This review will not be the typical Mr. Morris review you may have grown accustomed to reading. For starters this piece is being crafted with a little under forty-five minutes left in the show. There also won’t be many pictures from the evening, as the WWE has more than likely not published them prior to the show actually ending.
Much like last week a lot of “significant” things have happened on tonight’s episode of RAW, but those things were largely overshadowed by the not-New-Jersey crowd in Greenville, South Carolina and the annual creative reset that happens after WrestleMania.
Before launching into those two spiels, it must be noted that most of the champions that wrestled tonight—with the exception of the Tag Team Champions Team Hell No—all lost their matches. While the Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett and World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler suffered non-title defeats to their opponents (R-Truth and Jack Swagger respectively), former United States Champion Antonio Cesaro fell victim to Kofi Kingston’s patented Trouble in Paradise finishing maneuver, giving the Ghanaian athlete the victory and the United States Championship.
As of this point right now (10:25 PM EST), John Cena has yet to appear in the ring with his WWE Title. He did make one appearance in a backstage segment with Matt Stryker, which received no reaction whatsoever from the audience in Greenville…interesting…
This brings us back to one of the aforementioned points; my fellow L.E.W.D. writer Mr. Lamb spoke at length about the necessity of filler. Apparently the same applies for the types of crowds a WWE show appears before. Tonight’s crowd in Greenville, compared to the red hot crowd at the post-WrestleMania RAW in New Jersey, is close to being the one friend who nods off before everyone else at a sleepover. I wonder how much more entertaining this show could be (and could have been) if the crowd tonight had not been the exact polar opposite of last week’s crowd.
The other concerning issue is that the product is in a rebuilding phase right now, setting up entirely new and different feuds than what we were presented with specifically for WrestleMania XXIX. It’s going to take time and some exceptionally great writing to get fans behind these new stories, but the action surrounding said stories feels dry, stale and uninspired. In the same spirit of Mr. Lamb’s piece, perhaps this “phase” is a filler phase for the product, a moment for us to catch our breath before things are kicked into high gear once again.
I wouldn’t go as far as to characterize this as a “bad” RAW, because there have been worse shows than this. However tonight’s episode, while good on in-ring work, was not one of those shows that would cause me to call one of the L.E.W.D. brothers or sisters and enthusiastically scream into my cell phone about the show.
The three major things that stuck out to me in the show (now with twenty minutes remaining):
- The Absurdity of Antonio Cesaro
- The Ryback Has Feelings Too
For those fans keeping count, not only has Antonio Cesaro lost his United States Championship, but he’s also been saddled with a yodeling gimmick. I’m sure someone somewhere in the company thought this would be hilarious and get Cesaro “more over” with the fans. I won’t point fingers or name names, but instead I’ll allow this video to reveal a possible suspect:
Let’s recap the storied history of Antonio Cesaro: here we have a new WWE superstar who was a former Rugby player in Europe, but was kicked out of the sport for being too rough. At some unspecified time in his life, this same former Rugby player also learned how to yodel during his time working on a Swiss farm training St. Bernards, all of which became world renowned rescue animals in their generation under his tutelage.
Update: Nikki/Brie Bella just defeated WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn (10:49 PM EST)
I’ve got to be honest with you guys…I really wasn’t into Monday night’s episode of RAW. In fact I was so not into the episode that in order to do this review properly, I watched the show again on YouTube. I actually watched it while typing this review.
In the past few months, pro wrestling fans have flexed their critically cynical muscles by lambasting the WWE for producing subpar programming, particularly with respect to the product offered by other companies. But this is a RAW review, and we’re not here to compare oranges to crab apples; if we’re going to rake RAW over the coals, we can do it without mentioning who does what better.
My feelings from last week haven’t changed; pro wrestling/sports entertainment seems to be in a dormancy period that is in turn making everything seem boring. This is unfortunate for the WWE because there are a lot of great things going on for the company right now, most noteworthy being the revitalization of the tag team division.
But everything else is just blah to me. Fact is that if you missed this show, you could get the gist of it by watching the 40 billion RAW Rewinds that will air on the 900 hours of WWE programming airing between now and Friday.
I’m not one for ultimatums, but I can say that Monday’s RAW left me anxious for this week’s episode of NXT. Terrible thing when the flagship show makes you appreciate the show that doesn’t even air in this country.
Those feelings aside, here are three things that stuck out to me:
- Live from Oklahoma City, it’s Monday Night RAWWWWW!
- MinoriTEAMS featuring Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
- Newfound Respect: Cesaro and Sandow
I was initially amazed at the talent in the ring at the beginning of the show…and those feelings quickly dissipated once the segment reached its climax.
