The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 03/05/12 by John Canton (Twitter @johnreport)
Live from Boston, Massachusetts this is the Raw Deal…
The show started with Shawn Michaels making a grand entrance. It’s always nice to hear HBK’s song, which is still going strong after twenty years, and hearing him get such an awesome ovation. Michaels had a lot of energy. He said he was there to find out why Triple H accepted the Undertaker’s match after Shawn failed to convince him to do it a few weeks earlier. Hunter Hearst Suit McMahon Helmsley came out to a big ovation. Shawn put over how strong Hunter was because when Shawn pushed his buttons, Hunter didn’t flinch and he was an “oak” meaning he was tough. They showed the clip from Raw when Undertaker said that Hunter knew that Shawn was better than Hunter, which is what led to Hunter accepting the match. Shawn was curious about it. Hunter said he didn’t accept the match to prove he was better than Shawn. Hunter said that it pains him to know that people say that Shawn couldn’t get the job done because Shawn was the greatest in-ring performer ever. Hunter claimed that he wanted to take the match to end The Streak, to put it to rest and to end an era. He’s not just going to do it for himself, but for Shawn too. Shawn didn’t seem too impressed with that logic as he sarcastically thanked Hunter for his explanation. I liked the tone because nobody likes to be called a loser. Shawn said it hurt him last year when he told Hunter that he couldn’t get the job done and that he was right about it. He said that this year he knows who’s going to win again and he’ll be right then too (assuming he means Undertaker). How does he know? Because, as Shawn tells us, he’ll be the special referee. Shawn left. Hunter didn’t sell the news very much with his face. Who named him the special ref anyway? If Hunter is the COO he would know or did Laurinaitis or the board? They make such a big deal about who is in charge, yet in this case we didn’t know who made a decision.
Allow me to fantasy book something for a second here. I would have ended it by having Hunter get mad about Shawn’s tone, so he appointed Michaels as the referee because he wanted Shawn there to be the one to witness Undertaker’s loss first hand. Then Undertaker could come out the next week wondering why Hunter appointed his best friend as the ref. Did he do it so he they could screw Taker out of the win? They need to do three more weeks of promo. It would have added to the build better if they did it that way. Just my opinion.
I thought it was a fantastic promo. These two are magic together. It’s like they have chemistry together! Haha. It’s not like I’m questioning the decision to have HBK as the ref. That was the plan since last year as far as I know. Do the rematch, but insert Shawn into things to add to the story. The addition of Shawn plus Hell in a Cell only adds to my interest in the match. I agree that Shawn was the best in-ring performer ever, but from a “winning” and titles perspective Hunter won a lot more than Shawn did. The Streak is about looking at things from a mark perspective, just like title wins are. What they should say is that Hunter won more big matches than Shawn did. Drive that point home a bit more. It would piss off Shawn, which would then make people question about what would happen. They still have time to do it, of course. This was a textbook example of how to build a story. There are few wrestlers better in terms of building up a big match, especially one at WrestleMania. I’m looking forward to where the story is headed next.
They promoted a Rock/Cena confrontation for later as well as a Sheamus/Punk vs. Bryan/Jericho tag match. Teddy Long as GM means he books a match similar to what every other GM in the history of WWE would have booked with good guys facing bad guys as a preview for their singles match. If you want a show to feel different, don’t have the guy that books too many tag matches book a tag match.
US Title Match: Jack Swagger vs. Santino
Jack Swagger had a haircut. Any Seinfeld fans out there? Remember the barber that gave Jerry that awful haircut? I think they got him to cut Swagger’s hair too. The story here was that Santino was given a title shot by Teddy Long because he was Teddy’s assistant on Smackdown. You could also say that Santino has earned it, but at least the reason did make sense too. John Laurinaitis and David Otunga were there to support fellow heel Jack Swagger along with Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler. Swagger got some offense in. Then Teddy Long, Kofi Kingston & Aksana showed up too. That’s six people outside the ring. They threw to commercial.
Back from break, Santino was in control. Laurinaitis tried to stop it. Teddy argued with him. A lot of extracurricular things occurred on the floor, distracting everybody even me from paying attention to the match. Ziggler got a shot in on Santino, but Santino came back with the Cobra to knock him down. Swagger came back, went for the ankle lock and Santino countered into a rollup for the win. He’s the new US Champion after about six minutes of action although only about three minutes were actually seen. Winner: Santino
Analysis: * It was more of an angle than a match. It was fun, though. Santino’s very popular, the crowd loved it and the US Title has been hurt due to the lack of attention paid to it, so might as well move it onto somebody people like. I thought Swagger would drop it back to Zack Ryder. Instead it’s Santino who gets it.
