Monday, April 4, 2011

WWE RAW 4/4/11 --- The Rock vs. John Cena @ Wrestlemania 28 is OFFICIAL

WWE RAW 4/4/11
April 4th, 2011
Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 16,697 +/- ?

We're 24 hours removed from Wrestlemania XXVII, the biggest show of the year, and we've got a lot more questions than answers to be blunt. There's been a lot of backlash over last night's show online among the IWC, some overly negative, others sharing the same thoughts that I had, that the show was underwhelming/disappointing, but certainly not bad. The booking, however, certainly was bad. Del Rio loses his title match in ten minutes, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus get nixed from the live show in favor of bad comedy segments with Pee Wee Herman (seriously), and most importantly the main event title match between The Miz and John Cena was full of questionable booking. Bad enough to do a false finish of a double countout/draw for your MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA, but then to have The Rock come in and make total chumps of both Cena and The Miz? The only way that booking is forgivable is if we do in fact get confirmation of a Rock-Cena wrestling match sometime this week, and a lot of people are hoping that's what will be announced on tonight's show. There's a whole lot riding on tonight's show, so let's see what they have in store for us.

Your hosts are Jim Ross (hell yeah!) and Jerry "The King" Lawler

We open the show with Triple H's music hitting and The Game making his way out to the ring to a nice pop from the still raucous Atlanta crowd. He says that he's never been a guy to get nervous, but last night he was almost hyperventilating before his match with the Undertaker. Triple H puts over how tough the Undertaker is, yadda yadda yadda, he can survive over 9000 tombstones and pedigrees, about what you'd expect to hear from him following his match with Undertaker. Triple H says that he just wanted to say "Thank You" to the Dead Man for the fight of his life last night. He hints that last night may be the last we ever see of the Undertaker, only to basically contradict himself seconds later to say that he knows Undertaker will be back and when he is back, he'll be waiting for him. So what, we're setting up a rematch for next year's Mania? Hard to understand the logic there as everyone is probably expecting Cena to face 'Taker next year.

At ringside Jim Ross lets us know that tonight Michael Cole apparently will challenge Jerry Lawler to another match. I don't know how they managed to fuck up the easiest angle on the entire show last night, but they did. To add to my nostalgic feeling with JR on commentary and guys like Triple H, The Rock, and Stone Cold on RAW we get a trailer for the upcoming Scream 4 during the commercial break. It's 90s nostalgia everywhere man!

When we return Michael Cole comes out, still in his goofy amateur wrestling ring gear from last night. He gets some nice heat, bragging about his DQ win over The King last night at Wrestlemania. I truly have no idea what the point of continuing this angle is. Cole wants the crowd to forever refer to him as "Mr. Wrestlemania", but something tells me that won't stick. King gets on the mic as well and tells him to shut his pie hole. Can someone explain to me why they gave these two guys nearly 15 minutes last night at Wrestlemania if they were going to wait to blow it off the next night on free TV? Someone, anyone? Cole challenges him to a rematch and King accepts on the spot, but the rematch is against Swagger of course, not Cole. Sure, whatever.

Jack Swagger vs. Jerry Lawler

Not sure what the point of this is, but one things for sure: it is GREAT to hear Jim Ross back on commentary on Monday Night RAW. He's been gone too long man. King avoids some of Swagger's early offense only to get speared in the corner. Swagger misses a leg drop and King gets a near fall. Swagger misses the Swagger Bomb and the King lays him out with a nice dropkick. King goes to the second rope for the fist drop but Cole distracts him and the King winds up chasing him around and back into the ring. He pummels him for a bit until Swagger grabs the King's ankle and locks the Ankle Lock on and Jerry taps out at 3:47. Swagger doesn't break the hold so the ref reverses the decision and awards the match to the King. Again I ask what the hell is the point of all of this? This angle should have been blown off last night at 'Mania, and for it to continue does nothing to elevate Cole or King. ¼*

After the match Cole finds some of JR's famous BBQ sauce in his destroyed "Cole Mine" (complete with yellow safety tape tied around it) and squirts it onto JR to try and get some measure of revenge, causing JR to chase him off to the back as we cut to commercial.

When we return Michael Cole is on commentary, flipping out about what just happened. Damnit, you couldn't have JR call the rest of tonight's show? Seriously? END THIS COLE HEEL SHTICK ON COMMENTARY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Cole works great as a heel. He works terribly as a play-by-play man and basically buries the talent every time he opens his mouth. Booker T and Josh Matthews join him.