When conversations begin about the next generation of WWE Superstars (something I’ll hit on in a future post), it’s amazing to consider the abilities and skills of the superstars and divas surging down the pipeline. As Paul Heyman mentioned during the segment, the “here-and-now” of the WWE was gathered in the ring at once and it was a beautiful sight. To see CM Punk with Heyman, Dolph Ziggler with Vickie Guerrero, Kane and Daniel Bryan and AJ Lee all in the ring at once…it was quite the sexy sight.
It was when Daniel Bryan interrupted the segment to talk about his looks, his beard, and his reign as the tag team champions that the whole thing just got silly. What was an interesting back and forth between Team Best In the World and Team Money In the Bank turned into an opening monologue for Saturday Night Live. It depressed me.
This isn’t to say that all opening segments have to be as serious as a soteriological debate between Lance Storm and Dean Malenko, but the reality of a sports entertainment doctrine was very evident during that opening segment. I understand and agree with the idea that pro wrestling has to be entertaining, and the segment was entertaining before the introduction of shtick.
It was entertaining for me mostly because of Paul Heyman. Watching the man work a crowd and turn a phrase is like witnessing Michelangelo craft a masterpiece. His mannerisms, facial expressions, and poignant comments made the whole thing pop, and to see him verbally spar with the equally abrasive Vickie Guerrero was near perfect.
The whole purpose for AJ, Kane and Daniel Bryan was to set up the main event and that’s fine; but I just really feel like it took the entire segment in a different direction, a direction that really had to do with AJ more than it did the superstars and managers in the ring.
If that truly is the case then we can understand why (kayfabe) CM Punk feels disrespected. Even with John Cena missing from television, the show is still not about the WWE Champion. A fan can only hope a payoff to all this is coming in the near future.
WWE has done wonders to revitalize its dying tag team division. From having a single-elimination tournament to decide the number one contenders, to having the tag teammates dress alike, these minor improvements have gone a long way to show fans that WWE truly “cares” about tag team wrestling…well, at least Triple H does.
Did anyone else notice how the teams made up of minorities were facing each other in the tournament? Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara faced Epico and Primo Monday night, and on Friday The Prime Time Players will face R-Truth and Kofi Kingston on Smackdown.
That type of wrestling brings back memories…
And people said they wanted the Attitude Era back.
Occasionally there are moments in a given company where superstars will go above and beyond what is expected of them. We can only assume that these superstars have, at some point, become aware of an opportunity for career advancement. In other words, no John Cena equals prime opportunity to run with the ball.
Both Antonio Cesaro and Damien Sandow showed their asses Monday night by doing some impressive things in the ring. Cesaro’s moment arrived when he leveled the massive Brodus Clay with his finisher, The Neutralizer.
Damien Sandow’s spot in the sunshine came during his entire match with Sheamus, where he literally went toe-to-toe with the brutish son of Ireland and held his own for the majority of a very lengthy match.
I won’t sit and predict that either man will hold a major championship before the sun sets on the year, but I can say that both men performed as if they had something to prove to someone watching the show. Creatively speaking Sandow and Cesaro’s characters have been stuck in neutral for quite some time; their performances injected some much needed life into the two stock, generic characters.
For example: up until Monday Cesaro dominated his competition with relative ease. While he did not give Clay a sound thrashing, he did manage to lift the behemoth off of his feet for his finisher. Keep in mind that there are only a select few individuals that put Brodus Clay on his duff.
Meanwhile Damien Sandow shed his typically foppishly dandy demeanor to prove that he could be just as ruthless and relentless as Mankind. I still think the character is a tool, but kudos to the man and his work by showing that he can hold his own against opponents of substance.
Those are just my thoughts on the show; what do YOU think???
In this episode, we talk about Chris Jericho and his involvement with the up-and-coming Dolph Ziggler.
More is on it’s way!
We continue with the interview with Mr. Quinn Gammon by talking about CM Punk and his character shift.
More to come soon!
I decided to take a page from Da Infamous DiZ’s book, and do an audio post. I hope you like it. It might be amateur at best, but I just wanted to make some points. (Believe me, this is harder than it seems!)
Let me know what you think.
Another episode of Monday Night RAW is in the books, this one fresh off the heels of an extremely well produced and executed Pay-Per-View.
While most of us anticipated this particular showing of RAW to be off the charts as far as action, excitement, and entertainment is concerning, the actual end result was a tad bit…underwhelming. If you read my previous piece, then you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it was whelm deficient.
I’m sure many fans will disagree with that assessment for various reasons, but in my humble and 8-times-out-ot-10-right opinion, this show was just average; some pretty awesome things happened, but it was a particularly safe show and probably so on purpose.
