The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 03/19/12 by John Canton (Twitter @johnreport)Live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this is the Raw Deal... <!--more-->The regular intro video started. Pyro went off in the arena. Another legit sellout in a big arena. That's a good thing although it's not an every week thing. It happens more often during WrestleMania season obviously.CM Punk, the WWE Champion, begins the show. He gets a huge reaction. Punk talked about how Chris Jericho wasn't in the building. He said it upset him that Jericho mentioned that Punk's dad was an alcoholic. Then he mentioned that he was proud of his dad now because he's overcome his addiction and doesn't drink alcohol anymore. The crowd was hot. They cheered loudly. Jericho showed up on the screen. He apologized. He said this wasn't the Jericho with the bright jacket; he was being honest here. He said he wasn't going to bring up Punk's dad again, "but your sister…" I thought that was funny. He said he found out about Punk's sister having substance abuse issues. He said she was a drug addict and Punk would give in to addiction as well. Punk yelled back. He swore. It got bleeped out. I'm sure somebody will message me to tell me what was said, but the point is that Punk was angry. I think he said Jericho was full of bullshit and Punk would beat it out of him at WrestleMania.I thought it was an awesome promo. Jericho comes off as such a smart heel that is doing everything he can to get under Punk's skin. Like I said, his ability to piss off Punk is a big selling point because Punk's already the champ and has the advantage. Now because Jericho is being such a jerk, people will be more interested in paying their money to see Punk get his revenge. Also, the idea that Jericho wasn't there also worked well because it will make people care that much more when Punk gets his hands on Jericho at WM28. I fully expect Punk/Jericho to last two months, by the way. The Extreme Rules PPV at the end of April is in Punk's hometown of Chicago. Don't be surprised if Jericho wins at WrestleMania. Then Punk gets his title back at Extreme Rules. Or Punk beats him twice. Either way, I think the main event of Extreme Rules is going to be Punk vs. Jericho in some kind of gimmick match. That's perfectly fine by me because this could be the feud of the year. Best in the world, indeed. They showed Big Show and Kane walking backstage. I wonder how many times they have wrestled in the last 13 years? I don't know, but 99% of those matches sucked. Don't ask me what the 1% of good matches was. I'm saying that because I respect them. There was a plug for some one hour Rock/Cena documentary prior to Raw next week. It wasn't on my Canadian broadcast on The Score. It was on the USA Network broadcast. I had enough people tell me about it that I'm going to include it in the write-up. It could be good unless you're sick of Rock/Cena. I have faith in WWE's video production team to make it good, though. (Commercial) Cody Rhodes came out. More videos to humiliate Big Show from WrestleManias in the past. Big Show vs. KaneKane beat Big Show in under a minute. Cody distracted Show. Chokeslam off the top by Kane got the win. Why was Show even going to the top rope 45 seconds into a match? Yes, they had the giant Big Show lose in under a minute. What the hell? Odd booking.Winner: Kane (DUD)Post match, Rhodes handcuffed Big Show to the ropes. Rhodes has boxing gloves on. He hit Show in the face repeatedly, reminding us of the Show/Mayweather match at WrestleMania. Cody left. Show sold it by having a glazed look on his face. The build for their WM match has been okay. Show hasn't been able to get his shots in on Cody, so hopefully the crowd pops big for it at WM when it finally happens. I'd expect Cody to retain the title that he rarely defends on television. No reason for Show to win it. They plugged Cena vs. Henry for later as well as the new WWE.com. I like the new WWE.com, but I don't visit it daily. Maybe two or three times per week. It looks better now than it did in its previous incarnation at least. (Commercial)Santino vs. David OtungaJohn Laurinaitis was with Otunga while Teddy Long was with Santino. Santino had painted abs on his stomach, which was hilarious. Otunga is the most oiled up wrestler on the roster, which is probably why Vince loves him so much. He did some ridiculous poses so much that apparently Chris Masters was trending on Twitter. Santino went on offense, took out the Cobra sleeve and Laurinaitis was texting at ringside, so