Obviously the finish to last weekís show was huge, so giving us the replay of that to start the show off was a natural move.
From there, Michaels starting the show off with a promo had to happen too. I thought it was a nice little touch to have you change up the way Michaels is dressed to match his heel turn, with the dark clothes no doubt set to match the dark new persona of Michaels. Not so sure everyone would be booing Michaels here, as he was a face for the longest time, so it would take people a bit to completely turn on him, but I still get that you want him to be instantly booed after being positioned as the heel. A bit disappointed that Michaels has no explanation to give, although having him claim that he doesnít feel like he needs to explain himself to anyone is fine. Not so sure about the God reference, as a cocky Michaels mixed with a Michaels who is still portrayed as a Christian could be a bit of a clash, although I have seen it work before. I found the speech about Triple H ignoring Michaels a little odd too, because it didnít really seem to have a point, other than leading into Michaels talking about his ex-partners, which he did with some great arrogance. Connecting Triple H to them as someone who Michaels took to the top in the original days of DX isnít just a good bit of arrogance on the part of Michaels, but itís also a clever way to use history to try to justify Michaelsí actions in his head, as any good heel should. The way Michaels talked about how he came back for Triple H and did the right thing, only for Triple H to throw it away by selfishly making the challenge to Rated-RKO was good, as was the blaming of the fans to really solidify his status as a heel, giving him a real reason to turn his back on the people who he had pandered to for years. The closing speech about how Michaels is now his own man was a great way to really drive home his point, talking up his selfish attitude along with the almost chilling quotation from the bible. I donít mind the RVD interruption Ė in fact, I like it so much I did it myself when I had Michaels turn. Van Dam initially playing up to the fans was a good way to start, before creating the contrast in having Van Dam talk about his ECW Title compared to Michaels WWE Title, which I loved. RVD showing some respect for Cena was good to see, before making the challenge himself for a title match, leading into what I guess was the inevitable interruption from the McMahons. Vince instantly shooting down the idea of a title match was to be expected due to the issues he has with Van Dam. The Shane speech was pretty good too, showing the classic McMahon arrogance in talking about the Backlash tag match from last year, before, once again, cementing Michaels as a heel with the comparison between him and the McMahons. The rest of the speech was good too, continuing the issues between the McMahons and Cena with the clever announcement of Cena having no rematch, with the exciting announcement of the tournament to go with it. Vinceís little speech was good too, with a nice final line, before he claimed the ECW Title with the help of Michaels, which honestly surprised me. A lot to take in with this first segment, opening up heaps of opportunities for WrestleMania matches. Not quite sure what to make of it right now, but I will say that this promo was well written for all parties involved.
Solid start to the actual wrestling portion of the show with a nice strong showing from the tag champs for the first time as champions. A nice basic type of tag match, with nothing too big, but at the same time it does a good job in allowing the champs to look good, while Cade and Murdoch donít look like slouches either.
Nice start to the promo with the McMahons, addressing the ECW Title situation, while also letting us know something will no doubt be going down with Cena on this show. Itís just a small thing, but I really like the goofy writing of Coach here too. He can be serious when in the ring with the faces, but with McMahon heís still that goofy star struck jobber. Umaga not being in the tournament is interesting, although I guess it serves to protect him from a loss. It seems like youíre setting up Umaga/Cena, which wouldnít be bad either, although Iím not sure itís worthy of WrestleMania if youíre trying to set that up. Instead, I think youíd be better off going with Cena/McMahon. Still, Iím certainly interested.
As Iíve said before, the arrival of the Harts can only be a positive for the tag division on RAW. Looking forward to it.
Simple promo here to move Orton on from Edge and give him some focus. Iím happy to see Dykstra still paired with Orton, as it does give Kenny quite the rub, while Iím also interested in seeing what you do with Orton next. Heís certainly not challenging Shawn Michaels for the WWE Title at WrestleMania, but with his seemingly new more aggressive attitude, you could set him up for something big at WrestleMania.
Really nice match here between RVD and Dykstra, allowing Kenny to look great in hanging with Van Dam all of the way through the match. Obviously Van Dam was going to win because he has a shot at winning the entire tournament, but the effort from Kenny was great to see, really cementing his spot just off the main event, despite the loss.
Loving the new intense Lashley here. Not sure who heís going to finally snap on with his heel turn (Iíd probably say Van Dam at this stage), but it should certainly be great. Heís just about ready now.
