The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 04/18/11 (Orton/Punk)

The WWE Raw Deal for 04/18/11 (Orton/Punk)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter @johnreport



Welcome to the Raw Deal. I wrote a column about the New Face of Smackdown over the weekend as well as a recap of TNA Lockdown 2011, so check those out if you haven’t already. Lockdown featured every match inside a steel cage, some crazy spots from Kurt Angle and a lot of camera time for Brooke Hogan too.

Live from London, England this is the Raw Deal (and the return of the tea time banner!)…

The announcers for the show were Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole. There was no explanation given as to why Ross was there instead of Mathews. Ever since this announcer storyline has been in place they have not had any consistent announce team.

The show started with R-Truth, one of the number one contenders for the WWE Title. He did a babyface promo talking about how he’s overcome a lot in his life and now he’s in line to be the WWE Champion. Does anybody think he has any chance of winning that belt? It sure didn’t sound like it. He said he just wanted to fight and it didn’t matter who it was.

The Truth promo got interrupted by John Morrison who told Truth he was lucky last week because Nexus interfered in his match against Orton and Miz interfered in his match against Cena. Truth pointed out he had three matches and he earned it including when he beat Morrison. Truth said he’s in great shape, which led to Morrison showing some footage. They showed a clip from last week in between matches when Truth was slumped down in the corner asking for some water. The video showed him drinking water as John Cena came out. I have no idea if that was part of the script last week or if Truth was legit tired. The worst line was when Morrison said it was the draft next week and that this could be the last time they could wrestle on Raw. Nobody ever believes in the “never wrestle eachother” thing based on the brand extension. Stop insulting the masses. Morrison ripped on him for being a smoker, which drew a reaction from the crowd. Eventually R-Truth agreed to the match although he needed some water and a cigarette first. He didn’t get his cigarette yet.

John Morrison d. R-Truth (*1/2)
The announcers basically called Truth an idiot for falling for the oldest trick in the book. The match started, he made his way out to the floor, got his water and they went to break. Back from break, the announcers continued to bicker about every little thing they could as the action continued. Neither guy was in control too long. It was a back and forth match that went about seven minutes. Morrison was able to avoid the Lie Detector and hit the Starship Pain for the win. He officially became one of the number one contenders in the WWE Title match.

Post match, Truth attacked Morrison. He lost his mind because he realized that his opportunity to get a WWE Title shot had been taken away. It was one of the longest heel turns I’ve ever witnessed. The announcers didn’t speak either. They just stood there watching. He attacked Morrison in the ring. Then he used some running knee attacks on the floor. Then he hit the Paydirt finishing move on the floor that Shelton Benjamin used to do. Then he hit Morrison with a water bottle. Poetic justice! Then he needed a smoke. Conveniently he found somebody with a pack of cigarettes as well as a lighter. He lit up and smiled. That facial expression was great. It calmed him. A sense of relief. He ended the segment by blowing smoke in Morrison’s face and on his body. I liked how the fans in England chanted “that’s illegal” as he was smoking in the building.

The promo, match and heel turn took about 30 minutes in total. It was different to hear these two guys in an in-ring promo. They don’t get that opportunity that often. It felt like two friends talking although there were some uncomfortable parts too because they were trying to remember what lines to say. They were speaking over eachother a bit too. Maybe that was a part of it. I’m not sure. From a storyline standpoint, I liked it. I was bored by R-Truth’s babyface act for years. Let’s see him as a heel. Maybe he will catch fire. Maybe he will do better in that role. I’m okay with the move. My issue was that it took too long and it makes me wonder if this was a long term plan from last week or if they just decided to do this over the weekend? As a performer R-Truth is somebody that I think is solid. I don’t think he’s ever been great, but he’s a good performer and he might do better as a heel.

What to make all of this? Last week they pushed R-Truth clean over John Morrison and tried very hard to make Truth look like a viable contender. This week? They basically wiped all of that away. They changed their mind. I’m not sure if R-Truth drinking water was something that really pissed Vince off or if this was part of the storyline. I have no idea if John Morrison was really supposed to be number one contender last week, but he had heat from the Mania thing where he gave the cold shoulder to Trish Stratus. To me it’s a sign that they are booking this stuff on the fly. I’m glad that Morrison is finally in a WWE Title match on PPV. He deserves it based on his in-ring work.

