Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hits and Misses: 2/13/12 Raw Review

Hello all and a Happy Valentines or Single's Awareness Day! I'm feeling a bit under the weather this afternoon so forgive me if the review is only slightly amazing, but after last nights show I've just got to review! From a presidential debate to the kiss heard round the WWE Universe, we've got some much to get into! So lets not waste anymore time!

Miss: Introducing Your Candidates for WWE Champion

When the first thing you see on your television on a Monday night is six podiums, you know you're in trouble. To me, CM Punk's face said it all. I'm no mind reader, but I'm guessing he was thinking something along the lines of "what in the blue hell are we doing?" Of course our champion got to start and promised the debate would not end in violence. Which is one of the small things I've really liked about Punk's character since the "Summer of Punk." I see no problem acknowledging that almost every contract-signing, debate, talk show they have in the WWE ends in violence. Of course this is where Mr. John Laurinaitis (thanks to this review I will never forget how to spell his name) comes in. But we will touch on that in just a bit. For now, lets stick with the chamber participants.

Look, I'll be honest with you here. This segment had a lot of small hits in it. But the entire concept of the debate is problematic. Almost as soon as the words "you have 45 seconds to respond" left Jerry Lawler's mouth I knew they wouldn't follow that. It's messy and I just feel like it could have been done in a better way. I know this is a played out trope in wrestling, but I would have actually preferred someone like Jericho starting the show off only to be interrupted by, lets say the Miz. Then Kingston, and so on and so forth. It accomplishes the same thing, but without the craziness of the debate format. That being said, I have to say Ziggler and Kingston stood out as the winners in this little debate. The made the best points and seemed the most focused on becoming WWE Champion and nothing else. I could go into more detail, but I'm sick remember!

Hit: This time, it's okay to be childish.

Lets face it, the way Punk is handling Y2J is perfect. Jericho did his trolling, but now he is trying to engage in a power struggle with the WWE Champion. He is trying to drive home the point that he is the greatest of all time, and that all of his accomplishments speak for themselves. Jericho is trying to show that Punk, while good, is no where near Jericho's level. But what does Punk do? He says he wasn't listening and then takes a jab at Jericho's performance on Dancing with the Stars. Is it childish? Yes. It's usually the thing that would have me rolling my eyes, but seeing how it effects Jericho is what makes it work. Punk is not playing Y2J's game, and that is eating away at the Sexy Beast. There is still a chance this veers off course a bit, but I'm confident that Punk and Jericho will keep this program going at the highest level possible.

WTF of the week: Hornswoggle and a box of spiders

This WTF segment isn't meant to say whether what we saw was good or bad. It is simply intended to express that saying "WTF" is the only thing I can come up when watching this particular segment.  Truthfully, the only reason I singled out this part of the segment was to analyze the proposed trade that General Manager Truth would make. Dolph is one of the best wrestlers today and Truth hates spiders. So that simple fact shows you how much R-Truth does not like Vickie and Dolph.

And yes, we all could have probably done without this analysis.

Hit: Still Mr. Excitement

When the show started, I had actually forgotten all about the board of directors deciding to retain Big Johnny. But having him come out for just a moment to tell everyone how thankful he is that the board trusts him is great. It's not over the top, which would be dumb considering he was/still is on thin ice, but its still heelish to just interrupt the WWE Champion like that. Sometimes simple and short are the way to go, and I say bravo to the writing team for there decision here!

Hit: Wrestling!

I've been now to two Ring of Honor Wrestling tapings at the Du Burns Arena in Balitmore. It is a great time and highly recommended. The reason I bring it up here is because there is this guy in the crowd that will yell out "WRRRRRREESSSTTLLINNNNGG" during a good scientific match. I think its hilarious, but I couldn't help thinking about that "chant" during last nights Kingston/Jericho match. They did not put on a wrestling clinic. It was not a five-star classic. But it was wrestling. Good, solid wrestling in which both the winner and loser looked strong. We could argue about what this getting a hit says about the state of today's wrestling industry, but for now I'll just be happy with what we are being given, and that's wrestling.

Hit: Backstage segments are important.

Up next we had two backstage segments that I have something to say about. First, and this is strictly for humor, how many of you thought of Alex Riley when Ryder says he wanted to "say it to her face?" Hopefully some of you, because I think it would be amazing for Riley's face to just pop up out of the blue whenever someone says something along the lines of "Say it to my face!" Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have truly always loved the humor that wrestling can give wrestling fans, and this is one of those examples.

Onto an actual point, this segment with Ryder telling Cena his plans to confess his love for Eve was a seed that was planted perfectly. I know its not hard to do, but you have to give them the credit they deserve. Would there have been a great reaction to the kiss later in the night without this segment? Of course. But Im confident including this segment took it from a 10 to an 11, which is almost always a good thing.

