Raw’s Breath of Fresh Air

Kevin Kelly

After watching Raw last night, I realized two things. One, Michael Cole is a damn good PBP announcer and I don’t miss Triple H at all. A “feel good” show for a company that needed one, last night’s Raw was also a treat for the fans that have sat through so much dreck over the past few years.

I don’t watch SmackDown. Never have, never will. There’s no juice on the show for me because I know it’s taped and I get the results mid-week. Therefore, I never get to listen to Michael Cole’s work and after hearing him last night, I am happy he has improved. He sounded comfortable, confident and didn’t try too hard to be the guy who replaced JR on Raw. Sorry JR, you aren’t coming back. Cole’s come a long way from getting a pencil jabbed in his leg from JR during a live Raw back in 1998 during the ill-fated three man booth experiment.

Yes, I was on Raw… a couple of times to be exact as the PBP guy. In hindsight, I wasn’t as good as I could have been because it was only later on that I learned how to prepare for a live show. During my time on Raw, it was JR, KK and Cole or “the Hat, the Heater and Todd Jr.” as Vince Russo called us in Raw Magazine.

One night, in an effort to get a point across, JR jabbed Cole in the leg with a pencil. No pun there… literally poked him with the pencil. Cole and I laughed about it for years afterward. JR could shoot poison pencils like blowdarts and he couldn’t get Cole out of that chair now. Cole deserves to be the lead guy on Raw.

Does CM Punk deserve to be the lead guy on Raw as World Champion? Instead of being the lead, like Triple H was, I see CM as one member of a strong ensemble cast with the addition of Ted Dibiase, Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Kane, Mickie James, Cryme Time and John Cena. All likeable (even to hate) and marketable.

There has to be a little bit of “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead” amongst Raw superstars after the draft because Triple H is an addition by subtraction. The way Vince likes TV is to have focus on several top guys, Triple H being one of them. Now that Triple H is on SmackDown, Vince will play the ensemble card until someone steps up to take the lead.

My wife of 15 years has been with me for my entire wrestling career. She is not a fan of wrestling… hates it, as a matter of fact. But, she has an eye for talent. Last night, my wife lifted her nose out of the book and glanced at the TV. “Who’s that?”, she asked. I said, “That’s Cody Rhodes on the right and Ted Dibiase Jr. on the left”. She said “Dibiase is going to be a star. He’s got ‘it'”. I couldn’t agree more. That kid has “it”. She’s been with me long enough for me not to doubt her when it comes to talent. She picked me, after all!

Cryme Time with John Cena is just what Cena needs. Street cred. Cena’s been too milquetoast for too long. Cryme Time needs to be in a featured program now after coming back. Sometimes firing guys helps them figure things out. It worked for me.

Tag team division matchups down the road include Dibiase and Rhodes vs Cryme Time and don’t be shocked to see Hardcore Holly pick Kane to help Bob get revenge on his former partner in a quick blowoff.

The women’s division is solid with Katie Lea and Jillian delivering in back to back nights with the always-terrific Mickie James. Beth Phoenix is still lurking and other Divas will join the fray.

Kofi Kingston has spark and energy that he carries throughout his matches. Some guys have tons of expression in the entrance, get stone faced during the match and then pick it up again after the fall. By connecting with the crowd and never letting go, Kofi makes his matches mean something. Those that say “fans only pop for the entrance and then sit on their hands” are conditioned to by the stone-faced performers.

Not only did Raw’s new cast make me forget about Triple H, but I also forgot about Vince. After the cheesy way they ended the show two weeks ago, that’s a good thing. With the removal of Vince, Triple H, Regal, Flair and Randy Orton over the past few months, Raw’s back to being “must see TV” for me.

How about for you? Are you more excited about Raw after this past week’s show? Or will the new group fall short? Email me at kevinfsu90@yahoo.com

One last thing… I noticed that Disco picked out the age thing on Tommy Fierro’s recent creative ideas but I wonder what Glenn thought about the rest of the concept regarding “Disco Inferno” coming to the WWE? Was Glenn flattered that someone put him over to that extent?

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