Before we begin, a special birthday shout-out to Owen Hart who would have been 47 years old today. He was one of my favorite wrestlers ever. His death brings me a lot of sadness even 13 years after his passing, but the memories he gave us during his career are everlasting, so for that we should always be thankful. "Enough is enough and it's time for a change." RIP Owen.
This week's Raw Deal was written live.
Live from Greensboro, N.C. this is the Raw Deal...
The show begins with a video package highlighting the angle that ended last week's Raw with John Laurinaitis attacking John Cena with the help of Lord Tensai.
No Nickelback song to start the show. Good. "People Power" in full effect. John Laurinaitis made his entrance. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show. Laurinaitis called himself the leader of WWE and that he won't allow anybody to challenge his leadership skills. He was upset about Cena calling him an idiot and a corporate jackass. That's why he lost his temper last week.
He said, "Brock Cena" at one point. What he meant to say is that Brock Lesnar hurt Cena's arm and he hurt Cena's pride. He said WWE's Board of Directors didn't punish him for his actions because they realize he's tough, but fair. He asked that Cena was not there tonight so that he could rest his elbow and have no excuse when he loses to JL at Over the Limit.
This boring Laurinaitis promo continued as he talked about his wrestling career. They showed pictures of him holding titles in Japan. They showed pictures of him putting people in submission holds. He called himself Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and The Rock all rolled into one in terms of his star power. He said when WWE asked him to wrestle for them years ago he said no. He said his match with Cena was bigger than Cena/Rock and Cena/Lesnar. Heels lie. The whole promo lasted about seven minutes. Crowd was hot for parts of it, but died down. It went on too long. Finally the music of WWE Champion CM Punk hit.
Punk said Laurinaitis never amazed him. He said Laurinaitis had no clue what the people wanted to hear or see. Punk was rocking the full beard again, so I guess his match with Daniel Bryan will be a beard on beard showdown. He said the WWE Universe doesn't want to see Laurinaitis. The crowd cheered. They don't care about his time in Japan.
Punk said this is about Laurinaitis betting all of his chips on Lesnar only to see Cena beat him. He said he was like a hyena left to pick the bones after Lesnar did the damage to Cena's arms. Punk said the reason he had to go to Japan was because there wasn't anybody that wanted to pay to see him wrestle. Punk called him a joke then and now. He said he'd watch Over the Limit to see John Cena beat Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis asked him if he was finished. Punk asked if he was done, but the crowd cheered so he continued. Punk: "You're stupid, you're ugly and you have no friends. You're also a gigantic toolbox. I'm finished now." Laurinaitis said he could beat Punk now, but he's not going to. He told Punk he would be facing somebody that went to Japan to hone their skills. He told Punk that he'd be facing Lord Tensai. Punk said he accepted that and looked forward to it almost as much as he expects Cena to make Laurinaitis tap out. Punk dropped the microphone to end the promo after 15 minutes.
Analysis: It wasn't an epic pipe bomb promo from Punk, but it was a reminder of his long standing issues with Laurinaitis. I thought Laurinaitis' solo work was pretty lackluster and crowd killing. It went on too long. He's not good enough on the microphone to talk to the crowd like that. When Punk got out there it was better.
It felt a bit out of place since they are feuding with different people. However, there was nothing wrong with it really. The Punk/Tensai match is fresh too, so hopefully they book it in a smart way. I'd assume Cena is there in some capacity, although if he gets the week off it wouldn't be that surprising either.
Backstage, Big Show was walking. He gets his IC Title rematch coming up next.
Backstage, Show was walking to the ring. Still? Laurinaitis walked up to him. He was mad that Show didn't show him respect. As he walked away, Show did an impression of Laurinaitis using the JL voice. Eve walked up to Show, so she had heard him imitating Laurinaitis. He headed to the ring. Not sure what the point was of that unless this will lead to something where Laurinaitis sends somebody out there to screw Show out of the win.
Before the IC Title rematch, they showed pictures of Extreme Rules when Cody Rhodes regained the IC Title he never should have lost. Then Show put him through a table. Cody entered first followed by Big Show right after.
