RAW Deal: Missing the People’s cooking

Joe 'the Grappler' Marsalis
The Rock returns to Monday Night Raw, but hopefully doesn't overstay his welcome
FINALLY. The Rock returned to RAW to lend credibility to Rusev but his act may be dated. Photo from WWE.com

BROOKLYN—I could talk about the other fun stuff that happened on RAW tonight, but you’re going to blast me if I didn’t talk about the Brahma Bull, right?

But that’s totally fine, because if you haven’t already heard, the Rock has FINALLY come back to Monday Night RAW! A quick rundown: Rusev and Lana come out for a promo on Big Show (a feud that already seems to be very tired before it’s even racked up considerable mileage) and the People’s Champion suddenly comes out, to the surprise of the entire world. 

Why Dwayne showed up on a random Monday night in October, we’ll never really know (okay, okay, he was just doing business in the city) but it was a welcome distraction. The Rock bust out his old catchphrases and his comedic chops, words became blows, and the Universe saw Rusev sent tumbling out of the ring.

Let me be honest, though: while I will always concede that Dwayne Johnson showing up on the tepid contemporary WWE product is always—dare I say it—electrifying, the prospect is not always an exciting one due to Rock’s, well, outdated sensibilities. 

But this is the best way to utilize Rock now, as not a part-timer who thinks he’s still a full-timer (and clearly cannot work as a full-timer anymore), but as a pure nostalgia piece. Any longer and the rest of the world will see through the act for its true juvenile nature, and he’ll start drawing the wrong kind of heat because he’s a valuable relic from a completely different era. Case in point: One “Soviet streetwalker,” Smirnoff-bottle-up-your-Putin joke will be enough, thanks. Come for the memories, but don’t stay and show the rust.

That’s not to say that his appearance was totally backwards, though. In an ironic twist, Rock manages to defuse (albeit belatedly) an important point of political tension when it comes to Rusev and Lana and the way the rest of the WWE Universe perceives them: he proclaims that the crowd doesn’t boo them because they’re Russian, but simply because they’re terrible people. Sure, it stands in stark contrast to the way Creative itself is handling the Russians’ characterization, but to have a onscreen persona as influential as the Rock to come right out and establish that, well, that goes a long way.

And in the end, the Rock showing up was, undeniably, best for business. The Barclays crowd is given a special moment from an otherwise run-of-the-mill RAW to remember, the rest of the world is woken up and abuzz, and—yes, you’re right—Rusev gets an important stamp of approval because The Great One deems them worthy of his time.

The only thing I think I’d love to happen is for the Rock to keep coming back and finish what he started with the big Bulgarian, just to tie up loose ends, but hey—IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT I THINK!

(…Okay, that might not have been the best way to close myself. But you get the reference.)

High spots:

  • We’ve got a little Wrestlemania XXX situation on our hands with another double-duty-centric PPV card coming up. This month’s Hell in a Cell will feature John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose for the right to face Seth Rollins inside the Cell at the main event. (No word yet on what the loser gets, but rumor has it that it’s a healthy dose of Randy Orton.) I’ll go into this into more detail as we get closer to the event.
  • Speaking of Ambrose… this guy never ceases to amaze. The hotdog stand is 2014’s beer and milk truck.

  • Whether he (or Creative) realizes it or not, Damien Sandow is doing a damn good job of building up a potentially great Miz vs. Mizdow feud. You know, given Miz’s history of turning on his partners, that it’s gonna happen.
  • EDGE AND CHRISTIAN SIGHTING! Although it’s slightly jarring to see two old guys play their really young gimmicks.
  • The vacuum at the top of the card left by Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, and Roman Reigns is doing a real good job of making stars out of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. And they, for their part, have been busting their asses hard to win those roles.
  • Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan, everybody.

Low blows:

  • So it’s official: Dolph Ziggler has replaced Sheamus’s role in the weekly 6-man tags that also feature the Usos and the Dust Brothers, and Miz has literally traded pursuits with Cesaro. This is, as I’ve mentioned last week, terribly lazy booking.
  • Speaking of the 6-man tags, I feel like they create this paradox. On one hand, they’re obviously lazy and are very repetitive. On the other hand, all six men leave their bodies on the line making the most out of a less-than-ideal opportunity. They put out good matches, the crowd gets very hot for them, and Vince sees this as more than enough reason to keep running them almost every Monday. In order for him to stop doing that, we have to stop cheering for these matches, but the guys doing work in the ring don’t deserve that treatment. Something’s gotta give, but who?
  • Roman Reigns’s promo was terrible, and it’s funny how he borrowed his cousin’s trick of appearing live via satellite… while his cousin actually appeared live.
  • I don’t understand why AJ treated Emma the way she did. I thought AJ was the face out of everyone in this story? What’s going on? I am totally confused. How does this make AJ likable at all?
  • I get that Vince wants to get as much mainstream publicity as possible, but at this point he has to find the right mainstream celebrities who are congruous with the WWE’s branding. It’s one thing to be the good guy and get behind charities such as Susan G. Komen, but the star power they bring in to promote these causes are so out-of-sync with both the WWE’s atmosphere and what the WWE Universe wants to see. Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford seem to just be mailing their appearance in, while at the same time, nobody really wants to see them on the show whether they give it their all or not. People like a Hugh Jackman or Wayne Brady more. Or hey, how about a… Stephen Amell?

Things you may have missed last week: If you’re looking for some good women’s wrestling, you most likely missed Bayley vs. Charlotte for the NXT Women’s Championship on last week’s NXT. Trust me—NXT is the best hour of wrestling not everyone is seeing yet.

Also, did you miss last week’s RAW? Did you also miss Philippine Wrestling Revolution: Renaissance from two weeks ago? Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to most of those questions are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast—featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ Stan Sy and wrestling writer Romeo Moran! On their latest episode, they discuss last week’s RAW and reviewing PWR: Renaissance. Give it a listen here!

Next week: The saga of Cena vs. Ambrose continues! What else will Dean Ambrose hijack? And will Roman Reigns appear live this time? – Rappler.com

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