The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 08/08/11 (Cena/Punk Contract Signing)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport
Live from San Jose, California this is the Raw Deal…
The COO Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon (I add the fourth name) came out to start the show. This is already becoming a too common thing. The announcers are the too loud Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross. Triple H cuts a promo about how at Summerslam we’d have Cena vs. Punk to determine the true WWE Champion. He says to make sure there is one clear winner he’s going to appoint somebody to call the action fairly: himself. Why him? Because he doesn’t trust anybody else. It took him about five minutes to get to the point. He’s the master of being long-winded on promos, isn’t he? He will be the referee of the Cena vs. Punk match. Cue all of the screwjob finishes theorists. He also said that Punk and Cena would be in action this week with Cena’s match coming up next.
Before Cena’s match, he was jawing with Hunter (while the camera was up close) and we could barely hear them because the announcers kept talking over them. Were they supposed to talk over them? I don’t know because of what happened next.
Back from break, they replayed the talk in the ring. Cena told HHH that it was an ego thing while Hunter said it was about the WWE Title, not himself. Hunter told him not to tell him how to officiate while Cena said he had said enough about it. That was interesting. I’m guessing the announcers screwed up before the break, which is why they showed it after the break.
John Cena d. Jack Swagger (*1/2)
A non-title match that went for about five minutes. Swagger got some offense in, worked on the ankle a little bit and never looked like he had a shot of winning the match. It was basically a warm up match for Cena to work against an above average performer, but somebody that isn’t a threat to win either. If I had to list the most underused performers in WWE I think Jack Swagger might be at the top of that list. Cena won with the usual offense and it ended with the Attitude Adjustment as Jerry Lawler screamed like a little girl.
After the match they had a WWE.com poll asking fans to vote on who they think will win the WWE Title match at Summerslam.
They pushed a Miz vs. Mysterio match for later.
Summerslam Recall: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect from Summerslam 1991. A great match that I loved 20 years ago and still do to this day. It’s #11 on my Top 25 Summerslam Matches column. The top ten is coming on Wednesday most likely in the evening.
They had Scott Stanford ready to interview Alberto Del Rio, but Ricardo Rodriguez kicked him out of there and did the interview. Del Rio talked trash about CM Punk because they’d be having a match later.
They showed a video clip of Truth turning heel on Morrison four months ago. The infamous smoking angle. Loved it.
Backstage, “I’m a good R-Truth” led to R-Truth doing a promo asking why of a bunch of things. He asked why packs of hot dogs come in 10s and the buns come in 8s. In Canada they come in 12s and you can buy either 8s or 12s. We’re economical like that. Anyway, he somehow turned this into a rant about spiders and compared Morrison to a spider. It was crazy R-Truth at his best. I laughed. I don’t mind seeing him doing the comedy because he’s good at it.
At Summerslam Cee Lo Green will be singing. Sounds like a good bathroom break while I write my review. Where’s Living Colour to sing Cult of Personality? I doubt they are busy.
Rey Mysterio booyaka’d his way to the stage for his match against The Miz. The announcers mentioned that Mysterio would get his WWE Title rematch next Monday in his hometown of San Diego. It means a Wha’es Vagina according to Ron Burgundy. Not really, but have to reference a great movie. Instead, The Miz attacked him at the top of the ramp. He threw him head first into the set and followed up with kicks to the head. The idea was that Mysterio was knocked out. It’s interesting to note that Mysterio recently had a MRI on his knee and that there are concerns that he might need another major surgery.
With Mysterio out of action, a referee ran to ringside to tell the ring announcer that Triple H has named a new opponent for The Miz. Conveniently, this guy was already wearing his ring gear. Amazing how that works. The music started up and Kofi Kingston bounced out.
The Miz d. Kofi Kingston (**1/2)
Back in his role as designated jobber is Kofi Kingston. They had an 11 minute match with a commercial break thrown in. It was a good match, but much like the Cena match earlier the winner was very obvious from the beginning. I did like the spot where Kingston powerbombed Miz after their battle on the top rope. Kofi had the momentum, but he missed Trouble in Paradise, Miz stunned him using the top rope and then got the pin with the Skull Crushing Finale. A very solid match that did a good job of putting Miz over. What I don’t get is why they have yet to announce a match for him at Summerslam. They built him up for what exactly? It’s a win, but it’s not leading to anything. It would be nice if they had something for Miz in the midcard scene. Perhaps they could add Miz vs. Mysterio at Summerslam although if Rey is out then that’s not likely. How can you not use a talented performer like this guy at one of the major PPVs of the year? Odd.
