Total Wrestling

The Min Report – WWE Monday Night Raw – 12 03 2012


Possibly one of the best things in WWE in recent times happened even before the opening credits this week. It was the return of this…
“The following is a post-watershed production. It may contain scenes and storylines not suitable for younger viewers…”
Finally, we are (are we?) coming away from the PG era in earnest. This got me a little excited to see what exactly would be ‘edgier’ this week. I’m not anti kids content (I wouldn’t have become a fan in the first place after all), but I think there’s a place for adult based shows and more child friendly ones. This is what should be the basis of the formation of characters for me and for how the different shows are split. Anyway, on with the show…

John Cena Raps about The Rock
Jerry Lawler opened the show to a hot Cleveland crowd, reminding us of the Rock n Rap concert, and stated we’d start it off with some THUGANOMICS! Cena’s old ‘Word Life’ music kicked in and I have to say I popped for this. In-ring limitations, and poor selling and continuity aside, I found the old ‘white trash’ Cena quite entertaining and looked forward to seeing what he’d bring. True enough he even came out with the bike chain, basketball jersey and backwards cap…and even the ‘attitude’ face. I have no problem with this at all. You could hear a few boos, but could actually see some of the haters in the crowd giving a knowing smile too. That’s the result of the last few weeks and WWE should be commended for it.  They’ve done a really good job of enabling Cena to be more real WHILST in character and it’s working. Credit where it’s due.

Cena was infallible in his delivery. No notes, all memorised, and all the pauses and emphasis at the right places…something Rock couldn’t equal later but we’ll come to that. Classic old skool Cena.  Highlights would be the ‘Cleveland Steamer’ line (check urban dictionary folks!), and of course ‘Miami Fried Chicken-Shit’.  The latter was probably trending moments later I expect.  The best part of this was that Cena just came out, said his piece, and left.  They’re (WWE) are making a clear distinction between the 2 characters now which is great – Cena, all business. Rock, all filler no killer. As I said this has been cleverly handled in recent weeks and regardless of what is trending on twitter, whatever rumours about personal differences on the dirtsheets, it IS deliberate I’m sure.

Dolph Ziggler v Sheamus
Vicki is out next to MASSIVE heel heat.  She says she doesn’t agree with daylight savings as it means the whole world is deprived of an hour of Dolph Ziggler. That maybe true but it also means we get one hour less of her…every cloud. My reaction as soon as Sheamus was announced was mixed. On the one hand it’s crap to see Ziggler have to job again (there really was only gonna be one winner) here, but on the other he needs to look strong and there’s not many better than Ziggler to help him do that.  Steady-paced match I thought which was good value for free TV. Nice spot with Ziggler going under the ring followed by a nasty bump taken by Sheamus against the announce table. Looked like it really hurt, and the mark quickly came up which Cole and Lawler were quick to acknowledge also. No real need for Sheamus to throw himself so hard into the top of the table, but I guess if you’re in the ring with Ziggler it’s hard not to be OTT at times!

They cut to Bryan and AJ in a VIP box watching the match, where Josh Matthews questioned Bryan’s conduct towards her on SD last week. AJ looked hot as ever, and Bryan gave his usual great heelish bravado, as he quickly cut Matthews off . “AJ loves me…and the feeling is mutual.” is possibly one of the best lines Bryan has delivered in WWE so far. Of course AJ is meant to think he means he loves her back, while we all know he just means he loves him too. YES! YES! YES!

Back in the ring, Dolph continued to bounce around for Sheamus like his contract depended on it. Fantastic spot where Sheamus went for the one-arm backbreaker only for Ziggler to turn it into a crucifix – really fluid. They tried to play on Sheamus’ power as he stood back out of it with Dolph on his shoulders but they got a little tangled and what I assumed to be the planned powerslam ended up more of a bodydump. Nice line from Lawler that Sheamus hit Dolph so hard his kids would be born dizzy. I like that. Might even use it sometime. Sheamus sold a good 2 for Ziggler’s FameAsser, and Ziggler returned the favour by making the Brogue Kick looking more devastating than it’s ever been seen.  They focussed on the mark again on Sheamus’ back. That’s gotta schmart a bit!

