Honestly, when we look back at tonight’s episode of Raw there are going to be a lot of factors to take into account as to why this show was better than usual. The first answer as to why this episode of Raw was better was because last week was WWE’s quarterly earnings announcement, which included a disappointing number of WWE Network subscriptions with WWE only adding 30,000 or so subscriptions over last quarter. They were aiming for hundreds of thousands, especially considering that it launched in over 100 new countries.
Instead they are at 730,000 or so, which is about half of where they want to be for the Network to be profitable. Ouch, right?
Drastic times call for drastic measures, which, for now, includes the WWE giving away one free month of the WWE Network to new subscribers. So if you aren’t subscribed to the WWE Network right now you can go, sign up for an account, and watch the Network free all throughout November. It’s a no-brainer, honestly. Every WWE, WCW and ECW PPV is free, there are also a few years of ECW TV, a good deal of Monday Night Raws and even the first 100 episodes of Nitro on there. The original programming varies from very good to shitty, but it’s not difficult to figure out that Legend’s House is a stinker and to watch Monday Night Wars instead.
So WWE went all out tonight to present a good show, which felt vastly different than the shows that we’ve been getting over the past few months. Why? Because it was actually a good show. Not just a “good for Raw” show, but it was a good show! There was a lot of wrestling, not much filler, clear, coherent storylines and everything else. Oh yeah, and there was no John Cena.
No, I’m not going to go through the usual tripe and say that John Cena sucks and that John Cena should turn heel or that John Cena should get off of my television. I’m not going to take away how hard he works or how appealing he is to certain demographics or how much merchandise he moves. Instead, what I’m going to say is this; maybe having a Hulk Hogan-like figure on television every week and basing everything around this one, unbeatable guy is boring and drags the product down. Maybe WWE should find new ways to write angles for John Cena and accentuate the good parts about John Cena, like his willingness to work with younger talents and make them look good, his ability to sell tickets and to put over storylines and characters through his promos without being overly insulting, etc.
Because this week’s Raw was great without him. I didn’t have to hear his obnoxious music once, I didn’t have to see him beat the entire roster singlehandedly once, I didn’t have to have my intelligence insulted by watching superman as the focus for everything once. It was refreshing. He was still integral to storylines, but in an unobtrusive way. Just find a way to make John Cena less obtrusive and I’m down.
Also, just, yeah, keep giving us story arcs that last an entire show. This show was about how Vince laid down a gauntlet for the Authority and how they attempted to hold onto their power by wooing anyone and everyone, all while they lost control over Randy Orton. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough; it gave the show a purpose and it was compelling television to watch. They haven’t done this as well as they did here in ages.
So anyway, let’s get on with the show.
Vince is Back
This is such a Vince thing to do, to think, “well, ratings are standing still, Network subscriptions aren’t up, it’s about time that Mr. McMahon returns!” Anyway, Vince is still a trip to see on TV and he’s decided to undermine Triple H and Stephanie. Maybe with the Network struggling they’ll finally move forward with the whole Vince vs. Authority angle that they were planning on running this year before Daniel Bryan took off (then fizzled out).
Dean Ambrose and Cesaro Get a Chance to GO
The match on Smackdown was fine, sure, but it was built around spots with pumpkins and brooms, so it was kind of goofy and crappy. These two were given okay time and the ability to work and we got a pretty cool match out of this. Cesaro got busted open the hardway and you know how WWE is about COLOR~, so they quickly brought Bray Wyatt out in his rocking chair and cut to commercial. They spent a lot of time trying not to focus on the cut, but it was on TV and it was weird.
I kind of like the fact that Cesaro and Ambrose are working together so much, although it’s weird because Ambrose is supposed to be feuding with Bray Wyatt, who at this point is just a guy in a rocking chair. I’m also confused as to why Ambrose came out while Vince was in the ring and gave him a high five. Isn’t Ambrose supposed to be anti-authority? Sure, he’s anti THE Authority, but Vince is literally an authority figure, shouldn’t he not trust or like him?
Dolph Ziggler’s Punishment is Our Gain?
Dolph Ziggler was punished by the Authority for siding with John Cena by being forced to defend the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Seth Rollins. I say this is our gain because this was a fine match between the two. Both guys can go and were given free reign to pretty much do as they please. It looked like Rollins had Ziggler down for the count when Randy Orton FROM OUT OF NOWHERE with the RKO.
These men don’t like each other, you see.
THE BIG GUY
Do I need to say more? Ryback squashing heels is the best thing and they need to let him be as goofy as he really is to make this better. On Friday night they did a great thing where Heath Slater was dressed up like a scarecrow and had a fake hand in his shirt, which when Ryback went to whip him he just ripped the hand off. Slater said, “I just wanted to play a trick on the big guy,” which prompted Ryback chuckling and saying, “So you wanted to trick the Big Guy, huh?” then annihilating him.
Let Ryback be THE BIG GUY and he’ll be incredible and make the WWE money. Try to make him into Goldberg or whatever he was in that awful tag team and he’s worth nothing.
Randy Orton Gets Written Off in Glorious Fashion
Without Brock Lesnar or John Cena on the show WWE has had to be truly creative, which has led to Seth Rollins as THE top heel in the organization, which is a trip and a half to be sure. They decided to run Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton in the main event in hopes that they would settle their differences and be done with it, only for Randy Orton to be increasingly violent throughout the match, which Triple H and Stephanie did not approve of.
Orton went for the RKO and Rollins reversed into a backslide for the three count and the clean pinfall victory over Orton. Orton flipped his lid, but the Authority wanted them to make up. So Orton went back into the ring and shook the hands of Mercury, Noble and Kane, then relented and shook Rollins’s hand, only to, well, you can figure it out — FROM OUT OF NOWHERE — it was an RKO. Chaos ensued, only for Triple H to talk Randy down off that ledge.
As you can imagine, it didn’t last very long, Orton bumping shoulders with Triple H on the way out and then attacking him, leading to an epic beatdown and Stephanie ordering the “final hit” on Orton, which was a Curb Stomp by Rollins off the table onto the steel steps. This was, of course, a way of writing Randy Orton off of television while he films “The Condemned 2.” So I guess Seth’s new gimmick is Curb Stomping people into movie roles?
This was also the SECOND occurrence of “color” on the program, with Randy Orton busted open. Maybe they are trying to show more blood to attract a more mature audience now? That would be cool.
Rusev is Your NEW Hero
After Raw went off the air, WWE took to the WWE Network for a special post-Raw main event in a US Title match between Rusev and Sheamus. They gave it a solid 15 minutes of time and it was a pretty good match. The right thing happened with Rusev taking the title and it was an interesting call to put it on the Network during a free month. They are setting up the Network as “must-have” for fans of WWE right now and for free it’s a no-brainer. All you have to do is have the app on a smartphone, tablet, game console or just watch it on your computer.
But they’ve proven that things that impact current WWE storylines can happen on the Network. They should have been doing overruns onto the Network for ages now, and no, I don’t mean Hulk Hogan interviews like they’ve been doing. I mean matches. That is why we watch wrestling, isn’t it?