The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 03/26/12 by John Canton (Twitter @johnreport)
Live from Atlanta, Georgia this is the Raw Deal…
Before I start, l saw the Rock/Cena documentary feature that was on USA Network pre-Raw. It was outstanding stuff. I’m a fan of both guys and have loved the build, so I recommend it to anybody that has similar thoughts on them. If you’re sick of them or dislike one of them a lot then it’s probably best to avoid because it’s about them obviously. I thought it was outstanding, though, like most WWE video packages.
Randy Orton & Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan & Kane
When was the last time Raw started with a match instead of a promo? That was a nice change of pace, I thought. Bryan had AJ at ringside with him and got a good luck kiss from her before the bell. I think their act is great. He’s done very well in terms of being a jerk on the road to WrestleMania. In the match, Bryan knocked Sheamus out to the floor for the vintage floor to commercial spot.
Back from break, the heels worked over Orton. He fought off Kane’s attacks to tag in Sheamus while Kane brought in Bryan. Sheamus went nuts on DBry. He was setting him up for the Brogue Kick. AJ went into the ring to prevent him from hitting it. Meanwhile, out on the floor, Kane knocked Orton down. Bryan avoided the Brogue Kick. Kane showed up on the apron, gave Sheamus a chokeslam and Bryan covered for the win after 11 minutes. One move can put Sheamus down for the count? That’s it? After the win, Bryan did his “YES!” celebration, which is always great.
Winner: Daniel Bryan & Kane (**3/4)
It was a solid tag match that got a good amount of time. I’m likely going with Orton over Kane at WrestleMania. Not sure about Sheamus/Bryan, but I think Sheamus will be the new World Champion at WrestleMania. I think that match is going on first too.
They showed the clip of WM27 when Rock cost Cena the title. Does it matter that much since Cena won it a few weeks later anyway? I know winning it at WrestleMania is a bigger deal, but big picture it doesn’t matter that much.
Michael Cole was in the ring in a Team Johnny (Laurinaitis) shirt. He said he was the official commentator of Team Johnny. We also found out that Vickie Guerrero was the official flag bearer. David Otunga entered for a match. He did a lot of poses on the stage. I guess he’s the new Masterpiece. Vince McMahon loves those pretty muscles. Booker announced Teddy Long, who came out with Hornswoggle as his team mascot and Santino, who would be facing Otunga again.
Santino vs. David Otunga
Comedy match. Lots of outside activities. Santino won clean with the Cobra in about 90 seconds.
Winner: Santino (DUD)
Post match, Santino shoved Laurinaitis over Hornswoggle, who was on all fours, so that Johnny fell on his ass. Santino was going to give him The Cobra, but Miz ran in and gave Santino the Skull Crushing Finale. Post match, Laurinaitis announced that Miz was on “Team Teddy.” Yes, JL got his own first name wrong. He quickly corrected himself. It’s nice that Miz is on the team. He should have been on from the beginning. It would have saved us from his boring “I headlined WrestleMania 27” promos.
They showed a video about when The Rock/Cena match was set up one year ago.
There was a video package hyping up the Undertaker/Triple H match at WrestleMania 28. Here it is below:
Four minutes of awesomeness. Typical great stuff from the production team as it relates to an Undertaker match at WrestleMania. I think the one before his WM26 match with Shawn Michaels is one of the best video packages ever. This one was excellent, though. None of these three men were on Raw although Michaels & Hunter did appear in front of the live crowd prior to Raw. They did their DX routine while beating up Jinder Mahal.
Eve and Beth entered before the commercial. Eve was in ring gear. Beth was wearing a dress.
Eve vs. Kelly Kelly
They worked about two minutes. Kelly won with a sloppy rollup after Eve missed a moonsault.
Winner: Kelly Kelly (1/2*)
Typical short divas match on Raw. It should be noted that Maria Menounos has apparently two broken ribs, yet she’s still wrestling. The crowd is going to be dead for that match at WrestleMania. I would assume this means Beth & Eve win at Mania and then something happens after for the faces to get their heat back.