They announced the 2011 draft being next week. The press release got issued earlier on Monday. According to reports from the Wrestling Observer (the most reliable source for news) it was supposed to be in June. It got changed to next week over this past weekend. They realized that they need to help Smackdown because of Edge’s retirement, so it got moved to next week. It’s understandable because Smackdown does need some help immediately. With that said, the brand extension has not mattered since the start of the year when people like Del Rio were on Raw all the time. I’m sure some people care about who is on what show. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. The best way to say it is that in the nine years since they’ve done the brand extension this is the year where it matters the least. By the way it’s a two hour show. Tough Enough airs before and after. They’ll likely show 8-12 “random lottery selections” on Raw and then do the rest on the website a day or two later.

They replayed the Truth heel turn. I’m assuming a new theme song next week. No more rapping to the ring. Michael Cole will love him too.

Dolph Ziggler d. Evan Bourne (*)
Vickie introduced Dolph, who was sporting a new haircut. Instead of the long blonde locks he’s got short black hair. Basically he looks like a lot of other people on the roster like Evan Bourne, Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes to name a few. That’s the most common haircut in WWE. His previous look allowed him to stand out. Now the “new” Dolph Ziggler looks like the old everybody else. The match was short. It only got two minutes. Bourne went for the Air Bourne, Dolph moved, Bourne landed on his feet and Dolph pinned him with the Zig Zag. Bourne should be in a tag team if all they are going to do is book him to lose short matches on Raw every week. He’s better than this. I’d love to see Bourne on Smackdown where they have longer matches. He deserves the chance to shine.

Later in the show Michael Cole gets knighted. Also they aired a clip of the movie “That’s What I Am” that has Randy Orton in some role. Ed Harris stars in it. Orton’s only in the trailer for about a second. I’m not sure how much he’s in the movie.

Back from break, they showed a video package on Sin Cara’s appearances over the last couple of weeks.

Following that, they showed Edge’s career video package that was on Smackdown this past week. It’s really well done. They plugged a retirement party for Edge thrown by Del Rio this week on Smackdown. Edge is likely to be there. He’s been on the European tour all week because he’s been advertised, so I guess he’ll be on Smackdown too. I thought they were moving on without him? I guess not.

The Miz came out with Alex Riley sporting new softball style t-shirts. The number on the shirt is 40 because he is the 40th WWE Champion. At least that’s what I read. It works for me. He said he was preparing to face Cena and Truth at Extreme Rules, but Truth had to make a stupid decision by giving up his spot. Now he had to face Cena and Morrison. He announced that the match would be a triple threat Steel Cage match. He said the rules are pinfall, submission or escaping the cage, which meant he could be in the ring wrestling one guy as the other leaves the ring to win the match. Or he could be leaving as somebody gets pinned. I’d book it so the only way to win is escaping the cage by climbing out. You can’t use the door. You can’t pin or submit. If there’s only one way to win it makes for a more interesting match. He was bitching about the fact that he could lose the title without being pinned or submitted as if he’s the first person to be in a match like that. He was protesting the match unless the GM changed things. Riley fetched him a chair as Miz sat in the ring while the show went to break.

Back from break, Miz was still in the ring. Sin Cara’s music interrupted. The crowd chanted his name, which is a very good sign. He entered the ring via trampoline (or trabopaline as Homer Simpson once called it) where he was supposed to face Alex Riley. That wouldn’t have been a good match. Cue John Cena, who sprinted out to the ring. Get him some water and a cigarette. He looks tired! The GM buzzed in to announce (via Michael Cole iPad) that it would now be a tag match.

John Cena & Sin Cara d. The Miz & Alex Riley (*1/2)
They went to commercial less than a minute in. Back from break, they worked for about seven more minutes. The heels worked over Cena for the first part of the match, he tagged in Sin Cara and he electrified with his offense. He slipped up a few times here and there, but his spots aren’t easy and guys have to be in the right spot for the moves. It’s not like when Rey Mysterio was working lucha style in WCW in 1996 against other lucha opponents. He’s working with guys like Miz & Riley who haven’t had that much experience with him. Plus Riley’s not that good. The heels took control of him, but he quickly hot tagged Cena who dominated Riley. Miz took off at that point, leaving Riley to lose like he always does. Does Riley ever win? Cena put him down with the Attitude Adjustment and he tagged in Cara. Cara hit a springboard moonsault to win although he didn’t hit it clean.

