WWE Raw Report
The Big News: Raw was angle heavy.
HHH came out to start the show and got a big reaction. Jerry Lawler and Josh Mathews were doing commentary without Michael Cole. They announced that Undertaker vs. HHH is official for WrestleMania. HHH said he has done everything in his career and went through his career including a reference to Ric Flair. HHH said that he has outlasted everyone except the Undertaker and they are very much the same in that they have no challenges left.
HHH said that Undertaker keeps going for the sake of the streak and HHH is his only challenge left while HHH’s only challenge is ending the streak. HHH added that their match will define an era and nothing else the night of their match will matter. HHH concluded that when the streak dies, the Undertaker dies and that if HHH can’t end the streak, he will die trying.
Sheamus came out to challenge HHH but HHH immediately kicked him low. HHH threw Sheamus out of the ring, into the barricade and then into the post. He then gave him the pedigree on the announcers’ table. Sheamus got in literally no offense.
HHH’s promo was very good overall. Unfortunately, it also continued HHH’s career long trend of burying other talent. I had no problem at all with the treatment of Sheamus because Sheamus has been booked as a midcard guy and HHH is in one of the featured matches at Mania. However, the stuff about nothing else mattering at Mania sure isn’t the sort of line you want to be using when you’re selling a deep card. Worse, the stuff about HHH and Undertaker having no challenges left sure seems to be saying they are above the titles and above the guys being pushed as the new top stars who HHH and Taker have never wrestled, let alone beaten.
Evan Bourne beat Sheamus. As Sheamus was being helped to the back, the GM announced Sheamus would still have to wrestle his scheduled match. Bourne came out and hit kicks and the shooting star press for the win.
Michael Cole came out and invited Jerry Lawler into the ring. Cole said that nobody on Earth has more guts than he does and that he never backs down from a fight. He accepted Lawler’s challenge on two conditions: Cole gets to have his trainer in his corner and gets to choose a special referee. Lawler accepted. Cole then announced Jack Swagger as his trainer. Cole slapped Lawler and Swagger put Lawler in the ankle lock.
I guess the idea is they need someone to physically interact with Lawler since Cole can’t work, but I think this really does a lot of damage to interest in a Cole-Lawler match. It waters down the Cole-Lawler issue with distractions and Swagger’s involvement brands it as a midcard issue given the way he has been booked. They’ve done a tremendous number on interest in Cole-Lawler the past few weeks. They announced Steve Austin will appear on Raw next week.
Randy Orton came out and said that he should have punted CM Punk harder. Orton threatened to break Punk’s neck, snap his spine and cripple him for life. Well, that’s not very nice. Nexus came out. Punk called Orton predictable. Punk said that Orton is threatening to put him in a rehab facility but he will put Orton in the ground. The GM then announced Punk vs. Orton for Mania. Additionally, Orton will wrestle members of Nexus the next few weeks. If the Nexus members win they are in Punk’s corner but if they lose they are banned from WrestleMania.
Randy Orton beat Michael McGillicutty. McGillicutty had the advantage for much of the match, but Orton came back quickly with the draping DDT and RKO for the win. Orton punted McGillicutty after the match and fled into the crowd when Nexus rushed out after him.
They had a video of the announcement of Sin Cara’s signing in Mexico. They acknowledged him as the former Mistico and he took off the Mistico mask to reveal a new blue and gold mask as fans chanted Sin Cara. This was a very good little package and made him look like a big deal.
Miz came out for a promo. He said that he is the biggest star in WWE now and he wants John Cena worrying about Rock when he should be worrying about Miz. He said he will beat Cena and then beat the Rock. That brought out Cena, who was at his dirt worst this week.
Cena started with his typical smarmy jokes. He had a sheet of paper with goofy writing saying that it was a doctor’s note. He claimed Miz has OCD and did a bunch of inane comedy. Alex Riley responded with a stupid joke of his own and Michael Cole buried him. Cena then actually asked Miz if Miz wonders why nobody takes him seriously as champ. He wrapped his arm around Miz’s shoulder and made jokes at Riley’s expense. Miz and Cena traded jokes back and forth.
