Tonight’s Raw spent roughly half of the show featuring people wearing suits. These well dressed executives however are also prone to putting their hands on your face.
Triple H started the show by spending about 10 minutes recapping the last month of WWE action. WrestleMania happened. Cena beat Lesnar. Lesnar quit. Oh what an exciting month it has been! Finally Lesnar’s music hit and Paul Heyman came out. I can’t say enough how much I love that man. Heyman served Triple H with a lawsuit and started trash talking the COO, who responded the way any executive would. He grabbed Heyman’s face and squished his cheeks together, threatened to hit him but instead let go and left the ring. Point, Triple H right?
WRONG! Now Heyman is saying he plans to sue Triple H for assault and battery. Looks like we could be seeing more of Heyman after all. It makes sense to have Heyman be an extension of Brock Lesnar. That way Lesnar can stay fresh in everyones minds without actually making an appearance. I’m really just happy for the potential (although not realistic) chance at getting more of this:
The other suited figure of course is John Laurinaitis. Johnny took offense to the Big Show making fun of his voice last week (you know, because he’s the first), and he made it his personal mission to make sure Show paid for it. Even already made him apologize once for his job, which he did. Now it was Johnny’s turn. First he made Show turn on the waterworks and eventually get on his knees and beg for his job while apologizing to the GM. That of course was not enough for the power trippy Johnny Ace and Big Show got fired anyway. This was the key segment of the show and there is a very good possible reason why.
The big finish, like all finishes now when Cena is involved, turned into a big talking session between Cena and his opponent, John Laurinaitis. Johnny talked up how he can make all the changes he wanted and put the match in his favor, until everyone’s favorite hoeski, Eve, delivered a message from the board of directors. It reads that the match will be a one-on-one match, with no added stipulations, no special guest referees, and if Laurinaitis loses he will be terminated. There is one last addition to the message. If any WWE superstar interferes in the match, he or she will be fired. Isn’t it interesting that this news comes out right after the Big Show was fired? Hmmmmmmmmmm.
So here’s the rumor. The now fired Big Show will come back at Over the Limit and help Laurinaitis (legal since he isn’t a WWE employee) defeat Cena, to which Johnny will return the favor by giving Big Show his job back as Laurinaitis’ personal body guard. This makes Big Show a reluctant heel and gives Cena an excuse to lose to Johnny Ace. With that in mind I also have a weird feeling that Daniel Bryan will take the WWE Championship from CM Punk. WWE loves throwing people off who better to unseat Punk (even if it’s only for a short time) than the white hot Bryan. Could this be where the AJ storyline finally comes back into play? I guess we’ll find out Sunday.
Nothing else really happened for the rest of the show. Beth Phoenix is back and will probably win the Diva’s Championship back from Layla. Ziggler and Swagger get a tag team title shot against R-Truth and Kofi Kingston, and Kane will get the YouTube treatment as he’ll open up Over the Limit against his good buddy Zach Ryder. Let’s see if it lasts more than 30 seconds.
I honestly think we could have an all heel PPV this time around. I think we’re due and it would be a nice change of pace considering how faces seem to keep winning lately. Eventually it has to turn just to keep it interesting (I do think Sheamus retains his title though). Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch this one live as I’ll be on my way home from Toronto and I don’t think the rental car will even get basic TV so we can forget about PPV. Let me know what you think of it and I’ll be back with a Raw wrap-up Monday night.
It’s Monday night again, which means that someone you haven’t seen in a while needs to make a special appearance on Raw. This time it wasn’t a wrestler, it was ECW founder and super hype machine Paul Heyman who came back, representing his boy Brock Lesnar. Since Lesnar went off the handle last week and brock his boss’s (Triple H) arm, all the circles speculated that Lesnar would be “fired” for his actions. I assumed that instead Brock would not only remain hired, but would also get his demands met since Triple H was out of commission and John Laurinaitis, who agreed to the demands in the first place, was still around. However Heyman threw us all for a loop when he announced that Lesnar had quit the WWE, due to the way he had been treated by WWE brass and whatever the hell else he was saying. All that matters is Brock quit, and no one can cut a promo quite like Paul Heyman.
Of course Lesnar hasn’t really quit. He’s signed to a lucrative contract that expires after WrestleMania 29. He just “quit” until his next appearance, which are limited based on his deal. Odds are that he will come back at the same time Triple H comes back from his broken arm, so the two can meet. This would most likely be at SummerSlam, and I’ll take a wild guess that after that the only other times you see him in a match are at Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania. This is simply based on the idea that he has a limited number of appearances, and WWE would likely use those for their biggest events and leading up to ‘Mania.
