The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 02/28/11 (Cena/Riley)

The WWE Raw Deal for 02/28/11 (Cena/Riley)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter @johnreport



Live from Buffalo, New York this is the Raw Deal…

We started the show off with Triple H coming out for a promo. The announcers were Josh Mathews and Jerry Lawler. I’m not sure if Triple H talked or if he just stared at that WrestleMania logo. It happened many times during this promo. He talked about his credentials, talking about his 13 WWE Titles (or World Titles), creating DX with Shawn Michaels and Evolution with Ric Flair (somebody alert TNA!). The crowd applauded him and he basically said nobody else on the roster can match up to the Undertaker. Way to bury the guys that have been carrying the company while you’ve been out for 9 months and Undertaker’s been out for 5 months. There are other ways to put yourselves over. “There’s nobody left…” he basically said. I understand saying that you need the test of the Undertaker because ending the streak means a lot, but saying a guy like Cena or whoever else can’t touch Undertaker is bad for future business.

He made sure to mention the Undertaker’s new nickname is The Last Outlaw. Sounds like a Clint Eastwood movie. He also said that nothing else really mattered at WrestleMania, which hurts others in the company too. There’s no need for that. Hunter said Undertaker had only one thing left, The Streak, and if Hunter can’t end it he’ll die trying. It was a solid promo although isn’t it weird that a guy that’s booking the company for the future is burying talent? I don’t get it. The length of the promo was fine.

The music of Sheamus started up. He was laughing at Triple H. Then he went into the ring, Hunter kicked him in the balls and beat the crap out of him. He ended up beating him up outside the ring and put him through the announce table with a Pedigree. That’s called burying a guy and telling the fans that there’s not going to be any return feud with them.

After the beating (and commercial), Jerry Lawler read the GM email to tell us that Sheamus had a match up next.

Evan Bourne d. Sheamus (NR)
It was under a minute. Bourne won with the SSP. Awesome looking move. Good to see him back after missing several months with a shoulder injury. The destruction of Sheamus? I’m not a fan of it, but it’s a case of WWE really pushing the main matches at WrestleMania. Nothing else really matters right now. I still have no idea why Sheamus won King of the Ring only to be buried for months afterward. How can you change your opinion on a guy that quickly?

Here’s a drinking game: Every time the camera pans over to get the WrestleMania logo on the screen, do a shot.

Michael Cole got introduced like he was a major superstar. At least he doesn’t have a theme song. They went to break with him jawing at Lawler. You could hear somebody on production yelling for him to him to have a microphone. Oops. Go to commercial!

Back from break, the announce table was back in perfect shape again. It’s like they knew the other one would be broken. Incredible huh? Haha. Michael Cole called Jerry Lawler into the ring. At first he said he wouldn’t accept his WrestleMania challenge. Then he said he would…under two conditions: His trainer got to be in his corner during the match and he got to pick special referee. Lawler said fine because he wants to get his hands on Cole. The trainer is Jack Swagger. He ended up putting Lawler into the ankle lock, which injured Lawler. Cole stood triumphant with Swagger by his side. The special ref? I don’t know, but the “fired” Vicky Guerrero would work because Lawler poked fun at her in the past. This whole thing was okay, but it sucks because I’d rather see this time given to actual wrestlers. Jack Swagger is a FORMER WORLD CHAMPION…and now he’s managing an announcer. You read that that right. A former world champion is managing an announcer. This is how you build stars for the future?

Steve Austin is on Raw next week in Dallas. Good. Hit the writing team with a Stunner for me.

Michael Cole took Lawler’s place at the announce desk.

More promos. Randy Orton comes out to say he should have punted Punk harder a few years ago. He’s going to break Punk’s neck, snap his spine and cripple him for life. The crowd loved all of it. Punk came out with Nexus because if Orton’s talking alone it can get boring fast. That’s not Randy’s strength. The GM announced CM Punk vs. Randy Orton for WrestleMania. That’s fine by me. In the coming weeks on Raw, Orton will have singles matches against the other Nexus guys and if they lose they can’t be at ringside for the WrestleMania match. If they win they can be at ringside at WrestleMania.

