Seeing as I'm about to tackle a very similar point in WWE history, albeit from a different angle, I'm quite interested in where you're headed, and from what I've seen you're a good guy, so let's get to the detail. Obviously this was a fairly contentious time period given the mistakes that WWE made, but evidently you're putting the focus on Punk's 'pipebomb' persona that proved so popular and that seems a sensible approach. Let's jump in.
First thing that stood out to me is the length of that opening recap; while it's good to set the scene, it felt quite tedious to have that
much to scroll through, especially given that I know the majority of what's already happened and there was a fair bit to get through. Perhaps just a shorter recap next time? A thought.
I'm immediately not sure on Miz's first line. I couldn't picture it at all; Miz is known for his slow methodical speech patterns, not so much the 'Hey listen' type. He's far more dramatic than that, but that's something you channelled more when it got to the actual content about HHH and Cena. Miz could make a good anti-authority face, undoubtedly, but both he and Punk strike me as 'sole crusaders against injustice', if you understand me. That's why the initial cheesy 'alright let's team up' bit had me concerned, but Punk showing a bit of an edge by pulling Miz back was some good characterisation. The last thing either man needs is to become emotionless 'team up against evil' faces. Definitely keep an eye on how you portray The Miz as a character - it's not easy to write him as a face as he's never done it irl, but make sure to keep some of the self-raised hard-headedness that makes him who he is.
A solid opening contest; there were some spelling errors and I thought the chains of reversals were sometimes a little too unrealistic - there was one sequence where they kept reversing each other's reversals. I also thought it odd that McGillicutty and Otunga were arguing, then Otunga basically helped him out like nothing was ever wrong, and maybe you could have done more with the Kingston-McGillicutty NXT link seeing as that's a really interesting angle you could have explored. That all being said, I'm nit-picking when there was a lot of well-thought-out action, and certainly it would have got the crowd hot early in the evening. Kingston winning is fine, suggesting we'll be getting more of a divide between Otunga and McGillicutty rather than trying to hype a heel win in the next title bout.
Richie Steamboat should prove a decent addition. The VP was nicely done with a strong underlying theme to drive it.
Not much to say about Otunga and McGillicutty bickering. It made them look like rookies, and if that's what you're trying to drive home, then it works, although it seems like it's leading to a turn and frankly, neither man is that interesting (in my eyes) so you'll need to lay some ground work to make people support one over the other. Interview/argument does its job here, and if nothing else I’m more interested than I’ve been beforehand… about anything these two have done… ever.
Personally, I've always considered Swagger a good enough talker to carry himself, but there's no doubting that Washington is a brilliant speaker and I felt there was a lot of power in the image you created of Swagger and AW side-by-side. The sports analogies could really work tbh (the ‘post-match press conference’ stands out here) and it could really work as a gimmick, especially if you give Swagger the spotlight he deserves. As you pointed out, Riley beating Swagger previously only to be dominated this time around works really well to complete Swagger’s transformation, and Riley’s couple of lines were dead on as well. Lawler’s ‘oh brother’ schtick is exactly the kind of cheesy stuff that used to drive me insane from him, but if nothing else it’s in character.
Very cookie-cutter promo from Air Boom, but like Lawler, you can only work with the characters you had at the time; that, plus you were clearly trying to set up the accidental capture of The Miz being carried out. In those terms, the interview serves a purpose, rather than just being needless ‘we’re a team’ propaganda from Air Boom. It also helps build some crowd sympathy for The Miz, so props to you for really developing him as this anti-authority face in a relatively short time. “Go to break!” sounds a bit disjointed, I might venture you were looking for “Go to commercial,” or “Go to a break,” instead, but again, I’m nit-picking because this was really a well-played segment, and it somewhat raises the stakes because the only man seemingly out to help Punk now isn’t anywhere near the arena. Sensible storytelling.
Read over Cole’s commentary for the Diva’s entrances; it feels very disjointed and clumsy. I don’t know if you could hear him saying things like that, but his phrasing was often repetitive or you didn’t contract verbs where you could have (i.e. “she’s” instead of the less natural “she is” in English speech). Again, something small, but something that can drag a reader out of their focus, their suspension of disbelief.
Before I get on to my issue with the Diva’s segment, allow me to say that you having faith in the WOW is incredibly reassuring and I’m glad that, like the tag team division, you’re attempting to put genuine storylines together to garner interest and build a strong show. That’s brilliant, something the WWE consistently doesn’t do, and one of the things which helps you have a good all-around card, not just an opener and a main event. My issue with the segment is – why does the viewer have to care what happens to Alicia Fox? You could argue the case for basic decency, but if we should feel sorry for her out of basic compassion, why is Kelly Kelly not even getting in the ring to help? Not to mention, not two seconds previously you showed that Fox is a spiteful bitch who can’t get past the fact she lost, and in general that means I can’t
physically care if Phoenix and Natalya break her into two pieces. Beth’s speech was also quite awkward and it just didn’t have the desired effect on me. I think there are other ways you could have upped the stakes, because two heels beating up another heel means very little unless you’re turning Alicia Fox, and that’s Booking 101. The whole segment felt off, but I commend you for the storyline and certainly the WOW remain strong. Kelly doesn’t look like a million bucks, however. Keep in mind that this is just my two cents; someone else may completely disagree with me, you included, and that’s fine.
I recognise that this kind of thing splits opinion.
Just a thought; could Barrett not have been added to the Scramble to give us five guys? Simply because the Scramble is usually made up of five, and Barrett’s too good a talent to be left off the card, at least in my eyes. Again, a thought that occurs, rather than an outright disapproval or something.
I like the intensity from Kelly, but to be honest, I’d much rather she loses, leading us smoothly into a story with the more talented AJ Lee vs. WOW, which actually gives you more options. Backseat booking here, I apologise.