They then announced how had broke the story that a six-on-six tag had been booked for WM, Team Long v Team Laurinaitis, for sole control over Raw and SD. Fine with the booking, we knew it was coming, and it gives a lot of the unused talent somewhere to showcase their skills on the big stage. I don’t have great hopes for the match, mainly because I don’t care about the story. It means nothing to me who runs the show on screen and just detracts (as we’ve seen in recent weeks) from what otherwise could be some great matches when this ‘rigamaroo’ is going on at ringside. My main issue is this – why on earth does a company who cares so much about ratings give away half it’s story these days on the internet?! More and more each week I’m being given less of a reason to actually tune in and watch.  If the writing was tighter, a little more care and attention put in, less pointless promo vids, cut Rock’s promo time down to the 3 mins he speaks of the 20 he’s visible for etc, we could get a whole lot more into the programming.  This is where WWE lacks big time for me at the moment. They draw out all the crap we don’t need or aren’t interested in, yet take too little time to detail the areas that would make great storylines. I wouldn’t mind if all the .com stuff was to ensure there was more time for matches and action on the show but it doesn’t. So there you go, rant over, that’s my I HAVE A DREAM this week. More balance please WWE.

Mixed tag-team match?
We got a reminder of recent events surrounding the US title and the GM storyline reminding us of a few things:
1) Neither Long nor Laurinaitis should be allowed to wrestle ever again.
2) Kane cannot sell an RKO to save his life.
3) In the midst of all this nonsense, Santino has still been massively entertaining.

I’d like to say I see Santino getting the winning fall in the WM match, but to be honest I can’t see anything but a Team Johnny win. I just feel there’s still some distance WWE are gonna wanna go with that story (Punk, Trip, Vince) post-Mania, and for all his efforts in the last couple of weeks, Long really does need to go. That said the blank expression and massive pause from Big Johnny in answering the first question Cole threw at him at the announce desk only really shows that he shouldn’t be anywhere near TV either.  Anyway, Otunga comes out and we quickly learn that Johnny has changed this to a handicap match. No it’s the return of Zach Gowen, but that it will a two on one with Mark Henry being Otunga’s partner.  Cole had a stick with Johnny’ s head on it – think this would be a great idea for WM for these to be on all seats so that fans can either hold up a Teddy or a Johnny face. We’ll see I guess…

Anyway, Teddy soon came down to get Aksana out of harms way and to address JL followed by the usual shove-off we’ve seen recently. Funnier this week in that Teddy barely touched him yet JL felt the need to sell harder than Ziggler as he bounced backwards in and off his chair and to the floor. In the ring, log story short, Santino got squashed by Henry, Kingston ran to help and got squashed, and the same with R-Truth also. A veritable squash fest. So what have we learned here? It’s 6 on 6 at WM, yet Henry can easily take out 3 of Team Teddy on his own.  Bizarre booking for me as we all know Henry is supposed to be dominant, but but showing just how much it kinda lessens the value of one team going into this one at WM. I would assume this will be evened out next week or on SD somehow with Team Teddy’s ‘monster’ doing a similar demolition job. I’m wondering if Ron Simmons has been considered as a surprise member of Team Teddy considering his history with him and his HOF place this year? That would be cool.

Lots of backstage malarky
We’re shown a promo for an episode of a show called Psyche in which The Miz will be making a cameo on Wednesday. It’s looks terrible. This is MUST NOT SEE TV. Cole then introduced some bint called Maria  interviewing Divas for extra.  More tripe of course as is most stuff concerning the Divas Division, but at least we got to the route of the problem, as when asked about what training the Divas are doing in preparation for WM, Alicia Fox answered that she was just trying to get her outfits together. Exhibit A ladies and gents! This is why you SUCK!

Up next, we get to see Eve strutting her stuff backstage..and two very bits of stuff they are indeed. She sure is purdy. And here’s Zack Ryder – now with no cane, and moving as freely as if nothing every happened to him. You know, the same guy that was in a back brace 2 weeks ago? If that’s not a shout for a wellness violation I don’t know what is!  Anyway Eve gave Zack some more lines, and then we finally got to see Beth Pheonix (you know, the Diva’s champ?). She said she admired Eve’s manipulation of Zack but that she could do the same, to which Eve took offence. I guess we’re gonna see Beth v Eve at WM now probably with Zack involved somehow. Man, how this all could have been so different eh? Special serious shout has to go out to Kia Stevens (aka Kharma) this week – thoughts at Total Wrestling are with her. Naturally she would have been the obvious choice for Beth’s WM opponent this year. Currently no timescale on her return – but of course some things are more important. If only they had used Nattie better – this would have been far better for the WM stage of course.

The Miz is now backstage to question JL as to  why he’s not yet involved at WM (rumour is currently he’ll feature in the Cena/Rock match). JL says if he wins tonight he’ll be on Team Johnny. He’ll be facing CM Punk.  Funny line when James Roday (from that awful looking Psyche show) told Miz to ‘go oil up’.  I laughed at that. Looks like they’ve also had another change of heart about Brodus Clay as he’s up next.