Now this brings me to the segment between Otunga and Laurinaitis. I'm not one to make bold predictions, but I'm saying that Otunga's plan for Johnny Ace to become permeant Raw AND Smackdown General Manager will be a huge story leading up to Wrestlemania. I'm not sure if Otunga will draw up some legal mumbo jumbo, but I see a power play storyline coming up similar to the Trump/Mcmahon feud at Wrestlemania 23. Johnny picks a wrestler, Teddy picks a wrestler (or a team of wrestlers) and the winner's General Manager gets full control. That's my call, so remember to give me credit when it happens (or completely ignore it if it doesn't!)

Hit: A match we haven't seen before.

Even with the rules of the Supershow, it is always a challenge to give fans contests between wrestlers who do not have much of an in-ring history. Thankfully, two of the six Smackdown Elimination Chamber participants were available had a reason to go toe to toe on Monday Night Raw. I know many fans may have come into this match with some trepidation, but in the end they really did put on a good show.

Another great facet of this match was that Michael Cole was just glowing with compliments for the "Wonderful "World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. The obvious fact that he is only saying it because Bryan is near him was great, and was executed well when Cole flipped the switch the moment he was sure Bryan couldn't hear him. I'm still hoping for Michael Cole to come around as a full fledged Daniel Bryan supporter, but for now I'll settle for him being deathly afraid of what Daniel Bryan could do for him.

Hit: Special Spots.

They don't happen that often, but when they do, they are amazing. I can't think of a really fancy eye-popping term, so we will stick with special spots. Last night, the Big Show found himself draped over the top rope. It was then that the fans started to realize what was going to happen. With some effort, Orton locked Big Show's massive melon in his arms and planted him with the vintage Orton DDT. It was certainly  impressive because of Big Show's size, but even more-so because it took a signature move that is used often, and changed it up. Orton actually has a monopoly on these kinds of things. Whether its an RKO to Carlito from a springboard splash or an RKO to Evan Bourne mid-shooing star press, its seems like the Viper is always ready to deliver something special.

Note: A rant on the Big Show.

This is not a hit or a miss, this is simply an observation. Big Show's last two major feuds have been with Mark Henry and Daniel Bryan, correct? Well I have a question, how did they start?

For those who watched last summer, the rampage that Mark Henry went on can easily be linked to the Big Show. Alberto Del Rio had been responsible for running over Show's foot with a car, and Show was angry. He had a scheduled match against a Mark Henry who was doing nothing but treading water on Smackdown. But Show was so angry, he snapped and attacked Henry before the match. This one outburst sent Henry to a place where he has never been, and was influential in making Mark Henry into the monster we all knew he could be.

You may be sitting there thinking "but that was an isolated incident!" Well before you get all riled up, lets take a look at the end of the Mark Henry Big Show feud. While Henry's reign of terror was building, a wrestler named Daniel Bryan secured the Smackdown Money in the Bank briefcase, guaranteeing him a championship match at any time for the next year. That next Friday, Bryan came to the ring and proclaimed that he would cash in his briefcase at Wrestlemania and fulfill his dream of main-eventing the grandest stage of them all. But the Big Show's feud with Henry was so intense, that he saw an opportunity to get back at Henry. He encouraged Bryan to cash in his briefcase on an injured Henry, which he did. Unfortunately Henry was not medically cleared to compete, so Bryan's dream would have to wait. That brings up to TLC in Baltimore. Big Show finally defeated Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Championship, but Henry would attack him from behind before he could begin celebrating. It was then that Daniel Bryan, following the advice of the Big Show, cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. He won the match and became champion. The only problem? Big Show was the one who lost.

Obviously Henry and Bryan's changes in attitude cannot be fully blamed on the Big Show. But it would be wise to remember that Big Show's rash actions created two huge throns in his side. My question is, who's next?

Bonus Hit and Miss: Brodus Clay

Hit: Someone had a sign last night that said "Funkasaurus ate my family :(" which was amazing.
Miss: Are we done with Brodus? This is what I was afraid of, they overused him in the same capacity and now they have nothing for him. Here's hoping Brodus comes back, whether he is funky or a just plain monster.

Hit: "I'm not willing to do that, I'm not that guy anymore"

One thing was abundantly clear last night. Triple H and Shawn Michaels are two of the best talkers in the buisness. I have my problems with the Game, but his intensity matched with Michaels prying churned out a great segment last night. When HHH told Shawn that he wasn't going to face the Undertaker, old HBK hit him where it hurts and called him a coward.

