The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 04/09/12 by John Canton (Twitter @johnreport)
Live from Washington, DC this is the Raw Deal...
Before we start, my website is moving from thejohnreport.net to TJRWrestling.com. TJRWrestling.com is already working, but we are moving content over so it may be slow for a few days meaning it may not load if you try to go there. By Friday, thejohnreport.net won't be working and TJRWrestling.com is the place to go to read my work as well as the work of the TJR staff. I've already posted a column about the six Brock Lesnar matches we need to see and there's a post up explaining the move too. It's about growth and wanting to grow the TJR name. To those that care, thanks for the support. To those that don't care, sorry to have wasted your time. Now we move on to the discussion about the men pretending to fight in their underpants!
The announcers welcomed us to the show and the first thing they did was tell us that the Three Stooges were the guest stars on Raw. Calling them "slapstick comic geniuses" is an insult to the actual three stooges that were actually comic geniuses. They also plugged CM Punk vs. Mark Henry in a rematch from last week.
The show started with GM John Laurinaitis walking out with his associate David Otunga. I love how regal his song is and how it says words like "people power" and "Big Johnny" on his entrance video. Laurinaitis introduced Brock Lesnar, calling him a legitimate athlete. They showed a video package of what happened last week when Lesnar returned to attack Cena the F5. Laurinaitis announce Lesnar vs. Cena at Extreme Rules so that Brock can "bring back legitimacy" to WWE.
Lesnar made his entrance. Cole mentioned his NCAA accomplishments, his WWE accomplishments and the fact that he was UFC Heavyweight Champion as well. I doubt you've heard the words "UFC" on WWE TV very often in recent years. Lesnar thanked Laurinaitis, which firmly establishes him as a heel right away. Cena's music started up before Lesnar could say a whole lot.
Cena walked up to Lesnar. He slapped Lesnar in the face. Brock took him down with a double leg takedown and they brawled. Officials broke it up as well as other wrestlers. The entire locker room broke it up. Hey look there's Jamie Noble, Billy Kidman, Bill DeMott and Dustin Rhodes among others in suits. All former wrestlers that work backstage these days. There were a lot of current wrestlers breaking them up. Cena's mouth was bleeding too. They did the classic thing where dozens of guys held them back, they stopped and then they went at it again. The crowd was hot for all of it.
I loved this segment. A brawl is a great way to start the show. It may have been a bit silly to have everybody break it up so soon, but they could play up the fact that these guys don't like eachother. I doubt Lesnar meant to really hit Cena in the face as hard as he did so that it bloodied his mouth. It sure made it seem more "real" which is exactly the right way to go about things with Lesnar. These kinds of segments work when you don't do them that often. If you do them all the time they have less of an effect, but since we haven't seen a pull apart brawl in a long time it came off as very fresh to me. It was smart for them not to have Lesnar or Cena talk that much at the beginning of the feud. It's about action. That's what wrestling is supposed to be. Great opening.
They replayed the Cena/Lesnar brawl.
Backstage, Laurinaitis was yelling at Teddy Long - who now works for him. He wants him to find Cena so he could have an explanation. Eve showed up. She wanted to talk to Johnny. He said he didn't have time, so he'll call her to set up a meeting. And that was the end of that segment.
Brodus Clay & Santino vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger w/Vicky Guerrero
Fun entrance by the Clay/Santino team with the comedic dancing. For the first time since he debuted, Swagger was able to take down Clay by going after his knees. They went to break a couple of minutes into the match.
Back from break, the heels were working over Santino. That was the obvious strategy to work over the smaller guy on the team. Awesome slam by Swagger. The crowd was chanting "Funkasauras" while Santino was getting worked on. Clay got the hot tag, he hit the running headbutt on Ziggler and then a big suplex. He finished him off with the big splash. I thought the ending sequence would be longer, but it got the job done. The match went about eight minutes.
Winners: Brodus Clay & Santino
Analysis: *3/4 It was a basic tag match. The Santino/Clay team is a lot of fun and could really work. As I say every week, Ziggler deserves better than this. I'd love to see him moved to Smackdown where he would at least have longer matches once again.
Backstage, The Miz was in Laurinaitis' office. JL said he was busy, but that he had big plans for Miz and they could talk next week.
