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January 26, 2010

Raw: WWE tries to get viewers ‘psyched’ about Royal Rumble

Monday night’s episode of Raw didn’t blow me away, but there were some good talking segments, the guest host was likable and did not mispronounce anyone’s name, and WWE did a nice job of selling Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view for the second straight week. Best of all, there was no Hornswoggle.

The highlight of the show was a verbal confrontation between John Cena and Vince McMahon that furthered the McMahon-Bret Hart story line. After McMahon reiterated that he would never allow Hart back on Raw, Cena came out and cut a heck of a promo on McMahon. Cena said that no one respects McMahon because he treats the wrestlers like commodities and cares only about “lining his pocket and feeding his ego.” By the time Cena was finished, McMahon had agreed to invite Hart to Raw next week.

What really made the segment work was Cena’s straight-forward-yet-passionate delivery. The McMahon-Hart program is reality-based, so an over-the-top promo here would have been the wrong call.

Other thoughts on Monday’s show:

Other than seeing him on commercials for the USA Network series “Psych,” I wasn’t familiar with guest host Dule Hill, but I thought he did a good job. He delivered his lines well, came across as if he knew the product and did not get in the way. Neither he nor “Psych” co-star James Roday (who ended up not being on the show due to undergoing an appendectomy) are major celebrities, but with Cena appearing on “Psych” Wednesday, it made sense to book them on Raw to cross-promote. …

You could tell that WWE didn’t view Hill to be as big a celebrity as other Raw guest hosts by the fact that his night ended with a hard slap to the face by Alicia Fox rather than a crotch-chopping celebration with DX and Hornswoggle. …

McMahon going into the crowd and interacting with the fans on the mic was a nice change of pace. By the way, was it me or did it seem as if McMahon had never seen a Ron Simmons “Damn” t-shirt before? …

Cena said that he would beat up McMahon on his 90th birthday for every superstar who ever worked in WWE, specifically mentioning Andre The Giant, Outback Jack and Hart. Outback Jack, who wrestled in WWE in the late 80s, doesn’t quite fit into the category of a guy McMahon rode hard for years and then kicked to the curb when he had no further use for him. Most fans had no use for the Crocodile Dundee-inspired character after his first vignette appeared. …

I like the way the issue between Shawn Michaels and Triple H is unfolding. It doesn’t feel forced and comes across as two friends whose individual goals are causing them to butt heads. Their interaction Monday strongly suggested there will be a confrontation between the two at the Royal Rumble and reinforced the importance and prestige of winning the Rumble match. …

The video package on the Royal Rumble match was very well done. …

There was nothing wrong with the non-title main event match between WWE champion Sheamus and Cena except for the fact that I just have no interest in Sheamus. Randy Orton – Sheamus’ opponent at the Rumble – getting involved in the match was not unexpected, but I was surprised to see Cena standing tall at the end of the show while both Sheamus and Orton were laid out (Sheamus by Orton, and Orton by Cena). …

The Miz and MVP had another good exchange on the mic. I thought it was bad booking, though, to have MVP lose clean in about a minute to The Big Show. That’s not exactly an effective way to build up MVP as a challenger to Miz’s U.S. title, and it buries the championship, as well. I would have at least had Miz cause a distraction that led to MVP losing. That way, MVP gets to save some face, and Miz losing his match against Kofi Kingston later in the show due to MVP’s distraction would have made more sense. …

As I expected, it will be Maryse (who beat Eve) and Gail Kim (who beat Fox) in the finals of the WWE Divas title tournament. Hopefully Maryse and Kim will get more than the two minutes they each got for Monday’s matches. Maryse’s DDT on Eve looked awesome, by the way. …

When it appeared that Carlito was going to be wrestling Kelly Kelly, I thought for sure Carlito would somehow end up on the losing end. The match never took place, as it was just a setup for an angle between Jack Swagger and Santino Marella. I’m not sure why Carlito and Kelly Kelly were needed for that, but I’m never going to complain about Double K being on my television screen. …

Swagger wasn’t humiliated this week, which was nice, but laying out Marella isn’t exactly a big feather in anyone’s cap. What are the odds that Marella eliminates Swagger in the Rumble match? …

I will be shocked if William Shatner isn’t entertaining as next week’s guest host. I won’t be shocked if Marella shows up dressed as Mr. Spock.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 11:37 AM | | Comments (37)
        

Comments

Hey Kevin..I live in Columbus and was in atendence last night for RAW and had some things for you...