Randy Orton d. Michael McGillicutty (*)
They had a commercial one minute in. Orton won in about 7 minutes. It should have been less than that. He won clean with the RKO of course. The crowd was hot for it the finish.

Post match, Orton was about to punt McGillicutty like he did Husky Harris (to the weight loss center) and just like that time Punk told him to stop. Orton didn’t. He punted McGillicutty back to Florida Championship Wrestling. Then Nexus ran in after the kick while Orton bailed through the crowd.

I loved that they showed the Sin Cara (Mistico) press conference on Raw. All indications are that they are going to give him a legitimate push upon his debut. That doesn’t mean he’s getting a major title push, but he’s going to get something more significant than a typical debuting wrestler. I’m excited about him. I wrote an article about Sin Cara on Friday exclusively at that you can read RIGHT HERE.

The Miz-Cena Promo Confrontation
The Miz came out for a promo. He said the same stuff he always says about how he’s the Must See champion and how he’s been overlooked by Cena and Rock during their verbal battle. It was fine. I like Miz as a talker, but he’s not as elite as Punk or Jericho on the microphone. He mentioned how the tag title match happened like he wanted to. He won the belts and then Cena lost them because he cost him the victory. He said he will beat Cena at WrestleMania and he will beat The Rock. Beat The Rock at what? He’s not in a match. He said after that happens nobody will mention either of them again because he’d be the greatest superstar of all-time.

John Cena came out to talk to Miz. He didn’t seem to care about losing the tag belts, which is not a shock because the tag belts mean nothing in WWE. Shouldn’t he be mad about being attacked post match last week? Apparently not. He was in happy mode. Then he brought out a “doctor’s note” and went into this awful routine to try to mock Miz. He said he wasn’t awesome, he was average. We know that, John. That’s why he rarely looks strong. Then he said Miz needs a microscope, he has 200 cats and owns 1000 pairs of jeans. Who wrote this? Awful. Then he went into his usual routine of gay jokes about Miz & Riley because I guess the superhero babyface isn’t a fan of homosexuals. He said Riley is holding Miz back and people don’t take Miz seriously because of Riley. Then he said Riley locks himself in a closet and eats toilet paper. What kind of humor is this? Then Riley said they named the toilet “the john” because Cena’s full of crap. Wow. Brutal line. I assume that was intentionally a dumb line because they were burying Riley, but I didn’t know. I’m surprised he didn’t go into the “John John The Leprechaun” routine next. Cole, on commentary, mocked Riley for screwing up the line and so did Cena. The line wasn’t the problem. The joke was. Then Cena tried some more jokes that nobody laughed at. Somebody should have thrown a tomato in the ring.

This all led to a match. Finally. Thank God it was about to be over. Cena wanted to wrestle “world’s worst toilet joke” Alex Riley and if he beat him then he no longer had to work for The Miz. Then Miz said that’s fine, but if Riley wins (does anybody with a pulse think Riley might win?) then Cena has to call Miz the greatest of all-time. Remember when Bret Hart had to call Miz the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be? I think The Miz needs to work on his stipulations. The GM buzzed in to say the match will take place inside of a steel cage with the stipulations in place. The only way to win is escape the cage, which is how all cage matches should be. Thank you WWE for that after I’ve been bitching about that every time they had cage matches with the pinfall or submission finishes.

You know how long all of that promo time took? 13 minutes. It felt like 30. All I wanted was for it to end. The goal was to try to make Miz look like more of a threat, but it only made Cena look like an idiot and Miz was an idiot for standing there listening to these horrible jokes. This is your WWE title match? Not well done. I don’t necessarily blame either wrestler. I blame the writing. The material was bad. I understand you can’t do a serious promo every week about the title, but if you are going to do funny stuff at least make it funny. Going with the gay jokes and toilet jokes really isn’t the best thing for a WWE Title match at WrestleMania.

