And now, the review that drops your credit rating from AAA to WASD, it’s…
The 242 Raw Review!
You’re a smart person. So you know the drill by now. This is the last Raw before a Pay-Per-View event. Therefore, you know that the sole purpose behind this show is to build hype for the PPV…whether it be to sink that hook into someone who’s on the fence about ordering, or just confirm to a fan that no way are they missing this show, the purpose is clear. The entire goal of this show is to push the build to a boiling point, and theoretically boost the buyrate in turn. However…therein lies the problem as well. We’re smart. We know that’s the intention. And if you like wrestling, chances are, you like being surprised. And most of the time, truth be told, there are no surprises to be found here…if anything, this model works against surprises because the WWE wants people to know exactly what they have to offer. So how do we fix this?
Here’s the thing…what if what they have to offer, is uncertainty? Speaking for myself…I find uncertainty to be the biggest hook possible. And I’m not talking about “who’s going to walk out as the champion?” uncertainty…it’s deeper than that. It’s more like “what’s going to happen if this guy walks out as the champion”? In a strange yet related way, this is why I don’t necessarily look forward to the PPV itself, as much as I do to the Raw that follows it. But I’m sidetracking…we’re not there yet.
With full knowledge that this is a “hype” show, let’s take a look and discover whether their purpose was fulfilled. And there might be a few dick jokes along the way (contractual obligations and such).
The Motorhead-themed COO makes his entrance which, sadly, just isn’t the same without the water bottle spit. But what he lacks in saliva mist, he makes up for in intrigue, as it’s difficult to ignore anything he has to say. Think about it…the most polarizing wrestler…wait…have you noticed people say “polarizing” alot lately? That totally used to be my word. Now it’s a buzz word. Don’t you hate that!? Let’s try that again.
The most “some people like but some people hate community generally torn on I dunno I kinda hated him for awhile but overall I always really liked him” wrestler (much smoother right there) is now combined with the duties of the kayfabe Vince McMahon, a man who drove countless main event angles in the WWE, and almost always ended up at the butt end of them (and if you know HHH, you’d know that last part doesn’t exactly fit into his M.O., adding to the intrigue). When you think about it, this should really be a bigger deal than it is. And that’s why, while CM Punk’s actions have been absolutely captivating thus far, I can’t help but feel that HHH is quietly adding more fuel to this “awesome storyline” fire than we currently realize. And he’s been doing it very quietly…perhaps too quietly, which is why a good number of people think that part’s about to change.
That frames things rather well, because that’s exactly how we should be feeling about him right now. He took over for Mr. McMahon, it’s a new era, la-di-da…but since when has Mr. H been about the greater good?
He’s always been about himself. And this notion ties directly into his announcement…since he can’t seem to trust anyone in the WWE (or at least, that’s his excuse), the COO names himself as the special guest referee. And just like that…the conspiracy theories begin, the potential Austin/McMahon parallels start to align, and that awesome feeling of “what the fuck is going to happen this Sunday?”, aka uncertainty, rises. Brilliant move.
HHH also announces that both contestants in this Sunday’s title unification match, John Cena (crowd boos) and CM Punk (crowd…well…less boos), will be in action, and Cena’s up right now. Cena’s music hits, leading to an increasingly interesting fan reaction (which, in this instance, went something like “yyyyeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaayyyybooooooooooooooo”), and he darts to the ring in his usual fashion. However, this time, he exchanges some words with the COO. Most of it is inaudible, but we do seem to catch the important bit…HHH making it clear that whatever happens, it’s because he wants it to happen (woo uncertainty!!). As cool as this “non-promo” interaction was…I can’t help but feel it would’ve been a little cooler if they didn’t replay it immediately after commercial (takes some of the “should we have heard that?” mystery away, and instead shoves it directly in your face). But who knows, in hindsight, maybe this statement will be really important (he dropped a cryptic one on Cena last week too, if you’re scoring at home).
And now, hey, a match!
Because you’re a smart person, you know that Swagger has absolutely zero chance in winning this match, because in order to hype the PPV as much as possible, they have to make their draw (John Cena) look good. So the most we can hope for is an entertaining match. It’s a strange but loving relationship we have with predictability sometimes.
