Monday Night Raw Warm Up for March 12th, 2012

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Shawn Michaels shares the good news that he'll be the Special Guest Referee in Triple H's Hell in a Cell match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVIII. Michaels will be a factor in the Undertaker maintaining his 19-0 undefeated streak at WrestleMania for a fourth straight year.

As expected, last week’s Monday Night Raw from Boston dedicated a lot of time to the Rock and John Cena with their upcoming match at WrestleMania XXVIII. Thankfully both men were in attendance to move things along, unlike this week’s Warm Up at MLD where we’re wishing Brian best of luck in “all of his future endeavors.” We’ve brought our old friend “The Jason” up from developmental to get ready for tonight’s Raw in Cleveland, Ohio.

THE JASON: First off, thanks for calling me up to the main roster for Wrestlemania, PTB. Although I suspect I may get the Brodus Clay treatment after this big show. Somebody call my momma!

PTB: I have every confidence you’re up to the task. After all, your work on To Live and Die on LI should serve as good training and you’ve watched your share of wrestling through the good and the bad over the years.

I had gone on record predicting two appearances for The Rock heading into WrestleMania, and I really didn’t expect to see him in Boston last week. Admittedly, he was much more electrifying than his appearance in Portland even if throwing things off a bridge is a familiar sight.

THE JASON: I predicted that I’d fall asleep on Raw, but perhaps it was the electricity of The Rock that kept me into the show. While I loved the old Rocky bit where he throws stuff off the bridge for the first of last Monday’s taped promos, I thought the schtick got a bit tired towards the end of the show. I hate to say it, but by the last of the three promos it made me remember why we started booing Rock during Summerslam 2002.

PTB: It was interesting to hear Cena point out that the Rock’s best stuff has been pre-recorded or via satellite when Cena’s pre-taped bit in the empty arena ground the show to a halt last week. Cena’s in ring mic work was much better, and the idea that wrestling is all he has added an intriguing element to this angle. It was good to hear more of the crowd get behind him as well, but it was his hometown.

THE JASON: While I like the “serious Cena,” that empty arena promo left me… well, empty I suppose. I hate when WWE angles start to rely on wonky buzzwords and goofy lingo instead of just coming out and saying exactly what it is they are looking to achieve in a segment. This is wrestling. Sure, I like some subtlety in my storytelling, but I’m not entirely sure that it’s exactly the right time for Cena to be saying that if “he loses then he loses everything.” What is Cena losing? His shorts? His lame t-shirts? His job? I don’t know that everyone watching is going to connect that he’ll lose respect if he loses to a former wrestler turned movie star. Why not just spell that part out?  Enough of the dancing around the subject.  He should just say “I’ll be here on the Monday after Wrestlemania, and if I don’t beat you then there’s not much point in showing up to work.”

But then… Cena stood around and grinned like a fool through Rock’s promo anyway so I’m not sure what the point of the empty arena bit was.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZYm0XrKPmY]

PTB: We may be wishing the Rock stayed home tonight with the scheduled “Rock concert” versus “Cena rap” which sounds like the worst thing imaginable.

THE JASON: Music in wrestling hasn’t worked since Cyndi Lauper in ’85. It definitely isn’t going to help build the “biggest match in history,” unless Rock performs a Honky Tonk Man/Jeff Jarrett to Cena’s head with an acoustic guitar. That I could live with.

PTB: The may be the only way this bit comes out a winner. Even though Rock and Cena dominated the minutes last week, the show opened with a strong segment from Shawn Michaels and Triple H. I didn’t think last year’s Triple H / Undertaker match was as epic as we’re being told (I much preferred their meeting from ten year’s earlier at WrestleMania 17), and a rematch this year doesn’t have a lot of appeal. Adding Michaels as the guest referee is an improvement in my eyes.

THE JASON: Two old dudes hitting a move and laying around for 5 minutes at a time wasn’t a classic match? Well, WWE tells me otherwise! I thought last year’s mania match started off REALLY hot and then just died. I’m glad that the additional 15 minutes of time they wasted putting Undertaker on the gurney has actually led somewhere. I was hating the idea of them having a rematch, but I’ll freely admit that the journey there has been great so far. I think that Triple H, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels have a done an admirable really raising the interest level for the match with their performances. I thought Shawn did a great job adding some intrigue to the match last Monday. With two straight losses and a retirement from Undertaker at WrestleMania, they definitely made it questionable as to whom he’d favor as special referee.