Brodus Clay v Jinder Mahal
Yes, you heard it right, this match is actually on Raw. Where’s Sunday Night Heat when you need it eh? The ‘adult’ content we were warned against at the top of the show doesn’t clearly apply to the entire 2 hours. Over in 3 moves from Clay really. Essentially every time we’ve seen Brodus since he returned it’s been a classic debut squash match.  Not the right time of year now granted, but they need to get him a fead and start giving the character some depth now. This is silly. Looks like they’ve changed his finisher to a simple splash now rather than a running one. Most interesting thing about this which doesn’t say a lot. Where did Brodus get his tattoos? You’d embarrassed to get that poor quality in prison.  Do me a favour readers – get an image of Brodus in your head, then google pics of Danny from Hearsay. I’m just saying…

HBK address The Undertaker
This was basically a chance for HBK to address whether Taker thought he was a failure or not. It’s a silly question – HBK lost 2 years in a row to Taker at Mania, so in as far this story goes yes he is.  Taker still has his hood up – I’m guessing he’ll only show his bonce at WM itself – cue ‘shocked’ face from Trip/Shawn. There’s really not a lot to add here other than the usual comment about how poor Taker is on the mic – he was really struggling here again, much like he was a few weeks ago. He even got the date on WrestleMania wrong! At least I hope it’s not 21st April or I’ll be sitting in an empty arena 3 weeks too early. What is it with these ‘Legends’? This is the reason the ‘WHAT’ chants are starting – crowds pick up on a weakness or on a boring angle, and it’s what they’re doing here. We’re going over old ground now, but this is just another reason this match doesn’t need all the extra. HBK then proceeded to give his best Alanis Morissette impression giving us a list of ironic things concerning the match before leaving to meet Trip at the top of the ramp – implying further that yes he does know the outcome of the match because he and Trip are working together. Trip gave the crotch chop to emphasize the fact. I guess they’ve both had 2 goes at the streak and both failed twice, so why not join together. This currently explains of course that Trip DID know about HBK being the ref of course…for now at least.

CM Punk v The Miz
We got a little reminder of last week where Jericho got the better of Punk (clean I  might add), before that Roday chap came out to guest announce. Nice for him to get dressed up for the occasion. He looks like a tramp version of Marty McFly. He’s generally a bit of a knob. We get to see Jericho watching the match from the back – evidently he likes to wear nothing but his wrestling pants and sparkly jacket to watch TV. Great to see that the WWE champ is also so important that they feel they need to go to commercial less than 30 secs into his match. Punk and Miz seemed to take a while to find any rhythm here – don’t think it’s any secret that Punk isn’t a big fan of Miz, I don’t think it’s the reason for their lack of chemistry, I just think sometimes some guys just don’t fit. Miz tapped pretty quickly keeping Punk looking strong of course.  This was all just a set up for the story progression with Jericho however who came on screen to tell us that Punk is only straight edge because his father was an alcoholic and that that he’ll take everything away from Punk at WM leaving him to follow the same path.  What was great about this was how both guys delivered it. Really great, confident, cocky delivery from Jericho and Punk’s reaction was great too…moving from not bothered to angry and upset, to totally dejected on the way back up the ramp. Really well done from both. On the flip side I have to say this is an interesting angle to take at this point for me – I’m sure there’s lots of discussion already being had online (as usual I’ve stayed away until after I post this but I look forward to seeing comments).  The fact that it doesn’t need to be used is the key thing here – the story is already told. The stakes are already high enough going into the match for me. I don’t have an issue with the story itself, just the timing. It could have used against Punk at any time in the future, by any number of future opponents. In fact, it would be a great angle for the likes of a Ziggler et al to use in their ascendancy. Let’s see how this one pans out, but it just feels too much being out into something that doesn’t need it for me, bearing in mind that we already know the payoff date is just 2 weeks away.

The thing is, in a story sense it would be the right thing for Jericho to go over on Punk (unclean) and pour whiskey or some-such into his mouth, and then for Punk to get revenge at a later date.  What a great opportunity for Mr Beerbath himself, Steve Austin to be involved too – taking Punks side and drowning Jericho in booze perhaps. 2 things wrong with doing the ‘right thing’ here NOW though: Mania not the forum for this sort of angle for a heel win for the title, and secondly even with a substitute alcohol being used for storyline purposes I’m not sure Punk would be happy to even mimic drinking? Also let’s look at Jericho’s angle here – why is it a bad thing that Punk went straight edge to not end up like his dad? Surely that’s a good thing? I’d say this the best thing about this type of angle in general – pulls at the heartstrings of those who have changed their life to not end up like someone else. Good reality angle, wrong time. Very interested therefore to see how this one pans out. .

