Quick Thoughts: RAW 11/28/2011 and Smackdown 11/29/2011

Yeah, so I got a little lazy plus I missed the first 30-45 minutes of RAW as I got free third row tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show at the last minute. What? One, you don’t turn down free show tickets in this town. Two, yeah I like “arty” stuff, too. “Wanna fight about it?” asks the nerd writing about wrestling.

And for the one of you that might be wondering (hypothetically), it was fantastic.

But hey, this way I can cover both shows without feeling bad about neglecting one of them!

1. Piper’s Pit

I have to admit, I loved this segment. I’m a big Piper fan and I thought the stuff he did with Cena here was outstanding. I like how WWE is slowly addressing the fact that Cena gets a mixed reaction (at best). It feels like it’s a slow burn to something, though it might not be (obviously), but at least it’s interesting. I’ve said it a few months back John Cena is a heel that gets cheered by little kids. I’ve seen people agree with similar ideas and that’s cool. It’s a different sort of character, one that I wonder where its going…just as long as he isn’t Supermaning it up too much.

2. The Miz: Kicker of Asses

I still find it unfortunate that the Awesome Truth had to break up (and be treated as they were for the last month of their existence) as they were, but I like The Miz a lot. His dismantling of R-Truth and John Morrison in consecutive weeks has been great. I know some have felt that Morrison got too much in his “farewell” match, but I don’t think they’re done with JoMo in the long run. Besides, the point was clearly made, was it not?

Also, I thought Johnny Ace coming out to check on Morrison, but not really caring was a very nice touch.

3. Wrestling on a Wrestling Show

What has been up with them the past couple of weeks? What is this I see on my television? Wrestling? Is that was it’s called? Solid/good/great and long matches on free TV? This is so strange. Can you tell that I’m loving this direction? If you can’t, here you go: I love all of this wrestling WWE has been putting on TV. Clear enough? This week had a nice Orton/Ziggler match (with Dolph going over cleanly) and a very good Punk/ADR main event with a great Eddie Guerrero homage toward the finish. Kudos, WWE. Kudos.

4. The Divas: Do Something With Them Please

I know it’s easy to say that the Divas suck, they can’t wrestle, etc. But do we actually know that? Meaning, do we really know if they’re any good or not? It’s hard to tell when they’re given roughly two minutes of time and that’s including entrances. Either let them show what they can (or cannot) do or don’t bother. It’s really a shame for all the ladies involved and it’s not fair in the slightest. That said, the Divas of Doom literal run-in was hysterical to me.

5. No Real Complaints About the Show

The Diva thing aside (and that’s a minor quibble as it was so brief), what was there to dislike about this RAW? This is an actual question. Some storylines were progressed. We got some good matches. Daniel Bryan showed that he can work the mic (contrary to the belief of many). Wade Barrett continues to justify the praise I was giving him a few months ago (thanks, Wade!). Dolph is still the man. Cena is actually interesting.

Are you not entertained? You should be as the track record seems to indicate that this can’t possibly last for very long. Shame.

1. THIS Is How You Use Legends

If there’s one thing WWE tends to do pretty well (Kevin Nash notwithstanding) is the use of legends. WWE uses the old names sparingly. An appearance here or there (Piper’s Pit) and, at most, a short program (as you can see developing between Booker T and Cody Rhodes). It’s the smart way to go about it. They don’t put either World Championships on them as is the case with some other promotions.

The idea is simple: I like Mick Foley (as an example). I like him a lot, he’s one of my favorites of all time going back to being a little kid yelling “Bang bang” with him during his WCW days. His “retirement” at the hands of Triple H saddened me a great deal to the point that my then way-too-good/hot-for-me-girlfriend at the time even humored me about the whole deal; even if it was over something silly like professional wrestling. BUT, I don’t want to see him in the ring on a regular basis anymore. Every once in a long while, sure, but not for a long period of time.

2. Speaking of Legends…

Am I the only one that busted up when Dusty Rhodes encountered Goldust? Maybe so, but I thought that was pretty damn great. The Christmas Party was definitely hit and miss (probably more miss than hit), but there were some pretty good moments and the Rhodes Family Reunion was definitely a hit for me.

3. Cody Rhodes Is Even Better Without the Mask

I still haven’t figured out who Cody Rhodes is in the Marvel Universe. To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought, but with an entire week off, I’ll think of something. In any case, Cody continues his run of awesomeness and I’m very much looking forward to his match(es) with Booker T. I think they’ll be of good quality, plus it gives something for Cody to do for a little while and it’ll help with credibility: beating a future HoFer will do that for you. As with Dolph Ziggler, the sky is the limit for Cody and I can’t wait to see where both of them go in the coming years.

4. It’s Okay For Wrestling to Be Cute Every So Often

In what was, to me, a largely inoffensive show (Divas stuff aside; I covered this already), it did get rather cute. You know what? That’s alright. Wrestling, when done correctly, has always been a bit of a sideshow attraction. I’ll explain. Even when there’s the big time, serious matches, there have always been room for the “oddities” (no, not those Oddities, but they were initial over…despite what revisionist wrestling historians will tell you). So, there will always be room for a guy like Hornswoggle. The kids love him and, despite what you may think, that’s what it’s about. Sure, we may think it’s stupid that Hornswoggle somehow wins the battle royale, but it brought a smile to all the kids’ faces (well, most of them at least) and it doesn’t actually hurt Sheamus in the long run. Everyone knows he could have kicked Hornswoggle out of the arena if he really wanted to. My only complaint would be it took a little long.

Again, very inoffensive, even if it’s a bit eyerolling for the adults. My sister, a very brand new and very casual fan, actually “aww’d” when she assumed Sheamus would be tossing Hornswoggle into the twentieth row. That’s the point. It wasn’t for us. We can get over it. Trust me. If we can get over Mae Young giving birth to a hand, we can get over a little person winning a meaningless battle royale.

5. The Slow Burn of Daniel Bryan

I really like what they’re doing with the American Dragon. He even gets to on air kiss, AJ. Lucky dog. Anyway, back to the point, they’re inserting him into a high profile storyline with the unstoppable World’s Strongest Man. They’re gauging the interest, if any, the audience has for him. When he cashed in, that particular crowd loved it. This show? Well, they didn’t like him all that much at first, but during the cage match, they started the rally behind him. That’s a very good thing. It’s a simple story: Bryan can’t beat Mark Henry. No matter what. But the much smaller submission specialist just…won’t…stay…down. No matter what. He’ll keep coming back for more. Because he’s good…and good is dumb.

His losses now will make his winning sometime down the row (assuming that they will pull the trigger on it)  mean that much more if/when it happens. The cage match itself was a classic example of a big man/little man match. The big man should be tossing the smaller guy around like Mark Henry did. Bryan got plenty of “Oh! Almost!” moments and the finish was a good one. No one is kicking out of the World’s Strongest Slam off the second rope. No one.

Final Thoughts on Both Shows

RAW was really damn good. Diva stuff aside, which is more of a comment of how they’re used overall, I have absolutely no complaints about the show. RAW is more able to hit homeruns when compared to Smackdown and this was an example of it.

Smackdown was fine, in my opinion. Was it anything special? No, not really and, to be honest, this was a subpar episode of SD which tends to be consistently good. But that doesn’t mean it was bad, it just wasn’t good as it normally is. Perhaps the loss of some of the RAW guys handcuffed them, but it is rather sad that they put out a rather ho-hum show on what should have been a special Super Duper Live Smackdown.

 

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