Live from Pittsburgh, PA this is the Raw Deal...
As the show came on the air, Hunter Hearst Suit McMahon Helmsley (with ridiculously over the top arm brace) bumped into John Laurinaitis. JL was in suck-up mode, Hunter ignored it and made his way to the ring. At least they didn't try to actually explain who has more power between the two because I'm unable to determine that at this point.
Following the Nickelback intro, Hunter made his triumphant return to Raw after being away last week. He immediately put over that the injury wasn't that bad and that he's had way worse happen to him.
That is true. He did date Chyna after all! That's worse than any injury.
Hunter mentioned legends potentially being upset with Lesnar's behavior. He said Lesnar's arrogance offends Undertaker, Michaels, Flair, Hogan, Backlund, Savage and Sammartino.
The last three aren't even in WWE's prestigious Hall of Fame, yet they get mentioned amongst the legends. I think in Bruno's case he's refused to be inducted, but I don't think the other two have ever been asked and of course Savage has passed away now. If he's going to mention them out of all the people in the history of the business shouldn't they be in the Hall of Fame that is supposed to be a big deal? Anyway, let's move on.
Hunter talked about how Lesnar lost to Cena because Cena's not a quitter like Lesnar and when Brock wasn't happy with things he quit again.
Brock Lesnar's music started up. Paul Heyman walked out with some indy wrestler that was rocking a suit. Heyman got a better reaction than he got last week, so that's nice. Heyman said Lesnar had a verbal agreement with EVP of Talent Relations (John Laurinaitis) that Hunter ripped up, so because of that Lesnar was going to sue.
I liked when he said Hunter brought in a fighter and then got upset when the fighter wanted to fight. So what do wrestlers do if they don't "fight" then? They sports entertain, I guess.
Heyman said Hunter didn't understand how serious this was. The dude in the suit handed a paper as Heyman informed him that he was being sued.
Hunter got in Heyman's face, he palmed his face and Heyman was freaking out because he's a big-mouthed coward, which is why he works so well as a character. Hunter said Lesnar will get everything he deserves. Then he walked away like a tough guy.
After Hunter left the ring, Heyman yelled that it was assault and battery, so Hunter will see him in court.
Analysis: Lawsuits don't create interest or sell matches. I realize they're doing this because they don't want to waste Lesnar's TV appearances during the slow months of May (and likely June/July), but if we get weekly promos talking about lawsuits it's going to kill the feud faster than anything else possibly could.
Hunter is rich, Lesnar is rich and WWE is a huge company. You think fans really care about some rich person getting sued? We don't. That's why the crowd was dead for a lot of it. The promos from Hunter and Heyman were fine. They're both very good talkers as we all know, but is it the best way to do this story?
The build for this Lesnar/Hunter match is going to take a long time and I'm hopeful it stays fresh for three months of build. We'll see about that. Hopefully his lawyer is Otunga, by the way. At least he can cut a promo.
The announcers hyped up the Laurinaitis/Big Show angle and also a Laurinaitis/Cena confrontation segment later.
CM Punk made his entrance. Tag match after the break.
CM Punk & Santino vs. Daniel Bryan & Cody Rhodes
It's the WWE Champion and the US Champion versus the IC Champion and the number one contender for the WWE Title. You'd think this would be treated as a big match. It wasn't.
They also tried to play up the fact that Cody was arguing with Santino about which one of their titles is better. Cody's is better and he's been booked better, but not by much. That's only because Santino has barely defended his title.
Anyway, they started off with a fast pace.
Bryan was the most over guy in the match, which is great to see. The heels got knocked to the floor. Punk did his dive between the middle and top rope. Santino went to do one as well, but instead he stopped when he hit his stomach against the middle rope. It was pretty hilarious.
They went to break with the heels on the ground for the vintage floor to commercial spot.
Back from break, the awesome Bryan & Rhodes team focused the attack on Santino, who did a great job of taking the beating. It was hilarious when he finally broke free and made a dive for Punk in the corner.
The problem was he came up short by about three feet. Cody laughed about it.
Santino was able to kick him off and get the hot tag to Punk. Punk hit all of his signature spots to Rhodes while Bryan looked on from the apron. Punk KO'd Rhodes with a Punk, Bryan saved and when Punk went for the GTS on Bryan, the "yes" man bailed to the floor. He left his partner as Santino scared Rhodes with a Cobra threat and Punk finished him off with the GTS for the win at 11 minutes.