Nice segment here with Flair and Carlito. A small thing at the start I loved was how you had Blanchard (indirectly obviously) put Carlito over, before pinning the focus on Kennedy. Flair calling Batista to end with obviously keeps the interest in No Way Out going, with Kennedy/Batista set to occur there, before we get Flair/Kennedy at WrestleMania. Good little segment with a nice natural feel about it.
Very nice match here between Punk and Umaga. I loved Punk taking the fight to ĎMags at the start, really showing that he was up for the challenge, while the little game of cat and mouse with Umaga unable to strike Punk to begin with was done well. I was surprised the match went as long as it did, but at the same time Umaga looked strong, like when Umaga chased the referee only to get kicked by Punk. Punk persisting on with the fight up until the very end was great to see too, putting him over really strong with that plus him walking out on his own accord. Good match for both men.
Nice little segment to remind us of the arrangement with Umaga and the McMahons, which will no doubt see Umaga attacking Cena.
As Iíve said before, not so sure about this angle. Itís just a very uncomfortable type of thing to have on a wrestling show. Hopefully the Punk/Knox match that Knox spoke of comes soon.
A bit disappointed in the lack of personally of TWGTT, who I would have liked to have seen play up their worldís greatest shtick. Still, the match between TWGTT and Carlito/Flair should be a good one when it comes.
As Iíve said before, your WrestleMania is probably the show Iím most looking forward to right now.
The little promo at the start of this match was probably necessary to introduce Masters and Nitro as officially aligned. Nothing much to it, other than a nice little bit of arrogance, so hopefully this evolves.
Smart way to keep Nitroís losing streak going with Triple H here. I was glad to see Nitro didnít look entirely weak though, despite Trips obviously having to come out looking very strong when heíll likely be the one to be challenging for the WWE Title at WrestleMania.
Triple H wanting to get his hands on Michaels is a natural, so itís no wonder he called him out here. (Sidenote: why didnít he come out earlier when Shawn was in the ring though? Surely that would be the opportune time for him to strike.) Michaelsí speech about how he was done answering to Triple H was good, keeping with the character he presented earlier in the show well, while the last line from Triple H (even if it appeared to have a typo in it
) was a very nice way to close the promo and show just how personal this thing is.
Nice little segment here to show Cena with his typical attitude, showing some intensity there, while Coach comes off looking like the goofball. Reasonably amusing too.
Interesting way to reintroduce Phoenix here as a friend of Victoria, although I guess it works with Victoriaís problems with Mickie, especially with you playing on that Mickie and Beth have past problems from when Beth originally made her debut.
Squash win for Beth here was obvious, allowing her to look good, although what made it better was Beth leaving Mickie laying, thanks to help from Victoria, really setting up a feud perhaps between the two, or perhaps even with Victoria involved.
I honestly didnít expect Cenaís promo to be in the main event slot at the start of the show, but with the way everything else has gone, it certainly makes the most sense. Good to see Cena instantly addressing the fact that he wonít be getting a rematch, acknowledging it as he should after the talk about how he lost the title the previous week. The way he talked about Michaels was really good too, really calling him out to position himself as that good guy face (even working in the hustle, loyalty, respect line
), while his hunger for getting the title back was accounted for really well here too. Cena then calling Shane out was done nicely, with the good little shot at Steph thrown in there, before making the challenge for a fight. While the McMahons were of course going to interrupt, I wasnít so sure about the little comment about Coach to begin with, because I thought youíd made enough jokes at his expense throughout the show. The comparison between Cena and RVD from McMahon is very interesting, because it seems youíve been trying to keep them connected for whatever reason throughout this run. Iím not so sure what it ultimately means, but the speech here from Vince was very good, especially when it came to the part about not crossing the boss. Cena throwing it right back at Vince with their exchange was good too, before the challenge for WrestleMania, which seems like the type of match I feel Cena should be in as itís on that top level. The matches for the next few weeks sound good too, leading up to the announcement that Cena has a match for WrestleMania. I really liked the segue this was used as for the attack from Umaga, Simply, the attack from Umaga was done really well, giving us that high impact finish to the show. Not quite sure if Umaga/Cena at WrestleMania is really a match Iíd like to see Cena in as I donít think Umagaís on his level, despite the undefeated streak, but this was still a good way to close the show.
Another quality show from you. Really, Iím just enjoying everything about this thread now, with the womenís and tag division both going along nicely, while the rest of your card really shines. Looking forward to seeing what you bring with SmackDown! now, with a pretty good card built in the preview for the go home show for No Way Out.