Monday, May 30, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/30/11 from Omaha, NE.

The Big News: Kharma announced her pregnancy and R. Truth got a fluke win over John Cena.

Show Analysis:

The opening segment had severe technical difficulties. R. Truth was at a merchandise table ranting and raving with no sound. They went to the commentators, with a five second or so delay between the audio and video feeds. They went back to R. Truth, who came through the audience yelling at people in John Cena merchandise. He went into the ring, and around this time the video started going out every 10 seconds or so. Truth said that everyone is conspiring against him.

John Cena interrupted by coming to the ring. He said Truth has gone off the deep end and asked Truth what is wrong with him. Truth said that it’s the people, and that ever since he stopped rapping and dancing they don’t like him anymore. Cena said that if Truth wants a match, he can have it. Truth said that was what he wanted. The GM then made Truth vs. Cena for Raw, with no little jimmies allowed at ringside. What about Virgil?

Dolph Ziggler beat Kofi Kingston. Ziggler worked over Kingston. Kingston came back with a clothesline and the boom drop but missed trouble in paradise. Ziggler applied a sleeper but Kingston escaped. Kingston missed the frog crossbody and Ziggler hit a famouser for two. Kingston then missed the S.O.S. and Ziggler used the zig zag for the win. This was good while it lasted.

Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez came out. They said that what happened to Big Show was an accident. Del Rio added that bad things happen to bad people. Del Rio said that Show owes him money for damaging his car. He then insincerely told Show to get well soon. Del Rio and Rodriguez play so well off each other.

Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres beat the Bellas. Eve was kind of in control when the Bellas did the switch and took over. Eve made her comeback with a northern lights bomb and got the tag to Kelly. Kelly came in with a whirlybird, stinkface, bulldog and famouser for the win. It’s weird seeing the stinkface return in the midst of a toned down product, but if someone’s going to use it that might as well be Kelly.

Michael Cole in the ring defended Alex Riley being fired by Miz. He then criticized the Raw GM for re-signing Riley. Wasn’t Riley signed to Smackdown? Cole called out Riley and reprimanded him for turning on Miz. Cole said Miz was like a father to Riley and that Miz is emotionally scarred by the betrayal. Cole kept ranting and raving until Riley told him to shut up. Riley called Cole annoying and arrogant like Miz. Cole responded by calling Riley a bastard.

Riley threw Cole down and then grabbed him by the neck, at which point Miz attacked Riley from behind. A brawl ensued with Miz initially getting the best of it. He kept yelling at Riley that he made Riley. Riley then made his comeback and beat up Miz around ringside. Miz ran off through the crowd.

CM Punk beat Rey Mysterio. Punk hit a back breaker and applied a figure four headlock. Mysterio came back with kicks, a tope, a top rope senton, a springboard crossbody and a victory roll. Punk cut him off with a back breaker, but Mysterio countered a GTS attempt into a huracanrana. Mysterio took out Mason Ryan, which gave Punk the chance to go for the GTS again. Mysterio avoided it again but couldn’t counter with a move of his own and Punk kicked him in the head for the win. This was a very good match and I always appreciate clean finishes.

Kharma in the ring said she had two childhood dreams. The first was to be a WWE wrestler. She tried out for the second season of Tough Enough but Jim Ross said she was too fat to be a WWE female wrestler. So she went to Japan and scrubbed floors in exchange for learning how to wrestle. She went to wrestling promotions in every corner of the world until finally her dream came true and she joined WWE.

Kharma then said her other dream was to be a mother and she will be because she is currently pregnant. She said that she can’t compete and risk the health of her child, but she will be back. She thanked the fans for letting her follow her dream. Kharma did a great job here and the promo was very well received by the audience.

The Bellas then came out. They made fun of Kharma for being fat. They congratulated her for finding a guy to hook up with. They mocked her for being unable to respond physically. Kharma teased going after them and they panicked. Kharma said she hopes they are still here when she comes back because now she has a new dream.

