John Cena recapped the highlights from Survivor Series for a decidedly anti-Cena crowd in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Even invoking popular names like Zack Ryder, new WWE Champion C.M. Punk, and Cena’s pay-per-view tag team partner, the Rock, couldn’t keep the crowd from jeering him. Thankfully, the fans in attendance showed a lot of love for Ryder and Punk themselves even if the Rock wasn’t on hand for last week’s Monday Night Raw. The show went on just fine without him (as well as absent guest star Jonah Hill) even if it’s clear he can still entertain in the ring. We certainly heard a lot about him (and are sure to hear a lot more) as we head into WrestleMania, but the Raw roster put together a solid show.
Brian: C.M. Punk came out and cut another great promo. I love the fact that he called himself a wrestler. I wish the terms “sports entertainment” and “sports entertainer” would just go away. I’m really hoping his constant mentioning of the old WWE Ice Cream bars will actual bring the return to fruition. Those things were so good.
PTB: C.M. Punk opening the show was exactly what I wanted coming out of Survivor Series. I have really high hopes for this turn for him as WWE Champion. The promise of him bringing some “danger” back to the Championship picture and Raw in general is appealing.
I know neither of us were happy with the booking around him since Money in the Bank, but ultimately we have him back as WWE Champion, solidly in place as a face, with the crowd squarely behind him. Best of all, his mic work hasn’t really changed.
Brian: Just when things were looking up, out comes John Laurinaitis. His mic work is getting somewhat better, but he still has about as much charisma as the laptop posing as the anonymous Raw GM (What happened to that angle?!)
I love how CM calls attention to his use the WWE Universe “buzz word” because it’s so overused. These mandated terminology changes are lame an insult to our intelligence. Despite what our experiences at live events might sometimes tell us, wrestling fans aren’t stupid.
PTB: I don’t mind the term, but its heavy handed application gets old.
Brian: Laurinaitis says that, “a wise and old man” once told him to “put yourself in the fans shoes,” and then he decides to not setup the matches fans are craving instead pitting Zach Ryder vs Alberto Del Rio and Punk vs Dolph Ziggler. I actually liked this for two reasons:
- I hate seeing a rematch of a PPV main event the next night on Raw. How do you rationalize giving that match away for free after fans paid for it the night before? That’s half the reason why we buy PPVs once or twice a year. Save the rematch for the next PPV and prolong the storyline.
- Don’t give me the quick payoff. The fact that they keep teasing the Ziggler/Ryder title match is going to make the payoff so much sweeter. I know I was confused about John Morrison’s involvement in the US title hunt during our last post. It makes a little more sense now.
PTB: I liked the choice to mix up these opponents and draw things out a bit, but unfortunately, both of these matches had their rough spots. Del Rio squashing Ryder left me wondering if this was a sign that he’s not ready to deliver what the fans are clamoring for.
Brian: Ryder vs Del Rio was a decent match. I was glad to see Alberto put the cross arm breaker on the correct arm. On the previous week’s Raw, he grabbed the wrong arm on Punk and you could see Punk present the correct appendage.
PTB: Ziggler versus Punk was the polar opposite and just shows where these guys are in terms of what they can do in the ring. Ziggler’s push continued its steady build with him going up against Punk on his first night as champion, even though there seemed to be a couple of sloppy moments in their match.
Brian: Phenomenal match between Punk and Ziggler. Punk continues his great in-ring work while Ziggler shows why he could be the future of the company. Slightly botched finish as Punk looked visibly pissed that he could no convert Ziggler’s attempt at a “Fame-asser” into the GTS. Still didn’t take away from an all around great performance.
PTB: I really like Ziggler’s #HEEL branding and calling Punk a “disgusting disgrace of a new WWE champ” and quickly following it with “no offense,” fit perfectly. It’s one of the better things to come out of @WWE’s obsession with Twitter (You can also follow MyLatestDistraction on Twitter (@MLDtweets). We’re currently trending office-wide).
