RAW: They could have booked squirrel races; it will sell as long as the Rock is on.

The first thing I noticed overall was it felt like there was a lot more wrestling on this show. They opened and closed with promos, so I guess they were filling the doughnut with a delicious jam. Perhaps a strawberry jam? Raspberry? Is it Raspberry?

Anyway, we open with John Cena. He comes out and talks about how excited he is that the Rock is here. Really? Rea-the fuck-eely? Didn’t he do a whole slew of promos about how the Rock only shows up for a paycheck and isn’t committed to the business? Wasn’t that the start of the angle between them? But now he is fine with Rock and thrilled that he is here? Not a huge fan, but doesn’t that kind of kill Cena a bit?

Anyway, Cena comes out and is Flava-Flav to the Rock’s Chuck D (was that racist?) until the AJ contingent comes out. Problem # 2 with Cena this evening: AJ is really right. Cena was an asshole who hit it & quit it and she lost her job over him. Not exactly baby face white bread actions. Cena acts like Robin Williams in his booger sugar days and gets a wave going. Ziggler cuts a decent response, saying that Cena jokes his way out of everything, but Ziggler isn’t going away. This leads to our opening match.

The match was actually a good TV match. Way to go, John! They had AJ and Big E interfere and eventually get ejected. It went several segments and I was didn’t get bored with it. I liked the ref bump coming from tossing someone off your back. It was a new way to do the ref bump.

However, I thought the finish fell flat. They did enough false finishes that it should have gone a little more than “Ziggler runs into Cena’s finisher.” I get that they built he idea that Cena survives the attack from Big E and still overcame Ziggler, but they should have had Ziggler tap to the STFU instead of getting pinned. It would have built John without lessening Dolph.

Cena did lose control of Ziggler throwing him for the AA. When they say Cena is unsafe, it is because shit like that happens more often than it should for a top talent.

Kaitlyn took on Eve in what was one of the better women’s matches i have seen this year. Kaitlyn has grown on me. While there were still moments of botching, I did like the aggression that both showed. Eve took off through the crowd to get counted out, which I liked as well. I found it funny that she stood back where a ref was standing behind a set piece. You could see about ¾ of him, just standing there. At least he didn’t try and run out of the shot.

The Rhodes Scholars continue their feud against team Hell No. This is the match where there put a chink in the champs’ armor. Dan Bryan did a back flip off of the top rope and tweaked his knee. It led to Cody Rhodes hitting the Cross Rhodes for the win and giving Hell No something else to bicker about. I like that more and more, they are positioning Kane as the reasonable one of the group.

Heath Slater talked himself into a match with Randy Orton. It was the match you expected it to be, with Randy Orton not having any trouble handling three guys. Pause. Cole declared that, despite Orton pounding the mat and posing, when he hit the RKO, it was “from out of nowhere.” Signaling for a move disqualifies it from being “from out of nowhere. “ It is exciting when it is from out of nowhere; don’t cheapen it by calling everything “from out of nowhere.”

Here, this is “from out of nowhere”:

Santino got to have Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in his corner as he took on Wade Barrett for the IC title. I was surprised that they added Steamboat and then had the match be about 3 minutes. Steamboat actually did advise Santino, telling him to get his guard up. I liked that a lot more than him just standing out there, being a cheerleader for Santino. Anyway, Santino missed the Cobra and took a Bull Hammer. After the match, with Ricky checking on Santino, Barrett tried to move on them. Steamboat noticed and Barrett backed off. As wasteful as it was to not use Steamboat during the match, that was a good use of both Barrett and Steamboat to build a little heel heat without giving it all away in one segment.

Cesaro neutralizing Khali on the b shows was such a hit with the kiddies, they decided to do it again on RAW. As good of a match as one can expect when Khali is one of the participants. I liked Cesaro’s springboard turning European uppercut. He got himself both high and horizontal with it. I also like that Cesaro is waving an American flag as a heel. Good twist on the flag gimmick.

The Three Man Band then get to talk their way into another match. Jinder Mahal takes on Sheamus. Jinder uses a lot less neckbreakers than he does in WWE 13. Sheamus got to give everyone a Brogue Kick. The crowd loves them some Brogue Kicks. Sheamus ends with a bloody lip and a win.

CM Punk gets to have his TLC match against Ryback. IT was probably a match that didn’t belong on TV, but I get why Vince did it. You promised the match. The game plan changed and the match didn’t happen. You can’t go back and re-promote the match. The solution is to tone it back a little and put it on TV. You (hopefully) gain viewers and fulfill inherent promises. It was a good match. Punk looked like he had the flu. Pale and not at 100%. I think this somewhat adds to his claim that he is there because of his ability, not popularity. Ryback looked like he was trying to protect Punk as much as possible. I liked the “hardcore” spots that they chose to go with.

How old am I? The lights went out and I immediately thought “Sabu?” Sadly, no. It was just the Shield. Their attack worked and they gave Ryback a three man powerbomb onto the bottom set of the steps through a table. Heyman did a lot of selling the injuries to add some legitimacy to this. When Punk finally won, he was crying. It was a good added touch.

Big Show knocked out Kofi in under a minute. Unstoppable force. Can anyone beat him? Perhaps, can they beat him last night and have it recorded for a show that airs on Friday? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? This was all a chance to let Punk catch his breath before cutting his promo.

Punk came out and cut a great promo. He framed his match and his motivation to be the best in the world very succinctly. He is there to be the best in the world, not the most popular. The problem is, the “Universe” can’t differentiate between the two. Punk isn’t in wrestling for them, he is in it for him; he didn’t sell out, he cashed in. He mocked the crowd for chanting and cheering, and they kept doing it, adding legitimacy to his claims. His slowed cadence and repetition signaled the interruption of the Rock.

I am not a big fan of the Rock. He is a sports entertainer, and I tend to enjoy wrestlers. But what he lacks in in-ring ability, he has always made up for in charisma. Make no mistake; I whole-heartedly recognize his inherent ability to sway a crowd.

What is often missed, however, is his ability to adapt himself to the situation. Compare his build up work with Cena to CM Punk. Cena and the Rock both joke and try to be charming, for lack of a better term. They build up to their Wrestlemania matches was a cavalcade of quips about sexuality and commitment and things that the crowd can chant. That, in and of itself, might be the Rock’s biggest draw: He gives the crowds something to chant. Crowds love chanting.

The meeting between the two was really good. Compelling. Rock talked about he was for the people. Punk said all of the chants and cheer are meaningless when it’s Punk that kicks his ass. Rock says he is well aware of how good Punk is & recalled how Punk laid out Rock with a GTS. I though the fact that Rock just slowly walked up to Punk and hit a Rock Bottom seemed a little suspect, but the rest of it went well enough that it doesn’t hang on the palette. Punk sold the pain of the Rock Bottom without acting like it was a knockout blow. He rolled out of the ring and sold, then got up and walked out. IT was the right level of selling to make this match appealing. It goes a lot further toward putting over the Rock to make yourself a credible threat (that he beats) than to sell like a maniac for him because he hit a finisher.

Raw was… good. The pressure of not having to worry about what will draw let them be a bit more creative? Rock is still on the good stuff. Not jacked diesel like his mania appearance, but still 100ccs of HGH in a 10cc syringe, if you follow me.

I still won’t see GI Joe.


About Ryan

I am a pretty small cog in the wrestling machine. I work locally here in Pittsburgh as a commentator. I have done a tour of Japan as an announcer and manager. I am the biggest mark of the group, and I openly admit it. Oh, and my dad is Harley Race.

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