Teddy shoved him. That sent JL's phone into the ring. Santino stomped on it. Then Otunga finished him off with his Spinebuster for the win in 90 seconds. Remember that Santino is the US Champion too although that title is pretty useless by now. Winner: David Otunga (1/4*)Post match, Otunga and JL celebrated. The best part was when Laurinaitis did the trombone celebration. Hilarious. After the dance, Long slapped Laurinaitis in the face. Then Teddy ran away like a little girl, or Carmelo Anthony during that one NBA fight a few years ago. How do the GMs not have a full team yet? Why are they waiting to announce wrestlers as being on these teams? The only one people will pop for on Team Teddy is Ryder. They won't care about Ezekiel Jackson or whoever else is on the team. Also, it's pretty obvious Team Johnny is going to win. Fine by me. I'm ready for no more Teddy Long on my TV. They hyped up the Undertaker/Triple H/Michaels confrontation later. (Commercial)There was a video for a new wrestler that had Japanese lettering on his body parts. There was a bald head too. The name was "Lord Tensai." The phrase apparently means "Natural Disaster" in Japanese as reported by Prowrestling.net. It was Matt Bloom aka A-Train aka Giant Bernard. He denied it on Twitter over the weekend when asked about it. Of course he denied it. If they wanted people to know it's him they would say. Jericho denied his return for weeks too. Heels lie. It's him. Trust me. There was a Rock video promo from where the Rocky Balboa statue was in the city of Philadelphia. He was wearing sunglasses even though it was at night. I guess it's more about the look than the effectiveness of the sunglasses. There was a picture of Rock standing in front of the Rocky statue when he was 12 years old. He said he looked like a chunky girl and that at 12 years old he was dreaming of becoming the greatest of all time. He said the next year the first WrestleMania took place. He mentioned Hulk Hogan at WM1, Ultimate Warrior at WM6 and even imitated Warrior, which was funny. He mentioned headlining WM15 in Philadelphia and how he lost the match to Austin. Fun match. Rock said he made two vows, which was he would never again fight a man in jean shorts (he joked that obviously that didn't happen) and that he would continue to live his dream to be the greatest of all time. He said he went on to beat Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan. He said in order for Rock's dream to come true as the greatest of all time there is one more man to beat: John Cena. He said it's 13 days away. He said he'd go into the arena later. He's going to send Cena a message. He mentioned a cheesesteak, which drew a nice cheap pop from the Philly crowd. He said he'd stick a cheesesteak up Cena's candy ass if he didn't understand what Rock's message was about. Rock used the catchphrases of Cactus Jack, Ric Flair and Randy Savage in his promo. Crowd loved the Savage tribute. In the spirit of Rocky Balboa, he's going to eat lightning and crap thunder. He says when Rock beats Cena at WM28, his dream as a 12 year old boy will come true as the greatest of all time.I loved the promo. The idea that Rock has to beat Cena in order to prove he's the greatest of all time is a good selling point for the match. He mentioned beating Hogan and Austin, who were the biggest babyfaces of their generation. Now he wants to beat Cena, the biggest face of his generation. His story also made him likable to those that may hate on him for being a "Hollywood sellout." I am not one of those people, but I know they exist. I've always like the guy. I always will. Nobody delivers money promos like him. I thought it was a very effective segment, much more effective than some of the other recent Rock promos. He showed Cena more respect here, which is something that will happen at WM when Rock likely puts him over. Yes, I pick Cena to win. I say it every week. The World Champion Daniel Bryan entered next along with his girlfriend AJ. They went to break. (Commercial)They showed footage of Zack Ryder from earlier in the day trying to be a member of Teddy Long's WrestleMania team. Why does he have to try to get support for it? It's not like the roster has good babyfaces. They should have announced him as part of the team from the beginning. Daniel Bryan vs. Zack RyderBryan kissed AJ before the match. They wrestled for about two minutes. Ryder hit his Broski Boot. Otherwise it was a squash that ended up with Bryan winning with the LeBell Lock submission move. Good win for the World Champ, which is expected