I had mixed feelings on this segment. On the one hand, I liked the way Kharma came off as sympathetic and likeable. It’s nice to see WWE portray a woman who isn’t drop dead gorgeous in a positive way. With that said, it’s going to be awfully hard to book her as a face when she comes back. It’s just so hard for anyone to buy people like Bellas as a physical threat trying to get heat on her in a match. They may be tempted to feud her with men quickly, and that has a whole different set of problems with it. I guess we’ll see.

Evan Bourne beat Jack Swagger. They tumbled together over the top rope early. Swagger sent Bourne into the apron and worked him over. Bourne then abruptly rolled up Swagger for the win. These last two weeks with Bourne and Swagger are like a perfect seminar on how to book to get nobody over.

R. Truth beat John Cena via count out. The story of the match was that Cena kept beating up Truth, with Truth getting no offense in. A frustrated Truth would retreat out of the ring, jaw at the fans, and then return to the ring to get beat up some more. Cena finally went after Truth on the outside, but Truth caught him with a punch as he was going over the barricade. Truth got back in the ring and Cena was counted out. This was a terrible finish and the match was completely counterproductive in getting over Truth as a challenger for Cena. Truth came out worse than he went in.

After the match, Truth threw a drink on a plant at ringside. It was soda so it’s unlikely to help him grow.

Final Thoughts:

I liked most of this show a lot. It had good wrestling and good build throughout the first three quarters of the show, although unfortunately the main event was completely counterproductive.

Monday, May 23, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/23/11 from Portland, OR.

The Big News: WWE paid tribute to the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage, R. Truth continued to shine, and Kharma sobbed.

Show Analysis:

A Randy Savage graphic aired at the beginning of the show. Jerry Lawler came out and said finally the national nightmare is over and Michael Cole has been defeated. Cole wasn’t out on commentary. Lawler said he knew Cole would try to weasel out of the foot stipulation so he had an ace up his sleeve, Bret Hart.

Bret came out and said that he had his differences with Lawler but he respected Lawler as a competitor and has no respect for Cole. That brought out R. Truth. Truth’s entrance for now just has him saying “the truth shall set you free” and no music. Truth said that Bret held the title so many times while Truth never even got a shot. Truth said his rapping and dancing got him nowhere. He teased giving Bret’s glasses away to a kid but then took them away. Truth said he used to think wins and losses didn’t matter as long as fans got what they wanted. He then suggested that if he takes out Bret he will get a title shot.

Bret responded by telling Truth to take his best shot. Bret said he received title shots because he was the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. That catchphrase doesn’t work so well when used in the past tense. Bret added that Truth doesn’t get title shots because he is a lunatic. Truth said he wouldn’t stand there and be disrespected.

That was John Cena’s cue to make his entrance. He was excited to see Bret. He then wanted to know what was going on with Truth, since they used to be cool. Truth said it is all about Cena. Cena replied that he makes sure it’s all about the people. Truth went on a rant about all the kids wanting Cena merchandise and Cena movies. In the middle, he said that he wants his son back. Then he paused like he hadn’t wanted that to come out and never brought it up again. I really liked that little touch. Truth said he won’t be happy until he gets his title shot.

The GM said that Truth still needs to show more before he gets a title match. The GM added that he will be paying close attention to the main event of Cena and Rey Mysterio vs. Truth and CM Punk with Bret Hart as special guest referee. The Truth is really coming into his own as a heel. He just feels so unique as a heel. They have a strong collection of heels with Miz, Truth, Punk and Del Rio, although Cena is stale opposite them.

Backstage, Ricardo Rodriguez told Big Show and Kane that Alberto Del Rio wants his respect and if they don’t show him that respect, Del Rio will teach them a lesson. Show shoved Rodriguez down dismissively. A livid Del Rio came in yelling and screaming at them, vowing revenge.

