RAW Review 4-2-12, a.k.a. “And So It Begins…”
“The Monday after WrestleMania has always been interesting to me…”
Those semi-prophetic words were typed by yours truly yesterday. I say that they’re semi-prophetic because the original statement was based on WrestleMania XVIII, the subject matter of the actual piece. What wasn’t made crystal clear was another belief that I subscribe wholeheartedly to.
WrestleMania usually serves as the end of a year’s worth of story lines and the beginning of an entire new set of characters, stories, and dramatic in-ring action. The Monday following the pay per view, therefore, becomes the unofficial beginning of a new season of angles and action packed drama.
Yesterday’s episode of RAW did more than enough to give my crackpot theory some legs. So much happened on the show, as a matter of fact, that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where to begin. It’s also hard to figure out where to begin when both the Rt. Rev. Showtime and DiZ beat me to the punch with their stellar pieces…the bastards.
So let’s cut the crap and get down to the nitty gritty that impressed me thoroughly with last night’s offering of Monday Night RAW.
- Miami, Florida Receives the Best Live Crowd Ever Award
- Brodus Clay Gets An Actual Story Line, BLEE!
- Like, 8 Different People Debuted/Returned Last Night, Mega BLEE!
- The WWE Owes Mr. Morris Back Payment in Consultant Fees (i.e. Poor Cena)
- Daniel Bryan: #WINNING!
I’m not sure if you noticed or not but last night’s crowd in Miami was absolutely electric! It was very appropriate that the show began with a brief promo from The Rock, who pawned the Canadian Football League and a whistling weirdo in the audience in one breath. From then on, the crowd popped and chanted for any and everything under the sun, it was amazing.
Fans watching at home take for granted the importance of the audience. Unlike some wrestling promotions that view their live fans as “cast members,” the people attending a live event want to be entertained and will voice their opinions if the show is engaging enough.
At that point an event almost turns into an ideal church service, where the gathered people are actively participating in what they witness just as much as the men and women that are in the forefront of the action. These fans are engaged, and that’s the energy the superstars feed off of.
Miami fans last night chanted and popped and booed for everything. They chanted “YES!” for their support of Daniel Bryan (I’ll get into that later) and chanted “¡Si!” when Alberto Del Rio returned (I’ll get into that later, too). They chanted “JHC!” when The Rock said “Jesus H. Christ” (we can’t say Christ on the air anymore?). They even chanted for most of the new faces of RAW (I’ll get to that next).
While some believe that chanting random things does not make for an electric crowd, it cannot be denied that these fans were having fun and it showed. I’d take random chants from a crowd over dead silence any day of the week (see: Orlando fans).
Earlier in the night, General Manager Extraordinaire Johnny Ace booked a Triple Threat match between Santino Marella, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger for the United States Championship. The match was decent enough, but the post-match beat down is where business began to pick up.
As it turns out, “The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay came to the aid of Santino when it appeared ZiggleSwag (© 2012, Mr. Ashley Morris, All Rights Reserved) planned to leave our current U.S. Champion black, blue, and red all over. This unholy alliance between Santino and Brodus got a huge reaction from the crowd.
It was only a matter of time before Brodus received a story line and it’s actually more interesting than one would think. Prior to debuting on WWE television, Brodus wreaked havoc in Florida Championship Wrestling as a “suplex machine.”
When you consider the athletic prowess of Jack Swagger against the monstrous power of Brodus Clay, it’s almost a naughty dream to imagine the type of matches they could put on. That remains to be seen but I look at the situation from the glass-half-full perspective. I expect nothing but good stuff from these four men.
Speaking of men, a slew of new superstars made quite the impact last night on the show. It’s always awesome to see new faces on a brand, particularly the faces of people who haven’t wrestled in a while or for a brand at all. These new bodies bring new energy and life to the story lines and creative direction of the show, and I can’t wait to see what happens with these characters next.
Lord Tensai (Matt Bloom, a.k.a. Prince Albert/A-Train) had the most impressive debut last night with his quick victory over his opponent. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Alex Riley made his return to the RAW last night…as Lord Tensai’s opponent; so much for that comeback.
Abraham Washington returned to our television sets last night as well and looks to be a manager of sorts for Mark Henry. A few fans on Twitter last night were moaning about missing WWE Legend Tony Atlas as Henry’s manager. It seems that they forgot, however, that Tony Atlas became popular with fans as Abraham Washington’s co-host, not as Mark Henry’s manager.
At any rate Washington definitely has the gift of gab and a physique reminiscent of The Rock. I think this move is good for him, especially seeing as he’s avoided the dreaded “future endeavored” club for two years.
Alberto Del Rio and his man servant Ricardo Rodriguez made their triumphant returns to WWE television amidst the boisterous cheers from the Miami crowd. It was incredible to cheer for him during the show and to see other fans do the same seeing as he’s universally panned by…well, most fans; as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
I loved Del Rio’s return to RAW, but I was bothered by two things: his inability to connect with and feed off of the crowd and Sheamus’ return to the WWE Universe’s bad side.
Be it far from me to judge Del Rio’s work ethic as a performer, but one could easily see his weaknesses last night during his exchange with the World Heavyweight Champion. The crowd was ripe for the picking and he virtually ignored them, something a great heel OR face would have never done.
