The John Report: WWE Raw Deal for 07/04/11 (Cena/Vince Talk)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport
Happy birthday America. This was a taped Raw. I knew the results going in. Didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the show. Did you notice that there were times when Lawler & Cole weren’t talking in the background yet you could hear their voices? The magic of editing. Also the canned crowd noise that is prevalent on Smackdown. I hate that part of the taped shows. Taped last week from Las Vegas, Nevada (my favorite city in the world) this is the Raw Deal…
They opened the show with a video package showcasing the epic CM Punk promo from last week. When they cut to the arena they didn’t say what city they were in. In other words, they don’t want to tell you that this was a taped show.
The show started off with John Cena coming out to the ring. The previous week’s show ended with Punk talking while Cena was in the ring. He went backstage, then about ten minutes later he came back out and the promo began. It’s understandable that the crowd was a bit burnt out by this point. Cena says even though he doesn’t always agree with Punk he thinks the decision by WWE to suspend Punk sucks. He said he didn’t see anything wrong with what Punk said. He mentioned Daniel Bryan being fired last year for “being too aggressive” (hello tie choking!), he talks about signs being confiscated (woo woo woo) and now Punk being suspended for speaking his mind. There’s a group in the front row that chanted “First Amendment” so Cena mentions that it means freedom of speech. Cena says this is bigger than the Raw GM. He wants to talk to McMahon himself. He said they’d have a talk later on in the show.
This was fine for an opening promo. Not long winded. Straight to the point. It keeps people interested in the rest of the show.
They showed Kelly and Eve smiling as they walked to the ring. That’s their only facial expression I think.
Eve & Kelly d. The Bella Twins (1/2*)
Yawn. Feels like we’ve seen this dozens of times this year. Eve got worked over, Kelly got the hot tag, hit her PG stinkface and then the K2 Rocker Dropper for the win after three minutes. Why isn’t Beth Phoenix used more? I guess it’s because she’d overshadow the bikini models that can’t throw dropkicks properly. God forbid they actually use the talented ones. Turn Beth heel. It would freshen things up at least. I miss Kharma.
They did a video package on “Silent Rage” Andy Leavine while FCW trainers Steve Keirn (Skinner!) and Ricky Steamboat talked about him. It’s nice that they are featuring him weekly. They need to say his full name instead of just Andy, though. I’m not sure about the Silent Rage gimmick. He’s young. Lots of time, though.
The weekly R-Truth comedy promo started with him talking on the phone to Flo from the Progressive auto insurance commercial. He said there’s still a conspiracy, but that he saved 15% on his auto insurance on Geico. I actually had people say that Flo isn’t from Geico. It’s a joke, people. He’s the dumb heel guy, remember? Del Rio showed up. Truth called him Senor Jimmy. Del Rio talked about his destiny.
They plugged Smackdown, which has another Christian vs. Sheamus #1 contender’s match. It was taped last Wednesday. Results are out there if you want to know.
Cole mentioned McMahon being en route to Raw. Why wasn’t he there already? I guess they’re not creative enough to come up with excuses.
Otunga & McGillicutty d. Santino & Kozlov (*)
I honestly forgot that they were tag team champions. This match was filler. It doesn’t advance any storylines or make me care about any of the guys. The booking team doesn’t care about them. Why should the fans? The heels worked over Kozlov, Santino got the hot tag, hit the Cobra on Otunga, who wasn’t legal, so McGillicutty dropped him with a swinging neckbreaker out of nowhere for the win after 4 minutes. That’s a finisher now?
You know what was a great tag match in WWE last week? From WWE Superstars it was The Usos & Trent Baretta vs. Tyson Kidd, Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel. Watch that match HERE and pay attention to the spot at the 11:15 mark. Also listen to the standing ovation they got. That’s from hard work. These are the types of star making matches that need to be on Raw and Smackdown. They gave them 13 minutes, they told them to go out there, work their asses off and the crowd absolutely loved it. Not filler like this boring tag match or the divas tag.
