Welcome to this week’s edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down the hits and misses of last night’s broadcast. Be sure to chime in with your own thoughts and opinions either on Twitter (@RingRap), onFacebook, or in the comments below. We’d love to have your feedback on the show for discussion on RingRap Audio.
BY THE WAY!! RingRap Audio moves to Tuesday nights, starting TONIGHT. So be sure to get that feedback in, as we plan to record around 6PM EST.
One other thing – next week’s Raw Afterthoughts will be the special “Year End Raw Awards” Edition. If you have nominees for various categories like Match of the Year, Performer of the Year, Diva of the Year, etc., feel free to hit me on Twitter (@Bill_SoonerFan) and let me know!
1. An Opening Present…
The opening segment had me burning through beer at record pace. The folks at the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, PA would be proud. But, this match helped slow the pace, and I was glad. Cena and Rollins put on a strong match and a surprising clean finish that made the show immediately feel worthwhile. Before everyone drops off the ledge and gets upset about Rollins losing clean – listen, he’s not going to get hurt by one clean loss. I do enjoy the story of Rollins finding ways to worm out of losses though.
I do wonder why WWE gave away this, and several other big matches, last night on TV. WWE really could take the luster off of some of those matchups since they were already on free TV.
2. Wrong Gimmick, But Good Match…
I hate the idea of putting two talents like Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose work a silly Christmas themed match. Wyatt is a dark character, and Ambrose has a cool factor, both of which just don’t mesh with the Christmas themed weapons. That said, they get a hit for the effort they put in. They go all out in their matches, and that was evident last night as well. WWE needs to cut back on the number of these matches they’re having though, and present them a bit more like the serious and dangerous feud than silly fun.
3. Titanic Letdown…
Roman Reigns is supposed to be “the guy” going into 2015. Right now, it’s just not working. He wasn’t promoted well in his return match against Fandango (which was puzzlingly more competitive than it should have been). Last night, he got thrust into what seems to be a program with Big Show going forward toward Royal Rumble. We’re going to see non-finishes (like last night) and some back and forth between these two. Reigns will eventually go over in the program, but I have to wonder if this is really helping him get to be that hot new act they want him to be.
4. That’s No Way to Present a Legend…
You’ll get zero argument from me, or many others, that TNA did not handle Hulk Hogan in the right way. He was extremely overexposed by that company, but at least he was always treated like the legend he is, like him or not. Last night, Hogan ended up being featured in a campy Christmas opening segment dressed up as Santa. This has become the norm for how WWE has handled him and he should mean more than that. He’s someone who carried the company through the 80’s and is still one of the most recognizable faces in the business. I’m sure he appreciates the payday, but WWE needs to do a better job presenting him, and all legends, rather than having them do stuff like this and pimp charity for them.
5. Solid Rematch…
Luke Harper cashed in his rematch for the Intercontinental Championship last night against Dolph Ziggler. Yet again, the two men worked very hard and put on a good title match. Dolph sold like a champ for Harper’s offense, and they had some creative spots along the way. I just wonder why they gave this away on TV, and why they feel like they’re burning through this feud so fast. There’s more story to tell here. I’m glad though that it seems Dolph is getting more than just regaining the title though.
6. Tag Team Silliness…
First, we have the issue of the Ascension. It looks like they’ll be arriving next week, and right now it seems they’re going to be comedy spoofs of the original Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal, a/k/a The Road Warriors). Between the cheap lines, the indy-riffic LOD styled gear and bad production of the vignettes, I can’t believe WWE thinks any of these are cool as we open up 2015.
Then there’s the case of Los Matadores and El Reino. I drank a bunch of beer last night, so I was hoping what I saw was just an aberration and it wasn’t actually on the show. Sadly, it was on the show. It was campy, bad, and just not appealing to me at all. Vince was clearly appealing to kids, but I don’t even think they cared.
7. BAH GAWD! That Bunny Has a Family!
Adam Rose snapped on the Bunny last night. It wasn’t Kane who came out to rough him up. Are we getting closer to unmasking the bunny, or just going away? That by itself is a plus. It feels like they’re pushing Rose toward a heel turn, and I think with good positioning he can do well in that role.
8. We’re Back to the Beginning?
I’m not sure why WWE went back to vignettes for the New Day act. Do they think by re-airing the packages fans will finally get the purpose of the group? I guess it beats the way they’ve been handled so far on TV, but in any event it’s a big miss.
9. Marriage Issues Continue, But is a Title Shot in Her Future?
It seems like they’re setting Natalya up to be the “challenger of the month” to Nikki Bella’s Divas Championship. The more fun part of it though is her act with Tyson Kidd though. There’s some decent stuff going on there. We need to get more promo time out of them, though – just like a lot of other acts. With three hours of television, it can’t be that damn hard to find. Cole had to explain the whole story of Natalya’s reaction to Kidd checking on Nikki – something that would have made a lot more sense coming from the principal parties involved.
10. Time for Another Losing Streak
Fandango’s newest gimmick was dead on arrival, and last night’s match with Jack Swagger was proof. The live crowd just didn’t care. Johnny Curtis – the man behind Fandango – is really talented, but his gimmick right now is to dance, stare at Rosa Mendes (who wouldn’t want to, right?) and that’s it. Curtis has a lot of upside, but this gimmick holds him back.
Then there’s Swagger, another talented guy who is on a skid again. It seems WWE only wants to book him to win when he’s leading up to a match with Rusev. But, Rusev now has a dance partner in the bow-clad Ryback (yes, I did slam my beer at that one), so Swagger’s back to undercard fodder.
That’s it for this week. Remember, RingRap Audio records TONIGHT, so get your thoughts in early, and be sure to join me next week for the “Year End Awards” edition of Raw Afterthoughts. Merry Christmas to all of you!