The fans continued to chant during his conversation with Sheamus, and as the heel of the angle Del Rio should have at least paused to tell them to shut up or something; that never happened. He glanced at them and continued through his spiel as if his contract depended on him finishing his sentences to a tee.
Now I understand why fans say that Del Rio can’t connect with them; going forward we can only hope and pray that someone is mentoring him on how to work the crowd with his words and his actions. It’s the little things like that which could propel Del Rio to the top if he’s really trying to climb that ladder.
The other half of my problem is Sheamus’ quick regression back to the s**t list of WWE fans. Sheamus was berated by fans at the beginning of his stint in the WWE for his nitrous-fueled rise to the top. Someone in the WWE had to realize that shoving him down the throats of fans wasn’t working, so they pulled the reigns and slowed down his momentum just a tad.
In that time Sheamus was gradually built up into the face the WWE needed him to be, and his path to the World Heavyweight Championship was pretty docile and agreeable. Even his 19.3 18 second victory over Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XVIII seemed to give him a good amount of support from the fans.
That dream turned into a nightmare rather quickly; Sheamus was booed when he came out, booed while he talked, and booed when he delivered the Brogue Kick to the much disliked Del Rio.
I don’t know exactly why fans don’t care for Sheamus; be it his bromance with Paul Levesque or his Cena-like stature, there is something that is keeping Sheamus from really getting over with the fans. We’ll just have to keep watching for more development on this story and these characters.
The biggest most bad ass return last night belonged to Brock “Here Comes the Pain” Lesnar, who slid into the ring and delivered a crushing F5 to John Cena.
It’s time to be honesty, folks; the two wrestlers that irk my nerves are Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley. I tend to talk unfavorably about them for the same reason CeNation members dislike The Rock.
These two men were both “recruited” by the WWE to be standard bearers for the company, and turned down their prominent places to venture out into other forms of expressing their alpha-maleness. Since joining various MMA ranks, neither star looked back at pro wrestling unless it was financially beneficial to them.
That left a bad taste in my mouth towards both stars simply because they were being primed to lead the company and dropped it like a bad habit for whatever reason. At least Lesnar had the respect to totally ignore pro wrestling; Lashley and his half-hearted and lackluster stint in TNA was insulting.
All of that dislike quietly disappeared last night when Lesnar’s music hit; yeah, how very hypocritical of me.
Believe it or not Lesnar’s return is more exciting because of the ramifications it has for the development of John Cena’s character.
I love the Story Editor feature in the WWE video games. For the last three years I’ve always pitted The Rock against John Cena in the story lines for Smackdown. Each year The Rock attempts to break John Cena by throwing everything he can at him; one year I even had Vince McMahon try it.
My vision for WWE ’12 was to continue that same trend but also use Brock Lesnar in the story line. Lo’ and behold, he appears on our television screens last night and my fabricated story line sees the light of day around the world. If we get Zombie Eddie Guerrero next week then I’ll know for a fact the WWE has our game consoles tapped.
As I stated in my last piece, Cena’s loss to The Rock at WrestleMania XVIII was necessary for Cena’s development. The man has practically defeated everyone on the roster, so what else is there for him to accomplish or do? Lesnar represents another challenge for Cena to rise above. His loss to The Rock due mostly to his cockiness dealt a crippling blow to his seemingly invincible character.
Think about The Mummy staring Brendan Fraser; towards the end of the movie, the Jonathan Carnahan character reads aloud an ancient Sanskrit text from the Book of Amun-Ra. The incantation makes the Mummy mortal, allowing for Fraser’s character to “kill” him at the climax of the action.
The Rock was the incantation to John Cena’s “Mummy.” The man that has managed to survive everything thrown at him in 10 years has now been weakened. Enter Brock Lesnar for the eventual kill.
I personally don’t look for the Cena character to turn heel, but he will need some level of edginess and some maturity in order to outlast Lesnar’s onslaught. The irony of it all is this: NOW I want to see how our hero, John Cena, manages to escape this perilous situation.
Congratulations, WWE; you’ve snookered us all again.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the tremendous amount of love Daniel Bryan received from the Miami crowd last night. It appears that “Yes!” has replaced (at least temporarily) the despised “What!” chants.
Who would’ve ever guessed that Daniel Bryan, even as a heel, would be as popular as he is now?
So many detractors assumed that he’d be buried by McMahon because he wasn’t a “WWE original.” So many disenfranchised fans figured that he’d be a watered down shell of the man that ripped the independent wrestling scene to shreds. Tons of people “knew for a fact” that Bryan was being buried after losing Sunday night to Sheamus.
Look at where we are today; fans chanted for Bryan in one way or another during the entire RAW broadcast. That’s a RIDICULOUS amount of power for Daniel Bryan to have, and the WWE has to be reviling in all of it.
It’s anybody’s guess as to how far Bryan will go in the WWE, but at this moment in time it looks like he’s on the right path to superstardom. It’s amazing that so much has come together for him in the perfect storm of events. Say what you will, but the man has officially carved out his spot in the WWE and is slowly building his legacy. I’m all in on riding that wave of emotion.
But those are just my thoughts on the show…what are yours?