Swagger gains control early on, and after one series of taking Cena down, starts running around the ring and taunting (why was he taunting? to build up his super meter obviously). This early celebration is quickly met with a clothesline, followed by some “prototypical” (heh) Cena offense. The tide turns when Swagger counters an armlock into a belly-to-belly suplex, and then goes on the attack with stomps and punches. Swagger throws Cena into the turnbuckle, and follows with his splash (is there a name for that? Swagger splash? Swaglash? Splawaggerlash? Let’s go with that) and a pin attempt. Failing to get the fall, Swagger promptly puts Cena into a “dentist” lock, which I call as such because it leads to both men bearing their teeth to the crowd.
Eventually, Cena counters into a gut wrench slam, but follows it up with a questionable strategy of running directly into the turnbuckle. Swagger, not missing a chance to build more meter, performs his victory lap and delivers the weakest shoulder block ever to Cena (who for some reason is floored by this). Swagger than slaps on another hold for Cena to inevitably break out of, as the announcers start haphazardly discussing what it would mean for Cena to lose this match (to their credit, it was in an unconvincing tone). Just as Cena’s about to break out of the “break-me” hold, Swagger stops him, whipping him into the turnbuckle. Swagger continues to beat on Cena, realizes he doesn’t have enough meter for the Ankle Lock, and proceeds to taunt again. With his meter now completely full, the former World Champion (yes you read that right) slaps on his ankle lock, only to have it countered by the (kinda) WWE Champion! In textbook fashion, Cena hits his 5 moves of doom, and finishes Swagger with the FU. And the entire internet jumped on their favorite online forum to complain. Except, to be fair, since I can’t remember the last time Cena closed out a match like that, is it still his “typical” finish? Hmm….
All in all, not a bad little match, but (above argument aside) a very textbook Cena match. Nothing extraordinary here.
A recap of a classic match between Mr. Perfect (great) and Bret Hart (also great). Almost hard to believe that this is what the Intercontinental Title used to mean. Now I’ll often have to log into WWE.com just to remember who’s holding it. Of course…once Cody Rhodes changes that, we can all move on.
Also, having about 1/6th of the amount of programming they have now kinda helped the prestige factor.
…and it isn’t a kind word toward CM Punk. Apparently, tonight, he’s going to show him what would have happened had he not run away like a coward after Money in the Bank. To which I say…you should probably be glad he ran away…did you see that crowd? Can you imagine having that many angry people hating you all at once?
Although, to be fair, Roger Clemens is still standing, so who knows how these things work.
Read that header again. “R-Truth Promo”. As recently as a few months ago, I probably wouldn’t have bothered putting a spot in my review for that (especially true considering I’ve only had this review going for a week). But now…it’s like…why the fuck are you reading this and not watching that promo?
It’s not like I can describe it anyway. Let’s say it starts with Truth saying he’s a “goooood R-Truth”, and ends with him talking about spider stew. That makes as much sense as it sounds. For most people, that would be a negative, but for Truth it’s absolutely a selling point.
He was right about the hot dogs and buns though. C-O-N-fucking-spiracy right there.
BOOYAKA BOOYAKA!! 619!!! Wait…
A furious Miz destroys Rey, and proceeds toward the ring, ready to do what he does best. Drop some promo bombs.
Miz explains how the spotlight is misplaced, and that he should be the center of attention in the WWE. Not Punk, not Cena, but him. And this is interesting, because when this Punk business exploded, I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to handle the Miz. Would they try and keep him relevant? Would they keep him in “kayfabe” land, away from the “real stuff” going on between the main eventers? Right here…it sort of makes me feel like they’re going with the first option. Which, by the way, makes absolute sense…Punk has called this the beginning of the “reality” era, so who is more relevant to that than a legitimate “reality” TV star? So having him give a promo such as this was a great move (keeps him in the conversation), and I’d really like to see alot more of “attention-starved crybaby” Miz. He’s quietly nailing his character.
So after his tirade, Miz demands a referee come down and name him winner by forfeit. Seeing as how that never happens when an entrance beat-down occurs, a referee does run down, but only to tell Justin Roberts Miz’s next opponent. Who happens to be….
Sorry, old habit…
And trust me, that’s the most exclamation marks he’s getting. You’ll notice he didn’t even get as many as Kane. That should tell you something.
Both men remove their shirts and lock up (and I love that I can type that without anyone judging me). Kofi gains the early advantage with something resembling wrestling holds, but Miz fights back. This goes back and forth until Miz sets up Kofi for the “pose-line” (I have no idea if that’s what it’s called, but that’s what I like to call it, cuz it rhymes and stuff), which is countered by Kofi’s Lou Thesz press (?). With the momentum, Kofi throws Miz to the outside, followed by a suicide dive and a commercial break.
