Monday, February 21, 2011

WWE RAW 2/21/11 --- Thuganomics, Undertaker, and Triple H; Oh my!

WWE RAW 2/21/11
February 21st, 2011
Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
Attendance: 16,182 +/-

We're less than 24 hours removed from the big Elimination Chamber PPV where Edge and The Miz both retained their respective world titles. John Cena won the Raw Elimination Chamber as well, so he's earned a shot at The Miz's title at Wrestlemania. Also last night we crowned new tag team champions in Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater, and we saw the return of Captain Charisma himself, Christian! How will he figure into Edge and Alberto Del Rio's title match? And tonight will we finally found out what the ominous 2-21-11 promos for weeks have been leading up to? We'll have to wait and see.

We open the show with the 2 21 11 promo-screen that's been appearing on Raw for weeks now, this time with a clock at the bottom of the screen counting down until the top of the hour. Looks like we're going to get our answer finally.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Josh Matthews

We're live from Fresno State University in California as we come on the air and John Cena's music hits. He grabs a mic in the ring and already some big "Rocky!" chants start up in reference of course to The Rock's smack-talking of Cena last week on Raw. Cena talks about how last night should have been a wonderful night for him with his win in the Chamber match, but all he's heard from everyone all week long is what he's going to do about The Rock's comments. We get a quick recap of The Rock's comments on the Titan Tron and the segment is just as funny as it was last week. Cena says there's only one way he knows how to respond, but it's something he hasn't done in a long time...and that's rap! Suddenly it's 2004 again and John Cena is cutting a freestyle on The Rock! He disses the Rock for his role in the Tooth Fairy movie in a great little jab. This is great stuff as Cena's actually cutting loose here, ignoring the PG-Era and telling the Rock to blow him before letting out a Brokeback Mountain jab. Sounds childish but it's excellent stuff as the Cena gets a very mixed reaction as he continues to rip on Rocky with the freestyle. Cena says the Rock may tell the fans he loves them, but he's there every week to show them. Excellent segment to open the show that throws even more heat onto the Cena-Rock program, where it may be leading.

After a quick commercial break we return to a still hurting John Morrison making his way to the ring after an incredible performance in the Elimination Chamber the night before.

John Morrison vs. CM Punk

Here we go now this is how you start a show! These two had a great feud a few years back over the ECW title and I know I'm not the only one who wants to see that feud re-kindled in 2011. Both men are still selling from the Chamber last night, which is a nice touch. Both men are weary to start, dancing around a lock-up. Morrison lays in some forearms into Punk in the corner but Punk just slams his injured leg over the ring apron. Punk focuses on the leg of JoMo, twisting his knee in a modified version of a stepover toe hold. Punk slaps on the Indian deathlock an Morrison is in a world of pain. Morrison starts battling back though, laying in closed fists on Punk instead of going for his usual flashy offense. Morrison stupidly goes for a running knee with his injured leg but Punk blocks it and hits the GTS out of nowhere and pins JoMo clean at 2:51. Odd that you'd job Morrison out that quickly after his performance last night. The fact that this barely got 3 minutes is a travesty.

After the match Punk grabs a mic and calls out Randy Orton (or Randall as he calls him). He tells Orton that he's going to hurt him if he shows up next week on Raw. So, of course, Randy Orton hops the barricade out of the crowd and hits the ring to a big pop. Punk just barely escapes an RKO attempt and the rest of the new Nexus come out to save their leader as a huge "Randy!" chant breaks out.

When we return from the commercial break Ricardo Rodriguez is in the ring to introduce the 2011 Royal Rumble winner Alberto Del Rio, who was victorious over Kofi Kingston last night. Before he can hit the ring though Kofi Kingston runs out from behind and attacks Del Rio on the ramp! Ricardo Rodriguez comes to his aid though and Del Rio smashes Kofi's apparently "injured" arm into the steel steps. Del Rio continues the beatdown, targeting Kofi's arm until finally the ring officials break them up. We cut to commercial with a shot of The Miz making his way towards the ring backstage.

