WWE "go home" shows always seem to be the most scrutinized.
Often, pundits will cast away the past several weeks of television and focus most on the last Raw before a pay-per-view event, often with the same question -- did this show make me interested in buying the pay-per-view?
While it's a fair question, perhaps its a skewed way to look at it when you are analyzing just one isolated show -- in particular, the closing moments of that show.
If we were to do that for this past episode of Raw, then the closing segment did a very good job of creating interest and generating buys for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view coming this Sunday.
The last image you saw on Raw was CM Punk holding the WWE championship, the title he claims he didn't lose, and the Rock, recovering from a GTS. The bad guy challenger gets the upper hand on the good guy champion going into a big event where the cards are stacked against the good guy (the stipulation that if The Rock gets disqualified or counted out, CM Punk takes the WWE title). This is a formula that has worked for several decades in WWE, with hero champions such as Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and John Cena.
It's what happened prior to this scene that was confusing. The Rock played "story time" with the Nashville audience, telling a story from his teenage years (the story can be verified to be true, as a version of it also appears in the "Wrestling With The Truth" autobiography of Bruno Lauer, also known as Downtown Bruno). It was an entertaining story, just not necessarily relevant to his WWE title match on Sunday.
But that's par for the course for The Rock -- if he is visiting a city he hasn't been in in a very long time, he will tell you why that city is important to him, tell a story from his life then move on to business.
The fans don't seem to care, so in the end neither should critics.
Elsewhere on Raw, Kane beat Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho beat Daniel Bryan to quality for the Elimination Chamber match. The six in the match are now: Jericho, Kane, Bryan, Mark Henry, Randy Orton and Jack Swagger.
Speaking of Swagger, he has a new manager. It is Zeb Coulter -- once known in WWF in the mid-1990s as Uncle Zebekiah (managing Jacob and Eli Blu), and also famously known in pro wrestling as "Dirty" Dutch Mantel.
He cut a promo after Jack Swagger defeated Zack Ryder, and it was interesting for many reasons.
For one, Swagger has a different direction his character is taking -- gone is the "All-American American American" and here to stay is the "Real American," who is apparently upset that immigrants live in the United States (feuds with Sin Cara and Sheamus are built in).
Another big reason is the tone of the promo -- it pushed the envelope, despite having carefully selected sentence structure. It's worth watching back to see what I mean. In different words, it would have been a very fitting 1980s southern heel promo.
** The tag team division seems to be doing a 180 again. Team Hell No and Team Rhodes Scholars were rejuvenating my interest, and now Team Rhodes Scholars are broken up and Team Hell No hasn't defended the titles in a while. On Raw, we saw a seemingly new tag team of Brodus Clay and Tensai. Before that, the Khali and Hornswoggle pairing (who didn't team up on Raw, but have in the past). Comedy once again reigns supreme in this division.
** John Cena/Sheamus/Ryback beat 3MB in what can only be described as WWE's version of the Harlem Globetrotters beating the Washington Generals.
** Paul Heyman gave an impassioned promo to begin Raw, resigning from WWE before CM Punk talked him out of it. The pair even hugged it out.
Arda Ocal is an on air personality with theScore Television Network. Follow him on Twitter @arda_ocalCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun