Sometimes the small things make all the difference in professional wrestling.
Too often, critics -- especially those on the Internet -- nitpick every decision WWE makes and find the logical or creative flaws. Many times, this creates an unnecessary sense or allegation of failure.
But on tonight's Raw, WWE (or, more specifically, general manager John Laurinaitis) made a mistake that is almost unforgivable.
While I personally wasn't offended by Sunday's match between John Cena and Laurinaitis at Over the Limit, many people have lashed out against the match. WWE was already basically in a no-win situation headed into Raw, but the advancement of the story would be critical.
And WWE lobbed a pitch right down the middle for the critics and haters to knock out of the park. Laurinaitis announced that he had re-hired Big Show, who helped his boss defeat Cena, on Saturday.
The stipulations of Sunday's match specified that any superstar who interfered in the match would be immediately terminated. The storyline was supposed to work, since Show had been fired on Monday and wasn't a contracted superstar.
But if the World's Largest Athlete was, in fact, re-signed on Saturday, wouldn't he fall victim to that stipulation and termination at the hands of the WWE Board of Directors?
Instead, Show was awarded a match against Cena at next month's No Way Out pay-per-view. Cena didn't even raise issue with it. He simply accepted this new match and an immediate challenge from Laurinaitis' lackey David Otunga.
Later in the evening, presumably because of the backlash online, WWE acknowledged that Show verbally agreed to coming back on Saturday but didn't sign an actual contract until after the pay-per-view. It's a weak justification at best, but at least they attempted to rectify the dreadful scenario they created to begin with.
But the problems didn't end there. Laurinaitis' stipulation that if anyone touch him from this point forward, they, too, would be terminated.
As Cena was attacked in the ring by Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks, Titus O'Neil and Darren Young, World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus rushed the ring to make the save, knocking into Laurinaitis on his way to the ring.
So, for those keeping score at home, this means the man who will be facing Cena in what will undoubtedly be the main event of the next pay-per-view and the World Heavyweight Champion have been staved off termination for no apparent reason and to no issue from the villainous authority figure.
Suspension of belief is a necessity to enjoy professional wrestling, and many critics do expect too much, but there is a line of reason. And on tonight's Raw, WWE clearly crossed that line.
** Cena's match with Otunga was the definition of the word squash. Yes, they needed to show that Cena was aggravated, and while he couldn't touch Laurinaitis, he took his frustration out on Otunga. It works within the context of the story, but the story itself still has its fair share of problems. Basically, this and the post-match beatdown and Sheamus save did little except set up the two-on-three handicap lumberjack match later in the show.
** "Don't Call Him Lord" Tensai teamed with the modern-day job squad of Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger to face Cena and Sheamus in the main event, which featured an all-heel cast of lumberjacks. The match itself featutred some good action and was given a lot of time. The ending, though, predictably devolved into a massive brawl with the babyfaces emptying the locker room to even the odds. Cena retreated to the back looking for Big Show, and found his fist instead. The show went off the air with Cena laid out in the back. Show makes a much better heel than a face, Tensai makes good muscle for Laurinaitis and Vickie Guerrero and this match kept Cena and Sheamus looking strong. But what was really the point? Did it really further the issues? Will the all-out chaos lead to something, or will it be forgotten by next week?
** Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton were putting on a good match that was getting a decent amount of TV time when Chris Jericho interfered and laid out Orton with a Codebreaker, giving him the win by disqualification. After the match, Jericho continued taunting Orton and hit him with two more Codebreakers. It appears the Over the Limit fatal fourway will, indeed, break down to Jericho vs. Orton and Del Rio vs. Sheamus singles matches. I can behind that, especially if Jericho is allowed to go over on Orton, who wouldn't be damaged by the loss, to gain a little bit of momentum back.
** Fans clamored for the confrontation between WWE Champion CM Punk and his challenger Daniel Bryan. The two had a short microphone exchange before Punk introduced Kane - now possibly a babyface - as Bryan's opponent. Their match never really got off the ground before Punk interjected himself and tricked Kane into seeing Bryan with a chair, leading to Kane getting himself disqualified and laying Bryan out. Punk then locked in the Anaconda Vice on Bryan. The silver lining on this situation is that Punk and Bryan seem destined for at least one more championship match.
** The stage seems set for AJ to become more involved in the storyline, too, as many had predicted would happen at Over the Limit. She and Punk had an awkward exchange backstage that led in Punk trying to console her and admitting he has a thing for crazy chicks. In that case, I know a few girls he should meet. AJ continues to be one of the best performers in the divas division, if not the entire company, when it comes to showcasing emotion and playing her character.
**Christian continued to gain momentum after winning the Intercontinental Championship last night, as he defeated Jinder Mahal. They put on a decent match, but it lacked emotion, as the winner was never really in doubt. It was nice, though, to see Christian back on Raw, and he even debuted what appears to be his new finishing combination, the Killswitch followed with a frog splash. Hopefully Christian does more with the title than recent champions have.
** At Over the Limit, Layla and Beth Phoenix showed what can happen when divas who can wrestle are given time. On Raw, Phoenix and Kelly Kelly showed what can happen when one diva who can wrestle is told to squash one who can't. Their match was a standard and pedestrian divas match, but Phoenix's victory at least seems to indicate she'll be getting another shot at Layla's championship.
** The bit with United States Champion Santino Marella and Ricardo Rodriguez before the Orton vs. Del Rio match was entertaining. Hopefully, though, there was a point to it and it wasn't just a random skit. It would be great to see Rodriguez, who is a good in-ring talent, begin to transition to active competition.
John Cena d. David Otunga
Randy Orton d. Alberto Del Rio by disqualification
Daniel Bryan d. Kane by disqualification
Christian d. Jinder Mahal
Beth Phoenix d. Kelly Kelly
John Cena and Sheamus vs. Tensai, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger went to a no contest
The second hour of the show picked up momentum, preventing this week’s Raw from being a complete waste. That said, it didn’t quite save the show’s overall value. Instead, we were left with an episode featuring some awful continuity errors, good in-ring action for the most part and questionable finishes. Yes, the show after a pay-per-view is generally a time of transition, but of the six matches on tonight’s show, three were essentially squashes and the other three all had dirty endings. WWE is in a position to put together a solid summer of programming, but they need to get the house in order first. Hopefully things improve from here, otherwise it’s going to be a rough transition to weekly three-hour Raws.
Ring Posts’ Adam Testa has teamed up with My 1-2-3 Cents and All American Pro Wrestling to bring you From the Rafters Radio, a weekly pro wrestling talk radio show airing on Monster Radio 1150 AM in Southern Illinois and streaming worldwide on wggh.net.