Winners: CM Punk & Santino
Analysis: *** It was your typical solid tag match that followed the tag formula we all know and love. When four good performers are in there together you know it's going to turn out well.
I would have liked to see more from Punk and Bryan. That's the WWE Title match. They didn't interact again the rest of the night. No promos talking about their history? For shame. I guess they can do it on SmackDown if Punk is there this week, but it should have been on Raw. If the show ended there it might have earned a positive final score. Sadly, there was more to come.
Later in the show we'll get Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho. Isn't that a big match that could have been advertised beforehand? I think so.
There was also a Laurinaitis announcement that could change the future of WWE or something like that. They love overdoing these announcements. Maybe he signed John Cena's soon to be ex-wife?
Beth Phoenix vs. Alicia Fox
Phoenix is all healed from her ankle injury. She gets the title shot against Layla at Over The Limit on Sunday. Alicia didn't even get an entrance, so that should tell you who won. Layla looked on from the top of the ramp. Can Layla get a promo to give us a reason to cheer her? Beth finished it in less than two minutes with the Glam Slam.
Winner: Beth Phoenix
Post match, Beth wanted to continue the attack. Layla ran in to attack her by slamming her face first after grabbing Beth's hair. That got a very mild pop.
Analysis: 1/2* I don’t think fans care too much about Layla as a face. It could be a good match Sunday, but will there be any heat? I doubt it.
The announcers mentioned that John Cena's Facebook page has 11 million likes on it. Good for him. I doubt he's ever logged in to look at it. There was a video package about Cena and WWE's work with the Make A Wish foundation. No complaints about this. Just don't show it every week.
They plugged the same things they mentioned earlier. Another video of the Laurinaitis/Show angle. Oh crap they're doing Show vs. Kane in a match? Is it in honor of May 19 coming up soon? I feel like this is a punishment to us as fans.
The "Did You Know?" told us that last week's Raw got better ratings than NHL on NBC Sports, MLB on ESPN and NBA on TNT. I think gardening channels get more viewers than hockey in America. For shame.
There was an announcement that the Youtube PPV pre-show match is Kane vs. Zack Ryder. Cole: "I don’t think I want to be Zack Ryder." No. Not with this booking team who ignores the reactions he got to book him like a total loser.
We get another video for the Big Show storyline from last week. It got the three minute video package treatment too. John Laurinaitis and a returning David Otunga made their way down to the ringside area. Laurinaitis sat beside the announce table while Otunga stood by with travel mug in hand.
Big Show vs. Kane
It's the (almost) May 19 tribute match! Cole wondered if this will be the last matchup ever for Big Show. I think a four year old watching might believe that to be true. They had an awful match like they always do. It was made worse when Cole spent the match calling Laurinaitis the "Patton of today" among other things.
The finish came when Laurinaitis stopped a Show comeback by cutting a promo about how he wanted Show to apologize. Kane used the distraction to give Show the worst chokeslam ever. It looked like Show ran into one of his fingers and then fell back on the ground.
At least it was only 4 minutes long.
Analysis: DUD Please never put these two in a match again. It wasn't as bad as King of the Ring 1999, which is one of the worst matches ever, but it was still bad. I don't hate either of them. I just hate them against eachother.
After the match, Laurinaitis and Otunga went into the ring. JL wasn't happy about Show making fun of his voice. What about when CM Punk and others made fun of his voice months ago? Oh right they're not turning heel like Big Show is. That's why we should forget about all the other instances.
Show talked about being in the business for 18 years and how he's seen it all and done it all. He sucked up to the fans by saying how much he loved performing for us. He said he'd be okay with being fined and even if he was barred from having a championship match again. He was sorry for mocking his voice, but if he has an ounce of decency then JL should let him continue to do what he loves.
Laurinaitis made him say sorry two more times. He wanted Show to get on his knees to beg for his job. The crowd was chanting "no" to save Big Show from having to do it. Show was emotional as he told him to not to make him do that. Laurinaitis said Show disgusts him and so does the crowd. He said he'll do what's right for business because he always does what's right for business. He said he would reconsider. Then he left the ring.