Brian: During Jack Swagger’s intro for his match with Sheamus, where Sheamus continued to roll through everyone he faces lately, the annoying Twitter graphic flickered and revealed a link to http://YouTube.com/user/itbegins2012. The video is a vignette promoting the return of a familiar face to “reclaim what is his” on 1/2/2012. Chris Jericho? Kane? My money is on the Undertaker and he’ll be hot on the tail of the World Heavyweight Champ.
PTB: I’d love for this to be Jericho’s return or even something new, but this has the Undertaker written all over it. It’s cool video.
Brain: Later in the night, we were treated to what looks like a vignette promoting the return of Kane. We see Kane’s face from under a hood, but the end of the video shows Kane’s second mask fall to the floor burning. Many are speculating that we’ll see the return of the masked Kane.
PTB: A masked Kane could be fun.
Brian: Cody Rhodes’ horrible affect is gone, but it’s replaced with an equally bad panned laugh at the end of his promo. He made quick work of Santino Marella and made his way down to the announce table to confront Booker T. He even threw a cup of water in Booker’s face and instead of helping to promote the upcoming feud between these two, Michael Cole spends the next 2 minutes complaining about how he got wet. He’s an absolute waste of space.
PTB: I was happy to see Booker appear as a guest commentator on last week’s show, and the beginning of a feud with Rhodes took me by surprise. Rhodes threw out an “If you will” during his promo and you didn’t even flinch. I hope your hatred of Cole isn’t getting in your way of hearing and seeing gems like that 😉
While we’re talking about promos, I don’t like that Kevin Nash’s promo wasn’t delivered at Madison Square Garden. They certainly did other promos on the pay-per-view and it would have been perfect there.
PTB: Judging by those arms, I don’t think she’ll spend much time playing the WWE ’12 video game despite what she suggests.
Brian: I really enjoy these pretaped promos that have been appearing on the screen as a wrestler enters the ring like the one we saw from Wade Barrett. It brings me back to the old Wrestling Challenge/Superstars days on Saturday mornings. Randy Orton’s music hit during the match and Barrett must have been distracted by the fact that Orton has stolen John Morrison’s slow motion entrance. It looks like the Survivor Series team captains will begin a feud.
PTB: Orton’s entrance doesn’t need to get any slower. I still wish there had been more build up for their teams meeting at the pay-per-view, but I think this is a good feud for Barrett.
Brian: I can’t wait for the new Stone Cold Steve Austin DVD release. I’m hoping for some more matches from his Stunning Steve Austin days in WCW.
PTB: I haven’t seen the previous DVD sets dedicated to Austin, but hopefully The Bottom Line serves as a complement for The Stone Cold Truth and The Legacy of Austin in the selection of matches.
Brian: Another Anti-Cena crowd in Hershey. Not quite as bad as his hometown or New York City, but it was very hard to hear any cheers. It’s sad how many people hate him and it was a similar reaction for Awesome Truth. These “What?!” chants are so annoying.
PTB: I honestly enjoy hearing Truth shout “don’t what me!” Having a both sides in a feud get a negative reaction from the crowd is never really a good thing though.
Brian: Cena needs to spend less time blowing sunshine up The Rock’s butt and worry about why the biggest face in WWE is so hated.
The night ends with Miz and R-Truth turning on each other due to Cena’s promo. Seems odd. Raw goes off the air after a Skull Crushing Finale for Truth on the stage and the guys from the back tend to him. We find out the next morning that R-Truth has been suspended for 30 days for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. From what I’ve been reading this suspension stems from the Evan Bourne suspension for supposedly smoking synthetic marijuana with other main event talent, but he was the only person that was penalized.
PTB: I like the split, but I hate the reason behind it.
Brian: And of course no surprise here that the Rock is nowhere to be found.
WWE Monday Night Raw airs live at 9PM on the USA Network. All photos courtesy of WWE.com.
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