This being my 1st SmackDown viewing in I can't remember how long, I didn't really know what I was letting myself in for given how I'd kept my distance from the main product after Raw was pulling tropes from 2003 that Austin & Bischoff did better when we had Miz & Ambrose as co-gms of Raw for that week.
That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me as I had tolerated most things from 'We Were Entertaining' as "quality" had been on a continuous decline for the last few years.
CM Punk walking out & Daniel Bryan retiring, respectively, were part of the decline as these were the 2 guys that the WWE Fans wanted. Not Roman Reigns.
So we begin the night with Cena returning in his 1st appearance since defeating the Miz & Maryse with Nikki Bellas a his tag partner at WrestleMania 33.
And in all honesty, it had been a while since the former Doctor of Thuganomics had been seen and I think they were just glad to see a familiar face that they could tolerate.
He gave a passionate speech about the importance of the 4th July Holiday and I think virutally those in attendance shared the same sentiment.
Then outcomes outdated, over-used, "I hate America" gimmick that was dull long before the Bulgarian Brute took up the Moniker and while he's an impressive athlete I think he'd serve better character-wise if he had been tagged with the anti-American gimmick as I've seen this done so many times over the years from the un-Americans of Christian, Lance Storm, the latet Test & William Regal in 2002, La Resistance in 2003 & Rusev with Lana in 2014/15.
Cena challenged Rusev to a Flag match as his 1st contest back and in typical heel-douce style, Rusev refuses.
WWE, and more specifically, Vince McMahon, I think someone needs to break it to you that this gimmick is so out-dated that you probably think Duran-Duran are a new group.
I was glad that this segment was brief and merciful as I've grown tired of this shtick in WWE.
AJ Styles Vs Chad Gable: win and you're in match
1st of the match of the night and it's Grade-A quality. But that said, it's AJ. Were you expecting anything less?
Awesome match with a show of respect from Styles to Chad as he went the distance.
I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!
Of course it's a WWE show without someone putting themselves on a perch. And in Carmella's case she's done more than her fair share lately. And hearing Ellesworth say they'll make this a 'Carmellabration' is where I felt like head-desking. Now, I love cheesy antics and all....but I draw the line at that. Naomi & Daniel Bryan interrupting them saved my sanity and the audience's by effectively telling them both to get out of the ring otherwise he'd strip Carmella of her MITB Contract. Safe to say they left promptly.
WWE SmackDown Women's Championship: (c) Naomi Vs Lana - ....it's a squash.
I don't this match lasted even 30 seconds. I appreciate they want Naomi to look strong, but that said this just makes the product look like a joke when you have squash matches like this. I have heard that Lana has been training to be able to compete and be able to try for a Title and then this happens?
And as for the shtick with her & Tamina afterwards? I don't know what to make of that.
NewDay defeat Usos in a battle-rap
I get the point of having some entertainment in between matches but I'd rather see these tag teams compete in matches. Not something that's more tailored to Cena's rap gimmick more. Which BTW, Cena, can you please go back to that?
I thought it was amusing to reference Woods' involvement with the Paige scandal which I am amazed that they were able to get away with touching on that in a PG product. But then again consistency in WWE is like British weather - it's inconsistent.
NewDay defeat the USOs in a segment I could really care less for. There were some parts that I liked with Rikishi being briefly mentioned, but the whole thing with questioning Koffi's former Jamaican gimmick was really asinine as this had been addressed before Bragging Rights 2009 by Triple H. So that was pointless.
Aiden English Def Randy Orton by DQ
This was a throwaway match and I think even Orton thought this as he had no qualms with being DQ'd after using the steps on a former Vaude Villian.
I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!
Because the night wouldn't be complete without another 'I hate America' speech with Jinder jerking off his ego to the audience's expense. As I mentioned earlier in this review that it's really dated to have heels come in with this Anti-American gimmick just to get heat when they could just work on getting heat by not liking their opponent. A novel idea? I think so.
Orton saves our sanity by cutting Mahal off and says he will beat Mahal on every side of the prison match and reclaim the belt.
The Main Event: Independence Day Battle Royal - AJ Styles becomes #1 Contender to the United States Title for Battleground
Decent main event. Didn't really help with Captain Douchebag on commentary. I like Owens as a wrestler, but as a character I don't find anything redeeming about him. He's so bland, contrived and boring with his mic work that he makes Randy Orton look like Randy Savage. OOOoo yeah!
