Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: Vince McMahon returns and is headed to No Way Out, C.M. Punk and A.J. vs. Daniel Bryan and Kane, Vader makes a surprise appearance, Sheamus vs. Tensai
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Dolph Ziggler vs. Christian vs. The Great Khali vs. Jack Swagger: I loved the way they added the elimination stipulation rather than going with a single fall deciding the match. It was a consistently solid match, and it was downright awesome once it came down to Ziggler and Christian. WWE should be giving serious consideration to putting the title on Ziggler. Smackdown desperately needs star power. Sheamus is just as over with or without the title right now, whereas putting the belt on Ziggler would give him instant credibility and could make him a star. Plus, it would give Smackdown a strong top feud.
C.M. Punk and A.J. vs. Daniel Bryan and Kane: I enjoyed everything they did with these four. The announcement of the match itself was an intriguing hook, as I know I wanted to see what would happen with A.J. during the match. The way it played out was a lot of fun. They've done a great job of establishing that A.J. could side with any of the three men on Sunday. My guess remains that she remains ends up with the guy who seems to want her around the least going into the show - Daniel Bryan.
Vader returns: A nice surprise that the live crowd absolutely loved. It was cool to see a legend return and look very similar to the way he looked in his prime. Granted, he's added a few pounds and he's not as agile as he once was, but this was a fun one-off appearance.
Sheamus vs. Tensai: A hard-hitting and entertaining match. Tensai has actually done more to win me over in his losses to John Cena and Sheamus over the last two weeks than he did when he was squashing opponents and even pinning Cena. I'm not sure where they are going with Tensai now that he destroyed his man servant Sakamoto. Was that a blowoff for Sakamoto or are they setting up a feud between the two? Sheamus had a good night in the ring, but I cringed at the way he was gushing over how good Vince McMahon looked.
Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston: I'd love to see creative get behind Kingston as a singles act again now that the company is coping with multiple injuries and suspensions. However, Big Show is the guy who is headlining the pay-per-view on Sunday and thus needed to go over in dominating fashion. Granted, it didn't have to be Kingston, but they told a logical story with Kingston stepping up to avenge his tag partner R-Truth, who is legitimately out with an injury. I liked the way Kingston attacked Show at the start, just as he should have considering that he was angry going into the match. Kofi also got a couple of nice hope spots before losing. Nicely done.
Overall show: A nice improvement over some of the lousy shows the company has produced in recent weeks. The live crowd was hot for Vince McMahon (aside from the awful Jim Ross impersonation) and his segments with John Laurinaitis were entertaining. They added some juice to No Way Out by announcing that he will be at ringside and will fire Big Johnny if Big Show loses. Granted, there was a big bait and switch with all the hype for Vince making a decision regarding Laurinaitis's employment by the end of the night, but they turned it into a hook for a pay-per-view that really needed one. Granted, there's only so much interest that WWE can generate in teasing that Laurinaitis's job is on the line yet again, but the involvement of Vince McMahon may help.
WWE Raw Misses
Vince McMahon channels the Oklahoma character: Vince McMahon actually mocked Jim Ross's facial paralysis and WWE had the balls to air a Be A Star video later in the show. This is just another example Vince pulling a dick move by picking on Ross. In his warped mind, Vince might feel as though this was friendly ribbing, but this came across like mean spirited nonsense. Impersonate Ross and have fun with his persona all you want, but leave the pathetic facial paralysis mocking out of it.
John Cena and Big Show: I feel for Big Show. The guy is delivering strong promos and they are booking him the way a giant should be booked by having him destroy people heading into his big showdown match with the top babyface in the company. The problem continues to be that Cena is happy go lucky and isn't showing any sign that this match is any bigger than his match with John Laurinaitis was last month. It's worth noting that Cena seemed to telegraph the outcome of the match by laying out what a joke Big Show would be if he loses the match on Sunday. I was stunned that the live crowd broke out a "holy shit" chant for the Big Show punch on Vince McMahon that never even came close.
Sin Cara vs. Curt Hawkins: The three-hour factor and multiple commercial breaks seemed to get the best of the live crowd just in time for this match. There was nothing wrong with the match, it just didn't come off well on television. I'm not a big fan of the mood lighting and it's especially bad when the live crowd is also quiet.
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