The other piece of news that came out of Raw was the announcement of a Fatal 4-Way match for the World Heavyweight Championship putting current champ Sheamus against Alberto Del Rio (which we knew), Randy Orton (alright) and Chris Jericho (wait, what?). Apparently after losing to Punk twice and failing to secure another rematch last week, Jericho seems to have completely forgotten about Punk and has now moved on to wanting this belt instead. I know I wanted that feud put on hiatus for a while but wasn’t there a better way to do it? Couldn’t he have blamed not winning the beat the clock challenge on someone and then get into a feud with him? Here we just had Jericho thrown into a tag match with Del Rio against Sheamus and Orton, where Sheamus accidentally Brogue-Kicked Orton, paving the way for Jericho to pin Sheamus, leading Jericho to now believe he should be champion. This now makes four straight PPV title shots for Jericho, who has barely won a match since returning. At some point he has to beat someone just to justify him being here. Of course now Orton wants revenge on Sheamus too since “accidents don’t happen in the ring” (just ask The Rockers).
CM Punk got his beef with Laurinaitis going again, ridiculing the GM to the point that Johnny Ace put Punk in a handicap match against Daniel Bryan and Lord “I swear I’m not Prince Albert” Tensai. By Punk’s standards it was a pretty ordinary segment, and the more I think about it, face Punk has been pretty lame the last couple months (outside the ring of course, inside he can still do no wrong). Although I suppose it’s hard to have a good shoot when you’re the WWE Champion that main events PPV’s and is getting everything he wants. Most of the good rants are from disgruntled employees usually on the way out anyway (much like Punk thought he was before MITB).
Naturally Punk lost and Bryan grabbed some more momentum heading into Over the Limit, but the real story to me is the Laurinaitis angle. His feud with Punk had been put aside for Cena, but now that Laurinaitis is set to face Cena in two weeks, the Punk feud is heating up again? He’s also making an enemy out of Sheamus, while Eve (his assistant) is starting things up with Big Show (who beat Cody Rhodes via count out so no IC title and no more rematch clause). Isn’t that a lot of heat from a lot of different directions? I mostly think it’s a sign that there aren’t enough good heels (and the ones they do have get cheered like Jericho and Bryan), and they need someone to keep all these faces on the right side of the crowd. That’s all fine, but it means that we now need to have Laurintis and/or Eve on screen for most of the show since they are involved in everyone’s storylines.
Makes sense for getting Cena cheers and even for Sheamus since Del Rio isn’t exactly bueno on the mic. But do we really need Johnny to promote Punk vs Bryan? Both of them are so good on the mic and get such a good pop from the crowd. They should be able to psych people up on their own. I thought the same of Punk vs Jericho too but that had the whole drinking angle. No accounting for taste I guess. The one thing this does for me however is create the possibility of Laurinaitis or Eve getting involved in any and all matches. Don’t be surprised if we have a mostly heel-driven Over the Limit.
As for the rest of Raw, Beth Phoenix will challenge Layla for the Diva’s Championship at Over the Limit, The Miz came really close to beating Brodus Clay, Dolph Ziggler took out Kofi Kingston (with some aid from Swagger of course), Mason Ryan seems to be coming back, and finally this happened somehow at the Mayweather/Cotto fight:
For once, it seems that the WWE is listening to its fanbase. Much to the delight of pretty much everyone, Daniel Bryan will square off against CM Punk for the WWE Heavyweight Championship at Over the Limit on May 20th.
To earn the right to be the number one contender there was a beat the clock challenge, in which whoever won their match in the shortest time got to face Punk. Not a bad gimmick as long as everyone knows how much time is left. Of course the ref for Jericho/Big Show took too long to count out Show, but declared that Jericho had beaten the previous time anyway. All that was corrected over the break, and I’m sure the ref got reamed out backstage. Either way the whole thing worked well enough, as Bryan came out to face…Jerry Lawler. Yup, somehow the King got a shot to be the number one contender. I get that for the Royal Rumble it’s fun to throw some random people for entertainment, but couldn’t they have put someone on the actual roster against Bryan instead? He couldn’t have beaten Alex Riley quickly? Just makes me wonder what it takes to get a title shot in the WWE. You know, if wrestling was real.
Regardless of how it happened, the match said I could happen yesterday, will happen and I couldn’t be happier. We were teased twice with Punk/Bryan matches and both were outstanding aside from the non-finish. For the first time in who knows how long, the best two actual wrestlers on the roster will actually compete against each for the title. If done right, this could be Savage/Steamboat good. The previous two times they met, Bryan was just starting to turn heel and the two of them had a whole Ring of Honor respect thing going. Now that Bryan is full on heel I’m curious how it will play out. Punk applauded Bryan at the end of the match so maybe it will be all about wrestling. Can’t hype that for three weeks though so I doubt it. The Masked Man brought up the point that if this PPV doesn’t sell, you can bet these two will be blamed. If that’s the case, we better shell out the dough or we won’t see anything like this again for a while.