After the match, Teddy Long booted Laurinaitis & Otunga from the arena. Crowd loved that. Good babyface moment. Of course JL gets to run Smackdown this week, so he’ll get revenge somehow. I wouldn’t be shocked if Santino had a short title reign although I hope it lasts a bit.
Speaking of the US Title match, did you notice the TJR sign?
Thanks to John and Nick Beswick for bringing it. Shortly after the sign made TV, security took it away. They didn’t take other signs away that had names on it. Just that one. Thanks for reading, WWE. Love you too.
We returned to see The Rock cutting a promo from earlier in the day. He was standing by the Boston Harbor (I’ve never been, but always wanted to visit Boston one day) with John Cena’s merchandise on a table. He was ripping on things and he threw them over the bridge. There was a garden gnome, which Rock said probably belonged to a 40 year old virgin somewhere. They really sell gnomes? Who would buy that? People are weird. I think my favorite part was when he held up some John Cena cologne, which apparently is legit and said that it smelled like fear, Fruity Pebbles and possum piss. He told Cena to roll up his hot garbage he’s been spewing and that he could shove it up his ass. Then he told some nerd that we never saw to clean up the stuff he threw into the harbor. That’s sweet of him. Promo was fun. It was The Rock at his best, really.
Eve vs. Alicia Fox
Kelly was at ringside. Plugged some Nickelodeon awards thing. Little girls look up to Kelly Kelly? I worry about the women of the future. Eve got some decent heel heat. She won the match in 36 seconds thanks to a rollup. Probably for the best that it was short.
Winner: Eve (NR)
Post match, Zack Ryder showed up with a cane to assist him in walking. I guess he’s a miraculous healer. Ryder said he’s glad he never hooked up with Eve because it was broskis before hoeskies. I disagree if the hoeskie looks like Eve. Cole ripped him for not coming up with a better line. Yes Cole, the writing team sucks when it comes to Ryder’s dialogue. We already know.
Back from break, Ryder was backstage. Eve caught up to him. He didn’t want her to say anything. Instead, she kissed him and he made out with her. Then she left smiling while Ryder had the “I’m a nerd that got kissed by a hot girl” face. I’d assume the idea is that Eve smiled because even though she played Ryder for a fool, she could still use her womanly ways to wrap him around her finger.
They cut to an earlier today scene with Cena sitting alone in the stands talking. The camera was close to him so it picked up what he was saying. The concept was nice, but perhaps they could have had somebody like Josh Mathews ask him one or two questions to make it feel like more of an interview. The purpose of the promo was to put over how important it was for Cena to win the match. Cena brought up the 2007 New England Patriots being 16-0 and then losing in the Super Bowl. He said nobody remembers second place. I remember lots of second place finishers at WrestleMania like Randy Savage at WrestleMania 3 and WrestleMania 7 or Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. I also remember Shawn Michaels losing twice to Undertaker at WrestleManias 25 & 26 in classic matches. People will remember anything if it’s a great match. I understand what he’s saying, though. From the TV or mark perspective, the win means more than anything. I like the idea of John Cena saying he needs to win. It’s reminiscent of Austin prior to WM17 against Rock, which led to a heel turn. I don’t see a heel turn happening with Cena, but it’s important to point that out. I liked the segment. Like I said though, perhaps a sit down interview would have worked a little better. I like sit down interviews. I wish they were done more often.
CM Punk & Sheamus vs. Chris Jericho & Daniel Bryan
I think we get a match like this every year on Raw around WrestleMania time. I’m sure somebody can look it up. I’m not going to. I really like all four guys, so I was looking forward to it. It was a bit of a letdown though. After all the entrances they had to go to a commercial early into the match.
Back from break, Cole would not shut about Twitter. He was reading tweets about who fans thought the “best in the world” was. Considering you only give these four guys in the two major title matches only about 12 minutes of TV time you should focus on the guys in the ring, not Twitter. It’s not like Twitter is a sponsor of the show. It’s a social networking tool, but when it outshines the talent you are overdoing it. There wasn’t a good part of the match where one of the faces was being worked over for a long time. It just didn’t seem to flow well. See that counter when Jericho went for a bulldog and Sheamus shoved him off so Jericho went feet first into the turnbuckle? That looked painful. The finish was messed up. Punk had Bryan rolled up. Jericho saved his partner. Then Jericho and Punk had a sequence that ended up with Jericho putting Punk in the Walls of Jericho. Punk countered into a cradle, which Jericho reversed and got the pinfall for his team at around the 12 minute mark. Jericho wasn’t the legal man. I’m not sure if they meant to do that where the heels outsmarted the ref, but it was something I noticed.