....

RAW itself was ok. DX, Cena, and The Miz were way over with the crowd. Miz was getting heat all night (probably because of his Ohio ties).
They were some in the crowd booing HHH for not seeing things "Shawn's Way". A few were calling for the Kick right then and there.
Marayse and Eve were ok.
You could have heard a pin drop when Carlito, Gail Kim, and Alicia Fox came out...Literally...No crowd response or interaction before, during, or after the matches.
Jack Swagger got heat from the crowd as Santino sold well after things when to commercial break. He legit looked as if he was hurt.
McMahon going out into the crowd was cool. It wasn't the Ron Simmons shirt that threw him off, it was the drunk fan who couldn't talk that did. He walked past one guy who said something really obscence and Vince replied, "I do like nice tonight don't I?" or something to that effect.
You could have cut the tension in the crowd with a knife when Cena cut the "Expiration Date" promo. People were really glued.
Attendence was packed and most of my kids and I had fun.

P.S. The guest host Dule was interacting with the fans after he accidently set off the pyro interrupting Marayse. He was high fiving fans well after the cameras were off him. Seemed like a personable guy.

Take Care.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I deleted the part where you gave spoilers for Superstars. Other readers would be very upset with you.

this is probably the first Raw i have actually really wathced in months and found it really enjoyable compared to the rest seeing Randy Orton RKO'ing Shaemus was the highlight of my evening as it seems was the crowd as they were cheering when it happens I just don't understand WWE logic know one cares about their WWE champion so why try and force him on us we don't care either way. I was really upset that MVP got destroyed by the show at the same time was happy later on that Kofi beat the Miz but do we really need to see another MVP US title reign perhaps can they just put the title for a few months then let him finally get into the title pic.

Not a bad show at all..nothing major..no big holes in booking.MVP prob deserves better,his mic work rocks and losing clean to he Big Show makes him look weak going into the rumble.Cena stole the show with his mic work with Vince..still don't understand why the WWE has him look so weak against Sheamus.DX angle is being played right..2 studs/1 goal..Hope HBK chunks Trips out to win the Rumble... Thanks Kev,may God Bless.

We are almost totally on the same page, Kevin, with your review of Raw. I thought it was their best effort in quite some time.
DX moved away from their over-the-top comic attempts to appeal to the kids with the glow sticks to something a little more edgy. I hope they continue to move in that direction.
The guest host, while amusing, served little or no purpose.
I would have much rather seen them go through with Carlito vs Kelly than another ridiculous Santino angle. Or even better, they could have replaced that entire segment with an actual wrestling match...what a concept!
Many people seem to dislike Cena, but the guy is money on the mic. I don't think anyone else on the roster could have sold that speech to McMahon. Now, I just hope the writers have come up with something worthwhile for Bret Hart's return.

I thought Dule Hill did a great job as guest host! I'm a huge fan of PSYCH - not that you have time to watch more television, but if you get a chance to tune in, you should - the show is hilarious, the two main stars have fantastic chemistry together, and you'd have an excuse to watch this Wednesday since John Cena is guest-starring.

I watched this RAW with my wife - one of the few she's watched all the way through - because she's also a big PSYCH fan and she bought us tickets to Wrestlemania XXVI, so she wants to learn some of the storylines going in. That's one thing I must say WWE does well compared to TNA - because I watch every week, I feel WWE has way too many recaps by the announcers and replays from previous shows, but for people who don't tune in every week, that really helps them figure out what's going on. TNA can just be so confusing, especially to the uninitiated (and I'm a huge TNA fan - not so much recently, but that's another story...).