Night of Champions looking pretty sick at the moment. Gonna go ahead and bust this out
Ahhhh, I feel really bad for going on a rant about the Diva’s and I’m about to do it again about Ambrose now. I think you recognise that Dean Ambrose is something really special (why else would you introduce him?) and I think we all feel the same way. He represents change and a real movement towards a darker edge to storylines and deeper characters, similar to Bray Wyatt recently. My issue is that you’ve debuted him like any other generic monster heel. I like how you described in some detail about his mannerisms and all this good stuff, but at the heart of Dean Ambrose’s character is his ability to really get into the viewer’s head and make us uncomfortable with his words
, as well as with his actions, and possibly even further than that – he needs to make an impact against someone far more worthy of his time than Santino. Ambrose is the kind of guy who, contrary to an above reviewer, needs
you to take a risk on a big angle from the get-go with him, because that’s what Dean Ambrose stands for. Impact. The guy has the potential to change the entire face of Raw, with his talent and with his character, and that’s why I think a short squash with no promo completely undersells him. It doesn’t help that JR then screams his praise about him being “a force to be reckoned with for years to come” – who HASN’T squashed Santino?
As I say, apologies for the rant, but I felt this was a wasted opportunity here. I eagerly await his actions next week.
A strong back-and-forth tag team match here, definitely selling the fact that story dictates a Ryder-Ziggler match is almost guaranteed in the near future. I’m not sure how it helps Morrison to be ‘the guy’ who stands in Ryder’s way, but nevertheless I’m liking the storyline and it paints Ryder as the total underdog who Ziggler’s almost scared to face, and it’s great. I hope you keep building this slowly, and we’ll see where it goes from here. R-Truth going crazy and leaving just adds fuel to his insane character, so I look forward to more from him as well. Good stuff.
Okay, so this is your big selling point. Punk/Cena is your money match, and this promo basically lays the kindling to set the feud alight. I think Punk made some cutting points in that Cena supports other men because he wants to piggyback on their popularity, but I also think the remarks, say, about Ryder’s time in ECW, are unfair, because it was only when Ryder started making a name for himself that everyone, Cena included, realised WHY they should be fans. Why would Cena ever ‘sponsor’ a guy on ECW who had no signs of ever being remarkable? What has Punk ever done to help Ryder? Just some questions to think about. Certainly Punk does a good job of turning the tide on Cena and really laying down why Punk doesn’t like him, in addition to why WE shouldn’t like him, but at the same time I was waiting for Cena to come back at him. Cena’s a passionate guy, we know that; he’s a man of principle, and for him to stand there with just the occasional ‘You’re wrong’ sells him short. I also think that him breaking kayfabe/the fourth wall with the ‘five moves of doom’ and ‘heel persona’ remarks got completely passed over. That’s the kind of thing that if someone says, you should develop that. Does the casual fan understand the ‘heel persona’? Do we genuinely boo Cena because he’s NOT a bad guy? Have Cena talk about that, get down deep and complex with the issues between Cena and Punk, even Cena and the WWE, Cena and himself
. There’s a lot of ground you can cover with these two guys. Punk latches on to a lot of this stuff, talking about the WWE ‘machine’ but at times he came across as just whining about Cena’s role in the past.
Put simply, I felt we needed more from Cena to push Punk back, because I don’t think this is solely about Punk’s voice, this is about Cena too. Cena’s comebacks were short and lacked vigour, which is why the segment started to flail; the best arguments get heated because they’re back-and-forth, guys throwing genuine barbs at each other and feeding off each other’s aggression… we didn’t get that here, this was just Punk whipping Cena on the mic because he felt pissed off, and I felt like I needed more than that. I felt you needed to up the stakes by making Cena show how much he WANTED this. That’s at the heart of my concern, because I felt there was more to be done here. Every time Cena made a half-hearted statement, Punk shoots him down and starts name-dropping about Cena’s misgivings. Does Cena want to change this? What does he find flawed about Punk? Does he feel bad about what he’s done in the past, or is he indifferent, or worse, ignorant? Nevertheless, a decent ending to the show with Punk being taken away, solidifying the Johnny Ace evil regime and giving Cena a moral dilemma to think about. My main problem was that you advertised a no-holds-barred confrontation between these two guys, and instead you only gave us half the heat I was ready for. Thing is, I’ve seen in a short time that you’re good enough to do this, so I really hope you pick out what YOU think is helpful from that essay and really ignite this feud on next week’s show.
Quick edit: just realised that's the go-home show, but I assume the feud may continue, so yeah, keep in mind if it does.
Overall, I think this was actually a pretty decent show. Your card from top-to-bottom is well-considered, with unique storylines for each division and each area of the card. I think there are, yes, a few issues to be addressed, but you gave us some decent matches to sink our teeth into and there’s no denying there could be something really promising in here. I’d quite like to see less space in the format; it feels like it’s all double-spaced and that means I’m scrolling down when I should be engrossed in the action. I realise I criticised (hopefully constructively ) at various points through this, but there’s plenty of stuff I didn’t mention because it’s just stuff I assume that good bookers do it – your match psychology, for instance, was strong throughout, as was your eye for description and your intentions for building and telling stories. I definitely think you should look at each character individually and try to find some depth in them to really drive this forward (Cena comes to mind here, maybe Miz a little too), and I await the next episode of Dean Ambrose’s climb up the ladder as well. Coolquip, a pleasure to read the show my man, I hope I’ve said one or two things to inspire you, as well as one or two things for you to work on, and maybe one or two things that I received just how you wanted me to. Best of luck, I can’t wait to see where you take this thing next.
P.s. spotted the review for review thing, don't worry about that, it'll be 2015 by the time I post anything.