Back from the commercial break The Miz has joined us alongside Alex Riley. He has a mic with him and he says that he's disgusted by the way all of the fans reacted to The Rock's return. He talks about how he was disappointed that the best Rocky could come up with to insult him last week was just that he "sucks". He mocks both The Rock and Cena and reminds us, as always, that he's awesome when suddenly the lights flicker and we've got an e-mail from the anonymous Raw general manager. Cole announces that tonight the WWE tag team titles will be defended against The Miz and his partner...John Cena! Ugh, so we're doing the whole Wrestlemania opponents as tag champs angle again? They literally did the exact same thing when building up for Cena vs. HBK at Wrestlemania 23.

The Bella Twins vs. Eve/Gail Kim

And it's piss break divas time. Might as well get this over with before the big return in 10 minutes so why not. Gail tosses one of the Bella's out of the ring quickly but Eve comes around and clotheslines one of them. Back in the ring Gail shoots one of the Bellas into the corner and then comes off the second rope with a nice cross-body for a quick two count while Cole talks about the surprise return of Trish Stratus last night. One of the Bellas misses a legdrop and Eve tags in. She hits a nice dropkick and then a cross-body for a quick two count. Standing moonsault gets Eve another two. Gail inadvertently distracts the ref long enough for the Bellas to do the old twin-switch trick and roll Eve up in a cradle for the win at 2:28. Do we really need another heel divas tag team? We already have LayCool and atleast they're somewhat competent in the ring unlike the Bellas. ½*

After a quick commercial break we return and the ominous 2-21-11 clock begins counting down from 20. 3...2...1...the cabin door in the promo on the titan-tron opens and out steps The Undertaker. His music hits and the Dead Man makes his way down to the ring on WWE television for the first time since being taken out by Kane and the Nexus back in October.

Just as 'Taker hits the ring though...Triple H's music hits! The Game is in the building! Huge pop for Triple H here as this is his first appearance at a WWE event since being taken out by Sheamus way back in May of last year. Hunter hits the ring and both men do the stare-down with the big Wrestlemania 27 sign behind them, obviously setting up a match between the two at 'Mania. Taker doesn't say a single word to Hunter, just smiles, nods, puts his hat back on and goes to leave the ring, but instead turns around and gives Hunter the old rest-in-peace throat gesture. Not to be outdone Hunter gives him the old DX suck-it gesture. Crowd is eating this all up as both men just stare at eachother as we cut to the commercial break. Nice and simple return segment to lay down the foundation for their 'Mania match, nothing wrong with that.

Back from the commercial break we recap what we just saw between 'Taker and Triple H. Ironically enough, Sheamus is out next.

Sheamus vs. Mark Henry

And here comes Mark Henry to suck all of the excitement out of the building. They trade shots to start and Henry immediately tries to lock a bearhug on and instead just tosses Sheamus up and over the top rope to the floor. Back inside the ring Sheamus tries to reason with Mark in classic heel fashion. He slips out of a scoop slam and hits a forearm for a quick two count on the World's Strongest Man. Slingshot shoulderblock gets Sheamus another two. Henry misses the big splash and eats a big boot as Sheamus taunts the crowd. He rips the padding off of a turnbuckle but then gets slammed into by Henry, who slams him to the mat for the clean pin at 3:49. I'd like to hear even one reason as to why Sheamus had to job clean to Mark Henry in less than five minutes. ¼*

Back from the commercial break we see Daniel Bryan and Gail Kim flirting backstage. Sheamus comes up and starts shit with them for no particular reason. Perhaps setting up for a Sheamus-Bryan match at Wrestlemania?

