This should put you back on the front page, if only for a little while. I had some thoughts scribbled down in mid-week, then managed to forget until now to finish them, so my apologies, and thanks for your feedback btw. As the original jobber said above, though for a different reason, I'm a little rusty on your storylines if only because I dipped in and out of the old thread so randomly over the past year that it'll take me a few shows to get back to where you actually are, if that makes any sense. Anyway, onward.
When I go chronologically, I end up with a gigantic rambling sprawl of block text, so I'm going to try and curtail this a little. I'll start with what surprised me the most about the show, and that's your booking of Randy Orton. I was pretty much certain that Orton was going to gun straight for Jericho, and that would be your World Title match come Summerslam. I thought you would have Orton go face-to-face with McMahon either here or on SmackDown, and he'd goad VKM into giving him the World Title match somehow, maybe with a stipulation attached or something. I figured it would be another layer to the nefarious Orton who'd RKO a defenceless woman, in that he could work his way inside McMahon's mind - so it's for that reason that I was a little taken aback that Orton didn't say anything to Vince here. It seemed to me like McMahon sort of had the upper hand on Orton from the beginning, and considering Orton hit new levels of super-villain with his RKO on Linda, I was expecting some dark promo material. And similarly, while the Kane decision makes sense (despite his jobberness) with this being his return after losing to Orton at Vengeance, I can't help but feel it slows Orton's momentum a little. That said, these two guys are the two most sadistic fuckers in play in the thread, bar maybe Dave 'claws-at-RVD's-wound' Batista, so I have full faith you'll make a lively feud out of this one. Obviously I didn't comment on SmackDown, but a thought I was going to put forward for it was how similar I thought Orton and Edge came across on that show - both a little bit touched in the head, willing to do anything for the big one - so in the grand scheme of things, Orton on Raw may let Edge do his thing a little more. The one thing I remain confused about is: who's facing Jericho? I was under the impression you were going to bring Dykstra away from the main event scene and give him a slower burn, so all I can see is either Edge killing Taker before SS and getting a one-on-one with Jericho, or a Triple Threat with the Deadman. I'm pretty sure I'm missing something, I'll wait for SmackDown before I judge you. Too much.
JBL's promo was perfect for the scumbag he'd become so perfectly by mid-2008; he always had an agenda of some kind, and here, with him trying to take advantage of what happened to HHH, sets that character dead in stone. The reason I mention this is because the promo in general was very strong character-wise, with Punk, Cena and JBL all being written to a tee, but it felt a little brief, and seeing as you have these three guys down, I'd maybe have liked to hear a little more from them. My thinking was Cena's stuff could have been said here, rather than later, but what's said is said I suppose. Regardless, it set up well for the main event, and needless to say you've reminded us how capable a writer you are with how well you captured everyone involved with the opening segment, and in Cena and Punk's interaction later. The main event itself had some good action, though the talking point would be JBL and Batista's ploy - I like that, it shows that JBL isn't really his own man and will happily take the underhanded way out as long as he wins. RVD's return also spices things up even more, knowing that his history with Batista would make for a pretty heated WWE Title feud. Like with the World Title situation, I'm not sure if we'll see Punk/JBL while Cena tags on to a Triple Threat situation or what's going to happen, but again it's one I'll wait to see how it unfolds. Normally you'd say that RVD hitting the Van Terminator was overkill, but of course, that's exactly what you were going for - what Batista did to him took him out of 'chilled out dude' mode for good. I especially like the mention of Cena and Punk trying to calm him down to no avail; it really sets Van Dam on his own level and highlights the seriousness of the issue between him and Batista. JBL also came out of it looking fine too, seeing as he was outnumbered and he got the pin in the match anyway. All in all, a very promising conclusion to the show that bodes well for the main event scene heading towards Summerslam. Good stuff.
Elsewhere, things are starting to shape for Summerslam pretty well. You've set up the Intercontinental Title feud well by having Rhodes be an absolute douchebag; in 2008 he wasn't quite as 'ready' to be champion and there's an almost immature edge to him by having him resort to violence against Grisham. Given that at this point in time he was
still a little bit green, putting him up against Kennedy is a great way to maybe mould him into more of a character, against a guy who is quite literally all character
. Carlito showing no respect to Rhodes because of his cowardice is a nice touch too, playing on the idea that Rhodes still has a lot to prove as champion, and there's your task. If I remember correctly, a while back you mentioned that you had some doubts about giving Rhodes the strap - provided I'm not making things up, you could easily use this as an opportunity to develop Rhodes into an entertaining character as champion.
Likewise, I think Black Gold (while those two were great singles talents in 2008 without really being rewarded for it) are treading water a little here, so it remains to be seen if they'll be the end result for your odd couple team of MVP and Helms, or if that comes after Summerslam. Certainly the tag division has some life in it, just not yet as lively as the Hardys situation on SmackDown. The Women's Title scene seems to be leading to a Triple Threat, though if that's the case I'm glad you've distinguished between Victoria and Phoenix rather than have all heels be best buds. Again, I feel this is all setting up for bigger things down the road, so the IC, Women's and Tag Title situations need a little time to burst to life. Next week's show will probably be crucial.
Overall, things look promising. In the grand scheme of things you're shaping up for Summerslam, so I don't really want to cast judgement before the angles develop ahead of the PPV. For instance, though the Orton-Kane decision surprised me, it'll probably be something where down the line I'll say it's come into its own. I eagerly await the next couple of shows, and not only because it means I can actually criticise you on decent grounds (
) but because actually this all looks bloody well good. Keep going old man, we're reading