I was really bummed Roday couldn't make it on RAW though - like I said, him and Dule Hill have such great chemistry, and they're awesome at improvisation. Guest hosts who can improv do a much better job than those who can barely even stick to a script. Dule Hill had to host that show on his own last minute and everything went off relaly smoothly.

The highlight of the night for me was the Cena promo. I know people either love him or hate him, but he really is one of the best ever on the mic - when I see a promo like this, it makes me wish he'd have the leeway to talk like that all the time rather than some of the sophomoric humor that seems to be scripted and handed to him.

Too bad about Roday. I think he would have been good on RAW. Roday and Hill work very well together.

Kev, I would recommend you watch Psych. It's a very funny show.

I have to give it up to Dule Hill. He seemed to really be having fun as the GM and if he wasn't a fan before, he became one last night.

And hell, what other man can say he set off "pyro" for Maryse to see AND get passionate about???

Those fans that were booing during Cena's rant to McMahon bring all us wrestling fans down. That was a great promo. What more do these morons want?

Match of the night was Kofi vs Miz... Miz may be the Jericho of the next decade.

Yeah, I never thought I would would be saying that 2 years ago either...

Cena and Undertakers involvement in this Bret Hart story has to mean something, right?

HBK will eliminate HHH, only for Jack Swagger to eliminate him and win the Royal Rumble. I think that is my final prediction.

Spocktino Marella!

"I like the way the issue between Shawn Michaels and Triple H is unfolding. It doesn’t feel forced and comes across as two friends whose individual goals are causing them to butt heads."

It's funny because in their match they literally did but heads.

Excellent wordplay on the title! Bravo, Mr. Eck.

Hey Kev,

I just read somewhere that WWE is planning on developing a sitcom staring Satino Marella. Do you know if there is any truth to this? I'd watch it.

So, The Undertaker couldn't intimidate McMahon into bringing Bret Hart back, but John Cena could???

Line of the night - Vince responding to Cena's remark about his purple suit jacket....."It's better than that orange crap you wear!"

I can tell by the reaction, are you ready? NO....wheres the uh....leprechan?? Hes not here, i sent him home took me roflmao! And the last picture before Off the air....Cena saying I'm gonna win, to no one in particular. There is your Rumble winner! agree with Mvp storyline, and im allin, Santino shows up as spock too!!
I'm dyin for some Serena on Friday!! come onnnnnnn straight edge!!

I will not be surprised if it comes down to HHH and Shawn as the last 2 in the Rumble. Co-winners each get a championship match at WM, correct? - HHH wants Shaemus, HBK wants Taker - DX jumps out of the ring together -and the fans are all happy --

I'm actually a little worried Hornswoggle wasn't on the show. The way Christopher Daniels has been booked on TNA recently, I'm fearful Horny's gonna show up on Impact and be the next unbelievable guy to beat Daniels (or maybe they'll have Doink come in and do it first).

Cena had to stand tall by show's end, in order to make him look like a strong potential Rumble winner, no?

I see HBK, frustrated that he didn't win the Rumble, interfering in the UT/Rey match, and superkicking the dead man, costing Taker the title. This will solidify the rematch everyone's expecting at Mania.

I also see Orton winning the title, and defending it against the surprise winner: DiBiase!

I also see a Batista/Cena altercation at the Rumble (one eliminating the other), setting up their cross-promotion match at Mania.

John Cena's promo was one of the best thats he's done for a while.

I'm not a big Cena fan and in fact I can't stand him, but he really did step it up big on the last night's show.

His talk with Mcmahon was really good and serious without any bs trying to hype up the crowd or an over-excess of lame jokes, and his interaction with the guest host (I can't even remember his name, oh well..) was fast paced and entertaining.

For once I'm gonna say: well done Cena, well done.

"The video package on the Royal Rumble match was very well done..."

It was well done last year too...

RESPONSE FROM KE: True.