Randy Orton/Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk/Cody Rhodes

Orton and Rhodes start us off, I wonder if they'll even acknowledge the Legacy connection. I shit you not, Michael Cole is doing traditional babyface play-by-play man commentary now, talking about how Punk scarred Orton and his wife last week. Orton gets a few shots in on Cody and then tags Rey in, who's wearing all white which is interesting considering the rumors of Sin Cara (Mistico)'s debut being tonight and the all-white look being Mistico's traditional look. Rey's mask is even all white like Mistico's, which is weird. We take a commercial break and when we return Orton is in the middle of dropping a big knee on Cody for a quick two count. Mysterio tags in and springboards in with a seated senton for a quick two count of his own on Rhodes, but Cody quickly gets back to his feet and tags CM Punk in. He and Cody trade quick tags, double-teaming Rey but he just tags Orton in quickly anyways. Clothesline gets Orton two on Cody again Punk tags back in and goes to work on Randy's injured leg, which is still bandaged. He puts Orton up for the GTS, but Orton counters and tries for the RKO only for Punk to evade and sweep the knee for a near fall. We take ANOTHER commercial break, which is weird as hell since we JUST took one but I guess they're saving up TV time for the big overrun later tonight. When we return Punk has Orton tied up in an Indian death lock briefly but Randy breaks it and gives him a back suplex. He gets the hot tag to Rey and Mysterio is fired up, hitting a seated senton and a big quebrada on Punk for a two count. Rey tries for the 619, but Rhodes catches him with a big knee to the face off the second rope, 1-2--NOO! Mysterio gets the shoulder up at two just barely. Rey's sternum gets slammed into the turnbuckle in Bret Hart fashion by Rhodes and Punk tags back in, continuing the isolation of Rey in the heel's corner. Rey counters with a hurricanrana on Punk and gets the hot tag to Orton, who cleans house on Rhodes with the snap powerslam. Elevated DDT from the second rope on Rhodes and Orton goes into Viper mode, pounding the mat. Orton hits an Olympic Slam on Rhodes but Punk breaks the pin up at a count of two. Rhodes gets hit with the 619 from Mysterio and walks right into the RKO from Orton, which puts him away at 10:08 (shown). This is more like it, this is what RAW has been lacking the last few weeks---just a good, long TV match to hype the crowd up and add some extra heat to both corresponding feuds. I'm shocked this got as much time as it did, but I'm certainly not complaining, good stuff. ***

After the match we see Stone Cold Steve Austin backstage, who runs into Triple H and gives him credit for a hell of a match last night and says he'll be there the next time it happens. I assume he's just here to hype the Tough Enough premiere tonight after RAW, but we'll see what they have him do here. We take a commercial break and when we return we get another Sin Cara video package.

Stone Cold's music hits and the Rattlesnake makes his way out to the ring while Michael Cole harps on commentary like an evil, screeching demon queen. He's become that bad on commentary, truly. Austin lets us know Tough Enough is on after RAW tonight (REALLY?!) and has the crowd give him a few "Hell Yeahs" before introducing a few of the contestants for this season of Tough Enough. A few model-looking women and quite a few nondescript looking guys. It's too weird seeing M-Dogg 20 in there with these guys. Austin puts over the trainers and the kids before letting the kids introduce themselves briefly to everyone. First up is a blonde kid named "Ryan Howe", who claims to be a rock and roller and a wrestler. I'll try to write down all of their names here, hold on..."Christina Crawford", followed by "AJ Kersh", "Arianna Andrews", "Luke Robinson", "Jeremiah Riggs", "Rima Fakih", "Michael Zaky", "Eric Watts" (big and black with an afro, so no, not Bill's kid), "Matt Cappicioni" (M-Dogg 20) and some other trashy skank as well as "Martin Kisouse" I think? I don't know, don't quote me on some of these names, it's just what they sounded like, I'm sure I misspelled a bunch of their names and whatever. Austin gets back on the mic and the crowd chants "Stun them all!" until The Miz's music hits and he comes out with a mic. Miz, having been on Tough Enough years ago, gets a nice pop from the crowd. Miz puts over his "valor and determination" while fighting Cena at Wrestlemania last night. He brags about his win last night and walks down to the ring, telling the Tough Enough contestants to soak in the spotlight now because this is as close as they'll ever get to a WWE championship. Oh you can just smell the stunner a mile away here. For some bizarre reason I've just noticed that Alex Riley next to him is wearing a tuxedo straight out of a James Bond film, looking ridiculous. The crowd chants "One more match!" at Steve as Miz challenges Austin here and now to "one more match". Austin has the Tough Enough contestants clear the ring and as soon as they do Miz and Riley get a cheap shot on Austin and Riley works him over in the corner. Austin of course turns the tables, stomps a mudhole in Riley, and then gives him a Lou Thesz press. He gives Riley the Stunner and the crowd loves it of course. Austin celebrates with some beers and ends up tossing a bunch of beers to each of the contestants, which for some reason the crowd actually boos (and wow they boo even louder when one or two of them don't catch Steve's throw). Austin and the Tough Enough contestants all celebrate with your traditional beer bash until Austin comes over to Cole in his Cole Mine and he pours a couple of beers on Cole and his equipment. The look on Michael Cole's face is hilarious in a sad, solemn kind of way after all of this. I get hyping Tough Enough for later, but this was a bit too long of a segment for what it was.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Evan Bourne

