Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first Raw WE Review where I will be breaking down everything on the show once the show is over. Here we go!
John Laurinaitis came out and has proven that this feud with John Cena may be more interesting than expected. He made sure everyone knew his history and put himself over as a tough competitor, even though he really isn’t. That said, he made me just a bit more excited for his match against Cena at Over the Limit 2012, as long as Johnny can pull out some of his old talent and doesn’t main-event.
For those who don’t know, Laurinaitis was once a wrestler under the name “Johnny Ace.” As he showed off his “highlights” from the ten years wrestling in All Japan Pro Wrestling, Johnny certainly overexaggerated his impact in the country, but he did have some impact there mainly as a tag team wrestler.
He is legitimately a two-time AJPW All Asia Tag Team Champion and a four-time AJPW Unified World Tag Team Champion. He also has two “Five Star” matches and one “Match of the Year” according to Wrestling Observer. Those are some serious accomplishments for any wrestler, let alone one wrestling in Japan where titles are not thrown around nearly as much.
After touting his accomplishments, CM Punk came out and derailed the Raw GM only to get thrown into the main event against Lord Tensai. Punk was a bit off with his promo, but was fine here leading to an interesting match for later.
Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes for the IC Title
Before this match happened, however, Laurinaitis would bump into Show leading to a tough-man act by Laurinaitis. Big Show fired back by mocking Johnny’s voice, which was something that may lead to further consequences down the line. His match with Cody Rhodes was uneventful, as it seems Rhodes wants to avoid the big man at all cost, getting himself counted out rather than wrestling.
I would guess they fight at Over the Limit, though after the match, Eve came out and made Big Show apologize for mocking Big Johnny. Then later in the night, Show again got in trouble with Eve. Repercussions may be coming his way which could give us a more interesting Big Show going forward and no more Rhodes/Show matches.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
A fine match here that supposedly would build Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler toward a tag team title shot. That said, we have seen this match so many times that I was calling the moves before they happened especially the ending. The block of the Zig Zag into an SOS has happened quite a few times, to say the least. Too short and familiar.
It was nice to see Ziggler actually win a match though. Also, I am liking the way that Epico and Primo are being built with Abraham Washingston. Honestly, it is smart and makes them more relevant now then they were as champions. That said, they almost have to win when they challenge again at this point. It is the only build up that makes sense.
The Mason Ryan appearance may be related to recent rumors that Ryan will be working as Ziggler’s bodyguard in the near future, but that has yet to be seen. At this point, it was just an odd coincidence.
John Cena Interview
Michael Cole and John Cena had a Via Satellite interview that came off as mostly filler. I really didn’t see how this helped things at all. The opening promo put over Laurinaitis while this didn’t help or hurt much of anything. It seems like Cena will keep making Johnny out to be a non-event, even making a bad joke about him hurting himself because he’s so bad.
Perhaps they are building to Johnny actually being good next Sunday. The one thing the promo did do though was put an interesting wrinkle on Cena’s condition. With doctors saying that Cena should rest and him still coming out to fight, you can bet they are building to his imminent time off. I am interested to see how they get there though.
Finally, it seems the crowd is getting back on Cena’s side. They were cheering him throughout. Maybe this match and time off will solidify that reaction.
Divas Tag Team match
Layla seems to be getting built up as the face of Divas Division very quickly. With the popular Kelly Kelly at her back, she is fitting in quickly. This was mostly just about showing another win for Layla with Beth Phoenix at ringside. This all sets up a good match at Over the Limit which should at least match Beth’s great match with Tamina at the Royal Rumble a few months back.
Maxine made her debut on Raw in this match with almost no fanfare and was promptly pinned. Obviously she was brought in at least at this point as the filler heel star since the Bellas are gone. I’m only making the comparison because the Bellas did do something during their time which was job to the bigger stars. Now, we will probably see more talented women (i.e. Natalya and Maxine) taking up that role.
Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho & Alberto Del Rio
You put four of the best current wrestlers in the company in a tag team match, and this is what you get. I did notice Sheamus getting a much weaker reception than he used to. It’s really too bad.
Y2J and Alberto Del Rio made a good technical team while Sheamus and Randy Orton were the hard-hitting fan favorites. I have to admit that seeing this match made me hope that we were getting set for a Jericho/Orton match. Both Y2J and Del Rio were viciously attacking the left arms of their opponents. First they teased it with Orton, but they really went after the bandaged up Sheamus.
