I could crack on about what’s been taking place on Raw and SmackDown since the last time I mentioned them, but that’s been way too long. I just want to give a view on how things are at the moment. The SmackDown review will be posted tomorrow.
Just to remind you why I’m into things like pro-wrestling. I like it because it’s a good chance to watch storytelling and athleticism in a way that at least comes across as animated and enthralling. At its best pro-wrestling can come across as great drama (I mean that) and can suck the viewer into seeing whether or not the face can overcome the odds or even – and this is where it gets good – if he should overcome the odds.
At the moment the flagship show of WWE remains Monday Night Raw. The recent PPV was Bragging Rights setting both brands against each other and Smackdown came out triumphant for the second year in a row, but that was really about establishing Smackdown as a contender with their recent move to the SyFy channel. It would be evident to any casual observer that the main energy is focussed on what goes on in the ‘red’ brand.
Presently everything is surrounding the storyling of John Cena vs. Nexus. Much more successfully than the Spirit Squad the company have invested a lot in the Nexus concept. At present because of the push it is floating, but it’s hardly as dominant and as catching as other factions have been. That is understandable seeing as though we’re talking about wrestling rookies in the main and ‘handing them the baton’ at such an early stage is bound to take time to set in. For all that, though, I don’t think the storyline has been too shabby.
The predicament Cena finds himself in as being ordered to follow Wade Barrett or get fired is an intriguing proposition and is doing two important things. Firstly it is solidifying the face status of John Cena. Mega merchandise mule that he is, Cena has not always been popular with all viewers of the WWE product. I myself don’t rate him that highly, though I acknowledge that his current position is deserved on the strength of the way he presents himself in and out of the ring. This storyline heightens the whole thing of him being a face in a way that most people would acknowledge and accept.
This is further highlighted by the second important thing. This storyline has elevated Wade Barrett in particular and to a lesser extent Nexus in the viewing conscious. David Otunga’s getting his airplay, but this feud is really about Barrett and Cena and Wade is being pushed and thriving on the push in a very similar way to Sheamus’ rocket rise to the top. Although he’s not as yet totally convincing in the ring, Barrett definitely knows his way of conducting himself as a heel. If he does win the title at Survivor Series I wouldn’t mind, it would be nice to see another new name with the title. I don’t think he will, there’s too much stacked in his favour for WWE to simply let it all happen. Yet this is the intriguing thing about decent storyline development – keeping the interest through various dips and turns.
The actual champion, Randy Orton, remains in the mix and this week’s Raw looked to heighten his role in things, yet despite having the belt and now being turned, he doesn’t come across as the top babyface, or indeed the top wrestler in the company – that’s booked to still revert to Cena. For all that Orton is still getting good crowd reactions and he’s playing up the Viper personality that is now acceptable whatever acts he does – like RKO’ing Cena or whoever. It is going to be intriguing to see what the company do with him in the short term, whether he’s destined to retain the title in the run-up to Wrestlemania. I sincerely hope it’s not another Cena-Orton clash for that event, but then there’s always the other factor of the returning Triple H and his role in the bigger scale of things.
Outside the main event scene, Raw is ticking over without hot-shotting others to the top. Doing well at the moment, despite the comedy skits he still appears in, is the Money in the Bank winner The Miz, who doesn’t have that long until his time with the briefcase is over. He is still over as a big heel. That was no less highlighted by his status as the captain for Raw at Bragging Rights. I hope he gets that final push as his on-air performances have merited and it will be fascinating to see if he can run with the ball if given to him.
When you look at the heel state of things though, outside CM Punk who has Indie-cred, the top-line heels – Barrett, The Miz and Sheamus – are all relatively green wrestlers – where were they two years ago? As a result the in-ring action suffers so that it’s workmanlike almost join-the-dots wrestling that requires a smart wrestler to take it to another level in terms of excitement. This makes the loss of Chris Jericho to rock stardom and Edge to SmackDown all the more intriguing.
Despite that there is still a lot of potential in the mid-card and there are a number of break-out stars patiently waiting their turn the likes of Ted DiBiasie, Evan Bourne and John Morrison are a decent feud away from the upper end of the roster. I’m glad Daniel Bryan is being trusted with a run with the US Title, I fear though that he doesn’t have that WWE look and requirement that will take him further in the organisation and there’s little worse than having a stillbirth of a career at the major player in the pro-wrestling scene.
At present watching Raw is not the highlight of the week and it’s not something that brings out great passion and excitement. Thankfully, though, neither is it something that completely turns me off either because of the inept storylines or boring characters being pushed – and there was a time when both were the case. It’s a funny time in the fortunes of the wrestling industry at this end, and without being an insider, there’s just a feeling that it’s on the upper crest of a wave to enjoy another boom season – that is only if the most is made of the potential they have.