I didn't write this live this week. I wrote as I watched a replay though, so it comes off as a live viewing. I like this format the best, at least for now.
Live from Dayton, Ohio, this is the Raw Deal...
The show begins with a video package highlighting the Lesnar/Cena match from Extreme Rules. (I covered it all on Sunday night here, in case you missed it.)
The opening video package ended with the graphic saying "Raw Supershow starring Brock Lesnar." Even Justin Roberts said "Monday Night Raw starring Brock Lesnar." Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show, while John Laurinaitis made his entrance.
Laurinaitis talked about how Extreme Rules revolutionized WWE. It's a nice way to say that it was a great PPV, which it was. He introduced Brock Lesnar to mostly jeers, but some fans cheer just because he's such a badass.
Lesnar said on Sunday the world got to witness him bringing the pain, which is exactly what he said he was going to do. Laurinaitis sucked up to him, but before it could go any further the music of Chief Operating Officer Hunter Hearst Suit McMahon Helmsley started up.
It's the first time we've seen COOHHSMH (that's a long name!) since WrestleMania. Loud "Triple H" chants resonated as he stood face to face with Brock and JL. He told him he was there to do what JL was supposed to do, but doesn't have the guts to.
Hunter told him no more holding up WWE, no more private jet unless he wants to pay for it, no limo to the show unless he wants to pay for it and he's not going to be getting a raise or be treated special.
Hunter: "The name of this show always and always will be Monday Night Raw." Except that they've called it "Raw SuperShow" for the past six months or so, right? Okay then.
Hunter said Laurinaitis agreed to all of Brock's demands last week, which he didn't have the authority to agree to. How does he not have the authority to do that if he's in charge of talent relations as well as the GM of both shows?
They have too many logic holes in the storyline hierarchy of the company. Laurinaitis told him that Hunter trusted him with all talent contracts, which led to Hunter ripping up the contract that Laurinaitis had. Hunter told Brock he wouldn't get anything he asked for, which led to Brock angrily looking at Laurinaitis.
Hunter said the WWE Universe wants him here even if some of them don't like him. "They want to see you in a rematch with John Cena, they want to see you face CM Punk, Randy Orton—they want to see all of that." Sounds like a list of future matches.
Hunter made Brock angry when he said, "If you want to take your ball and go home along with your loss to John Cena," (Oh, no you didn't!) that he would be okay with that. He asked Brock, "What's it going to be?"
Laurinaitis said it wasn't fair, so Hunter told him he's done enough and to shut up. Big pop for that. Hunter told Brock that he wants him there.
"Do we got a deal?" Laurinaitis didn't shut up, so Hunter turned around.
Brock attacked Hunter with a punch to the back.
There was a big brawl between Lesnar and Hunter. Lesnar overpowered him in the corner. Hunter fought back with some punches, but Lesnar gave him a knee to the gut and put Hunter's left arm in a Kimura armbar. Hunter was yelling in pain as some babyface wrestlers came out to his aid.
There was a point where Lesnar held the arm in place and then did a snapping motion to signify the point where he "broke" Hunter's left arm. Lesnar left the ring. With the camera near his face, Hunter said it was broken, in reference to his arm. He was helped out of the ring by Sheamus, R-Truth (who had his hand on Hunter's left forearm), Big Show and Kofi Kingston. The crowd cheered Hunter as he slowly walked away in pain.
Analysis: I thought it was a fantastic segment. Hot start to the show. It was important for them to put over how angry Lesnar was after losing on Sunday, so this was a good way to get over how he was feeling. Hunter was the right guy for the job because he represents the company and the promo he cut against Lesnar made perfect sense. The crowd seemed to enjoy it.
The brawl was really well done, as expected. This idea of Lesnar being a complete lunatic makes him very dangerous going forward. I think we can pencil in a future match between Lesnar and Triple possibly for SummerSlam. They may keep Lesnar out of action for a few months since he's only contracted for a certain number of dates in the year. He's not going to be on every Raw or PPV.
They replayed the Lesnar attack on Triple H.
Hunter was shown in the locker room saying he can't move his arm at all, but he could move his fingers. He was selling the pain as Sheamus looked on. I don't think this means Sheamus will take on Lesnar any time soon. I just think they had him there as a babyface supporting a babyface. At ringside, Cole and Lawler wondered if Lesnar would be fired.