Most of us here at L.E.W.D. learned long ago that not every show should be expected to be a five star offering; if this were to happen, then what exactly would a five star show be? So habitually a company will offer a less than stellar show in order to bring fans expectations down slightly in order to enhance the potency of the next show or event.
Think of it like this: there was a reasonwhythe Divas match yesterday was placed between the CM Punk/Chris Jericho match and the Brock Lesnar/John Cena match.
Given that WWE Over the Limit is taking place in three weeks, it’s slightly understandable why the show lacked some chutzpah; the build for the WWE’s gimmick-less Pay Per View is potentially building up for the June 17 No Way Out event. If you’ve seen the leaked poster for the Pay Per View, then you’ll too agree that tonight’s sub par showcase was a necessary evil.
With that intro out of the way, let’s look at a few of the things that made the show important:
- The Bellas get “fired;” Ash is partly wrong, and there’s a disturbance in the force.
- CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan at Over the Limit: Don’t blow your wad just yet.
- The Ace Crusher Returneth for John Cena
Leave it to the WWE to throw another wrench in the plans of this idealistic sports entertainment pseudo-analyst…
I crafted quite the post yesterday detailing, in so many words, what I thought the WWE was going to do with the departing Bella twins. My plans were whimsical and involved the missing-in-action WWE anti-Diva Kharma, the one person I was SURE would return tonight during the Bellas’ rematch to destroy the twins in one easy and swift motion.
At least I was right about the rematch…
My boss, a closet casual fan at best (which means he’ll talk about how silly pro wrestling is but will watch it with us for at least fifty minutes), made a very interesting comment after the Bellas’ blink-and-you’ll-miss-it title rematch:
Ash’s Boss -”Clearly there’s something more to the story than this…”
Ironically enough this singular thought from a semi-casual fan would serve as the theme for most of the show. While we’ve yet to see even the slightest clue as to how Kharma will re-debut for the company, the Bellas’ weird departure has to be intertwined with a story line somehow, someway.
Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks were “fired” in a similar fashion and they’ve received little corporate fanfare, noticeably missing the infamous “Best in all your future endeavors” WWE.com announcement that follows a release. Only the WWE knows where they’re going with this, so we’ll just have to wait and see…
In a move that shocked all of three fans in the WWE Universe, Daniel Bryan defeated Jerry Lawler in the Beat the Clock Challenge to become the #1 Contender for CM Punk’s WWE Title. Suffice it to say that hundreds of thousands of WWE fans climaxed at this turn of events.
While this is great news for any fan of Punk and Bryan’s work together, this upcoming match is also something that we’ll have to watch unfold. I’m not so sure we should get our hopes up so soon and mess ourselves over the anticipation of the match as opposed to the execution of the resulting story line and actual match.
CM Punk’s reign thus far can be summarized as five months of wrestling excellence. He’s actually wrestled everyone he’s had to defend his belt against; if we’re being honest with ourselves, Punk is actually one of the few “wrestling champions” out there.
But that’s about it; besides having a very strong showing during the street fight against Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules, Punk is still fighting for the one match/feud that will catapult him into super stardom. He’s hungry for the match that will make his reign more important than John Cena.
With three weeks to go until the Over the Limit Pay Per View, there isn’t enough time for the WWE to craft such a feud between Punk and Bryan. Sure it’s a great thing that we’ll get another classic wrestling match between two professional wrestlers that is guaranteed to get money, but it’s only going to play second fiddle to John Cena’s match against Johnny Ace.
This match is the answer to most fans’ prayers, but it is not and will not be Punk or Bryan’s defining WWE moment; that is still to come and we shouldn’t spooge our shorts until we get a better feel for how they’re going to build up to this match. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…
Everyone was positive last night that Lord Tensai would be named as John Cena’s opponent at the Over the Limit Pay Per View. I shuddered in my seat at the thought of that match mostly because…well…to me it just didn’t make sense.
But before we get to that point, we must recall that everyone was positive Sunday night that John Cena would be taking some much needed time off. Cena’s cryptic speech at the conclusion of the Pay Per View, plus this tidbit from WWE.com had us all assuming that the Champ was going to gracefully bow out for awhile to heal himself.
Leave it to Mr. Invincible to do right by the fans and risk injuring himself even further for the business that he loves. After defeating Brock Lesnar and summarily embarrassing the People Powered EVP of Talent Relations and the GM of both RAW and Smackdown,Cena had to return last night to reclaim his spot as the face of the company.
Earlier in the night, Johnny Ace attempted to redeem Brock Lesnar by bringing him out for whatever reason. Lesnar’s mic time was spent explaining that his “loss” was really a “victory” seeing as all he intended to do was “bring the pain.” And that is exactly what happened.