David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty won the tag team titles from Kane and Big Show. Nexus got heat on Kane briefly. Show tagged in and cleaned house. Kane knocked Mason Ryan off the apron but in the process knocked the referee down. Show went for the double choke slam on McGillicutty and Otunga but Punk kicked Show in the back of the head. They gave Show a sloppy DDT and McGillicutty covered for the win.

Backstage, Big Show lashed out at an interviewer and said they were robbed. Alberto Del Rio came in, slapped Show, and ran off. They did gimmick static on the video camera and when the camera got back in position they acted like Rodriguez had run over Show’s leg with a car. Hopefully this is an injury angle and Show isn’t back next week after being hit with a car.

Jack Swagger beat Evan Bourne. This was just a complete squash. Swagger hit a uranage and gut wrench power bomb for the win. Then after the match, Swagger celebrated for a while until Bourne kicked him in the head and ran off. I’d love to know what they were thinking this segment accomplished. It feels like these guys have been running in place for years, and segments like this one are the reason why.

Backstage, Michael Cole offered a handshake to Eve Torres. Torres stuck her leg up in the air instead, so he could kiss her foot. At least, I’m sure that was the intent. The gesture seemed kind of lewd to me, honestly.

A humble Michael Cole came out to ringside. He said he wanted to apologize to everyone and return to commentary next to Jerry Lawler every week on Raw. He promised no more Cole mine and matches. Cole said he was sincere with his apology. Lawler thanked Cole for apologizing and offered him a breath mint. He welcomed Cole back to the announce table and Cole dialed down the heel act many notches for the remainder of the show.

Miz and Alex Riley made their way to the ring. Miz said Riley is the reason Miz didn’t win the title at Over the Limit. Miz accused Riley of constantly screwing up. He then asked the GM for another title shot. The GM denied him that shot and said he is done with Cena. Miz blamed Riley. Riley replied that he didn’t say “I quit.” Miz said Riley’s nothing without him. Miz said he gave Riley a million chances and Riley has been a constant disappointment. He tore Riley apart, fired Riley, and shoved Riley.

Riley finally responded by punching Miz. They launched into a big brawl in suits all around ringside. Riley tore apart Miz’s suit and got the best of it. The crowd cheered Riley as he left Miz lying. This was a very well executed angle. It makes sense for them to do a short term program between Miz and Riley with Miz winning at the end. And Riley ought to get the best of it at first so it means something when Miz triumphs at the conclusion.

Eve Torres, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix versus the Bella twins, Melina and Maryse ended in a no contest. The match had just started when Kharma came out. All the women stood together and surrounded Kharma when she came in the ring. So Kharma dropped to her knees, acted scared, and started crying. And that was the end of the segment.

This is like the perfect example of why wrestling ought to be booked by wrestling people. I can understand perfectly what they were thinking here. It’s “intriguing” and it adds dimension and emotional vulnerability to Kharma’s “character.” But, you know what, there’s this concept called a monster heel. It’s not riddled with subtleties, it’s exceedingly easy to book, and it has worked time and time again. And you just don’t have your monster heel curl into a ball and cry four weeks in. It completely undermines what is effective about that sort of character.

Kofi Kingston beat Drew McIntyre. McIntyre used the old Bret Hart figure four around the post and worked over Kingston’s leg. Kingston hit the side Ghanan leg sweep and boom drop. He went for trouble in paradise but his leg gave out. McIntyre hit a power bomb for two. Kingston then used his flipping leg trip cradle thing for the win. Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler were shown watching backstage. In an unrelated scene, Nexus celebrated their tag title win elsewhere.

Alberto Del Rio did a brief interview. He said that Big Show brought that upon himself by disrespecting Del Rio. Then he did an about face and blamed Rodriguez. That felt kind of redundant with Miz and Riley doing the same thing on the same show.

