Monday, May 07, 2012

WWE Raw Report

Date: 05/07/12 from Greensboro, NC.

The Big News: John Laurinaitis doesn’t like people making fun of his voice.

Show Analysis:

John Laurinaitis was in the ring to start the show. He said that he is an authority figure and won’t be disrespected by John Cena. Thus, he lost his temper and when he loses his temper, he goes into a fit of destruction nobody can withstand. Laurinaitis vowed to continue at Over the Limit where Brock Lesnar started. Laurinaitis said he will show how skillful and dangerous he is. He added that he won’t apologize for what he did and he wasn’t reprimanded by the WWE board of directors.

Laurinaitis said that Cena would not be on Raw. Laurinaitis wants Cena to do therapy so there will be no excuses for his loss. However, Cena would do a satellite interview with Michael Cole and apologize for making fun of Laurinaitis’ voice. Laurinaitis said that anybody who makes fun of his voice will be punished. Laurinaitis said his voice was injured by Steve Williams in Japan and had photos of his time in All Japan. Laurinaitis claimed to be Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and Rock rolled into one in Japan. He said Laurinaitis vs. Cena would be bigger than Rock vs. Cena or Brock vs. Cena.

CM Punk came out. The announcers said he would be dropping a pipe bomb. Punk said Laurinaitis has no idea what people want. Punk said he would help and that the WWE Universe doesn’t want Laurinaitis. Punk pointed out Laurinaitis wasn’t that good in Japan. Punk claimed to say what other people won’t say, that Laurinaitis hired Lesnar to replace Cena but Lesnar lost so Laurinaitis got angry and decided to pick the bones of Cena.

Punk claimed Laurinaitis went to Japan because nobody in the US would pay to see him wrestle. He called Laurinaitis a joke then and a joke now. He concluded that Laurinaitis is ugly, stupid, has no friends and is a toolbox. Laurinaitis retorted that if he wasn’t training for Cena he would kick Punk’s ass and that Punk would be taught a lesson by Lord Tensai later in the show. Punk was fine with that.

Backstage, John Laurinaitis was walking and texting when he bumped into the back of Big Show. Laurinaitis yelled at Show to stay out of his way. Show responded by making fun of Laurinaitis’ voice. Eve Torres saw this and was mad.

Big Show beat Cody Rhodes via count out. They wrestled for a bit and then Rhodes just left for the count out. Eve then came out and demanded Show apologize for making fun of Laurinaitis. Show said he was sorry. Eve said that wasn’t an apology. She said there aren’t a lot of options for a 7-foot-tall 40 year old freak outside wrestling. Show apologized again and left. This was a terrible segment. The “match” was one of those wastes of time that just makes matches feel pointless and then they spent the rest of the time emasculating a high level face for no good reason.

Dolph Ziggler beat Kofi Kingston in a brief match. Primo and Epico were watching backstage and Mason Ryan showed up there as well. I’m not sure if they were just reaffirming his existence or whether they are teasing he will join Abraham Washington’s stable. Jack Swagger tried to distract Kingston but Ziggler couldn’t get the zig zag. Kingston hit the S.O.S. but was pulled off the second rope by Swagger and Ziggler hit the zig zag for the pin.

John Cena did a video interview on the screen. Cena said he is medically cleared now but he needs to get his elbow drained a couple times a day. However, the doctors strongly recommend that he take a couple months off. So they think he should be off for a couple months, but are willing to okay him to go immediately anyway? Is his doctor Hector Molina?

Cena said nothing will keep him from Laurinaitis. He added that the board of directors didn’t contact Laurinaitis because they contacted him instead. Cena said he told them not to do anything to Laurinaitis until after Over the Limit. Wait, what? Michael Cole suggested Cena might be scared of Laurinaitis. Cena said he’s only scared Laurinaitis will get hurt before their match. Cena said he will do what everyone wants to do and kick Laurinaitis’ ass.

Layla and Kelly beat Maxine and Natalya. I thought Natalya had turned face. Beth Phoenix did commentary since she’s wrestling Layla at the PPV. Layla pinned Maxine with a neck breaker.

Chris Jericho and Alberto Del Rio beat Randy Orton and Sheamus. The heels worked over Orton until Sheamus got the hot tag. It seemed like a portion of the crowd booed Sheamus’ comeback. Sheamus hit a back breaker on Jericho but Del Rio broke up the pin. Orton gave Del Rio an RKO, but Sheamus accidentally hit Orton with the Brogue kick. Jericho then hit the code breaker on Sheamus for the win. Orton gave Sheamus an RKO after the match.

John Laurinaitis told Eve Torres backstage that he thought Show’s apology was insincere. Jericho came in and said he wanted a title shot. Del Rio and Orton then arrived wanting title shots. A brawl broke out. Jericho and Del Rio left. Orton and Sheamus argued. Laurinaitis of course made a four way. This whole setup building to the four way felt so completely contrived.

Brodus Clay beat Miz with an exploder, head butt and splash. Clay’s act has cooled off significantly.

They said that HHH will need surgery but can still do his duties as CEO with a brace. They acknowledged him at the Mayweather-Cotto fight and tried to explain away his seeming fine. They said HHH will be on Raw next week. They then said Brock Lesnar had an invitation to be on Raw but he sent his representatives instead.

