Raw started off great. Seeing Bret and Shawn not only shake hands but also hug was fantastic and I had goosebumps the entire time. At least thrice during the segment, I thought HBK was going to Superkick Hart lol. I wish I could have heard what Michaels said to him during the hug, but that was private so nonetheless, great segment. Unfortunately, the WWE made a horrible mistake I think in having a Divas match open the show in terms of wrestling, as it's more than clear to everyone that the women of the WWE consistently put on the least impressive matches out there. Maryse and Brie Bella (and for a minute, Nikki Bella) put on a HORRIBLE match. Someone backstage probably thought that seeing the three hot girls would be enough to capture the attention of the average viewer, but I can't see how they wouldn't have changed the channel midway through. The next match, a fatal four-way for the US title's #1 contender spot wasn't too bad, but at no point in it did I feel like anyone but MVP could win, and I don't take him seriously as a contender either. It appears as though he will have a 2-3 week feud with the Miz as filler just as Mark Henry and Evan Bourne did. Much of the rest of the show is a haze already, as I wasn't impressed with it, like the Sheamus vs. Evan Bourne match, although to be fair, I haven't been impressed with anything related to Sheamus since I checked him out in FCW in the first place. Although the Orton/Kingston match felt anticlimactic, it was decent, and I liked how Cody and Ted were pulling the same deal that Orton pulled on them last week. It just feels like this was a kind of lackluster way to end the Kingston/Orton rivalry - though I'm sure they'll have some interaction during the Royal Rumble. Which brings me to one of the only other highlights of the night. I LOVE that Randy Orton not only referenced his previous storyline of the year against Vince, but also was genuinely trying to get the #30 spot in the Royal Rumble. Too often in recent times has the Royal Rumble been overlooked and treated as if it's a footnote and it's nice to see someone actually care about their entry number like they used to. Back in the day, there were tons of qualifying matches and there actually was some sort of competition to figure out who would get #1 and #30. I could have done without Hornswoggle being used twice, and I wish they'd have given us a bit more of Vince/Bret to work with as it sort of ended in a "blah" kind of way. Overall, there's something that annoys me about this show, and it's very simple: despite Bret, everything on the show was standardized. There was nothing new, nothing fresh, nothing to make anyone think that they're going to try some new stuff. Anyone frustrated with the WWE giving them the same old stuff will have watched this and thought it seemed oddly familiar.
Since I was watching Raw, I did not see TNA Impact. However, reading the summary of what went on, there are things, it seems like they had some nice strategies. I'm shocked to say it, but on paper, it seems like they might have done a more reasonable job than the WWE. I can't speak for Bubba the Love Sponge or the quality of any of the matches as I haven't watched them yet, but starting off the show with the X-Division makes a lot of sense to me. Fast pace, lots of action, and it's something that fans of athleticism (ie, fans that seem to have migrated to MMA) would enjoy. Ending it in a no-contest apparently pissed everyone off and garnered a "this is bullshit" response from the crowd, which, needless to say, is NOT the thing you want to hear opening your show. However, pulling Jeff Hardy away from the WWE is a huge boost to TNA and a shock to me, as it seems like Jeff just makes one mistake after another. ODB winning the title gives the viewers yet another reason to be surprised, as title changes are almost always interesting. The Lashley segment seems like it's nothing to talk about, as are the Foley segments, but when I heard that they'd have the Beautiful People essentially stripping throughout the night...wow. That's a GREAT thing for TNA to do to try to get the teenage males to continue tuning in to Spike instead of USA. Maryse and the Bella Twins are sexy, but when you compare them to the Beautiful People teasing a strip show, TNA clearly wins. The TNA Women's Tag titles changing hands...eh, seems a bit much. They run the risk of overdoing themselves and coming off desperate. Nothing else stands out as something that I probably would have thought was horrible or fantastic, though it looks like they've signed a lot of names and are really going to try to "bring it" so to speak.
ASSESSING THE SITUATION:
As I said, I can't fully say 100% one way or the other without having seen Impact, but from what I'm reading, it seems like TNA may have "won the battle". It's highly unlikely that they'll beat the WWE's ratings, and Vince doesn't need to get scared just yet, but TNA may just have done a good enough job that they're officially on the radar and can start raising eyebrows in Connecticut. If TNA makes a big enough name for themselves to get the notice of the public, hires enough of the guys that people want to see, and continues marketing towards the demographic that McMahon seems to be abandoning.....well, let's just say, there may be more of a war in the future than we previously thought.