WWE RAW 4/2/12
April 2nd, 2012
American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time
April 2nd, 2012
American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Attendance: Unknown at this time
Well we're 24 hours removed from Wrestlemania and the Rock beating John Cena, and there's a ton of rumors in the air about tonight's show. Traditionally the RAW after Wrestlemania has been the show that lays out the direction the company will take into the summer, so this should be exciting. We kick off on the show tonight with all of the WWE wrestlers assembled backstage at the request of the new General Manager, John Laurinaitis. CM Punk informs Johnny that everyone still thinks he's a giant toolbox though and he gets a round of laughs. Johnny books Punk into a title defense against Mark Henry tonight and then welcomes everyone to a new era of "people power" as we cut to the atrocious Nickelback RAW intro package.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T
The Rock is the first to join us after the pyro, fresh off of his victory over John Cena the previous night. The fans give him a warm reception and start chants of "Boots to asses" and "You've still got it!" ring out almost immediately. Rock thanks the fans and then goes into his "Finally the Rock has come back....home" line as "Rocky!' chants start again. Rock wants to thank John Cena, but the fans don't like that. Rock says he had a "Jesus H. Christ get this guy off me" moment when Cena had him locked into the STF last night, but he thanks Cena again because they know they both did it for the people. Rock talks about his past in the CFL, and tells the fans how bad you have to suck to be kicked out of the CFL, poking fun at his past, but he made it to the WWE and he wants to tell anyone who thinks this is the end that is actually only the beginning for the Rock. A huge "Yes!" Daniel Bryan chant breaks out in a glorious moment before it turns into a "Thank you Rocky!" chant. Rock talks about some Spanish dancing and jaws with a fan at ringside that whistles at him as he decides to share with us his "vision", and another huge "YES!" chant breaks out. The Rock's vision? The Rock as WWE Champion of course. That gets a nice pop and Rock wraps it up with a "If ya smell" line and we're golden. Crazy heat for that promo, this crowd is jacked up and apparently are huge fans of Daniel Bryan. Where do we go from here though?
WWE US Title Match
Santino Marella vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger
Crowd is hot behind Santino surprisingly enough, you'd think with the smarks they'd be rooting for Ziggler or maybe Swagger. The two heels dominate Santino with ease, but Santino manages to get off some punches before being laid out again as we take a commercial break. When we return Santino is able to fire off a Saito suplex to Ziggler before pulling out the cobra puppet. Ziggler gives Santino a fameasser while Swagger holds him, but he still manages to kick out at two. Ziggler and Swagger wind up getting in each other's faces and Swagger gives Dolph a belly-to-belly. Santino launches Dolph into the corner with a catapult and then strikes Swagger with The Cobra for the win at 3:20 (shown). Well this wasn't much of a match, most of it seemed to take place during the commercial break, but what we did see was pretty good actually. The Funkasaurus Brodus Clay comes out after the match to save Santino from the heel beatdown and the crowd even chants for the Funkasaurus. *1/2
Lord Tensai vs. Alex Riley
And here we have the return of one Matt Bloom (A-Train/Albert/Giant Bernard) to the WWE after years of dominating the tag team scene in Japan, making his debut under this new Lord Tensai gimmick complete with token Asian lackey. Crowd recognizes him and chant out "A-Train!" as Riley is the one obligated to do the job here for Tensai. Tensai elbows him and then headbutts him several times into the corner. Beautiful pumphandle suplex from Tensai on Riley now, followed by a pair of driving elbows and a back senton. Tensai gives him a sitout powerbomb and the referee calls for the bell as apparently Riley is unconscious at 2:48. Nice little re-introduction for Tensai, it'll be interesting to see how strong they're willing to book him in this monster heel role when you've got guys like Brodus Clay who are just as big and beefy hanging around. After the match Tensai gives Riley THE CLAW! I'm all for old school holds like that coming back if done right, right on. 1/2*
WWE Title Match
CM Punk © vs. Mark Henry
This is quite the random but fresh match up. Crowd is hot for Punk, which helps make his fiery underdog babyface offense in the starting minutes of the match that much more effective and compelling. Punk keeps trying to mount some measure of offense with forearms but Henry just clotheslines him down like a ragdoll and shouts "I OWN YOU BOY!" just to rub the size differential in Punk's face. Henry catches Punk in a bear hug so Punk elbows the shit out of him and lays him out with a DDT. Punk lays in a series of big kicks and a running knee for another two count as Henry grabs the bottom rope. Punk tries a series of forearms in the corner but Henry feeds him a boot. He tries for a Vader bomb but Punk rolls out of the way. Punk springboards right into Mark Henry's forearm as we cut to commercial here. When we return Punk is leaping off the top rope only to meet a big leg from Henry once again. Henry works a nerve hold on Punk but he manages to break it up and starts firing off huge chops and kicks again, which are made even better by this insane crowd chanting 'YES!" at every blow. Punk hits the Macho Man elbow on Henry, but appears to tweak his back in the process. He hits a pair of Muay Thai knees on the big man but when he tries for the bulldog, Henry just lifts him up and throws him out of the ring! That bump's big enough for Punk to get counted out apparently at 10:04 (shown). This was all sorts of great and that was mostly because of the red hot crowd and the fact that Henry and Punk were willing to really lay stiff into each other here in this one, and it shows. I'd love to see more of this. ***
After the match Henry gives Punk the World's Strongest Slam, but before he can get a chance to recover, out comes Johnny Laurinaitis with David Otunga to tell Punk to beware of a natural disaster, namely, Chris Jericho. Jericho gets on the mic and says that he and Punk need to celebrate their great match last night with a drink. Jericho grabs a bottle of Jack Daniels and toasts him before pouring the whole bottle right in Punk's face! Jake Roberts is shifting aimlessly in bed after thta one. Jericho grabs another bottle of Jack and does a spot where he appears to break the entire thing over Punk's head. Punk lays in pain as we cut to commercial.