Winners: Chris Jericho & Daniel Bryan
Analysis: **3/4 It was good, but should have been better considering the talent in the ring. I like how Punk was selling the back injury as much as he did, which went to last week’s attack by Jericho. Finish was good. It doesn’t bury Punk because it came out of nowhere while also putting over Jericho’s ability to win the match in multiple ways. They need to do a better job of building up Bryan vs. Sheamus. Personally, I’d have kept these guys from having any in-ring interaction prior to WrestleMania although it’s hard to do that considering how much focus is being put on the Cena/Rock and HHH/Taker matches.
They cut to The Rock for another history lesson, highlighting Paul Revere. He said what if it was John Cena leading the American Revolution? First of all he’d be shot just for his ridiculous outfits. He said if Rock led the American Revolution everybody would have loved him while Cena would have lost the war for America. Then he said he was 25% black, 25% Samoan and 50% Clydesdale, meaning he was hung like a horse. He likes talking about himself that way doesn’t he? He said the women would have wanted to give him a piece of that Boston Cream Pie. Then he had a Yankee doodle type song: “Johnny Cena went to town riding on a pony, Rock stuck a feather up his ass and called him a jabroni.” The crowd loved it. I did too. Rock said that he would have whipped his ass then and he’s going to whip his ass at WrestleMania. He promised that he would be in the arena later in the show.
They plugged that John Laurinaitis would be running Smackdown this week. They showed a clip of Laurinaitis getting ejected from earlier in the show. Just announce the 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 WrestleMania tag match already. I’d guess Santino & Kingston are on Long’s team while Ziggler & Swagger are on JL’s team. Perhaps they would add Otunga so Long’s team would need a third babyface that has nothing else to do. Zack Ryder maybe? Then there are other guys like R-Truth and The Miz that could be involved too. We’ll see what happens.
Prior to Big Show’s match versus The Miz, Cody Rhodes showed a clip of another humiliating Big Show moment. Instead of a match, he showed clips of WrestleMania 18 where Big Show’s role was to appear at WWE’s restaurant to eat food. I liked the comedy aspect of this. If you don’t know, Cody vs. Show for the IC Title is official at WrestleMania 28.
Big Show vs. The Miz
This was a very quick match. Miz got some brief offense early, Show came back with a Spear and then Miz got KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT~! leading to Show’s win in under one minute. Apparently Miz has lost nine straight televised singles losses, dating back to December 5, 2011. Congrats on the new t-shirt, though. That’s something to be proud of, I guess.
Winner: Big Show (NR)
Post match, Show held his fist up proudly while taunting with it. The match was so short that Cody didn’t even leave the stage area.
They plugged the epic confrontation between Rock & Cena later.
The third Rock history lesson took place outside of the Massachusetts Statehouse. Rock said he could entertain people all over the world, but there’s only one place where he could fight and that’s right here in WWE. I think that means movies are faker than wrestling. Rock said now that the history lesson was over, he wanted to make history at April 1. “Take it to the bank – The Rock will beat you John Cena.” He said later in the night he’d look Cena in the eye and tell the world exactly what he sees. Are you ready, John? This one was the most serious of the three promos. I really liked his tone here. The jokes are nice, but being serious helps build up the confrontation well.
On a personal note, I’m going to a Raw house show on Saturday. Sitting in the second row. I’ll write about the experience on Sunday in Canton’s Corner. I enjoy the house show experience. I’ll be sure to start a few chants. When you’re that close to the action, you might as well make your voice heard. Right?
The “Did You Know?” was about Axxess at WrestleMania. I went last year. I’ll go again this year for one of the sessions, likely on the Friday. It’s a good way to spend a few hours if you’re in town for WrestleMania.
They showed a graphic that plugged that Undertaker would be at Raw next week. Shawn Michaels will be there too. Perhaps Triple H will be there as well. That could be an awesome moment on Raw in Cleveland next week. Last year the three of them had some great promos together on the road to WrestleMania.
Kane vs. R-Truth
The best part of this was a pre-match promo with R-Truth talking to the camera and then ending it by saying “wait a minute, who am I talking to?” It’s funny because he sees an imaginary Little Jimmy person, but he finds it odd that he’s doing a pre-tape talking to nobody in particular. I chuckled a bit. Kane beat him clean with a chokeslam in about 90 seconds. If you’re not a part of a match at WrestleMania you’re a jobber.
