Monday, April 23, 2012

WWE Raw Report

Date: 04/23/12 from Detroit, MI.

The Big News: Brock Lesnar made demands and CM Punk played drunk.

Show Analysis:

The show started with a false tease of a contract signing. Teddy Long introduced John Cena first but when Brock Lesnar was supposed to enter, John Laurinaitis came out instead. Laurinaitis said that Lesnar wasn’t there yet and the contract signing would occur later. He added that this might be Cena’s last night on Raw and Cena should enjoy it. Laurinaitis told Long to order Cena from the ring. He was then interrupted by Edge, who got a really big reaction.

Edge told Cena that he wasn’t supposed to be there and he will soon no longer be under WWE contract. A TNA chant broke out. Just kidding. Edge pointed to Cena and said that he wasn’t there to talk to “this Cena” and he doesn’t know who this Cena is. The crowd took this as a remark about Cena being a corporate billboard and began to chant Fruity Pebbles. But that wasn’t the story.

Edge basically said that Cena was once Edge’s biggest rival who put Edge through tables and threw him into the Long Island Sound, but this isn’t that Cena. He implied Cena has lost his confidence. Edge said he is a different person than Cena but that they both love wrestling and Lesnar doesn’t. He said that Lesnar doesn’t care about wrestling or the fans, so Cena needs to wake up and rise to the occasion for the people that love the business. Edge yelled at Cena and said he is not asking but telling Cena to beat Lesnar.

Edge’s delivery here was superb and reminded me of a great Mick Foley motivational speech from a few years back selling a big match at SummerSlam. Unfortunately, the segment didn’t work on a very basic level in that Cena hasn’t been acting any differently than ever. Even in the few minutes before Edge came out, Cena was smiling and playing to the crowd like nothing was on his mind. So the whole promo felt manufactured rather than a logical extension of what has been happening on the show.

Chris Jericho beat Kofi Kingston in a relatively long match. Jericho worked over Kingston for quite a while. Kingston came back with the S.O.S. and boom drop but had trouble in paradise countered. Jericho went for the walls but Kingston escaped that. Kingston went for a springboard but had that countered into the code breaker. Jericho then applied the walls for the submission. Jericho said after the match that he will take CM Punk’s title and again put down Punk’s family.

Backstage, John Laurinaitis offered Eve Torres a job as executive administrator. Eve accepted. Laurinaitis wanted a hug but Eve subtly shook his hand instead. Elsewhere, CM Punk showed Josh Mathews a liquor basket that Jericho sent him as a gift. Punk gave it to an appreciative Josh Mathews, keeping one bottle for revenge on Jericho.

Lord Tensai beat R. Truth. Tensai did an inset promo entirely in Japanese. The crowd starting mockingly chanting Albert from the beginning. Tensai won with head butts, a butterfly suplex, a senton, the baldo bomb and the claw.

Kane came to the ring and said that extreme rules will mean bad things for Randy Orton. Orton couldn’t beat Kane with rules, much less without them. Kane said he saw fear and suffering in Orton when Kane attacked Orton’s father. That made Kane disappointed, because he recognized Orton is a scared little boy praying the nightmare ends and the monster goes away. However, Kane concluded that he is a monster Orton will never wake up from.

Orton appeared on the screen and said that when you mess with his father, there’s no turning back. Orton had Paul Bearer tied up. Hasn’t he died multiple times already? He threw Bearer in a freezer and dared Kane to come save him. That was dumb. Kane just laughed and said he didn’t care. So Orton came out and attacked Kane with a pipe. Kane escaped through the crowd.

Alex Riley backstage told Chris Jericho that CM Punk kicked him out of the locker room because he saw Punk drinking out of the bottle from the gift basket. Jericho thought this might be a setup and had Riley lead him there. They cracked open the door and Punk was drinking from a plastic cup next to the liquor bottle while talking on his cell phone. Jericho’s reaction was tremendous. Rather than just acting overjoyed, he seemed half happy but also half concerned that he had driven Punk this far.

Big Show and Great Khali beat Cody Rhodes and Alberto Del Rio. The heels worked over Show for a while. Show finally made his own comeback. Rhodes went for the tag, but Del Rio refused it and left. Khali gave Rhodes a chop and Show hit the choke slam for the win. They announced Santino vs. Miz for the US title on youtube as a pre-show match for Extreme Rules. That would seem to suggest televised pre-show matches may become a regular thing.

