The Road to WrestleMania continues its slow, plodding pace to April 1, 2012 in Miami. As I was watching this particular edition of RAW, it really dawned on me how this is the first year I have not been excited during WrestleMania season. Usually there is at least one match I can latch onto either emotionally or because there will be a one of a kind match. This year for any number of reasons I just don’t feel the magic I usually do during this time of the year. On that note, let’s briefly look at an odd edition of RAW.
Promo – Shawn Michaels and Triple H
At this point, I don’t care about the involvement of Shawn Michaels in any way, shape, or form. I like the idea of Triple H vs. The Undertaker in the Hell in a Cell match at Mania, and I like the idea of Michaels involved in the match. Now granted, there’s still a few more weeks, but just who appointed Shawn the special referee in the match. Why would this (as of now) unnnamed person do this? Is it Vince Mcmahon? Is it John Laurinatis? I bring this up because I doubt it will ever be resolved.
As far as the promo goes, it went by the same by the numbers slow and meticulous pace that Triple H has grown accustomed to for the past ten or so years. In the span of 15 long, pain inducing moments, Triple H and Shawn Michaels communicated about 2 minutes of information. Sure, WWE Creative was trying to get across the idea that there’s is conflict arising from Triple H’s comments, and Triple H only further added to the gas to the fire by continuing his verbal assault on Shawn tonight. The trouble is it did not need to be added to the match. It’s a common problem in wrestling where Creative overbooks the matches when there is no need to. And, I do believe the match will be good.
Match: Jack Swagger (U.S. Champion) w/ Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler vs. Santino
Remember where I just wrote that WWE Creative likes to overbook matches? This was yet another example of that. At least the Teddy Long/John Laurinatis debacle has been moved away from the WWE & World Champions. I’m not sure why bookers feel the need to start programs that (I feel) no one gives a dang about. Who cares if Johnny Ace or Teddy Long is in charge of either show. It made no difference whatsoever who is the GM because nobody cares about either guy.
Anyway, the match was won when Santino reversed Swagger’s ankle lock into a rollup for the win and the U.S. title. As over as Santino is right now, I wasn’t too happy with the win for Santino because Swagger didn’t really have the opportunity to do much with the title. I think Swagger is a wasted talent for WWE. His World title reign is looked back upon as a joke and he hasn’t had anything worthwhile to do in a long time.
Winner: Santino in 6:40 by pinfall to win the United States title.
The next segment was the first of the Rock’s history lessons. I’ll talk about them later on when I discuss the final promo.
Match: Alicia Fox vs. Eve
This was more of an angle than a match as Eve made short work of Fox. Kelly Kelly was on commentary plugging Nick at Nite or something. After the match, Eve and Kelly Kelly had a brief stare down. Then, Zack Ryder made his not so anticipated return and called Eve a ho and waddled off. I must say, Zack made a wonderful, speedy recovery. After the commercial break, Eve caught up to the still waddling Zack and kissed him. She smiled and wandered off while Zack hit his “O” face. All I was hoping for during this entire segment was for Kane to be standing behind Ryder. Kane would destroy Ryder again and keep him out of action for another month or so.
Winner: Eve by pinfall in :38
Promo: Empty Arena with John Cena
I just don’t care enough about John Cena to care about his motivations for this match. The setup for the promo was that Cena was in full blown serious mode and was rambling on and on about how this is the biggest match of his life, how much it means, and how he HAS to win. A long, boring promo from Cena.
Not much happened during the course of the match. Add in there was a commercial break thrown in and my interest waned despite the fact there were four great workers in the ring. Concerning the commercial break, think of all the other sports out there for a second. Does any other sport cut away during a power play, basehit, or red zone drive? I hate the commercials during RAW just as a match starts.
Another thing that happened here was Jericho pinned WWE Champion cleanly in the middle of the ring. Only four or so weeks away from Mania, and Jericho scores the pin. Then, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler make minimal effort to put it over. They quickly went from the match to plugging away another Rock segment. More on that when I talk about the last segment.
Winners: Chris Jericho & Daniel Bryan in 11:54 when Jericho pinned Punk (small package).
Match: The Big Show vs. The Miz
The punishment of The Miz continues this week. He was quickly beaten with the KO punch and really doesn’t have a place anywhere on the card. He’s in a dangerous area right along with Ziggler, Swagger, and Kofi Kingston. These are all great workers that for whatever have nothing to do. In the Miz’s case, he’s being punished for the R-Truth missed catch a month ago, and the Survivor Series buys (which I don’t agree with). Some guys have worked through punishments and thrived (Triple H) and some haven’t (john Morrison). I truly think the Miz can be an effective wrestler. I hope they regain the confidence they once had in him sooner rather than later.
Winner: Big Show by pin (KO punch) in 2:02.