Let's see where Del Rio's push stands after last night's semi-burial. Bourne doesn't even get a ring entrance, so it looks like jobber city for him tonight. Del Rio dominates to start before Bourne hits a spinning heel kick. Del Rio hits him with a big boot in the corner and then kicks Bourne out to the floor. He follows him out and just tosses him into the barricade before throwing him back into the ring for a near fall. Small but noticeable "Del Rio!" chant starts up while Bourne rolls up Del Rio for a quick two count. Bourne hits a big jumping knee and gets another near fall. Bourne sets up for the Air Bourne but Del Rio runs up with his big running enziguri and then locks on the flying armbar to finish Bourne off at 2:43. Just a total squash to try and get back some of Del Rio's squandered heat, but I don't like having Bourne do the job duty here as they continue to seriously waste that kid. Just filler really. ¼*

After a commercial break we return to see Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler come out. Usual "Excuse me!" heat-seeking stuff as apparently they're facing Morrison and Trish next. Glad to see Trish still sticking around, for now atleast. She looked good last night and I'd actually love to see her return to the women's division, though I'm doubtful that will ever happen.

John Morrison/Trish Stratus vs. Dolph Ziggler/Vickie Guerrero

Ziggler and Morrison start us off briefly but it's not long before Vickie tags in, bringing Trish in. Vickie tries to replicate Snooki's handspring back elbow but fails miserably in some lame comedy stuff. Trish rolls her up for a near fall and then lays in some big chops. Trish really deserves more than this man. Vickie gets a cheap shot and gets a near fall of her own. Vickie misses a butt splash and Morrison and Ziggler tag back in. Morrison hits a leg lariat and then misses a springboard cross-body block attempt. Ziggler gives Morrison a German suplex that takes him all the way inside out, 360 degrees for a close two count before Trish breaks it up and slaps the taste out of Ziggles' mouth. This sets up Morrison for the Starship Pain, and that puts Ziggler away at 3:24. Again just a waste of time here. Vickie's comedy is lame, Trish is being wasted, and we'd all rather just see Morrison and Ziggler wrestle each other without all these women thrown in the mix. ½*

WWE US Title Match
Sheamus © vs. Daniel Bryan

Hey look! It's those hard-working, over midcarders who had their match disposed of in favor of some Big Show comedy wrestling. I figured they would just disappear forever. Glad to see we're getting this match tonight at the very least though. Sheamus has new trunks. Sheamus overpowers Bryan to start with a big double axe handle for a near fall. Bryan gets tossed into the corner and Sheamus stomps on his fingers and lays in some stiff forearms as the crowd is pretty dead here since they've done everything in their power to totally kill Bryan's heat over the last few months and it seems they've finally accomplished their goal. Sheamus locks Bryan into an abdominal stretch as a nice "Daniel Bryan!" chant starts up. See, even when being buried the kid's still over. Sheamus hits the Irish Curse backbreaker but Bryan gets the shoulder up at two again. Bryan finally gets some offense in with a few big kicks and a couple of clotheslines and he hits a running knee for a two count. Bryan tries for the LaBelle Lock, which gets a nice pop, but Sheamus powers out and counters with a nice backbreaker and follows it with the big Brogue Kick which is enough for the win at 3:52. And the Daniel Bryan burial continues. I like Sheamus and as a former WWE champ it's no huge insult for Bryan to lose to him, but he's been beaten clean by Sheamus several times now in under five minutes, and it's not helping anyone at all. Decent for the time it got I guess. *¼

After the match Sheamus continues the beatdown on Bryan until suddenly Sin Cara's music hits and the Mexican sensation is live here on RAW! He sprints down to the ring hits a big jumping hurricanrana on Sheamus followed by an spin kick and then he flies off the top rope with a BEAUTIFUL cross-body, wiping out Sheamus. He runs off afterwards. Not quite the debut most of us were expecting, but he showed some of his high-flying ability and the crowd clearly is going to LOVE this guy once they get to really see him work, so this was an exciting debut.