Backstage, Chris Jericho told John Laurinaitis that CM Punk should be stripped of his title. Laurinaitis wasn’t sure if he could, but Eve said she had been reading up and wrestlers are prohibited from drinking within 12 hours of an event. Thus, Laurinaitis could strip Punk of the title. Laurinaitis said to avoid legal action there would need to be proof. Jericho suggested a sobriety test. Laurinaitis told Long to go conduct one.

Brock Lesnar arrived at the building and refused to answer questions. Josh Matthews said he was just trying to do his job so Lesnar threw him into a metal structure. Mathews was then carted off on a stretcher.

Nikki Bella beat Beth Phoenix in a lumberjack match to win the women’s title. Eve Torres announced this would be a lumberjack match right before it started. Phoenix worked over Bella but Bella escaped to the outside when Phoenix went for the glam slam. Phoenix sold that she injured her ankle jumping from the apron to the floor. A brawl broke out and both women were thrown back in the ring. Phoenix continued to sell her ankle and Bella rolled her up for the win. Phoenix was upset and seemed in a lot of pain after the match. This was one hell of a sell job, as it had me completely convinced of a legitimate injury.

Next up on the show was a segment that seemed to go on forever. Teddy Long was in the ring with two police officers. Chris Jericho came out to watch as well. Punk came out staggering and said this was ridiculous. He was totally unconvincing playing drunk, which theoretically isn’t a big deal given he wasn’t drunk in storyline. The problem was Punk was so completely unconvincing that it was hard to believe that Long, the police officers and the announcers couldn’t see through it instantaneously. And then the segment dragged on forever with the outcome completely obvious from the beginning.

Punk failed to spell the alphabet backwards. He then failed to walk in a straight line. They teased Jericho was going to be awarded the title, but Punk asked for one more chance. He was supposed to say the alphabet backwards while walking back and forth on the line to prove he was sober, but he actually screwed up the alphabet. He then attacked Jericho.

Mark Henry beat Sheamus. Daniel Bryan was the special guest referee and was really over with the crowd again. Bryan taunted Sheamus and tried to get Sheamus to hit him. Sheamus didn’t do it, but Henry used the opportunity to hit a clothesline and Bryan used an extremely fast count for three. Sheamus went after Bryan after the match but was briefly diverted taking out Henry with a Brogue kick. Bryan hit a kick to the head and applied the yes lock. Backstage, Sheamus called Bryan a snake in the grass and alluded to what happened to snakes in Ireland.

Santino and Zack Ryder beat Primo and Epico. The heels worked over Ryder briefly. Ryder got the tag to Santino and Santino hit the cobra for the cover.

Backstage, Kane walked by the freezer. He went in and found Paul Bearer, who remarkably was merely shivering from being in subzero temperature for two hours. Rather than save Bearer, Kane put him back in the freezer. Those production people are awfully callous not bailing out the poor guy.

Abraham Washington bumped into Primo and Epico backstage. He said that they are being treated like jokes and he gave them his card.

Brodus Clay and Hornswoggle beat Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger via DQ. Ziggler briefly beat up Hornswoggle. Hornswoggle hit a spinning head scissors on Clay and made the tag. I’ve come to accept Ziggler is in a holding pattern, but taking bumps for dwarfs is so incredibly dumb for a guy that talented. Clay was running wild when Vickie Guerrero came in the ring to stop Clay from attempting a splash. The referee called for a disqualification.

The faces circled Guerrero after the match and she tried to make peace by dancing with them. Hornswoggle bit her on the ass and she ran away. This is one of those segments that make so many people refuse to consider wrestling as a halfway respectable form of entertainment.

The show ended with the contract signing. Brock Lesnar came out. John Cena’s music played but Cena didn’t show up. Lesnar concluded Cena was scared and said he had business to discuss with Laurinaitis. Lesnar told Laurinaitis that in order to agree to the match at Extreme Rules, he wants his contract redone. He demanded that any major decisions go through him, that he gets Vince McMahon’s jet for Raw appearances, that he will show up on Raw when he wants, more money, and the name of the program changed to WWE Raw Starring Brock Lesnar.

I’m sure this portrayal of Lesnar is satisfying for WWE, given Vince McMahon probably views Lesnar in this light and Lesnar is sort of affirming that view. However, I just don’t see it being productive in terms of making Lesnar a drawing card. Fans want to see Lesnar on TV and PPV as a monster, not making contract demands.