Sheamus is out next, to resounding boos from this pro Daniel Bryan crowd.Before he can say anything though he's interrupted by a returning Alberto Del Rio. The crowd sees pretty much immediately that they're going to set up Del Rio vs. Sheamus for the title next, and they respond with more "Daniel Bryan!" chants. Del Rio says he's been promised a title match with Sheamus on Smackdown this week. The mic cuts out on Del Rio and Sheamus gives him a Brogue Kick, so we're done here.
Backstage Josh Matthews is with Daniel Bryan and AJ. Matthews asks Bryan his feelings on his match with Sheamus at Wrestlemania and gets no response.
Cody Rhodes vs. Kofi Kingston
Cody takes it right to Kofi but eats a pair of knees in the corner followed by a cross body. Rhodes flips out of a suplex attempt and nails Kingston with the Beautiful Disaster kick, when suddenly the Big Show decides to come out in the middle of the match to show highlights of the match at 'Mania and turn the tables on Rhodes. This distracts Cody long enough for Kofi to hit him with the Trouble in Paradise and pick up the win at 1:47. More of an angle than a match really, nothing doing here. 1/2*
Backstage after the break Abraham Washington makes his return to WWE television to try and sell his wares to an angry Mark Henry. I'm always up for more (or any) managers in wrestling.
Next Eve Torres comes out to spout the same "I manipulated Zack Ryder, lol" speech she did the last time she turned on Zack, and the crowd shits on her rightfully so.
The Miz vs. Zack Ryder
Speaking of Zack Ryder, here he is. Ryder takes it right to Miz, brawling with him out of the ring and back inside where they do a back body drop/sunset flip spot. Ryder eats a boot and then manages to fight off a chinlock and nail a flying forearm. He plants Miz face-first into the mat and then hits him with the Broski facewash Boot for a two count. Miz tosses Ryder shoulder-first into the steel post and then gives him the Skull Crushing Finale to pick up the win at 2;56. Decent little quickie match, but this continued de-push of Zack Ryder is really disheartening. *1/2
John Cena, the most unpopular man in the room by a very large margin, comes out for our closing segment. He's decked out in new Celtics inspired gear again and the boos are as loud as usual. Cena says he never thought of losing, but he meant every single thing he said in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania. The sad thing here is that the crowd just really does not care about John Cena at all, they're more interested in chanting "Yes!". Big "You're a loser!" chant to John Cena, but he continues on with his resilient babyface routine anyways. Crowd chants "We want Lesnar!" but Cena wants The Rock to come out. Cena puts over The Rock for beating him last night and the "Yes!" chant takes off again with Cena even joining in. Cena wants to publicly congratulate The Rock on his victory, but The Rock doesn't answer. No, Brock fucking Lesnar answers to a monster pop to end all monster pops. People are going apeshit in the crowd just seeing Lesnar in the building, and damnit if I can't say this wasn't one of those increasingly rare total mark out moments for me as well. Lesnar takes his time walking to the ring and goes to shake Cena's hand, but decides instead to give him the F5! He kicks his hat afterwards just to add a bit of insult to injury as well. And that our show folks, Brock Lesnar is back in the WWE, let's see if they can manage to make this thing work for the next year, because if so we're in for one HELL of a year in wrestling ladies and gents.
Bottom Line: It's the post-Wrestlemania RAW, how can I not give this show the Thumbs Up? I mean it helps that CM Punk and Mark Henry decided to beat the shit out of each other and put on great little match for the time they got, and oh there was this Brock Lesnar guy who showed up in the closing segment to bring the whole thing home. This crowd was absolutely insane and the show had a once-in-a-lifetime electricity, just like Wrestlemania did. Easy Thumbs Up.