on the road to WM28. Winner: Daniel Bryan (*)Ryder went from being part of a big angle with Cena, Kane and Eve to being a nobody again. Shouldn't he try to get revenge on Kane for "breaking his back" of all things? How about getting a shot at the US Title since he never got a rematch? Without any kind of pay off or revenge for Ryder, that whole "Embrace the Hate" angle was a waste of time. They mentioned John Cena's car accident earlier in the day. It wasn't a major deal. They acted like it was, of course, with the idea that they didn't know if he'd be able to compete against Mark Henry later in the show. (Commercial)Back from break, it was announced that Flo Rida would sing a song for Rock's intro at WrestleMania just like MKG will sing the intro for John Cena WrestleMania. I'd prefer to hear their original songs at the WM28, but it makes sense that they want to incorporate the official WM songs for the intros of the guys in the main event.John Cena vs. Mark HenryBig pop for Cena for his entrance. There were some haters in the crowd early, but it wasn't that loud. Henry dominated the early few minutes of the match. Cena was out on the floor as they went to break. (Commercial)Back from break, Cena tried to make a comeback. Henry decked him with a clothesline and hit his big splash for a count of two. Henry eventually made a brief comeback that included an impressive Attitude Adjustment for the win after about 8 minutes of action. That drew a huge reaction from the crowd. It was well deserved because that's not an easy thing to do. I liked the match. I wouldn’t be surprised if Henry is moved to Raw full time post WM (if the brand extension matters) to feud with Cena. Their chemistry was pretty good. Winner: John Cena (**)Post match, The Rock's music hit. He got a thunderous ovation. No sunglasses. Boots to Asses shirt is there of course. Rock ran into the ring. Rock Bottom to Mark Henry. Then he left. Cena stared at him the whole way. No back and forth promo from them this week. I like the idea of making people want more. It was about time Rock got physical, even if it was with an already beaten Mark Henry. We don't always need promos to build it up. Who do you personally like more: The Rock or John Cena?More hype for the Hunter/Undertaker/Michaels promo later in the show. (Commercial)They showed a clip of Maria Menounos and her TV show Extra. She had Kelly Kelly on the show. Beth Phoenix & Eve crashed the set. It set up a tag match at WM so it was Beth & Eve vs. Maria & Kelly. They filmed it like it was a shoot with guys breaking it up. There's your bathroom break match at WM. I'd rather see Beth in a singles match versus Natalya or Kharma. I don't think Menounos adds anything to WrestleMania. She's Greek like me and I admit she's gorgeous. Doesn't mean I want to see her wrestle.The Miz was in the ring. He cut a promo about how King Kong Bundy was in the main event at WrestleMania 2 and then at WM3 he was wrestling Hillbilly Jim as well as a bunch of midgets. Thanks for making me remember that, Miz. Evil. He said it was the biggest WM main event drop off in WWE history. He was all upset about how he main evented WM27 and had nothing to do at WM28. He issued an open challenge. He wanted Laurinaitis to watch so he could impress him and put him on Team Johnny. Then his challenger emerged.Sheamus vs. The MizSheamus got a huge pop. I loved the counter early as Miz tried to get his DDT and Sheamus turned it into a power move. Miz, if you want to be taken more seriously then you shouldn't do a chin lock in a three minute match. Sheamus destroyed him with a powerslam and then finished him off with a Brogue Kick after three minutes.Winner: Sheamus (*1/2)I'm not sure what Miz' role will be at WrestleMania. Maybe he'll interfere in the Rock/Cena match. I hope not. Perhaps they could do a face turn where Teddy puts him on his team to give him an opportunity? Not sure if that would work. They plugged Jericho as a guest on Jimmy Fallon's show on Wednesday. Then they recapped his angle with CM Punk earlier. "However your sister…" led to a huge reaction from the crowd. (Commercial)Josh Mathews was standing on a platform by the stage. His back was to the audience. It reminded me of when Mean Gene Okerlund would interview superstars that way. He interviewed Randy Orton, who was in his ring gear and wearing one of his t-shirts. Mathews asked him how he can beat Kane. Orton wondered how Kane could beat him. The idea was that Kane wanted revenge because after Kane lost last summer he shook Randy's hand, which made him