At that point, WWE COO Triple H entered the arena and attempted to put a leash on Ace’s monster…
Needless to say that didn’t work out well for the COO, who received a broken arm via the Kimora Lock from Lesnar. Is it just me or does Triple H get beat up each time he comes out and tries to assert his authority as the COO?
Laurinaitis then paints a picture for Cena, a pretty Crayola-drawn portrait of what he envisioned as the way to bring the best out of the superstar. Cena and much of the audience in attendence hated Laurinaitis’ picture but, in a gesture of good will, promised to place in on the refrigerator for everyone to see.
Lord Tensai creeps into the picture and is teased as Cena’s upcoming opponent in one month. As Cena hulked up and prepared for a two-on-one assault, Johnny Ace attacks him from behind and names himself as Cena’s challenger at the Pay Per View.
This interesting turn of events left me feeling enthused and confused at the same time; I was conthused…
While terribly happy that Lord Tensai would be far away from a Pay Per View match against Cena, I was bewildered at the progression of Cena’s story line in the form of one John Laurinaitis. A parking lot conversation with DiZ cleared up a lot of that confusion, but also left me wanting more.
I guess that’s the purpose of a decent show, to leave fans eagerly anticipating the next show by giving them a cliff-hanging ending that reels them deeper into the story. But a match between these two Johns, both of whom tend to excel in providing moments of blandness, kind of reminds me of the match between Vince McMahon and Bret Hart. Who is going to carry who in this match?
Those thoughts aside, the development has intrigued me and much like the rest of the show, we’ll just have to…wait and see…
In the end, those are just my thoughts; the real question is, what do YOU think???
“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?
I’m not sure how YOU felt about Sunday night’s Royal Rumble, but I knew well in advance that something was up when I became more interested in seeing the post-Rumble RAW than I was in watching the Silver Anniversary pay per view spectacle that featured the classic 30 man over-the-top-rope brawl.
And boy was I on the money…
Believe it or not, those thoughts made me more on the money than I usually am (for those of you that know my most notorious pseudonym, the pun was intended).
For example: my good friend DJ Rallo asked me to participate in a roundtable discussion prior to the Rumble for his site, The Sharp Shooter Press (shameless plug). The very first question asked who we felt was the most likely person to win the Rumble. Here, in brief, was my response…
The Royal Rumble is such a HUGE match that I typically never take guesses at who’s the odds on favorite to win, especially seeing as there’s a 1 out of 30 chance that I’ll be “right” and rarely do people ever like to be “wrong.” However in this instance (seeing I was asked), I’ll say that I feel Sheamus has a good chance of being this year’s winner.
But of course that is vastly different from what I said about a week ago in my Talking Points piece about the importance of the Rumble:
Not only that, but this year’s rumble is taking place in Randy Orton’s hometown of St. Louis, MI. Add to that the fact that he’s been out with an “injury,” and all signs seemingly point to [Orton] sliding in later in the match and pulling it off.
For the record, I called the Sheamus thing long ago and that makes me a winner. Wanna fight about it?
All that speculative talk aside, Sheamus is indeed the 2012 Royal Rumble winner and will move forward to face the champion of his choosing at WrestleMania 28 in Miami, Florida. More important is the fact that the Rumble is the beginning of the “Road to WrestleMania,” and while the actual pay per view was mediocre or miss depending on who you’re talking to, last night’s RAW provided the surge of energy needed to make this annual road trip seem like a big effing deal.
Not only did last night’s RAW feature good in-ring wrestling, but also gave fans several reasons to hope and believe that this year’s “Grandaddy of them all” will be far better than that thing they did a year ago in Atlanta…
So as usual, here are the few points that I picked up on and felt were the most important things during the show:
- CM Punk + Daniel Bryan + Chris Jericho = Change of Shorts
- I CALLED THE UNDERTAKER THING…after I realized what was happening
- Triple H is the new…Hulk…Hogan…? ::confused face::
- Dear Kharma: Please Save Us. XOXO, Ash (smiley face)
- Did ANYONE see Epico get eliminated from the Rumble???
When it was announced at the top of the show that CM Punk would be facing Daniel Bryan in a Champion vs. Champion match, my Twitter time line exploded with fans having markgasms about the match; I’m not ashamed to admit I was in that group as well.
Most were worried that the match wouldn’t be given an adequate amount of time, and surprisingly enough it was. Most complained that the match wasn’t the main event, but as indy wrestler Joey Image pointed out, the ever so important second hour of the show (which is just as important as the overrun, but more on that later) featured these two wrestlers going at it.
After that, the only thing some fans had to complain about was the fact that no one referenced the Code of Honor handshake before the match began; William H. Macy, can you guys puhleeeze grow up?