They cut to the announce table where Jerry Lawler put over Randy Savage big and introduced a video package on Savage. They ran a nice extended package and afterwards they showed the crowd reaction to it until people started chanting “Macho Man.” If there’s one positive to come out of this, it will at least offer an opportunity for newer fans to become more familiar with Savage, who has kind of been forgotten in today’s wrestling given what a phenomenal performer he was.

Rey Mysterio and John Cena beat CM Punk and R. Truth. Punk was wearing cool Randy Savage tribute attire. It had the same basic color scheme and stars as Savage’s outfit at WrestleMania III. The heels worked over Cena. Mysterio tagged in with a huracanrana and knee to the head on Punk. Punk went for GTS but Mysterio escaped and hit the 619. Bret Hart then punched Punk and put him in the sharpshooter. That felt kind of uncalled for to me. Mysterio hit a springboard leg drop and covered for the win. This was a fun match.

Final Thoughts:

This felt like a more eventful show than a lot of recent weeks. There were a bunch of notable segments. I liked some a lot and disliked others a lot, but there wasn’t a feeling of malaise or anything and that’s a definite positive.

Monday, May 16, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/16/11 from San Antonio, TX.

The Big News: The superstars and divas will be engaging in sports entertainment for the WWE Universe on Sunday.

Show Analysis:

John Cena came out to begin the show, but before he could start talking he was interrupted by Alex Riley. Riley said that Cena was just going to say the same things he always does. Riley introduced Miz and said that Miz has always been underestimated and will prove the people wrong again on Sunday.

Cena replied that Riley is as stupid as he is useless. Cena then whipped out a My Little Pony joke. Oh yes. Cena said that he chose an I quit match because he can see fear in Miz’s eyes and Miz is wondering how badly he will be hurt. The GM then announced that since Cena got to pick the stipulation for the PPV, Miz gets to pick Cena’s opponent and a stipulation for Raw. Miz said he would think about it. It really sunk in during this segment how dumb it is to be doing a two week build for an I quit match.

CM Punk beat Kofi Kingston. Punk told Nexus to stay on the ramp for this match rather than coming down to help, and the story of the match was whether Nexus had faith that Punk could get the job done on his own. Kingston used a dropkick and baseball slide but then Punk took over and beat up Kingston. Kingston came back with a frog crossbody and boom drop but missed trouble in paradise. Punk went for the GTS but Kingston escaped. Punk then went for it again and hit it this time for the win. After the match, Punk said that was leadership by example and he won’t stop until Nexus is the most dominant force in WWE history.

Miz throughout the show was shown conversing with other wrestlers. The story was of course that he was recruiting and trying to figure out the best choice for Cena’s match. Miz first chatted with Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler. He later spoke with Big Show, Mason Ryan, CM Punk, Kane and R. Truth.

Kelly Kelly beat Brie Bella. Kelly hit a Thesz press, spanked Brie, used a whirly bird, then a handspring elbow and bulldog. She finally rolled up Brie for the win. The pin itself looked bad but much of the match was better than usual. The Bellas jumped Kelly after the match until Kharma came out. Kharma went after Kelly but then one of the Bellas jumped Kharma from behind. Kharma shoved one Bella down and then gave the other the implant buster. She helped Kelly up and then flicked Kelly in the forehead with her finger. Watching Kharma destroy the other women is easily the most entertaining the women’s division has been in many years.

Rey Mysterio beat Alberto Del Rio via DQ. This began with Mysterio calling out R. Truth. Del Rio came out instead and blamed Mysterio for preventing him from facing Cena for the title. Del Rio ran down Mysterio and Mexican-Americans as compared to pure Mexicans. Mysterio replied that he is proud to be a Chicano and this led into a match.

Del Rio went after Mysterio’s arm for much of the match. As Mysterio was starting his comeback, Truth appeared with a microphone in the luxury boxes. Truth called Mysterio a thief for stealing his spot in the number one contender match. Mysterio continued his comeback with a springboard crossbody and spinning head scissors on Del Rio. He went for the 619 but Ricardo Rodriguez blocked it for the DQ. Del Rio gave Mysterio an elbow off the top rope after the match. Truth then gave him the leaping downward spiral and said he will take out Mysterio on Sunday.

Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole had a contract signing for their match Sunday. The signing of the contracts got no reaction whatsoever. Cole then said the contract was for a kiss my foot match. Yay, more stips. Cole brought up Lawler losing a kiss my foot match to Bret Hart. Cole showed off this completely fake looking made up foot.

Lawler said that Cole is no Bret Hart. Lawler said he at least respects Jack Swagger as a former world champion but Cole has turned Swagger from world champion into sidekick. Cole replied that nobody remembers Swagger was world champion and being a sidekick has helped Swagger’s career. Swagger wouldn’t have even been at Mania without Cole. Swagger got angry and left. Without Swagger, Cole tried to make up with Lawler. Lawler grabbed Cole by the tie and said he would stuff Cole’s foot in his mouth and close it.

This entire segment got strikingly non-existent reactions. This feud is completely dead and they need to get Cole out of his current role. Of course, they’ve kept the anonymous GM gimmick around for a great many months after it should have been dumped.

David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty beat Kane and Big Show. Nexus worked over Show with punches and kicks. They went after Show’s leg. Kane got the tag and hit a side slam and top rope clothesline on McGillicutty. Kane went for the choke slam but Punk kicked him in the back of the head and McGillicutty hit a swinging neck breaker on Kane for the win. This sets up a tag title match for the PPV. Otunga and McGillicutty vs. Kane and Show? Why, no. Ryan and Punk vs. Kane and Show. That’s a novel approach. Have Ryan and Punk ever even teamed together?

Backstage, Big Show said they are not giving up the tag team titles. Kane said Sunday will be the annihilation of Punk and Nexus. Elsewhere, Zack Ryder presented John Cena with a Ryder t-shirt.

John Cena beat Jack Swagger in a no holds barred match. Swagger dominated the match. He hit a suplex, Vader bomb, posted Cena and used a Vader bomb on a chair. Cena went for a shoulder block but was caught and slammed down by Swagger. Swagger then applied the ankle lock. Cena got out and made his comeback. He just hit the shoulder blocks, Cena slam, five knuckle, FU and applied the STF for the tap.

Miz after the match said he has thought of all sorts of horrible, novel ways to hurt Cena and force Cena to quit. Miz doesn’t excel at being threatening. Miz attacked Cena with a pipe but Cena got the pipe and hit Miz and Riley with it. Miz fled and Cena got on the microphone and intensely said he will put a hurting on Miz and make him quit. Cena was really good with that.

Final Thoughts:

WWE really needs to do what it can to freshen up the feel of Raw. The current direction isn’t terrible but it’s completely uninspiring.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No Common Sense

I could understand the backlash to sponsorship deals involving Snoop Dogg and Ludacris. Maybe it wasn't right, but it was understandable. And if the White House invited Ice T to perform, by all means, have at it. But Common? Seriously? I get that all rap music is evil to some (racist) folks, but Christ, these people can't have listened to a single song the man has ever recorded.

Monday, May 09, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/09/11 from Knoxville, TN.

The Big News: John Cena and Miz will wrestle in an I quit match for the WWE title at the upcoming Over the Limit pay-per-view.

Show Analysis:

Alberto Del Rio came out to start the show. He said that last week rather than wasting all that time on the Rock they should have celebrated the Raw arrival of Alberto Del Rio. He said he should face John Cena for the WWE title. Rey Mysterio came out and challenged Del Rio to a number one contender match. That brought out the Miz and Alex Riley. I’m baffled why they drafted Riley to Smackdown. The only purpose it seems to serve is to point out the silliness of the concept of the draft and brand separation.

Miz asserted that Raw is his show and he would still be champion were it not for the incompetence of Riley. Del Rio told Miz that he had his chance and now he needs to go to the back of the line. Miz replied that he pinned Cena, had no prior knowledge of what Riley would do, and instinctively used the belt on Cena before Cena used it on him. Miz said he should face Cena for the title.