We get the latest inductee to this year's Hall of Fame class...and it's Hacksaw Jim Duggan! Hey, why not. Duggan was a major draw for Mid-South before Vince snatched him up and made him Mr. USA. If the only Jim Duggan you've seen is the WWE version, you owe it to yourself to look up his legendary feud with Ted DiBiase in the Mid-South territory. Speaking of DiBiase, he'll be the one inducting Duggan. That's a nice touch and hopefully they'll acknowledge their legendary Mid-South feud.

Michael Cole hits the ring now with a mic as he's been ordered to interview The King. He gets a WORLD of heat by claiming he's better than Gordon Solie, Gorilla Monsoon, Jim Ross, and the King. I cannot even imagine the anger swelling up among the IWC faithful at this very moment because of those comments. After a quick commercial break we return as the King comes down to the ring. Cole mockingly asks the King how he felt after losing last night to The Miz. And now Cole brings King's dead mother into it, saying she had the best seat in the house "up there" to watch his dreams shattered. I'm sorry, but that's disgusting. Cole is the biggest heat magnet in the entire WWE right now, there is NO reason to take a despicable cheap-shot like that, even for a little program. King grabs Cole and thankfully tells him that he ever says another word about his mother, it will be his last. King then issues a Wrestlemania challenge to Michael Cole right then and there, and the fans love it! Cole calls him senile and then runs off back to the commentary table. I imagine some of the more die-hard smarks will hate this match idea, but it's a smart move and will go over HUGE at 'Mania when Cole finally gets his comeuppance. Perhaps this even opens the door for a Jim Ross return to call the show? Wishful thinking, I know.

Back from the commercial break The King replaces Cole at the commentary table.

WWE Tag Team Title Match
Justin Gabriel/Heath Slater (C) vs. John Cena/The Miz

Gabriel and Slater of course get zero reaction because they've spent the last 3 months jobbing every week to Santino and Kozlov until their random title win last night. Miz and Slater start us off with your basic collar and elbow lock-up. Miz lays a few boots into Slater and Cena gives him a mocking golf-clap. Gabriel tags in now and Cena and Miz trade a quick tag, each laying a few shots into Gabriel as if to try and one-up the other. Running clothesline into the corner from Miz. And now Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale and Cena and The Miz are your new tag champions at 3:11. So I don't think anyone will ever be taking Gabriel or Slater seriously again for any reason, ever. That was a sham of a match and the booking was downright insulting. DUD

After the match Wade Barrett and the rest of The Corre come to ringside and demand they get their re-match clause right now. The lights flicker and the anonymous GM has sent another e-mail, which Josh Matthews reads this time. The GM approves of the idea and we've got our re-match, already.

WWE Tag Team Title Match
John Cena/The Miz (C) vs. Justin Gabriel/Heath Slater

And the point of this was? We cut to commercial just as the match begins. When we return The Miz is working an armbar on Gabriel. Cena tags in and Gabriel tags Slater back in. Big "Cena!" chant starts up as they lock-up. Cross-body from Cena gets a quick two count and he tags The Miz in, both men working surprisingly well together. Big Ezekiel Jackson on the outside trips up the Miz though and he and Barrett keep Alex Riley at bay while Gabriel gets some cheap shots in on him. Back inside Gabriel gets a two count on Miz. Slater tags in and this is just bizarre as The Miz, the top heel on Raw, is playing the role of the babyface-in-peril being isolated from his tag partner. I hope they realize how stupid it is to be putting Miz in this role here. Miz comes back with a neckbreaker though (which the crowd cheers for, you know, your top HEEL) but Slater and Gabriel are able to keep him from getting the tag to Cena and continue the isolation act. Gabriel springboards in but eats a boot from Miz, who gets the hot tag to Cena. Super-Cena mode has been enabled as he hits the usual moves; powerslam, shoulderblock, five knuckle shuffle. He goes for the Attitude Adjustment, but The Miz comes up from behind and gives the Skull-Crushing Finale to CENA! Slater covers and once again he and Gabriel are the tag champs at 8:08 (shown). The finish just re-iterates my questioning of the booking here. Did we really need to continue to bury Slater/Gabriel AND the tag belts just for that? Not like Miz versus Cena really needs that small amount of heat that finish gives them. Decent formula stuff, more questionable booking.