In any case, the bout when well over the average five to seven minute mark, but the ending is what really sold the story line. Daniel Bryan gains the victory via DQ when Chris Jericho runs out, tosses him into the fan barricade, then proceeds to deliver the Codebreaker to CM Punk. Methinks Mr. Quinn Gammon was right.
And we should’ve known this was coming from the start of the episode. CM Punk literally said “Best In the World” at least one time every time he was in whispering distance of a microphone. It’s so beautiful how all of this is starting to come together; think about it:
- CM Punk is the “Best In the World”;
- The “It Begins” viral videos promised us that the “world” as we knew it was coming to an end.
- Chris Jericho returns, will make sure as the “world” that CM Punk is the “best in” will come to an end…
- 2 + 2 = 4
Keep in mind that Laurinaitis’ job is still on the fence, and we may see a new GM come into play sometime soon seeing as Triple H is attempting to not allow his personal business to interfere with his work. Is it possible that the infamous “she” could be a returning Stephanie McMahon Helmsley?
Speaking of Triple H, his epic silent stare down with The Undertaker once again left us salivating at our television screens. I wasn’t thrilled about the third installment of Trips and Taker, nor was I pleased with the thought of the possibility of Trips defeating Taker this year.
What made my night was the conversation I had with DiZ before Trips walked up the ramp, paused, and disappeared behind the curtain. For the first time I can remember, The Undertaker was the aggressor in his usual WrestleMania match.
What I’m saying is that usually the WWE superstars come gunning after Taker in order to end the famous streak. Last night, however, Taker entered the ring and issued the challenge to Triple H with his signature throat slash. I’m very positive it has happened before, but can you remember the last time Taker challenged someone for WrestleMania?
From that perspective it was easy to see that Trips wasn’t going to accept Taker’s challenge. The man just spent ten minutes explaining to Johnny Ace how the GM position corrupts good people because they allow personal vendettas to cloud their decision making abilities. Why on earth would this new, reformed Triple H accept any kind of challenge given to him by Taker or any other wrestler in the company?
This puts a different spin on Taker’s classic match at WrestleMania. As I put it to DiZ last night, it’s one thing to kick over an anthill and leave yourself vulnerable to ant bites; it’s a completely different thing to open kitchen cabinet to find ants swarming around an open box of Oreo cookies.
The Undertaker has spent most of the streak defending it, but for him to bring the streak to the table himself gives his opponent an advantage that superstars prior never had. Trips took Taker to the limit last year, leaving the Deadman to be carried out by refs and medical assistants. Taker this year has something to prove, the desire to show that he’s stronger than ever and that he’s willing to put the streak on the line to boot.
But pride always comes before the fall, and if Taker attacks Trips with that same fury and wrath, he could easily make one mistake in the heat of the moment, allowing Trips to capitalize and be the first (and perhaps ONLY) superstar to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Interestingly enough, the last time we saw Triple H was at December’s TLC pay per view. You remember his match, the slow motion one against Kevin Nash? I just found it interesting that after disappearing for a month he shows back up to one of the better show’s RAW has had in 2012 and 2011. Even the promos for the show were slightly built around his return to RAW.
Seemed a bit Hogan-like to me, brother. But again, maybe I’m analyzing it a little too deeply. It is a little suspect, though; if Trips accepts the challenge, he’ll be the first man in history to face The Undertaker 3 times at WrestleMania, and he just may be the first and only man to beat him. Hulk Hogan was/is notorious for pulling similar stunts for his own benefit, and Trips is one of the better backstage politicians in sports entertainment today.
I’m just saying…if it happens, you heard it here first from Mr. Ashley Morris.
The ten second Diva match between Beth Phoenix and Eve for the Divas Championship was atrocious even by Divas match standards. Many of the folks in my Twitter time line expected Kharma to return to TV and tan Phoenix’s fanny. Alas that didn’t happen and we were subject to another week of foolishness.
Call me a Diva Division Apologist, but I get why the WWE chooses to parade models around the ring instead of actual women wrestlers. I get it, I understand it, and really don’t agree with it. The thing that irks me is that these women can be used to do what they’re doing now in ways that aren’t as disrespectful as what we’re witnessing now.
My question is this: who in sweet cream on an ice cream sandwich is responsible for the Divas’ training and booking? When Fit Finlay was doing it, this type of s**t wouldn’t go down; too bad they fired Finlay.
I read somewhere in passing (no link provided) that Kharma gave birth to her baby on December 31. If this is true, congratulations to her and her growing family! If she decides to return to pro wrestling, particularly to the WWE, I pray to the wrestling gods (JBL and Ric Flair) that they look favorably upon us and allow her to beat the holy heck back into this dying division. For the love of Verne Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, and all 17 iterations of the Four Horsemen, PLEAAAASSSEEEE stop the madness with the Divas!
