By Arda Ocal
For The Baltimore Sun
9:26 AM EDT, May 14, 2013
A "go home" Raw (the last episode before a pay-per-view event) is always watched with extra attention, mostly because critics have the same question -- did this particular show do anything to increase my interest in buying the pay-per-view on Sunday?
Lately, many of these critics have answered no. Many people feel that Raw last night was no different -- that it was flat, lacked spark and didn't do very much to push the figurative "buy rate" needle.
These, of course, are criticisms that always arise for this particular (mostly monthly) episode of Raw. It's as if all previous episodes after the previous pay-per-view are forgotten, and this is the Raw that matters -- the "final push" urging fans to spend $50 or more to watch three hours of WWE on a Sunday night.
Mind you, most of these criticisms are from critics who buy the pay-per-view anyway, whether it's because it's their job and they have to, or they just like to complain, or they secretly want to blend in and be accepted with the "negative Nancy" society that is a (unfortunately large) subset of professional wrestling fans.
What did I think of the show?
It was average compared to episodes of Raw for the year. It wasn't spectacular, and it wasn't horrible.
Well, The Great Khali's Levi's 501 jeans were horrible. But that aside, we saw a decent twist in the Fandango-Chris Jericho dance off, and Brock Lesnar and Triple H raise the heat before their tussle.
The right decision was also made with Dolph Ziggler. Since he suffered a concussion at the hands (or foot) of Jack Swagger, he was rendered not medically cleared to compete, so the match at Extreme Rules becomes a No. 1 contender match, which I'm fine with. Safety first. Swagger and Alberto Del Rio will meet in an "I Quit" match.
I like the intriguing United States championship match between champ Kofi Kingston and challenger Dean Ambrose that's been added to the lineup (which means that Reigns and Rollins will face Team Hell No for the tag titles).
Having The Shield holding two championships will do well for both titles, the way the tag titles mattered briefly when Team Hell No first won them. But, and I say this every time a big, seemingly important title change looms, we need to see defenses against quality opponents, and these champions cannot be losing to main event players gearing up for a big match week after week, for that dilutes the championships and loses all gained momentum.
-- The WWE app seemed to be a focal point of Raw, at least in terms of promotion. Give WWE credit though, the app is very well run. I like the idea of in-ring interviews during commercial breaks.
-- Ryback beat Zack Ryder. Were you expecting something different? I did like Ryder saying his mother still drives him to/from the airport and washes his tights in this WWE.com Mother's Day article though.
-- Prime Time Players beat Tons of Funk.
-- Kofi Kingston finally gets a win on Raw against Damien Sandow, likely because he will be on the pay-per-view, and he must seem at least "pretty good" going into a match against a guy who has barely lost in WWE.
-- Mark Henry beat up Josh Mathews in the ring. His match with Sheamus is now a strap match. Strap matches always remind me of 1980s NWA.
-- Randy Orton beat Antonio "Yodel Machine" Cesaro. Ho hum ...
-- Miz beat Heath Slater.
-- The Shield loses by disqualification to John Cena and Team Hell No, marking their first official televised loss in WWE. Kind of a waste, but I suppose they now seem more vulnerable going into their respective pay-per-view matches.
-- AJ beat Natalya ... and threw out an Octopus Hold! (which she calls the "Black Widow"). Impressive. Antonio Inoki salutes you.
-- I watched Raw on delay because I was watching my Toronto Maple Leafs somehow blow a three-goal lead in 11 minutes in Game 7 of a Stanley Cup playoff game and lose to the Boston Bruins in overtime. I suppose the WWE equivalent would be Edge hitting three spears on John Cena, Cena kicking out strong then hitting one Attitude Adjustment seconds later to win the title. #SuperBruins
Follow Arda on Twitter @arda_ocal and subscribe to his YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/ardaocal. Later this week, Arda will have Extreme Rules predictions.
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