Katz Files: The October RAW Report Card

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

The October RAW Roster Report Card!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz presents his September 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.

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

The talent pool has benefited from the “talent exchange” with ECW, though the benefit is a whole lot greater when it’s Matt Hardy or even Evan Bourne making the appearance on RAW, less beneficial when it’s someone like Mark Henry.

Manu is intriguing, but RAW hasn’t used him as more than a mascot for Rhodes and DiBiase. He hasn’t really enlarged the talent pool and won’t until he wrestles some hot matches.

Randy Orton is not quite back yet, but he has made his presence felt on the show. They are repositioning him, though it isn’t yet clear whether he’ll stay a heel or become a babyface. He seems better suited to the former, given a somewhat bristly personality.

Grade: B+ (B+)

Star Power

CM Punk and Kofi Kingston, nearly invisible since they lost their titles, are starting the road back to the top of the card as a tag team. That’s a positive move for several reasons, including the lack of capable tag teams.

Here, too, the “talent exchange” is felt. The ECW guys definitely enhance the star power of RAW. The recent videos promoting Cena suggest that his “indefinite absence” might be coming to an end sooner than expected.

RAW continues to miss John Cena. Batista is very charismatic, but he can’t touch Cena with the mic.

Grade: B+ (B+)

In-Ring Action

RAW ‘s current main event group includes some guys who can really wrestle, which almost guarantees strength at the top of any card, whether TV or pay per view. Batista, Chris Jericho, John Bradshaw Leyfield, Rey Mysterio, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and Kane represent RAW at less-than-full strength, but they are a capable group nonetheless.

The returning Randy Orton brings similar promise of strong matches, but he is still not involved in actual matches.

Grade: B- (B-)

Booking & Dramatics

RAW is still in the midst of change. This time, it’s things like trying to find a place for Randy Orton, the “second generation” influx and the coming of Gail Kim. There’s no way to know how far ahead the brokers are thinking, only how far ahead they have thought in the past. That memory is not entirely encouraging.

The show has revolved around the Chris Jericho-Shawn Michaels feud for some time and there are indications that it might not be over, even though Jericho said he was through with it in one of his in-ring rants on the 10/7 RAW. I’m not sure it’s over, but right now Batista is Jericho’s main nemesis. This feud hasn’t really had much of a build-up. In fact, the bookers previously cast The Animal as HBK’s adversary, so he’s on both sides of this one.

The Rey Mysterio-Kane feud is between “tent poles.” That is, they had a major match at No Mercy and it is not yet clear under what conditions the two might clash again. They work pretty well together for guys of such disparate sizes, so the prospect of more matches in not too unpleasant.

John Bradshaw Leyfield needs a new feud and a program to go with it. They put him into matches, often certain losses, because he works so well, but he is also very skilled with the mic when he has a proper target. One possibility would be to continue and expand the feud with CM Punk.

Grade: B- (B)

Announcing

Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole can’t match the chemistry of the Ross-Lawler team, but they are definitely working ell together. Cole seems a little more confident, which probably goes with gaining the lead mic position on the company’s flagship TV series.

Grade: B (B+)

Overall

RAW is on cruise control, but that will end with the onset of the annual fall upswing in the business.

Grade: B (B)

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column.

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]
(10/10/08)