It didn't surprise me too much that Styles would get the shot since he is one of the main reasons why people tune into Tuesday nights, but I do agree with the concensus that it could have gone to someone new. But that said, Styles will put on a good performance when he meets Owens at Battleground for the United States Championship.
Overall Verdict: Considering this is the 1st full episode of SmackDown I've seen in 2 years I thought it was ok. Not great but ok. Everything flowed fluidly save for the battle rap, other segments were kept on point and the main event was good.
My main advice from this week is just for the company to step out of their comfort zone and try some new ideas.
You know what happens when you don't evolve and move with the times?
You become, stale, stagnant, irrelevant and left in the past. Which is basically Vince McMahon's creativity these days. But that says more than it needs to.
D-. and that's me being generous
I'm going to be honest this is something that I think was going to happen given the lengthy absence since vacating the Intercontinental Championship last year.
Bryan has had a very exciting, albeit, short WWE Career. But not many can say have been Intercontinental, United States, Tag Team & WWE Undisputed Champion (I still refuse to call it the WWE WHC) in the space of a 5 year career.
He has had some many amazing matches with Bray Wyatt and CM Punk, of which with Punk were some of the best Title matches ever. But considering the talent that was on display, were you surprised?
Allz I can I say is I'm sad it's had to end this way for Bryan but I'm glad he's able to retire whilst being able to walk and not be forced to not being able to walk.
Thanks for the memories, Bryan. It's been fun. Hope you can find something that will help you succeed for the next stage of your career.
Link to article here.
When are people going to listen? more specifically, Vince?
4 years ago, CM Punk foresaw all of this coming. Vinnie is out of touch and the problem is now beginning to manifest itself physically with members of in-Arena attendance walking before the Main Event is more than a clear indication of an overhaul needed.
Further shots were fired when former European Champion, Shane Helms had this to say:
When the flagship show has become as bad in quality with that show from WCW, that tells you a lot. And as he said "I would know."
And it does not make things any better when it's been reported that Producers had plans to turn Roman heel and possibly put the belt on Dean Ambrose, which would make sense since he's the most over face at the moment, but Vince nixed it in favour of pushing Roman.
I think if Roman was given more time to develop it could work, but he's waay too green right now and it's just gonna work when you take into consideration how poorly the company is fairing.
Welp, something needs to change and it needs to happen soon, before WWE goes the way of WCW.
Link to article here
They legit wanna know why people ain't watching Raw??
Let me get comfortable *sits down cross-legged*
Microphone? *handed one* thank you.
It's pretty simple; we the fans are tired of outdated tropes that should have been buried with the Vince McMahon Kiss my ass club from the corrupt powerful corporate authority figures that have been dominating Raw & SmackDown since the end of Summer 2013 with the Authority alliance that is trying to be the Corporation angle from 1998-99 but it's so watered-down that it might as well be a flat cola that not even the most esteemed cola aficionado would have to cure their irritated stomach.
You have fans cry out for wrestling and they tell you "no, you want sports-entertainment." it gets that to point from the Simpsons' episode "o Brother, where art thou" that Herb Powell (voiced by Danny De Vito) says what we're all thinking "DO YOU HEAR THAT YOU IDIOT? INSTEAD OF ASKING THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT, YOU'RE TELLING THEM WHAT THEY WANT!" which could not be put into more clear better context.
The fans chanted through 2013 "We want Daniel Bryan" instead they gave us more John Cena. Even at TLC 2013 when they re-unified The Undisputed Championship what should have been what the fans demanded in being Punk Vs Bryan (which would have made the PPV buy-rates go through the roof) it was instead given to the most overdone, mundane and boring rivalry in the last decade in Cena Vs Orton. A match no one asked for nor the rematch at the 2014 Royal Rumble especially when fans made themselves vocal with chants of "THIS IS AWFUL, WE WANT REFUNDS" including the very few chanting "WE WANT DIVAS"
It comes as no surprise that during the Stone Cold podcast how Captain Out of touch McMahon with the mention of sports-entertainment and "brass rings" and noting that he does not see the appeal of Antonio Cescaro. Are you kidding me? A man that has the audience in the palm of his hands with upper cutting stairs, being the swingmaster and with pure charisma that even as a heel the people love him???
It gets to that point where he'll even think Spongebob Square Pants would be a good idea for a competitor. I can just imagine Spongebob coming out to real American and that Sponge-a-Mania is running wild with his Sponge-a-Maniacs. You think I'm jesting? Vinny has reached that level out of touch/borderline insanity that even someone like Tarosan would look at him and go "you're crazy, you make me look sane, please seek help."
