The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 04/05/11 (Rock-Cena)

The WWE Raw Deal for 04/05/11 (Rock-Cena)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter @johnreport



I was at WrestleMania and had a great time. That’s partly why this is going up later than my usual because it’s been a process just to recover from it all. I’ll talk about that at the very end as well as some articles that are coming up. For now let’s just talk about this week’s Raw because that’s what you’re here for. It’s going to be shorter than my usual too.

Live from Atlanta, Georgia this is the Raw Deal…

The announcers were Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, which immediately brought a smile to my face. I’m sure some people thought Ross sitting there would be a permanent thing. I would love that, but that’s just not going to happen.

We started the show out with Triple H cutting a promo about his great match with Undertaker at WrestleMania. I rated it ****1/2 from being there live although I’ll watch the broadcast of it to give it an official rating later in the week. The point of the promo was to put over how much punishment Undertaker took, yet he still came back and won. He talked about how he inflicted more pain on Undertaker than anybody in his career, but Undertaker was still able to overcome it. He even said that he wrestled him at WrestleMania before, which is something they never mentioned in the build to this. He put over Undertaker’s toughness, thanked him and said that while some thing Undertaker won’t be back he knows better. He knows he’ll be back and when he’s back he’ll be waiting. I’m not sure if this means they do HHH-Undertaker at WrestleMania next year or maybe at Summerslam. It’s happening again, though. Big credit to both guys because they worked their ass off and gave us a classic at WrestleMania.

The question with Hunter is what will his role be going forward? Is he a part timer or will he feud with some of the younger members on the roster? Not sure.

Michael Cole came out to massive heel heat wearing the same outfit he wore at WrestleMania. This was a long segment where he bragged about how great he was by “beating” Lawler at Mania. He challenged Lawler to match. Lawler had his gear on, so he said yes. It wasn’t against Cole, though. It was against Swagger.

Jerry Lawler d. Jack Swagger via DQ (*1/4)
They got about four minutes. The crowd was hot for most of it, particularly for anything Lawler is. I have to say that Lawler is still very over with the crowd and they are doing a great job of capitalizing on that. Swagger ended up winning the match with the ankle lock. After he won he didn’t let go of the hold and the ref reversed the decision to give the win to Lawler.

Post match, Michael Cole went into his Cole Mine (covered in caution tape to sell the beating from Mania), grabbed a bottle of JR’s BBQ sauce and squirted the sauce onto Ross. JR chased after him, but Cole got away from him by running up the ramp like a coward. And that’s the end of Ross announcing on Raw, I guess. What’s the point of all this? I’d guess it leads to Lawler & Ross vs. Swagger & Cole at Extreme Rules. It doesn’t seem like the angle is over.

Back from break, they replayed Cole taking out Ross. The announce team for the rest of the night was Cole, Josh Mathews & Booker T., which is the Smackdown team. From what I understand they plan on keeping it as Cole, Mathews & Lawler on Raw going forward. Who knows, though? Vince likes to change his mind.

Randy Orton & Rey Mysterio d. CM Punk & Cody Rhodes (***)
A long tag match on Raw is pretty rare, huh? The match went 17 minutes and it had two commercial breaks in it as well. This is the kind of match I’d like to see on a more regular basis on Raw. We get these kinds of matches on Smackdown fairly often, but Raw’s more “entertainment” based than Smackdown is. What bothered me about the match is that Cody was the one that took the pin. I realize that nobody’s going to remember that in the long run, but he just came off a win against Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania. It would have been good to keep the momentum going. I understand Orton pinning him, though. Makes sense. I also think both feuds could continue going into Extreme Rules at the end of the month. At least Orton-Punk will continue there in some kind of gimmick match.

Backstage, Steve Austin bumped into Triple H. He said “hell of a match” about his match with Undertaker. They shook hands. Hunter simply said “Thanks man.” That was cool with me. I loved the Austin-HHH feud that happened in late 2000 and into early 2001. Their match at No Way Out 2001 is five stars. Highly recommended.