We got a clip from Survivor Series when Rock & Cena teamed up to squash Miz & Truth. Rock gave Cena a Rock Bottom to end the night. That was their last physical altercation.
The top of hour two match was CM Punk vs. Christian, so we saw Punk getting ready for it.
Christian entered first in a Team Johnny shirt. Punk followed. Before the match could start, Chris Jericho appeared on the big screen. He said he did some more family digging and this time went after Punk’s mom. He said she was clean unlike his dad and sister, but that he found out Punk was born before his parents got married. Thus, Punk is the legal definition of a bastard. Is that really a big insult if your parents had you before getting married? I don’t think so.
Christian attacked early. Match never started. Christian dumped Punk to the floor. Punk attacked by kicking at Christian’s ankle and also ramming him head first into the announce table multiple times. Punk gave Christian a GTS on the steps so that Christian’s head hit the steps rather than Punk’s knee. Punk gave Christian the Anaconda Vice as a number of refs ran out to try to stop it. He was yelling: “This is you, Jericho!”
I liked the intensity shown by Punk. He did a great job. It definitely added to the drama of the Punk/Jericho story and makes me even more excited for that much. Christian is awesome at selling moves, so he was the right guy for this. It could also set up a feud between them down the line, which would be fantastic.
Back from break, the news was that Christian was out of WrestleMania due to a neck injury. That’s the storyline reason. The real reason is he hasn’t fully healed from his ankle injury yet. If he could go out there to do this angle for a few minutes then how come he can’t stand on an apron during a 6 on 6 tag where others could do a lot of work? It’s a shame that Christian isn’t wrestling at a WrestleMania for the second year in a row.
Brodus Clay vs. Curt Hawkins
Clay won in about 60 seconds with a big splash.
Winner: Brodus Clay (NR)
I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s a short Brodus “match” at WrestleMania. This act is getting stale until he gets an actual feud. I’m surprised they didn’t add him to Team Teddy.
They aired clips of the “war of words” between Cena and Rock.
They plugged WWE.com for a list of Hall of Fame inductors. The names were leaked on the internet about a week before, but WWE.com likes you to think that they broke the news. Here’s the listing of the Hall of Famers along with their inductors.
Edge will be inducted by Christian
The Four Horsemen will be inducted by Dusty Rhodes
Mike Tyson will be inducted by Triple H & Shawn Michaels
Ron Simmons will be inducted by JBL
Yokozuna will be inducted by The Usos
Mil Mascaras will be inducted by Alberto Del Rio
Congrats to Christian, Del Rio and The Usos for being inductors at the Hall of Fame even though they aren’t on the WrestleMania card. I don’t really understand it in Del Rio’s case because he’s been wrestling at house shows over the past month.
Big Show vs. Primo
A squash in under one minute thanks to a Big Show chokeslam. Post match, he gave a chokeslam to Epico as well. That’s how you bury your tag champs in an effective manner.
Winner: Big Show (NR)
The music of Cody Rhodes started. He stayed at the ramp and told Big Show not to come after him because he wouldn’t able to catch him, which led to the cheetah/water buffalo reference. That’s how we got the banner for this column. Thanks Steve Melo. He said they would turn Big Show’s name into a verb, so students would pray that they don’t “Big Show” on their finals and young men at the bar hope they don’t “Big Show” with the ladies. Big Show = fail, you see? “Even better. I’ve got to take a Big Show.” So that time Big Show = shit. I’m here to help you, dear reader. Cody said he’d beat him at WrestleMania. The idea is that Big Show is going to be very angry going into the match on Sunday. If Show wins the IC Title, he would have won every active title in WWE. Divas title doesn’t count. Sorry.
More hype for the final Rock/Cena confrontation.
They aired another “Lord Tensai” video. Apparently “A-Train” was trending on Twitter after this. I guess the WWE Universe likes his old name, huh? I’m not sure when he debuts. It’s possible that it will be next Monday, though.
