Last week WWE delivered arguably one of its top Monday Night Raw shows of the year right in our hometown of Phildelphia, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately other priorities kept us away from the live show, but it was certainly one we would have both liked to have been there for. It was difficult not to notice the flatness of a typically vocal Philadelphia crowd as the night wore on even with a stellar main event featuring new United States Champion Zach Ryder, new World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and WWE Champion C.M. Punk. Tonight’s Raw from Chicago should go down in front another typically outstanding audience as Punk returns home for the first time since hijacking the WWE title at last July’s Money in the Bank in front of a crowd that was positively explosive.
PTB: It was a little strange seeing the show open with a suspenseful drum roll intro led by Punk filling the audience in on who emerged as champions at the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view. Philadelphia did seem to appreciate that particular group holding gold in the ring though. This turned out to be a great way to open the show.
Brian: I thoroughly enjoyed that segment. If I have to watch 15 minutes of talking at the beginning of the show, that was it.
I’m not sure why the crowd was chanting for ECW during Punk’s speech considering Punk and Bryan both really gained notoriety in Ring of Honor. I think nowadays, chanting “E-C-Dub” is the trendy thing to do and there are less and less people that have actually been to an ECW show or watched the original version.
PTB: Those three letters have come to represent a lot of things over the years, but Punk’s only real connection was throughout he WWE incarnation of the brand. Some Ring of Honor shows were held in the former “ECW Arena” as well, which is holding what may be it’s last wrestling show next month.
The current group of champions is intriguing given all of its relatively new faces. This photo was floating around after last week’s show and it really does show a change in the WWE landscape, at least for now
Brian: I can’t believe Air Boom is still the tag champs. They’ve done NOTHING to revitalize the tag division.
PTB: Hopefully that will change soon as I was surprised to see the Usos on Raw in a match with Epico, Primo and Rosa. Give the latter team a decent name, add one or two more pairings and this is a tag division I could get behind.
Brian: It feels like I’ve seen Epico and Primo many times in the last 2 weeks. Did you notice that the camera was on Rosa during about 85% of the match?
PTB: The opening match last week once again featured Randy Orton. I’ve grown really tired of that, but at least it isn’t’ every week anymore.
Brian: If you watch SmackDown, it is every week!
PTB: His feud with Wade Barrett rolls on after their TLC match, and Barrett’s side slam finisher is apparently now called “The Winds of Change.” Let’s hope a stuff breeze comes along and changes that. With the hype around his ongoing “Barrett Barrage” it feels like there has to be a more clever name.
Brian: It’s way better than “back first”.
PTB: That’s “vintage” Michael Cole.
Kevin Nash took some real bumps at TLC. He’s reportedly gone for six weeks after Triple H was gone for the past five. Is this just killing time to get a WrestleMania match from these two along with some incredibly protracted booking?
Brian: I think Nash is officially retired. He posted a message on Twitter after the match stating something along the lines of this being his last match.
Unfortunately, I think this is paving the way for another awful WrestleMania rematch between Undertaker and HHH.
PTB: Speaking of Twitter, Alicia Fox was trending #1 worldwide as she hit the ring last week. That’s crazy. She was up there with Jesse J and Terrence Howard from something called Divas of Soul, David Akers who was adding to his record breaking season on Monday Night Football, and her opponent Beth Phoenix. Its a shame all that attention led into another empty Divas segment and her absurd mic work.
PTB: We got the latest teaser video for someone’s return on January 2nd, 2012 from YouTube user “Prophetless2012.” I’m more confused than ever.
Brian: Yeah, this one added to my confusion as well.
A bunch of wrestling websites are reporting that this is definitely promoting the return of Chris Jericho and setting up a feud with Punk. While this would be a great idea, I highly doubt it. Ultimately, I would love to see Punk vs Jericho at WrestleMania to see who truly is the “Best in the World”, but I’m still not sure if these videos are about Jericho.
There’s even a freeze frame from last week’s video of the front of the notebook that supposedly has “Chris” crossed out on front. I think that’s a reach.
PTB: I’d like to see Jericho back and this series of promos needs a big payoff.
I tried to watch last week’s Raw live, but Jinder Mahal vs. Sheamus tested my limits to not fast forward. Being Beaker’s cousin aside, I haven’t bought into the “Great White” just yet.
Brian: I have to say that I’ve really turned the corner with Sheamus. I want to see him in a decent feud though.
PTB: That would certainly help. Philadelphia gave Cena a far different reception at the top of hour two than Punk and company received. I still don’t get this Kane attack on him.
Brian: I still don’t get why Kane is wearing a mask and has hair again.
Brian: Was it just me or has the Philly crowd gotten less and less vocal over the years? We used to be so loud and into everything, but every show that has emanated from our hometown has seemed to show less and less fan interaction. They were particularly silent during that match. I certainly enjoyed it and thought it was a great showing by all involved, but the crowd sucked the life out of it.
PTB: They dropped off through the night from the top of the show and the entrance of the man once known as “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry. Even the champions entering through the crowd for the main event seemed flat. I don’t know that I’d say they were any less animated than other live crowds but we’ve certainly seen and heard a lot more in the past from the fans in Philadelphia.
Brian: I noticed Alberto Del Rio laboring during the closing moments of the match with an apparent groin injury. He collapsed at the end and it looked like they called out the trainer. A WWE.com article posted earlier today reported today he’ll be missing four to six weeks.
PTB: It’s a shame to lose Del Rio when he’s firmly established in the main event picture (even though Big Show may have been more appropriate in that spot after Bryan cashed in his “Money in the Bank” contract against him). It will be interesting to see how they book him for WrestleMania with him out until February.
All in all, it was a great show last week and tonight’s show from Chicago should be a great close to 2011.
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