I didn't expect anything major to happen tonight, being that holiday RAWs rarely ever do anything. I was somewhat wrong, at least towards the beginning of the show, although the end reinforced the notion that nothing ever happens except for standard "faces win out" on these kinds of shows. I guess that's why I could palate John Cena standing tall over both Jack SWAGGAH and Alberto del Rio here. There would be plenty of time next week when more people presumably are watching to give del Rio some shine. Plus, the context surrounding the Swagger counter and tap was pretty good. In the main event, they managed to further one of my favorite stories, Dolph Ziggler and SWAGGAH's rivalry for the affections of Vickie Guerrero. del Rio, who was the other star of the show through his Sean O'Haire-esque backstage segments trying to rally troops to do his bidding for him, played into that as well, planting seeds into Ziggler's head about what Swagger's true intentions for Vickie were. Lost in the trailers for shitty movies and the Triple H/Kevin Nash/CM Punk top storyline spinning wheels, there's a really good midcard angle going on here.
That being said, when one top storyline is glossed over and the other gets the standard SuperCena Über Alles ending, it might seem like a terrible RAW. Let's look at the former now. The show started off with a lacking start, even though Punk did his best to save it. I thought he was much better actually wrestling, which people seem to discount because of the whole PIPEBOMB shtick. We know he's great on the mic, but when he gets people to care about a match with R-Truth that doesn't have a whole lot of context around it other than "Hey, he wrestled his tag partner last week", then that's mastery. I do like Punk's paranoia here concerning Trips' intentions towards Nash, but I think a lot of the peripheral stuff has come off pretty badly. One, the narrative still has Punk coming off as, well, a punk to some of the audience. Two, Trips putting his COO position on the line so soon into the narrative? Maybe I can dig it, but it feels too soon for me, even if I feel like the match itself isn't too soon. Third, if Nash is really gone (and with him getting in Funkhauser's limo in the second segment means he's not, more than likely), then it's been spinning wheels since his reintroduction at SummerSlam. Four, there is no four, only Zuul. Finally, the payoff that Nash was the one who sent the text was lame. Like, beyond lame. It pretty much insisted that he's a main player when he's not, and really, no one watching the show for the last three months buys that Trips, if he's a fair arbiter (and to their credit, he has been portrayed as such), is going to choose a guy who showed up, waltzed in and gave an ultimatum over the guy who has sold out a shit-ton of t-shirts and gotten Trips a lot of positive press, if we can blur the lines between kayfabe and "real" for a moment.
Also, I couldn't help but smile at the video package for Zack Ryder, and letting him get the win to a deafening pop was proof enough for me that the guy has arrived and that the fans do have a voice. When Michael Cole is ripping on a guy, you know they've arrived. Ryder's exuberance with Cena afterwards was really cool too, almost like it was as real as it was supposed to be part of the narrative. I really like a good success story. That being said, the pretense behind the match, that Lawler doesn't like David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty because they have "no charisma", is starting to grate on me. I think I see what all these people who think that "personality" is a funny thing to kayfabe feud over.
Also, the sooner they get Eve out of an active wrestler role, the better. Beth Phoenix may have flubbed the Glama-Slam, but she at least looks like a pro wrestler in there. Eve does not. I do find it funny though that they're using that Katie Raymond article as a talking point on TV. Again, K. Sawyer Paul is a guru at this kind of thing. Speaking of people who shouldn't be on camera? Jinder Mahal and Great Khali suck out loud in the ring. Not even Evan Bourne's masterful bumping could make them look good. Also, when Heath Slater and Randy Orton is a RAW match? Well, let's backtrack on that. It was a decent match. And I get the reasoning for it. However, it's something that might have been better suited for Superstars. Then again, what match would replace it? A Mark Henry squash? No better. Eh, I guess I can't complain, especially since Orton, I feel, has started becoming more comfortable wrestling as a good guy. I really like that he's actually setting up spots, especially his stump DDT, rather than, oops, guy's on the apron, let's drag him in and DDT him. Forcing the setup just looks cool.
But if we're going back to the wrestling, the main event tag match was as good a wrestling match as you'll get on a RAW main event. Just excellent pacing and storytelling all around. I liked the interplay between Ziggler and Swagger, the fact that Swagger got to attain beast mode early on, Sheamus taking out centuries of Irish frustration on the proxy for English oppression, Wade Barrett, and especially the spot where Christian's slap enraged Sheamus so much that it got both of them counted out. Really solid action for a show that was actually better than the impression I gave off on Twitter tonight. It was very much a holiday RAW, but it was a somewhat well-executed holiday RAW. It had its flaws, but I enjoyed it for the most part.