Intercontinental Title: Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show
Show dominated the action early with big chops followed by a body slam. Rhodes came back with a boot to the face and a Disaster Kick. Show came back by flipping him across the ring. Rhodes rolled out to the floor. He asked for his title. Show cut him off before he could walk away. Then, Cody ran out the other side of the ring. He ran up the aisle with his title. Match went about three minutes.
Winner: Big Show via Countout
Post-match, Big Show asked for the microphone. He told Cody not to take the coward's way out. Cody left. Eve's music started. She's rocking the business suit attire. That's a lovely short skirt.
Eve told him to apologize for making fun of JL's voice. She said he had to apologize to her, to the fans, and to Laurinaitis. He said, "I'm sorry." She said she didn't ask him to say "I'm sorry." She told him to apologize. Eve reminded him that outside of this business, there's not a lot of use for a 400 pound 40-year-old freak. They don't mention age much on WWE TV, but that was a good way to get Show angry. Show: "I apologize for making fun of John Laurinaitis' voice." He was serious. Then he left. Eve was pleased with that.
Apparently I missed something earlier where Laurinaitis said if you made fun of Laurinaitis' voice you'd face the consequences.
Analysis: ¼* That finish is overdone. They even did it on Smackdown with Swagger walking out on Brodus Clay. It seems like every other week there's a "heel walks away for a countout" finish. There are other ways to book finishes without having somebody lose. Instead, it's the same thing over and over again. Where's the creativity? The Eve/Show segment was okay. She's good in the bitchy heel role. Better than her stale babyface work at least.
Later: Punk vs. Tensai. Also Orton & Sheamus vs. Jericho & Del Rio. That should be a good tag match.
They replayed the tag title win of Kofi Kingston and R-Truth last week. Kofi Kingston made his entrance along with R-Truth, who of course adds Little Jimmy into his entrance. Love how he holds the rope open for Little Jimmy too, what a gentleman. Vickie Guerrero introduced Dolph Ziggler, who also had Jack Swagger with him.
Kofi Kingston w/R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler w/Vickie Guerrero & Jack Swagger
This match has happened probably 30 times on television in the last few years. They're always good. They showed AW (All World no longer Abraham Washington) watching the action along with Rosa, Primo, and Epico. So a team with a manager got a manager too. Meanwhile, Mason Ryan showed up into the shot as well. Back in the ring, after Dolph got some early offense in with a nice dropkick, Kofi was able to get control with his usual offense. Kingston hit the S.O.S for a count of two. Swagger and Vickie successfully distracted Kingston, so Ziggler was able to capitalize with the Zig Zag for the win. The match went about three minutes.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Analysis: *1/4 They've certainly had better matches. This was only three minutes though, so can't blame them for that. It followed typical WWE booking where a champion loses a match that is not for their title. The Mason Ryan thing is noteworthy because the rumor is he may be used as Ziggler's bodyguard, although plans can always change.
They showed John Cena talking to a techie as Michael Cole informed us he'd be doing an interview. Cena had his left arm in a sling. The idea is that he's not actually at the show. Interview is after the break.
Back from break, Michael Cole was in the ring. Cena was "live via satellite." John thanked the fans for their support. He said there are no broken bones, but he has to have his elbow drained twice a day. Cena said doctors didn't want him to compete and recommended he take a few months off. He said he wasn't going to listen to them because nothing would stop him from competing. Cena said the Board of Directors contacted him and he told them not to reprimand him because he wants to get his hands on Laurinaitis.
Cole said he was impressed with what Laurinaitis has accomplished in his career. Cole suggested that Cena could be scared of Laurinaitis. Cena said he's scared that Laurinaitis is so bad that he's going to hurt himself before Cena could get his hands on him. He said he's excited that he'll get to attack Laurinaits the way all the superstars and fans want to do. Cena: "In 13 days at Over the Limit I will kick John Laruinaitis' ass!" That's the end of the promo.
Analysis: It didn't seem like a legit "live" promo. It could have been for all I know. Cena's likely at the show (he was) and they just did it backstage, but there were points where it seemed off. Anyway, the point of the angle is to get sympathy heat for Cena. The crowd cheered him. No risk of boos when he's not in the arena live. It was an interview that lasted under five minutes. If that's all we get of Cena tonight then I'm okay with that.
Backstage, Layla & Kelly Kelly were walking. They're in tag action next.