Winner: Kane (NR)
Post match, Randy Orton showed up. He gave Kane a RKO. He said it was good to be back. This was in retaliation to Kane attacking him on Smackdown as he welcomed Orton back. Orton vs. Kane at WrestleMania is very likely now. Cena already beat Kane in the Ambulance Match. Orton gets John’s sloppy seconds.
I’m going to re-watch a clip of the main event angle while I write about this part. I want to hit on the key points.
John Cena Addresses The Rock
Nice pop for Cena. Mostly cheers. He pointed out that the place was packed and that people were even sitting behind the scoreboard. He said it was because The Rock is back. He said that it was the real Rock that he needs to face at WrestleMania and that the promos are electrifying just like The Rock needs to be. He wondered what Rock was really saying about him as the crowd started up a “Fruity Pebbles” chant. He said that he’s obsessed with cereal, he makes fun of Cena’s look and he talks about his “Clydesdale or Stonewall Jackson or whatever he’s calling he’s penis.” Laughs for that. He wondered if he was fighting Rock at WrestleMania or The Situation from Jersey Shore. Enough people reacted to that with laughs that it was okay although I don’t watch that show. Cena said Rock was shook up last week and he was stumbling over his words. “He wasn’t sounding like The Rock – he was sounding like the Rain Man.” Good movie. He wondered who could have done that to Rock: “Sounds unbelievable but The Rock got shook up by a prep school thug with no balls that dresses like a Wonder Woman transvestite.” Well played, JC. He said that he looked ridiculous. He mocked that he was wearing kneepads just to talk to the fans. Hey, I’m the one that mocks the wrestlers for wearing gear when they do a promo, or watch TV like Undertaker with his MMA gloves on. I think Cena busted out a Boston accent for a bit of this. Cena wondered who was going to show up at WrestleMania: Is it the dude that wastes 20 minutes on a promo or is it the greatest superstar in the history of WWE? They used to call Stone Cold that. I don’t blame Cena for saying it for Rock. Cena said he didn’t want Dwayne Johnson. “I NEED THE ROCK!” He didn’t want to beat the second best. He wanted to beat the best. Then he called him out.
The Rock marched out with a purpose wearing his “Boots to Asses” shirt. No posing on the turnbuckles. Huge pop for Rocky. The crowd chanted his name. Rock did his “Finally” line about coming back to Boston, which Cena enjoyed along with the crowd. He said he was going to tell the world what he saw in Cena: Fear. He said he sees fear because he’s taking everything away from Cena. Crowd was chanting “Cena” at that moment. John was smiling about it. He said Cena had fear because when Rock beats him at WrestleMania everything that Cena did over the last ten years will be thrown away. “You think you shook my confidence? Look at me.” The crowd chanted “Boots to Asses.” Rock continued: “The Rock has never, ever been more confident about anything in his life.” There was a “tooth fairy” chant. Cena even mentioned it. Pretty funny. Rock said that if you strip away the glitz, the glamour, Hollywood and the catchphrases you would see Rock at his core. He finished it off with: “The Rock is 6 foot 4 and 260 pounds of man that will rip your throat out. At your core you will always be a little boy who will go down in history always as The Rock’s bitch.” Rock left. Cena smirked during Rock’s strong words. I think it was a good reaction by Cena because it showed he wasn’t scared of Rock even with all the tough talk. If Cena backed down there people would think he was a wimp. It showed toughness to smile back at Rock.
As Rock left, Cena mocked Rock by writing on his arm. He wrote Rock’s height and weight on his arm. He said Rock has other options, which would mean Hollywood. Cena said Rock was half right: “If you beat me I lose everything, but if you think for one second that I am afraid of you then not only have you lost your confidence boy but you’ve lost your damn mind!” Crowd cheered. He said at WrestleMania he won’t be Rock’s bitch. “I’m the son of a bitch that will make history by whipping Rock’s ass!” He dropped the microphone as his music played.
Cena jumped into the crowd to celebrate with some people that could have been family or friends. Then we went back in the ring to point at the WrestleMania sign. Can’t forget to point! He rolled out to the floor one more time, hugging his dad, kissing his wife and also his brother in law as he told us. I wonder if his wife enjoyed it when Cena kissed back after Eve kissed him. Let’s just forget that like the whole “embrace the hate” story of the previous two months that turned out to be filler. I was told by people at the show that after the cameras stopped rolling Cena mentioned his brother was doing well after surgery for cancer. He was really emotional. I’m sure these past few months have been tough for John. I have huge respect for the man. Kudos to him for being such a pro.
