Monday, February 20, 2012

WWE Raw Report

Date: 02/21/12 from Minneapolis, MN.

The Big News: John Cena for the first time in a great many years came off as a genuinely likable personality.

Show Analysis:

The show started with Eve Torres chatting in front of the camera with the Bellas. The Bellas asked how Zack Ryder is doing. Eve laughed and said she isn’t friends with Ryder. Eve explained that she was just using Ryder to get people to talk about her and that he didn’t even get to first base because he wouldn’t know what to do with a woman like her. She said she used Ryder and now she’ll use John Cena to advance herself. Unfortunately, John Cena was right there listening. This whole thing had a Scooby Doo feel to it, with the villain doing a 180 personality switch and explaining her whole devious plan for no apparent reason. But it set up something positive.

John Cena came to the ring. Eve Torres followed him, crying. She said that was taken out of context and that they have been friends for a long time. Cena said that because of her he lost a good friend, a broski for a hoski. That led to hoski chants. Cena said Eve shouldn’t be wasting her time with him and instead should hold out for Rock. Cena labeled her disingenuous, egomaniacal and willing to use anyone, which is perfect for Rock as they are both scandalous bitches. Eve got on her knees crying then tried to make out with Cena. Cena resisted, saying he is disease free and would like to keep it that way.

After Cena has been unlikable for so long, they have made quite the effort to make him likable again. The video packages at the Elimination Chamber with him helping out younger wrestlers had that effect, and standing up to a manipulative woman earned him more points here. Impressively, this wasn’t even the peak of Cena rehabilitation on this show.

Sheamus beat Mark Henry. Henry worked over Sheamus initially with punches, kicks and corner avalanches. He went for the world’s strongest slam but Sheamus escaped and hit the Brogue kick for the pin.

Backstage, John Laurinaitis told David Otunga that people are talking about Laurinaitis. Teddy Long came in. Laurinaitis claimed it was Otunga’s idea for him to be GM of both Raw and Smackdown and that he didn’t know Christian and Alberto Del Rio would join the cause. Long suggested they ask the people who should be GM of both shows. Laurinaitis said he only cares about the opinion of the board of directors and pointed out he’s a lot taller than Long. Laurinaitis announced a 10 man battle royal for the WrestleMania title shot at CM Punk. Long said Smackdown would be represented and argued with Otunga. Laurinaitis said Otunga would face Long’s choice of a wrestler from Smackdown. They announced Rock will be on Raw next week.

R. Truth and Kofi Kingston beat Epico and Primo. Truth now has a little Jimmy shirt with a kid on the front, shaking hands on the way to the ring. It seems so pandering. The heels worked over Truth. Kingston got the hot tag and ran wild with dropkicks and the boom drop. Rosa Mendes distracted Kingston but Kingston avoided the back stabber and hit trouble in paradise on Primo for the win. So Kingston and Truth are the next title challengers. Have they ever teamed before?

They announced Ron Simmons for the WWE Hall of Fame. They had a nice video package which thankfully didn’t overemphasize the damn comedy gimmick. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but he did a lot more in his career. Backstage, Chris Jericho said it was a travesty he was eliminated from the elimination chamber without being pinned or submitted.

David Otunga beat Ezekiel Jackson. Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis were in the corners. Jackson was in control but he missed a corner avalanche and Otunga hit the verdict for the pin. It was nice to see them put Otunga over clean as I figured they would have some sort of chicanery.

Undertaker came to the ring and said that he has lived with the memory of the beating he took from HHH. He called it a living hell of uncertainty. He challenged HHH to end that uncertainty and never would have expected a no response. The crowd kept saying “what,” which seemed to throw him off. Taker said they are the last of their kind and the suit covers up what HHH is. Taker said HHH can lie to himself and to Shawn Michaels but not to Taker. He told HHH to come out and look him in the eyes. Taker seemed off here, repeating himself and stumbling.