Just in case JBL and Flair are busy at the moment, I would also like to propose this: if ANYBODY from the WWE is reading this post, how about you take the next picture and flash it on the wall whenever you’re booking a show and think about throwing some Divas action in there…
And finally, there were three of us (myself, Diz, and Pastah Showtime) that never saw Epico get eliminated from the Rumble. 1) How embarrassing is that for Epico, and 2) are we the only ones that didn’t see him get eliminated?
All in all, last night’s episode of RAW was well done and exciting from top to bottom. Great way to start the Road to WrestleMania.
That’s it for me; what did YOU think of the show?
Last night’s episode of RAW was exhilarating for one reason and one reason only…
Johnny Ace finally grew a set.
Sure the show was filled with action-packed matches and intriguing backstage segments. The night was made whole, however, with one patented, venom laced CM Punk pipe bomb that got one hell of a rise out of John Laurinaitis.
Here are four things of note that I felt made this episode worth a damn:
1. Dolph Ziggler’s Strong Promo Set the Show’s Tone
2. An All-American American is the NEW U.S. Champ
3. Cena’s Budding Bromance with Ryder Gets Creepy
3. Johnny Ace Get’s Mad, Still Lacks Believability
Note: The following images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The show opened with a strong segment featuring Mick Foley, who announced his intentions to compete in this year’s Royal Rumble. Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero interrupted Foley and in typical heel fashion ran him and his wishes down like a government mule.
The entire back and forth allowed Ziggler to shine on his own, which honestly gave fans more of a reason to buy into him as a top heel. His delivery was crisp, his intensity was spot on, and the man is hands down far more entertaining as a contender to CM Punk’s WWE Championship than Alberto Del Rio.
In a bit of foreshadowing, Punk made his presence felt and heard in an already entertaining segment, which prompted John “Mr. Personality” Laurinaitis to add his two cents to the pony. Unfortunately for us, Johnny Ace couldn’t even make his “No!” to Foley’s Royal Rumble request sound intimidating.
Next up, an injured Zack Ryder defended his U.S. Championship against Jack Swagger. As anticipated, Swagger defeated Ryder to win the title after several gutwrench powerbombs put away the WWE’s favorite Long Island native (sorry Mrs. Foley).
It was about damn time the self-proclaimed All-American American had the U.S. Title wrapped around his waist. It just makes sense. I expect Swagger’s reign to be similar to Dolph Ziggler’s time as the U.S. Champion, in that he’ll hold the belt for an extended period of time and probably won’t defend it against too many credible challengers. They may actually have to introduce a new star in order to make Swagger’s reign relevant.
On the other side of the coin, Ryder continues to enjoy main event prominence by being involved in Cena and Kane’s shenanigans. Even though he’s currently a pawn in the grand scheme of things, which served as a segue into the next point…
John Cena makes his first appearance of the night by storming into John Laurinaitis’ office and demanding reparations for forcing his injured buddy to wrestle against Jack Swagger. Laurinaitis offers a weak apology and essentially serves Swagger up to a very angry John Cena.
Long story short Cena brutalized Swagger even thought the match never officially started. Kane shows up on the TitanTron and encourages Cena to “embrace the hate” conveniently right before Cena smashes Swagger’s head in with the steel ring steps. Our plucky former champion stops to think of his actions before we move on to the next segment of the night.
Later on today (or sometime this week), DiZ will craft more about the saga surrounding Cena, Ryder, and Kane. But in the meantime I will say that fans have started speculating on the “relationship” between Cena and Ryder. As stated earlier, Ryder is only an accessory to the actual story between Kane and Cena. Unfortunately Ryder also needs Cena to remain relevant, seeing as his entire rise to glory was due in part to Cena’s interference…
Which makes Cena more like Batman once you think about it…that blog will come later…
The main event of the evening gave us a six-man tag team match, where WWE champion CM Punk, World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, and World Class Jackass Chris Jericho faced the team of Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga, and Mark Henry.
Allow me to save you some trouble: Chris Jericho was finally tagged in and pandered to the crowd without touching his opponent, tagged Daniel Bryan in and left the arena. Daniel Bryan was chased off by Mark Henry; Mick Foley came to the ring to help CM Punk, and they win the match.
The meat and potatoes was the post-match in-ring segment, where Punk let loose on Laurinaitis. It wasn’t quite as vicious as the tirade he dropped last summer, but it was as effective and gave fans reason to believe that the best of this storyline has yet to come.
It was during this segment where John Laurinaitis “snapped,” venting his frustrations to Mick Foley and decking the hardcore legend with a microphone before exiting the ring.
I’m sure most will agree that Laurinaitis’ performance last night was well done, but I can’t help but to nitpick here.