Brock Lesnar’s music played and Paul Heyman came out. He said that Lesnar has been mistreated and underappreciated by the WWE audience and corporate executives since day one. He said that WWE is much different than 10 years ago and image conscious. Heyman said Laurinaitis signed Lesnar to a contract and that his later verbal demands were agreed to on national television. Thus, Lesnar feels betrayed by WWE.

Heyman said Lesnar is an honest man. He said he would hurt people and he did. Heyman then read a statement from Lesnar saying he came to bring legitimacy back to WWE but was greeted by the same corporate BS. HHH broke his agreement so he broke HHH’s arm. Lesnar doesn’t care about the people or suits and he’s never coming back. Lesnar thus quit WWE. Heyman’s delivery was good here but there’s only so much interest you can bring to a monster heel whining for ten minutes about contracts.

Show backstage was laughing at impressions of Laurinaitis. Eve Torres came up and was mad. Show acted concerned. This whole storyline makes Show look like such a chump.

Daniel Bryan and Lord Tensai beat CM Punk. Laurinaitis announced it would be a handicap match immediately before. The heels worked over Punk. Punk made his comeback. He went for GTS on Tensai but couldn’t get it. He kicked Tensai in the head and went to the top but Bryan crotched him. Tensai screwed up a baldo bomb but then hit the claw STO for the pin. Bryan put Punk in the yes lock after the match.

Final Thoughts:

This was another crappy Raw. The issue isn’t so much about individually bad segments as just a generally unappealing general ethos to the programming. It doesn’t feel like a colorful, fun, larger than life sports product with real stakes so much as a contrived, unserious, overly scripted variety show where nothing matters, that’s unresponsive to fans in general and hostile to wrestling fans in particular. No segments have time to breathe and exist on their own, because the performers are just there to do exactly what they’re told for every second they’re on screen and then to cut to the next segment. The excitement of watching a wrestler come into his own no longer exists because wrestlers have so little agency.

The horrible fall of CM Punk’s character is a perfect example of the problem. Less than a year ago, Punk was a hot character that seemed edgy and different. He felt like he genuinely cared about what he was fighting for and that he was speaking in his own voice.

Superficially, he’s the same guy now. He’s still a face. He has the title. He has the same music. He’s still using the language of pipe bombs and rebellion. Only, the edge is completely gone. He’s delivering generic insults at a generic heel authority figure, mixing in lame fourth grade putdowns and noxious corporate buzzwords. There’s no reality to any of it and it doesn’t feel like he’s speaking in his own voice at all. He’s just delivering the same poorly scripted material.

It was just a few months ago that he was saying this:

Six minutes in, he’s criticizing Laurinaitis for the constant WWE Universe nonsense because it’s just a buzzword to keep the bosses happy. And now this supposed anti-authority figure who says what other people won’t is using the same buzzwords, to keep the same bosses happy. It’s one of WWE’s biggest problems in a nutshell. Why should we root for Punk or Cena to take out Laurinaitis? It’s just one corporate puppet against another.


Anonymous Steve Khan said...

The brawl backstage with Jericho, Del Rio, Orton and Sheamus was terrible. Laurinaitis just stood there watching these large men fighting right in front of him and he wasn't the least bit worried. It's like he was watching children fight on the playground.

I had a feeling they would bring in Heyman for Lesnar and it's good to see him back. Unfortunately, there's nothing they can do to recover Lesnar after losing to Cena.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why though? Why is the programming this bad? How could they possibly not realize this? Is it Hubris? Perhaps they are so emboldened by the big PPV numbers for Wrestlemania (and probably Extreme Rules as well) that they think the direction is going is working.

I guess as long as they keep figuring out ways to draw big PPV buy rates, what happens in between doesn't matter. They certainly have the capability to continue spiking PPV numbers every other month or so with both Rock and Lesnar still aboard. I guess until the cycle is broken, they don't think they need to change a thing.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

A lot of the problems with the program have been instituted for such a long period of time that they're just accepted and long established tenets of the show now. It's not like WCW where they blew up everything and became unrecognizable in many ways at the end. It would be hard to do much with the same people at top because this is their big picture idea of wrestling. It's not like they need to make a few minor changes - they need weeks of discussions about very big picture issues. Making matches meaningful again. Providing finishes. Merging titles and making them meaningful. Restricting the overly scripted promos. Diversifying the talent roster. Giving segments time to breathe. Ending the corporate buzzwords that nobody uses. Stopping the really crappy comedy. Etc. etc. etc. The solutions are no longer easy, like they would have been years ago. Now it will take a lot.

8:37 AM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

It boils down to this: Vince McMahon is senile, complacent, out of touch with reality, and needs to step down. Until he is completely out of the loop, WWE won't change its corporate mindset. This is why we are stuck with a charismatically challenged heel GM who is in truth a proxy for Vince, who otherwise would be reveling in this sort of thing again.

Pack yer bags and head for the retirement home, Vince. It's where you belong.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I don't think Vince is complacent, but otherwise I agree.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Problem too is when Vince is gone, Stephanie rises is power and I think she's significantly more incompetent than even Vince at this stage. I still hold out hope in Hunter, but there certainly isn't a track record there of overseeing booking successfully.

3:30 PM  
Blogger hobbyfan said...

I respectfully disagree in re.: Stephanie. She may actually be learning a little something from Hunter moreso than her father, and could surprise us down the road.

10:51 AM  

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