Things got much better with HHH’s entrance. HHH told Taker to shut up. HHH said they need to ensure WWE continues on and Taker needs to carry the torch for the next generation. HHH said he won’t extinguish that flame. He called it bad for business. Taker asked if it would be bad for business that Taker’s gone or bad for business that HHH’s gone. HHH said he has never been as certain of anything and he knows Taker is certain too. HHH said Taker isn’t asking for redemption or salvation but for an end. HHH said he wouldn’t end it.

Taker in response called HHH a coward. That led to “you’re a coward” chants. HHH said he understood what Taker was doing, but it wouldn’t work and the answer was still no. Taker went further, saying HHH knows he can’t do what his buddy Shawn Michaels couldn’t do, because HHH knows Michaels was always better than HHH. HHH, who was leaving, took off his jacket and tie and returned to the ring. HHH said this has nothing to do with Michaels; Michaels couldn’t get the job done but HHH knows he can. The crowd chanted “prove it.” HHH agreed to the match, but said that if they do it they will do it all the way with Hell in a Cell. The Taker part started off slow but once HHH arrived this was a tremendous segment.

A couple of short matches followed. Daniel Bryan beat Santino. Bryan quickly caught Santino in the LeBell lock. Santino reached for the cobra sock but couldn’t get it and tapped out. The Bella twins then beat Aksana and Kelly win the twins used the switch on Aksana.

John Cena came out for a great WrestleMania promo. He said Rock wasn’t there but will be there next week. Cena said he used to like Rock until Rock became Dwayne Johnson and now Dwayne has his entourage. Cena said he doesn’t respect Rock. He respects what Dwayne has accomplished but has beef because Dwayne always goes back to Hollywood. Cena said there won’t be Reunion 2 and 12 Rounds should have gone 3 but he always showed up to wrestle and never left.

Cena contrasted that with Rock, who got a taste of the bright lights and left faster than Cena could say “Rock don’t go.” Rock came back, but then quickly left again. Cena claimed Vince would probably fine him (wasn’t Vince removed from power?), but Dwayne only came back to launch Fast Five and plug his Twitter account. Cena said he fights for the people who dream to be a WWE superstar and stay a WWE superstar. He does it for the people who are proud to be a professional wrestler.

Cena concluded by saying the great thing about April 1 will be the Monday after when he is still on Raw and Dwayne is on a movie set laughing at his stunt double. Cena said Rock will be on Raw next week entertaining all the people, but Cena will always be here and Rock will have to kill him to beat him. “See you next week superstar,” he concluded.

This was a phenomenal segment. Cena made this issue feel real and the result feel important. He seemed like he cared and he took shots at Rock without winking and making silly faces. It was like they finally figured out Cena’s act needs some serious refurbishing.

Chris Jericho won a brutal battle royal of doom to earn a title shot at CM Punk. Everyone teamed up to dump Great Khali first. Kofi Kingston and R. Truth eliminated Miz next. Punk did commentary and observed it’s a good thing Miz isn’t headlining Mania again. They did a series of finishers, culminating with Santino eliminating Wade Barrett and Truth. Ziggler hit a dropkick on Ziggler and celebrated, but Big Show grabbed Ziggler and hurled him over the top onto Barrett and Truth.

That started the trouble in the battle royal. It looked like Ziggler crashed and burned into the announce table, with Truth taking a bad bump too. Worse, Barrett in trying to catch Ziggler appeared to seriously injure his left arm. Barrett immediately pounded the floor with his other arm in frustration. Next, Jericho knocked Kingston off the top rope and Kingston tumbled down the ring steps to the floor taking a terrible spill. The EMTs came out to immobilize Barrett’s arm, with Punk remarking that one of the EMTs looked like Rock N Roll Buck Zumhofe. It was an amusing line but seemed kind of callous under the circumstances.

