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.
(Side note: Yesterday I posted an article on the John Cena Divorce. It was probably the most protested piece I’ve written and oddly enough it is the closest I’ve come to 10,000 views in my three months at Bleacher Report.)
You can view the piece here: John Cena Divorce Piece.
It is currently 200 views away from 10,000. I want to one day tell a younger writer that the piece that was most criticized also became my first 10,000. I think there is a lesson there. And if not a lesson, something writers love just as much as a lesson—irony.
1. Triple H kicks off WWE RAW in the back with John Laurinaitis (9:01). He is on his way to the ring one-minute later (9:02). Walk slowly, Triple H, they are showing a video from two weeks ago (9:03).
At least they are not doing it during the promo. Those of you who read my Talking Points pieces know I hate when a wrestler stops his promo to say Look at this.
Grade WWE RAW
Triple H says the physical is not the worst with what happened with Brock Lesnar (9:05).
He mocks Brock and legitimacy. Says his match with the Undertaker was legitimate. I’ve been wondering how long he could go without mentioning his match with the Undertaker, which was a good one. But still, I knew he had to mention it sometime.
Triple H says, “When he had to reach down and find that little something extra, Brock Lesnar quit” (9:08).
He adds that when someone kicked his ass in UFC, Brock Lesnar quit (9:09).
And, “When he was told no [on RAW]…Brock Lesnar quit” (9:09)
Paul Heyman! (9:10).
That man swaggers like nobody since Vince McMahon.
Paul Heyman calls it “the big spin” and “damage control” (9:11).
Paul Heyman emphasizes the name Brock Lesnar (9:12). Half my audience and myself marked out.
Paul Heyman says, “You bring a fighter into an entertainment company and then you don’t like it when he wants to fight” (9:12).
Wow. Paul Heyman says Triple H has not lived up to the hype all these years. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
Triple H: “Tell Brock Lesnar he’s going to get everything he deserves” (9:14).
Talking Point: Great opening to RAW. Paul Heyman can get the job done all day. I don’t mind the threats of lawsuits (there were two in this segment), but I do hope WWE doesn’t linger on them (Or worse, show them). This will no doubt lead to Triple H versus Brock Lesnar as Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman challenged his manhood and worth. I would expect their match to be more back-and-forth than Lesnar-Cena, but I would also expect Brock Lesnar to go over. I do hope the match is sooner than later. It has potential, but I don’t want to watch this until SummerSlam.
2. CM Punk, who dominated last week’s RAW, is in the opening bout this week (9:17). He is teaming with Santino Marella to take on Cody Rhodes and Daniel Bryan…after the break (9:18).
Finally a Daniel Bryan entrance (9:23). Last week he was currently in the ring, which isn’t okay to me. I am hyped to see Daniel Bryan and CM Punk Sunday, as I will be there in attendance.
Jerry Lawler says Bryan is “going for jerk of a lifetime” (9:24). Yeah, that will make fans not like him.
Cody Rhodes tries to tag Daniel Bryan who drops off the ring apron (9:25).
Michael Cole says Daniel Bryan is “picking his spots” which describes the Daniel Bryan character better than anything I’ve heard.
Santino tries the suicide dive and tangles on the second rope (9:26). It’s meant for humor, but I’ve always wondered (back to the Bret Hart days) how guys pull that off so smoothly. It seems one of the toughest moves to execute. So there is a reflection of truth in Santino’s attempt at humor.
If you did a suicide dive, would it look like CM Punk's or Santino Marella's?
I might say this every week, but I love the Daniel Bryan corner dropkick (9:31).
Daniel Bryan drops knees as the fans chant with it and Jerry Lawler chastises the WWE Universe (9:31).
CM Punk gets the win on Cody Rhodes (9:34).
Talking Point: WWE wisely kept CM Punk and Daniel Bryan apart in this match. They have not built a feud—this is all about the match, and WWE is saving it for Sunday. Cody Rhodes and Santino Marella are fighting over whether the IC or US Title is the most valuable, and I think, Yes, God, just let them let one wrestler treat either belt like it matters. Both belts did at one time, and I like the argument on belts and value.
3. Alicia Fox currently in the ring (9:40) to face Beth Phoenix.
Layla out to watch the match (9:42).
Not much to watch—less than a minute (9:42).
Talking Point: Are you excited about the Diva’s Title match at OTL? I am. Not so much for the build, but I like Layla as a champion. I’m hoping she keeps the belt a little longer. If Beth Phoenix wins it back this early, I’m not sure why they took it off her in the first place.
4. Lakers-Thunder begins (9:46). It’s difficult to watch RAW when NBA has a storyline where a man with a vicious past (Ron Artest) changes his name to Metta World Peace, only to give an opponent a concussion just before the playoffs. Yesterday they asked if he would shake that man’s hand. He said, I don’t shake hands with substitutes. He’s not a starter.
Match that, WWE.