Teddy Long showed up in JL's office. John Cena was there too. He said that JL wanted legitimacy. He took a shot at Rock saying he's not an actor afraid to mess up his pretty face. He's there to fight. Cena said he'd be able to handle Lesnar at Extreme Rules. Cena didn't care that he was bloody. He wanted a match later in the show. He left, so Laurinaitis told Teddy to tell Otunga that he'd be facing Cena later and that Laurinaitis would be out there with Otunga.
Ever since Laurinaitis has been an on screen character, the main babyface that he made life difficult for was CM Punk. Now it's time for the feud with Cena to begin thanks to the addition of Lesnar. We've seen Cena feud with authority figures in the past, but this does have some freshness to it. Plus, Lesnar is perfect as the henchman of Laurinaitis.
Backstage, Santino was looking for the Three Stooges. Hey there's a Curt Hawkins & Tyler Reks cameo. He also found some tech nerds backstage. He couldn't find them. I wish he never found them.
They plugged Henry vs. Punk for the WWE Title one more time.
They replayed the Lesnar/Cena brawl once more.
Santino looked for the Three Stooges again. Instead, he found Kane, who was just standing there. No response, so Santino walked away doing the Santino walk.
R-Truth vs. Cody Rhodes
They worked for less than a minute. Big Show's music started up. He wanted Cody to watch something. It was the video from last week that showed Big Show knocking out Cody at WrestleMania 28. The video stopped, Cody turned around and Truth beat him with the Little Jimmy in under two minutes.
Analysis: 1/2* They interrupted a match to show a video package of a video package from the week before? Who is booking this angle? The story is Big Show is now in the head of Cody Rhodes.
Backstage, Santino found a box that said "Fragile" on it, saying it sounded Italian. In the great movie "A Christmas Story" the dad says that "fragile" sounds French. Santino cracked open the box to reveal that The Three Stooges were in character. They smacked eachother around with sound effects. It wasn't a great segment that ended with a lame "think outside the box" joke.
TJR Radio returns this Wednesday live at 10pmET/9pmCT. I'll be joined by Frank The WWE Clown, The Ace & Jakey to talk about WrestleMania. I'll have a few good stories from my WrestleMania weekend, I can assure you. To listen or to talk to us, go here: TJR Radio - Episode 11. I'm really looking forward to this one.
They showed these dudes on a Syfy show called "Dream Machines." Crowd didn't care. Neither did I.
Lord Tensai vs. Yoshi Tatsu
I love how they tried to build up this match by saying Yoshi got mad at him on Twtter because Tensai isn't really Japanese. Then the announcers said he didn't claim to be Japanese, he claimed to dominate the Japanese. It was a two minute squash. Ref rang the bell when Tatsu didn't get up after the Baldo Bomb, or whatever they may be calling it. It's a two handed chokeslam/powerbomb variation.
Winner: Lord Tensai
After the win, Tensai gave him the claw. The announcers even busted out the SERIOUS VOICES~! when talking about Tatsu.
Analysis: 1/2* Tensai didn't sell a move. It was a dominant squash. The most noteworthy thing is the crowd chanting "Albert" during the whole match, which the announcers didn't acknowledge. I'd assume that the squash matches will continue until Punk gets past Jericho because that's the next rumored feud for Punk.
They showed a clip of Jericho hitting Punk with the bottle last week. Punk vs. Henry for the WWE Title is up next at the top of hour two.
They plugged the Blast from the Past live Smackdown on Tuesday. That should be a lot of fun. It will be interesting to see if the Foley/Ambrose feud begins there stemming off of their youtube angle last week.
The "did you know" was about the 78,000 people at WrestleMania. The number isn't accurate apparently (Wrestling Observer estimates around 65,000 noting that WWE lies about the number every year by about 10,000 people or so), but if you say it enough times people will believe it.
They replayed the Punk/Jericho angle from last week. They're big fans of replaying things they just showed minutes earlier aren't they?
