Sunday, 31 July 2011
WWE Booking, SummerSlam and the Future By Shaun Nichols
The episode of Raw from 25/07 where John Cena once again became the WWE Champion brought an abrupt end to a lot of potential excitement from fans. A mere eight days after losing the title to CM Punk at the MITB PPV and in storyline being fired it's a pretty quick return by anyone's imagination. Worse yet CM Punk after leaving the event and the company with the championship returns to the company after missing a total number of one episode. What a way to kill interest in a storyline.
Believe it or not the plan was for John Cena to leave Raw as WWE Champion although earlier in the day he was supposed to beat The Miz for the title rather than Rey Mysterio. I personally think putting the title back on John Cena is a mistake, he frankly doesn't need to be WWE Champion. The fact that only a week before Vince was on the verge of firing him and thus the 8 man tournament did not feature Cena. And what a way to destroy the credibility and future drawing power of those wrestlers to ensure that the winner only got to hold the title for 90 minutes before we got the message that Cena is a much bigger star than anyone else on Raw and that the company needs him as champion.
Even stranger in some ways is that the episode of Raw was not designed to put over John Cena as the biggest star on the show. That honour went to the new Chief Operating Officer of the WWE: Triple H. Again there were different plans earlier in the day though thankfully they were not played out. Triple H was at one stage supposed to beat up CM Punk on the show setting up a Punk vs Triple H at SummerSlam. Hunter got to make R-Truth look like an idiot which unfortunately did not do anything for R-Truth apart from making it very clear that he is nowhere near the level of Triple H. What a great way to utilise the man who was in the main event of Capitol Punishment PPV. I do think it's important to get Triple H across with the fans in his new position and don't have any issues with him bringing back Jim Ross or taking the piss out of Michael Cole. He is currently in a babyface role and lets face it fans would prefer to listen to Jim Ross and like to see Michael Cole taken down a peg or two. The rating for his quarter does show that he is still a major TV attraction but I really didn't think that he had to bury R-Truth.
The biggest disappointment to me was that CM Punk returned to Raw, if he had been in the crowd that would have been one thing and it would have worked much better. Instead he had his own ring entrance and entered the ring for a staredown with Cena to end the show. By doing so it became clear that Punk was back on the active roster and that Triple H had done what Vince could not. He had brought Punk and the WWE title back to the company what a way to make an impression. By coming back in a mere eight days this could potentially really weaken the Punk character going forward. In the run-up to the Money In The Bank PPV, Punk said over and over again how he couldn't wait to leave the company, how he was tired of Vince, tired of Cena in short he wanted out of the WWE badly. Now we all knew that Punk hadn't really left the company and that he'd signed a new contract but what we probably didn't expect was that the WWE would basically book several weeks of TV in a mere two episodes of Raw. The character of Punk which had reached a new level in the run-up to the last PPV as become less convincing by his earlier return. That return made him just another WWE Superstar and although it won't cancel out all of the good work that as occured in the last few weeks it as certainly taken an hit.
We are basically two weeks away from SummerSlam and so far we have one match confirmed. That is Randy Orton vs Christian seemingly for the 300th time and with every match they have, the less it seems to mean. Although the fans in Chicago popped big for Christian winning the title when Orton got disqualified, the WWE seem keen to ensure that we all know that Christian can not beat Orton fairly and I don't see Christian getting the win in their Last Man Standing match. The John Cena vs CM Punk (Title vs Title) match will no doubt be confirmed on the next episode of Raw. I would also expect to see R-Truth vs John Morrison named for the show, as for the rest of the card it's a case of waiting and seeing. I can see Sheamus vs Mark Henry, Alberto Del Rio vs Rey Mysterio and possibly The Miz vs Alex Riley. SummerSlam for a very long time as been seen as the third biggest WWE PPV of the year behind Wrestlemania and the Royal Rumble. But here with just two weeks of television to go we have very little idea of what as fans we are going to see.
The long term plan for months was a main event of John Cena vs Alberto Del Rio and indeed that seemed to be the plan even a few days ago. But the curse of Alberto Del Rio knows no bounds, Del Rio was first supposed to win the World Heavyweight title at the Rumble though he at least got to win the Rumble itself. He was then virtually locked in to beat Edge at Wrestlemania and again plans changed. Edge's sudden retirement meant that the WWE chose to give Christian a feel good moment and Del Rio was thwarted for a third time. Finally the plan was for Del Rio to cash the MITB case on Punk after the main event and become the WWE champion. That was the plan even on the day but the WWE are now booking by the hour and his moment was again put on hold. Where Del Rio fits in on the SummerSlam card is not clear, he is clearly the main heel on Raw as it stands and he needs a clear victory to keep him strong. I think he'll be booked against Mysterio and get the win. The plan is still for him to win the WWE title in the next several weeks with the feeling that by having Del Rio either winning the title or already holding the WWE title when Raw is taped for the first time in Mexico that will help to keep the business in Mexico strong as it is clearly an important market both for touring and for PPV revenue. However he as already been booked to win the title on four occasions and found out that each time that the direction had changed again.
Another interesting thing to watch is what the future holds for The Miz, his performances at the MITB PPV and then the following night's Raw where he defeated both Alex Riley and Kofi Kingston despite selling a knee injury. The fans reacted to these performances and everything seemed to be pointing to The Miz turning babyface. However after losing the final of the tournament to Rey Mysterio he later did a backstage interview in which he ripped on Triple H. So this indicates that he's staying as a heel and if that's the case then I think the WWE are missing a trick if they don't pick up on what seemed obvious is that the fans want to get behind The Miz. So as it stands the three biggest figures on Raw are all babyfaces those being John Cena, Triple H and to a lesser extent CM Punk, I think that it's likely that at SummerSlam one of those stars will be moving to the heel side of the fence.