Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Double Tape RAWs and You

A big reason why last night's RAW worked
Photo Credit: WWE.com
I wasn't looking forward to RAW this week. I really wasn't. Usually, when they tape two episodes, the crowd dies for the second one (if it was even alive for the first two hours of taping anyway), the wrestlers look tired and the show is chock full of filler that makes it drag. So imagine my surprise when it was 11:05 PM, EDT last night and I sat in amazement of the full telecast. It wasn't just that the episode was good, but it was maybe the best one all year.

I have to give a lot of credit to that Las Vegas crowd. While Sin City is known for a lot of things, hot wrestling crowds aren't one of them. Furthermore, asking them to sit through another two hours of taping after experiencing the epic CM Punk rant live? I can see why a crowd might be burnt out after that, but to their credit, they reacted to things and kept the background noise going. The most telling thing was their reactions to Zack Ryder's theme music coming on. He got an audible, organic pop when his music cued up. For a guy who gets no TV time, that's a pretty amazing reaction for a nearly-spent crowd.

I think a lot of credit has to go to John Cena and Vince McMahon as well. Cena came out after the Punk promo to open up the second episode of RAW and delivered a forcefully genuine plea to Vince about letting a guy speak his mind. It was a total HLR Cena move, and as a guy who's more a fan of lawful good Marine Cena than I am of snarky wannabe Cena, I appreciated it. The closing segment was just as good. Say what you want about them potentially rehashing the Survivor Series angle from last year where Cena might get fired, but I thought that the execution of the segment, from beginning to end, was tremendous. Vince was at his Mr. McMahon best, and Cena did some of the best promo work he's done since that back and forth with Batista last year leading up to WrestleMania.

That begs the question why these double tape RAWs can't always be like this. Maybe there's a hot story needed. Maybe the crowd has to be right. For that last point, it severely limits the choice of crowd to the Pacific Time Zone, seeing as you wouldn't be getting out of the arena on the East Coast until 2 AM at the earliest. Vegas proved to be a great crowd for this. We know Sacramento would be an awesome crowd as well. What other crowds would do the trick? Maybe Seattle/Vancouver? Portland? Not many California crowds fit the bill. Or hey, maybe they could do Honolulu, especially if the next jumping off point for the RAW roster is Australia. Either way, if they could find the right formula, it might make double tape RAWs in the future more feasible and then make them a bit more common to give guys a night off here or there.

Regardless, last night's show worked. It might be the exception, but it's a welcome one.

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