[TV Review] WWE Raw – 10/8/2012

This Week on Raw:Vince McMahon made his return to WWE television in an explosive way, John Cena came out to open (and help close) the show, Sheamus helped make another up and coming superstar look like a million bucks, the tag team tournament raged on, and CM Punk proved once again why he is the true reason that the show has remained watchable. Click “read more” for quick match results and a review of the show.

Match Results:

  • Ryback defeated Epico/Primo in a handicap match.
  • Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara defeated The Prime Time Players (Darren Young/Titus O’Neil) to advance to the finals of the tag team tournament.
  • [World Heavyweight Champion] Sheamus defeated Wade Barrett by DQ after Tensai interfered.
  • [WWE U.S. Champion] Antonio Cesaro pinned Tyson Kidd.
  • [WWE Tag Team Champions] Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan/Kane) defeated Dolph Ziggler/Alberto Del Rio.
  • The Rhodes Scholars (Damien Sandow/Cody Rhodes) defeated Zack Ryder/Santino Marella to advance to the finals of the tag team tournament.
  • Eve Torres (c) defeated Kaitlyn by submission to retain the WWE Divas Championship

*What Worked*

The Vince McMahon/CM Punk Fight: I had low hopes going into this fight and dreaded it for most of the show, expecting some sort of screwjob run-in or something to prevent this from even happening. But much to the WWE’s credit they actually let the two fight and the results were amazing. Punk and McMahon beat the hell out of each other and their duel made for some truly entertaining and engrossing television. McMahon threw everything he had into it, hurling his 60 plus year old body across the announce table and taking hard hits that ended up causing a shiner on one of his eyes. All of this plus the kendo stick duel had me audibly cheering and getting really into the action. Some would say that McMahon being able to land any offense was a bit ridiculous but considering he was fighting a smaller wrestler like Punk rather than someone like The Undertaker made it believable. Amazing work by both men and you’ve got to hand it to Vinny Mac: when he feels his show is being threatened, he is not afraid to get into the sh*t. Much respect.

McMahon/Punk Aftermath:The aftermath of the fight was also excellent, with Ryback finally coming out to make the save and John Cena preventing Punk from running away. When Ryback hit the Lariat on Punk, the arena was deafening and even shaking. McMahon’s decree afterwards, telling Punk to decide whether to face to Ryback or Cena at Hell in a Cellby the end of next Monday, also gave viewers a nice hook to watch the show next week. This plus the fight itself combined to create one of the best segments on WWE TV in a long time. Say what you will about the three hours, but WWE has still managed to create some  truly memorable moments with these shows that I fear wouldn’t have happened in the 2-hour era.

The Sacramento Crowd:With the exception of the ones who decided to slap Punk around when he went into the crowd (more on that in a second), the fans in Sacramento were on fire tonight. They reacted loudly to everything and many times cause the arena to shake (as referenced earlier). They helped make this episode truly special; never overlook the power of a loud and energetic crowd.

Sheamus Vs. Wade Barrett:For the second week in a row Sheamus had my favorite match of the show. Once again the World Heavyweight Champion went the distance with another up and coming heel and made him look like a million bucks in the process. Barrett’s character has had trouble gaining traction over the past few weeks but this match has helped him look more dominant and like a true contender. The DQ finish even saved him from taking a pin and set up a potential future match between the two. I’d like to see that; these two worked very well together. I may hate Sheamus’s character but his in-ring work has been impeccable. Good on him for not being a “superhuman” world champion.

Paul Heyman:Another week, another transcendent effort by the former owner of ECW. The Punk/Heyman association has been a license to print money for hardcore wrestling fans and their dynamic continued to be impeccable this week. Heyman’s reactions to Punk accepting McMahon’s challenge were great and his confrontation with McMahon was great as well. And after trying to be the voice of reason for the whole show, Heyman finally giving in and telling Punk to beat McMahon to a pulp was a great shift and showed Heyman as the devil’s advocate he truly is even when he doesn’t approve of Punk’s actions on the surface.

Tyson Kidd Vs. Antonio Cesaro:A short but good match between the two and one that left me wanting more. Kidd made Cesaro look absolutely dominant and his moments of offense were also a highlight. A competitive squash match that I would pay good money to see play out for longer than four minutes.