Sin Cara is coming up later. I was hoping to see him in the pre-match battle royal at WrestleMania, but that didn’t happen.

Steve Austin came out at the top of our two. He was there to plug Tough Enough, which was debuting after Raw (in the United States). Austin introduced them and they all got to speak for a bit. The crowd chanted “stun them all” when they were done. That was funny. The Miz’ music hit. He was at the top of the ramp as Cole stood up applauding him, then said hilariously: “I wonder if he saw me.” That cracked me up. The Miz talked about how tough he is and they showed a clip from WrestleMania when Cena clotheslined him over the barricade and Miz crashed hard onto cement with his head smacking the ground. He walked into the ring saying he just headlined WrestleMania and beat John Cena, so he is the new face of WWE. Miz talked trash to Austin, asking him if he wanted to touch his belt. He wondered if Austin was tough enough as the crowd chanted “one more match” and Miz challenged him. Austin said “clear the ring” as the Tough Enough kids bailed. As they left, Riley attacked him while Miz bailed. Then Austin took over, hit all of his signature spots on Riley and ended it with a Stunner. He ended the segment with a beer with the Tough Enough kids. To end the segment, Austin dumped beers onto Michael Cole in the Cole Mine, which was great.

I liked the segment. I’m guessing that Austin might be on Raw a bit more frequently during the airing of Tough Enough to try to help the ratings for that show. I’m not sure if he’s interested in one more match since it’s been 8 years since the last one, but he does look to be in great shape. I think an opponent like The Miz or CM Punk (who he often shares smartass comments with on Twitter) would be awesome to see. The Punk feud would be perfect since Austin’s the notorious beer drinker while Punk is straight edge. Like I said I’m not sure if he’d ever do it although Austin has always been the type to say “never say never” when it comes to that.

I need to plug a talk radio appearance I’m doing. I was on there last week. I’m back again to talk about WrestleMania. Here’s the info from my buddy Cory.

The Jakey and The Ace show tonight at 10pmET/9pmCT.
Dial in # for fans: 917-388-4635 or Skype.
Twitter: @jakeyandtheace

Last week I talked to a bunch of TJR readers. Give it a listen and call in. I will be on for an hour. I want to hear from you too.

Alberto Del Rio d. Evan Bourne (*)
This was a predictable win that went under three minutes, which is what it should be. I’m surprised that Del Rio lost at WrestleMania, which I’ll get to later in the week. Winning the Rumble means you get to “main event” WrestleMania, yet here this guy was wrestling in the opening match. I think he’ll get the title sooner rather than later, but I don’t understand the booking decision at WrestleMania. Anyway, the whole purpose of this was to get him back on the right track to show how ready he is.

They recapped all the action from WrestleMania Week. I wrote a diary from WrestleMania. There were going to be three parts, but I really only had time for two. The first part covers arriving there and the atmosphere in Atlanta. The second part was written Sunday morning after spending my Saturday at Axxess and Hall of Fame. I never got around to writing anything on Monday morning because I was out late Sunday night with some friends, so there wasn’t enough time before I left. Like I said I’ll write more in the Mania column to come.

Vickie and Dolph challenged Morrison and Trish. That was up after the break.

John Morrison & Trish Stratus d. Dolph Ziggler & Dolph Ziggler (*)
I like Vickie, but they should keep her as a manager. She shouldn’t be in matches. There are enough talented girls on the roster that aren’t being used in the ring that should be used. Vickie gets her heat because of her mouth, not her physical actions. Make her a manager only. Morrison pinned Ziggler after about three minutes. Remember how Morrison was on fire early in the year following a classic match with Miz on the first Raw and then a great showing in Elimination Chamber? I thought maybe he’d be elevated. Now he’s back to where he was before. You can say the same about Ziggler too.

Coming up later is Cena calling out Rock.

