Monday, April 23, 2012

WWE RAW 4/16/12

WWE RAW 4/16/12
April 16th, 2012
O2 Arena, London, England
Attendance: Unknown at this time

The London crowds are usually always great and the WWE usually tries to give them a better show than they do in your average American city, so I couldn't help but do a quick review of this show for posterity's sake. Plus it would be nice to watch a wrestling crowd that's actually happy to be at the show after having to do the Lockdown report a few days ago (insert "zing!" here).

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler

WWE Title No DQ/No Count-Out Match
CM Punk
© vs. Mark Henry
Always good to start off the show with a match, especially a big one. This is their third title match in as many weeks, but their last match only lasted about a minute before Punk got DQed, hence the No DQ/No Count-Out stip here. Punk starts off with his usual strategy, firing off quick kicks at Henry in an attempt to take the big man down, but Henry gives him a huge spinebuster that sends him out to the floor. Henry follows him out and Punk scurries back into the ring to launch himself back out and hit Henry with a big tope. Henry grabs a hold of Punk and chokes him against the steel ring post, but Punk buys himself some time with a couple of boots before taking a page out of Jeff Hardy's book by leaping onto the guard barrier and tip-toeing his way across it before jumping off and planting Henry's face onto the floor with a floatover bulldog! Look at Punk pulling out new tricks. Punk tries to leap onto Henry from the ring apron, but Mark catches him and just slams him right into the guard barrier as we take our first commercial break. When we return Henry is working an awkward chinlock on Punk before wiping him out with a clothesline. Punk grabs a steel chair from ringside and jabs it into Henry's stomach before waffling him in the chest with it for a two count. Now Henry takes the chair from Punk and gets his turn to slam Punk with it. He sets the chair up in the corner but Punk fights off being thrown into it with big chops before Henry takes his head off with another clothesline. Punk regains his composure and fires off a chop-block and a DDT on the big man before attempting a high cross-body off the top rope, only for Henry to catch him in mid-air. Punk wriggles out of his grip though and gives him a superkick. He hits a Muay Thai knee in the corner but Henry just flings him across the ring when he tries for the follow-up bulldog. Henry chases after Punk only to be sent face-first into the forgotten about chair still set up in the corner! Punk goes to the top and hits the big Macho Man elbow from up high with the steel chair in hand, and that's enough to put away the monster at 10:09 (shown). Another great little match between these two with a distinct Sting/Vader-like dynamic, and making it a No DQ match should put an end to this mini-feud for now as I can't see an argument for another rematch for Henry. Great match to open the show. ***1/4

After the match CM Punk is celebrating in the ring when he's interrupted by Chris Jericho on the Titan Tron. He's live from a local pub and he announces that he's been granted a WWE title rematch against Punk at Extreme Rules in a Chicago Street Fight. Punk is pleased by the news though, because now he gets to destroy Jericho in front of his hometown friends and family. Jericho demands Punk come to the match sober though, as he shows footage of CM Punk entering the same pub earlier in the day. Punk claims he was just getting some fish and chips though, and shit man, I don't blame him, that's where you get the good stuff. Jericho doesn't buy it though, and he promises to take his title from him in a few weeks. Punk doesn't even get a chance to respond as the pre-taped promo is cut off as they hype a Brock Lesnar interview for later in tonight's show.

Backstage R-Truth does some hokey Sherlock Holmes shtick with Teddy Long.

US Title Match
Santino Marella
© vs. David Otunga
Santino does a whole soccer (yeah, I said it) jersey routine on his way out to suck up to the local fans. Oh how the US title has fallen. Both men lock up and Otunga fires off a bodyslam for a two count and then follows it up with a pair of elbow drops. Santino tries his usual split spot but Otunga just kicks him in the face. Santino hits a hip-toss and the diving headbutt and then pulls out The Cobra to finish Otunga off at 2:01. I don't mind Santino, really, but get him the hell away from the US title. I mean I know that title is dead just like all midcard titles but surely they can find someone more deserving? 1/4*

Backstage Josh Matthews attempts to interview Lord Tensai when his sidekick Sakamoto (KAZMA from the Kaentai Dojo for your indie puro lovers) cuts him off and starts ranting in Japanese. Tensai says that Josh should fear him.

Next up we get a very well put together video segment on Brock Lesnar, which mentions his accolades in NCAA and the UFC and manages to really put over Lesnar's outsider heel character that's basically just a version of his real self. Brock was never one for cutting promos, so these UFC like pretaped segments and interviews are the way to go I think.

Up next Zack Ryder and Kane come out to have a match, but before it can even start Kane jumps Ryder with a big boot outside the ring and then beats him down in the ring, giving him a chokeslam. Yeah let's just completely bury Ryder if we haven't already, can't have people going out and getting over on their own accord, that would be silly. Whatever potential they had with Ryder when his show took off and his heat started up, they've just about killed most of it all off now through sheer brute force of making him look like shit week after week after week. I'm not saying the guy needs to be main eventing, but for god's sake, throw him a bone in the midcard or something, he's earned it. Having Kane make Ryder his bitch week after week does nothing to help Kane's character and it only hinders Zack's.

Backstage Kofi Kingston tries to work that famous Gayan charm on AJ but Daniel Bryan interrupts to tell him off and he decides that he's going to rename his finisher, the LeBell Lock (named after Gene LeBell), to the YES! Lock. That's awesome.

