1. There are so many things that happened in that first segment that made me want to turn off Raw. John Cena opened the show, again. Proposed a completely unnecessary “3 Stages Hell” match against Ryback (THEY’VE HAD ONE OTHER MATCH!). Ryback cut a horrible and generic promo. Then, in what could have been a helluva rub, Curtis Axel comes out to challenge the WWE Champion… but he comes out to a HORRIBLE remix of his fantastic theme music he debuted with last week. Why does WWE INSIST on shooting themselves in the foot when they actually produce something good?
2. Dean Ambrose vs. Kofi Kingston again? Normally I would despise this booking. I hate when the WWE feels they need to put the same guys in the same matches week after week, especially when it includes Kofi Kingston. But damn do Ambrose and Kingston work well together! I’d really like to see Ambrose one-on-one with other upper-midcarders for the US title but anytime the US champion & Dean Ambrose can be featured on Raw is a good thing.
3. Ok, normally I wouldn’t bring this up in my 10 thoughts column and only post it on Twitter but I have to share this experience here. I like having the WWE App open on my iPad during Raw. It’s a first generation iPad but has absolutely no issue with any other applications except for the WWE App. Every single time I try to open the app and click on the “Active” section, the app crashes without fail. Since I began writing this paragraph, I have opened the app 7 times and it has crashed 7 times. Since the beginning of Raw… I have tried starting the app 15 times & it has never lasted longer than 10 seconds before it crashed. This isn’t a new problem either. It’s not like there was an update that would have a glitch in it or that it no longer supports the firmware of my iPad. It just does not work and with the WWE increasingly adding more content exclusively to the app, it’s affecting my ability to enjoy & cover the show thoroughly.
4. My wife was going to stay up and watch the rest of Raw with me until she saw it was a 3MB match. I swear I saw Roadrunner smoke puffs trailing after her as she ran out of the room.
5. Chris Jericho vs CM Punk, one-on-one in Chicago at Payback? I’d pay to see that match again. Despite having numerous matches in 2012, Punk & Jericho know how to tell a story in the ring, even when there’s really no story to tell. I’m looking forward to Punk’s return and Jericho is the perfect opponent for him, heel or face. I am a little disappointed he won’t be at Raw next week in Hartford though.
6. That was one of the stiffest, most awkward backstage segments I’ve ever seen and a perfect example that wrestlers are NOT actors (except for The Rock, obviously). Anytime Bret Hart needs to recite lines from a script, he comes off robotic, disingenuous and horrible. He was never really a promo guy to begin with but him with a script has always been terrible. If you had just let Axel and Hart talk like normal human beings, that segment probably wouldn’t have been nearly as bad and maybe they would have been able to add a little something to the conversation since Curt Hennig & Bret did have some fantastic matches. But forcing the sincerity made both men look like amateurs that belong cutting “$5 Wrestling” promos & not ones airing on the biggest wrestling television show in history.
7. Thank the wrestling gods that the Wyatt Family’s WWE debut is imminent. The WWE is stale, with heels & babyfaces seemingly blending together (with a few exceptions) and the introduction of the superb Bray Wyatt with his “muscle” is way overdue.
8. Seriously, WTF did they do to Axel’s music!? All week I looked for a copy of the music he came out to last week. Now I truly couldn’t care less since it seems they made it as generic as possible.
9. While that was a cheap win for Axel (VERY cheap), the match itself with John Cena was pretty good and a helluva lot better than last week’s with Triple H. How Axel was able to get so much more offense against the current WWE Champion compared to a “concussed”, not “medically cleared” Triple H is ridiculous. Nepotism aside, Axel worked a strong and entertaining match with a guy whose matches are almost always stale. He didn’t look out of his element or league and was able to showcase some of the athleticism that most casual fans have never seen. He has the tools to succeed and it appears at least that he’s finally getting the opportunity to succeed. I’m curious to see where they go next week with Axel. He’s “taken out” Triple H & technically beat the WWE Champion who is already in a program with Ryback. Chris Jericho is moving onto a match with CM Punk. The Miz is battling Fandango and Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship. Alberto Del Rio is battling Dolph Ziggler’s crew & occasionally Jack Swagger. Sheamus & Randy Orton seem to be building to a tag title feud with The Shield while Kane & Daniel Bryan look to be starting a program with each other. There is NO ONE for Axel to begin a long-term, reputation building feud with. You can’t even put a mid-card title on him as both the IC & US championships are being held by heels. There’s been a lot of talk over the last few months about how Triple H didn’t want any “new” talent brought in without a solid story set in place for them. Unless CM Punk is returning sooner than expected & proceeds to turn babyface after or during the Payback PPV, there’s no place for Curtis Axel among the Raw or SmackDown rosters. Although now thinking about it, CM Punk has consistently put over Joe Hennig (“Curtis Axel”) as being the one guy on the roster that’s been the most misused over the course of his career. Could the “Best In The World” be the one to inject credibility into Axel? I think it’s pretty obvious that someone needs to.
10. If you didn’t notice on Twitter, I will be covering Raw live from Hartford, CT next week. ALL of my updates will be on the new HTCwrestling.com and my quick thoughts will be @MattHarrak or @pulsewrestling on Twitter. Hopefully you follow along with me as what you see on TV sometimes isn’t the most interesting action happening at Monday Night Raw. My “10 Thoughts” column will be up on Tuesday afternoon.