Backstage, Brie Bella was in a Team Johnny shirt while Nikki had a Team Teddy shirt on. We also found out last week that Brie is dating Daniel Bryan. Maybe he can teach her how to be a better wrestler and actress. Zack Ryder showed up to say his catchphrase. Meanwhile in the background we saw Drew McIntyre talking to Abraham Washington, who is apparently back for some reason although they aren’t acknowledging him. He’s been on in the background a few times in recent weeks. More bad acting. Eve showed up as the Bellas left. She wanted to know what hotel he was staying at. Zack said he was staying with Team Teddy. She was hoping he would stay at her hotel. He went to kiss her. She stopped it by saying that after WrestleMania they can celebrate.
Backstage, Josh Mathews talked to CM Punk. He said he’s not off limits, but his family is. He said Jericho can call him whatever he wants. His sister is off limits and what he said about her is a fabrication. He also said what Jericho said about his mother was a lie. “I’m not a bastard. I’m the best wrestler in the world.” Punk showed a lot of intensity. Very good promo from the champ. This show did a good job of adding fuel to the fire for this Punk/Jericho match.
Prior to the crappy match we’d see next, Drew McIntyre was announced as the replacement on Team Johnny. Their team has a lot of former World Champions and a guy that loses a lot. That’s balance.
Mark Henry vs. The Great Khali
I hope Khali is making them big money in India because that’s the only reason I can see why you want to put him in the ring. He looks like he’s going to hurt himself just by walking. Henry won with the World’s Strongest Slam in about one minute.
Winner: Mark Henry (NR)
Post match, the Team Teddy/Team Johnny guys brawled. Booker T made the save. He took it to Mark Henry, who was close to giving the World’s Strongest Slam to Teddy Long. Teddy asked Booker to be a part of his team. Teddy is such a good leader that it takes him four weeks to find people that like him. Booker accepted. He did the Spinarooni much to the delight of the crowd. I would have liked to see a younger wrestler in the spot, but they’ve done such a poor job with midcard babyfaces that there weren’t many options aside from maybe Brodus Clay. I pick Team Johnny to win at WM. I think a lot of people will pick them.
The Rock/Cena final hype was in the main event.
The Rock came out first. He talked about how he hadn’t wrestled at a WrestleMania for eight years. He said that over the course of those eight years he was asked a lot about when he was coming back. He talked about Betty White’s “Civil War Pie” and then later in the segment we saw that “Civil War Pie” was trending. What an accomplishment, really. Rock said last year he knew he’d be coming back when he was at WrestleMania 27 and gave a Rock Bottom to John Cena. The next night on Raw, in the same building in Atlanta, the match was made because of the fans. “Finally The Rock has come back to Atlanta.” He took a while to get to it, but I liked that portion of the promo quite a bit. Rock said that Cena’s accomplished a lot, but he’s never been in the ring with somebody like The Rock. As he continued, John Cena’s music played.
Cena remarked to the camera that we were only six days from WrestleMania. Cena said that he knew that the mixed crowd reaction would happen at WM. He told Rock that he has never seen anything like Cena. Cena said he even after all the trash talk he’s happy to be there with a smile on his face. A “Fruity Pebbles” chant started up. Cena said in the time Rock’s been away, one guy has been thrown to the wolves for the last ten years and that’s him. A “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chant started. Cena said he doesn’t care about all the trash talk because he does what his t-shirt says: “Rise Above Hate.” He said the thing that really angers people isn’t just that he rises above, but that he rises above and he wins. He said they know, referring to the doubters, what he knows: “I’m going to win at WrestleMania.” He said he’s been an active member in WWE longer than Rock. Cena started in 2002 so he’s going on 10 years now. Rock started in 1996, wrestled at his last WrestleMania in 2004 and has only been back for about a year, so that’s a fair statement by Cena. I thought Cena made a good point talking about how much he loves working for WWE. He said people know that he means it when he says he loves his job.
