Dan Wahlers Looks At Jim Ross, Old School RAW and Survivor Series
I wonder who the 5 percent of the people are that actually voted for Michael Cole in the poll that was up on this site on Tuesday asking whether Jim Ross or Michael Cole should announce Raw. It had to be Cole himself and relatives of Cole. That's the only explanation I can come up with. The other 95 percent of the people that are sane and like a wrestling announcer to actually be a wrestling announcer, and not an obnoxious, overbearing cartoon character buffoon, voted for Jim Ross.
They could put up a poll asking if today was Thursday, and they wouldn't get 95 percent of the people to say Thursday. That's how overwhelmingly obvious it is to everyone that Jim Ross needs to be put back on Raw as soon as possible. If you ever needed anymore evidence, it was on display during the Old School Raw this past Monday.
In his first appearance on Raw in a couple of years, and his first televised appearance in WWE in over a year, Jim Ross was brought back to do play by play for the Daniel Bryan vs. Jack Swagger match. And it was like all was right with the world again, at least for one match. Ross sat down and proceeded to put to shame the announcing of everyone else in the company and the entire business today. Jim looked great and he sounded like he never left. So that shoots holes in any notion anyone had that he can't do the job anymore.
Listening to JR actually calling the moves and holds in a wrestling match was so refreshing, and helped to further illustrate how unbearable Michael Cole has become. Cole was sitting there with Vince McMahon's hand firmly up his ass like the puppet he is, parroting the lines that Vince was feeding him in the headset, giving JR a hard time and trying to make him look like an out of touch, old fool.
But the only fool in all of this is Vince McMahon. All he did was shine a bright spotlight on what an unmitigated failure his decision to remove Jim Ross from Raw, and force feed Michael Cole down everyone's throats, truly has been. And how stupid he looks for stubbornly sticking to that mindset, despite the mountains of evidence that it has been a disaster of epic proportions.
And as usual when he fails, Vince himself is the last person to admit it. He will stubbornly stick with a bad idea, and hang on to it all the way to bitter end like the Titanic, if he thinks he's right. It doesn't matter that there were a bunch of wrestlers standing around the monitors in the back on Monday, watching the Bryan/Swagger match, and listening to JR's call of the match, and remarking about how they wish JR could call their matches. It doesn't matter that two of the most respected wrestlers in the business, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, asked to have JR call their match earlier this year at Wrestlemania 26.
It doesn't matter that 95 percent of the people in a poll on this site, and 97 percent of the people in a poll on another well known wrestling site, voted for Jim Ross over Michael Cole to be the lead announcer on Raw. It doesn't matter what the fans want, it doesn't matter what his own wrestlers want, it doesn't matter what's right for business, it doesn't matter who can do the job better, Vince McMahon thinks that Jim Ross represents a bygone era in wrestling that is only to be seen on nostalgia nights like we saw on Monday.
It's no accident that Ross was placed in line with the other legends when they got their introductions in front of the crowd near the end of Raw. It was their symbolic way of putting him out to pasture with the old stars from another era. Meanwhile, the announcing on Raw has been damn near impossible to listen to. The fans rejected Michael Cole so much that they had to turn him into a heel character, to try and play into the boos he was getting every week, in every arena across the world.
Now you have a heel play by play announcer that is this obnoxious, over the top character that buries the babyfaces one minute, and then the next minute, he's supposed to be the voice of authority trying to sell you a PPV. There's a reason it hasn't been done in wrestling before. It's a dynamic that simply doesn't work.
You saw it on Raw. Cole had just spent the previous 10 minutes being a total asshole while the Bryan/Swagger match was going on, and then he turns around, and starts trying to play it straight, selling the Survivor Series PPV. How ridiculous is that? Michael Cole had no credibility to begin with, then they turned him into this overbearing prick that people are supposed to hate, and then they expect him to sell PPV's. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. And judging by the plummeting PPV numbers this year, Cole obviously isn't doing a very good job selling those PPV's, is he?