CM Punk walked out for his match. He's so angry that he couldn't even say "it's clobberin' time" when he made his entrance. He grabbed the microphone. Punk said that he understands straight edge isn't a concept that everybody gets. He said straight edge was a personal choice and a way of life. Punk said it wasn't anybody's business why he was straight edge and that his goal was to make it to the top of the WWE because he was the best in the world. The crowd chanted "CM Punk" for him. Punk talked about how Jericho entered his world and how he tried to get under his skin after he couldn't beat him. "At WrestleMania, I made Chris Jericho tap out." Huge pop. He said after that happened Jericho took it one step too far by pouring whiskey on Punk and smashed a bottle on the back of Punk's head. Punk said when he was sitting in the alcohol last week his thought was that he smelled exactly like his father did. He showed great emotion during this promo. Perfect facial expressions. The crowd could tell he was emotional, so they chanted "CM Punk" to support him. Before he could continue, Jericho showed up on the screen. He wondered if Punk was hungover. Jericho said that when the fans see Punk they see a loser because he tasted alcohol for the first time last week. Jericho called him CM Drunk…ohhhhh. Punk said that Jericho made a mistake because every bad memory he has will be used against Jericho. "This is no longer about me being the best in the world. This is about me kicking your ass!" Huge pop from the crowd. Amazing delivery by Punk. Speaking of ass, somebody gonna get they ass kicked because Mark Henry's started up to begin the match.
WWE Title: CM Punk vs. Mark Henry
The bell rang as soon as they returned from commercial. Punk went after Henry with kicks, but Henry decked him with a clothesline. Punk rolled to the floor. He grabbed the television monitor and hit Henry in the ribs with it. Then he hit Henry in the face with it. The "match" went about 45 seconds.
Winner by DQ: Mark Henry
Analysis: NR More of an angle than a match. As we would find out, it would set up another match next week.
Post match, Punk continued to try to attack Henry. Chris Jericho's music started up. He had two cases of beer in his hands. Henry recovered to attack Punk on the floor. He threw Punk into the ring and gave him the World's Strongest Slam. Meanwhile, Jericho walked to the ring with the beer while Henry gave Punk another World's Strongest Slam. Henry left.
Jericho cracked open a beer. Punk recovered. Jericho was able to fight him off and hit the Codebreaker to put Punk down. Jericho opened the cans of beer and poured them on Punk's body. "It's all for you! Drink it in! Drink it in you stupid idiot! This one's for your father." Jericho is such a classic old school kind of heel. After about two minutes of the beer pouring, refs broke it up. People broke up the Lesnar/Cena thing after about 20 seconds, but it took them a couple of minutes here. Punk staggered back to his feet (drunk reference for ya) and Jericho gave him another Codebreaker to end the segment. Jericho grabbed the WWE Title. He posed with it as we got a shot of Punk out in a heap in the center of the ring as they went to break.
It was a similar angle to last week. Since Jericho lost at WrestleMania, they have to make him look strong in the build up to the rematch at Extreme Rules, which hasn't been announced officially as of yet. That should be a great match in front of a hot crowd since it is in CM Punk's hometown of Chicago, which is one of the best WWE crowds there is.
The "Be a Star" commercial aired as it does every week.
Zack Ryder vs. Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio's getting a title shot against Sheamus, so of course he got the easy win here. Is Ryder going to try to get revenge on Kane for putting him in a wheelchair, or is that angle completely dropped? I guess it's been completely forgotten except by those of us with an actual memory. They worked a quick match. Ryder made a comeback with the Broski Boot. His Rough Ryder didn't work, though, as Del Rio threw him into the turnbuckle and gave him the Cross Armbreaker leading to Ryder tapping out after about 90 seconds.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: 1/2* Another squash match. At least Ryder got in a move before he lost. I say it every week. Ryder is probably the most poorly booked character in all of WWE.
Backstage, The Three Stooges said they had a great idea for what they would do when they enter the arena. That was after the commercial.
The Three Stooges made their entrance to boos. Will Sasso, the actor playing Curly, entered to Hulk Hogan's music and in full Hogan gear. I'm sure TNA thinks this is a great endorsement of their product. He morphed into Hogan by doing his voice, plugging the Three Stooges movie. Kane's music hit. He gave Hogan/Curly/Sasso a chokeslam. I miss Pete Rose. This movie is going to bomb badly and this segment did nothing to make me or any sane person want to see it.
Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed Mark Henry. They showed a clip of Punk losing his match thanks to the television monitor and then Henry got revenge on Punk with the World's Strongest Slam on two times. Henry said he beat Punk by countout last week and this week he won by disqualification. He said Laurinaitis gave him a title match for next week that would be no countout and no disqualification. That means we're looking at the "next World Heavyweight Champion." He should have said WWE Champion since the WWE Title is the one that Punk holds, but you get the point.
The "did you know" was about how Raw was the #1 cable show for the last four weeks. That's probably accurate.