become human. Now Kane is a monster again. Orton ended it by saying his name is Randy Orton. Yes. That was the promo. Not the greatest of promos, but the crowd popped when he said his name at least. It's nice that he had his wrestling gear on for a promo. Some would wear pants. Not him. They showed a clip of David Otunga, Big Show & Stephanie McMahon talking to kids about the Be A Star campaign. Prior to the next match, Vickie announced Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger as the next two members of Team Johnny at WrestleMania 28. It took them this long to announce something that was obvious to anybody with a brain. (Commercial)Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger w/Vickie Guerrero vs. Kofi Kingston & R-Truth w/AksanaAll four of the guys were in the GM match. As was typical on this show, the match was short at about four minutes. Kingston started it off on fire and the heels isolated him. The "Twitter trending" graphic told us that Stephanie McMahon was trending. I'm sure Vince was marking out for that. Now she's famous, right Vince? Ziggler hit such a great dropkick on Kingston. That was one of the better dropkicks you will ever see. Swagger's haircut is awful by the way. Kofi made the hot tag to Truth. He hit a nice flying forearm on Ziggler followed by the front suplex. Kofi hit Swagger with a forearm on the floor. Ziggler hit his Fameasser that needs a new name. He covered. Truth had his foot on the ropes. Vickie pushed his foot off the rope and the ref counted the three because he didn't see the foot on the rope. Evil heels. These four guys could have an amazing tag match if they got 12-15 minutes. Too bad tag team wrestling doesn't matter in WWE. Winners: Ziggler & Swagger (*1/2)Post match, Vickie & Aksana had a catfight in the ring. Crowd loved it. It was a nice homage to ECW by having a catfight in Philadelphia. Aksana has a wonderful physique. I'm just saying. The guys broke it up. Kofi's face was hilarious as they broke up the brawl. He had this look as if he was saying "this chick be crazy, mon." Wait, he's not Jamaican anymore. You get the point.They showed a clip of a match at MSG the night earlier. It was a six man tag. Triple H beat Ziggler with the Tombstone. Then he covered Ziggler using the same pose that Undertaker uses. That set us up for the main event promo to end the show. (Commercial)Prior to the main event promo, Cole & Lawler recapped Cena's win over Henry and then when Rock showed up to give Henry the Rock Bottom. They hyped a final in-ring confrontation next Monday in Atlanta. Is it time for them to get into a physical brawl? I'd like to see it. Not sure if it will happen. Shawn Michaels entered. Huge ovation. He said the reason they call him the showstopper is because he did it at WrestleMania year after year. He said it was cool that he held the end of an era at the palm of his hand because he was the referee of the Undertaker/Triple H match. He said that "end of an era" is code for "end of the streak." He said Undertaker is in the same place that Shawn was two years ago when he lost to Undertaker, which is building up the idea that if Undertaker loses he will retire. They aren't coming right out to say it. That' what they're implying. Undertaker's music hit. He entered with his MMA gloves and his Laycool hoodie. I would assume we don't see his hairstyle until WrestleMania itself. Undertaker told him to shut up and listen. He told Shawn that the match had to remain pure, which I would assume means that that he wants it to be refereed in a fair manner. Before he could go on, Triple H's music started up. Big ovation.The three men involved in the "end of an era" match were standing face to face to face. Hunter told Undertaker that he needs to stop worrying about Shawn. Hunter said their careers were connected by one thing: Hell in a Cell. He mentioned there have been 24 Hell in a Cell matches and that they have been in 19 of those matches. Before the HIAC PPV became an annual deal, which I'm against by the way, the match usually involved one of these two men. I'm glad that Hunter brought that up. Hunter went into his deep groveling voice as he talked about how HIAC is where he learned that if it didn't kill him it made him strong. It's where he learned to push the limits of human endurance and where he could end another man's career. He did retire Mick Foley in a HIAC match in 2000, but the guy wrestled a month later and also many times years later. I get the point of what he's saying, though. He said HIAC is where he excels. Everything