This week's Raw didn't look too promising with the 'Viewer's Choice' gimmick. Basically, it turned out to be the Cyber Sunday PPV -- fans are given a potential match with three options (usually the stipulation or one of the participants) and whichever option gets the most votes is what happens. With Cyber Sunday, the fans would be able to vote in the weeks leading up to the PPV whereas, here, they had from the time the match was announced through a commercial break... so a few minutes. No idea if the voting meant a thing or if it was a lie. The biggest problem with this approach is that, if real, it takes all of the writing power out of the hands of the WWE. Say they're pushing a specific feud or angle, the fans voting for something else could get in the way. Then again, for the most part, they either created some broad matches that could work no matter what or two tepid/unlikely choices with a third that would be voted for no matter what.
* The Chris Jericho/Big Show match was an example of three options (over the top rope challenge, submission match, or bodyslam challenge -- the third chosen) that all worked relatively equally. In all cases, the Big Show's size gave him the advantage and the two could work a pretty similar match. Jericho made this more entertaining than expected with some interesting counters and attacks. The Big Show won, then made him submit, and then tossed him over the top rope for the hell of it.
* Michelle and I had a fun discussion about the Hart Dynasty tag match where people could choose their opponents: the Usos, the Dudebusters, or the Great Khali and Hornswoggle. I had seen online that the third choice was selected (since Raw was three hours, it began at eight in the US, but aired at the normal time of 9:15 here in Canada), so we debated the wisdom of this selection during the commercial break. I couldn't help but see it as a referendum on the Usos who, over the past two weeks, have been built up as the next threat to the Hart Dynasty. That they didn't win the vote says something, right? Michelle wisely pointed out that no team is going to beat a giant and a midget when it comes to people voting. Sadly, that's probably true. That they had the Usos come out after the match made it work in story, though.
* Kozlov and Santino having a dance-off was actually pretty funny.
* The funniest part of the episode had to be "Mean" Gene Okerlund's harsh comments about and to Josh Matthews. I laughed my ass off at his 'loser' comment to Matthews.
* I loved how William Regal didn't even seem to care about being the Miz's tag partner when they showed him before the results were announced. Then, I thought it was great that the Miz and Zack Ryder won their match... without Ryder ever getting tagged in. The Miz's partner was totally meaningless.
* They made sure that Matt Hardy got voted to fight Drew McIntyre by making him a 'mystery choice.' People always vote for the mystery choice.
* The stuff with the A-Team was universally awful -- except the previously mentions "Mean" Gene bit.
* The Kane/Sheamus match was surprisingly decent. Sheamus needs to work with more big men if only because it's helping him become more well-rounded. Winning squash matches only teaches you how to deliver offence, but learning to take a beating and sell -- and how to create interesting counters is very important.
* I was rooting for Rey Mysterio to win the vote to take on John Cena, if only because this seems like the only way we'd ever see them fight one-on-one. Both are faces and will stay faces for as long as I can guess, so this was the best chance to see it. And, say what you will, it would be new and interesting. All three men were good options and CM Punk getting some action is always great.
* The ending with the NXT season one rookies destroying everything was amazing. I was genuinely surprised and was glued to the TV. With an hour left in the show, we moved to the bedroom so Michelle could go to sleep and I almost woke her up for it. What I especially liked was that they were united. Wade Barrett won, but he was just part of the group. There didn't seem to be a leader once it got started, just a single force of eight guys working in harmony. And, fuck, they tore everything down and laid a beating on John Cena... the most shocking development in the WWE in a long time. I'm very interested to see where this goes. With the Score airing NXT starting this week (albeit on Thursday nights), I'm hoping they follow up on it there. Edit: You can see the bulk of the end here. Looks like Barrett was more in charge than I thought -- with the nods to the others at the beginning. Cole escaped. The crowd noises were great, too. Man, what a fantastic end.
All in all, not too bad an episode of Raw. The matches were mostly throwaways that didn't mean anything. We're two weeks out from Fatal 4-Way and still only have the world belt matches, which is troublesome -- should they be building some other matches? But, this episode could have been a lot worse and the ending was fantastic. Absolutely stunning.
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