I've already talked in depth about Triple H's reasoning for declining the Undertaker's challenge, but last night added yet another layer to an already intriguing story. HHH's first line of defense was the same as last weeks, that he was afraid of what he would have to do to the Undertaker to beat him. That is when he uttered the line I used for the title of this hit. As soon as those words came out of his mouth, I knew it was golden. Yes, on the surface it means he is the COO. As he said (somewhat to my shock) "All of its going to be mine" and that he cannot justify getting into the ring again with the Undertaker.

But Michaels pressed on, and the Game laid it all out bluntly. The Undertaker is a brand, and he is a brand that is good for buisness. This may have been the most truthful statement of the night, that the buisness side of HHH is telling him to let someone else face the Undertaker this year, and hopefully he will be in shape to give the company one or two more Wrestlemania bouts in the future. It makes complete sense. But again, Michaels pressed on.

Triple H was losing the war of words, so he pulled out another great point. Himself, Michaels, and Taker are truly an end of an era. Shawn is retired, and HHH is COO, so the last great wrestler from that era is the Undertaker. If Triple H accepts a match with the Deadman at Wrestelmania, he will have no choice but to end that era. As he put it, he won't be the one to do that, no matter who may want him to.

I think you can fill in the blank here. Michaels wasn't buying it, and so he pressed on. That's when Triple H took out the big guns. He accused Shawn of wanting to live vicariously through Triple H because Shawn couldn't beat the Undertaker. He accused Shawn of wanting to find peace through this rematch. But for man who said at his Hall of Fame induction that he has "absolutely no regrets", he was able to reserve this jab the knife deeper into HHH's wound. Shawn said that it was Hunter who has no peace, to which he responded by trying to leave the ring.

Shawn would not let it go, and finally yelled for Triple H to look him in the eye and tell him he doesn't want to end the streak, to tell him no. HBK put it all out of the table, and Triple H would have to respond. Taking his time, the Game finally said "No" which no doubt disappointed Shawn and the WWE Universe. Michaels knows Hunter is lying. We all know he is lying. But he is committed. He is not going to face the Undertaker, which leaves us in a very interesting and exciting place.

To wrap things up here, I do believe all of the reasons Triple H gave for refusing the rematch are true. But in the end, I know that his fear of what he would have to go through is what is really stopping him. I said it last week and I'll say it again, Triple H/Undertaker III would have to be an absolute war. And if that match happens, neither man will be walking out of Miami under his own power.

Miss: Triple H is delusional

As great as that segment was, I've got to give Triple H a miss here for swaying back into his weird delusional self. Did anyone catch him saying to Shawn that he has REAL responsibilities. Compared to what? Owning a ranch, having a wife, and taking care of two kids? Are those not REAL responsibilities? I get the point he was trying to make, he has the weight of an global juggernaut on his shoulders, but he just wound up looking like a fool with the way he put it.

Oh and I know he was trying to put over the importance of not losing the era that he is one of the last stallions of, but how ignorant was it to say that they exemplified a "smash mouth style that doesn't exist anymore." We don't even have to leave the WWE to know that isn't true. This Sunday the are having TWO Elimination Chamber matches. You know, the deadliest match in WWE history? But I digress.

Hit: What a pop!

A quick hit goes to the crowd last night. Their reaction first to the gong and then to the lights going off signally the Underaker's presence was insane. I think many of you would agree, there really isn't much better than bearing witness to an amazing, off the charts pop like that. One of my personal favorites is the reaction of the Impact Zone when it was announced Kurt Angle was coming to TNA. Forget everything about his run there, the reaction was astounding and showed you just how important he was (and is) to that company.

Maybe I'll do a favorite pops article soon if you guys would be interested. Suggestions are surely welcome!

Hit: Truth Roll-Up

Get it? Truth Roll-Up? Alright obviously that fruit roll-up pun was terrible. But I do actually have something substantial to say about this match. I really liked how Cole pointed out that Truth's craziness could actually help him in the Elimination Chamber this Sunday. As he said, you have to be a bit crazy to go into that match in the first place. This little point gives Truth even more legitimately going into the match, which is never a bad thing.

The second part of this goes back to the "Wrestling" hit from earlier. Truth and Ziggler put on a good solid match with a finish to benefit both men. In my opinion, Truth needed the win more than Ziggler, but his loss can easily be written off of showing off too much. Sweet, simple, and intelligent booking once again here.

Miss: Why should we care?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Tamina Snuka will win the Divas Championship this Sunday. But I'm betting that if I took a poll, most of you would say that Beth Phoenix is a shoe-in to retain her title. With the Divas division getting so little focus, why should we care about Tamina and Beth this Sunday? Sadly, I don't have an answer.

Bullseye of the week: WOW, I didn't see that coming!