Instead we’ll get more of the other match that is announced for Over the Limit. It turns out John Cena’s whole “I’ll be gone for while” speech meant he just wouldn’t come out until the end of tonight’s Raw. No tears, no breaks, just a strained arm. Whatever. So now Cena needs an opponent and that man will be…John Laurinaitis? Yup, Johnny Ace is in full Vince McMahon mode, and will strap on the boots against John Cena. It seems that with no more legends to face for a little while it has been decided that they will keep Cena from being booed by having him face the current superheel, in what I’m guessing will be the worst match since Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon. To make it seem like Johnny has a chance, he brought Lord Tensai out and led an all out S&M session on Cena’s injured arm. Even Michael Cole thought it was too much, and when Michael Cole turns against a heel, you know you’re doing something crazy.
Following that same trend, let’s not forget about Brock Lesnar. Triple H came out (suited up) for the first time since WrestleMania to essentially say everything Laurinaitis agreed to give him the week before was not going to happen. Repetitive messages aside, Lesnar proceeded to attack Triple H and break his arm with a kimura, which I guess is now the new ankle lock in terms of damage. So now Triple H has a reason to not be around until the PPV of his choosing, and when he comes back (Summerslam?) you can bet he’ll have a big feud and match with Lesnar waiting for him. If that’s the case then I’m down.
Lesnar is assumed to be fired for attacking the COO, which of course would be the case if this were an actual company with a worthwhile employee handbook. But this is the WWE and Laurinaitis is an over the top heel so Lesnar will be back next week, or whenever he feels like it, to face somebody. I’m going to throw out Randy Orton just because he’s on the cover of the posters and he’s due for something bigger than Kane or Wade Barrett.
Also Kofi and Truth won the tag titles. So I guess they need to pick up matching outfits. And the Bella Twins were fired by Eve in an online exclusive video. From Diva’s champ to goat and fired off-air in just over 24 hours. So long ladies.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was not that pumped for Extreme Rules. I saw all the rematches and yearned for something new. I saw all the hardcore matches as further distraction from real wrestling. I thought Cena/Lesnar was interesting but would be more of the same we’ve seen from both. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Instead of simply following in WrestleMania 28’s footsteps, Extreme Rules took last month’s PPV and turned it up to eleven, delivering with drama, extreme action and in-ring action alike.
First let’s get to the main event and what everyone will be talking about tomorrow. To put it bluntly, Brock Lesnar beat the crap out of John Cena for roughly 20 minutes. After getting busted open by Lesnar a few weeks ago on Raw, Brock pulled the same routine about a minute into the match, elbowing Cena in the back of the head and making him a bloody mess for the entire match, which had to be stopped twice to superglue Cena’s head together (not exaggerating). The rest of the match was Lesnar dominating as much as I’ve ever seen anyone dominate before. If you thought Tensai and Clay could throw people around, then you haven’t seen Lesnar. It was also a nice touch that Brock wore his MMA gear (allowed through his contract, very rare), and it can’t be talked about enough how much of a monster he is. Anyway he pummeled Cena to the point where the crowd started pulling for Cena (not easy to do) who finally hit Lesnar with a fist full of chains and an AA on the steel steps to secure the win. Hip hip hooray, Cena’s off the snide.
But the real story is what happened after the match. Cena’s right arm was noticeably dangling from his shoulder by the end, which he even acknowledged when he addressed the crowd. He then started talking about how he’ll probably get fired (on camera) for what he’s going to say, but mentioned how all of the good guys and bad guys sacrificed their bodies at Extreme Rules, and thanked Chicago for being such a great wrestling city (he actually said wrestling!). He also said (off and on mic) that he’ll probably be leaving for a while, citing both his injury and that Laurinaitis would kick him out (for what I still don’t know). Then as Cena walked up the ramp he was again heard off camera telling a fan about his arm, saying something like “it just feels like it’s hanging there.”
How much of this is legit or not I can’t say. He definitely looked hurt but he’s in the business of selling injuries so who knows what you can take from that. It is pretty rare for a post match mic session to be put on air (which again can go either way) and he sounded fairly genuine. It’s also possible that he is just in line for some scheduled time off and what better way to send him off than with a “severe” injury in a big win. Works for Triple H and the Undertaker. If it’s planned out (which I tend to think it is) then I think they wanted Cena to make his leave with as much positive reaction as possible, so that whenever he does come back in isn’t to as many boos. I also think they are enjoying having Punk as champion so much that they want to keep him their, and don’t know how to transition Cena back into the title picture yet (which eventually he has to). Either way Cena is still the biggest draw, so for their sake I hope he comes back as soon as possible (unless it’s a work, which in that case screw him).