Back to the show, after the match Zack Ryder showed up, said “Woo Woo Woo You Know It” and then left. Several internet fans had a joygasm during this, I imagine. I guess they’re testing the waters to see what kind of pop he gets, if he gets any at all. It was decent. It’s a start, Ryder fans. Maybe this means he’ll team with Curt Hawkins against the tag champs as a babyface team. Ryder’s being booked as a face now, so that could be it. I don’t know. Slow build. Better than no build. Right? I’m so optimistic lately.
Backstage, Miz cut a promo on Alex Riley in lieu of their match later in the show. It was the typical promo about Riley being nothing without Miz. At least he didn’t say he was like his dad like Cole always says.
Backstage, smiling Evan Bourne (what babyface doesn’t smile all the time?) talked to Sgt. Slaughter about the Fourth of July. Jack Swagger interrupted saying Slaughter once sided with Iraq, Slaughter said everybody makes mistakes like Jack’s parents when they didn’t use birth control. Owned by an old guy. They’ll have a match later.
They showed Vince McMahon’s plane landing in town for Raw where it was dark. It should be pointed out that Raw was being taped in Vegas, so that’s three hours behind, meaning it would be about 6:40pm Vegas time as this happened on the “live” show. It should have been landing with light out. I know that’s nitpicking, but I guess in WWE’s defense they never spoke of the city.
I liked the video they used showing Jack Swagger winning Money in the Bank at WM26 in 2010. Then he won the World Title, then he lost it soon after and has been thrust back to the midcard for the past year…but you already knew that.
Jack Swagger d. Sgt. Slaughter (1/4*)
Sarge got a decent pop because it was the July 4th show and he’s known as a proud American although Cole did mention his 1991 heel run as an Iraqi sympathizer. Lawler shrugged it off, of course. The Sarge is 62 years old by the way. At least it was short at just over a minute. Post match, Swagger put him in the ankle lock. Sarge tapped. Evan Bourne knocked Swagger out of the ring and saved Sarge. Then Sarge said the Pledge of the Allegiance to the crowd, who at this point was three hours into a TV taping, so they weren’t really saying it with him.
Alberto Del Rio d. Rey Mysterio & R-Truth to become #1 Contender to WWE Title (***)
They had a very good 13 minute match. Still no Ricardo Rodriguez to announce Del Rio. He didn’t get the full entrance either. This was the typical triple threat match that we see all the time. They are always good matches. I have to give props to Mysterio who carried a very good tag title match earlier at the tapings and then he had the best match of the night here too. I’ll never understand why the guy has haters, who seem to want to write me about how much they don’t like him. I’m a fan of Rey. Have been for 15 years. He’s been consistently great everywhere he’s been. The best spot of the match was when Truth did a sunset flip on Del Rio while ADR gave Mysterio a German Suplex, which Rey sold perfectly by popping up due to the speed of the move and then collapsing down. The finish worked with Mysterio hitting the 619, the splash and then going for a pin. Then ADR showed up, slapped on the Cross Armbreaker and Mysterio tapped within a few seconds, which puts over the viciousness of the move. That works for me because it puts it over as a MMA type of submission rather than a traditional wrestling finisher where guys are fighting out of it for ten to fifteen seconds.
What does this mean for Money in the Bank now that Del Rio is #1 contender? Is he still in the match? I assume so. Let’s hope for some clarification next week.
The Money in the Bank PPV is coming up in two weeks. I wrote a piece about the Smackdown ladder match that you can read here where I look at the eight competitors involved. Who do I think is going to win? You’ll have to read the article, but I’m leaning in the direction of a heel. I set up a poll too. Vote here.
After that number one contender we just saw and the ending to this week’s Raw I’m not sure if the competitors in Raw’s MITB match will be the same. We’ll hold off on the Raw poll for later in the week or next week.
They showed clips of the first Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 21 in 2005 that Edge won. The editing completely omitted Chris Benoit from the clips while focusing on the others. Great match. Should I write a column covering all the Money in the Bank matches in the past? I might do that. If I do it would likely be a list ranking all the Money in the Bank ladder matches. Maybe for this weekend.
