With a special three-hour Raw, WWE had an opportunity to present a special go-home show to Sunday's Extreme Rules.
That extra hour could mean lengthier matches, or more contests. Instead, the show featured the typical amount of wrestling featured in a routine two-hour episode and an overabundance of promos, segments and video packages, many of which were unnecessary.
Perhaps the writers thought this should would actually build toward Extreme Rules, which at this point only has five announced matches, or maybe episodes like this show the lack of depth in the WWE roster.
I was not inclined to accept the latter, given that so many worthy talents seem poised to be left off the show. But in the final stretch, they crammed in the Tag Team and United States champions, Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Brodus Clay.
Still, where were Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater and Tyson Kidd? How about The Usos or Titus O'Neil and Darren Young? There are plenty of other stars that could have been featured on this show. Heaven forbid, maybe there could have been a second divas match rather than forcing them all on screen as lumberjills.
There is no shortage of talent on the WWE roster. The problem lies in the booking and planning of the show. Matches could have been given more time, things could have been restructured and the show could have been smooth flowing.
Rather, it seemed to drag on for much longer than even three hours. Yes, it's crucial to build to the upcoming pay-per-view, but it would been nice to see something that would establish the rest of the card rather than what seems like filler content.
WWE has announced a pre-show match pitting The Miz against Santino Marella, but the company has failed to announce more than five matches for the main card of the show. That seems almost inexcusable, and the time on Raw wasted on CM Punk's field sobriety tests, the umpteenth murder of Paul Bearer and other time-killing segments could have been used to accomplish that goal.
Nothing on this show really increased my desire to purchase Extreme Rules. I expect Punk and Chris Jericho to put on a heck of a show; I didn't need their bits to sell me on that. John Cena and Brock Lesnar have already done their part to hype the show. The Randy Orton-Kane interactions may have actually decreased my interest in their blow-off match and Daniel Bryan and Sheamus' angle didn't really do much.
Overall, the extra hour on Monday night's Raw seemed unnecessary and didn't add much to the quality of the show. If this extra time was used to give deserving stars a chance to compete on television or to build meaningful stories, it would be worthwhile. But with shows like this, that's clearly not what we're getting.
* Lesnar laid out a list of demands to John Laurinaitis in order for him to sign the contract for his match Sunday. He wanted control, a private jet, etc. It sounded kind of reminiscent of something from last summer. All the seemed to be missing were requests for ice cream bars and the rehiring of Colt Cabana. Laurinaitis agreed to the demands, and as Lesnar put his name to paper, Cena emerged with a chain on his fist. In the end, they both signed the paper and no one went through a table. I thought this was a professional wrestling show …
* Jericho and Kofi Kingston had another strong match together. It's a shame that Kingston has been playing a supporting role here because he and Jericho trading victories and having a full-fledged feud could produce a series of quality matches.
* The follow-up with Punk's field sobriety tests fell flat with me. While it got a little funny by the end, it took a long time to get there and was completely predictable. I also have to give Punk a little ribbing for transposing S and T while reciting the alphabet backwards, but 24 out of 26 isn't bad. Not as bad as the overall segment anyway.
* Daniel Bryan was appointed the guest referee for a match between World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and Mark Henry. The match turned into a quick angle, with Sheamus unable to hit Bryan because of his ban on touching referees and Bryan counting a quick three to give Henry a victory. After the match, Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Henry and ended up in the Yes Lock. There wasn't much here to talk about really.
* Nikki Bella won the Divas Championship, ending Beth Phoenix's reign mere days before it set a record for length, in a Lumberjill match. Phoenix appeared that she may have legitimately hurt her ankle, or she did a superb job of selling. Hopefully this sets up for something, such as the return of Kharma, who was mocked by the Bellas on her way out the door, and isn't just a way to stop Phoenix from breaking Maryse's record. As for the match itself, it wasn't bad and was actually given more time than most divas matches.
* A week after scoring a major win over Cena, Lord Tensai resorted back to his squash match ways, destroying R-Truth. What was the point in putting him over Cena if it was just going to fall back to this? I'm all for giving a storyline time to play out, but that is completely one-step-forward, two-steps-back booking for Tensai.
* Big Show and The Great Khali scored yet another win as a tag team. If they are seriously going to push this team, they will likely get the titles, and that will be a sad day. The match was slow and plodding. The highlight of the match was the fact Big Show sold the knee for most of the match, but in the end, it couldn't save this from being less-then-thrilling. One also has to question the treatment of Cody Rhodes and Alberto Del Rio here, as they are two rising stars who are being squandered with this booking.
* Well, the good news is that Tag Team Champions Primo and Epico got on television. The bad news is they lost their second straight television match, this time falling to the comedic duo of Zack Ryder and Santino Marella. The champs are losing more than they're winning, and doing so to Marella, who is also the United States champion, doesn't do much for either title, as one is going ignored while the other champs are being made to look really, really weak. Primo and Epico are one of about two authentic tag teams in the WWE, so it makes perfect sense for them to be buried, right?
* The technical "main event" match also devolved into an angle, as Vickie Guerrero entered the ring and slapped Clay as he and Hornswoggle faced Swagger and Ziggler. The babyfaces won by disqualification, only for Guerrero to have a standoff with Clay's dancers and Hornswoggle. Maybe Clay was better off with the squash matches.
* Kane and Randy Orton continued their daddy issues this week, as Orton locked Paul Bearer in a freezer. Kane, though, said he had no intention of saving Bearer, as he's always believed the devil himself to be his true father. At the point, Bearer has died more times than Kenny from "South Park," so does it really have the big of an emotional effect? The two then brawled, and in the end, Orton stood tall after beating Kane with a steel pipe.
* Lesnar's assault on Josh Matthews backstage made for a good segment. WWE has tried to establish Lesnar as the heel in this feud, and this helped put some heat on him. What didn't help was playing the exact same interview video that was played on both Raw and Smackdown last week.
* Eve seduced her way into an executive role in Laurinaitis' administration. The short promo played of Eve's character that's been established in recent months, and it will be interesting to see where the angle heads from here.
* Edge showed he hasn't lost a step on the microphone during his year away from the business. He did a good job in his show-opening promo with Cena, trying to wake up the Cena of the past who was willing to get serious and take care of business.
* I found it "interesting" that the two clips of Lesnar's past WWE focused on showed him destroying Jeff Hardy and Kurt Angle, two main event talents now working for the competition.
* Teddy Long screwed up Cena's introduction. This is why I wish Long had ridden off into the sunset of retirement after WrestleMania.
* Was there really a match sponsored by Taco Bell? I'm not even sure what to say about that.
Chris Jericho d. Kofi Kingston
Lord Tensai d. R-Truth
Big Show and The Great Khali d. Cody Rhodes and Alberto Del Rio
Nikki Bella d. Beth Phoenix to win the Divas Championship
Mark Henry d. Sheamus with Daniel Bryan as the guest referee
Santino Marella and Zack Ryder d. Primo and Epico in a non-title match
Brodus Clay and Hornswoggle d. Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler by disqualification
It seems like all the critical elements of Monday night's three-hour Raw could have been easily fit into a normal two-hour episode. So much of the episode felt like filler that was unnecessary and dragged the show down. As the go-home Raw for the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, this was a pretty weak outing in my opinion. I will likely be watching the PPV on replay, for the sake of having a full outlook heading into next week's recaps, but I am frankly glad I will be taking in a live Chikara Pro event in Indiana rather than sitting in the Rosemont Horizon, a mere three hours away.
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