Brie Bella won a Battle Royal to be #1 Contender to Divas Title
A two minute battle royal. Maybe the shortest ever. None of the Smackdown girls were there. They call the Bella switch “Twin Magic” now. Gail threw one of them out, but the refs were distracted by Maryse and the other Bella threw her out. According to, Brie Bella is the #1 contender now. Does it matter? The divas division had so much potential at the end of the year with that TLC match they did. Now it’s Eve versus the Bellas? Very lame. I really hope Awesome Kong comes in soon to destroy these people.

The Rock speaks…via satellite
The Rock’s music played and he spoke from his home. It was not live. Rock’s the best talker when he’s live. On tape he’s still very good, but that special feeling is lacking. He was standing in front of a trophy room in his house with some WWE title belts in the background. He started it off wearing some gear to make him look like Cena, but then he threw it off. He said “finally the Rock has come back to Buffalo” even though he wasn’t there. That’s like telling a chick you love her over the phone when you’re really at the bar checking out the waitress. Not that I would ever do that! He’s come back to a video screen in Buffalo. Rock mentioned that Cena started this whole thing by publicly talking about how Rock said he was WWE for life and then he left for so many years. Rock talked about how WWE was his family with his grandfather and father being in the Hall of Fame. He said when he went to Hollywood he did it to pave the way for the likes of John Cena. So we have Rock to thank for all the bad WWE movies? Boo him for that. He said nobody brings it like The Rock and at WrestleMania that’s what he is going to do. After all that’s what his shirt says. He said he’d address Cena “sooner than he thinks.” The rumor is that he’s going to be on Raw on March 14 or March 21. That’s not confirmed, but I think it would be a good idea to get Rock live on Raw again before WrestleMania gets here. Towards the end of the promo he had Undertaker powers because the lights went off and then on with his words. That was cheesy. Rock ended it with a rap of his own saying he was “back to scratch a major itch, so enjoy your Fruity Pebbles you yabba dabba bitch.” Clever. I enjoyed that.

It was a good 8 minute promo. It was fresh because it was The Rock and he doesn’t do toilet humor. The highlight of the promo was Rock saying “Yabba Dabba Bitch.” No doubt about that. That’s classic Rock. He always knows how to end the promos strong. It’s not as good as when he does it live because he feeds off the crowd better than anybody. It was still above average, though. I have missed him and I will do my best to enjoy every appearance he makes. By the way, he did not mention The Miz at all. He’s the afterthought.

The Undertaker is back on Smackdown. Will he address Kane & Wade Barrett for burying him a few months ago? I doubt it. Maybe he can put them through the announce table to kill that memory.

They had Shawn Michaels on a pre-tape segment talking about Undertaker vs. Triple H and saying how he knows them better than anybody. They aired clips of both guys matches over the years. Shawn said that Hunter might be the only one that can beat Undertaker. Then he said he’s pulling for Hunter, but he doesn’t know how he’d feel if Hunter ended The Streak while he couldn’t. This was a cool video package. I’m not sure if this means Michaels will be the ref for the match or not. I don’t think they need him to be ref. It would take the spotlight away from the match a bit. Keep him out of it.

After the break, Daniel Bryan walked out for something that we never found out because The Miz attacked him like he’s some jobber. Miz beat him up all around ringside and ended it with the Skull Crushing Finale on the floor. The announcers said they’ve never seen Miz that aggressive before. What? They do this every few weeks to try to make him look tougher. He’s “taken out” Orton before (only for Randy to no sell it the next week) and Lawler too. They do it with Miz all the time. It never really works. He called for the main event to begin.