Holy crap, it’s Kofi and Dolph in something other than a match together. Wow! They said it was Dolph’s birthday because he’s the “champion of America” so to speak. His birthday is later in July, in case you care. They had a cake. Vickie was out there. Guess what happened? She went into the cake. Kingston came out of this looking strong by humiliating the heel champion. This won’t lead to a PPV match since Kofi’s in the Money in the Bank match while Ziggler isn’t for some strange reason. Being US Champion shouldn’t take him out of that match. It’s more important than the secondary title. The fans know that. They’ve been conditioned to know that. Kingston beat him via DQ two weeks ago, then clean in singles last week and now he humiliated the guy. Knowing how WWE books that likely means Ziggler goes over next time.
They showed the video highlighting Miz winning Money in the Bank last year. That was a predictable win, but he was the right choice.
Before the next match started, they had a babyface video package on Alex Riley that showed how he grew up wanting to be a wrestler. It’s similar to the videos they play on NXT when they introduce the new guys. At least that’s what I remember when I actually watched NXT during the first two seasons.
Alex Riley d. The Miz (*1/2)
It was fine for a 10 minute match. The announcers bickered the entire time with Cole saying Riley was a spoiled rich kid while Lawler defended him due to the all the abuse he had to deal with while under the Miz’ tutelage. Riley needs to get better at working the babyface style and getting the fans into his comebacks because they were dead for a lot of it. That could be due to the fact that it was a four hour TV taping (plus Superstars), but you could tell they were busting out the canned crowd noise for various points of the match. The majority of the match saw Miz in control using a lot of aggression. Riley kept kicking out and made a big comeback with a perfect looking spinebuster. Miz went for the Reality Check, Riley countered with a sloppy looking backslide that looked edited in post production. It wasn’t smooth. That was enough for the pinfall victory at about 10 minutes. A backslide gets a victory? That’s rare. Usually they do cradles for surprise pins. When was the last time a backslide got a pinfall? It’s nice that they are pushing somebody new on the babyface side. I just don’t think Riley is the right guy. I’d rather see Swagger turn babyface because his gimmick is dead and he can wrestle at a much higher level.
Post match, Miz brutally attacked Riley around the ringside area. He’s frustrated that he lost twice to him. The beatdown was fun. Yes I said fun. It reminds me of the attacks on Cena and Orton when they were trying to push him as a more serious competitors. He did his “look at me I’m really angry” face a lot.
They showed Vince McMahon arriving in a limo. Time check would be just before 8pm Vegas time. It wouldn’t be dark then either. Their excuse is they never told us what city they were in. See Vince? I can come up with creative excuses for you. Free of charge.
McMahon and Cena talk about CM Punk
Vince McMahon came out in a powder blue suit. Go Tar Heels? He said he suspended CM Punk because it’s about him doing what’s right for the fans. He said Punk wanted to limousines, to fly first class, be on magazines, DVDs, “all that crap” and he said he wasn’t worthy of being on them. He suspended him because he deserved it. He said “CM Punk is just that, a punk.” Then he said see ya next week in Boston even though the show had time left and John Cena’s music hit. This was where it got interesting. Cena: “I still want to fight. And I want to fight CM Punk. If you don’t feel like fighting maybe you should hang it up old man.” The crowd gave the “ooohhhhh” type of reaction because he called Vince old. Oh no he didn’t. Then they snapped their fingers in a Z formation. I saw that in a movie before. Then Vince told him the real reason for the suspension is that he didn’t want to take the chance that Punk would beat Cena and leave with the belt. He mentions going through this before (think of Bret Hart in 1997).
“Don’t piss me off, okay?” Vince to Cena. That’s when things got even more interesting as Cena questioned him. He told Cena not to be Hogan and all those other guys in the past. Cena yelled at him, telling him he should give the people what they want. He blamed Vince’s ego for getting in the way. Vince said it was embarrassing and said he didn’t give a damn what the people want. Five minutes earlier he said he was doing what’s right for the fans. This when he turned into heel Vince. “It’s not your company, it’s my company. I do what’s right for the company and for each and every one of these people. My decisions are good ones.” Cena took off his hat because he was SERIOUS now. He said he gets it, he realizes that everybody is replaceable and said that he works his ass off for the company because it stands for something. He said Punk earned the right to face him. Then he gave Vince the belt and walked off. “You’re no different than all the rest you ingrate!” That sounds like my ex-girlfriend. What I say? Cena walked off. Vince stopped him at the top of the ramp. Face to face.