To even more bad decisions in the failure to push Dean Ambrose to main event status when the people have accepted and adore this competitor as a modern variation of Austin & Bryan Pillman but no, he's not Cena nor Roman Reigns so he waits in line.
Here's logic for you, poster-man of the nutty farm, someone is over with the fans, and I mean like Austin, Rock, Punk & Bryan super-over, they are getting Austin like pops from them, you start pushing them, they sell more merch', people pay to see them, your profits go up, you start looking less and less like Margot Kidder before she went on her medication and people begin patting you on the back with a way "good decision, Vince. That was a well thought out move. You did it again, Mac-Daddy" rather than "are you still in charge? when are you retiring?" or my personal fave "where's the real Vinny Mac?"
The last time you ever made a shred of common-sense is when Stone Cold was WWF Champion. You are so out of touch that you think the Internet is a pipe-dream that will never take off. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news Johnny come lately, but the Internet accounts for a lot of personal growth and profit for companies large and small with quick interaction and finding out information as opposed to traveling to local stores without leaving the comfort of their own home.
You whine that NXT is hurting the main roster when the truth is people prefer NXT because HHH is in touch with what works and he gives actual professional wrestling and announcers calling moves as opposed to the mundane mediocre and vanilla equivalent of Michael 'ass-hat' Cole telling stories. Now I will grant that Cole is being fed lines from ole Vinnie, but it still doesn't change the fact that Cole represents a slice of stale bread that you wouldn't even remotely think about eating even if you were starving.
Now, I question a lot of things HHH the Shovel has done over the years but as a businessman he has it together and knows what a modern professional wrestling product should be.
The way foresee it is this: NXT will take over as the main brand and Raw & SmackDown will become the minor leagues. It pains me to say that about SmackDown because it is the superior show to Raw. Raw is nothing more than a 3 hour soap opera with some wrestling. At least SmackDown gives the midcard a chance to shine. If I wanted to watch a soap opera I'd go back to watching Coronation Street and that in it's own right was stale and vanilla before I quit watching in early 2007, but that's another story.
And the irony is.....you created NXT to replace ECW in early 2010. Your very own creation, will outdo your other creations.
Back in 2011, CM Punk predicted ALL OF THIS with his Pipe-Bomb how it will get worse and you don't understand how a modern product should be, what makes a good wrestler or what else works in 2011.
YOU are the reason that Raw's ratings are at their lowest since 1997 and you can't blame Monday Night Football anymore either. That card is out of your reach.
You have become what you hate, what you feared.....you have become WCW!
PIPE-BOMB *mic-drop* I'm done.
I will grant in the last few years that Raw in particular has been very guilty of going over time with it's segments before an actual match takes place; such as an example from the night after Over the Limit 2012 where Big Show spent near 20 minutes bragging about his Iron Clad Contract is the kind of padding that Raw or SmackDown doesn't need.
Now. Jump back in time with a DeLorean (because Back to the Future day is this Wednesday at the time of writing this) and we come to the Premiere Episode of SmackDown that featured a segment between the then World Wrestling Federation Champion HHH, Chyna, The Rock with his electrifying $800 shirt, then Comissioner Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley & Shane McMahon.
And in the near 20 minutes of this opening segment it was far more entertaining and fluid paced than anything that has been done today.
I think what makes segments like this from the Attitude Era work is that it wasn't heavily scripted and allowed the wrestlers to be creative with what they would say. Such scripts from Raw of 1999 that were released to the Internet in the last few years actually details the premise of what Austin would say in his promos but allow him to say what he wanted based on the direction they wanted him to go in. And that is much more beneficial to the overall payoff because then it's his words and not something that he has to memorise down to the last detail which is unbelievably frustrating because I can relate to that when filming my movie reviews is that it's really time consuimg to try and recall exactly everything I've typed out just so that I get the end result I'm looking for.
The other important aspect that is so lacking in today's product is chemistry. If the two wrestlers don't gel and feel comfortable and trusting of each other then it's going to look very awkward and subsequently the fans are not going to want to see more nor remember it.
I know keep using Rock Vs Austin as an example; but it's when of the best examples of two atheletes getting the absolute Best out of each other. When you're able to feel comfortable knowing that your opponent will be insync with what you have to do next then it will come off as natural that the fans can buy into and enjoy.