At the top of the ramp, Laurinaitis was about to fire him. Show told him to wait. Show got down on his knees in the ring, he was in tears and he apologized for making fun of JL's voice. He said he'd never do it again. "Are you happy now? Are you happy?" Laurinaitis: "As general manager of Raw and SmackDown, I wish you the best in your future endeavors."
Then to put it another way: "And Show. You're fired." Show cried in the ring like the world's biggest baby. The crowd chanted "Big Show" as he continued to cry.
Analysis: From a performance standpoint, Big Show did a good job. The crowd reacted big time when he got on his knees to beg for his job. When Laurinaitis fired him, they didn't like it one bit. It took too long, though. It didn't need multiple video packages either. It's as if this is a match for Sunday's PPV when it's clearly not. Could you imagine if this much time was given to the WWE Title match, which should be more important than a guy in his late 40s making his WWE "debut" like Laurinaitis is? This segment took too long in my opinion.
Plug time: Check out the fine work of my pal Brandon Stroud of WithLeather for his entertaining Best & Worst of Raw weekly column. I bet he's happy that David Otunga is back. He loves that guy like I love Eve when she's not wrestling. We're full of love.
Back from break, they replayed the firing of Big Show. Lawler and Cole talked about it by using SERIOUS VOICES~! I guess those voices are used for firings and also injuries. When is the SERIOUS VOICES~! DVD coming out? Lawler said Big Show deserved better than that.
How do you follow that up? Brodus Clay entrance. The girls introducing Brodus and then Brodus introducing the girls feels longer than most divas matches. Brodus didn't seem too sad about Big Show getting fired huh? I thought everybody was sad? At least Lawler is still sad as he told us the crowd was stunned. Maybe they're tired of this Brodus act? That could be it.
Prior to the next tag match, they mentioned that it would be Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler for the tag titles at Over The Limit. That should be a good 12-15 minute match. It's nice that they are building some tag teams again.
Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. The Miz, Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger
Brodus got a tag. He hit moves on all three of the heels and then Kofi/Truth hit a double clothesline to knock Miz out of the ring too. They went to break for the vintage floor to commercial spot.
Back from break, Ziggler had Truth in a headlock. I think this is the longest Brodus match ever. They showed AW (don't call me Abe) sitting in a private box along with Primo, Epico, Rosa and Mason Ryan, who he is in negotiations with apparently.
Truth got the hot tag to Kingston, who messed up some spots with Miz. He hit the SOS for a two count, though. Ziggler did his weekly spot where he jumps as high as possible into Brodus Clay's head? That would make an entertaining Youtube clip package. Get on it, video-making nerds.
Clay tagged Kingston's back so he was the legal man. Kingston gave Miz the Trouble in Paradise leading to the Brodus splash for the win.
Match went about 7 minutes.
Winners: Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston & R-Truth
Post match, some kids danced with the winning team. The announcers loved it. I guess they got over the Big Show firing angle huh? All the world needs is a little dancing.
Analysis: * Miz continues to lose. He's likely going to be off TV in June due to the filming of The Marine 3, so it's no surprise to see him lose on a regular basis. There's still no storyline in place for Brodus, who continues to do the same thing every single week. At least the tag title match at the PPV should be pretty good if they get a lot of time.
Orton vs. Jericho is next.
Backstage, CM Punk was talking with Alex Riley. They're buddies apparently. Riley wished him luck. AJ walked up to them. Riley left. Punk to Riley: "Remember that $50 you owe me." Hookers?
Anyway, AJ wished him luck on Sunday. Punk didn't want to hang out with her because she's unstable and he didn't trust Bryan. He didn't know if he was being set up or anything like that. She did the "crazy chick" face as he left. I'd guess she costs Bryan the match on Sunday or perhaps helps him win? There are lots of ways it could go.
I'm writing this on Tuesday afternoon. Punk tweeted that he'll be on SmackDown this week. Hopefully he gets some promo time along with Daniel Bryan to help sell their match. It really should have happened on Raw, though.
The World Champion Sheamus made his entrance. He sat on commentary for the Jericho/Orton match. As we know, Sheamus defends the World Title against Orton, Jericho & Del Rio at Over The Limit. Should be a good match.
Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton
It was great when Cole plugged Jericho on a magazine cover and asked Sheamus if he's been on a magazine cover. Sheamus mentioned Muscle & Fitness. Then he mocked Cole by saying he wouldn't know because he's never been in a gym. That was good. I'm all for attacking Cole.
No Del Rio at Raw. He was doing promotional work in Japan. They didn't say that on the show, but that's where he was. He's expected back for SmackDown as far as I know.
Orton knocked Jericho to the floor for the vintage floor to commercial spot. Like with the other matches, there was only about one minute of action before the commercial.
This match could have been so much more. It felt rushed. It felt like it didn't reach that next gear that it needed to get to in order to be a bigger deal. Much like the three DQs that were booked on SmackDown involving these guys, they didn't want to have anybody get pinned here.
The finish came when Orton was going for the DDT off the ropes, but Jericho ended up giving him a backdrop over the top rope. They fought on the floor. Jericho threw Orton into Sheamus. Classic heel move. Jericho's awesome.
Jericho rolled Orton back in. Randy ended up getting his DDT off the ropes. Sheamus pulled Jericho out of the ring and hit a clothesline. The ref rang the bell so Jericho won via DQ after about 8 minutes of action.
Winner: Chris Jericho via DQ
Post match, Orton and Sheamus argued. They went in the ring. They wanted to fight. Refs ran in to break it up. I guess we can't have a match because we have to end the show with a promo.
Analysis: *1/2 Like I said it could have been so much more. They're both really good workers who have had numerous great matches, but they weren't given enough time in this case. I'd expect more brawling on SmackDown this week too.
The promo of Laurinaitis is going to "change the course of WWE" apparently. No. It won't.
Back from break, another replay of Laurinaitis firing Show.
Main Event Promo Featuring Two Guys Named John
Laurinaitis walked out. He said if Cena is your favorite superstar then you are a loser. He said he was better than The Rock and Brock combined. He will prove once again that each and every one of us are losers because there's nothing wrong with losers. The world needs losers like us so there could be winners like him.
John Cena's music hit. No more sling on the arm. He told the camera he was dinged up, but he'll be okay. Of course he will be.
Cena smelled him and said Desperation was a cheap cologne. Cena made fun of his voice. Then he joked about how he might get fired for making fun of it like Show did. He said Laurinaitis was already a scumbag. Now he's the "undisputed king of douchebaggery." Crowd popped for that.
If he was so mad about it why didn't he come out when Show was trying to save his job? Maybe he was healing his arm?
Cena said Laurinaitis won at WM even though he did nothing. His team won. He said he wanted CM Punk removed as WWE Champion, but Punk is still there. That didn't work out so well. He said his moment of glory was to bring in Lesnar. He lost and he quit, so that makes Laurinaitis a loser.
Cena went up to him and said "loser" in a mocking way. Jim Carrey did it as Ace Ventura many years ago if you want to look it up, but the announcers sure loved this. The crowd liked it for the most part too. Cena called Laurinaitis selfish.
Cena asked the crowd "Who wants to hit Laurinaitis?" while making a skateboard reference. They cheered. Cheap pop. "How many people want to beat him so bad that he squeals like a baby calf waiting for teething?" Big pop for that. More cheap heat. There was a loud "yes" chant for it too.
Cena continued the cheap pop route by mentioning Pittsburgh things. He mentioned the Steel Curtain, which was the nickname given to the Pittsburgh Steelers (of the NFL for those that don't know) teams in the late 1970s that won four Super Bowls in six years. He said the other obvious thing was the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Laurinaitis mentioned he was going to mention the Penguins, so Cena asked him what he said and when JL tried to talk, Cena did the silly "loser" routine again. Laurinaitis said he'd reference the Penguins by calling them losers.
Well they did lose in the first round of the NHL playoffs a few weeks ago.
Cena mentioned some Penguins players sitting front row. Cena took out a hockey puck from his shorts and said: "Mr. John Laurinaitis. Go puck yourself." The crowd cheered loudly at that. That was pretty good.
Laurinaitis said he was taller than Cena and better looking than him.
Speaking of better looking, here comes Eve in her business attire. She has a shapely ass. Should be on more camera more. She had a piece of paper. She handed it to Laurinaitis. Then she left.
Cena grabbed the paper from Laurinaitis. He actually ripped it in half when he pulled it away.