Backstage, Josh Mathews asked CM Punk about HHH being the ref for the match at Summerslam and Punk responded that it was about Hunter’s big ego. He said what’s good for business is him beating Cena. He also said he’d beat Del Rio and show him what would have happened if he really cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase at Summerslam. It was a solid promo that let the audience know where Punk’s mind is going into the big match.
CM Punk d. Alberto Del Rio (*1/4)
This is a likely future PPV main event, perhaps even this year, and they got just over four minutes. Del Rio came out in an expensive car, but he was never given a shot here. He was there to put over Punk although he did bust out Carlito’s Backstabber at one point. Not saying that Carlito invented the move, but he made it known in WWE. I guess if you’re gone you’re forgotten. Anyway, Punk ended up winning clean with the Go To Sleep. I think Del Rio is going to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase either at Summerslam or the next night because it’s likely that he’ll walk into the Mexico Raw in September as the first Mexican born WWE Champion in history. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I think that’s why this match happened here. It was a good, clean win for Punk, which is exactly what was needed.
Back from commercial, they showed a replay of Beth Phoenix winning the divas battle royal and then turning heel on Kelly Kelly.
Beth Phoenix d. Eve (1/2*)
Phoenix won clean in about three minutes. I love it. Might I add too that Beth was showing of plenty of cleavage. Do we thank CM Punk for that too? Post match, Phoenix cut a promo. She said no more booty popping, no more splits, and no more stink faces. The splits line was a shot at Melina, who was fired on Friday and actually tried to get into the backstage area with John Morrison earlier in the day at, but was told to buy a ticket if she wanted to watch. That’s harsh by WWE although I see why. If you got released you shouldn’t go back to a show three days later. Not a smart move. Back to the show, Kelly Kelly attacked Beth in the aisle. Hopefully Beth wins on Sunday. There’s no reason for Kelly to beat her. Move the title now and then build to the story of Kelly coming back for it later.
Coming up later is Morrison vs. Truth.
There was a video about the Teen Choice Awards. Cena and Miz were there. Cena was in a tracksuit like somebody on Glee apparently. Yep, that seems like a Cena show.
They had Dolph Ziggler come out with Vickie Guerrero to face Alex Riley. Before the match started, Riley made fun of Vickie’s bad breath. At least they didn’t do a fat joke.
Alex Riley d. Dolph Ziggler via DQ (NR)
It went about a minute with Vickie entering the ring to slap Riley causing the DQ. Riley shoved Ziggler, who was supposed to crash into Vickie, but she fell down before she was supposed to. It wasn’t executed properly. Riley left. Then Vickie yelled at Dolph and continued to do so as she went up the stage. This whole thing felt rushed. Does this mean Vickie is teasing another breakup with Dolph? Does this mean there’s a US Title match at the PPV? We don’t really have an answer to either question. It was a bad segment.
Coming up later is the Punk vs. Cena contract signing.
They had an awesome video package on the Punk vs. Cena feud. They always have good ones, but this was especially great. I particularly loved the NFL Films style music at the start of the promo. Got to love NFL Films.
The announcers ran down the PPV lineup: Cena/Punk, Henry/Sheamus, Beth/Kelly and Christian/Orton. They didn’t add any matches during the show. Why not? I have no idea. You need to advertise more than four matches and I’m shocked that they didn’t add Riley/Ziggler or Miz/Mysterio to it. Perhaps they’ll add more on WWE.com or during the Smackdown tapings tonight.
R-Truth d. John Morrison (*)
After four months of build this is their first singles match since the feud started and it goes a whopping four minutes with R-Truth winning clean right in the middle with the Paydirt move. That’s what Shelton Benjamin called it. Does Truth have a name for it? I don’t know. Also, Morrison did a wreckless move at one point. That leap over the turnbuckle where he nearly killed himself on the ring post was insane. Inches away from really hurting himself. Not a smart move when you’re coming back from a neck injury. There’s a reason people do dives to the floor in the middle of the ring rather than by the ring post. It’s one thing to be a risk taker, but don’t be reckless about it. Take care of your body, man.