I did notice that Sheamus is still bandaged up which seems like an oversell. That said, it makes for a much more vulnerable Sheamus selling Del Rio and his Cross Armbreaker as a threat. I loved the Jericho taunts especially the flexing to Sheamus over Orton’s downed body. This match also woke up the crowd probably due to Randy’s overall popularity with the crowd.
Great match overall with a cool finish that may be leading to some interesting changes for Sheamus. First, Jericho may be getting close to a feud over the WHC even with Sheamus’ guaranteed match with Del Rio. He made it clear that he pinned the World Champion. Second, Sheamus may be threatening a heel turn after Brogue Kicking Orton in their match.
Random Thought: I could have sworn Jerry Lawler said Bray Wyatt during this match instead of Great White. Never noticed how close those two names are. Sorry, been watching too much FCW. Wyatt is Husky Harris’ awesome new gimmick in the company.
As I leave most of these notes as live thoughts, I didn’t expect a change to the title picture after that match. The chaos after that in the WWE GM Office made way for a Fatal Four Way at Over The Limit which seemed to be WWE basically saying they aren’t sold on Sheamus/Del Rio yet. I doubt Sheamus loses the title at Over The Limit though even with so much unpredictability now. He is too strong to lose.
Brodus Clay Wins a Real Match
This week, for once, Brodus finally came off as someone who could fit in on the main roster as someone who doesn’t just crush jobbers. Of course, he didn’t help matters with a PSA that could have come straight out of an episode of Barney.
The main thing, however, was that he had a match against the Miz who is quickly making me remember where he thrives: on the mic. His mini-promos before matches don’t help him wrestle, but they make him interesting even in losses. I think I even heard a small Miz chant which is interesting. Maybe this new losing streak is still leading to a Miz face turn.
In the ring, Miz gave Brodus a serious fight. He took him to the ground with a diving double axe handle and kept him there with a kneeling DDT. Of course, even though Miz actually gave Clay a real match, he answered back with basically Two Moves of Doom to finish the match without any other action. That said, it made for an entertaining Clay match for once.
Triple H/Brock Lesnar Status Updates
Lesnar wasn’t on Raw, but instead we got something better.
His legal representative has been revealed as Paul Heyman. I massively marked out for the Paul Heyman return. It was something I had wanted for a month now.
Heyman came out and put over Lesnar like Lesnar never could on his own. He pulled out an awesome promo, making Lesnar’s whole work lately make so much more sense. Paul made Lesnar come off as a champion, a star, and a force to reckoned with. To say I loved this promo would be an understatement.
It ended with Heyman saying that Lesnar quit the WWE because of the corporate issues. This is a very interesting wrinkle in Lesnar’s future. Obviously he will come back, but how? More importantly, will he please bring Heyman with him?
The Main Event Match, CM Punk vs. Lord Tensai
I have said time and again that I do not like Lord Tensai. He is a forty year old big man who isn’t useful in the company and is taking away spots that could be used much better. His annoying gimmick is also frustrating. I have to suffer through this while WWE figures which of the people on their roster to fire just to make room for other wastes of space. So help me if they sign Bobby Lashley again…
I am glad that Daniel Bryan was added into the contest as he added a nice wrinkle. Tensai was the dominator while Bryan made it look like he did all the work, adding some momentum to his upcoming WWE Championship match. Plus this allowed Punk to lose without looking terrible. He gained a lot of sympathy here as the face which may help move people against Bryan and for Punk in this match.
The match itself was fine. Fast and a pure beatdown generally. Bryan got in some good shots, but it was generally a one-on-one between Tensai and Punk. Tensai was an okay in ring competitor here with nice power moves and brutal shots, though he broke concentration several times in the match making him look a lot less menacing, something Lesnar is known to do quite a bit.
The ending was interesting. “You’re not better than me,” Daniel Bryan yelled at CM Punk as he put him in the Yes Lock, making a possible statement to how this feud is going. Sadly, I feel like this feud is being pushed aside as it has no heat and I don’t see it being long lasting. Still, it has some interesting heat and two great wrestlers involved, so it should be great to see at Over the Limit 2012.
This show was all about establishing one man: John Laurinaitis. He was apparent throughout the night and made sure his presence was felt even when he wasn’t around, especially with Eve on the prowl. He is really starting to come around as a top heel, even if he still botches lines (calling Lesnar “Brock Cena”).
Overall, it was a good edition of Raw that felt focused and properly built from start to finish. No matches stood out as phenomenal, but the first hour main event tag match was a very solid bout. The storytelling was purely orchestrated with a great surprise with Heyman’s return. The only thing that could have made things better would have been adding more matches to the card for Over the Limit 2012, as it’s coming to us in only thirteen days.
Final Grade: B