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PWTorch Livecast Monday – Caldwell & McNeill review Raw (Sept. 7)

PWTORCH LIVECAST MONDAY

HOSTS: JAMES CALDWELL with PAT MCNEILL
AIRED LIVE SEPT. 7, 2015
DIRECT LINK TO STREAM OR DOWNLOAD SHOW

Report by Mark Golden, podcast reviewer

TOP QUOTE

“It was a Raw which will live in apathy” ~Pat McNeill

HOT TOPICS COVERED IN SHOW

– Lana suffers wrist fracture; misses Raw. This happened other the weekend, and couldn’t have come at a worse time for her character’s ongoing storyline.

– Forbes posts an online story about Seth Rollins benefiting financially from being company champion during strong quarterlies. Upon further investigation, James disputed the claims, stating that he majored in accounting, and Forbes has been distorting numbers and falsifying stories about wrestling in recent years.

– Curious Booking: Sting, Seth Rollins, among others suffer from strange booking leading up to Night Of Champions.

SUMMARY OF SHOW (with time stamps)

James Caldwell introduced the program, and welcomed Pat McNeill to the show to offer his take on this week’s Monday Night Raw.

1:07: Pat described it as lackluster, at best, with more emphasis on promoting next week’s Raw (Charlotte in danger of ending Nikki Bella’s Diva title reign, PTP vs. New Day) and this week’s NXT (Dusty Tag Team Classic Samoa Joe and Finn Balor teaming) than delivering anything this week worth getting excited about.

2:00: They talked about, no matter how they are booked, the PTP are not over, citing the main event this week, as a prime example. PTP work with what they get, and show real promise on the mic, but the audience, by and large aren’t buying, unlike New Day, who are very over at the moment.

4:30: Lana’s wrist fracture was addressed, as it comes at a poor time, what with the current drama of her and Dolph’s ongoing program with Summer and Rusev, that, as Michael Cole stressed via a TMZ-esque reference on Raw, “has the whole world talking.”

5:58: Nothing substantial happened this week that, according to Pat, gives the viewer anything to really anticipate the promoted matches next week, for Raw’s “season premiere”

6:24: Sting was discussed, the logic, or lack thereof, RE: the statue destroying segment, and the “Goofy vs Serious” way Sting is being used in what WWE should be promoting as the top program going into NOC, as a clear indication that WWE doesn’t know what to do with him. A Torch poll was conducted, with 42% saying they want to see Sting in action, but WWE is going a different direction, by banking on both the fans that are already aware or Sting’s history, and Network subscribers to watch his classic matches and moments during the WCW years, and one WM match vs. HHH.

10:39: Raw Pros: Seth Rollins, The New Day, Cesaro. Although it was brought up that Cesaro is kind of just booked without anything substantial right now. Cons: Edge and Christian, when face to face for the first time with Seth Rollins since he left Edge laying in the ring following a Curb Stomp, demonstrated their anger and desire for revenge, by playing kazoos. Generally uneventful episode.

13:01: “What does HIAC look like right now?” It was theorized that a Cena vs Rollins rubbermatch in the Cell is a strong candidate, if not a potential Rollins rematch vs Sting.

13:45: Pat plugged Main Event and Superstars as shows to watch on the Network if you want a thorough summary of Raw happenings, mixed with some passable mid card wrestling, which in his opinion, will soon feature the softening PTP.

14:16: NXT was addressed, with the prediction that Joe and Finn will will be a fun team to watch in the tournament and beyond, leading to an eventual breakup and title program in the coming months.

15:01 Seth Rollins was brought up again, and compared, booking-wise (not performance or look) to that of a late 90’s Jeff Jarrett (i.e. same boring promos, silly backstage antics)

17:09: The “Season Premiere” of Raw on 9/14, is looking pretty mediocre, which is interesting to note, considering it will be up against football. The guys mentioned the Raw ratings slump, is, contrary to WWE’s sales pitch, NOT DVR proof, as being live isn’t their saving grace according to recent numbers.

19:20: Could The Dudley’s rescuing El Torito from a beat down by Los Matadores lead to the debut of “Bull” Dudley? Both lamented the mere suggestion.

20:40: Pat advertised Disco Inferno as his Wednesday Livecast guest this week, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Nitro premiere.

21:59: The phone lines are open, with the first caller asking why Edge and Christian were guests on The Stone Cold Podcast, as opposed to a current WWE Superstar. James said that the majority of subscribers to the Network are long time fans, more interested in old favorites, than seeing anyone currently on the roster.

23:50: Next caller – “Will Sheamus cash in at Night of Champions”? to which James speculated that they are planting a seed that Seth could be defeated at any moment, especially at NOC, but that this will likely drag out for some time.

25:50: Next caller asks if Samoa Joe will be on the main roster soon. Answer given: Maybe by WM season.

27:40: Next caller asks if there’s a possibility that NXT will be replacing Smackdown on SyFy, to which James said doing so would kill any momentum it has. It needs to maintain status quo in order for it to remain as special as it is. That same magic that Raw once had is long gone, as the damage to Raw, and Smackdown for that matter, has been done.

32:55: Next caller: “Why does WWE advertise a ‘season premiere’ for Raw when it isn’t a seasonal show?” A: McMahon and Dunn look at WWE as a variety show and treat it as such. They give that show a name also as a way to avoid “wasting” a PPV caliber name on it, while maintaining it as a special episode, up against the strong challenge of football. Cesaro was brought up in this two part question, to wit: “Why is he being wasted?” Cesaro is a HHH guy, and McMahon is hot and cold on him. They clearly recognize that a huge chunk of the audience enjoys him, but they are cautious to go all the way with him for whatever reason. His push needs to be consistent, for the crowd to fully invest in him.