Side note, they’re really pushing David Otunga’s Twitter account. Good for some banter and sending him fake cases to banter back on. I will be I know that.

Randy Orton v Jack Swagger
We got a reminder of the back and forth between Orton and Kane over the past couple of weeks. Lots of looking round for Kane by Orton during this consequently.The very fact that Kane can’t take an RKO properly leaves me less than enthused about this feud. Match itself here was pretty good. Swagger should be commended as of late for his performances – another good showing here, even though again of course he was jobbing for someone. Big time superplex in this match too which is always cool to see.  Orton got the full repertoire for his go home sequence keeping him looking strong in the run up to WM, although this will likely be in a match that no-one will remember. We just don’t have the time to care enough about any issues between Kane and Orton regardless of what we find them out to be over the next 2 weeks. Real shame that Orton got injured when he did this year – he’s still one of the top performers and one of my personal favourites by I fear there’s a real danger of him becoming very stale soon. They set Kane’s pyros off at the end of the match (he didn’t show) to keep the ‘tension’.

The Rock in Concert
Jerry says this is up next and that’ll it’ll be the greatest thing ever. It won’t be. I expected it to be mildly amusing and I was right. I also expected it to drag out a little longer than required. Ditto. I’m guessing this is all deliberate to position The Rock as the limelight-hogging but no end product fame-grabber, against Cena’s no nonsense character. True enough Rock took a couple of minutes at the top of the ramp before even heading to ring, and it was nearly 4 before he even said a word.  That’s half the time of a decent enough actual match folks. He did his ‘goosebumps’ thing (yes we know you shave your arms – manly), and wasted more time going on about a record-breaking crowd in the arena. It probably isn’t.  His first dig at Cena was for ‘selling-out’. Really? How are those Disney movies coming along Rocky? We got dated teletubbie joke and then 7 minutes after his music had hit, Rock finally picked up his guitar to start what he was apparently there to do in the first place. Now first things first, Rock is reading/singing straight off a script – no big deal but I guess it adds fuel to the Cena fire at least. Back to selling-out, the song is entitled ‘Cleveland Rocks’ – I’d call that a cheap pop. Much like Cena’s rap, this was just regurgitated material from the old days – nothing really new here.  Rock tried to get personal, focussing on the Eve kiss from a few weeks back and that Cena has a wife, and might need a divorce soon. You might also remember that Rock had a wife too…until he made it big in Hollywood and was surrounded by skanks day-in day-out. I’m just saying…

The Cleveland crowd gave a pretty good reaction to it all, but when the camera panned round to show that 90% of the audience were on some sort of outreach program, this was all pretty self-explanatory. We may never find a more retched hive of scum and villainy.  The finale of ‘We Will Rock You’ was quite frankly, dire. Let down even more so by more evidence that Rock has trouble reading autoqueue. Do not ever get caught doing karaoke with this guy is all I’m saying.

Now as I’ve said before I love The Rock, I’m just disappointed with how this is going down. It’s strange how they have Rock trying to make a deal out of being The constant (bad) scripting, saying stuff that actually only makes him look like an idiot. I mean, there’s a fine line between using The Rock to enhance Cena, and doing it at the detriment of his own character, whether we see him week-in week-out or not. Ignoring aside of course that this all goes massively against the BA Star stuff they are also trying to get behind, it’s all mildly entertaining sure, I just think some parts of this could be handled much better. One minute it seems to be deadly serious and personal, the next we’re making mum jokes. Classic WWE inconsistency. The build should be that these two are more and more in each other’s faces as the weeks draw closer to Mania, yet this week they are at opposite ends of the show singing childish songs. We all love a good mum joke sure, but this is getting a little bizarre.

MAXI-MIN points this week go to Jericho and CM Punk. No, I don’t believe the match needs the extra angle, but they sold it really well.

MIN-IMUM points this week go to Taker.  I like to give it to Rock but I feel he’s only delivering what he’s being asked to do now. Taker can’t even get the date of WM28 right. Epic fail.

I feel we’re starting to just tread water now, I know that this year’s WM is gonna be dominated by the top 4 matches, but for me we’re still using up a hell of a lot of time on TV that could be better served to build other talent. How are we supposed to care about investing time in anyone else when WWE doesn’t seem to care either. The mid card must feel terrible when they see that even champions don’t make weekly TV every week. This really needs to be resolved after WM.

The Min. Simm Minogue.

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