My review of Raw, written from the perspective of Kevin watching Impact:

Raw started by rehashing the old 1999 (and other years) storyline of having DX feud within itself, this time over who was going to win the Royal Rumble. Of course, that didn't stop Monday Night Wars veterans Shawn Michaels (who made his WWE debut in 1988) and Triple H (who made his WWE debut in 1995) from dominating the opening segment and defeating young tag team Legacy. Speaking of Legacy, that team wasn't getting along either. What is it with WWE and its insistence on having every tag team feud within itself?

Raw continued to allow veterans of the Monday Night Wars to bury young talent. Next was the Big Show - who wrestled in WCW as The Giant - pinning MVP clean.

Raw also featured its usual non-sensical booking. It promoted the Royal Rumble match featuring Randy Orton against Seamus by having Orton interfere in Seamus' match and attack him from behind. Since those are actions that only a heel would take, I guess that means Seamus is supposed to be the face in this match. Hard to tell since Seamus was booked as ready and willing to fight Cena, but the match was made by heel McMahon to punish babyface Cena. I almost expected to see Orton invading Seamus' locker room and trashing it while Seamus was gone, and then jumping Seamus as he comes back to confront Orton.

The nonsensical booking also included Mr. McMahon playing the billionaire owner who can never be told what to do, informing the crowd he would never let Bret Hart back into the WWE no matter what. Yet somehow Mr. McMahon was then easily convinced by John Cena to have Hart back on the show next week.

The show wasn't all bad - this week was the first show since the guest-host format started that didn't involve a wrestler getting beaten up by either the guest host or a midget.

RESPONSE FROM KE: Well done.

Im soo soo soo sick of the PG WWE. It makes me sick to watch DX come out in these cartoonish shirts and hats and wristbands etc... What happened to the cool black DX shirt. Its so hard to take them serious anymore. They come out in all this cartoon gear to basically advertise for WWE shop.com. Then there is Cena. I loved when he used to have that thug mentality and come out in all the throwback sport jersies. Now he looks like a walking clown. I hate the Big show looking like a goofy big lug too. I cant take it anymore. Maybe Im just getting older but the product to me is the worst its ever been.

"What really made the segment work was Cena’s straight-forward-yet-passionate delivery."

Cena might as well have been shooting. I'm sure that the real life Vince isn't as much of a jerk*** as his character currently is, but it's always seemed to me that he does view wrestlers more as commodities than as people. The only thing I can think of at the moment which suggests otherwise is the story of how he was concerned for Foley after H.I.A.C. and said that he wasn't going to let him endanger himself that much in the future. On the other hand, you have the way he forced Owen Hart to do a stunt Owen was really scared to do, you've got numerous examples of him humiliating his talent without really caring how they felt about it (Tony Atlas as "Saba Simba", Trish barking like a dog, everybody who had to literally kiss his ass, Chavo vs. Hornswoggle, giving Adrian Adonis a cross dressing gay guy gimmick at a time when the world was a hell of a lot more homophobic, etc.), the way he won't let his workers unionize while having them take bumps 300 days of the year, and on and on.

Anyway, I agree that this Raw was better than usual.

No problem....Also I meant to say..
Most of all my kids and I had fun, not most of my kids....I'm not raising a gaggle of gelatinous goo.

I personally enjoyed Monday Night Raw very much, especially the HHH-HBK and Cena-Vince exchanges. Im excited to see how the Vince-Bret storyline plays out, since it will obviously end up in a Wrestlemania match of some kind.

I also believe everything Maryse does looks amazing, DDT's included. I know im dating myself here, but the last time i saw her on WWE programming was back when she was eye-candy for Smackdown.

Im just gonna put a Royal Rumble prediction in here and say its HHH. He deserves to win and probably challenge his "protege" Sheamus for the title, which im sure he would enjoy. Obviously he wants to see the kid succeed since he put in a good word for him for the title. I had never seen the kid compete and i have to say, regardless of his duration with the company, i was very impressed.

