As an undergraduate, I convinced three friends to start watching wrestling. We’d go to Buffalo Wild Wings and watch the pay-per-views. We’d discuss the matches—kicking ideas back and forth. After graduating, I moved away, and it was back to square one. Except, of course, I have my own wrestling column, and many of the readers here have already become regulars.
So, I thought, why not share my initial reactions from WWE Monday Night RAW, down to the time they came to me in the night, and allow you all to add to them. Pick a number—agree, disagree, add to or take away. These are my initial, raw reactions to WWE Monday Night RAW.
10. WWE kicks off RAW with the man of the hour—John Laurinaitis (9:02). John Laurinaitis has used the word “authority” twice in less than 30 seconds (9:03). I believe this is the beginning of a far more serious John Laurinaitis. Just when I say this, John Laurinaitis claims he will outdo Brock Lesnar in the ring (9:05).
Heavy “You Suck” chants and three girls chant “Cena” (9:06).
There will be severe consequences for making fun of the voice of John Laurinaitis (9:07). Pictures of John Laurinaitis in Japan (RIP Dr. Death). John Laurinaitis claims to be Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and the Rock rolled into one (9:08). Okay, so it’s not a more serious John Laurinaitis, but there is now a more serious and dangerous side to him, mixed with all the normal nonsense as well.
CM Punk interrupts John Laurinaitis (9:09).
(As he approaches the ring, let me say I’m particularly proud of CM Punk after he dropped a pipebomb on North Carolina’s attempt to block gay couple’s from the same rights that straight couples have and abuse yearly. I am from North Carolina and presently embarrassed to say so. Glad to see CM Punk speaking his mind even when it may not be pleasing to all ears.)
CM Punk to John Laurinaitis: “Shuffling around in your Brooks Brothers suits” (9:11). CM Punk clears up the seriousness of John Laurinaitis question I had: “You’re still a joke” (9:12). Also: “You’re stupid; You’re ugly; You have no friends” (9:13).
In response to CM Punk’s rant, John Laurinaitis books CM Punk versus Lord Tensai. I’ve gotta believe this will be non-title or end in a DQ as WWE is still building Lord Tensai and a loss to CM Punk would be adverse to the current direction he seems to be on.
Talking Point: WWE is definitely trying to get John Cena over as a face (trying to get him back over?). CM Punk practically made himself and John Cena one, or made himself John Cena’s biggest fan. And saying John Cena will twist John Laurinaitis “into a pretzel” suggests that John Cena actually can [are you ready for this?] wrestle. I think this is a good move. It not only serves the current purpose of WWE, but there has been an unspoken alliance between CM Punk and John Cena on many matters for many months. This is something WWE could continue to build and eventually exploit.
9. Michael Cole is now calling John Laurinaitis “Big Johnny” (9:21). Is it because “Big Johnny” is trending?
We get a WrestleMania/Extreme Rules rematch between Big Show and Cody Rhodes (9:21). Short match that ends in a count out.
Talking Point: This is the longest series of matches that do not get any more impressive as the months go on. A few spots and Cody Rhodes walks away from ringside. I think it’s about time to free Cody Rhodes from his obsession with giants. Surely Cody Rhodes can do more with his IC title than wrestle Big Show and Big Khali. Excuse me, Great Khali.
8. Kofi Kingston in one-on-one action (9:32). It’s good to see two things here: Kofi Kingston with a championship and the Tag Team Titles actually on RAW.
Kofi Kingston is facing Dolph Ziggler (9:33). Unfortunately, his ball and chain, Jack Swagger, is with him. Vicki, too—I guess that’s balls and chains, but that doesn’t sound right. Point is: Dolph Ziggler is not complemented by his entourage.
The combined agility between Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler is amazing. The word athleticism is an understatement here.
Dolph Ziggler gets the win after interference from Jack Swagger (9:36).
Talking Point: It seems WWE is building for a Kofi/Truth versus Ziggler/Swagger match. As nice as it may be to see the tag team titles, it is not worth wasting Dolph Ziggler. He should walk to the back and check with A.W. or some female manager not named Vicki or go solo and focus on his in-ring work instead of gimmicks and managers. The day Dolph Ziggler excels in WWE will be the day they realize he doesn’t need new garments or gimmicks. They just need to let him wrestle. This is not a Jay-Z song—he will not be forever young. Use him in his prime, because he is physically capable of what few can do.