Match: R Truth vs. Kane
The most interesting thing that happened in this match was before the match R Truth gave an interview and he stopped and asked, “Who the heck am I talkin’ to?” Truth is great in his role as a looney semi-comedic act. After all these years, he’s finally found his niche. Kane is Kane. And, this match was just to further along the impending Randy Orton/Kane WrestleMania storyline. It’s odd when Creative doesn’t have something for Orton better than a WrestleMania undercard match. Oh, how I wish Orton was the face of the company and not Cena. On a side note, it’s also very odd to see Kane back and being a dominating killer after Cena completely destroyed him at The Elimination Chamber just weeks ago.
Winner: Kane by pin (chokeslam) in 1:26
Final Segment and The Rock’s History Lessons
The Rock’s history lessons were done to show that when the Rock puts something to tape, he is on. He can do the Rock promo and get his points across in a clear and concise manner. Conversely, he was shown live and in front of people to be unsure of himself. It’s fairly good booking if you want to protect Cena (which is what they want). If you recall, when Rock first came back last year, and to a lesser extent later around the Survivor Series, he absolutely destroyed Cena in each and every exchange they had. Why is there a sudden change in how Rock is acting? 1) Because it’s booked that way, and 2) WWE has faith that the majority of the viewing audience are idiots.
Harsh? You better believe it. This entire build to WrestleMania this year has been booked with an eye to the casual viewer and viewers that may have given up on WWE after the Attitude Era wore off. They obviously are looking at scoring a lot of buys with the Rock headlining WrestleMania and the Hell in a Cell match between Taker and Triple H. It’s a nod to the past and WWE has never been less concerned with the future then they have for the past two or so years. WWE has been building stars and then quickly dismantling them before they even have had a chance to shine. The list is a seemingly endless list of people they have completely missed the boat with or continue to destroy. Names like the Miz, John Morrison, Drew McIntyre, Brodus Clay, Shelton Benjamin, MVP, Mr. Anderson and on and on. They have for the most relied on John Cena and Randy Orton (and to a lesser extent, Edge) to carry the company for the past three or so years. Besides the very recent pushes for Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, WWE shoots themselves in the foot rather than concentrating on building for the future. I fear this philosophy of simply coasting on fumes will bite them in the butt sooner rather than later.
So, the Rock’s three “history lessons” where he easily destroyed Cena (especially the 1st one) were all in the can yesterday and were recorded to show that on tape Rock is a dominant promo man. Cena has been booked for the past three weeks as a dominant and fiery promo guy in the ring. In front of a live audience, Cena has been shown to be the better man, and it honestly is the worst way this whole angle could have been booked unless this leads to a Cena heel turn which seems highly unlikely.
WWE should really pay attention to UFC and the world of MMA when it comes to using a real life beef to the best extent. In the recent Strikeforce event, Meisha Tate and Rousey had a legitimate beef. They legitimately trash talked each other through twitter. And, the best fighter won. That’s how WWE should have booked this. Have Cena be Cena and legit let the Rock be the Rock. WWE purposely dumbing down the Rock in an effort to make Cena look stronger should tell Creative all they need to know. John Cena is only as good as he’s booked. Since 2002, he’s never had to work for a damn thing, and he’s had everything handed to him. He’s had to face the fact that Hollywood wants no part of him. As much as he consistently has said that he would never leave, he’s an idiot for saying that. If he had the opportunity to make 5 to 10 million a movie, he sure as hell would go.
I honestly feel that when Vince decided to go with Cena, the slow path to where we currently are in the history of pro wrestling was set. Ratings and buyrates have fallen year after year with Cena as the face of the company, and WWE has to just look at the facts. The Decade of Cena has been a Decade of Mediocrity. His era has slowly killed what I love about the business, and I hate the fact that WWE needs to dumb down a far superior worker in an effort to get him over.
What I liked:
- Once Triple H and Shawn Michaels finally got to their point, it was a pretty good promo. Michaels was a bit off when he first started, but once he turned more serious the promo picked up. As I wrote, adding Michaels to the match is overbooking it, but I’m sure all the guys will bring their A-Game to the actual match (when it matters).
- The Rock’s History Lessons.
- R-Truth’s pre match promo.
What I hated (and wouldn’t have done)
- Too many squash matches. Out of 5 matches, 3 were squashes.
- Why are Divas matches even booked anymore?
- Still no Brodus Clay or Karma
Tonight was just an average show with average promos and substandard booking. The Rock was fantastic in the pre-recorded vignettes, but I hate that he has to turn it down live. Cena is just not the guy WWE wants him to be.
Last Week: 4.5
This Week: 5.0
Three Week Average: 3.33 out of 10
RAW was a mild improvement this week, but they need to turn up the heat soon. When a lifelong fan is bored with the WrestleMania build, something is definitely wrong.