Cena talked about how he has to win at WrestleMania because life goes on for Rock. He mentioned Rock would be starring in GI Joe, which comes out this summer. Cena mentioned that after WM his office doesn’t change. It’s still his life. Crowd barely reacted to that part. Cena: “I’ll be god dammed if you come in – a visitor – as good as you think you are, and take my life from me.” I really liked that line. He said nobody remembers second place. That’s why he has to win. Cena: “I have to win this match more than anything in my entire life.” Rock said he knows the match is important to Cena, but it’s important to him. He said the people know he’s not a visitor. “This house, this office, your office – The Rock helped build.” Damn right he did. Rock said it’s more than just the biggest match of all-time. Rock said he’s come back after all these years to beat Cena. He said never before has somebody walked into a WrestleMania to say he’s beat Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and John Cena. Good point. Rock: “On a professional level, The Rock needs to beat you to become the greatest WWE superstar of all time. On a personal level, I just don’t like you.” He said “I” instead of speaking in the third person. You know it’s serious now. Rock said that in six days he’ll beat Cena and give him the ass kicking of a lifetime. Rock: “You know it, The Rock knows it and you can bet your ass that they know it too.” They being the fans in this instance. Cena said “it doesn’t matter what you think.” Oh, he stole a Rock-ism. Cena said he usually says you can’t see me, but at WrestleMania The Rock will see him. Cena: “The headline reads what I predicted: John Cena whips The Rock’s ass at WrestleMania.” I agree. I pick Cena. They dropped their microphones. They went face to face. The show ended.
I thought it was an effective segment. They’re two great talkers setting up one of the biggest matches ever. They each got about the same amount of time to talk. The best part of the promo? When Cena talked about why he has to win. Then Rock talked about why he wants to win. That’s what wrestling is about. The victory should be important. I loved their intensity too. Well done by both guys. That’s no surprise.
They didn’t say anything really new, but it’s been built up for more than a year that there was only so much they could really do here. The interesting thing to me is that they did not hit eachother at any point over the month. We know Rock wants to win to prove he’s the best ever in his mind. We know Cena wants to win to prove that he’s the best. Works for me. Bring on the match!
Three Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk
2. The Rock
3. John Cena
6 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2012 Average: 6.19
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 4 (January 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 6, 7, 6, 7.5
As you can see from the ratings of the last 5 weeks, every edition of Raw got between a 6 to 7.5 from me. That’s my way of saying that while none of these shows were especially great, they were all good. I think what we’ve learned is that the WM card has been built up so well for so long that there was only so much they could do to add to the stories involved with the top matches.
They’ve done a good job of keeping Rock & Cena from touching eachother. If you want to see them fight, watch WrestleMania. The same can be said about the Hunter/Undertaker, Jericho/Punk and Rhodes/Show matches, which all have been built up in a way that has kept the opponents from going after eachother physically. While Jericho/Punk have had matches together, they have been kept apart for the most part.
There’s not much more to say. It’s WrestleMania 28 time. Finally, the most heavily promoted WrestleMania of all time is here. Bring it on.
I’ll be back on Friday with Andrew & Christian from TJR for a WrestleMania preview.
I leave for Miami on Wednesday morning. I’ll be there five days. While I’m there I’ll write WrestleMania related diaries every day…I hope. Last year I only did two in the three days I was there. I’m hoping to be able to write five this year. I’ll have a review of the show up probably next Wednesday or Thursday after I return home on Monday and have a chance to watch it again.
If you’re in Miami this week, shoot me an email at email@example.com or send me a tweet @johnreport and I’d be happy to say hi or have a drink. I’ll probably be at the WrestleReunion event on Saturday and Sunday. Ring of Honor on Friday is a possibility too. Not sure about when I’ll go to Axxess, but I’ll likely be at one of the sessions. Hall of Fame is a maybe. WrestleMania is a full go obviously. Otherwise I plan on just hanging out, relaxing, visiting with friends and having a good time. Even though it’s a “vacation” in some ways in other ways it’s not. I’m very happy about going, though. Believe me.
I finished writing about every WrestleMania event in WWE history. If you missed any of the 27 reviews you can catch up by viewing the archive here. After WrestleMania 28, I’ll be writing a column that looks closer at the best matches, worst matches and what makes a WrestleMania great among other topics in that column.
Keep checking out thejohnreport.net for plenty of WrestleMania related columns all week from the staff at TJR. Thanks for reading!
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org