Miz executes the nefarious CBC (commercial break counter), and is back in control with a headlock once we return. Kofi manages to fight out of this, countering Miz’s attacks into a couple of quick pin attempts. After failing with these (which he should know better, as he hasn’t even done a signature move yet), Miz knocks him back down with a clothesline. With a woozy Kofi in the corner, Miz sets up for the “pose-line” again, and manages to nail it while staring angrily at the crowd. Side note…whenever wrestlers look into the crowd, I wonder what they’re actually looking at. Are they reading the signs? Are they just looking for ugly people? These are the things I think about.
Anyway, Miz proceeds to climb to the top rope, and NAILS Kofi with a non-countered axehandle. After an unsuccessful pin attempt, Miz keeps the pressure on with some elbows to the neck, followed by a chinlock. In true face fashion, Kofi fights his way to his feet, and starts getting strikes in on Miz, eventually taking him down with a hip toss. Miz, quick to get to his feet, sees Kofi in the corner and attempts to get the jump on him, but runs into Kofi’s elbow instead. Another failed pin attempt by Kofi, and he goes into “sloppy Kofi offense” mode! Not one to be finished by that sloppy bullshit, Miz manages to grab Kofi into his signature “backbreaker/neckbreaker” combo, but only manages the former as Kofi throws him into the turnbuckle instead.
Kofi runs after the Miz, who dodges out of the way, but then something magical happens…Kofi jumps up onto the turnbuckle, and performs a beautiful springboard cross-body!
One failed pin attempt later, and Miz manages to grab Kofi into a DDT, in what has been a pretty entertaining back-and-forth match thus far. Kofi crawls into the corner, triggering Miz to perform a possibly-record-breaking third “pose-line” attempt. Foolish move, seeing as how he’s already hit it once (and the rule is you can’t hit it more than once on the same opponent during a match), and Kofi capitalizes with HIS signature “through the ropes” kick. Kofi attempts to climb the turnbuckle, but is met with resistance from Miz. Both men trade punches, until Miz sets up for Kofi a superplex, only to have it countered into a flipping power bomb! Another failed cover attempt, and Kofi groggily gets back to his feet, setting up his finisher taunt (which, in reality, is probably a bad move considering you miss it almost every time you do that). Shockingly, Miz dodges the Trouble in Paradise, and attempts to grab Kofi into a full-nelson (to deliver the Skull Crushing Finale), but Kofi backs him into the turnbuckle. Kofi then inexplicably jumps on Miz’s back (seemed like a good idea at the time), Miz throws him on the ropes, and then finishes a stunned Kofi with the aforementioned Finale.
All-in-all, a pretty fun back-and-forth match, with a few nice spots by Kingston.
And we finally see Mr. Punk for the first time tonight! Josh Matthews asks Punk how he feels about HHH’s announcement, and Punk (to no one’s surprise) rips on his inability to keep his nose out of the spotlight (spoilers: he has a big nose). Punk then goes on to say that he will show the world what would’ve happened to Del Rio had that cash-in gone through. Um…slightly different circumstances, but ok!! Trash talk! Good stuff!
Del Rio emerges from his car with a little bit of door trouble, and quite visibly less hype that he’s been accustomed to thus far. As you’d expect, Punk comes out to a nice reaction. To be honest, as much as I adore the new music, I can’t completely associate it with Punk yet. His entrance feels like something I make in Smackdown vs. Raw…I take a song that I like, put it with my Create-A-Wrestler, edit the camera angles, and it looks awesome, but never fails to look a bit…”off”. I do think the song is perfect for Punk, I love the graphics, and I think this entrance will eventually become so much of his signature that it’ll be funny to look back at this observation, but right now it just doesn’t pump me up as much as his prior theme did. I think I just keep expecting a roof-exploding pop when it hits, and that’s just not happening. I blame the fans. And Obamacare.
