Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Toronto crowd elevates Raw while Buzz keeps it earthbound

Although I've been consistent in proclaiming Smackdown the best weekly WWE show, this week's Raw is a step in the right direction. It could be because the broadcast had no commercials, but there was an emphasis on in-ring action and hot promos.

The fun started right off the bat, as Jericho ran down Bret Hart on the mic. The entire promo provided justification for why Jericho is my favorite promo guy of all-time, given how much longer his career has been as compared to The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He and Bret Hart had an intense confrontation, leading to the match between The Miz and Hart later that night being turned into a "No DQ" match.

This immediately worried me, and later that night, my fears came true as Hart actually won the U.S. Title from The Miz with the Hart Dynasty's help. Yikes. Hart can barely move around the ring - he stumbled as he tried to climb the turnbuckle following the match. And before the match, The Miz cut one of his best promos ever. While it was kind of neat to see Bret Hart get a great reaction from the Canadian crowd, I can't see how this creates a good long-term storyline.

Touching on the only other negative portion of the show: The Buzz Aldrin promo near the end of the show was excruciating. Frankly, I fast forwarded through most of it, and the crowd seemed to hate it. At least it led to a good mixed tag match, and Evan Bourne got another chance to shine in the ring. I'm hoping the WWE eventually pushes him up the card, because he's too talented and gets too much of a response from the crowd to just be a low-card wrestler and jobber.

However, outside of these two things, I thought Raw was really good. There was an intense 20-minute match between Christian and Edge, a brutal beat-down of Mark Henry by Batista, a cameo by Virgil in the match between Ted DiBiase Jr. and Yoshi Tatsu, and another good 20-minute match between Swagger and Orton.

And, maybe I'm just getting soft in my old age, but the women's wrestling division has been quite appealing to me lately. Laycool are apparently going to be working a sort of split-championship gimmick, as Layla and Michelle McCool both came to the ring with belts tonight. Also, because the show was in Canada, Maryse got a great face reaction from the crowd, which isn't that surprising to me. I think her combination of snotty behavior and incredible looks will eventually get her over with the crowd, similar to The Beautiful People in TNA and, back in the day, Trish Stratus.

If Raw can keep pumping out shows like this, then they might be able to challenge Smackdown for the crown as the best weekly wrestling show. However, I'd like to see them string together a couple shows before I anoint them as so.

Grade: A-

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