I think Sin Cara is too anxious. He needs to slow it down a bit because there might be a bit of nervousness for him. I’m not sure if this did anything to help the WWE title match. It felt more like a showcase for Sin Cara than anything. They are very high on him despite whatever “heat” you may read about him having. Triple H especially is a big fan of his and they will continue to push him. I have no problem with that. The guy can really work and he stands out from the pack. Like I said though, he appears to be nervous at times. I don’t think it’ll take him too long to adapt.

Do you want to write about wrestling? Or as WWE likes to call it, an action soap opera? For the first time ever, my site is doing a writer search. I made the post yesterday and you can read about it by CLICKING RIGHT HERE. In the past the writers have been hired internally, but I decided to open it up to the masses. We’ll be hiring three or four writers. Click on that link to read the instructions. There is no pay. I don’t get paid either. You’d be writing on a site with a lot of readers and is read by people in the wrestling business. If you want your voice heard this is your shot. You have until the end of Sunday night to submit your column. The link will be on TJR all week. Good luck.

They did a video package for Awesome Kong again. We found out this week (on the internet) that her new name will be Kharma. Works for me because karma is a bitch, so maybe the diva Kharma will be one too. She crushed another doll, this one with black hair, in her hand. And she laughed. They showed a bit more of her face now. The announcers called it creepy and didn’t say anything more.

Eve d. Nikki Bella (DUD)
Before the match Brie said that Eve’s rematch may not happen if she is drafted off of Raw. What? The Divas belt is supposed to be for both shows. Did they forget this? This was an awful match. The crowd was dead for Eve’s entrance and they were dead for the entire match. What’s the appeal of these three? I don’t get it. There are too many good female wrestlers on the roster for them to be using these three. I’m ready for Kong/Kharma to destroy them. I will cheer for that even if she’s a heel. In case you were wondering, Eve won as the crowd went mild.

Post match, Michael Cole said he’d be knighted after the break.

Michael Cole was in ring spouting off the same stuff he always does. Jack Swagger, a Smackdown talent who is on Raw every week (the draft does not matter!), came out. They are friends again after Cole saved him from a 619 last week in the battle royal. They brought out the “Queen of England” to knight him. It was an older British lady. She read a statement prepared by Cole that kissed his ass. He became Sir Michael Cole. He called Lawler & Ross into the ring to kiss his knighted foot. When he took his shoe off his foot was multicolored, a case of athlete’s foot I guess. Swagger took out Lawler easily, throwing him into the crowd. Ross went after Cole, but Swagger came back in the ring to grab him. He put Ross in the ankle lock as Cole put his foot by his face, so Ross was close to his disfigured foot.

This was not a good segment. Once again they make a fool out of Jim Ross. I know it’s just for storyline, but they love to humiliate the guy. Cole’s “athlete’s foot” was gross. It reminds me of Lawler’s foot when he was in a kiss my foot match with Bret Hart where he ended up tasting his own foot. It will be fun to see Ross get his hands on Cole at Extreme Rules. Keep it short. I just didn’t think this segment was very good. It was a step back from what they’ve done in the past. I’m sure Vince loved it and did his hearty laugh during the entire segment.

Poll time. Who will be the next World Heavyweight Champion?

Who will win the vacant World Heavyweight Title at Extreme Rules?online survey

I’m voting for Del Rio. I would love it if the winner was Christian, though. I’m a fan of both, but I think for the story it’s better for the heel to have the belt with the babyface chasing.

Back from break, Josh Mathews was announcing with Cole. They showed Cole’s “athlete’s foot” again. Congrats to the makeup lady for doing that. She can put that on her resume.

Sheamus d. Santino (*1/4)
Before the match Sheamus referenced the epic Tea Time segment, so that got a pop from me. He beat Santino in about three minutes. I thought it would be shorter than that. Santino went for the Cobra, but the damage was done in the match and he collapsed in pain. That was funny. Sheamus finished him off with the kick. The announcers basically said he was going to Smackdown, or at least mentioned the possibility. I think it’s likely. The re-push of Sheamus continues after his three month long de-push.

They recapped the R-Truth heel turn again. I think there’s a chance that they could add him to the triple threat cage match to make it a fatal fourway. Since they seem to book this stuff on a napkin they could always do that next week.

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Where was the Extreme Rules PPV rundown? It is less than two weeks away and they never went over the card. Extreme Rules is not going to be a successful show in terms of buyrates. With the biggest UFC card ever going the night before, WWE’s PPV is going to have a tough time drawing the interest of viewers.