The match begins, both men lock up, and immediately the “CM Punk” chants begin (good sign…although the cynical side of me feels like we’re a subsection of people trying to cheer him too hard right now, to show our favour, if that makes any sense). Del Rio eventually gains the advantage, and wisely goes to work on Punk’s arm (since his finisher hurts your arm and such). Punk eventually dodges a running attack, and continues to sell his hurt arm like a champ while Del Rio lays motionless outside. Del Rio recovers, only to run into a neckbreaker, and Punk immediately goes on offense of his own, most notably introducing his favorite knee to ADR’s face in the process. After a running bulldog followed by a springboard clothesline, Punk indicates that it’s “nap time”, and the fans approve.
However, all is not well when you announce your finisher in advance! Del Rio fights his way out, throws Punk’s newly injured shoulder to the ring post, and delivers a Carlito-esque “back-cracker”. Del Rio sets up Punk for his armbar finisher, only Punk reverses the move (and his “DESTINY!” taunt!) with a boot to the head, followed by the inevitable GTS. Winner: Punk.
Despite the chants that broke out through this match, the Punk reaction is still a little more lukewarm than I’d expect. This is especially noticeable during the post-match celebration. Hmm.
Beth comes out to zero crowd reaction and performs her ridiculous taunt. Eve appears with a slightly less ridiculous taunt (although the same crowd reaction, unsurprisingly), and the match begins.
Beth starts by throwing her strength around. Eve eventually counters this with a slippery backslide, followed by a short dropkick (but,y’know, close enough that you get the point…they’re Divas ok?). This advantage doesn’t last too long, as Beth throws her to the outside, and proceeds to dominate her (which sounds much awesomer than it actually is).
Eve gains some steam back with some more botchy kicks, and eventually sets up Beth for a full-fledged moonsault, but Beth quickly realizes how ridiculous this scenario is and ends this madness with the Glam Slam. All in all, not bad for a Divas match, almost exclusively thanks to Beth.
Beth then goes on to say some interesting things about the Divas as a whole. She wants no more booty shaking. No more splits. No more stinkfaces. Um…ok…but she’s a heel right? So why can’t I help but feel like cheering the fuck out of her for saying this? Anyway, Beth proceeds to the ramp to say her final word, when all of a sudden Kelly Kelly attacks her from behind with her gaudy belt (which itself I’m sure could draw a similar rant from Beth). NICE JOB KELLY!! YOU NAIL THAT BITCH FOR WANTING TO SAVE THE DIVAS DIVISION!!! HOW DARE SHE!?!?
Holy shit, we’re getting this match already? Seems like a SummerSlam thing to me, but hey, all good! That is, until Riley grabs the mic (good sign!) and proceeds to talk about Vickie’s bad breath (bad sign!) Sorry A-Ry…that material was John Morrison-esque, only with 100x better delivery. You’re better than that.
Anyway, this was a pretty brief throw-away match (building hype for their REAL match, I imagine), which comes to DQ finish once Vickie slaps Alex Riley. This leads to Dolph Ziggler becoming furious with the whole charade, and while the two are in a heated argument, A-Ry clocks Dolph, knocking Vickie down in the process.
Dolph and Vickie proceed to argue some more, causing Vickie to leave the ring. So, by how these things usually go in the WWE, they’ll tease us with this for 3 more months and they’ll break-up off-screen.
Just kidding. I think there will be some fallout here. But probably not until after SummerSlam. And really, for Dolph, it’s a good move…it remains to be seen whether he can stay “over” without Vickie at his side. With his look, talent, and mic skills, I personally see no reason why he can’t. And I’m kind of looking forward to the change.
Holy fuck, ANOTHER could-easily-be-SummerSlam-match. Awesome.
Weak reactions for both men, most likely because R-Truth has no music, and people seemingly don’t remember who Morrison is.
The match starts off with Truth and Morrison trading blows. Morrison eventually gains the advantage, speeds up the pace, and gets his crowd-pleasing offense going, including his fairly-awesome-looking moonsault side slam (but unfortunately sacking himself on Truth’s knee in the process…ouch). JoMo continues his vicious attack, eventually vaulting his twisty body onto Truth straight over the turnbuckle (missing it by a hair, at that). Morrison continues the attack on the outside (including some totally non-threatening trash talk), setting Truth up for something that looks like Undertaker’s “old school”, when everything comes to a crashing halt as Truth takes his legs out from under him! Morrison crashes down on his neck in one of those “wow that looks like it hurt more than it was supposed to” moments, triggering a “I hope he’s not actually hurt” sentiment.
Morrison, who is now pretty dead, barely makes it into the ring before the 10-count, but eventually succumbs to Truth’s finisher and the 3-count.