The Three Man Band, Baaaabaaaay:The random pairing of Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and Drew McIntyre seems ridiculous on paper but…okay it’s just plain ridiculous. But I love it and I hope they go somewhere with it. Their attack on Santino Marella and Zack Ryder after their tag match was short but simple and their hilarious air band mannerisms were great. This is a jobber stable through and through but one I want to see every week as much as possible. Here’s hoping for Superstarsto be their home and give them the chance to shine (as a fan of that show, I say that for purely selfish reasons).

Ricardo and Vickie:During the Team Hell No/Del Rio and Zigger match, Ricardo Rodriguez and Vickie Guerrero started jawing back and forth and for those few seconds it was comedy gold. Ricardo begging her to stop yelling was excellent and the highlight of that match for me. I love Ricardo Rodriguez so much.

Overall Show:A tremendously entertaining three hours of Raw that kept my attention for the entire thing. The in-ring action was better than normal and the Punk/McMahon stuff was really engaging and great television. But this was done because of a ratings scare; it’ll be interesting to see how they go about next week’s show without all the stop-gap measures in place.

*What Was Okay*

The Tag Team Tournament:Neither match in the tournament was bad, but the outcomes were beyond predictable so it was hard to get invested in either of them. The two teams that advanced are the right choices though and I look forward to seeing them face one another next week.

*What Didn’t Work*

Larry King NOW:With WWE partnering with Hulu, and Hulu airing the new show from Larry King, having the legendary “journalist” appear on the show was nothing more than an act of corporate synergy…and horrifyingly bad television. After a string of good matches, King’s segment brought the room down. The only good? King seemed to be having fun and it set up a Miz/Kofi Kingston feud which means the IC Title might actually be defended again someday. But otherwise…wow. Just wow.

John Cena’s “Comedy” Monologue:“Against doctor’s orders”, Cena returned and opened up the show. He proceeded to cut an absolutely horrendous promo filled with unfunny jokes and unnecessary jabs at other wrestlers (for example he mocked Cesaro for having “huge nipples” which is baseless; luckily it didn’t catch on with the fans). When Cena did finally get serious to once again goad Punk to beat him for the 4952304234025th time at Hell in a Cell, it was too little too late. Having these wretched opening nearly made me want to shut off the show ten minutes in.

Brodus Clay and R-Truth Dance:After a generic Ryback squash, we were teased with a Brodus Clay/R-Truth match but instead they all decided that they wanted to just dance instead. While I appreciate the ridiculousness of Truth doing the Funky Charleston with “Little Jimmy”, this was yet another pointless segment in a row and the first 30 minutes of Rawwere making it seem like the show was going to be a slog to get through. Here’s hoping Clay and Truth are both repackaged and get to ditch their stupid gimmicks. Also I never want to see anyone dance ever again unless it’s Vinny Mac.

Lawlersploitation!:It took them four weeks, but they finally used Jerry Lawler‘s very real heart attack in a storyline, with Jim Ross alluding to McMahon that Punk caused it by being his vicious self. I don’t care if Lawler okayed it, it was still a pointless and tasteless thing to do.

CM Punk Vs. Idiot Fans:In a very unscripted moment, Punk ended up getting into a physical altercation with some fans in the midst of McMahon’s “pick your poison” speech to end the show. Apparently Punk had been pushed and hit for a few minutes before finally having enough and retaliating. We don’t know what kind of chaos that’s going to cause the WWE quite yet but I do know this: Punk had every right to hit back because f*ck fans who don’t understand what’s real or fake. If you hit a wrestler, expect to be hit back. But still it looked bad and it has given the WWE a lot of negative publicity so it gets a “didn’t work” from me on that basis. Those Sacramento fans should be thankful Punk doesn’t have the vicious streak of Bruiser Brody.

AJ…Who?:Outside one very brief segment between her and Punk, AJ Lee was absent for the entire show. It seems like they have run out of ideas for her as GM, and her not even trying to help McMahon or talk to him before his fight seemed completely stupid. It made her look even more cowardly and weak which is what I guess WWE likes in their women characters. Bullsh*t. Where’s the AJ that was a role model? Bring her back. She could truly be someone different and they won’t let her do anything of the sort. Ridiculous.

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