Usually, whenever they tape two RAWs at the same time, the second show is flat, the crowd sucks and nothing really ever happens. Reading some of the spoilers for this show, my hopes weren't high. But that's the thing about spoilers; usually, they only tell part of the story. Verily, tonight's RAW was awesome from top to bottom. How fitting that in this year of upside-down and inside-out that the show that was taped after one two-hour show was among the best of the year, eh?
A lot of that comes from John Cena. He is counted on as WWE's workhorse and their top star, but sometimes, he can come off as trite or insincere. When he does, it makes for bad television. Tonight, he sounded sincere. His promo to kick the show off was about as good as I remember him being. When he's out there, standing up for Hustle, Loyalty and Respect, he is a tremendous, must-see character. Him standing up for his rival, for free speech and for the integrity of the match was riveting and the perfect way to kick off RAW. Even more stunning was his faceoff with Vince McMahon at the end of the show. Let's not get it twisted. McMahon was good in that segment, but Cena carried it. So much forceful emotion... when he feels genuine, I see why he's the top guy in WWE. IT didn't matter to me that they teased another firing, even if they teased and followed through with it to rushed results (even if I thought the story they told with him and Nexus/Wade Barrett was good in theory). The tension of the segment would have sold me on the PPV if I wasn't already sold on it before any match was announced.
And the bookends weren't the only things that sold this show on me. The wrestling was good, even if it wasn't spectacular. The segment with Evan Bourne, Sgt. Slaughter and Jack SWAGGAH~! was epic, especially with Swagger bringing up Sarge's early '90s defection to Iraq. R-Truth on the phone with Flo and plugging the wrong insurance company was epic. Alex Riley winning with a backslide and then Miz doing everything but teabagging him was fitting. Hell, even the Divas got time and had a decent match, which for them was akin to Savage/Steamboat from WM III.
And hey... ZACK RYDER SIGHTING! Here's hoping he and Curt Hawkins, or Chris Masters, or even his father get a shot at the Tag Pennies and more exposure on my RAW program.
For whatever reason, RAW clicked tonight, all 125 minutes of it. Looks like summer is heating up for WWE.