And I'm not seeing that enough today. I think the closest I've seen to that in the modern Era is either CM Punk vs Chris Jericho or Punk Vs Bryan. The rest of the roster really struggle to find that necessary natural chemistry to be able to put on the best performance that they need to find to bring in the numbers. And of course if you listened to my last pipe-bomb you will know that they are in dire need of bringing those numbers back to par.
And it needs to happen soon. Otherwise Spring of 2001 will repeat itself again when W W E becomes W C W. - MJ
The Knight's Watch
My first time watching an NXT PPV and I finally see what people are talking about when they cite that this is superior to the main product.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
NXT Champion Finn Balor & Samoa Joe vs. Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder
If you haven't seen NXT before, then you should. This is what WWE SHOULD be doing from in-ring execution to the characterisation of their performers. Joe & Balor are like the Rockers, the New Age Outlaws & The Hardy Boyz. Their a good cohesive unit and they proved it with this win over Dawson & Wilder. Forget Monday Night Raw. NXT is where the action's at.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal Match
Jason Jordan & Chad Gable vs. Rhyno & Baron Corbin
DAYUM! Now this is how you do a Tag team match. I haven't seen Rhyno perform in years and the man has still got it and then some. Really impressed with the ring technician that is the Baron and the opposing team in Jordan & Gable reminded me of Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin aka Team Angle & TWGTT.
All of the competitors are top class and all have good futures ahead of them.
Asuka vs. Dana Brooke w/ Emma
It's official! I love Auska. Very powerful, agile & athletic. Dana found this out by underestimating her and making her use the crazed-eye look from Mickie James & AJ Lee's playbook. This girl is the Daniel Bryan of the Women's Division fore she has counter moves to counter moves.
she's a decent performer and knows how to sell her character, especially with the crazed-look she gave Emma. to quote CM Punk "you gotta dig Crazy chicks!"
"Prince Pretty" Tyler Breeze vs. Apollo Crews
This was about will vs perseverance. Hard striking, physical and highly charged match from 2 young athletes with potential for the future. Crews reminded me so much of former United States & ECW Champion Bobby Lashley.
I really wanted this match go on and I got a ton of respect for Crews with the way he battled through the submissions and the counter to his finisher by Tyler Breeze.
Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Finals
Rhyno & Baron Corbin vs. NXT Champion Finn Balor & Samoa Joe
Hearing Dusty's voice before the match was so sureal knowing what he had given to the product of NXT.
Balor was already fatigued and partially injured going into this and to see him get the win with the bad knee just shows you what this man is made of.
Both teams were hungry for this, especially Rhyno who hasn't won anything of signnifcance since the WCW United States Championship when it was the part of the Invasion from 2001.
After seeing matches like this, I will gladly watch this every week if I were to ever leave my duties as the SmackDown reviewer.
Cody Rhodes gives a very heart-felt speech about the late American Dream, Dusty Rhodes in how his Dream should be remembered in how he had been on people's TV for 4 decades. Good to see Cody in his regular appearance honouring his father like that along with his Brother, Dustin and his wife, Brandi Rhodes.
Main Event - NXT Women's Championship 30 Minute Iron Man Match
Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks
This is what the main roster is missing with the passion and determination from these 2 women.
I have not seen a women's wrestling match of this calibre since Lita & Trish Stratus. Arguably 2 of the best competitors ever to step foot in the squared circle.
Sasha & Bailey took it to levels that I never thought would be possible from two very talented young ladies. They were able to go the distance for 30 minutes proving that they had the endurance of the men and able to keep the audience's attention to such a degree that people were chanting "BETTER THAN RAW" which, let's face it that is so true on so many levels.
I think Sasha should have been disqualified on one occasion for repeatedly using the steel steps as a weapon by ramming Bayley into it. Bayley has more heart than I have ever seen in any WWE Competitor.
Bayley might have won the match 3-2 but they were both winners being able to put on such a great performance come the end with the NXT Men and Women along with HHH congratulating both the Champion and the runner-up.
It's a nice touch to see competitors be rewarded in that way showing that their efforts and talent were being rewarded.
Raw & SmackDown, this is how you put on wrestling PPV.
NXT Takeover Respect gets an A++.
On a more satirical note: and Vince McMahon thinks the main roster's better?
Uh...sure. & Eva Marie is the female Bret Hart.
I have enjoyed this PPV and will tune in for the next one. - MJ
My 2 Cents
I saw Raw for the first time in 2 years this week and I was pleasantly surprised that the WWE had actually upped their game and effort for a change.