The whole Laurinaitis/Punk feud is simply the 2012 version of the McMahon/Austin storyline that ushered in the highly praised Attitude Era. The difference in 2012 is that the WWE has no competition in which a “new era”/creative direction would be beneficial and necessary for the company and the business on the whole.
Today’s WWE fan also lacks the passion for the business to get behind a star like Punk at this moment. As suggested by the recent slump in ratings, fans have slowly moved away from supporting Punk and back towards jumping/dumping on the Cena bandwagon.
But the most frustrating part of it all is the fact that Laurinaitis causes fans to yearn for the days when Vince McMahon was arguably the top heel in the company. While watching Laurinaitis attempt to feign seething hatred last night, I found myself appreciating McMahon’s in-ring abilities more than I ever have before. It amazed me to realize that McMahon held his own on the microphone and in the ring with some of wrestling’s greatest superstars.
Laurinaitis is simply incapable of doing that. His facial expressions were terrible; his body language was laughable (would ANYONE keep their hands in their pockets when someone is going off on them?); you could look at the man and tell he was waiting for his scripted cue.
It’s the little things that make angles and segments that much better. I was pleased to see him show some fire and intensity, but it was painful to watch him make faces during the segments as if he was suffering from explosive diarrhea. That’s been the extent of his involvement with Punk so far: Punk owns him, he looks and sounds unfazed by even Punk’s sharpest barbs.
But in the end, his wooden performance did exactly what it was supposed to do; more drama is added to Punk’s match against Dolph Ziggler at the Royal Rumble, the ongoing battle between the establishment and Punk gets some fresh life, and hopefully Laurinaitis’ character won’t be much of a wuss anymore.
In conclusion the January 16th episode of RAW was better than usual, well above mediocre but still light years away from the 4.0 rating share shows the company use to produce.
Now…what did YOU think of the show?
Mr. Ashley Morris is a lot of things, but I never fancied myself as being the most intelligent biped frolicking on this huge rock we affectionately refer to as “the Earth.” Notice the uppercase “e?” See, not intelligent.
But as a fan of both pro wrestling and “sports entertainment,” I love to imagine being intelligent enough to know what it is I like and don’t like.
For example: I tend to not like story lines that are unnecessarily complicated or so incredibly intelligent that I’d need a Ph.D just to understand the intricacies of such (i.e. TNA’s year-long Immortal story line). If that is truly the case, I’d rather get the Ph.D and at least have a piece of paper that proves how good I am at doing research to show for it.
When it comes to pro wrestling and “sports entertainment,” such exercises in brilliance are not all that warranted and/or necessary. When a story becomes so GREAT and BRILLIANT and AWESOME that it eclipses the basic “good guy-bad guy” conflict that drives us to the product in the first place, then it’s just too much for feeble minded television viewers to comprehend.
And people wonder why MMA is kicking pro wrestling’s figurative fanny right now…
All that being said, it isn’t so difficult to understand why the first episode of RAW in 2012 left me feeling…numb; numb and expecting/demanding an explanation.
I won’t review the entire show, as Quinn Gammon’s KYR Challenge has taught me to pull out what was most important about the episode and go from there. Unfortunately for you, the new year is upon us and I can now analyze the sh*t out of this and anything else wrestling related I watch. Take that Quinn Gammon, you sadistic and maniacal overlord, you!!!
Last night’s episode of RAW was meant to do three (3) things in particular, which they successfully accomplished depending on how you look at it:
- Further Establish and Define Punk’s Reign as WWE Champion
- Add “Fuel” to the Development of Nega Cena
- Piss Fans Off to Keep Them Watching (i.e. Return of Chris “It Begins” Jericho)
The first two goals were accomplished with relative ease in ways that should keep us intrigued without causing too much rioting and defaming. At the top of the second hour of the show, Dolph Ziggler defeated WWE Champion CM Punk by count-out after John Laurinautis stuck his uncharismatic business into the match.
I’ve been ranting among a few friends that I’m waiting for CM Punk’s championship reign to be defined. We’re far removed from the “Voice of the Voiceless” Punk, which was promptly neutered last year when he spent all of one day outside of the WWE with the title after he said he was leaving the company with said title.
Since then, Punk’s reign (along with Daniel Bryan’s reign as World Heavyweight Champion) has been compared to that of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero’s. Is that really what we expect of smaller wrestlers like Punk, Benoit, Guerrero, Bryan, Hart, Michaels, Mysterio, Savage, and anyone who doesn’t look like a variation of Hulk Hogan?
Seriously, it’s nifty and cute to have the small, underdog champion thing, but Punk clearly has way more talent than that to be relegated to such a stigma, especially seeing as most of his competitors (Miz, Ziggler, possibly Jericho) are about as physically impressive as he is.