Vince: “CM Punk is reinstated. You’ve got your match.” The crowd cheers. Cena smiles. Vince tells him to stop smiling. “If CM Punk walks out of Chicago with this championship I’ll walk right down that aisle, look right in your face and say John Cena, you’re fired!” Then the crowd boos. The show ended with Cena holding the WWE Title once again. Good ending. It makes you wonder what’s next.
I really liked the McMahon-Cena promo for the most part with Cena doing a better job than McMahon. It’s another example of how good of a talker Cena is when he’s not reciting dialogue that is more appropriate for Sesame Street than WWE Raw. It’s very rare to see a talent have an on air discussion with the boss like that. Since Vince has barely been on TV the last few years he felt very fresh too. The idea that Vince doesn’t have confidence in Cena puts over Punk huge. It makes him scary. That’s what you need to do with heels. Make them a threat to a title. This angle doesn’t just make him a threat to the title, but to Vince’s company…in Vince’s eyes. You don’t always have to do over the top angles to draw ratings. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. That’s exactly what they’re doing. The story works.
Where do I think it’s going? I really have no idea. After watching the segment I would like to think that perhaps McMahon is in cahoots with Punk. Maybe they’re working together, Punk will get the title, Cena will be “fired” so to speak and we’ll see Triple H return as a babyface to feud with Punk while fighting for the company against evil McMahon. The only problem with that is I don’t see Cena being off TV for any length of time as long as he’s healthy. I mean we saw him “get fired” last year yet he was on TV every week anyway. Either that or they do the obvious thing where Cena wins, Punk leaves and they move on to Cena-Del Rio at Summerslam. I like my first scenario better although that’s contingent on Punk agreeing to stay long term. A lot of things could happen, though. That’s what I like best about this. I have no idea. You know what? That’s fine with me. Being surprised MATTERS. Wait, wrong company.
By the way Raw is in Boston next week. Does Cena get the hometown crowd support? It’s usually not much different than the normal. A McMahon-Cena-Punk promo would likely do a great job of promoting the Money in the Bank PPV.
Three Stars of the Show
1. John Cena – Two worthwhile promos that were exactly what was needed.
2. Alberto Del Rio – Winner of the best match of the night. What’s next?
3. The Miz – The match with Riley was just average. The post match beatdown was excellent.
5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10/May 9)
2011 Average: 5.8
Last 5 Weeks: 5, 7, 5.5, 5, 4.5
It was an average Raw. There’s no doubt that being taped hurt the quality a bit because otherwise a lot of fans would have been excited going into this one due to what happened last week. It felt like a show that was used to bridge the gap from last week’s memorable ending to next week’s show, which will be the return of CM Punk as they head into Money in the Bank following that episode of Raw.
One good match. The triple threat was very good. Like I always say it’s easy for triple threats to be good because they are very formulaic. I didn’t like Riley/Miz very much. Riley has a long way to go still and it’s silly for WWE to put him in a match over ten minutes. He doesn’t do the little things good enough yet.
I’m excited for next week. CM Punk will likely be on the show to speak again. What will he say? I think every WWE fan, smart fan and mark alike, is interested to hear that promo. Not since the Rock first appeared in February has there been this much excitement. That was a special case due to a guest appearance. This is for a well done angle. It’s about freakin’ time. Thank you to CM Punk, John Cena – who played his part perfectly on this show, Vince, the idiot daughter and doofus son-in-law for giving us an angle we can truly enjoy.
By the way, you know what I liked about this week’s Raw? No Raw GM. That was refreshing.
In case you missed it here’s the entire McMahon/Cena segment that closed the show.
Thanks for reading. Live Raw deal next week on thejohnreport.net. Before that I have some other columns in the works too. Always working. Never stop. Rock on, Cantonia.