After a quick commercial break we return and John Cena's music hits as he comes out to his expected boos at this point. Things seemed to turn around in 2010 for Cena in terms of fan reactions, but ever since The Rock returned he's gone back to almost 2006-levels of fan heat. Cena gets to the ring and grabs the mic, lamenting on The Rock's actions last night at Wrestlemania, costing him his title match. Cena doesn't seem to hold it against The Rock though, and seems glad that the match didn't end in a draw. He congratulates The Miz and says that he's earned everyone's respect. For what? Pinning him after a Rock Bottom? Cena says it's obvious that The Rock doesn't like or respect him very much. He says The Rock got involved in his business last night, so they have some business of their own to settle right now. And with that The Rock's music hits and the Great One makes his way out to the ring. "Fruity Pebbles!" chant starts up as the two men eye each other in the middle of the ring. The Rock says that Cena had to know what was going to happen last night after what he did last week on RAW, as it's what the people love. He says Cena is wrong about respect though, and The Rock claims to respect Cena (which gets some boos stupidly). He says that he knows Cena lives and breathes the WWE and it was that drive that made him one of the best WWE champions of all time. This doesn't change the fact though that he just flat out doesn't like Cena. The Rock claims they are completely opposite in how they look, talk, and fight, but they're very similar in how they both want to be the best at whatever they do. Rock cracks a joke on Cena's fashion, and Cena cracks at him about the Tooth Fairy movie. Cena tells The Rock to listen to the people and that everyone is there not because they want them to talk, but they want them to WRESTLE. Cena says the fans want to see John Cena vs. The Rock, comparing it to legendary match-ups like Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James or Muhammed Ali vs. Mike Tyson. Cena asks The Rock if he wants to talk about it, or "bring it", and takes his shirt off. The Rock tells Cena he has "no idea" what he just asked for. The Rock says he's asking for the biggest match-up of all time and he says they put it on the grandest stage of them all, at Wrestlemania 28! The Rock offers Cena his hand...and Cena shakes it! We are ON Ladies and Gentlemen! The biggest match up in YEARS is officially on the cards! Afterwards suddenly The Corre runs down to ringside and surrounds The Rock and Cena in the ring. They enter the ring and beat down both Cena and The Rock for a bit until Cena hits Heath Slater with the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Not to be outdone of course, The Rock gives Wade Barrett a spinebuster and delivers the People's Elbow to him! Slater gets the Attitude Adjustment and Rock gives Barrett the Rock Bottom as this has become a game of one-upmanship here. We close out the show with The Rock and Cena celebrating in the ring.

Bottom Line: Decent show for the most part here. We got a great tag match between Punk/Rhodes and Orton/Mysterio which gave the show some badly needed wrestling, but they still ended up having several segments that were just flat out filler if not total wastes of the audience's time. Sin Cara's debut was fun if a bit underwhelming and having him take out Sheamus like that was a great way to introduce him to the WWE fans. Fortunately though the final closing segment to tonight's show saved it by FINALLY confirming that The Rock vs. John Cena WILL happen, and thank god because if they didn't truly build up to an actual match then many, MANY fans were going to be royally pissed about the end of Wrestlemania. The finish to the show sealed it as a good show though, because finally we get confirmation for what will be the biggest hyped match in many, many years. Thumbs Up.

Score: 6.5/10


jmt225 said...

Spot on review, man.

I hated the opening segment with HHH, dug the Cole/Swagger/Lawler/JR deal, LOVED the tag match, and hated everything else up to Sin Cara's debut, which I thought worked well. And the last segment I thought was beautiful. Everything was said and done exactly how it needed to be. Rock vs. Cena alone very well could get me to order the first wrestling pay-per-view I've ordered since that piece of shit December 2 Dismember.

But yeah... great review as always man, and I'm very happy to say I wholeheartedly agreed with most of everything you put down for this week's Raw.

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