It was somewhat annoying that Raw had begun as as it has done for so many years with a talking segment that featured the unmatched moutpiece skills of Paul Heyman and the enigma that is Brock Lesnar citing that Undertaker will not walk out of Hell in a Cell whereas Super Lesnar will be the victor.
Enter a man who has about as much talking presence as Brock, in the Big Show. After a brief period of Show trying to be gracious in his defeat, Lesnar walks and gets goaded by Show whom then returns to take him back to Suples City and then F5's him.
13 years later and I'm still amazed at the physical strength of the former Undisputed Champion.
Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Randy Orton def. The Wyatt Family
and I care why?
seriously, this feud has gone on long enough since just before Money in the Bank and I don't know if Roman was saying in character or kayfabe, but after Hell in a Cell, it's done between him and Bray. I think everyone has been saying that because most feuds are done within a few months yet this rivalry has been going on long past it's usefulness.Sheamus def. Neville
for the little amount of time that this was on, it was decent. Not sure where Barrett stands between these two as I got the impression that he showed concern for his fellow countryman.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins confronted Kane
I don't know whose decision it was to make Kane go this way, creatively, but it's working. For so many years (and through the various heel turns that kept pace with Big Show's) can had been somewhat 2 dimensional and here he shows levels of depth in his character and that he can have range.
And with Seth 'Cartman' Rollins who pretty much tells everyone "screw you guys I'm going home" if he doesn't get his way not letting up on Kane's Bruce Banner gimmick just works well as they have great chemistry.
Steph, like everyone else cuts through all the BS and says it what was Cartman that made that "annoymous" report on Kane and decides to put an end to it once for all.
At Hell in A Cell it will be Demon Kane challenging Rollins for the WWE Undisputed Championship and should Rollins retain then Corporate Kane will be releaved of his services.
Natalya def. Paige
These 2 competing against each other is like Trish Vs Lita, Rock Vs Austin or Punk Vs Bryan.
I make those comparisons because all those competitors brought out the very best in each other. If these 2 were to ever face other for the Divas Championship at a PPV, that would be legendary.
furthermore, I am glad that Natalya is being used positively again as she has been cast to the side for far too long. And here's a message to WWE: Divas Championship run again for Naty. MAKE IT HAPPEN
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens def. Sin Cara
Owens is proving his worth as a Champion. Personally, I don't like him. But he's doing his job as a heel, if he can get you to hate him - job done!
It was a decent performance by Sin Cara who I think could have done with a win. But considering the run Owens is on that won't happen any time soon. And it doesn't look Ryback is done with him yet.
John Cena and Roman Reigns honored breast cancer survivors
Really uplifting segment that just shows how well the WWE can lift Peoples' spirits in the name of a good cause.
I don't have anything else to add, because what Cena & Reigns said on the mic was all that needed to be said.The Dudley Boyz def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins & Kane via Disqualification
Not a bad match, but the focus was too much on the husband & wife situation with Rollins bossing Kane to remain on the rope until he got taken to the back and Hulked out into the Big Red Machine. Of which saw the Monster chokeslam the Dudleyz & the Undisputed Champion that he's coming for the belt.Team B.A.D. def. Team Bella
cue some trash talking from some wannabe Barbie dolls and the very talented Alicia Fox who really should be doing better things than associating herself with 2 women who have only furthered their careers because of their men, which Naomi pointed out that Nikki knows "how to go all the way!"..............no comment.
A decent performance with Team BAD getting some much needed exposure and matchtime that they have been sorely lacking.
And Nikki will regain the Divas Title? sure. & L-Man will be uncontroversial and Oni will learn how to whisper and wear Cena mech' *shots fired*
Summer Rae proposed to Rusev
This was unwarranted, unmerrited and unnecessary.
Moving on.U.S. Champion John Cena def. WWE Tag Team Champion Big E
And we come to the main event and surprising no one; Cena is headlining Raw once more.
On a serious note I am amazed of the great shape Cena is in since he debuted in 2002. And after the injuries he comes back seemingly stronger than before and the man seems to be ageless to some degree.
the match itself was good.
I don't think it needed it needed the pier 6 brawl at the end, but this is Monday Night Raw. Why change what they know?
So, to some things up; after seeing my first Raw since October 2013 when CM Punk was feuding with Heyman & Ryback, to when the Los Matatdores debuted and when Bryan was chasing his 3rd WWE Championship, I will say that Raw has gotten better.
Not as good as 2002's Raw Roulette nor the night Stone Cold returned after Unforgiven 2000 but I can safely saw that Raw is at least 'watchable' again.
