5. John Cena and Randy Orton are once again World Champions.
The big reason I decided not to watch the October 28th edition of Raw was because of what happened during the two world title matches at the previous night’s Hell In A Cell event (unseen by me). John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship and Randy Orton, with a little help from Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels, snatched the vacant WWE title away from Daniel Bryan.
Um, guys? It’s 2013, not 2008. So, why are you going back to the “tried and true” instead of the daring and new? Between the pair of them, Orton and Cena have collectively won 25 world titles. Why are they getting additional title runs when they don’t need them? Granted, I much prefer The Viper as a villain and have thoroughly enjoyed Cena’s matches with CM Punk over the years but it’s time to put other talents in these positions. Cena & Orton are the past, not the future.
6. The screwing over of Daniel Bryan.
What was one of the big reasons WCW ultimately went bust? Oh yeah. They had great talent and didn’t know what to do with them. Steve Austin, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero all found much greater success in the WWE after disappointingly spotty runs in Eric Bischoff’s former company.
But even Vince McMahon and his minions can fuck up a good thing. Consider Daniel Bryan.
After his surprisingly enjoyable tag title run with Kane concluded in the spring, the former American Dragon suddenly exploded into the main event picture all on his own. The “Yes!” chant he introduced in late 2011 during his heel run, which, after catching on at WrestleMania 28, then led to his counter-chant of “No!” in 2012 (during his anger management phase), evolved into a rallying call for the heroic underdog he was quickly becoming in the summer of 2013.
Looking nothing like the usual superstar with his average size, unkempt hair and increasingly absurd beard, he was nonetheless the hottest babyface in the company. So, naturally, for the first time in more than a year, he got a WWE Championship opportunity on pay-per-view.
Then, the unthinkable happened. He beat John Cena. But just moments after his stunning victory, Special Guest Referee Triple H pedigreed him and Money In The Bank briefcase winner Randy Orton, who had run down the aisle just before this happened, immediately cashed in and pinned him. That set up a championship match with The Viper for SummerSlam where once again Bryan won the title.
But because the referee counted a little too quickly, The Yes Man was stripped of his title the very next night on Raw by H. That let to a rematch at Battleground which ended in a no-decision thanks to a rampaging Big Show knocking out everybody in sight. Finally, at the recent Hell In A Cell show, despite the presence of his real-life trainer Shawn Michaels in the role of Special Guest Referee, Bryan got screwed again, thanks to a HBK superkick. Orton regained the title.
So, after all of that, what do the geniuses in the WWE decide to do next? How about pairing him up with old pal CM Punk for a mid-card feud with The Wyatt Family. Listen, I like the Wyatt Family, Bray in particular. He’s a hell of a talker and there’s great potential with his Max Cady-esque cult leader character. But Bryan should be the WWE Champion right now. And he should be having the kind of title run Punk had not that long ago.
Instead, he’s been demoted and who knows if he’ll ever get another main event shot any time soon. The WWE will ultimately regret this bad booking decision in the long term. Cena can’t be the face of the company forever.
7. The boring Divas division.
Not that long ago, we had Kharma, Beth Phoenix, Trish Stratus and Lita. Even further back, there were The Jumping Bomb Angels and Wendi Richter. Now we have Oksana and The Bella Twins. Womens wrestling is deadly dull these days. Only the awesome AJ Lee has been able to consistently stand out during this unusually dark period.
Some will argue that the reality show, Total Divas, has helped raise the profile of the sagging division. True, but has it led to a series of great rivalries and matches on a consistent basis?
The sad thing is there are actually some strong talents on the roster. Besides the current Divas Champion, I also like The Funkadactyls (they remind me of the Bomb Angels), Alicia Fox (remarkable flexibility), Natalya (hell of a worker), Kaitlyn (when she was actually on TV) and Tamina Snuka (love the Superfly splash she inherited from her father). But they’re not given anything remotely interesting to do besides doing decent bumps here and there in nothing matches. Or they’re matched up with mid-card male wrestlers who aren’t going anywhere.
Imagine this scenario: what if the WWE suddenly decided to drop the Divas altogether, would there be much of an outcry? Would anyone really miss them? If it happened right now, I suspect the answer is no on both counts.
And that’s really not fair, is it?
8. Same old match-ups.
What are the two big attractions for the upcoming Survivor Series pay-per-view next week? Let’s see. There’s World Heavyweight Champion John Cena defending his title against Alberto Del Rio. And then there’s WWE Champion Randy Orton putting his belt on the line against The Big Show.
Wait. Why are each of these pairings so familiar? Oh, that’s right. Big Show feuded with Orton back in the spring. The Viper beat The World’s Largest Athlete at Extreme Rules. (Orton was the ‘face and Show was the heel.)
Cena and Del Rio previously feuded over the WWE title two years ago. After the Mexican Aristocrat cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase on a vulnerable CM Punk at the end of SummerSlam 2011, Cena took his title at Night Of Champions. Then, all three were involved in a Hell In A Cell match where Del Rio regained the belt. In a one-on-one rematch with Cena at Vengeance, where they had to work in and out of a collapsed ring thanks to Big Show superplexing Mark Henry in the previous WHC bout, Del Rio came out on top.
Last year, when the Cena/Punk feud was being revived, Del Rio and Cena had a Falls Count Anywhere match on Raw. Thanks to Punk’s interference, Del Rio squeaked out a victory. (That was the night Paul Heyman officially aligned himself with his now estranged protégé.) And, of course, most recently, Del Rio dropped the WHC to Cena at the most recent Hell In A Cell pay-per-view in the latter’s first match since recovering from elbow surgery.
Let me be clear. The revival of an old program can be very entertaining when booked correctly. Just look at Punk/Cena and Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart. But is anybody really excited about these two Survivor Series title matches? To be fair, I haven’t been watching how they’ve been built up on TV but based on what I’ve read about them online, it looks like I’m not missing anything.
And it’s not just pay-per-views, it’s Raw itself. How many times have we seen the same boring match-ups over and over and over again week after week after week? Look, I get it. The roster isn’t as deep as it once was. And there’s no division of talent any more. Up until about a year or so ago, Smackdown superstars were rarely if ever seen on Raw. Now they’re on there all the time. Why? Because it’s a Supershow! Even Raw wrestlers are popping up more and more on Smackdown. There hasn’t been a draft since 2011.
The WWE is very fortunate to have so many superb athletes working for them. Quite a few are also strong personalities who can easily handle not having their promos scripted right down to the very last word. But they’re selling them all short by making the same match-ups over and over again with next to no emphasis on doing something creative and different.
Maybe they’re just going through a bad period right now, I don’t know. But the lack of imaginative bookings is turning me off.
9. SportsNet360’s annoying technical difficulties.
Back when it was still The Score, Raw used to be aired on a delay here in Canada. Then, thanks to a vocal, public campaign by Aftermath contributer Nug earlier this year, it finally started airing the show at the same time as the USA Network. I don’t remember exactly when I first noticed technical glitches during these broadcasts, but the last two weeks I watched the show on the now-named SportsNet360, it was painfully clear that the video was out of sync with the audio.
No one at the station seemed to notice and therefore, the problem wasn’t fixed. (I have no idea if it continues to be an issue today.) Even before these recent problems, I’d notice the audio briefly cutting out several times during a broadcast. Incredibly annoying. This went on for many months before somebody finally paid attention. Now, there’s the sync irritation.
It’s really hard to get into a three-hour show when you’re distracted by these “technical difficulties”. It’s even harder when there’s little to enjoy in the first place.
Either way, unless things improve, I’ll be sticking with WWE’s DVD releases for the foreseeable future.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, November 16, 2013