I’m not sure if Morrison lost clean in four minutes because he tried to bring his released girlfriend to the show, but he’s not getting a lot of love from the creative team right now. He has lost every TV match he’s had since returning from the neck injury. That includes losses on Smackdown too. Since I’m on the subject of relationships in wrestling, somebody ask Drew McIntyre how his career has gone since his ex-wife Tiffany got released and whined about it afterward. He’s barely on the roster at this point and they’re divorced. Don’t let a personal relationship affect the business. The bosses don’t like it.
They showed Triple H backstage with John Laurinaitis aka Super Dave aka Marty Funkhouser looking over the contract.
They plugged that next week on Raw from San Diego it’s Mysterio vs. the WWE Champion. That means Mysterio is losing to Punk, Cena or Del Rio unless he’s hurt.
They cut to Christian who was in Sacramento at Smackdown (or backstage) to mention that he and Orton will be in action on Friday. He also wanted Triple H to be at the show too. That’s a good way to remind viewers that Smackdown is usually a better show than Raw.
The announcers mentioned that the WWE.com poll had 54% of fans picking John Cena to win at Summerslam while 46% of them pick Punk. Who do I pick? I’ll tell you in the Summerslam preview on Friday. I’ll also include a poll in the preview.
The Signing for the WWE Title Match at Summerslam
Triple H and Laurinaitis were in the ring. There was a table, some papers and a couple of chairs. You’ve seen it before because they’ve done plenty of contract signings in the past. Punk came out first followed by Cena. Punk said we don’t need a contract signing because the match is basically signed, so he wanted to show us something. It was a video from the Rock from mid-July that was posted online. He said it was a clip from a real movie star, not the guy that starred in The Chaperone, which was Triple H. Hunter: “How was your movie by the way?” Punk: “Mine went straight to DVD just like yours.” Great. Triple H has a new movie coming out soon. I wonder if Vince liked that shot at WWE Films. Probably not, but they are encouraging the “real” promos so I’m glad Punk said it. They showed about a minute of Rock’s speech. If you haven’t seen the full 11 minute promo by The Rock you can watch it here. It’s great stuff. The highlight is the line about Cena looking like a “transvestite Wonder Woman fruity pebble.” Punk mentioned that he agreed with some of it. Cena talked about how a guy like The Rock, who has everything, shouldn’t get so worked up about Cena because Rock has it all. Then he transitioned to Punk. He said he was the “voice of the voiceless.”
Cena talked about how he didn’t concern himself with the fans that hated him. He didn’t care about the ones that had the views of The Rock or anything like that. “I could increase my workrate, add to the five moves of doom or maybe let my heel persona shine through.” – John Cena. Did it in a weird voice too, so that was great. The majority of the fans didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but I sure liked it. He transitioned it to talking about how what he cared about are the ones that wear their colors proud and are loyal to him. He said he wouldn’t give up on them. They are the ones he cared about. The majority of the crowd cheered. He said there was nothing phony about it and wrapped it up by saying if Punk wanted to see a phony he should look in a mirror.
Then Hunter brought up how Cena had a point because Punk came back for more money. Punk referred to John Laurinaitis as “Funk Man” aka Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Marty Funkhouser, which was a huge markout moment for me. So good. He asked if they personally fired Kozlov, Masters or Harry Smith (DH Smith, who Punk referred to by his real name) or if they did it like cowards? The answer is by cowards. I like how he said DH’s real name, but not the other two. Oh well. Punk mentioned winning the ECW Title five years ago and Cena went up to him to say that he almost gave up on him. That pissed off Punk because he didn’t think Cena should be talking down to him like that. He spoke about how Cena moved to Los Angeles because he wanted to be a bodybuilder while Punk always wanted to be a wrestler. Does he want his own ice cream bar? “You damn right,” said Punk.