Pretty fun, fast-paced match that could’ve used a bit more time. Probably the best storytelling match of the night, and furthers Morrison’s “did he come back too soon?” angle quite well. As Morrison hasn’t really gotten his revenge yet, I imagine we’ll see these two at SummerSlam.
But really…that should read “CM Punk vs. Cena: Awesome Fucking Promo Edition”.
I won’t lay this out in detailed form. If for some reason you’re reading this review but haven’t seen this section, then please, do yourself a favour and go watch it.
Cool. Now I’m going to summarize anyway, cuz that’s what I do.
Punk begins by saying this entire thing is a sham…the “contract signing” is all for show. He’s right, and honestly when I heard about the “contract signing”, I expected him to react as such. Part of the fun of this angle is that he’s poking holes all over WWE stuff that we’ve always questioned in the back of our mind, but still played along with. Now, it seems like everything’s fair game. As enjoyable as it is…I’m not sure how this is going to translate long-term, once the novelty wears off. Are we going to go back to the way things were, and just enjoy it as we always having, knowing that we’re all in on the joke? Or are we actually headed for change…a more realistic WWE…and what does that even look like? And here we are…back to uncertainty. Not knowing is probably the best part about this whole thing.
After some clever jabs at HHH’s movie career, CM Punk proceeds to show a clip of The Rock calling out Cena as a phoney (Cena’s reaction to this is especially entertaining…I honestly think this is the first time he’s seen it). Cena responds by explaining that he’s aware of the millions, he’s aware of Punk’s die-hard fans, and he’s also fully aware that he’ll never win these people over. But he doesn’t care. Because he does have his fans, and those are the people he will do anything for. And Cena comes across like an absolute fucking boss here…fully aware of his criticisms, but also fully aware of his strengths and who he is. And I have a feeling that tonight, he made a few more fans because of it.
HHH speaks up and sides with Cena, who’s now throwing the “phoney” label right back at Punk. Punk, who’s now officially had the promo gauntlet thrown down, throws it at Johnny Ace (of all people) and HHH, bringing up some recently released talent along the way in an unprecedented move (again, pushing the boundaries of what’s ok to say…we like this…alot). Punk closes this segment by retelling a story of him winning his first championship, and Cena’s sort-of-dickitude behavior backstage. Now this fight is real. And now, no matter who you are, you’re fucking hooked.
Fantastic promo by everyone involved. It’s a shame that Cena probably won’t get as much credit as he deserves for this. At the same time, having been on the pro-Cena bandwagon for awhile (well, not really a bandwagon…pretty much the opposite of bandwagon…and what is the opposite of a bandwagon anyway? Station wagon?), you have no idea how glad I was to hear him say what he said about his detractors.
Yes, I was smiling and nodding all the way through this promo. These guys could have a verbal debate on Sunday instead of a match, and I think I might honestly prefer it.
Oh yea, and they turned a table over and got into some slight fisticuffs…almost in a mocking manner (“we have to end on this note, so let’s do it”).
Interestingly, though, the final shot had HHH and Cena standing together in the ring, with Punk verbally wondering whether the “fix was in”. Hmm. And having HHH screw over Punk to give Cena the title was my most likely scenario. But after blatantly displaying that possibility…I’m not so sure.
Sunday can’t come fast enough.
A common complaint with Raw is that there’s not enough actual “wrestling”, and too many promos. This was the opposite. Although this show began and ended with a promo, it was pretty much solid wrestling all the way through, with a good chunk of solid-but-not-great matches (and no tag-team matches! Huge bonus!). I named Miz vs. Kofi as my match of the night (FUCK YOU KYLE, SPOILERS!!) but it could’ve just as easily been Morrison vs. Truth as that was the better “storytelling” match. But all in all, an honestly mediocre show, with an amazing ending to turn it around and make it memorable.
I didn’t notice a prominent amount of JR, until I went back and re-watched some matches, and realized that he does his job so well that you just don’t notice him. I brought up this point last week, I know, but I think it’s important to hammer it home…that is the hallmark of a great announcer. And the more I think about it…the more I understand why Cole’s in the booth. They need the heel. JR and King were at their best when King was a heel, but now that he’s a solid face (and seems to mail it in for at least half the broadcast), I almost wonder if just JR/Cole would be a better combo. Regardless, it’s really difficult to criticize the commentary when JR is involved.
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