don't like each other. The NXT guys getting run out of the building led to some unintentional comedy, like Mark Henry running ahead of the guys he was chasing, and Santino being the only WWE guy to run all the way to the gate.
Thankfully, Sheamus did a promo saying he wasn't going to let the NXT guys ruin his title shot on Sunday, and that is why he ran out during the brawl. I needed to hear this, because a guy like Sheamus shouldn't give a crap about anything but his own situation.
We had the announcement of a Fatal Four Way Divas Title match at the PPV, then had the participants in a tag match, with Eve & Gail Kim vs. Alicia Fox & Maryse. Eve gets beat down pretty much the whole match, but Alicia kicks Maryse by mistake and Eve hits a neckbreaker for a win. Gail Kim does nothing. Seriously. At least Gail got to look at the title belt before handing it to Eve. Not much of a match, and pretty much just there so they could announce the title bout for the PPV.
It was awesome seeing a clip of Don Muraco vs. Perdro Morales. I wish we could have watched the whole match, instead of what came next.
Ted DiBiase & Virgil vs. Big Show & Mark Feuerstein saw DiBiase get destroyed by Show, then Virgil got beat up. Feuerstein did the Worm, which made me miss Scotty 2 Hotty and got the pin. You know, I think I'd rather be Daniel Bryan than Ted DiBiase these days. At least Bryan has popularity, a buzz, and his last TV appearances saw him pin the Miz and kick John Cena's head off. DiBiase stuffs a hundred in Virgil's mouth, then takes it back. Whatever. Waste of time.
William Regal vs. Santino Marella, with Vladimir Kozlov as the referee, was the next step in the "Does Kozlov like Santino or not?" storyline, which I think a grand total of eight people actually care about. Regal does some real nice arm work, and I am begging WWE to trade him to Smackdown. Santino gets the win with a pull of the trunks. Bret Hart comes out, so concerned about this cheating... that he makes the three of them security guards with the rest of the undercard workers.
Edge & Sheamus vs. Cena & Orton. The standard formula of using a tag match to hype a PPV bout, and in fact, WWE tried this match two weeks ago, but avoided it due to Orton's shoulder injury, allowing Evan Bourne to get a push. At the time, I praised WWE, because the idea of Orton and Cena teaming together is just ridiculous. Well, this week we got the ridiculous. At least Orton and Cena acted tentative during the first tag, but still, there is no way Orton and Cena should be teaming up after all that has happened between them. Cena plays babyface in peril for a long time, including a neat spot where Sheamus rode Cena's back as Cena tried in vain to make the tag. Eventually he does make the tag, and Orton shows that he will be just fine for the PPV, which is good to see. Orton then gets beat down, setting up Cena's hot tag and ...
Suddenly, Raw turned into WCW Nitro.
The lights in the arena go out, and we see the NXT guys are wrecking the backstage area. Apparently, no one on the Raw roster can move in the darkness, as they all stared at the screen instead of heading to the back to confront them. We see the NXT guys have Bret Hart, and they stick him in a limo. The limo is then slammed into a bunch of cars, causing thousands of dollars in auto damage, while the NXT guys yell about Hart reconsidering their demands for contracts. Hey, who is driving the limo anyway? Maybe it's Daniel Bryan! Just kidding. They drag Hart out of the limo, and still no one from the Raw roster has made it to the parking lot. Oh, and our main event match? We never got a finish to it.
Last week, a lot of us wondered how WWE would follow up the great closing angle with the NXT guys. WWE Creative's decision was to do a 1990's WCW Nitro finish, complete with wrecking cars and not giving us an ending to a main event. Unbelievable.
What To Make Sure And Watch If You DVR'd The Show: Watch the U.S. Title Four Way and the Jericho-Bourne match. The opening promos are good too, but the closing angle may bring back nightmares for those that remember the dying days of WCW.