R. Truth was the final man out. He said that he sent John Morrison to the hospital and surgery, and that he would have no problem sending any of the others to the hospital with Morrison. Truth said he’s not waiting for opportunities any longer and if you kick his dog, he’ll kick your cat. Let that be a lesson to you, Alvarez.

The GM announced a triple threat match for the title shot with Miz vs. Del Rio vs. Mysterio. An angry Truth got in Mysterio’s face and then left. Miz called Mysterio and Del Rio day laborers and was going to say he’s the next title challenger when Ricardo Rodriguez interrupted by saying “Alberto Del Rio.”

Alex Riley smacked Del Rio. Rodriguez then gave Riley a dropkick. A brawl broke out with Mysterio coming out on top. I really liked that they didn’t just give everyone who wanted a shot the opportunity like usual. It makes sense Truth is currently less deserving and they can play that into the storyline with Truth going forward, so that whole thing was well executed. This was a fun opening.

Kelly Kelly and Eve Torres beat Nikki and Brie Bella. The Bellas worked over Kelly. Kelly then made her own comeback and won with a small package. The Bellas looked terrible on offense but Kelly was fine when she was on offense. After the match, Kharma came out. The Bellas ran away. Kelly then bailed herself, which was kind of weird for a face. Eve attacked Kharma but was laid out with a clothesline. Kharma went after Kelly but Kelly ran away, so Kharma got back in the ring and gave Eve the implant buster.

Kane beat Mason Ryan via DQ. This was, of course, really bad. CM Punk interfered so Big Show knocked him out with a punch. Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga then ran in for the DQ. Show and Kane took them out this week and gave Ryan a double choke slam. If we’re going to do programs where guys just run in place, couldn’t we at least do it with entertaining matches?

Dolph Ziggler beat Santino Marella. Ziggler hit some punches and kicks. Santino went for the cobra but was caught with a dropkick to the face and the zig zag for the pin. Backstage, R. Truth said that fans didn’t take him seriously because of the rapping and dancing but he will change that. Elsewhere, John Cena and Zack Ryder did fist pumps together for about five seconds. The Ryder Revolution has begun!

John Cena beat Alex Riley. This started with Alex Riley telling Miz backstage that last week wasn’t his fault. Miz called Riley stupid for raising his hand that had the title. Riley said he would make it up to Miz and went out to the ring and challenged Cena to a match. He got a little offense with a clothesline and chinlock before Cena took over. Cena hit the Cena slam, five knuckle, 2 FUs and applied the STF in front of Miz (who had come to ringside) for the submission.

Michael Cole got into the ring and said that he has accomplished everything he can so he is retiring from in ring competition undefeated. Cole said that when he goes into the WWE Hall of Fame he wants to go in as a dual wrestler/commentator. Jerry Lawler entered the ring and told Cole that if Cole can beat him in another match Lawler will personally induct Cole into the Hall of Fame and give Cole Lawler’s Hall of Fame ring.

Cole responded by running down Lawler, bringing up Mother’s Day and then sarcastically acted like he forgot Lawler’s mother passed away. This was such a low class, trashy way to heat up an angle that’s already dead anyway. Lawler went after Cole until Jack Swagger jumped Lawler from behind.

Kofi Kingston beat Jack Swagger. Swagger worked over Kingston’s leg and ankle for most of the match. He applied the ankle lock at one point in the ropes. Then, Lawler came back out to distract Swagger and Kingston hit trouble in paradise for the win. I despise those distraction finishes, but to WWE’s credit they haven’t been using them as much of late.

After the match, Lawler threw Swagger over the barricade and yanked Michael Cole’s tie through one of the holes in the Cole Mine. He used the tie to smash Cole’s face against the glass. Swagger grabbed a microphone and said Lawler would be fired for touching Cole. Lawler said that he didn’t touch Cole and only touched his tie. Swagger then accepted the match with Lawler on behalf of Cole. Cole was not happy about that.