38:35: Caller: “Did the return of the Dudley’s take the steam out of PTP’s momentum?” James said that it certainly felt that way, but as stated earlier, PTP can’t seem to get the full support of the crowd, but this could lead to a heel turn and program with the Dudleys down the road. The caller also asked about Kofi Kingston, and how this is the most entertaining he’s ever been, and if he would ever have a successful singles push. James pointed out that Kofi is another “Superstars and Main Event” main eventer in singles competition, which is attributed to management being hot and cold on him over the years.

44:43: Next caller commented on recent fan altercations, as well as an online article posted by Forbes, that claimed Seth Rollins is doing well financially based on being the champion during strong quarterlies, to which James, an economics major who closely follows stocks and trends, disputed the details of the report, stating that Forbes was distorting numbers. The caller talked about Seth potentially helping the ratings if he leaves NOC with both titles. James pointed out that Rollins is being booked similar to the way CM Punk was during his title reign(s) as not quite being THE guy. The only guy with that distinction today, the only one who “moves the needle” is John Cena.

58:00: Next caller commented on an article he read RE: Kevin Dunn being the most despised person in the wrestling business. James talked about how, eventhough he was producing during WWE’s most profitable years, and he created the current and long time WWE production infrastructure, his shelf life has long expired, and is only there as long as Vince is around, as a favor to Vince Sr. Meanwhile everyone, other than Vince, wants him gone. The caller asked what James thought would come of Jeff and Matt Hardy when/if TNA closes up shop. James doubted either would return to WWE’s road schedule, although it’s not unheard of (see also: The Dudleys) James and the caller discussed Ryback, and how his very short list of challengers for the IC title has hurt him almost immediately, and consequently, the push isn’t much of a push. The caller praised NXT’s Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, and said he’d like to see them moved to Raw. James said they could certainly breathe new life, although the gamble has been mixed when moving someone up to the main roster, as they are booked differently, at times, when they get to Raw, than when they were at NXT. Example named: The Ascension.

1:09:26: A caller asked if Kofi Kingston turned on the other members of New Day, would he get over and be in line for a push. Caldwell cited WWE’s constant failures of following through on break ups as the primary reason why it probably wouldn’t even matter in the long run.

1:12: A caller noted that the most recent promo for the 10/3 MSG Network special, changed the wording for Seth’s defense(s) fueling further speculation that either Cena might regain the US title, or even Sting might indeed win the WHC at NOC.

1:14:01: A called brought up some questions about USA pressuring WWE to deliver long term ideas on where they’ll be in 6 months, a year, etc. James talked about how USA does indeed do that to WWE, as they want to know where their money’s being spent, He went on to say that USA likes the Authority figure drama, that brought success 17 years ago, and several years subsequently. The caller asked if HHH is grooming Dunn’s replacement, and James said that’s already underway, which would explain the completely different feel of NXT to Raw. The caller asked if any Torch member would do a media press tour at the performance center. Caldwell said that while they would love to do something like that, the business of the wrestling business rolls on, and with it, the constant reporting of news, etc, and thus time for such a thing is not permitted. No off season for wrestling, means no off season for pro wrestling media.

1:21:13: Next caller: Where is Rollins reign in the grand scheme of things, and would they put the title on Sting to pop a rating? James and the caller talked about the reigns of Miz, Jack Swagger, and CM Punk being more or less on par with Rollins’ reign today, and the idea of him going over with a clean sweep at NOC would be counterproductive to his current heel push, unless he cheated to do so. As for Sting, it was pointed out that his recent booking, and the rating itself, gives the impression that even if he does win at NOC, it would do nothing for ratings.

1:28:10: A caller commented on a recent UFC press conference, that featured simple, concise, effective promoting, was something WWE should take note of. James talked about WWE’s overexposure, poor storytelling, and lack of build up, coupled with American pro wrestling writer’s bad lazy habit of illogical super swerves being key reasons for the decline in substance and quality of the wrestling scene over the last few years. Keeping things simple and effective is something WWE won’t do nowadays, as it would prevent last minute booking plans.

1:36:18: Caldwell talked about a number of topics to end the show. He wondered loud if Cena would or could even get over today if he were just starting, because the machine as it is, kills pushes as soon as they start what with their “booking on the fly” mentality/philosophy. Roman Reigns and Cesaro were listed as key examples. For whatever reason, both of their pushes are green lit and froze before there’s any real momentum. He questioned what’s next for Reigns after WM 31, and more recently, after this program with The Wyatts, as Reigns is another example of “being the guy before the guy, but not THE guy”. Caldwell went on to speculate who would or even could be the top guy today if not Cena. He listed a few examples, such as Randy Orton (been there, done that) and Dean Ambrose (unwilling to go all the way with him) as the closest to that spot, but with WWE’s booking the way it is, they are oftentimes hoisted by their own petard.

SCORE & REVIEW

I would give this show a solid 5. They covered a lot of territory, and a few of the callers brought some thought provoking questions to the table. Caldwell delivers a really good take on the booking flaws of the current wrestling scene.

DIRECT LINK TO STREAM OR DOWNLOAD SHOW

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