Another recap of the Lesnar/Cena brawl. They showed it in slow motion with Lesnar hitting Cena in the mouth with a big right hand.
Backstage, Mathews asked Brock if he's proud of being back in WWE. Brock said he's proud of everything he does. He talked about how left this company eight years ago. He was WWE Champion. Left the company. Went to UFC. He actually tried out for the NFL first, failed at that and then after a few years went to UFC. He said UFC was on his blood, sweat and tears. UFC's growth happened before Lesnar got there, but he did become the biggest draw in that organization. He said he's proud that Laurinaitis had enough wisdom to bring him back to WWE to put him at the top where he belongs. He said Cena couldn't hold his jock strap in a million years. "I'm not here to make any friend. I'm a war machine. An ass kicker. And a proud one at that." That was a good cocky heel promo. I like Lesnar in this role instead of a babyface one. He's better this way.
There was a video package featuring the Undertaker/Triple H "End of an Era" match at WrestleMania. A number of different people talked about how great it was including Cena, Punk, Rhodes, Regal, Miz, Show, Henry, Orton and Bryan. Show called it the greatest match ever. I've seen Big Show call dozens of matches the greatest match ever over the years. He loves them all. They did a good job talking about the story that was told although they only showed pictures rather than video. Best match I've ever seen in person. I guess the point is to tell us that Undertaker, Triple H and Michaels won't be on Raw any time soon.
David Otunga made his entrance for the main event. He's the most oiled up wrestler I've ever seen, which is something Vinny Mac loves I'm sure. I like his theme music at least. They went to break with John Laurinaitis walking down to the ring with him.
John Cena made his entrance after the break. Another clip of the Lesnar/Cena brawl. How many times did they show it? This time they highlighted on Cena's bloody lip.
John Cena vs. David Otunga
The dueling Cena chants started up right away. Lawler pointed out that Otunga was oiled up. Thanks Jerry we couldn't tell. I'm sure the blind viewers appreciate it though. Cena missed a splash in the corner, so Otunga capitalized with his weak offense which included clotheslines and shoulderblock before grabbing a chinlock. I'm fine with Otunga as a character and a talker, but putting him in main events isn't a good move. Otunga waste time by posing, so Cena came back with the usual shoulderblocks, spinning suplex and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. The Attitude Adjustment set Otunga up for the STF leading to the tap out victory at the 5 minute mark.
Winner: John Cena
Analysis: * At least it was kept short. I would have booked it to go shorter and given Otunga even less offense.
After the match, Lesnar snuck up behind Cena and kicked him in the balls (or the leg). They replayed the kick to the balls while Lesnar was stalking him. Lesnar waited for Cena to get up. Lesnar hit the F5 on Cena just like last week. A lot of the crowd was cheering him. Some were booing. Laurinaitis looked on like a proud father. The show ended with standing over Cena. There were some fans chanting "one more time" for Lesnar to do another F5, but he just walked up the aisle while Cena was trying to recover from the attack.
I liked the ending. Lesnar got the upper hand for the second week in a row. It makes him look dominant. It will be interesting to see if people get behind Cena for this feud or if Lesnar is the one that gets more cheers. It sure sounds like the crowd supports Lesnar more than Cena. Will that be the case at Extreme Rules in Chicago? It will be a lot of fun in Chicago like always.
Three Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk - Amazing performance in everything he did on this show.
2. Chris Jericho - Classic old school heel. Great as always.
3. Brock Lesnar - I loved how they booked him.
5 out of 10
Last week: 8
2012 Average: 6.23
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 4 (January 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 8, 6, 6.5, 6, 7
This week's show was a significant step back after last week's awesome edition of Raw. I liked most of the angles involving the big names like Punk, Jericho, Cena and Lesnar, but everything else was well below average.
In terms of in-ring action, it was one of the worst Raw's ever. The stories on the show were okay though. I can remember giving Raw ratings of 3 and 4 many times in 2009 when the guest host segments carried shows that were a lot worse than this.
The lack of Daniel Bryan disappointed me. I wanted to see if the "YES" chants we got last week would continue. I guess that could happen on the live Smackdown tonight.
The segments with The Three Stooges were all awful. Even the greatness of Santino couldn't save them.
The main event level angles are fine. It's everything else on the show that I worry about going forward. Without a strong midcard, the shows are going to suffer. That's what we saw this week.