It was a good ending to the show, I felt. I forgot to mention too that next week on Raw they will have another showdown this time with The Rock signing and John Cena rapping. I guess it will be more comedy stuff next. I wonder if they will brawl in one of the next three episodes of Raw. Perhaps the last one. They might need to do that at some point.
Most would say that Cena got the upper hand on Rock for two weeks in a row. I would agree with that although it was pretty even this week. Rock wasn’t rattled. He showed a lot of confidence. The question is are they intentionally trying to do this or is Cena actually doing a better job of promoting this match than Rock is? I think it’s a little of both. My opinion is that the whole point of Rock vs. Cena is to put over Cena in a way that elevates him as a star seen on Rock’s level…or at least try to convey that message. Vince McMahon can’t be happy that people have been booing John Cena for years even if it is half the crowd or even less than that. He wants them to support Cena. They were smart to schedule this Raw show in Boston. It’s John’s hometown and people cheered him more this time than they did the last time they were there. Yes people liked Rock too, but they supported Cena a lot as well. The playing field has evened out a bit. Cena isn’t the underdog in any way. That doesn’t mean he’ll be cheered in Miami on April 1. I doubt more than 20% of the audience cheers, but that’s okay. What’s important is that because he’s stood up to The Rock, and laughed in his face, people will believe it when he wins the match at WrestleMania. Yes that’s my official prediction – a win for John Cena followed by The Rock raising his hand and showing him respect for being the better man on that night. Whether a rematch happens at Summerslam or beyond is something for us to focus on down the road. After Mania, it’s the hope of Vince McMahon and WWE that this increased support towards Cena lasts into the spring, summer and beyond. Rock is a part timer. Cena is full time. It’s in WWE’s best interests to book Cena very strong in this feud. There’s more money riding on him beyond WrestleMania. To WWE’s credit from a booking perspective, they are doing a fantastic job with the feud so far. I think John Cena has impressed a lot of his doubters too. What they are doing is working. Three weeks of build left. Keep up the good work, WWE.
Three Stars of the Show
1. John Cena – First place for the second week in a row.
2. The Rock – He was better this week than last week. I liked the intensity.
3. (tie) Shawn Michaels – Despite being off for so long, he can still deliver money promos on a consistent basis.
3. (tie) Triple H – I couldn’t pick just one of them. Hunter did a hell of a job too.
7 out of 10
Last week: 6
2012 Average: 6.2
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 4 (January 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 7.5, 5, 4.5, 9
I enjoyed Raw this week. The shows before WrestleMania are always about the promos and video packages more than they are about any matches. It wasn’t a good show for the matches. Promo wise it was an excellent showing. I thought the Hunter/Shawn one was better than the Rock/Cena, but if you throw in Rock’s “history” promos as well as Cena’s empty arena promo it worked for me.
I hope that they pay more attention to the Punk/Jericho feud next Monday. Last week’s promo was awesome. This week they only got about 15 minutes of screen time. If they are competing for the title of WWE Champion and best in the world then please let them show that.
I’m disappointed that Beth Phoenix wasn’t on Raw. I’ve been hoping they would do Beth vs. Kharma at WrestleMania. Now I’m not so sure where they’re going with the divas. Could be a lame battle royal or multi-woman tag. Eve seems to be the top diva now based on screen time of late.
On a final note, wouldn’t it be amazing next week if they found a way to get Michaels & Rock on screen at the same time? Even if it’s a backstage segment where they bump into eachother. I think it would be a cool moment. I’d mark out for it, that’s for damn sure.
As previously mentioned, I’m reviewing every WWE WrestleMania event prior to WrestleMania 28 exclusive to TJR. Recent updates include WrestleManias 13-15 as I’ve passed the halfway point. You can catch up by viewing the archive here if you missed anything.
Also I’ve got a new writing gig over BleacherReport.com. I’ll be writing 3-4 exclusive columns per week over there in the 800 to 1,200 word range. I’ve posted two columns there recently with the first one about the rise of Cody Rhodes and the second one talking about the things I like about NXT right now.
That’s all from me. Keep checking out thejohnreport.net for WrestleMania recaps three times per week (it might be four next week as I pick up the pace) and all the fine columns from the staff at TJR are posted every single day. Thanks for reading!