Randy Orton d. CM Punk (***)
The match started ten minutes before the 11pmET hour, so I knew they’d get a lot of time. They ended up getting 15 minutes. The crowd was great with dueling chants including ones for their finishing moves. That was cool. I thought the match had too many slow points and I kept waiting for Orton to turn it up. He never really did. That’s why I think he’s better in the ring as a heel. As a babyface he does not find that energy to make the big comebacks. He works at the same pace, which makes all of his matches feel the same. Crank it up, Randy. You have it in you. At one point Orton hit the Angle Slam. He’s done it for a while now. At TNA’s Lockdown PPV Angle did the RKO. A lot of people are bitching about it. Not me. It’s a wrestling move. He works for the other company. There’s nothing to it. I wish it meant that Kurt was leaving TNA to come back to WWE, but that’s not happening at the moment. The last minute of this match was real strong with Orton going for the DDT on the ropes, Punk slipped out of that and went for the GTS, which Orton slithered out of. It’s Orton, so have to use the snake references. Punk ended up hitting him with a kick to the face. Punk went for a GTS, but Orton got out of that and rolled him up for a three count. How many times has Orton won a match with a rollup? That’s rare. I like it. It’s good for nearfalls in the future. The last few minutes were really good. The first 12 minutes dragged a bit for me. I expected better from them.

Post match, Mason Ryan, Mike McGillicutty and David Otunga returned wearing their Nexus shirts along with the Nexus music. They put a beating on Orton. Ryan wanted to pubt Orton. Punk told him no. He wanted to do it. It took a long time for all of it to happen, so by the time Punk charged in Orton had recovered and he hit the RKO onto Punk to a huge pop. Then Orton ran away to avoid another beating. They ended the show with Orton looking proud of himself at the top of the ramp while the idiot troupe known as the Nexus was outsmarted again.

They have officially announced Randy Orton vs. CM Punk in a Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules. It was announced on, Twitter, Facebook and every other possible way that WWE can announce things. Orton’s already beat him twice. I’d love for Punk to win on the PPV because frankly he needs it. I don’t know if that will happen, though.

Three Stars of the Show
1. R-Truth – This is probably the first time he’s ever made it here. He’s here because for the first time in a long time I am actually interested in where his character might go. The segment could have been shorter, though.
2. CM Punk – Good match.
3. Randy Orton – Same as above.

5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10)
2011 Average: 6.1

Rate the 4/18 Raw on the 1-10 scale…customer surveys

The show was very average to me. I have mixed emotions about a lot of things that happened. They invested time in the Morrison/Truth thing, but they barely did anything involving Miz & Cena. The main event was fine, but what’s it leading to? Another Orton/Punk match even though Orton has beaten him twice clean. There wasn’t much to the Sheamus & Ziggler matches. They were squashes. The Divas title picture is as bad as it has ever been. The Cole/Swagger vs. Lawler/Ross feud took a step back.

I’m really worried about the booking of things. They appear to be disorganized in terms of having long term plans. They plan long term for WrestleMania and maybe Summerslam, but the rest of the year always feels like they are booking on the fly. You can’t do that. There needs to be more organization. Then again Vince McMahon is in his late 60s now; he’s been doing this for over 30 years and the older you get the more stressful it’s going to be for him. I’m not sure how much he is leaning on Triple H from a creative standpoint. The lack or organization led to a confusing show this week.

To the people that bitch about WWE using the “action sports opera” thing and how they hate the term wrestling consider this. Last week’s Raw had about 45 minutes of in ring action. This week’s Raw has a heavy dose of in ring action too. The ring is still there. Matches are the draw. They are not shying away what they are. They are only trying to expand the brand, which is a smart business move. I like to joke about it. Some people take it too serious. To them I would say relax fella because it’s just business.

I think it will be a newsworthy week next week. Along with the draft lottery on Monday, I’d expect a number of superstars and divas to be released towards the end of next week. I don’t think it will be this week.

I won’t be writing again until next week’s Raw Deal unless something big happens. Until then I’ll be going to church all week for Easter and reading the columns that people like you are submitting for the TJR Writer Search. Check it out now. You have until Easter Sunday night to submit your column. A week from now I’ll pick three of four writers to have spots on the team.

Have a good week. If you are celebrating Easter, enjoy the long weekend. If you are not, I hope you have some days off. Thanks for reading.

John Canton – [email protected]
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