he's been through has been for one moment…April 1st…WrestleMania…Hell in a Cell. He said "the whole world would see the end of an era…yours." Undertaker went into his Clint Eastwood voice to ask Hunter if he was sure if he knew what it would take. He told Hunter that everything was on the line to wrestle Undertaker in the cell. It's not implying a retirement match. He's just saying that there was a lot of risk. He wondered if Hunter was ready to accept that. Hunter said: "If it means giving you the end that you so richly deserve, then I am." Hunter said he will beat him. They went face to face. Staredown. The crowd was chanting various things, but not cheering for either guy in particular. Undertaker was about to leave. He stopped. "Do you remember when I said Shawn is better than you." Pause. "He is." Undertaker left to his music. Mind games. Shawn smiled. That smile was awesome. Hunter was furious. He had a staredown with Shawn. When Hunter looked back at Undertaker, Shawn smiled again. The facial expressions at the end of the show were perfect. The promo was very good. Hunter was the best one although he got to talk the most, so that helps too. They've already driven the point home that Undertaker thinks Shawn was better than Hunter. That's the reason Hunter wants to beat Undertaker. To prove how good he is. We get that. It didn't offer much in the way of new material. I remember these three in the ring last year for a promo before WrestleMania. It did an incredible job of selling the Undertaker/Hunter last year. This one was effective, but I think the fact that these guys have been cutting promos on eachother for the last six weeks made it less important than their three way promo last year. What I did really like is how they put over the importance of this match being in the Hell in a Cell. They are the two guys most associated with Hell in a Cell matches, so having this "end of an era" match inside that structure is a good nod to the history of both men. I like it a lot. I'm not sure what the plans are for these three next week or if they even have to be on the show. The match is set. Bring it on. -------------------Three Stars of the Show1. Triple H2. The Rock3. John CenaIt was hard to pick three this week. Jericho was fun, but he was only one for about a minute. It was a balanced show in terms of how they pushed the big matches. 6.5 out of 10Last week: 62012 Average: 6.212012 High: 9 (January 30)2012 Low: 4 (January 9)Last 5 Weeks: 6, 7, 6, 7.5, 5The 6.5 rating means it was slightly better than last week and just above the average. It wasn't a bad show. It's just that it didn't really add anything new to the key matches. The one thing I really like about the build to WM is that Rock/Cena and HHH/Undertaker have mostly been built through promos. If you want to see them fight, pay your money on April 1 to see it. I like that idea. The Jericho/Punk feud has seen them in the ring together when Jericho pinned Punk in a tag match, but I hope they are kept apart next week. The same can be said about Rhodes/Show because Show has yet to really get his hands on Cody. They've also kept Bryan & Sheamus apart for the most part. It seems like they've made a point to keep the WrestleMania combatants apart. I like that idea a lot. There's one more week of Raw before WrestleMania. Everything is set up very well. I think that WrestleMania 28 has the potential to be one of the greatest WMs in history. We'll talk about it some more on TJR Radio on Wednesday (details below) and break it down match by match. I don't know about all of you. I'm excited for it to get here. How would you rate 03/19 Raw on the 1-10 scale?I'm reviewing every WWE WrestleMania event prior to WrestleMania 28 exclusive to TJR. Recent updates include WrestleManias 20-23. Four more to go. The WM24 review will be Wednesday and the last one will be on Monday. You can catch up by viewing the archive here if you missed anything. TJR Radio returns live on Wednesday March 22 at 10pmET/9pmCT. Info RIGHT HERE. Join Frank the WWE Clown, The Ace and myself for a final WrestleMania preview! We'll also answer questions all night long too, so check it out. If you miss it we'll put the link up on TJR the next day and you can download the mp3, listen to it via stream or get it on iTunes as well. Keep checking out thejohnreport.net for WrestleMania recaps and all the fine columns from the staff at TJR are posted every single day. Thanks for reading!John Canton - john@thejohnreport.netthejohnreport.netTwitter @johnreportFacebook Facebook.com/thejohnreportnet