Eve was at the top of the ramp looking hot in her Executive Assistant role because of the skirt. She was even rocking the glasses. She announced a Beat The Clock challenge featuring five matches. Whoever won the challenge in the fastest time got to meet CM Punk at Over The Limit for the WWE title. I like that all ten guys in this get the chance to win, rather than announcing five guys who get to beat five jobbers. It's better to do it this way.
Beat The Clock: The Miz vs. Santino
This was a rematch of their match at Extreme Rules in the pre-show. For this match, the clock counted up. For the others, it would go backwards from whatever the longest time was. In other words, a bunch of matches that aren't too long this week.
Each guy went for pinfalls early. Two minutes in, Miz hit his corner clothesline and got a double axe for a count of two.
Santino came back with a suplex followed by a stun gun-like maneuver. Santino was Santino-ing up (Not a good ring to it, huh?), which led to the Cobra being taken out (awkward phrase) and a few pinfalls for each guy. Miz decked him with a boot to the face followed by the Skull-Crushing Finale and the victory at 4:18. That means all the other matches would get that much time or less.
Winner: The Miz at 4:18
Analysis: 1.5 stars. Basic TV match. Miz worked him over for most of the match. Santino made his comeback that was entertaining yet unsuccessful and Miz finished him off with his finisher. I never thought the time of Miz would hold up. Congrats to him for being announced as the star of The Marine 3. Filming for that starts soon and goes until the end of June, so I wouldn't be shocked if he's off TV for a bit before that.
We got a replay from Extreme Rules, where Layla returned from her knee injury to beat Nikki Bella to become WWE Divas Champion. The Bellas were already in the ring for their triple-threat match against Layla.
Divas Title: Layla vs. Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella
No heat for Layla as the babyface champion. If it was Kharma, the crowd would be loud I'm sure. Layla's theme song is Michelle McCool's song, not her own. I guess it's the Laycool song.
Whatever. The Bellas were arguing, so Layla dropkicked one of them in the back and the other got knocked to the floor. Layla rolled her up for the win. The match went 15 seconds.
Analysis: Match of the year! No. The Bellas were storyline "fired" after the show in a backstage sketch with Eve that involved poor acting, which is consistent with every Bella sketch during their careers. It's on WWE.com if you really care. Word got out in the past month that their contracts were up and they wouldn't be staying, so that's the official way to write them out. I was never much of a Bella Twins fan. However, I will wish them the best in their future endeavors.
Chris Jericho made his entrance. He's in the Beat The Clock challenge.
They returned from break with some pictures of the Jericho/Punk match, which I rated at 4.5 stars and is one of the better matches of the year so far. I'd give the WWE Match of the Year distinction to Undertaker/Hunter at WM28, but Jericho/Punk was excellent too.
Beat The Clock: Chris Jericho vs. Big Show
It's the battle of Jerishow! They were one of the few highlights of that 2009 year that was one of the worst years of Raw due to the guest hosts they trotted out every week. The announcers made no mention of these two being tag champs. The clock counted down from 4:18. Jericho used speed early. He actually connected on the Lionsault, which is rare. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho, which was pretty ridiculous and that led to Show using a small package that was a fantastic visual.
The finishing sequence saw Jericho grab Show in a front facelock and drag him over the top to the floor. That's a 2004 Royal Rumble flashback. Show threw Jericho into the barricade. Show ran at him, Jericho moved and Show went over the barricade into the area by the ring announcer. The ref counted, but the clock went to zero before he reached ten. Then he quickly said ten right as the clock reached zero.
Winner: Chris Jericho
Analysis: 1.5 stars. It sure looked like the ref messed up that finish, because he should have seen the clock and done a better job of counting fast. Judging by the way they were talking, it seemed as if Jericho was supposed to beat the time of Miz by one second. Instead, we didn't really know if he did.
They weren't sure what to do. Poor Justin Roberts was looking around at others and didn't announce anything. Cole threw it to commercial.
They returned to tell us about John Cena writing an article in USA Today about the Make-A-Wish foundation. Well done.