In the ring, Natalya and Maxine were waiting for their opponents. Good. Big fan of both. Meanwhile, Beth Phoenix joined in at the commentary table. They said that at Over the Limit it will be Layla defending the Divas Title against Beth Phoenix.
Layla & Kelly Kelly vs. Natalya & Maxine
Fast paced action early. Kelly attacked Natalya on the floor to prevent some cheating. Layla ended up finishing off Maxine easily with The Layout neckbreaker. The match went about one minute.
Winners: Layla & Kelly Kelly
Analysis: NR Wow that was ridiculously short. Natalya and Kelly didn't even tag in. Kelly knocked her off the apron, Natalya took a bump to the floor and Layla ended up finishing off Maxine with The Layout very easily. What does that accomplish? Obviously the focus is on Layla and Beth, but giving them only one minute of in-ring time doesn't do anybody any good.
Tag match is next at the top of hour two: Orton & Sheamus vs. Jericho & Del Rio.
They plugged Santino's Foreign Exchange show on WWE's YouTube channel. It's usually pretty funny from what I've seen.
In the ring, Ricardo Rodriguez gave a big introduction for Alberto Del Rio, who came out in a 2012 Ferrari worth $377,000 according to Cole. They mentioned that it would be Sheamus vs. Del Rio for the World Title at Over the Limit. I don't think anybody believes Del Rio will win, nor should they.
Del Rio got moved to SmackDown. No legitimate reason was given for it, but I think it was a numbers thing in that SmackDown needed more top of the line heels. I would have preferred Ziggler in the spot personally. Chris Jericho made his entrance. Big pop for Randy Orton. The World Champ, Sheamus came out last to a good ovation as well.
Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho & Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez
There are no current feuds for Orton and Jericho so perhaps that could get started here. The faces had control early. Sheamus destroyed Jericho with ten punches while he was between the ropes. That's a good spot that generates a good reaction. Jericho avoided a powerslam by shoving Sheamus into the ring post. Del Rio kicked Sheamus in the injured left arm while he was out on the floor. The left shoulder of Sheamus is still bandaged to sell his recent beatings at the hands of Daniel Bryan. I love when injuries are sold for longer than a week. Three minutes into the match we head to break for the vintage floor-to-commercial spot.
Back to the action, Jericho was in control of Sheamus for about 30 seconds. Sheamus ended up getting the hot tag to Orton while Jericho tagged out to Del Rio. Orton hit a powerslam on Jericho while Rodriguez distracted the ref to allow Del Rio to hit an enziguiri to Orton for a count of two. The heels worked over Orton for a bit. Orton hit a dropkick on Jericho. Cole said you don't see Orton throw many of them. What? He has one of the best dropkicks and does them all the time.
Jericho slowed Orton down to prevent the tag. He gave him a reverse chinlock: "ASK HIM!" Orton rolled him up for two. Jericho gave Orton an enziguiri. Del Rio tagged in and dropped Orton's left arm onto his own knees. He yelled out "destiny" as he tried to put on the Cross Armbreaker. I guess he still says "destiny" then? Okay. Hot tag to Sheamus while Del Rio brought in Jericho. Sheamus hit a high knee to Jericho. Then he powered out of the Walls of Jericho and hit the Irish Curse backbreaker. Del Rio ran in, so Orton gave him a RKO. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick but Jericho moved out of the way. The Brogue Kick hit Orton in the face. Sheamus was stunned. Jericho ended up hitting the Codebreaker on Sheamus. He pinned Sheamus for the win after 13 minutes.
Winners: Chris Jericho and Alberto Del Rio
After the match, Jericho grabbed the World Title. He said he should be the champion. The heels celebrated as they left. Sheamus tried to help Orton up. Orton didn't want it. He then hit Sheamus with a RKO, which left the World Champion out on the mat.
Analysis: ***1/2 This was your typical very good middle of the show tag match that allowed all four guys to get a chance to shine. They're all big names who have established signature moves that the crowd popped for. It's a formulaic tag match that always works. No complaints here. We need more of these on a regular basis. The booking decision is interesting because now it seems as though we could get a Fatal Fourway at Over the Limit rather than the already announced Sheamus/Del Rio match.
Later tonight, an update on Triple H's condition and the future of Brock Lesnar.
