This past Monday Night WWE checked the flux capacitor, sped up to 88 mph, and turned back the clock circa 1995. But instead of dealing with a oedipal complex, or racing through time to preserve one’s existence, Monday Night Raw took their modern-day warriors back to Old School.
Everything from banners, ring apron, entrance ramp, outfits, barricades, announcer’s station, to the Monday Night Raw television theme were all taken to account in transforming WWE back to the World Wrestling Federation for one amazing night.
As seen at the start of Dolph Ziggler‘s match, and later with Kofi Kingston‘s, the old school promos were played in the corner of the screen as a story telling device. This is something that should make a return to the modern-day to push angles that cannot be covered due to time constraints. Two great mentions during these promos were Macho Man and Koko B. Ware. Dolph Ziggler compared his relationship with Vickie Guerrero, along with his Intercontinental championship reign, to the power couple of Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. Kofi Kingston compared his high-flying offense to Koko B. Ware.
Mark Henry reverting back to his Sexual Chocolate gimmick was a little risqué but necessary for the Old School feel; plus it served for the pun that Raw took place in Hersey Pennsylvania. His loss to Ziggler was very Old School since sleeper holds are hardly used anymore, but the referee’s disregard to raise the wrestler’s wrist three times, instead of one, before ending the match was not met even in Old School.
Tyson Kidd’s heel turn against his tag team partner David Hart Smith was shades of when The Rockers broke up. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were going through some issues before Michaels decided to super kick him during a segment of Brutus Beefcake’s Barbershop. Though Hall of Famer Tony Atlas tried to relate to The Hart Dynasty with his own experiences with Rocky Johnson, Tyson Kidd simply was set to head out on his own. And though Tyson Kidd has poor mic skills, you cannot deny the athleticism that he brings to the ring. Shawn Michaels wasn’t so charismatic either, but he had Sherri Martel to change that. Perhaps Natalya will provide the same reprieve for Kidd.
Considering that the prominent Women’s champion during Raw’s early years was the same woman who trashed the WWF Women’s title into a trash can on WCW Nitro, WWE defaulted back to Mae Young. Which is strange seeing as Mae Young did not debut in WWE until 1999, but then again, she did train the first ever Women’s champion The Fabulous Moolah. Frankly, Mae Young is no Betty White, and to continue to carry her out for high physical activities, or cutting promos, is too hazardous. Mae Young could not even stand up without being propped up by The Bellas, or even cut a coherent promo without slipping the words “slut” and “b—ches.” Still, Lay-Cool’s promo on Mae Young was—if anything—borderline inappropriate. The most shocking of which was pointing out that someone should change Mae Young’s adult diaper. Aside from Natalya clotheslining Layla for Young to get the cover, there was no build towards the Divas title match.
Having Tito Santana and Chavo Classic on Raw to praise Alberto Del Rio was a smart way to indicate what Del Rio means to the Hispanic wrestling community. Del Rio earned himself a victory over Sgt. Slaughter, which did nothing for Del Rio but allowed Slaughter to redeem himself for his past role as Raw’s Guest Host. A run in by Rey Mysterio would have made more sense than MVP rushing to the aid of Slaughter.
The angle between Goldust and Ted DiBiase Jr. was finally put to an end with Goldust returning the Million Dollar belt back to its owner, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. With Junior refusing to take back the title from his father, DiBiase has finally set his sights on the United States title by attacking Daniel Bryan later in the evening.
Jim Ross made a surprise guest appearance to commentate Daniel Bryan’s match with the Oklahoma native Jack Swagger. Just the way Jim Ross donned the head set and immediately started calling the action, showed that he has not lost a beat. And unlike the grossly bias commentary of Michael Cole, J.R. credited both men on their credentials and athleticism. Nowadays the “entertainment” is valued more so than the sport of wrestling. So it was nice to hear J.R. bring back a sense of credibility to the product.
There could not have been two better athletes in Daniel Bryan and Jack Swagger for J.R. to call. Especially for Daniel Bryan who has been an advocate of Jim Ross’s professionalism. However, Michael Cole attempted to ruin the broadcast because he despises how everyone emphasizes the differences between him and J.R. For someone who claims NXT is beneath him, and that he is the Voice of WWE, Michael Cole’s outright disrespect towards J.R. was both unbecoming and an embarrassment to broadcast journalism.
Finally on board with Wade Barrett‘s match with Randy Orton. For weeks Barrett has threatened John Cena with the stipulation that if he doesn’t have his hand raised then he’s fired. Leading fans to believe that Barrett was not going to rely on his laurels to win the match. But after cleanly defeating R-Truth, Barrett has reinstated his status as a rightful number one contender.
Randy Orton continued to elevate his dominance as WWE Champion by clearing the ring of The Miz and Nexus, unaided.
But it was Roddy Piper who brought the focus to this Sunday’s match back to the WWE title. His promo on how he and legends such as Mr. Perfect and Ted DiBiase never held the WWE title, plucked at the heart-strings. The WWE title to the legends is sacred, and for Cena to hand the belt over to Barrett at the Survivor Series would be a disgrace.
Though Cena claims he will be unbiased–how it should be–Survivor Series has a dark history. So it would be no surprise if Cena screws Orton over this Sunday. Because would Cena really sacrifice everything for Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect?
Final Thoughts: There’s a reason why Piper’s Pit was so successful during its prime. Not only because Piper knew how to ask the tough questions, but simply because he was so passionate about the business.
J.R. and King teaming up on Raw, even for one match, proved to be a major highlight of the night.
It was great to see “The Million Dollar Man” and I.R.S. together, the whole Rhodes family, Ron Simmons, Mean Gene Okerlund, Howard Finkel, Gerald Brisco, Tito Santana, Chavo Classic, “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
All the Legends, even the ones not mentioned, who were on Raw was a reminder of the richness of WWE’s history. While TNA can continue to add former WWE talents to their roster, they can never match the depth of what WWE has meant to the business of professional wrestling.