Cena read the paper, which he informed us was from the Board of Directors. They feel like it's important for the WWE Universe to know what they're getting. The letter, as read by Cena, directed to Laurinaitis: "Your match with Mr. Cena will be one on one. There will be no special guest referee. No one is allowed at ringside. The only way to win is by pinfall or submission. Any superstar who interferes in the match will be immediately terminated. Should you, Mr. Laurinaitis, lose this match to John Cena then you will be officially terminated."
The crowd popped. They chanted "yes" for that. Cena wondered what Laurinaitis' huge announcement was. Cena: "Do I get a Shamwow for $9.99?"
Nope. Laurinaitis slapped Cena hard in the face. He walked away as Cena finally gave a serious look. That's where the show ended. Worst huge announcement ever.
My immediate thought when it came to this was: If the board can hire and fire people can't they just re-hire Big Show for being wrongfully terminated? Sorry. I shouldn't ask questions.
Analysis: I get why this is happening. They want fans to be totally behind Cena and they figure if they put him up against a guy that most of the fans hate like Laurinaitis then they will accomplish that goal.
The problem is this isn't like Austin/McMahon at the 1999 Rumble or St. Valentine's Day Massacre when they did huge numbers because they wanted to see Austin destroy his boss. This is a lot worse. Cena's already stopped selling the arm injury that he cut a promo about thinking that he may have to take time off. That was three weeks ago.
And two weeks ago the guy he's against attacked his arm with a steel chair that Cena has apparently recovered from because he doesn't need any kind of brace anymore.
The other thing worth noting is they likely booked Cena this way because his divorce news last week became very public. They wanted to book him this way to show that everything is okay in his world.
He was happy this week. He was doing his Jim Carrey "loser" impression. It was the over-the-top Cena that we used to see and that is very confident about his match on Sunday. Too bad Edge wasn't there to tell the booking team that this John Cena is not appealing to the fans that he won over with his performance against Brock Lesnar.
What likely happens on Sunday? Big Show buys a ticket to the show or walks down the ramp somehow. It looks like he's going to cost Laurinaitis his job because as the stipulation said if a contracted talent interferes they will be terminated.
Instead of helping Cena, he helps Laurinaitis win. And that gets him his job back. I'm sure that 80% of the people reading this probably think the same thing. I wrote it on Saturday in my Canton's Corner column too.
Perhaps it could be changed to something else, like John Cena's future ex-wife costing him the win? That's a joke. Is it still too soon to joke? It's okay to joke because Cena did too. Right? Maybe he's smiling because he had a pre-nup. Smart guy.
I'll wrap it up by saying this: I like Cena more than most. I'm not a hater. I just didn't think this was the best way to book him before this "big" match against Laurinaitis on Sunday. It didn't sell PPV buys at least to me.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Big Show
2. Triple H
3. Dolph Ziggler - I feel bad for him for having to do the giant leap into Brodus' head every week, so we'll give him a nod here.
When a show is bad I have to reach for three stars. This is one of those weeks.
3.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2012 Average: 5.98
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 3.5 (May 14)
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 5.5, 4, 7, 5
We have our new low score. Worst Raw of the year so far. It doesn't surprise me because May is usually the worst month for WWE in terms of quality of shows. Maybe it's the WrestleMania hangover, I'm not sure. It just seems like every year May is the time to give us poor build to matches. Remember last year's May PPV was headlined by Cena vs. Miz with Alex Riley also taking part and it was one of the worst main events ever? That's how this year is shaping up too.
There was too much Laurinaitis on the show. Between the Big Show segment in the middle of the show and the Cena segment at the end of the show, he was on screen for about half an hour. The heel authority figure should not be the focus of the show. He should be an accessory. It's not like Vince McMahon, who was the best heel authority figure ever. This is Laurinaitis, who is good but not great at the role. Know your talent. Use them wisely.
This was an overuse of talent.
The WWE Title and World Title matches at Over The Limit feel like afterthoughts. At least they will both be promoted on SmackDown, but Raw is the show with more viewers and this is where they should have been pushed heavily.
One more thing: The "Bring Back Pete Gas" sign was outstanding. Whoever brought that sign needs to give themselves a Barry Horowitz-like pat on the back. Mean Street Posse for life!
That's all for this week's edition of Monday Night Raw Supershow starring Giant Men That Cry.