5. Zack Ryder versus Kane…on the pregame show this Sunday.
Talking Point: I’m fine with that, but my heart goes out to true-blue Zack Ryder fans. Or those of us (myself included) who thought Kane’s return to a mask meant a prolonged push.
6. I forgot about Derrick Fisher (who is now on the Thunder). He came into the league the same year as Kobe Bryant and they won five rings together. Now they are competing against each other in the playoffs for the first time, which is not lost on the commentators.
Again, beat that, WWE.
7. John Laurinaitis demands an apology from Big Show in the midst of his match with Kane (10:04). This allows Kane to get the win.
Talking Point: Big Show gave a hell of a promo. When he started by mentioning being 23 and WCW, I knew two things. First, it was going to be a great speech and second, he was going to be fired.
Biggest heat in a longtime: John Laurinaitis saying “those in the cheap seats” (10:08).
Very reminiscent of Vince McMahon. John Laurinaitis asks for an apology; then asks Big Show to beg him (10:10). On his knees? Very, very reminiscent of Vince McMahon. I cannot argue with the heat that John Laurinaitis is currently drawing in WWE. It’s coming across well on TV.
I was swerved (10:11). There was no firing.
Guess he’s not exactly Vince McMahon.
Wow. Wait. I guess I was not swerved. John Laurinaitis has reconsidered (10:12).
Wow. Wait again. Big Show is on his knees crying and this is becoming uncomfortable.
But still John Laurinaitis fires him (10:13).
This guy has the most potential I’ve seen in a GM in a long time.
That was a crazy, wild segment.
8. Miz is teaming with Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler (10:23). What do these three have in common? They all would have jumped to WCW by now if it were still in business.
AW is in the box seats with his crew and Mason Ryan (10:28). If I were booking and I had a sky box, I’d use it every week on my shows. I take heart at seeing Mason Ryan during Dolph Ziggler matches two weeks in a row. Dolph Ziggler would do far better with a bodyguard than with his current cohorts. If he doesn’t know how to manage that, he should call Shawn Michaels.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned the opponents. It’s Kofi Kingston and the tag champions, Brodus Clay and R-Truth. Oh, and they won.
Talking Point: I have been defending Brodus Clay. Not saying I like what he’s doing, but saying I don’t hate it. Well, I’m starting to hate it. They need to make him matter or stop wasting so much time on him. Frankly I’m shocked the tag team title match at OTL is not the pre-game match. It should be. The tag titles make the Diva’s Championship look coveted. Truly many of the belts in WWE could use a little more love.
Which match are you most excited about?
(Just for the record, WWE is beating the Lakers-Thunder, which is now a 12-point game. That is the best thing about being scripted—you can keep a better pace. I don’t want to watch a Thunder blowout, so I will finish with RAW and check the NBA scores online.)
RAW wins this round.
9. Coming up next is Randy Orton versus Chris Jericho (10:37).
(Masterful segment with CM Punk and AJ. He called her unstable and she gave him a look that more than confirmed it. I am only now realizing I get to also (probably) see AJ this Sunday in Raleigh. In the word of Daniel Bryan, Yes!)
Randy Orton and Chris Jericho in the ring now (10:41). Two of the very best performers in the business right now. Sheamus and especially ADR could take notes.
Nice standing dropkick by Orton (10:42).
How dare they go to commercial and miss a classic poke to the eyes? (10:46).
I like what the commentators are doing with this match. Building a feeling that anything can happen in a Fatal Four Way and that even Randy Orton cannot be trusted when it comes to becoming the Franchise Player on SmackDown.
Sheamus causes a DQ (10:50).
Talking Point: Two weeks ago I was predicting that Sheamus versus ADR would be the match where I left for the concession stands. Now the Fatal Four Way is one of the matches I am most excited about. It is good to see two top babyfaces put everything on the line. See them stand toe-to-toe. I like my wrestling best when there is something to lose and when reputations are on the line. That is what it comes down to this Sunday. Two veterans trying to reestablish and two young stars trying to continue to build. It should be a hell of a contest.
10. John Laurinaitis to the ring (10:57).
John Laurinaitis: “Your favorite Superstar is a reflection of you and John Cena is a loser” (10:58).
When I say I like what is going on with John Laurinaitis, I mean to say I like the booking. When he talks too much, he starts to remind me he is John Laurinaitis.
John Cena post nervous breakdown (11:04). Taunting and barking loser at John Laurinaitis. He reminds me of Sting more and more by the week. I could see him playing a joker role in a smaller federation in twenty to thirty years.
Though…though. John Laurinaitis has made John Cena popular again. It is interesting how reactions can change from month-to-month.
Yes! Chant (11:05).
Eve brings a letter from the board that John Cena accidentally rips but sells well.
The match will be without outside interference. This is a turn from anything I expected.
If John Laurinaitis loses, he will be terminated.
Talking Point: Remember all the positive things I said about John Laurinaitis and the booking around him? Scratch that. If a firing could lead to a Draft and WWE having two separate brands again, that is exactly what I would want.
Either way, this just became a high stakes match at OTL and the energy in the building should be high.