I'm not saying that having Jim Ross on Raw would mean PPV buys would go up. But he certainly couldn't hurt. When you're doing PPV's that are coming in with buys that rank among the lowest in company history, what do you have to lose? Ross knows how to sell angles, and get over wrestlers like no one else. He did a better job getting over Daniel Bryan and Jack Swagger in 10 minutes on Raw than Michael Cole ever has. He has the gravitas and credibility with the audience where they respect him and listen to him when he says something. Michael Cole doesn't have that, and he never will.
It's time for Vince McMahon to swallow his pride, admit he made a mistake, and do what's right for business, and do what the people want. He always says that WWE is about giving the people what they want. Well Vince, the people unequivocally and undeniably want Jim Ross back on Raw. The wrestlers in your own company want Ross back. Ross himself has said before that he would take the job in a heartbeat if offered it. He proved on Monday that he can still do it better than anyone. What else is left to say? The decision should be very easy.
To use a baseball analogy, it's the bottom of the 9th and there is some Double A rookie pitcher on the mound blowing the game, while Mariano Rivera is sitting in the bullpen. You wouldn't leave Mariano in the bullpen, and you wouldn't keep Jim Ross off television.
I really enjoyed this past Monday's “Old School Raw.” It was a fun, nostalgia filled trip down memory lane. It's always fun seeing the older stars that I grew up watching. It's truly amazing how some of the guys don't look like they've aged a bit since they were featured performers some 20-25 years ago in most cases. It's also a welcome change anytime they depart from the standard look and feel of a Raw show, and give you something a little different.
From seeing the original Monday Night Raw opening from 1993, complete with the blaring siren, to the old Raw block lettering entrance way, and the metal barricades at ringside, with the blue mats on the floor, and the red, white, and blue ring ropes, the referees wearing the light blue shirts with the bowties, and the inset “promos in a box” as I like to call them, it was like going in a time machine back to another place and time
I compliment everyone that put this show together for their attention to the small details that longtime fans like myself would notice and appreciate. WWE is always looking for themes and concepts for these three hour Raw's that they have on the schedule every year, and some of them work, and some of them don't. But this is one that most definitely worked, and it's something that I would love to see again next year. They only scratched the surface on the number of older stars and legends that are out there that they could bring back for these shows.
If there is one area where they could have done better, it's that the Old School concept is something that they should have advertised more and explained in greater detail in the weeks before the show. I think they would have lured back an even greater number of the older demographic of fans that have abandoned the product over the years.
I talked to more than a few people that don't consider themselves fans of the current WWE product, but that tuned in for this show, because they wanted to see the older wrestlers. I also talked to quite a few people that would have been very interested in seeing the show, but they had no idea it was on.
So WWE should do a better job of advertising this show, and getting the word out, if they choose to do this again next year. By getting the older demographic to watch, they have a chance to expose them to the current product, and the new stars of today and tomorrow that are vital to WWE's long-term success.
One of the older fans that I spoke about earlier, who watched the show on Monday, and hadn't watched a WWE show in about three years told me that he was very impressed with a couple of the guys he saw. The guy that made the biggest impression on him was Wade Barrett. He said the thing that stood out about Barrett from a lot of the other wrestlers is that Barrett looked, talked, acted, and carried himself like a star.
He noted that Barrett's authoritative voice made him come across like someone that wasn't reciting lines from a script, like the way so many wrestlers appear nowadays, but that he actually conveyed the feeling that he believed what he was saying, and that he was someone worth paying attention to. He also mentioned Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan, Jack Swagger, and The Miz as current wrestlers that he was impressed with.
My point in telling you all of this is that WWE had an opportunity, with a nostalgia show like this, to perhaps hook some of the older fans that don't watch anymore, back into the current product. While they're tuning in to see some of their old favorites like Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, and yes even “The Doctor of Style” Slick, maybe someone like a Wade Barrett, or Miz, or Daniel Bryan will grab their attention, and make them want to see what they're gonna do next. That's how you start the ball rolling.
And maybe they'll tune into Raw next week, or even buy a PPV, like the older fan that I mentioned, who told me that he's going to buy Survivor Series on Sunday, because the excellent final angle on Raw with Roddy Piper, John Cena, Wade Barrett, and Randy Orton, sold him on the show. There's one PPV buy in the plus column for WWE. You have to wonder how many more they could have possibly gotten if they had done a better job advertising the Old School Raw in advance.