The promo wrapped up with another Punk promo talking about all the things that Cena has had given to him as the top guy. The best line was this: “You’ll still have your legions of fans that will pee in their pajamas every time they think about you.” Cena countered by talking about how much pressure Punk has on him on Sunday. Cena: “You beat me, straight up. Ever wondered what might happen if you lose at Summerslam?” He talked about how whether he wins or loses he’s still going to Mania against Rock. He tells Punk that he talks a big game and he has the pipe bomb, but if he doesn’t back it up on Sunday he’s a loudmouth one hit wonder. “If you don’t produce on Sunday with all of this on the line – for you all this – gone just like that (snaps finger). Good luck.” Punk responded that he’d rather be a one-hit wonder (what Cena called him) than a phony. Then they got physical to end it.
They cleared the table out and went face to face. John Laurinaitis broke it up. Punk kicked Laurinaitis in the head. I guess he was going for Cena, but the Funk Man got in the way. Triple H pushed Punk back, then Cena came charging in and punched Punk although Hunter ended up going down too. Hunter got up to push Cena in the chest. With Punk standing in the aisle, the camera got close to him saying “is the fix in, Hunter?” He was insinuating that Hunter wants Cena to win. The majority of the crowd was chanting “CM Punk” as the show came to a close.
That was a 21 minute promo to end Raw. I can’t remember too many promos going longer than that in the last segment of the show. I think they did a great job because it added to the interest of the match. That’s what you call a hard sell. The match isn’t about a good guy vs. a bad guy. It’s about seeing who the better man is. Each guy did a great job of making their points in a manner that suited their style while putting over what the title means to them. The added intrigue of Triple H as referee only adds to it. Will it be a clean match? Will there be a screwy finish? Only way to find out is to watch Summerslam. That’s how you do it. The idea that Punk has to win to prove that he’s really a top guy versus the idea that if Cena wins he proves once again that he’s still the man. It’s a good story that resonates with fans mark and smarks alike. Great job by WWE in ending this week’s Raw.
Three Stars of the Show
1. CM Punk – Obviously. He was one of the two guys that the show was about.
2. John Cena – Him too.
3. The Miz – He really was awesome here. It’s ridiculous that he’s not advertised for a match at Summerslam. Has Jeremy Piven still banned him for Summerfest?
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 5
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10/May 9)
2011 Average: 5.86
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 7.5, 6, 6, 5
I’m going with a 6.5 out of 10 this week. The main event promo went just over 20 minutes and did an incredible job of hyping up the importance of the Punk/Cena match. They let both guys talk a lot, they went with the “real” aspect and it made it special because it wasn’t the typical contract signing deal. The whole thing was a lot of fun. I think everybody needs to watch it if they missed it. The rest of the show was okay too. Nothing stood out or wowed me and they didn’t add any new matches to Summerslam.
What I wrote last week about the Raw midcard holds true. Instead of announcing matches like Miz vs. Mysterio and Truth vs. Morrison at Summerslam they teased Miz/Rey while giving away Truth/Morrison already. Also, there’s no official match for Del Rio even though he’s a near main eventer. All of that is odd for a show like Summerslam, isn’t it? I understand that the main events are what sell, but the midcard is important in terms of filling out the card.
I really enjoyed Beth Phoenix’s performance again. Not only do I like her as a heel, but I disliked all those awful Kelly/Eve/Bella matches so much that it’s refreshing to see somebody ripping on them.
I didn’t really touch on it, but the announcers were better this week. They toned Cole down a bit while Ross got to talk a bit more although I still think he should be the lead play by play guy instead of Cole. Still, at least it was better than last week’s poor announcing job.
Last thing about Raw, I do not miss the Anonymous GM at all. I am absolutely fine with them not mentioning it. It was a bad angle. Don’t bring it up. People will forget. We don’t need a name. I don’t care for it. Move on. It’s fine by me.
Check out this past weekend’s edition of Canton’s Corner on August 6th for more thoughts on Raw, plus my extended takes on Smackdown, Impact and the always interesting poll of the week. I’ll be back on Wednesday with part two of the Top 25 Summerslam Matches of All-Time with the Top 10 coming your way. To check out numbers 25 to 11 click here. Then later in the week there will be a Summerslam preview (most likely on Friday), Canton’s Corner on Saturday and then live Summerslam coverage on Sunday. Basically I’m writing something every day this week except Thursday.
Thanks for reading.
Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.