Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Old School Raw makes me question the point of old school, Jake "The Snake" Roberts surprises, Roman Reigns vs. C.M. Punk, and more!
By Will Pruett
On the first Old School Raw, something transcendent happened. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper delivered an all-time great promo focused on John Cena, Wade Barrett, and the WWE Championship. It was like nothing I had seen before it. It effectively worked a legend into a current storyline and made everyone involved seem more important. Piper added gravity to the story. This was the perfect use of a legend. Where was this on Old School Raw?
Sure, we saw a short segment with Piper sowing a little more dissension within The Shield, but it wasn't great. It didn't move anything forward. What about Jake "The Snake" Roberts' surprise appearance? It was very fun. Seeing Jake doing so well in front of a WWE crowd again was awesome. Who benefitted from it? Where was the focus? Look at The New Age Outlaws endorsing and backing up C.M. Punk. It was an odd combination of talent and I'm not sure Punk benefitted. Did any legends actually help current WWE talent get over?
This was what I feared when I first heard about Old School Raw in 2010. WWE proved me wrong then. I bought into the old school concept. I'm a sucker for retro graphics and scenic elements. WWE succeeded in building a mashup of their 1996-1998 Raw sets. They succeeded visually, but not a single story was moved forward on this show.
Why not have a legend Daniel Bryan can relate to discuss his Wyatt Family membership? Bryan does well in face to face confrontations. Where were the legends chiming in about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (aside from Flair)? Did we need to see an extended squash match for Rikishi and Too Cool? I know WWE loves to mix in some fun, but this was a long, boring match for what it was.
WWE didn't use legends to advance anything. They were paraded out for an empty nostalgia pop, then put back into storage. There were so many missed opportunities on this show.
While last week was a pleasant surprise with a great deal of plot development, this week was the exact opposite. I expected WWE to move at least one program forward a little. Instead, they went into a holding pattern and combined it with nostalgia. It was all about the past. I don't watch current TV to experience the past. This was a three hour investment in empty nostalgia.
And one for some random thoughts:
- I'm trying not to let my own anger at Ric Flair and his awful support of the 49ers get in my way, but did WWE really need to remind me of the Packers' loss to open Raw? It was upsetting on every level.
- I found the opening with John Cena, Randy Orton, and Ric Flair boring. They basically said everything they have said before, including Cena's overt praise of Flair. It wasn't bad, but it was a nothing segment.
- I'm happy to hear Jerry Lawler is okay after a health scare yesterday.
- JBL's night dressed up as 1980's Vince McMahon was great. This was the best thing JBL's done in a long time.
- The followup to Daniel Bryan becoming Daniel Wyatt was disappointing. I understand WWE attempting to establish chemistry in the group early on and showing Bryan struggling to fit in, but why have them lose their first match together? The win did nothing for Rey Mysterio and The Uso's.
- I am less optimistic about Bryan and the Wyatt Family than I was last week. Hopefully this is a bump in the road of an interesting story.
- Batista entering the Royal Rumble is a big announcement. I probably would have waited for Batista to mention it in his return promo, but I can't blame WWE for hyping it early.
- What kind of fans choose Sgt. Slaughter over Bob Backlund and Arn Anderson? Some people are just messed up.
- Big E Langston vs. Ryback could be a fun clash of power wrestlers to further establish Big E. Ryback was good on commentary. I enjoyed this segment.
- Piper's Pit was not a bad segment, but it didn't exactly light the world on fire. It was fun to see Dean Ambrose interact with Roddy Piper. Everyone from The Shield impressed me with their promo abilities here.
- How cool must this night have been for Ambrose? First, he got to interact with Roddy Piper, then he was snaked by "The Snake" which was super cool. Ambrose's smile at the end of the show said it all.
- Roddy Piper looked downright vibrant on this show. His performance wasn't amazing, but he looked to be in great shape.
- Sin Cara número dos: now in purple!
- Alberto Del Rio vs. Batista makes me want to fall asleep. Hopefully this just leads to a fun Rumble segment and not a full match.
- Daniel Bryan joined the Wyatt Family to become a monster. I guess I'm okay with this.
- Goldust and Cody Rhodes are far too good as a tag team and at wrestling. You can tell they love what they're doing and they love performing together. The Rhodes Brothers are a highlight of every show they're on.
- Antonio Cesaro is an old school throwback himself. I'd love to see him get super old school on these special shows.
- I don't think DDP's pitch for his yoga was fake. I'm convinced Booker T just had a camera in the room and all of WWE knew what would happen.
- Why is Ranjin Singh back? Did the WWE writer really need the pay day?
- I'm of two minds about the Brock Lesnar segment. Brock, Heyman, Henry, and Show all played their parts really well. I'm just not all that excited about the match it set up. I've seen Show vs. Lesnar and I don't think they'll top what they did in 2003.
- Is Mark Henry hurt again? The arm breaking angle usually implies time off. Henry definitely hasn't been able to settle into a rhythm since his original Hall of Pain days in 2011.
- Once again, I was surprised to see that Aksana exists.
- The Too Cool and Rikishi reunion didn't excite me. Seeing them squash 3MB felt like a waste of time and effort. No one was terrible in it, but nothing was accomplished with this time.
- Bad News Barrett is on his fourth or fifth podium. Is someone at WWE constantly designing new podiums for him?
- Mean Gene's 900 line commercial pitch was excellent. Why get your parents' permission? Call now!
- C.M. Punk vs. Roman Reigns was not as good as I had hoped it would be. Reigns seemed lost at moments and relied too heavily on a long rest hold. Reigns didn't seem ready for the big spotlight. He could use another year in The Shield to work on fundamentals. He is a great part of that act. He just didn't seem ready for a main event style singles match.
- Punk really carried Reigns through their match and it was obvious. Punk was a professional here and did really well. The end of the match even came off well with enough movement and chaos on the outside to make up for what was lacking on the inside.
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts was a super cool surprise and an amazing way to cap off the night.
WWE went for safety in storytelling and relied on nostalgia to entertain fans. It was not a bad show, but it also did not reward viewers for committing their time to it. This show lacked the movement last week's show presented. Hopefully they can get back on track as the Royal Rumble approaches.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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