Powered by three solid matches, this week’s Monday night Raw was easily the best of the year. An interesting surprise at the end will undoubtedly fuel next week’s show as well, as CM Punk’s new Nexus continues to turn the heat up on John Cena.
With Punk coming back from injury and Cena not at 100 percent, many expected this match to be a turned-in one. However, seeing both wrestlers trading signature maneuvers and exchanging several close kick-outs, this match was easily one of the best on Raw this year. The appearance of WWE rookie Mason Ryan [who bears a shocking resemblance to former WWE champion Dave Batista] at the end of the match was a nice twist as well. Using a sit-out version of the uranage suplex, Ryan manhandled Cena, giving fans the first real “oh crap” moment of the year.
With that being said, what will this guys role be in the new Nexus?
While it’s impossible to know the answer to that question, it’s great to see WWE creative using Punk better than they did last week. Seeing him take a semi-beating from Ryan before getting him to bow before him at the end of the show, Punk’s cult leader persona took a big turn in the right direction this week. Having him hold his own with Cena in the ring as well helped make him credible as heel on Raw and quite possibly could be the push the show desperately needs.
Last week, Raw desperately needed some quality matches and this week, aside from the main event, two matches especially delivered. Dolph Ziggler’s contest with Randy Orton was filled with solid maneuvers and even though Orton semi-botched his finisher, the match continued to show that Ziggler can hold his own with the top stars on both Raw and Smackdown, not looking out of place by any means. Is he ready for a title run? Not quite yet, but he’s proving every week that he’s gaining the necessary starpower and is being showcased by the company.
The best match of the night however was the one between John Morrison and Daniel Bryan, who could put together an excellent face-face feud. With the Bella twins looking like they may join Morrison’s camp, it’s going to be an interesting angle, with both of these young stars sweating it out in the ring. For the short term, this is an opportunity for the WWE to give fans a series of amazing matches leading into the Royal Rumble, which could lead into something bigger at the pay per view. With that being said, it’s obvious both of these guys have bright futures with the company.
Negatives on Raw this week were The Miz’s appearance, which did nothing to bolster his reputation in the ring, but did give him some more heat leading into his upcoming match with Orton. While it’s fair to say he’s one of the more hated heel champions in recent WWE history, the guy has not sold the fans on his ability in the ring. Once he does that or the company finds a way to do it for him, The Miz will be a reputable champion. Right now though, he’s a time-filler on the show.
The same thing goes for Alberto Del Rio, who continues to appear on Raw and do nothing to improve his chances in getting over as a heel with the fans. His repetitive catch phrases and over the top facial expressions are a thing of wrestling’s past and in order for him to be the type of heel the company thinks he can be, he needs to wrestle more and pick the right times to speak. Currently, all he does is open his mouth at the end of matches, which plays into his heel character, but does nothing to make him appear as formidable in the right.
Regardless of these small annoyances, seeing the quality of the matches improved as much as they were, Raw must continue to develop their angles and keep the pace up in the ring. If that happens, Raw may silence the critics that believe the show and the “sport” has lost its luster.