Also, later is CM Punk vs. Lord Tensai.
Backstage, John Laurinaitis was with Eve. She said she'd go talk to Big Show.
All of a sudden, Laurinaitis was joined by Jericho, Del Rio and Orton. All of them wanted a title shot against Sheamus. They started brawling. Suddenly, Sheamus showed up and all four guys were brawling. The faces took care of the heels. Sheamus got in Orton's face because they each hit the other guy with their finisher. Sheamus: "You bring it fella!" Laurinaitis announced the World Title match will now be a Fatal Fourway between Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Chris Jericho & Randy Orton. My guess was right. Cool. It will be better this way.
Brodus Clay made his entrance with his dancers Naomi and Cameron. He referred to his fans as Funkateers now. He said it's Mother's Day on Sunday, so we better call our momma. Miz came out complaining that he has a match with…this. Miz: "If I wanted to see King Hippo dance I'd play Mike Tyson's Punch Out." Great line. He wants Brodus to call his momma so he can tell her that "I'm the Miz and I'm awesome."
Brodus Clay vs. The Miz
Cole said this was a true test for Clay. Brodus knocked him to the floor. Cameron and Naomi laughed at him. Like a dummy, Brodus chased him back into the ring. Miz stomped away. He hit a running boot to the face for a count of two. Miz hit his corner clothesline. He followed with a double axehandle off the top for two. I don't think Brodus has sold this many moves during his run as the Funkasauras. Miz hit a dropkick to Brodus' knee followed by a high knee to the jaw. Then, he gave him a chinlock. Brodus powered out of it with a slam. He gave him a battering ram headbutt. Miz countered a charge with a boot to the face. Brodus hit an overhead suplex. Big splash connects for Brodus for the win after about five minutes.
Winner: Brodus Clay
Analysis: * That was the longest Brodus match they've done since he's been the Funkasauras. The crowd wasn't really rallying behind him while Miz was on offense, but they did pop for his signature moves that led to his victory. Miz is going to be filming The Marine 3 very soon, so don't be surprised if he keeps losing until they write him out for a month or so.
They aired a video package about the "be a STAR" anti-bullying campaign.
Up next is an update on the Brock Lesnar/Triple H story.
Back from break, we got a video package of Brock Lesnar injuring the…wait for it…left arm of Triple H. Left arm injuries come in threes since Cena and Sheamus are also dealing with left arm issues.
Michael Cole called it a broken arm for Triple H, who also had ligament damage. He's having surgery. They showed a pic of him with the metal brace on his arm and that Triple H will be live next week.
They extended an invitation to Brock Lesnar. Instead, it was Paul Heyman who walked out. CM Punk tweeted a pic of him backstage and said he'd be on his way to the ring. Awesome. "Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman and I am here tonight as the representative for Brock Lesnar." He said Lesnar's been under-appreciated by WWE's audience since day one. He said things are different now than they were ten years ago when he first represented Lesnar. He said Lesnar feels betrayed by the WWE Universe and "Brock Lesnar should not have to feel that way." He said Lesnar was the only man in history to win the NCAA Heavyweight Championship, the Undisputed WWE Championship and the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
Heyman called Lesnar an honest man. He told us he'd be an ass kicking machine and that's what he's been. We found out that #PaulHeyman was trending. He read an official statement from Lesnar to the fans. "And I quote." That was funny. He read a letter saying that he's mad at how he's been treated. He didn't regret what he did to Cena or Hunter. He said Hunter lasted nearly an hour with Undertaker, but he couldn't last a minute with Lesnar. He said he doesn't care about Triple H, the fans or WWE corporate because "I, Brock Lesnar, am never coming back because I, Brock Lesnar, quit." Heyman left.
Analysis: It's just an angle, of course. It was nice to see Heyman again although I wish the crowd was louder. It will be interesting to see if Heyman returns when Lesnar does, but I'm not sure if that will happen. Hunter's "broken arm" injury will allow them to save the Lesnar/Hunter match for Summerslam most likely. Heyman was very good in his role. That's not a surprise. He's one of the best talkers ever.
We got a short recap of the Punk/Laurinaitis segment that started the show.
Punk walked to the ring for his match with Lord Tensai in the main event.