John Cena makes his way out to the ring next for a promo. I've said it before but Cena just looks better in green, it's a Bostonian's favorite color. Cena gripes about the new GM Johnny Ace's treatment of himself and his attempt to replace him (meanwhile the crowd is still yapping out "YES!" like those mindless seagulls in Finding Nemo). Cena says that Lesnar stands simply for destruction and then goes into the hard sell for the PPV match in two weeks. He's promptly interrupted by Johnny Ace, who books him into an Extreme Rules match later tonight to prepare him for his match-up at the PPV. He adds that on next week's RAW they'll do the contract signing for the Lesnar/Cena match, but won't reveal who Cena will face until later tonight.

Backstage R-Truth, posing as Sherlock Holmes, stands around looking goofy while Hornswoggle tries to warn him that something's wrong with a book case. Well, okay then.

Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston
Crowd is red-hot for Bryan here still, and he starts off with a nice back suplex takeover on Kofi before nailing a running dropkick in the corner. Bryan goes to work on Kofi's arm now before kneeing him straight in the gut. He returns to the hammerlock but Kofi breaks it up with a leg lariat before getting sent out to the floor. Bryan misses the running kick from the apron, and Kofi capitalizes by hitting a huge spinning cross body off the top rope to Bryan on the floor. We take a commercial break after that spot and when we return Kofi is giving Bryan a big monkey flip. Bryan lures him into the corner and then just kicks the second rope into Kofi's throat before unloading with a series of high kicks on him in the corner. We cut to AJ looking on from backstage as Bryan works a chinlock on Kofi. Kofi breaks it up and hits a series of dropkicks and forearms before hitting the Boom Drop on Daniel. He tries for the Trouble in Paradise and Bryan counters by attempting the YES! Lock, but Kofi counters that into the S.O.S. for a two count. Bryan meets Kofi at the top rope with a big forearm smash and then tries for the superplex, but Kofi headbutts him off the top and misses a frog splash. Bryan grabs a hold of him and applies the YES! Lock and Kofi has no choice but to tap out at 6:37 (shown). After the match Bryan continues to apply the YES! Lock when Sheamus comes out to make the save. Really good little match to put Bryan over in front of a crowd that was hot for him, these two busted tail for the time they got, my only complaint is that I just wish we had gotten to see a little bit more of the match instead of that commercial break. **3/4

"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler
I've loved Ziggler since his debut but if this is all the WWE has for him when he nearly f'n kills himself every time he's out there taking crazy bumps, I feel bad for him. Someone give this kid his damn push already. Ziggler hits a dropkick on Clay at the bell but it has no affect and Clay launches him with a pumphandle slam. Jack Swagger hops in the ring to interfere and Ziggler get's DQed at all of 0:21 seconds. I appreciate that they're trying to do something with Clay besides have him squash jobbers, but Ziggler deserves better. DUD

Backstage Eve Torres wants to have a meeting with Big Johnny and David Otunga. And we go straight from awkward sexual tension to a heartfelt video package and tribute to the recently deceased Chief Jay Strongbow.

Elsewhere R-Truth claims to have found Teddy Long a job---it's his old one, GM of Smackdown. Oh, my sides, they're in stitches from this brilliantly written sketch comedy gold.

Big Show/The Great Khali vs. Epico/Primo
Oh I'm sure this will end well. Apparently Epico and Primo complained about not being on TV recently on Twitter, thus this match. Abraham Washington comes out during the match to scout the talent on the ramp, and if this actually leads to a return of managers in the WWE I'll be pretty shocked. Khali dominates Epico and both men try to escape with their tag titles (yeah, these guys are the tag team champions in case you forgot; don't worry, we all did) but the giants haul them back into the ring and hand out stereo chokeslams for the win at 1:56. I love pointless segments where they squash the tag team champions for no reason whatsoever, brings back all kinds of great WCW Thunder memories. Atrocious. DUD

Extreme Rules Match
John Cena vs. Lord Tensai

And Cena's mystery opponent is...Lord Tensai (AKA Albert/A-Train/Giant Bernard). Not a bad choice actually from a booking perspective. Tensai takes it to Cena early with big right hands. He tries for a suplex but Cena blocks and counters with one of his own. Tensai headbutts him and then boots him into the corner. Cena gets sent to the floor by a running clothesline in the corner and Tensai chases him out of the ring to follow up with kicks. Tensai launches Cena shoulder-first into the steel steps and then sets up for a powerbomb possibly, but Cena counters with the backdrop. Cena grabs the steel steps and drives them into Tensai's shoulder and skull now and then tosses the big man back into the ring. Sakamoto gets some cheap shots in at ringside on Cena and then David Otunga rolls him back into the ring for Tensai to give him a huge double underhook suplex for a two count. Tensai works a nerve hold briefly and Cena tires to counter into the Attitude Adjustment, but he doesn't have the strength for it. Tensai misses a running shoulder in the corner and Cena is able to take him down with a big running shoulder-block. He tries for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Tensai counters with a big chop and a back senton. Tensai works a Fujiwara armbar on Cena but John rolls through and counters into the crossface, but Otunga comes into the ring to break it up so Cena gives him the AA. Tensai spits the GREEN MIST into Cena's eyes when he turns around and delivers the sitout powerbomb to pick up the upset win at 7:00. Not a very "extreme" match considering the stipulations, but this was a nice little brawl that puts over Tensai huge with the pin on Cena. It'll be interesting to see where they try to take the Tensai character from here after his lukewarm initial reception and now with his having scored a pin over one of the top dogs. **1/2

Bottom Line: Really good show this week as we got three different matches that got decent time and all of them ranged from solid to pretty damn good, one of the better RAW's in awhile from a wrestling standpoint. Cena cut a solid promo to help put over the match with Lesnar and then jobbed relatively cleanly to a new talent, so props to him and the booking committee tonight as well. There were still some segments that were utterly pointless drivel but you have to learn to accept a little bit of crap to go along with a few excellent matches and segments sometimes. Easy Thumbs Up here.

Score: 8/10

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