Miz beat Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio to earn the title shot. This was a very fast paced and exciting match. They mostly repeated the typical pattern of two guys working in the ring and then the third guy would come in when one of the other two gained an advantage. Mysterio hit a huracanrana off the top on Miz. Del Rio used an armbreaker on Mysterio and then applied the armbar. Mysterio just sat in the extended armbar forever, which looked idiotic. Miz eventually ran in to break it up but was rolled up by Del Rio for two. Miz then gave Del Rio a DDT for two.

Miz went for the skull crushing finale on Mysterio, but Mysterio escaped. Alex Riley came out to encourage Miz to get up. Mysterio sent Del Rio into Riley and hit the 619 on Del Rio. He kicked Miz out of the way and hit the top rope splash on Del Rio. Riley then pulled Del Rio out of the ring to break up the pin literally right in front of referee Mike Chioda with the referee starring right at him.

I assume this was some sort of screw-up, because it looked beyond ridiculous that the same referee who last week called for a disqualification based on a deduction about the location of a belt the very next week did absolutely nothing about overt interference right in front of him breaking up a pin.

Cena then came out and said his match with Miz at the pay-per-view would be an I quit match. Wasn’t last month’s pay-per-view filled with random stipulations up and down the card? Truth came out and attacked Mysterio to close the show.

Final Thoughts:

This was another mixed bag Raw. It feels like most of this year there’s enough good and enough bad on any Raw to neither praise it too highly nor condemn it too harshly.

Monday, May 02, 2011

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/02/11 from Miami, FL.

The Big News: Rock celebrated his 39th birthday on Raw.

Show Analysis:

The show started with a WWE 9/11 package and Lilian Garcia sang the national anthem. Rock came out and referenced Bin Laden’s death and said the pledge of allegiance. He told some jokes about his life and said he was ready to party. A GM e-mail popped up. Rock insulted Michael Cole and told him to come deliver the message in the ring. Cole called himself a winner and unveiled a Kevin Garnett jersey for cheap heat.

Michael Cole came into the ring and said the GM wanted an apology for what Rock did to the GM at WrestleMania. Cole said he wanted an apology, too. Rock apologized and offered to shake hands with Cole. Of course it was a set up. Rock said “go Heat” and then gave Cole the rock bottom and people’s elbow. Jim Ross commentated the rest of the show, which was nice. Miami rapper Pitbull and the Heat cheerleaders then came out to perform. This opening went nearly half an hour. Nothing of importance happened; it was just meant to be a fun time.

They had celebrities wishing Rock a happy birthday throughout the show. It really showed Rock’s cache relative to WWE given they were collectively a completely different level of celebrity than WWE can usually get on their own. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Kimmel, Paul Walker, Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Carell, Ellen DeGeneres, Ludacris, Dan Marino, George Lopez, Regis and Kelly, Craig Ferguson and one other wished Rock a happy birthday.

John Morrison was making his entrance for a match when he was jumped from behind by R. Truth. Truth beat up Morrison and gave him his leaping downward spiral on the floor. Morrison sold his neck big and was being helped to the back when Truth gave him another leaping downward spiral on the stage. This angle came off well.

Maryse and Kelly Kelly’s match ended as a no contest. Kelly gave Maryse a terrible looking bulldog, the only move of the match. At that point, Kharma’s music hit and she came to the ring very, very slowly. Kelly just sat in the ring scared, as they teased Kharma would destroy her. However, Kharma gave Maryse the implant buster and left Kelly alone.

The crowd reacted well to Kharma and she has great music and presentation. I wouldn’t have her take quite this long to come out, though. There’s of course a positive to building anticipation for her destroying the other women, but there comes a point when you’re moving so slowly that people who haven’t seen you before are going to assume you’re unathletic and immobile.