Cena suggested he wrestle Alex Riley with the stipulation that Miz would fire Riley if he lost. For some reason, Miz accepted this on the condition that Cena would have to say Miz is the greatest superstar of all time if he lost. We’ve already established Cena doesn’t honor stipulations, but you’d think Miz would at least want a somewhat decent stipulation for Cena to renege on. In any event, the GM announced the match would be a cage match where you had to escape to win. Why? Again, completely unclear.
They would have been better off airing a blank screen for 15 minutes than this segment. It was the prototypical Cena segment where he treats everything like a complete joke so nobody could possibly care about the pay-per-view match as something important and serious worth paying money to see resolved.
One of the Bella twins won a battle royal to become number one contender to Eve Torres. Eve did commentary for the match. Natalya immediately dumped a Bella. Melina eliminated Alicia Fox and Tamina. Maryse sent out Natalya and Melina together. Gail threw out Maryse. Gail then threw out the other Bella but neither of the referees was watching the match so the other eliminated Bella came out from under the ring and knocked out Gail to be announced as the winner. This was a stupid finish. The Bellas beat up Eve after the match.
Rock did a promo from his home on the screen. He was wearing a Cena chain, armband and cap while mocking Cena. He angrily tore the stuff off and ran down Cena. He said that after Rock’s big return, Cena responded with a rap. Well, of course that’s what the guy with the purple shirt and jean shorts would do, Rock said.
Rock said this started with Cena calling Rock a liar for saying he loves WWE. Rock said his love for WWE is endless with both his father and grandfather in the WWE Hall of Fame. He pointed out the WWE titles on display in his house. He said that when he made it in Hollywood it opened doors for the WWE locker room, yet Cena publicly insulted the People’s Champ. Rock said Cena will pay for running his mouth and Rock will bring it. Rock said he will address Cena sooner than Cena thinks and did a four line rap calling Cena a bitch.
Rock was really good here and the seriousness and passion he emoted was in sharp contrast to Cena’s jokes. Unfortunately, Rock appearing on the screen really took down the segment. The crowd just wasn’t reacting all that big, I suspect because they wanted to see Rock live. Rock did his best to keep the energy up but it didn’t feel anywhere near as hot as when he appeared live. Worse, they kept showing crowd shots of the audience watching passively over and over and over again. It made a substantial difference in the way the segment came across.
They did a video package with Shawn Michaels talking about the Taker-HHH match. He noted that he has wrestled both guys. Michaels said wrestling Taker is like wrestling a legacy as much as a man. He said that HHH can be vicious. The basic message that he said at the beginning and end was that he is rooting for HHH as his buddy to end the streak but that he isn’t sure how he feels about HHH being the one to do it when he couldn’t succeed in that goal himself.
Daniel Bryan was coming out for a match when he was jumped from behind by Miz. Miz gave Bryan the skull crushing finale on the floor. Miz then said he did that because he could.
John Cena beat Alex Riley in a cage match, so apparently that’s it for Riley as Miz’s apprentice. I hope that isn’t the case because Riley is really good in the role. Cena tried to leave early but Miz blocked the cage door and slammed it on Cena’s head. Riley went to escape and Miz tried to pull him out but Cena won a tug of war to yank Riley back in. Cena put the STF with Riley tapping and then going out.
Cena went to climb the cage but Miz prevented his escape with a chair. Riley gave Cena an electric chair off the top. They fought on top of the cage and Cena gave Riley a bulldog off the top rope. He followed with the FU. He went to escape again and Miz again blocked the cage door. Miz pushed the door out and left the cage to win. Miz then gave him a skull crushing finale on the floor.
There was very, very little wrestling on this show as they ran angle after angle. The booking which was quite good last week was terrible this week. They loaded up two hours with continual angles and the result was a few programs barely held on to the interest they already had while others lost a tremendous amount of steam. The only people who seem to have any clue how a money program functions are booking their own angles.