I'm not going to rehash how the kiss happened, but damn was this great television. It didn't hurt that Cena, Eve, and Ryder all put in pretty good acting performances. Eve's look when she first sees Ryder is perfect, and the reaction of the crowd sold the importance of the entire story. This had me and Charlie Speed with our jaws hanging open.

But the jaws dropped even more when they came back from commercial break. Eve friend-zoning Zack was cold and shocking all at the same time. I'm sorry but her saying "I didn't think we'd actually be together" was a shot to the gut and couldn't help but make me feel sorry for Zack.

Normally this would be one of your run of the mill, soap-opera type storylines that most of us hate. But the fact that this is John Cena getting kissed by the girl his good friend loves makes it special. Everything is rounded out when you think about how Kane has been trying to get Cena to embrace the hate. Instead of rolling their eyes, the crowd was stunned with what went down. So bravo WWE, that is how you use human emotion coupled with solid booking to get a reaction like that out of the fans.

Miss: Am I jaded? 

I love professional wrestling. It is truly one of my main passions and has a deep connection with my life and how I've come to be the person that is sitting here today. But every once and awhile I find myself being bored by a match I feel like I should like. I think to myself, maybe I'm jaded. Maybe I'm being too critical. But I've come to learn that most of the time, the sad fact is that a certain performer has simply become stale. I like the Miz. I think he is a very good wrestler and a great talker. But he has grown stale.  I should add that there is nothing wrong with that. Just a few years back, Randy Orton was staler than three month old bread. But he changed some things up. A small gimmick tweak along with some new moves and a beard made him relevant again. He took his attitude to another level, and he is now performing at maybe the highest level of his career. The Miz needs this type of change. He is too good of a talent to let fall by the waste-side because someone is too afraid to pull the trigger on a change.

Hit: A thinking man's match.

I don't know about you, but I wound up enjoying the match between the Miz and Punk last night a lot more than I thought I would. This was mainly due to the fact that the Miz focused and continued to work on Punk's arm. As I was watching, it dawned on me that working over a body part adds so much depth to any match and makes it easier to stay interested. It is a wonderful story-telling tool and one I think should be used out more often.

On a side note, there is a point in the match where the Miz plants Punk with a DDT. Re-watch it and see where Miz's hand goes when he attempts a pin. I promise you will laugh.

Hit: We All Hate You

Lets put aside the fact that all this hate talk had me thinking of the famous "Player Haters Ball" sketch from the Chappelle's show and lets focus on the importance of last nights ending. John said that "its been like this for six years" but I've never seen that. Of course its been worse, but I've never seen a regular WWE crowd chant "We all hate you" at John Cena, or any competitor for that matter. It was amazing, and I'm inclined to think the extra harshness was helped by Eve's kiss earlier in the night.

Hit: Adapt, Overcome, Win? Not so fast.

John Cena came out to end Raw last night fully embarrassed. The situation in which Eve's kiss put him in is one I wouldn't want to be in. But Cena has other things to worry about, namely an Ambulance match with the big red monster Kane. I loved John's line here: "I will adapt, I will overcome, I will win!" That is the kind of attitude that we've come to love (or hate) about Cena for years. It was perfect. Too perfect.

Seeing Zack Ryder wheel himself out onto the stage created a "It's about to go down!" feeling in the audience and I'm sure in many living rooms across the nation. Ryder slapping Cena was great, but it was very telling when Cena blocked the second one and was ready to strike. This of course lead to Zack falling to the mat. Was Cena's fist up because it is a natural reaction at this point? Or had he made a conscious decision to hit a crippled man? The answer to that question will certainly impact how Cena goes about taking care of all of this "embracing the hate" buisness.

Ryder yelling that Cena was never his friend was powerful, and the night ended just as it should, with Kane throwing Ryder (wheelchair and all) off the stage. I'm not sure where this will lead. Could we see a Zack Ryder heel turn? Sure, I think that would actually be a great place to go with it. But they actually have a few options and I'm excited to see where Ryder fits in the picture when he comes back.

But the most telling image last night was also the show's last. EMT's surrounding the injured Zack Ryder, with Eve shaken up looking over her fallen friend. The facts are that John Cena did not cause this. Kane did. Kane's incessant obsession over Cena embracing the hate and Cena's refusal to do so lead us here. But you have to consider this. Looking at all of this carnage around him, the mess that he is now knee-deep in. How can John Cena not think to himself "maybe I did cause all this?"

If John is asking himself that question, then you can bet he will have an answer in mind come Sunday. The Ambulance match at the Elimination Chamber Pay Per View could wind up being nothing more than a bump in the road to Wrestlemania. But after last night, there is a chance it could be a huge turning point in the career of John Cena. For that, I know I'll be tuning in.

Note: Thanks again for all the read and support. Comments, likes, suggestions, etc are all fully appreciated. 


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