Speaking of Roddy Piper, he once again showed why he is one of the best talkers in wrestling history. He's been known to wander off the reservation with a live mic in his hand, every now and then. Like the last time he was on Raw when he guest hosted last year at MSG, and he said he had been in 30,000 car crashes and 30 wrestling matches. But when he's kept on message and given good material to work with, he's still golden, and that's exactly what happened on Raw.
When he mentioned to John Cena how he had never won the WWE Championship, and mentioned all the other legends that never won it, and said that if Cena handed the title to Wade Barrett on Sunday, he would be spitting in the face of all the guys that came before him, and ended it by pleading “Don't spit in my face”, that was some of the most riveting television that WWE has done in a long time. It felt a lot more real and less like a usual wrestling storyline.
They did more in that segment to make me care about the Orton/Barrett match with the Cena “free or fired” stipulations at Survivor Series, then anything that had been done in the previous weeks combined. It was very well done. If they get any late buys for this show, it's likely going to be because of this angle.
I'm going to wrap things up today with some brief Survivor Series predictions. The PPV is this Sunday night from Miami, FL. This will be the 24th Survivor Series that almost never was. Vince McMahon had announced earlier in the year that they would be no longer using the Survivor Series name, after the PPV performed poorly last year. The ironic thing is they would probably sign up for the 235,000 buys that last year's show got, after a bunch of below 200,000 buy PPV's this year. The show got brought back from the dead, and here we are.
Predictions on the matches:
Wade Barrett over Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship, John Cena is freed from Nexus. Miz does not cash in Money in the Bank. I don't see it happening on this show. Something is going to happen where maybe Cena goes to hit Barrett and he nails Orton instead, and is forced to count the pinfall, similar to what happened with Shawn Michaels as referee in the Bret Hart vs. Undertaker match at Summerslam 1997. It's going to have to be some kind of disputed finish to set up the next PPV.
It's the right time for Barrett to be champion. I think he's ready for the opportunity. They need to do something out of the box to jump start the product. Something has been missing in Orton as a face. I'm not sure what it is. He's over as a face, but not to the point where people care enough to pay to see him. That's a problem when you're the champion. It's time to go in another direction.
Kane against Edge will probably end up in some kind of DQ or no contest, with Kane retaining the title. This match does nothing for me. They got whatever they could out of Kane as champion, but now it's starting to drag on a bit. Edge hasn't been champion in a while, and I could definitely see him winning it, but if he does, it probably won't be until the TLC PPV in December. There has been talk about Kane continuing as champion long-term, at least through Wrestlemania, and I hope that's not true, cause it's an awful idea.
Sheamus will defeat John Morrison. The idea for this feud is to build Sheamus back up for the eventual return of Triple H. Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater of Nexus will retain the tag titles over Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov. Laycool will retain the Divas Championship over Natalya in a Handicap Match. Maybe a post-match beatdown, which will lead to the return of Beth Phoenix to help Natalya. She is due to return after missing six months with a torn ACL, and Laycool are the ones that injured her knee in storyline.
It's nice to see that they didn't forget Kaval's title shot for winning season two of NXT. He gets his shot for the I-C Title against Dolph Ziggler. Maybe they're finally done burying Kaval and punishing him for having the nerve to get over on NXT. He wins a non-title match on Ziggler on Smackdown this week, so I think Dolph will win and retain his title at the PPV, based on the usual Even Steven booking.
Team Rey (Rey Mysterio, Big Show, Kofi Kingston, MVP, Chris Masters) will beat Team Alberto (Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes, Tyler Reks) in the Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match, to give the fans something to be happy about, since it appears that a lot of heels will be going over on this show.
Daniel Bryan vs. Ted DiBiase for the US Title has also reportedly been added to the show, although it hasn't been officially announced as of this writing. If it is added, I would expect Bryan to retain his title. To see Daniel Bryan and Kaval, or Bryan Danielson and Low Ki as they were known in their previous lives, competing in championship matches on one of WWE's major PPV's of the year, that's pretty cool. They've come a long way since I first saw them at the Rex Plex in Elizabeth, NJ at an ROH show seven years ago.
I want to wish everyone here in the United States a Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care and be well.