Raw gets a C-
After reading the article above; Here's the perspective from a person who's know Logic. WWE, when you start talking sense, we'll do Lunch.
Situation: the product is performing poorly. Rather than continue on as normal and doing the same thing expecting a different outcome, which is textbook insanity, jsyk, you address the faults, remove them, look at what performs better or efficiently (depending on your preference) and then apply that to the product and then bam. Improvement.
WWE have the Wrestlers and knowledge to put on a good performance for the brand, but they choose to continue as they do regardless of the fact that they know they're under-performing.
Former Wrestlers like Edge have not watched the product since retiring, although to be fair this in major part to the fact that wrestling was his life and finds it difficult to watch as a fan and the likes of Mick Foley & Steve Austin have openly criticised the product for the less than pleasing results it has garnered in the last few years.
Not to put myself on a pedestal here; but if I find something that isn't working I address the faults and ask the audience what they'd like to see less and more of. Think of the product is as a machine. Something gets in the gears and it slows down or stops it; you remove the problem and put improvements to stop future inconveniences and the machine moves again and progress resumes. That's addressing the problem and correcting the fault.
If you don't connect with your audience and accommodate what they want, then they'll leave you.
If I had it my way, here who's I would have as the writing staff for the WWE:
1: Paul Heyman.
2: Mick Foley.
3: Triple H
4: Steve Austin.
Heyman because the man is such a competent writer. Just look at SmackDown in late 2002 for the Tag Title situation with the Guerreros, Benoit, Angle, Edge & Mysterio.
Foley because he has a much clearer perspective on how the Women's division should go. Love him or hate him, HHH has such a mind for the business knowing what works and should be left in the writing bin and Stone Cold for the experience and forthright Attitude on knowing what doesn't work and will speak his mind if he thinks something sucks.
Things will only improve when Vince steps down because he has no clue on what works anymore.
If this was McMahon of the Attitude Era; he would have thrown these current asinine ideas they have into the trash. And that speaks for itself.
Has it really been 12 years since this took place when WWE was almost in a full year since the Brand split?
When you hear the crowd from then to today; it's almost a huge contrast. Back then; the WWE gave you a reason to go wild and crazy in attendance. Today? you'll only get that if either a Legend makes an appearance or Daniel Bryan enters the Arena that gets people into a frenzy like the fans in this segment from Late Spring 2003.
The decision to make Steve a Co-GM of Raw back then was just a no-brainer as Stone Cold could not wrestle any more which broke a few fans' hearts, including mine as he was the reason I became a wrestling fan. And secondly, Bischoff needed to be taken down a peg because he was border-lining the kind of ego-maniacal stance that Vince McMahon was known for as a heel.
I don't know what kind of "creative" thinking was behind retiring the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy 2002 because from a story and the fans perspective it was asinine. It limited the opportunities on Raw at that time to just either the then World Tag Team Championships or HHH's World Heavyweight Championship.
Austin reinstating it made for more entertaining and competitive stories on Raw and giving wrestlers something to fight for as well. The purpose of the IC Title is to prepare wrestlers for the World Title main event picture and when you consider that the Intercontinental Championship was the first singles belt he ever had. Those that remember from the pre-Attitude Era that he won it from the late Owen Hart at SummerSlam 97 in a match that almost paralysed him. How he came back 3 months later to win it back is a miracle in it's own right. Hence, why he recognised it as one of the most important Titles in his life.
Also, Steve & Eric had amazing chemistry with each other during 2003 as they would find new ways each week to try and get under each others skin and attempt to 1 up themselves.
Anyone who remembers watching Judgment Day 2003 when the two shared Stone Cold's personal sky-box in the Arena will remember the comedy gold between them as Austin was giving Bischoff a hangover and indigestion with all the beers, hot-dogs and the jalapeno pickles and to when he spewed chunks from the sky-box window. I really feel sorry for any in a row below that caught Eric Bischoff's vomit.
This was what made Raw the show to watch. Although SmackDown was fairing well with the feud of Lesnar & Big Show & Vince having issues with Hogan (kinda foreshadowing for future events), Raw had that unpredictable and fun factor that it had been sorely lacking for some time before this point.
You know never knew what would happen and it was essential to tune in each week just to see what Austin would do to give Bischoff as many headaches possible by throwing wrenches into his plans and doing the right thing for the fans and the Wrestlers.
A couple of final notes to remember from this segment:
1: do not argue with Austin.
2: Don't forget number 1.
And that's the bottom line - MJ