I despise Cena, but he was actually good on the mic... Now, if he only learns more wrestling moves, stops pandering to the fans, stops wearing that crap he wears, stops being booked like Superman, stops screaming and yelling for no reason during his other promos, I might actually learn to like the guy.

DX are the tag champs? I completely forgot about that. Oh, look! What better way to make the belts seem important than to dump them in a pile in the ring while they're cutting their promos on RR while completely ignoring their title match on SD! AND the opponents they're about to face?

Legacy matured after their feud with DX, Cole? That's why they're still losing to Henry and Bourne? And getting squashed by a team whose members aren't on the same page?

What made the MVP squash even worse was that it happened immediately after he had a great promo segment with the Miz. Those two guys have been tearing it up on the mic. Kind of kills things to have MVP being dominated that badly afterwards, though.

An above average Raw. It's sad that this is the best we can ask for.

I know many will disagree with me, but this is the first time since coming to Raw that Sheamus looked like championship material...somewhat. I think it had to do with how well Cena was selling his offense.

Among the things that bother me the most about Sheamus are that chest beating into arms raised pose he does and his stupid looking hair. He needs to shave that thing.

My predictions for the Rumble:

Taker retains. Orton wins title.

Final four at the rumble: Cena, Michaels, HHH and DiBiase.

Sensing that his subordinate will win and take his title, Orton will get involved in the match and eliminate DiBiase, setting up a match between them at Mania. HHH will eliminate Michaels and Cena eliminates HHH. Michaels and HHH face each other at Mania and Cena challenges Taker for the title.

I don't know how you all reacted but I couldn't help but laugh when Vince announced that Cena would have to wrestle Sheamus later in the night. The build up made me believe he was going to have to wrestle somebody who was an actual threat. I could care less about Sheamus' character at this point unfortunately. Even worse, I can't see him losing the title to Orton the way that they have been trying to build him up. Not to say I wouldn't be against it...

Also, Raw is coming to the izod center in NJ this April. The WWE needs to book the Jersey Shore crew to guest host that night. Think of all the possibilities!

I think that MVP's promo was good until that unnecessary, to say the least, joke about the Miz' and Big Show "special friendship". Faces getting pops by insinuating that any tag team that is opposed to them is gay, that's something I could live without. By the way, MVP was recently in a tag team with Mark Henry, does it mean they are gay? And what would be wrong with that? This crap just ruins a lot of the sympathy I could have for MVP.
Actually, Triple H has a history of lame jokes like that, he's been making the fans laugh at the expense of Legacy with the same brilliant insinuations.
And speaking of Trips, why did nor he neither Michaels even mention their tag team championship and their match with Punk and Gallows? Jericho and Big Show made these belts look really important, but DX just doesn't care at all...

When are they going to actually unify the Tag Team Titles into one belt? There is no reason to split them up into two different titles again with no tag teams to compete over them.

Kevin..could you please explain to me why the big push for Sheamus? i just don't get it. They bring Swagger to RAW and just bury him night after night..yet push Sheamus...

Prediction to win Royal Rumble: Edge

Michael's will end up facing the Undertaker though, probably the next PPV will be the set up for that.

FYI Dule' Hill used to play Martin Sheen's assistant on The West Wing.

I have to admit Sheamus did look pretty good in the ring w/ Cena.


"I despise Cena, but he was actually good on the mic... Now, if he only learns more wrestling moves, stops pandering to the fans, stops wearing that crap he wears, stops being booked like Superman, stops screaming and yelling for no reason during his other promos, I might actually learn to like the guy" ...COMMENT OF THE WEEK MATERIAL

I'm thinking of unique finishes the WWE could have for the Rumble...what about a double elimination when #29 is in the ring and the #30 participant just walks to the ring and claims his title? Would create a nice storyline about a superstar that doesn't deserve the title shot.

I am calling it.....SPOCK actually shows up to Raw while Santino is spoofing him....cuz that would be AWESOME to an EPIC degree

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
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