John Cena d. Alex Riley in a cage match (*)
This was one of the worst cage matches I’ve ever seen. It was 12 minutes in length. It was weird because they did a commercial after the 11pmET hour. That’s rare. The timing of this show must have been really screwed up. The Miz was on commentary for the match. Cole was trying to put over how aggressive Miz was and how he didn’t understand why he did what he did. Miz said he did it because he can. Every time Cena was about to win, Miz popped up to interfere. He blocked him from leaving through the door and he used a chair against the cage to prevent Cena from coming down. They did some comedy spots with Miz taking pics of Cena that he posted on his twitter. Then he took out some old phone from his jacket that Riley hit Cena with. Cena put Riley down with the Attitude Adjustment and took a pic of Riley while he was out. Nobody cared. When a match that should be a squash match goes 12 minutes you lose the crowd. That’s just how it is. Cena went to the door, Miz tried to block him and Cena powered out to go crashing out to the floor for the win. The end result is that Alex Riley is no longer working for Miz.

Post match, Miz attacked Cena and gave him the Skull Crushing Finale on the floor. On replays Michael Cole theorized that Miz let go of the cage to put Cena in a vulnerable position. That’s what led to the SCF on the floor. It’s a good attempt to try to put Miz over as a smart heel.

We’re supposed to be talking about The Miz more. Do you think anybody is? No. It’s still about Rock & Cena. Miz is an afterthought despite what they try to tell us. The fact that Cena went on Twitter after the show to show fan reactions to Rock’s promo also showed that Miz was an afterthought. Rock is the one that is helping ratings go up. It’s not Miz. Sorry WWE. Good attempt to make Miz stronger, but I really don’t think it’s working. This whole thing is very similar to Jericho-HHH at WrestleMania X8 when he was the afterthought to the HHH-Stephanie feud. Nine years later and they have not learned their lesson.

Let’s talk about Riley here. From a storyline standpoint if he’s “fired” from working for Miz can’t he still hang out with Miz? The work for Miz thing was stupid to begin with, which is why they did this. I was listening to the free Wrestling Observer Radio show and they’re saying that both Michael McGillicutty and Alex Riley are being sent down to FCW to be re-packaged. I guess that means they won’t be around until after WrestleMania. Give MM a new name. You can tell there’s very little long term planning for these NXT guys because they’re all going to be off TV as they go into WrestleMania.

Three Stars of the Show
1. The Rock – His promo was better than anything on the show.
2. Randy Orton – He was good in his role.
3. The Miz – He tries hard at least.

4.5 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2011 High Score: 9 (Jan. 3 & Feb. 14)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10)
2011 Average: 6.06

Rate the 2/28 Raw on the 1-10 scale…survey software

My scores the last four weeks have been 4.5, 9 (Rock’s return), 5.5 and 4.5, yet that return by The Rock has me so excited for WrestleMania that I’m willing to look past the other shows. That shows his value to WWE right now. He feels fresh whereas the acts of The Miz and Cena feel very stale. I do like the Punk-Orton feud a lot although what’s the point of having the new Nexus if you are punting guys all the way back to the minors? It hurts the stable. Lawler-Cole was advanced well although it’s disappointing to see how far Jack Swagger has fallen down the roster.

There were a lot of people missing from the show, which isn’t a surprise during WrestleMania season. Like I said if you’re not in a WrestleMania match you’re going to be looked over. Just look at Sheamus and Daniel Bryan. It also lacked wrestling. Again, that’s to be expected around WrestleMania season. It’s just a little sad that in a two hour show we got about 20 minutes of in-ring action total. What we got wasn’t very good either. I feel sorry for the fans at the show because they spent their money to watch people talk for the majority of two hours. The matches they got were squash matches while the other two were rushed. A bad night for in-ring action.

A lot of people ask me if Money in the Bank is happening at WrestleMania. I doubt it. It’s a shame because a lot of guys are going to be left off the WrestleMania card without that match. It’s very disappointing to see that promising young talent like John Morrison, Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston among others are lacking true feuds going into the biggest show of the year. At least Jack Swagger gets to manage an announcer! Wow! Ugh.

A positive thing? I’m excited to see Steve Austin back on Raw next week. I wish I was as excited about current stars. That’s an issue with Raw right now. The storylines, aside from Rock-Cena, lack freshness.

I’ll have a column about The Undertaker that will be posted on Wednesday night or on Thursday during the day. Be on the lookout for that.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – [email protected]
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