What we’re seeing here is a new age version of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin/Mr. McMahon story line from the Attitude Era (remember when people were screaming for a return to those days?), albeit with a little tweaking. I see Punk as more of a guy that is raging against the “system,” which has presented itself as a boring and stifling authority (Johnny Ace) that hides behind a complex system of incredibly ludicrous laws (Otunga) in order to exert control over a particular aspect of our lives (pro wrestling). Add to that eclectic mix a puppet contender who is impressive in his own right (Ziggler) and you get a story line that almost mimics the 2012 Race to the White House…I digress.
Clearly the forces opposing Punk have more depth than the Punk character itself, and last night’s match and aftermath created a situation that placed Punk’s back against the wall. An animal is at it’s fiercest when it’s back is against a wall; let’s see just how plucky our WWE Champion is.
Earlier today, DiZ wrote an incredible piece about the development of John Cena’s character; I suggest you check it out and add commentary to stir the conversation pot a little bit.
I won’t add my own thoughts as not to usurp the brilliance of DiZ’s piece, but I will say that watching the whole drama unfold was pretty funny to watch. I’ll let the following pictures speak for themselves…and the added commentary will serve as instigation for those talking points:
Note: The following images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. © 2011 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
In all seriousness, I must note that it is pretty cool for Ryder to be included in all of these main event shenanigans with John Cena…because outside of this they pretty much have nothing else for him.
The final thing RAW accomplished last night is what brings me some level of consternation. The force behind the mysterious “It Begins” videos was revealed to be Chris Jericho.
With naysayers and supporters alike, Jericho came out to the ring and proceeded to pander to the crowd for what seemed like an eternity (I read somewhere that it was more like 20 minutes) without saying anything on the mic. After awhile once fans started growing wearing of his crowd-pumping up antics, he retreated to the stage amidst boos and disappeared behind the “curtain.”
This goes back to what I mentioned earlier; a lot of the Wile E. Coyote, “super genius” wrestling analysts and pundits praised this creative development for the Jericho character. A lot of people in my Twitter timeline last night noted that Jericho is the ONLY star in recent times that was able to turn from face to heel in 5 minutes without saying a single word.
That notion is further supported by the idea that Jericho has stated somewhere that he prefers to be a heel. Fans further justified their high intelligence quotient scores by noting that Jericho has always been better as a heel.
It’s easy to be a heel when you’re an actual douche in real life…but again, I digress.
But I can understand and accept that; in Jericho’s WWE produced DVD, the superstar spends a few moments explaining the evolution of his character. Each time Jericho has appeared in the WWE, he hasn’t appeared as the same old schmuck he was before he left. That’s good, that’s great; that is in fact what the WWE needs today…actual characters!
But, and this is a HUGE pause to consider, you should not evolve the character to a point where it confuses the fan base.
Let’s go back for a second to the TNA “Immortal” story line that I mentioned earlier. The Orlando based promotion literally spent from January 4, 2010 until early 2011 to build up to the creation of Hulk Hogan’s Immortal stable. They even produced an entire episode of TNA ReAction to explain the year long story line!
Pardon my French, but it’s damn ridiculous when you have to have an entire show dedicated to explaining a story line. That’s just too damn much, especially for wrestling fans that barely remember what happened three weeks ago.
This Jericho debut to me did the exact same thing: its build up kept fans intrigued even though most folks already knew Jericho was returning to the company. But after all that build up just to have Jericho show up and give the fans one big F-U…that’s garnering the dangerous, Michael Cole go-away heat that I feel the company can’t afford to stock up on right now.
Again, I understand what was happening and even why it was happening. I guarantee you fans (self included) will tune in Friday or next week for an explanation, and more than likely we’ll get more of this mess we put up with last night.
Just because I understand it all doesn’t mean or imply that I agree with it. I think I side with most fans who perceived his return as a swift kick to the yam bag…but wait, there’s more…
Most pundits have also conveniently breezed past the “she” that was mentioned constantly in the “It Begins” videos. Quinn Gammon has an excellent theory on this, which I’ll let him explain in a later post. THAT development, in my opinion, will explain and make up for Jericho’s return last night; however that is still yet to be seen and is pure speculation on our part here at the L.E.W.D. headquarters.
So there you have it; it is Mr. Morris’ unprofessional opinion that last night show left most more puzzled than anything ever before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it damn sure means that the 1-9-12 RAW better come with the thunder lest the WWE Universe find better time to spend their Monday nights.
Seeing as I prefer to be intrigued-confused rather than perplexed-confused, I have to say that last night’s RAW let me down. It wasn’t a bad show, but it didn’t please me as a fan.