Back from break, they decided that Miz was still the Beat The Clock leader at 4:18. Jericho can't win anything can he? Haha...wins don't matter. Best in the world!
Brodus Clay made his entrance. No Hornswoggle with him, so that's good. This is not a Beat The Clock match even though he's been undefeated for five months. I guess that's not good enough to make him a top contender.
Brodus Clay vs. JTG
JTG got a bit of offense, which is to say about 15 seconds worth of offense. Lawler talked about some surprise by JTG, which was rather pointless since nothing happened. Clay finished him off with the usual moves. It ended in less than two minutes. He beat the clock. Or not! After the match, Brodus brought in three little kids to dance with him.
Winner: Brodus Clay
Analysis: 0.25 stars. It was the same match that he always has. Is there ever going to be more to this character? No idea.
The top of hour two led to a bunch of replays of key moments. That's different. Usually the top of hour two features a big match or promo segment. Instead, we got the same photos of the Lesnar/Cena match and then Lesnar injuring Hunter at the start of the show.
Backstage, Eve told Teddy Long to leave. Why is he on both shows every week anyway? She gave Laurinaitis a pep talk.
Eve: "My eyes are up here." Why would somebody look at her eyes when there's the rest of her to look at? She wondered who Cena's next opponent would be. Laurinaitis said he knew who it would be and he could guarantee that John isn't going to like it.
Randy Orton entered next. He's in the Beat The Clock challenge. Could a Smackdown wrestler challenge for Raw's WWE Title? Meh. Guess it doesn't matter anymore.
Beat The Clock: Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger w/ Vicky Guerrero
The clock counted down from 4:18 as I'm sure nobody believed Swagger had a chance of winning this match. Jack the Jobber hit his splash out of the corner for two, which generated no reaction. They've successfully turned him into a nobody after being a world champ two years ago. Congrats on that.
Afterwards, Swagger was on offense for a few minutes, Orton made his vintage babyface comeback with just over one minute left. He hit the powerslam and the DDT off the ropes as the crowd got loud for the finish. Swagger put him in the ankle lock. Orton rolled through, Swagger went into the turnbuckle and Orton nailed the RKO. The ref counted so Orton won at 4:16, which means he beat the time of The Miz with two seconds to spare.
Winner: Randy Orton at 4:16
Analysis: Two stars. It was a good match for the time it was given. I would have liked a longer one, but they were limited due to the BTC stipulation. A potential Orton-Punk babyface match would be great. However, I think we all expected a heel to win this, so I didn't think Orton's time would hold up. Hopefully Orton gets a new feud. Orton 4:16 says "I just beat the clock." (Yes? No.)
We'll find out Cena's Over The Limit opponent later. Also, a tag titles match is next as Epico & Primo defend against R-Truth & Kofi Kingston.
Tag title match. Remember last week when Ryder & Santino beat the tag champs in a non-title match? Or the week before that when Show & Khali beat the tag champs in a non-title match? Apparently that was enough for Kingston & Truth to get a title shot. People power!
I prefer story continuity power.
Primo & Epico w/ Rosa vs. Kofi Kingston & R-Truth
I noticed R-Truth opened the ring rope after Kofi entered the ring. I guess he did that to let Little Jimmy into the ring. What a gimmick. They worked for one minute before going to break when Truth knocked the champs out on the floor. It's our only floor-to-commercial break on the show.
Back from break, Rosa looks spectacular. She deserves more camera time. The heels isolated R-Truth, who was able to get a jumping side kick to the face of Primo. That led to the hot tag for Kingston, who is fantastic at this part of the match. Kingston destroyed Epico with his usual series of moves followed by the Boom Drop. Rosa jumped on the apron. Ref told her to get down. Truth draped Epico's head over the top rope and then Kofi finished it off with the Trouble in Paradise for the win at seven minutes.
Winners and New Tag Team Champions: Kofi Kingston & R-Truth
Analysis: Two stars. It was a good tag match. The crowd popped big for the finish, so that's a nice sign. We only saw four minutes of it, consistent with the other minute matches we got all night.