We go off the air with The Miz smiling and the Corre celebrating.

Bottom Line: Underwhelming would probably be the best word for this show. Wrestling-wise there's really nothing here you need to check out, we got maybe 15 minutes total of in-ring work during the entire 2 hour broadcast combined. The return of Undertaker and Triple H was nice and is worth a watch, but there really isn't anything else on this show to draw you in. Have to go with the Thumbs Down for Raw tonight, even with the big Taker/Hunter returns and an excellent opening promo by Cena.

Score: 4/10


Nick B. said...

Yeah, not the best show.

FunKay said...

I thought it was better than a 4. The reason JoMo/Punk didn't get any longer than 3 minutes was definitely due to injuries. Morrison could hardly walk let alone wrestle. Like I said before, Sheamus vs. Henry was stupid but it wasn't clean either.

I'd give it a 6 or 7/10 personally.

Stormtrooper said...

I'm with FunKay here with the rating.

And KB said it best, this entire show was about building the card for Mania (which it had to be about). What did we get? HHH/Taker, Sheamus/Bryan, Cole/Lawler, Punk/Orton, and Miz/Cena.

And I know they were 2 separate matches technically, but I still see the 2 tag title matches as one long match.

And while it looks and sounds stupid, Miz going over like he did really works for me. He showed dominance, which is something he needs to do every once in a while to maintain credibility as a Main Eventer. He beat the hell out of Gabriel, then hit his finisher, and looked at Slater during the pin (daring him to enter the ring) and Slater said fuck that shit, I'm not getting near him. It honestly made Miz look like a credible threat to be able to legit win matches against Main Eventers.

xfearbefore said...

"And KB said it best, this entire show was about building the card for Mania (which it had to be about). What did we get? HHH/Taker, Sheamus/Bryan, Cole/Lawler, Punk/Orton, and Miz/Cena."

The only one of those that actually set up anything meaningful was Cole and Lawler. Taker/HHH just stared at each other, which sets up nothing. Sheamus and Bryan exchanged dirty looks backstage, that's it, I'd hardly call that setting up anything. Punk and Orton have already been feuding for weeks and nothing was set up tonight there either. You're reading way too much into it, we got minor foreshadowing, nothing was "set up".

"And while it looks and sounds stupid, Miz going over like he did really works for me. He showed dominance, which is something he needs to do every once in a while to maintain credibility as a Main Eventer. He beat the hell out of Gabriel, then hit his finisher, and looked at Slater during the pin (daring him to enter the ring) and Slater said fuck that shit, I'm not getting near him. It honestly made Miz look like a credible threat to be able to legit win matches against Main Eventers. "

Sorry, but what part about Miz getting the shit beat out of him for the entire second match and then getting the hot tag to Cena showed dominance? Yeah he pinned Heath Slater earlier. Heath fucking Slater. Hardly something to brag about. He showed no dominance whatsoever, he showed he can get the shit beat out of him for nearly 10 minutes, tag his partner in, and then betray that partner.

I'm not just being critical to be critical. I've given the last 3 or 4 WWE shows, including TV, rave reviews. Tonight's show was nothing special though. At all. Little wrestling, and an underwhelming conclusion to the 2-21-11 "mystery".

Glennman said...

They seriously need to stop it with John Cena and the tag titles. Him and Batista, him and HBK, and him and Miz. Three times he's partnered with a PPV foe, and it was only interesting with HBK. (Especially the screwjob after two 10-ten battle royals. Great stuff.)

Actually, Cena's a four-time tag champ (with his one-night Otunga reign), so he's never been champ with a favorable partner. Weird.

Glennman said...

Er, ten-team, that is.

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