Katz Files: The December RAW Report Card

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

The December RAW Roster Report Card!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz presents his December promotion report card for the good folks at WWE’s RAW.

About the Report Cards
Each month, I issue a report card for RAW. I examine and grade the promotion in all the vital areas. I discuss strengths and weaknesses and chart the ups and downs. The grades in parentheses are for the previous report card.

Armageddon is in the books, so, let’s give the good folks at RAW their December grades.

No Mercy is history, It didn’t really change much about RAW, but it presents the right time for me to hand out the monthly grades.

Talent Pool

Randy Orton’s return to major ring action is a big boost for RAW. He talks a good game and generally plays one, too. WWE has inserted him into the World Heavyweight Championship picture and he is gradually becoming one of the promotion’s most fearsome heels.

So far, Mike Knox is the replacement for the recently released Snitsky. That is, he looks formidable and forbidding, but he doesn’t actually do a whole lot in, or out, of the ring. If Tomko is really coming to WWE, as now appears quite possible, Knox may find himself under pressure to do more than just look menacing.

The injury to Evan Bourne took him out of the mix just as he seemed to break through into at least the upper mid-card. There’s no reason to think that he won’t be back, as good as ever, very soon.

Also missed is Ted DiBiase. He and Cody Rhodes were a championship tag team, which leaves a little hole in that division until he returns.

Grade: B+ (B+)

Star Power

Getting John Cena back to put at the top of the card is tremendous for WWE, especially when Shawn Michaels is heading into a program that, at least initially, is unlike to produce any tremendous matches or riveting plots. He will go along, working for John Bradshaw Leyfield, with the real fireworks coming only when he is ready to rebel.

Randy Orton now has two wingmen in Cody Rhodes and Manu. I’m not sure this is doing much for Rhodes, though he is undoubtedly learning a lot from doing those high-pressure interviews, but it is certainly developing Manu’s character a little more.

The bookers have almost forgotten William Regal since he won the Intercontinental Championship. The tournament seemed to make the title-holder less important, because fans didn’t see him do anything very interesting for several weeks.

Layla looked promising as Regal’s bad girl sidekick, but she hasn’t done anything worth noticing in so long that she’s becoming a virtual nonentity. If they don’t give her something to say or do soon, she’s going to have to wear a nametag so fans can pick her out from among the numerous, pulchritudinous princesses who prance through the show each week.

Grade: B+ (B+)

In-Ring Action

The return of Stephanie McMahon to RAW has brought an upgrade in the matches. There are fewer squashes at present and big cards like the one promised for the 12/22 may, in time, rebuild fan interest in the program. (It’s doing all right, but the numbers are far smaller than they once were.)

Grade: B (B-)

Booking & Dramatics

The 12/22 MU<RAQM.U<”s four champion versus champion matches should set up the feuds that will carry the show through the winter to WrestleMania 25. New storylines are definitely what RAW needs at this juncture, because the summer ones have mostly either been resolved or petered out.

The bookers are trying to pump life back into the Intercontinental title in the wake of Santino Morella’s reign. Santino, a marvelous natural comedian, is very good for the show, but his title run wasn’t good for the title itself.

Grade: B (B)

Announcing

Michael Cole continues to show improvement in the play-by-play role. Jerry Lawler is less consistent, but he can still rise to the occasion.

A better backstage interviewer would be a plus for the announcing, but otherwise, things continue to be pretty good in this area.

Grade: B (B+)

Overall

RAW shows signs of improvement, but the old negative factors are not entirely gone. There is too much repetition and time-hobbling segments that deliver little to the fan. They’re starting to improve the cards, which really helps, and Stephanie McMahon’s presence could lead to more upgrades.

Grade: B (B)

That’s it for today. My apologies for a somewhat sparse week in terms of the number of column. Some electronic problems frustrated my usual good intentions.

I’ll be back on Monday with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column.

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]
(12/20/08)