Backstage, Miz was angry that Alex Riley wasn’t at ringside for his match at Extreme Rules. Miz said his personal services contract takes precedence over the draft. Miz told Riley to be at ringside for his match. Rock did a backstage comedy bit with Vladimir Kozlov, Santino Marella, Hornswoggle and Great Khali. Ron Simmons observed the scene and made a brief exclamation.

John Cena beat Miz via DQ to retain the WWE title. Alex Riley got on the apron early. Cena knocked him off, but that gave Miz his chance to take over and get the heat on Cena. Cena came back with shoulderblocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle. He went for the FU but Cena got out. Miz hit a neck breaker and went for the skull crushing finale but Cena reversed out and in the process knocked down the referee.

Cena applied the STF and Miz tapped, but there was no referee. Riley ran in with the briefcase. Cena caught him and went for the FU but Miz hit Cena in the gut with the briefcase. Miz then hit the skull crushing finale but Cena kicked out at two. Cena hit the FU but Miz kicked out at two. Riley distracted the referee and Miz hit Cena with the belt. He covered and got the three count.

Miz started celebrating with the belt. However, since the referee wasn’t sure where Miz got the belt from, he just went ahead and disqualified the Miz. This was a very good match marred by a horrendous finish. At some point, WWE has to figure out that you can’t effectively sell pay-per-views with an unending string of bullshit TV finishes.

Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston beat Jack Swagger and Drew McIntyre. The heels worked over Kingston. Jim Ross compared McIntyre to a high draft pick that you keep waiting to see in the Pro Bowl. I guess that’s nicer than comparing him to Joey Harrington or JaMarcus Russell.

Rey got the tag and came in with a spinning head scissors on McIntyre. Kingston threw Swagger out and gave McIntyre trouble in paradise. Rey followed with the 619 and top rope splash on McIntyre for the win. Alberto Del Rio, who was doing commentary, hit the ring after the match but was knocked out of the ring by Rey. It’s weird to see them go back to Rey/Del Rio after they already did an extended program.

Backstage, Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero said they know Rock likes pie. So they had a cake with Mae Young in a bathing suit behind it, and laughed about it. Rock said Vickie will never be as beautiful as Mae. Rock gave Mae a long kiss on the lips. John Cena then came in. He said that now he has the title and he will keep it until WrestleMania. Cena vowed to keep it through WrestleMania and told Rock he will have to go through Cena to get it. Rock told Cena to bring it.

Kane beat Mason Ryan via DQ. This was an awful match with an awful finish. They did one of the worst lock up/one guy gets shoved down spots you’ll ever see. Ryan used a body slam. Punk then just ran in for the DQ.

After the match, the other Nexus guys ran in. Kane fought them off and went for the choke slam but Ryan pulled off Kane’s hand and gave Kane the side effect. They played that up big. Big Show went to make the save and fought off all the Nexus guys until Ryan laid him out too with a spear. Vince is still in 1980s mode where a big, jacked up guy who doesn’t have wrestling ability, speaking ability or charisma gets the push over much more talented performers.

Rock came out for the final segment. They gave everyone in the audience party hats. Rock said next year’s Mania will be the biggest of all time. Vince McMahon came out and wished Rock a happy birthday. He thanked Rock for his contributions to WWE and congratulated him on his successes in general. He thanked Rock for coming home. Both Rock and Vince seemed emotional about this and it was a nice moment. They then aired a cool video package looking back at Rock’s career with the same Coming Home song by Diddy that Mark Hominick used Saturday night. Mya sang happy birthday to Rock and balloons and confetti came down.

Final Thoughts:

This was a different show. The wrestling was downplayed even more than usual and the finishes were terrible pretty much across the board. WWE was also in full self-glorification mode. With that said, it wasn’t really intended to be a wrestling show in the first place. They basically just let Rock do some promos, put him over, and kept things light. And if you just look at the show in that light, it was fine.