Laurinaitis verbally agreed, at which point Lesnar signed the contract for Extreme Rules. Cena then made his way out with a chain. He wrapped the chain around his hand to defend himself and hesitated to sign the contract. Lesnar called him scared. Cena signed the contract and threw it at Lesnar. Lesnar laughed and left.

Final Thoughts:

I’d call this show mediocre. There wasn’t a lot of bad stuff on it but there was very little good either. I don’t think the Cena-Lesnar stuff is going to dissuade anyone from ordering the show, but I can’t imagine it building much interest either. Cena basically came off as a coward and Lesnar was more of a manipulative businessman than a destroyer. Neither seemed all that concerned about beating up the other.

I don’t expect a double turn and I’m not really even advocating it right now, but I did find it interesting they have set up an angle that lends itself to that so naturally. Cena is struggling and seems to lack confidence he can beat Lesnar in a fair fight, while Laurinaitis is having trouble dealing with Lesnar’s demands as well. Cena and Laurinaitis teaming up to screw Lesnar seamlessly flows from what they’re doing, and the follow-up would seem to flow pretty naturally as well (heel Cena and Laurinaitis feuding with face Punk over the summer and taking the title, leading to face Lesnar’s big return challenging for the title at SummerSlam).


Anonymous Rex Morgan, MD said...

Todd, you're ideas at the end as to how to book this make total sense, which means it's never going to happen. I was struck by how little reaction Lesnar got when he came out; 3 weeks in, and he's already just another guy. I am not sure how they can put that genie back in the bottle; I guess it's possible, but I don't know who in this company has the skill to do it. Lesnar already looks bored.
I've given up on Ziggler as ever doing anything meaningful. He's just a comedy heel, and selling for a midget is pretty much where those guys end up. Chavo Guerrero says hello.
I thought the Punk/Jericho stuff was really mediocre. I'm not sure how you have two top-notch guys on the mic tussling over booze, but sure enough, they did it. I have a feeling that this match won't have anywhere near the heat they are assuming it will, just because it is in Chicago. The Punk we saw them going crazy for last year is long gone; this guy is just a sports entertainer.
Kane/Orton is truly awful. This stuff with Bearer...I mean, what can you say?
For the sake of the business, I hope they have something special planned for this PPV in regards to Cena and Lesnar, because I really sense that Cena will win. Maybe I am falling for the bait, but the idea of a heel Cena just seems to be improbable. I'm not even sure it would mean anything anyway. It is the equivalent of Meadowlark Lemon suddenly playing for the Washington Generals. Nobody takes it seriously, and even if they did, Johnny Ace is no Vince McMahon. He's just a comedy dope heel, hardly 'nefarious'. But, I guess we'll see.
That Lesnar promo was interminable. I think he did the best he could with what they gave him, but you could just see the crowd shrugging at it all. What a waste of time.

10:20 PM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

Let's just get rid of the scribbling idiots they have now and let the guys cut loose on their promos, old school style.

The Kane-Orton stuff had a sense of been there, done that, especially with Bearer bound & gagged. They did that 18 months ago with Edge holding Bearer hostage on Smackdown! Funny thing. Edge was there this week. Maybe Randy wanted to show him how it could be done better, but it came off flat.

Riley, Jericho, and Johnny Toolbox all fell for the ruse CM Punk played. Jericho especially fell into the trap. He's not winning the title. Period.

I can't see how Abraham Washington can help the tag team champs out of the doghouse. Their griping over being bumped from Wrestlemania not only turned into a storyline, but it has also led to their jobbing to non-teams two weeks running. Abe's a better fit for Titus O'Neil & Darren Young over on Smackdown.

I hate fast count finishes. Always have. Daniel Bryan is only digging his own grave come Sunday.

ZigSwag need to lose Vickie Guerrero yesterday. She's ruined their careers, just like she ruined Chavo's. Ziggy's better by himself, as can be evidenced by WWE Download.

Lesnar turning diva may be a case of playing to the internet rumors about sponsorship on his ring gear. Not sure if Sable will eventually show up (hope not), but this is so un-Brock, it isn't funny. Where's Paul Heyman when you really need him to save the show from such stupidity?

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I can't take Lesnar that seriously as the last time I saw him he was being pummelled in his MMA match.

1:47 PM  

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