Personal demons have long been exploited for the sake of advancing a professional wrestling storyline.
As a matter of fact, current WWE Champion CM Punk is no stranger to it, as he himself brought Jeff Hardy's history with drugs and addiction into their feud a few years ago.
But when it comes to Punk's current battle with Chris Jericho, one has to wonder what exactly is the point? The promo exchange between the two the past few weeks hasn't focused on Punk's demons but those of his family.
Up until this point, fans have been clamoring to see the WrestleMania program between the two based solely on competition and each man proving he truly deserves the title of "best in the world."
That issue alone should have been enough to fuel this feud all the way to April 1, but WWE decided to add another layer to the story by introducing Punk's father's alcoholism and, as Jericho brought up Monday night on Raw, his sister's history with drugs.
The story is taken right from Punk's feud with Raven in Ring of Honor, making this the second storyline WWE has lifted from the independent promotion in less than a year when it comes to Punk.
There's a difference, though. Ring of Honor, especially at the time, pushed the limits and tried to be edgy. Things worked well in that environment, and the scene of Raven pouring beer down the straight-edge Punk's mouth is a visual still talked about today.
An angle like that worked in ROH, but it has no place in today's WWE environment. The product, especially in recent years, has been aimed and directed at a younger audience. Yes, this is probably an effort to appeal to the older demographic, which constantly clamors for an edgier product.
But everyone knows WWE won't go all in when it comes to pushing those boundaries. This angle tests the waters, but it simply doesn't fit with the current atmosphere of the company, and quite frankly, this feud doesn't need it.
Sometimes simplicity is the best path to follow. Seeing Jericho and Punk battle for the title of "best in the world" would have made a more compelling story for me than Punk fighting to prove that he won't fall victim to the demons that have plagued his family.
What started off as a red-hot program has now devolved into something that leaves me wondering how it will pay itself off. Punk isn't overcoming any personal struggle in this story, except for baggage of his family. That just doesn't cut it for me.
* The Rock continued to do little to impress me or sway me to his side. His involvement on the show included a pre-taped promo standing near the Rocky statue in which he relied, once again, on cliches and cheap pops for the local crowd. The thing that people don't seem to understand is that I don't find Rock and his promos to be unenjoyable; I just think he's going to the same well too many times, and these pre-taped segments and ones with scripts and notes on mic stands are showing that he may be off his game. Face the facts, The Rock of old is gone and likely not coming back.
* The show-closing segment was the first time The Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels all shared a ring. HBK started the segment but quickly fell into the backdrop, which was appropriate. This match should truly be about the Undertaker and Triple H. I’m still not sold on it being the legend of epic proportions it’s being made out to be, but as I’ve said before, these three will pull out all the stops.
* The first two matches on Raw - Big Show vs. Kane and David Otunga vs. Santino Marella - were both very short and ended because of outside distractions. Rhodes, acting like a goof on the outside, allowed Kane to defeat Show. Rhodes then attacked after the match, handcuffing Show to the ropes. In the battle of Team Raw and Team Smackdown captains, Raw general manager John Laurinaitis distracted Marella to allow Otunga to win. Yes, it's getting close to WrestleMania, but the first half of that word is still "Wrestle" and it would be nice to see more in-ring action and less talking for the next two weeks.
* Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler, the newest acquisitions for Team Laurinaitis, defeated Kofi Kingston and R-Truth. These two teams have been facing off lately, but they mesh well, so you won't hear me complaining. It would just be nice if the tag team titles could be involved to add something more to those belts, which seem to be back in the land of obscurity.
* Mark Henry appeared to have returned to his monster heel form, as he manhandled John Cena for a majority of their match. Of course, in the end, Cena would overcome the odds, hit an Attitude Adjustment on the giant and score the pinfall victory. The win would have meant something more if Henry hadn't been neutered so much in recent weeks with back-and-forth booking. Henry was knocked down even further, again, when he ate a Rock Bottom after the match.
* World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan made quick work of Zack Ryder, who scored a surprising amount of offense for such a short match. It was strange to see Ryder's big return wasted on something like this. It seems the Ryder experiment is officially over, and at this point, he'll be lucky if his endless pleading and pandering earns him a spot on Team Smackdown at WrestleMania.
* The Miz became the latest former world champion to fall victim to Sheamus. The "Awesome One" issued an open challenge, looking to prove his value to Laurinaitis as a member of Team Raw. The Miz's losing streak and lack of a match on April 1 have to be going somewhere. If I keep telling myself that, it has to be true, right? As for the match itself, it was one of the best of the night and was enjoyable while it lasted, though like all the others on the show, it was limited in time.
* Randy Orton did a promo that was pretty much saying the same thing that we heard from Kane last week about the handshake last year. The only good thing about this promo was that it was done on the entrance ramp, a technique that needs to be utilized more. And Orton ensured to the audience that he does, in fact, remember his name, so his reputation for being concussion prone hasn't been too detrimental yet.
* A video promo aired for Lord Tensai, a mysterious bald man with Japanese tattoos. Early speculation online is that the character is a returning A-Train, who left WWE after a run in the Attitude Era to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling under the name Giant Bernard. He's been denying rumors of a return lately, but if he is coming back, hopefully he'll find success here as he has in Japan.
Kane d. Big Show
David Otunga d. Santino Marella
Daniel Bryan d. Zack Ryder
John Cena d. Mark Henry
Sheamus d. The Miz
Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger d. R-Truth and Kofi Kingston
Monday night’s Raw was very heavy on promos and video segments, which is to be expected during WrestleMania season. They managed to fit in six matches, but most of them were short. It would have been nice to see a few longer matches, but the way the show was structured, it built several matches for the pay-per-view nicely. I’m more of a fan of stories told inside the ring, but the show effectively advanced the main programs and feuds heading toward WrestleMania. Next week’s show will likely be more of the same, but hopefully once we’re past April 1, we’ll see a return to quality in-ring action and maybe some new debuts, one of which was teased Monday night.
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