As I was saying at the start of the match, how do they determine tag title contenders if two other teams beat these guys before, yet these two are the ones to get a title shot? I guess it doesn’t matter. I'd assume that the new SmackDown team Titus O'Neil & Darren Young are the next contenders. Here's hoping the tag division grows, although I'm not holding my breath on that one.
We got clips of The Great Khali & Kane walking backstage as contenders in the Beat The Clock challenge.
Did You Know? "WWE Raw and Smackdown can be seen in more in China, than here in the United States." At least they didn't spell it Chyna, right? Congrats on that.
Backstage, Epico, Primo & Rosa were mad about their loss. AW, a.k.a. Abraham Washington, showed up to talk to them. It appeared as if they officially hired him. They cut away as he was talking.
I don't think it was a mistake to cut away. The idea was the conversation would continue without showing it on camera.
Beat The Clock: The Great Khali vs. Kane
Lawler mentioned that Khali was dancing during the break. If I was in attendance I would ask for a refund for that alone. Randy Orton looked on backstage. Here's what you do for this match: hit fast forward. The crowd was dead. The "action" was awful. I can't believe they went 4:16. I would have never booked this in the first place. They should have done a double DQ at about 20 seconds. Neither guy won. They did a double choke as the clock ran out, so nobody beat the clock.
Winner: Nobody beat the clock
After the match, Kane gave Khali a Chokeslam because he's a mean guy. Whoever booked this horrible match is a meaner guy.
Orton was happy with that result. There would be one more match.
Analysis: Negative one star. Yep, a negative star. Awful match. Never put these two in the same match again. It's never good.
(Ever seen the Simpsons episode where McBain is covered in toxic chemicals and says, "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!" That was my reaction to this match. Moving on.)
Coming up later, John Cena will learn who his next opponent is.
Daniel Bryan was shown walking backstage. He was headed to the ring. I thought Lord Tensai was going to win the Beat The Clock. I was happy to see Bryan in the last match.
Beat The Clock: Daniel Bryan vs. Jerry Lawler
Lots of "Yes!" chants for Bryan's entrance, although the Dayton crowd wasn't that loud for it. Lawler being in this match is a sign of the babyface roster being very thin in the midcard.
Bryan was on the attack early, dominating the old announcer. Lawler made his comeback when Bryan missed a corner charge. Lawler dropped the strap and hit his fist drop off the middle rope. Bryan used a backdrop to get out of a piledriver, kicked Lawler in the head and put him in the Yes Lock for the tapout win at 2:20, which was almost two full minutes better than anybody else.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: 1.25 stars. They booked it like they should have done it. I still think the babyface midcard is awful and needs a complete overhaul, but Bryan winning in decisive fashion was the right call. I have no problem with a SmackDown wrestler being number one contender for what is the Raw WWE title because of who it is. Bryan deserves to be in the main event scene. His work is incredible.
As Bryan was yelling "yes" in celebration, CM Punk's music hit and the WWE Champion stood on the stage. He was clapping his hands. He held the WWE title over his head. That's all we saw of the WWE Champion, who was of course in his full ring gear. He's a pro's pro I guess. Punk's reign has passed the 160-day mark.
Allow me to put it in perspective for you. It's official: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title at Over The Limit on May 20th.
"YES!" "Best in the world!" "YES!" "Best in the world!"
Please give them 20 minutes. It could be the match of the year.
The main event angle is finding out who John Cena's next opponent is.
Back from break, we got another replay of the Lesnar/COOHHSMH angle from earlier. The big thing Michael Cole kept talking about was Lesnar's future in WWE. He thinks Lesnar will be fired, which of course means he won't be fired. I think this was the way to write Lesnar out for a few months before bringing him back around SummerSlam. Also, Hunter's arm is broken—apparently.
Main Event Angle Starring Two Guys Named John
John Cena made his entrance. He had a sling on his left arm. Cole said he had muscle strains, but his arm wasn't broken. (Nice Isaac Bruce Rams No. 80 jersey in the crowd. I marked out for that. Go Rams.)
Cena said he was glad to be there. All x-rays showed no breaks and the MRI scan shows no tear. He said every muscle in his left arm is strained, but he's here. When you're injured you get sent home. When you're hurt you fight through it, so he's here. In other words, no injury angle or time off for Cena, at least for now.