7. Another Michael Cole exclusive—with John Cena via Satellite (9:41).
Sorry to the John Cena haters, but he says he will wrestle even if they amputate his left arm (9:42). I bet that will lead to many future classics for those who already dislike the John Cena style.
Talking Point: A short (and unnecessary?) promo. John Cena was full-on baby face and joking and, while the cheers still sounded like women and children, the boo’s seemed to be muted or lessened. Maybe people just dislike John Laurinaitis or maybe they are tired. I like the idea of spacing out weeks where Brock Lesnar appears, but to have Brock Lesnar, Triple H, and John Cena absent and to use John Cena in a somewhat irrelevant satellite promo seems to be counter-productive. Glad I didn’t choose to go to RAW over Over the Limit.
Was a night without John Cena (in arena) everything you thought it would be?
6. No matter how many weeks I watch I don’t know all the Divas by name.
Natalya and Maxine[?] are teaming to face Kelly Kelly and Layla (9:49). Beth Phoenix is in the announce booth (9:50).
My first time hearing Layla talk (9:50). She seemed very cheerful about being champion. It was kind of nice to see.
Michael Cole clears it up for me: Maxine is a regular on NXT.
Talking Point: The match ended before I could type two sentences about it. The Diva’s division truly could prosper with more time. I’m not even talking revolutionary changes. How about giving them five minutes instead of two? See what they can do with that.
Layla got the pin, by the way. I really, really like her smile. Her happy face looks truly happy. It’s a nice story: coming back from an injury and enjoying the success. That, however, may be crushed by Beth Phoenix, who is a great contrast to Layla, in that Beth Phoenix expects success and is angry with anything less.
5. Alberto Del Rio and Chris Jericho teaming to face Randy Orton and Sheamus (9:56). I am very happy to see Daniel Bryan relieved of his Sheamus duties. If WWE wants to push guys like Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio to the top of SmackDown, please keep Daniel Bryan on RAW. I know that statement won’t be popular, but Daniel Bryan is legit hot right now. Sheamus isn’t and Alberto Del Rio especially isn’t.
Still, looking forward to a good match here (10:00).
There will come a day when the world of Sheamus will collide with the world of Randy Orton (10:03). They are two men who want the same spot. I do believe it could help Sheamus raise his intensity.
Anybody else think WWE could better utilize Chris Jericho? As I was asking this, Chris Jericho went for a head scissors (with his legs around Sheamus and his arms on the top rope) and Sheamus kicked him. I like the energy between Sheamus and Chris Jericho. Perhaps that could be a hot feud?
Love the Randy Orton powerslam (10:09). So many guys used to do that move ‘back in the day’.
Randy Orton gets a lot of hate from people with computers, but the energy he brings to a match is on par with the best. He knows how to pace a match, work a match, and keep fans engaged. How much will you hate me for this? It’s time to put him back in the title picture.
Randy Orton tags Sheamus (10:13). I’m not sure why they kept Sheamus with Jericho and Orton with ADR for the majority of the match. Randy Orton hits the RKO on ADR and…
SHEAMUS KICKS ORTON BY ACCIDENT!
AND CHRIS JERICHO PINS SHEAMUS!
From the words I type to the ears of God, it looks like WWE may let Chris Jericho and Randy Orton mix it up with Sheamus.
After the match, RKO on Sheamus!
What grade would you give this RAW?
Thank You, WWE. I’m not used to you listening to me, especially not that quickly.
Talking Point: I don’t hate Sheamus. Please don’t say I do. Just because I don’t think he should have become champion doesn’t mean he can’t be a good one. I’d like to see him against Randy Orton or Chris Jericho. I think either man could get the best out of him and raise the profile of this title reign. I will, however, pass on Sheamus-Alberto Del Rio. I promise you that will be the match where I hit the concession stands at Over the Limit (ironically, to buy my Yes! T-shirt). If WWE wants to keep me in my seat, they can add Chris Jericho and/or Randy Orton to the match at Over the Limit.
