While the debut of WWE‘s Main Event on ION Television was a huge success last Wednesday night, WWE’s flagship program, Monday Night Raw, was a huge disappointment. Last Monday night, Raw scored its lowest television rating since the July 4th, 2011 edition of the show, averaging just 3.5 million viewers over the course of the three hour broadcast.
Chaos ensued backstage and longtime head writer for Monday Night Raw, Brian Gewirtz, was relieved of his duties. Vince McMahon was worked into a “Mr. McMahon” type frenzy and reportedly told the writing staff that he wants “results or resignations.” In the midst of all of this, WWE had a show to produce and Vince McMahon took it upon himself, quite literally, to turn HIS show around.
Before we saw Vince, we saw John Cena. Cena’s absence last Monday night surely could be attributable to Raw’s poor showing, but not entirely. Cena came out to a roaring welcome in Sacramento on Monday night. Whether you cheer or jeer the WWE’s top star, there isn’t another personality in the WWE that can garner a reaction the likes of Cena.
With his right arm still noticeably hurt, it was very apparent we weren’t going to see any physicality out of WWE’s top dog, but he was successful at interjecting electric crowd interaction into the show right at the outset. He once again laid down a challenge to WWE Champion CM Punk and Cena vowed that CM Punk needs to step inside the devilish Hell in a Cell structure with him to do battle for the WWE’s top prize on October 28th.
As Cena exited the ring, Ryback came out to a rousing response. The Bill Goldberg clone has often had his matches drowned out by mock “Goldberg” chants, but lately it’s been a little different. After making very quick work of both Epico and Primo, Ryback was victorious yet again and this night moved on, most notably to Vince McMahon’s State of the WWE Address.
It should come as no surprise that CM Punk would interrupt whatever Vince was about to say. Punk has been going on one tirade after another the past several weeks, talking about being disrespected. Monday night was no different, but at the same time, it was. We heard CM Punk, not so cautiously mind you, drop the name of Stone Cold Steve Austin on more than one occasion leading many to believe that a possible dream match could be in the works as we get closer to 2014’s Wrestlemania 30 in Texas, Austin’s longtime home. We even saw Punk slap the boss in the face only to accept the challenge from Vince McMahon to face him later in the ring that very night. The fans in Sacramento were buzzing.
At the end of the night, McMahon came out to the ring, noticeably smaller than the last time he wrestled years ago, donning his signature black tank top as proof. McMahon was attacked from behind by Punk and what ensued was an all out brawl. As far as the quality of wrestling is concerned, it wasn’t top notch as anyone could imagine, but to the viewers at home and the fans in attendance it didn’t even matter.
We saw a senior citizen in Vince McMahon hold his own against the WWE Champion. Sure, some would argue that Punk would come across looking weak thanks to his difficulty disposing of the WWE’s Chairman of the Board. After all, Punk would eventually have to resort to a well timed low-blow to get the better of Vince, but this wasn’t about CM Punk or Vince McMahon looking strong.
This was about bringing unpredictability back to the table. This was about creating intriguing television and keeping fans on the edge of their seat the way only a motivated Vince McMahon can do. Fans saw Vince throw CM Punk over the announcers table and then dive over that very table to get a piece of the self professed “Best in the World.” We saw Vince go after Punk with a singapore cain and we watched in awe as Ryback came out to go after Punk to a Stone Cold like pop. For arguably the first time since his arrival in WWE, Ryback seemed like the big deal he has constantly been hyped up to be.
The entire main event segment felt special and it was. This was a lot different than closing your show out with a tag team match featuring various different main event stars who are oftentimes randomly placed together. Perhaps there is more of this to come, but at least for one night, we felt like we were in the “Attitude Era” all over again. For one night, the magic was back.
Will Vince and company be able to keep it up? Will fans continue to care about Ryback? One thing is certain, just the fact that ratings increased by more than 600,000 viewers with Vince’s appearance (4.1 million viewers tuned in Monday night), is proof enough that the boss still holds more weight when it comes to star power than most of his roster.
Monday’s main event between CM Punk and Vince McMahon was the type of lovely chaos that the “Attitude Era” was built on. And one can only imagine what will happen when CM Punk and the “Attitude Era’s” biggest star, Stone Cold Steve Austin, inevitably come face to face for the first time. Time will tell, but if the WWE can recapture a little of their old school magic while pushing their modern day stars, they might be able to ride this wave of momentum squarely into the future.