Chris Jericho threw out Santino, but Santino skinned the cat and hit the cobra on Jericho. Cody Rhodes then threw out Santino, who almost landed right on Barrett’s immobilized arm. The hits just kept on coming. Show eliminated Rhodes next, leaving Jericho and Show. Rhodes helped Jericho eliminate Show. After the match, Punk came into the ring and offered a handshake to Jericho. Jericho smirked and left without shaking.

Final Thoughts:

This show was an excellent show in general, with clean finishes and great build for Undertaker vs. HHH and Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk. But what really distinguished it was how much better John Cena came across than at any other point in a great many years. Cena’s smarmy, insincere jokester character as top babyface is one of the single biggest problems with the product, and switching up Cena in a positive manner has a hugely positive effect on the show in and of itself.

I found John Cena on this show very likable. He seemed more genuine and he acted like he cared. What was most impressive about the transformation is that it wasn’t achieved through cheats. It wasn’t about simply trying to pair him with a popular face or feuding him with an unpopular heel. Rather, they did real work and altered his persona in a positive manner. If Cena is more like this guy going forward, the crowds will eventually turn around even without a turn.

Rock’s answer back will be very interesting. Cena landed some punches squarely on Rock’s chin without opening himself up for counters. This is the model, WWE. Book Cena like this and it will pay dividends.


Blogger Gilman Chatsworth said...

I'm baffled by the booking of Santino. Lose quickly to Daniel Bryan then tease in a fairly stacked battle royale?

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Marvin Barnes said...

I thought there was some pretty good stuff on this show. I'm so cold to Cena that nothing he says really works for me, but Todd's praise seems valid. The Taker/HHH stuff was very good once the Game got out there. I agree that Taker seemed really thrown off by the idiotic 'what' chants, as that's not something he ever has to deal with, and it seemed to piss him off and messed up his delivery.
That battle royal was brutal, as it looked like the walking dead when it was over. I don't know if the blame lies on anybody in particular, but it is really too bad for Barrett if his arm was broken, as Lawler seemed to really believe. It just seemed like one big clusterfuck.
I definitely found Punk amusing in his commentary, but did find it odd that he seemed to ignore the fact that Barrett was writhing on the ground in pain right in front of him. You could see, as the show was going off the air that Jericho asked the ref what happened to Wade.
I really didn't know what to make of the opening segment; the stuff with Eve was, I thought, really bad and ridiculous in hindsight. Eve is a 'whore' according to Cena, yet he seemed happy to be kissing her last week. This really felt like a segment made up about ten minutes before the show started, and while I can see making Eve a heel now, the fact her nefarious plot was casually revealed, on camera, to the Bellas was really stupid. When last we saw her, she was checking on Ryder after he got tossed off the stage, and now she's cackling about her 'grand plan'? Maybe Russo is back in Stamford after all.
But, a pretty decent show over all.

10:21 PM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

Pray that Vince Russo hasn't been rehired, because it'd only make things worse.

The diva pool is thin on the face side now, more so if Eve's heel turn sticks, and I don't think it should, really. Otherwise, all you have left is Kelly, Tamina, Alicia, and, to a lesser extent, AJ, Kaitlyn, & Aksana, who are JTTS. They're waiting for Kharma & Layla to return, but whomever decided Eve was turning should turn in a month's salary, as this angle was beyond bad.

The women's tag was worse. The illegal switch is more blatant than ever, as the sisters never tag. You need to have a ref that can catch that consistently, or send a 2nd ref to overturn the call, and make them resume the match right there, no commercials, and get it right. More stupid booking.

Cena's promo was spot on, and that leads to ask, what took Uncreative so long to get to this point? Maybe Cena finally decided, enough's enough, I can do this myself, which is what he should've been doing all along.

We'll know soon enough about Barrett, but Cody Rhodes should be forced to defend---and drop--the IC title as punishment for his actions.

Any one of us can write better than those Uncreative clowns, and last night was proof positive again.

1:29 PM  

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