Sheamus d. Daniel Bryan (*)
Remember a week ago when I was saying if they got 10-15 minutes at WrestleMania they’d have the match of the night? Not only did they get less than 3 minutes at Mania, but it was only on the pre-show too. Lame. They hate this belt. Sheamus is trying to get it over by wearing red, white & blue clothes while we’re probably supposed to forget that he won King of the Ring. Sheamus won this one in about 4 minutes. Bryan has been used terribly for the past three months even when he was holding the belt. At the end of 2010 he had strong matches with Miz & Ziggler. Now he’s another nobody in the midcard. Apparently WWE likes Sheamus again. That’s nice to know after he was buried.

After the match, it was time for Sin Cara’s debut. He wore the blue & yellow mask we’ve seen him wear in the video packages. He charged the ring, leapt off a trampoline (you can’t see it from the angle they shot it from) and didn’t clear the ropes perfectly, but it wasn’t that bad. Cara took down Sheamus with the headscissors and then jumped him on him off the top rope with a scintillating (fun word to say) cross body off the top rope to the floor. He got a lot of height on it. It looked awesome on replay. Booker wondered why he’d go after Sheamus. To make an impact, of course. I liked it as a debut.

John Cena Calls Out The Rock
I have one simple question: Why is John Cena smiling when he walks out onto the stage the night after he doesn’t win the belt? Awful. He should be angry. He should be furious. Instead he’s laughing like nothing bad happened the night before. Was this his call or was he instructed to do this? I don’t understand the logic of it. He said he’s not going to complain because if Rock didn’t interfere then the Mania main event would have ended in a draw. Then he said Miz proved to be a worthy champion and after his performance earlier he earned a lot of respect. What performance? He ran away from Austin like a cowardly little bitch. Do they know what they are writing this guy to say or is he a robot? I don’t get it.

The Rock came down to a huge ovation again. The one at WrestleMania to start the show was one of the biggest pops I’ve ever heard. The Rock asked Cena what did he expect to happen at WrestleMania? Rock said he talked smack about Cena because that’s what he does. Rock said he respected him, but it doesn’t change the fact that he dislikes him. Then he ripped on his appearance, to which Cena replied poignantly: “fashion advice from the Tooth Fairy.” Now THAT was a good line. Cena said the fans wanted a match between them that would see generations collide, referencing Ali & Tyson as well as Jordan & LeBron James. Jordan actually won stuff, unlike LeBron James, but I get the reference. He said they want Cena vs. Rock, so do you want to talk about it or do you want to bring it? The Rock said let’s make it official for WrestleMania 28 in Miami. The crowd booed at first. Why? You thought they’d do it there? Um, no. Then they warmed back up with some Rockisms while Cena liked what they heard. They shook hands to make it official.

Following the challenge, The Corre randomly came out to attack them. That didn’t work as Cena and Rock took care of them. They hit all their signature moves in a “can you top this?” kind of moment. They shook hands and did a stare down to end the show.

April 1, 2012: Rock vs. Cena. It’s official. They already sent out a press release. I’d love it if Cena went into the match as a heel. That would make it even better. Will it happen that way? I doubt it. I’m just saying the intrigue would be even greater.

Three Stars of the Show
1. The Rock
2. Steve Austin
3. Triple H

Those three are the stars of the show. Is this 2011?

5 out of 10
Last week: 9.1
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10)
2011 Average: 6.19

A very average Raw. The one long match was pretty good, the Miz-Austin segment was solid and the main event showdown with Rock & Cena delivered as promised. The rest of the show felt very lethargic to me.

As for Rock’s future, I don’t think we’ll see him again for many months. Maybe in the summer. Maybe later in the year. I don’t think he’ll be on WWE TV a whole lot going forward. That’s why they booked it for April 1, 2012 and not some point earlier.

I’ll be back on Thursday or Friday with a WrestleMania recap. I want to watch the broadcast of it while also adding in my live perspective thoughts. I think Friday is more likely. Until then, thanks for reading.

John Canton – [email protected]
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