4. Okay, after commercial, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton both demand title shots (10:22). I may go out and buy a lottery ticket tomorrow as somebody is smiling down on me right now. Notice, in the backstage brawl with Randy Orton, Sheamus, ADR, and Chris Jericho, that Randy Orton has already caused Sheamus to behave with more intensity (rather than playing cheerleader to a Yes! chant on SmackDown).
WWE just made the match at Over the Limit a fatal four way (10:23).
Talking Point: I’m buying a lottery ticket tomorrow.
3. Miz to face Brodus Clay (10:25).
He calls Brodus clay ‘this’. Says he has a match with ‘this’.
Miz is such a good promo man. Even in a short promo during his walk to the ring, his conviction is genuine. First time a wrestler has really addressed Brodus Clay. First time one of his segments has become serious.
Feels strange to say that a Miz win would be an upset here (10:28).
The Brodus Dancers are more desperate than I’ve seen them (10:30). They are used to dancing—not watching extended matches.
Brodus Clay wins (10:30).
Talking Point: WWE continues to build Brodus Clay. For what and towards what I’m not yet sure. I am still somewhat neutral on him. I’m not even mad at Miz not winning anymore, either. He continues to shine no matter how he is booked. I will buy the WWE DVD movie that he is in (Marine 3?). That is something I’ve never done before, but I feel like the man needs support. I almost wish he’d go to Hollywood. I know as a proven fact WWE will push him if he becomes a Hollywood star and leaves the company.
2. Paul Heyman! (10:42).
I was just about to say Greensboro had truly been screwed (as they got legal representation instead of Brock Lesnar) but scratch that.
It’s Paul Heyman.
“Today’s WWE is so much different than it was ten years ago. It’s so image conscience” (10:44).
“Brock Lesnar feels betrayed, and Brock Lesnar should not have to feel that way” (10:45).
Hilarious. Typical Paul E. heel.
Paul Heyman lists all of Brock Lesnar’s accomplishments and, in doing so, and in doing so passionately, has done more verbally for Brock Lesnar in 30 seconds than Brock Lesnar could do in a lifetime.
Paul Heyman looks every bit the sleazy attorney (10:46). But he delivers perfectly.
Talking Point: I said from week one that Brock Lesnar needed representation, and some people took it as a knock on WWE. No, I was just saying they needed Paul Heyman. A.W. and Vicki Guerrero and all managers could learn from Paul Heyman. The man has not lost a step. He reads us a statement that Brock Lesnar has quit (although we all know he will be back). Therefore the story of the night is not that Brock Lesnar quits—It’s that Paul Heyman returns.
1. The main event is CM Punk versus Lord Tensai (10:55).
Daniel Bryan is conspicuous by his absence…thus far (10:55).
And…on point…John Laurinaitis arrives to announce it will be a handicap match: CM Punk versus Lord Tensai and Daniel Bryan (10:56). Thus, Lord Tensai remains a steamroller and the right arm of the ‘People Power’ movement.
WWE doesn’t have time for Lord Tensai and Daniel Bryan’s entrance? Not cool (10:59).
CM Punk holds Daniel Bryan as if to turn him for a Boston Crab but instead delivers kicks to the raised and exposed back of Daniel Bryan (11:03).
If Paul Heyman hadn't appeared, how much would it change your view on the quality of the night?
CM Punk goes for GTS on Lord Tensai. Not tonight (11:05).
Lord Tensai gets the win over CM Punk (11:06). Very predictable. Maybe matters over the long haul but doesn’t do much for Over the Limit.
After the match, Daniel Bryan locks on the Yes! Lock. He screams “You’re not better than me” (11:07). That image and sound did more to tell a story for Over the Limit than is sometimes done in an entire promo.
Talking Point: I don’t like how WWE is setting up CM Punk versus Daniel Bryan. It came from nowhere last week and this week it was more about CM Punk versus John Laurinaitis, with Daniel Bryan already in the ring. I would like to hear promos from CM Punk and Daniel Bryan and have them build some significance for this match, as I hope WWE will make it more than just a throwaway.
Still, this is the night Paul Heyman returned. That, in itself, made it a special night on RAW.