On to the rest of the card. Jericho and Punk had me really worried that having a Chicago Street Fight would take away all of the wrestling they were known for. I wasn’t put at ease when they both came out in jeans instead of traditional wrestling gear. What we got however might have been the best combination of both. It started slow and expectedly weapon filled, but by the middle of the match there was a great combination of technical wrestling mixed in with weapons. The Anaconda Vice countered with a kendo stick. Code breakers with chairs were hit. My favorite spot had Punk crawling to the ropes while in the Walls of Jericho, only it didn’t mean anything because of the street fight rules. That lead to Punk reaching down toward the arena floor to grab and use a fire extinguisher on Jericho to break the hold. The key to the whole thing was the stipulation that the pin or submission had to be in the ring. That kept things from going backstage which is the least entertaining thing possible, and kept these guys where they do their best work. After more taunting from Jericho (tacked on but he finally has full heel status for it), Y2J went to finish Punk with a GTS, which Punk reversed and delivered a GTS of his own to retain the title.
So now Jericho has lost to Punk in two PPV’s, once by submission and once by pinfall, both clean. Where can Jericho go from here? The rumor is that Jericho will be gone before Summerslam, which is four months away, to go on tour with Fozzy. That means he could leave now or three months from now, and if Cena’s gone I’m not sure what else he can do besides keep feuding with Punk, who’s he’s now lost to twice already. Punk meanwhile has been champion for six months and is running out of opponents. Does Lord Tensai get a push? Jericho/Punk part 3? It’s possible Lesnar get’s the next shot would make for some good old fashioned MMA style fighting. I could also see Daniel Bryan switching to Raw and gunning for Punk now that he’s lost to Sheamus.
Speaking of which, what a great match Bryan and Sheamus had. It had everything you want in a great match. The crowd had been waiting four weeks for this one and they were ready for it. Electric stuff. It’s always special when a heel becomes so popular that the face gets booed, and that’s what happened here. Then the storyline they told worked really well. After a hard fought back and forth battle that would have been a great TV main event any other day, Bryan then attacked Sheamus’ shoulder in the corner so brutally that he purposefully got disqualified for the first of 3 falls, only to immediately administer the Yes Lock to get take the second and tie it up. Sheamus, who was very impressive, managed to secure the win with a couple of brogue kicks, but the star of the show was still Bryan. For the first time since I started watching him, he had everything clicking in a big spot. He was a smaller heel being treated as a face, making a giant beast of a face look like the underdog by the end of the match. Loved it.
Now that the WWE seems committed to Sheamus as a champion all signs point to him meeting Alberto Del Rio at Over the Limit in May. Bryan on the other hand has no direct path. One thing that surprised me about the match was that AJ was nowhere to be seen. Probably for the better, but I’m sure she’ll pop up later this week.
Other notes from Extreme Rules:
Cody Rhodes beat the Big Show in a table match on a technicality, as Rhodes pushed Show slightly off the edge of the ring, having his foot (and just his foot) break through the table, and costing him the Intercontinental title. Show dominated the whole match, including throwing Rhodes through two tables post match, so this feud seems to have another chapter or two left.
Randy Orton opened the show by defeating Kane in a match that would have bored me completely had it been after any of the other matches mentioned above. They had some decent spots, but too much throwing people into objects outside the ring, which we all know by now that I hate. Let’s give it up to a random Zach Ryder appearance though.
Brodus Clay’s feud with Vicki Guerrero took another turn when he had an actual back and forth match against Dolph Ziggler. Clay won of course but Ziggler put up a good fight and we got to see Clay fight back a little. It’s taking a while, but we’re starting to see what this guy is actually made of. Decent job.
On the YouTube pre show, Santino retained his US Championship against the Miz who seems to be dropping further and further down the depth chart.
Ryback was correctly labeled as Goldberg by the crowd, defeating two hilariously awesome local wrestlers.
As for the ladies, Layla came back to beat the Bella’s for the Diva’s title. Kharma’s name now gets tossed around like a an urban legend, and Beth Phoenix will be out for a while with her leg “injury.”
Oh yeah, Michael Cole called out Booker T for saying he knew Sheamus was tired by looking at all his sweat, and said that if Booker’s fighting was anything like his announcing, he’d do fine in a fight against him.
Overall I’d say it was a pretty successful pay-per-view. Very few dead spots and the time killing was kept to a minimum. We also saw plenty of blood (the best way to get Cena on the crowd’s side) and plenty of regular wrestling too. Did I miss anything you noticed? If so, leave a comment below.
-Update: I just realized the pics are in black and white so you can’t see the blood! Oh WWE, you are sooooooooo slick.