Last night, Monday, April 23rd, Monday Night Raw had more acting and drama than most of their WWE films. John Cena, Edge, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Randy Orton and Kane all should get nods towards an Emmy nomination for last night's performances.
We start the show with a supposed contract signing that is to take place in the ring between John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Cena came to the ring in his "going green" attire, not looking so happy, not looking as confident as he did when he slapped Brock in the face previously. This was a worried John Cena. When Brock's music hit, a wave of uneasiness washed over Cena. He took a step back from the table and awaited for Brock to arrive.
Brock, however, didn't show. Instead, John Laurinaitis came to the stage and said that the signing wasn't now, that Brock wasn't even there. Laurinaitis did this in his typical way of putting a stop to any excitement building on the show. His delivery, stammering and lack of inflection put an end to whatever good Cena was trying to pull off in the ring.
With this news, Cena's looked changed to frustration; he looked as though he was upset that he has to do everything on Brock's terms and now he's the new important guy around the WWE. Enter Edge. A surprise visit from Edge, shocking everyone in the arena and apparently Cena as well.
Edge began his monologue to Cena, saying he didn't recognize this John Cena, wondering where the man was who threw him in the Long Island Sound, the guy who threw him through two tables in his hometown in his match at WrestleMania.
Edge passionately screamed at Cena, saying that Brock doesn't care about the company and that the one thing Cena and Edge always had in common is that they both did. He went on to tell him that if he doesn't beat Brock Lesnar, it will be a slap in the face to guys like him, guys like HBK and The Undertaker. His speech not only reeked of awesomeness, it wreaked of reality, and as great as it was, it was also sad.
Edge had said that Cena was his greatest rival, and the rivalry and matches that took place between the two was fantastic. Now here we have Cena vs. Brock and it just doesn't compare.
We follow this up with a Chris Jericho vs. Kofi Kingston match. These two must enjoy working together; they have great chemistry in the ring and they really play off of each other well. Jericho earns an Emmy nod for not only going all out and putting on a great back-and-forth match, but then follows it up immediately with a promo. Who cuts a promo right after a match? Who has the whereabouts to do that? The best there is at what he does in the world, that's who.
After some commercials, we come back to Josh Matthews and CM Punk in the locker room, where Josh talks to Punk and asks him about the gift that Jericho got for him. Punk shows him that it's a liquor basket and says he has no need for it. He gives it to Matthews but hangs on to the bottle of Jack Daniels in a nicely played moment of foreshadowing.
Lord Tensai's match is up next, and between his Japanese speaking promo and his destruction of R-Truth, he too should get a nod for his performance. His delivery of intensity is so palpable you can taste it coming through the screen.
Kane and Orton have a little back-and-forth feud going on right now. Kane's maniacal laugh and Orton's cocky smirk were both well used in this piece. This feud at first seemed to be haphazardly thrown together, but now it seems to be gaining momentum. For all the years these two have been in the industry, I can't recall them feuding like this prior.
Later in the night, we get to see a field sobriety test conducted on CM Punk inside the ring. Two officers along with Teddy Long and Chris Jericho are there to have Punk take the test. If he fails, he's stripped of the title. Punk staggers to the ring, his eyes puffy, his speech somewhat slurred and his tipsy accusations of everything being ridiculous was spot on. If you have ever known someone who's had maybe one too many, you know that the word ridiculous seems to be a popular one if they're feeling slightly inebriated.
Punk's attempts at saying the alphabet backwards and walking a straight line were funny, but just borderline. You could see in the crowd that some kids were actually wondering if he really was drunk. When he handed over the title, the crowd seemed to be wondering how far this bit was going to go and if this was how Punk would lose to Jericho?
Just before the belt was handed over to Jericho, Punk ended the ruse, said his alphabet backwards (which isn't that easy drunk or sober) walked the straight line, poorly moonwalked and then "Rick Flair walked" the line for a bit as well. He then tuned on Jericho and began a beatdown that chased him out of the ring.
A stellar performance by Jericho and Long for remaining straight-faced the entire time they were getting "Punk'd."
When Brock finally decided to arrive to the ring, a "just trying to do my job" Josh Matthews confronted Lesnar, who continued to show his bully ways and tossed Matthews through some fixtures.
When Brock finally arrived to the ring for the signing, we didn't get an Emmy performance from him. He was arrogant, demanding, greedy and self absorbed, so really, no acting on his part. Brock reminded us why he would never be in John Cena's spot if he had never left, as we were reminded time and time again last night in the replaying of the same Brock interview—he's not very good on the mic. He actually made Laurinaitis look good in this segment.
Cena eventually came out, prior to which I had been hoping that, due to Edge's speech, he would lose all the green and come out wearing only the chain. The chain was there, but so was all the green. Cena, however, still looked frightened. He seemed reluctant to sign the paper and even jumped when Larinaitis approached him. He didn't speak a word and acted and conveyed his emotions with just body language and facial expressions. Someone's come a long way since 12 Rounds.
An overall good night for Raw as WWE continues to build the hype of Brock Lesnar, keep the feud strong with Jericho and Punk as well as keep the fire going with Kane and Orton.
It dawned on me that while I had found it odd that WWE—being the company running the Be A Star program against anti-bullying—was a show filled with several bullies, this is something they must do to show Cena rise above the hate. He stood up to the Rock, the popular kid who everyone loved, and now he's up against the physically larger and intimidating jock. What better way to show how to stand up to a bully and why not to be a bully than show a spirit that won't back down?
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