WWE Monday Night Raw: Same old, Some new

Its been a while since I saw Monday Night Raw. Ever since I started watching UFC, I sort of lost my taste for WWE wrestling, which is scripted action for the fans. But last night, while I was channel surfing, I found myself stopping to see what’s been going on in the wrestling world. I chanced upon a special three hour episode themed Power to the People where fans take control of which matches the WWE superstars will engage in for the night.

When I started watching, R-Truth and Christian were bellyaching about how they got “robbed” of their championship belts at Capitol Punishment, which I assume was held fairly recently. R-Truth lost to John Cena while Christian was beaten by Randy Orton (who I am still in love with :-) ). Enter The Miz, whom I first saw in an episode of Attack of the Show and liked immediately despite being a heel on WWE, and he too, started complaining about his loss to his protege and right hand man Alex Reilly, also during Capitol Punishment. After several minutes of whining and trash talking, Theodore Long makes an appearance and declares that the main event will be a 6 man tag team match pitting the three against champions John Cena, Randy Orton and Alex Reilly. The fans decided that the match will be an elimination match, with the last wrestler standing deciding which team gets the win.

Anyways, after the commercial, I switched channels because they were talking about new guys whom I knew absolutely nothing about. I returned to the show for the main event in time for the entrance of The Miz. It felt weird to see Randy Orton as a face this time, because the last time I watched, he was a heel of epic proportions. I saw that John Cena was still up to his usual tricks, working the crowd with his hip hop swag and his huge huge arms. Randy Orton, who was reportedly suffering from a concussion from a previous match, was sporting new ink on his arms and sort of a five-o’clock shadow, which made him look more rugged and tough *sigh*.  It was my first time to see Reilly in a match so I have no impression about him whatsoever except that I am betting that he is going to be groomed as a great heel and that the Miz will see some face time pretty soon.

One thing I can say about the WWE, they do know how to work the crowd, and while the moves are  scripted, the athleticism required to pull off the stunts are real. I have to give credit to these wrestling superstars for working their asses off to make sure that they execute the moves perfectly to prevent their opponents from sustaining injuries.  I was pretty sad to hear recently that Edge had to retire because of a career ending injury. Back to the match — there were new moves that I only first saw last night but there were also the classics — the Spear, the Sleeper Hold (which in real life could have actually put a guy to sleep in seconds in the UFC, but never really happens at the WWE), the RKO, the cross face and John Cena’s You Can’t See Me Maneuver. The match also saw the guys pumping up like bulls as they stalked their opponents, and drew strength from the crowd’s cheering a la Hulk Hogan (I think that was a bit of a cheesy touch), and a couple of dirty tricks that the wrestlers still employed after 20 or 30 something years on air. Isolating the opponent on a corner and beating on him while the another teammate distracts the referee, illegal tags — the works.  Actually, half the time, I was expecting Randy to pull something against John Cena, but in the end, the two champs won and held their belts high up in the air as the crowd cheered. Of course, this event will spawn many storylines in future WWE episodes .

WWE fans know that the wrestling is scripted, and yet, they still allot time and effort to watch and cheer for these superstars. They know that the trash talk is bullsh*t, but week after week, they buy tickets to wherever the WWE is scheduled to hold their matches. WWE is about entertainment, and that in itself is a way of life for these die hard fans. Through these superstars, kids draw inspiration that they too, can do the things that seem impossible, and that is where its strength lies — selling the good vs bad angle, and the triumph of the face over the heels which almost always a sure thing. In truth, the show reads like a telenovela for jocks, a never ending flow of male testosterone and violence and people, both men and women eat it up because it appeals to them on some level. I, for one, watch WWE because these types of stunts can’t be found on actual regulation matches. They are not as explosive or as exciting and there is always a huge possibility of injury. I watch the UFC for a different reason — the actual fighting and the use of different disciplines in actual combat in the octagon.  In the UFC, the better fighter wins, whether he is an assw*pe or a nice guy is not a factor — only skill, strategy and training matter. It is cool and it is macho but the WWE is a different story.  It spins its weakness (being scripted) into a strength, makes it cool, utilizes brilliant marketing and knows entertainment well enough to sell an obvious fake to the billions of fans it has acquired worldwide, myself included, gives the fans the action they crave and rakes in the dough for the effort.