Backstage, Big Show talked to some actors from some USA Network show that I totally missed. They're detectives on their TV show, so they wanted to investigate to help Big Show. They started impersonating Laurinaitis. Big Show laughed. Eve showed up. Big Show stopped. Then the scene ended. So I guess Big Show is scared of Eve? Is that the point of these segments?
CM Punk made his entrance. John Laurinaitis stopped his music before he got to the ring. He informed us that the main event would be Punk vs. Lord Tensai and Daniel Bryan. I was waiting for Bryan to be on the show. They went to break just before it hit 11 p.m. eastern time, which means a short match.
Lord Tensai & Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk
The match was already underway as we returned from break at 11:00 p.m. Tensai was overpowering Punk. Bryan tagged in and hit Punk with some kicks to the chest. Punk and Bryan hit cross body blocks at the same time. Tensai hit a delayed suplex. Tensai hit a running splash on Punk. Bryan tagged in. He missed a flying headbutt as Punk moved out of the way. Punk made his comeback by giving Bryan a slingshot into the corner followed by a sidekick and a neckbreaker. Punk hit his running knee followed by the bulldog combo. The crowd cheered a bit. They weren't as loud as they should be.
Punk went for the Go To Sleep. Bryan slipped out. Tensai made a blind tag as Punk knocked Bryan out of the ring. Tensai decked Punk with a clothesline. A corner splash missed. Punk decked him with a kick to the face. Sakamoto distracted the ref, so Bryan grabbed the top rope as Punk climbed to the top. Tensai capitalized with a double choke bomb to put Punk down. Tensai spit the green mist into his hand and then gave Punk the Claw. He gave him the STO with the Claw combo to put Punk down. He covered for the victory after six minutes of action that we saw.
Winner: Lord Tensai
Analysis: ** So the guy that isn't in the WWE Title match pins the WWE Champion while the guy that is in the WWE Title match looks like a loser out on the floor? I understand why they did it with Tensai getting the win, but it would have meant more if Bryan made Punk tap out.
Post match, Bryan attacked Punk. He put him in the Yes Lock. Bryan yelled at him "you're not better than me" and of course yelled "yes" repeatedly. The show ended with Bryan celebrating the attack on Punk.
Analysis: That's how I would have ended the match. Instead, they ended the show that way, which is effective in terms of wrapping it up by having the last impression be of the WWE Champion getting attacked by his top challenger. It was a fine ending. Not great, but not bad either.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Paul Heyman - Welcome back. Please stick around.
2. Chris Jericho - All the guys in the tag match deserve praise. I picked him because he was finally booked to win something.
3. CM Punk - Nice promo to start and good job of taking the beating in the main event.
6 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2012 Average: 6.11
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 4 (January 9 & April 23)
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 4, 7, 5, 8
I gave this week's Raw a 6 out of 10. It might be a bit generous, but I didn't find anything to be that bad with it. The theme of the show was "don't cross the boss." The whole point was to show that John Laurinaitis isn't just a powerful man, but he's an evil man as well. Babyfaces such as Big Show, John Cena and CM Punk have all felt his wrath over the past two weeks.
It was awesome to see Paul Heyman in a WWE ring again. It's been too long. Hopefully this will lead to more appearances on his part, but I have no idea if there's any deal in place or if it was a one time thing. The fact that it even happened one time was a nice surprise, so hopefully there are other appearances down the road. I think Lesnar would benefit from Heyman cutting his promos for him when he returns in a few months.
The tag match at the top of hour two was fun. It was definitely the best match on a show that lacked really good matches because of all the talking segments. I think adding Orton and Jericho to the mix at Over the Limit gives the World Title match some much needed star power. Plus, what else were they going to do? They need to be on the card.
I'm sure some will complain about Bryan going after the WWE Title on Raw even though he's a SmackDown guy while Jericho goes for the World Title on SmackDown even though he's a Raw guy. Clearly it doesn't matter anymore, so why complain? I'm just glad they're the two guys they picked to cross over brands to be in these main title matches. They're two of the best performers in the company, so if you're going to pick anybody it might as well be them. No complaints from me.
I know Greensboro is a historical wrestling town, but it wasn't a loud crowd tonight. They were disappointing. The lack of John Cena on the show probably upset some fans too, so that could be a reason as well. Kids love that dude. Ya think? Yes they do.