The presidential music of John Laurinaitis started playing as the GM made his entrance. JL was glad that Cena showed up. Cena wondered if Zeus from No Holds Barred would be his opponent. That's just mean, not funny.
Laurinaitis said when he claimed Lesnar was the new face of WWE he did it to motivate Cena. Cena said what he did was hire a mercenary like Lesnar to take him out. Laurinaitis fired back by saying what he did worked because we saw the best John Cena possible. Laurinaitis said Cena should thank him, so Cena played to the "WHAT?" chants.
Cena: "Thank you for being a short-sighted corporate jackass...who sounds like he smokes five lifetimes' worth of cigarettes, who has his head so far up his own ass that he brushes his teeth with toilet paper. Thank you." That was pretty clever.
Laurinaitis told him he was the GM, so he should build a relationship with him and that he could make his life difficult if he didn't cooperate. Cena called him an idiot. He busted out the Laurinaitis voice to say the phrase "people power" in a mocking manner. Laurinaitis said he was going to introduce his opponent. Before he could finish, Lord Tensai's music started up and he entered along with Mr. Sakamoto.
Cena stood in the middle of Tensai, Sakamoto and Laurinaitis. All of a sudden, Laurinaitis hit Cena in the back of the head with the microphone. Laurinaitis stood over Cena to say that his opponent at Over The Limit would be…"Me."
It's Cena vs. Laurinaitis at Over The Limit. The three evil men attacked the arm of Cena, which included a splash by Tensai, a kick by Sakamoto and Laurinaitis hitting a running kick to the arm. They draped Cena's arm over the ring steps. Laurinaitis stepped on the arm to cause more pain. Laurinaitis grabbed a chair. He hit Cena in the injured left arm with the chair. Back in the ring, Laurinaitis stood over a fallen Cena and gave him the "you can't see me" hand motion.
That was the end of this week's edition of Monday Night Raw, starring left arm injuries.
Analysis: That was an interesting end to the show. During Laurinaitis' run as an on-screen character since the end of last summer, the only time he was really physical was when he attacked Mick Foley with a microphone. Other than that, he got beat up a few times by CM Punk.
In this instance, he was the aggressor. I thought it was going to be Cena/Tensai as most people likely did, but I would assume they went this route because it would generate more of a reaction than Cena/Tensai would. Plus, it's not as lopsided as it would be in a regular match, since Cena will hopefully be selling the arm injury.
I'm not that excited about the prospects of this match, but if they put Tensai at ringside or used him in JL's corner than it could be decent. Laurinaitis is a wrestler with a lot of experience. The crowd hates him. It's a good way to continue to get the fans to support Cena. Laurinaitis has improved as a performer so much in the last few months. He deserves credit for that.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Daniel Bryan: Yes!
2. Brock Lesnar: That's exactly how he needs to be booked.
3. John Laurinaitis: Played his role really well.
The second straight week that Raw was pretty average, although I think it was better than last week's show. I give this week's Raw a 5.5 out of 10.
Maybe everybody was tired from the awesome PPV the night before? Not sure.
I have a mixed opinion of Beat The Clock challenges. On the one hand, they're good in the sense that they're easy to follow. On the other hand, watching five really short matches can be pretty boring because you're not able to tell a story in a match when you only have four minutes.
The second best part of the show was the Triple H/Lesnar segment that started it off. I thought they showed great intensity. It was really well done. I have no problem with those two having a match at Summerslam or some other event because Hunter would do a great job of putting him over. There's no way Lesnar would lose to him. Right? I sure hope so.
(Then again, Punk never should have lost to Hunter when he did, but that's a whole other point.)
The best part of the show? Daniel Bryan winning Beat The Clock to set up the WWE Title match versus CM Punk at Over The Limit! Yes! I think the Internet Wrestling Community had a collective joygasm when they found that out. Believe me my friends, I did too.
The months of May and June are usually slow for WWE. At least with Extreme Rules they still have WrestleMania feuds they can push forward. Now that we're past that, new stories have to be told and often times these next two PPVs are below average. Hopefully Over The Limit can have some other good matches on it to go along with the two we found out about tonight.
At least nobody got locked in a freezer this week. Am I right?