I don’t think Hell in the Cell adds anything to the match, though. Hey, they could have saved that for the rematch NEXT YEAR! (Dear WWE – I’m kidding. I’m REALLY kidding.)

PTB: Careful there, Jason. That kind of talk opens the door to claiming it’s what the fans are asking for.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiG07VlFgx0]

PTB: C.M. Punk’s air time was limited last Monday, but a solid match like the one he was in is exactly what I want to see. Even Sheamus made a good showing as Punk’s partner against guys that can really work in Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho.

THE JASON: I like that they gave Jericho the pin. I feel like the whole bit with Jericho “trolling” the fans with the silence and the misleading videos earlier in the year wound up going nowhere and ultimately led back him playing the same character he has before. He needs to seem like a threat to Punk. He can’t be Dancing Chris the Game-Show Host who is just talking about being the best. He’s done nothing to prove it in his return. A Royal Rumble win would have really gone a long way to helping this angle… but what do I know?  So I think that Jericho getting the win here was important, but I think that it would be best for he and Punk to be kept apart until WrestleMania to build the match a bit more now. I am looking forward to tonight, and I want to hear some more mic work from the two of them since the opening promo the week before last was a highlight.

PTB: Even with a good tune up tag match, I’d still rather hear more from Punk and Jericho and I’m hoping Rock and Cena time on screen is a bit more limited to make room tonight.

THE JASON: I don’t think there’s much more that either guy can say. I think Cena has been getting the better of the Rock. Rock is an actor, and he’s actually a pretty good actor, so I’m not sure if he’s getting flustered out there or he’s just going back to his familiar catchphrases to make it seem like Cena is getting to him, but it feels really forced.

PTB: It’s good to see that Sheamus and Bryan’s World title match is being promoted on both Raw and Smackdown, but I still think Bryan versus Big Show was building to something that we never really saw finish.

THE JASON: I think that Bryan/Sheamus opens up the show at WrestleMania. I’m not thrilled if that’s how they plan to treat treating the Big Gold Belt – but it’s preferential what Sheamus and Bryan got last year (same match – which got bumped… probably so Undertaker and HHH could lie around and catch their breath for a little while longer.)

PTB: It was nice to see the GM feud move to being fueled by Jack Swagger and Santino Marella rather than continuing the champion versus champion match with Punk and Bryan. Those were great matches but after three encounters in a month it’s time to save that for an event where we can see a clean finish.

Santino has been relegated to comic relief for so long and it was great to see him with the US title after some great work back at Elimination Chamber. After retaining the title in a rematch on Smackdown, I’m wondering if this will really be an effort to use him seriously.

THE JASON: I can’t put too much hope into Santino being used in a serious manner. I think he’s a talented guy, but I think he’s seen as a comedy guy. I don’t think there is a particular concern for making the US title meaningful. It seemed like Dolph Ziggler worked really hard to rehabilitate the title, but with the flip to Ryder and then Swagger they forgot about the belt again. Santino works hard so I’m glad to see him rewarded, even if it means he’ll wind up being fodder for the next time they want to get Mason Ryan or Ezekial Jackson over.

But speaking of working hard and Ziggler – what are they doing with this guy? Did you think that there was a possibility a few months ago that they were going to do a Ziggler program with Mick Foley?

PTB: That certainly seemed like it would be the case, but Ziggler has been used pretty much exclusively as a sidekick to Swagger since Elimination Chamber. Much like the Miz, he’s gone from the main event to not being on the card as we head toward the biggest show of the year.

Another name that’s not only been out of the spotlight but missing entirely in recent weeks is Beth Phoenix. We often lament the poor treatment of the Divas, and segments like Eve versus Alicia Fox reach a new level of absurdity. There was no need for a match to move this Zach Ryder business along.

THE JASON: You know, Zack Ryder’s dad lives next to one of my friends. Everyone on Long Island is connected! That’s a Z True Long Island Story for ya. Ryder is the one that I felt looked the worst of anyone last week. The dude gets beat on for weeks on end. His best friend makes out with his girl. His girl turns on him, calls him a child and says that he couldn’t even get to first base. And then his revenge is… to look like even more of a geek? I’m not sure why they would even bother to bring Ryder back so quickly if this is the end game. Unless the end game is WWE telling us that we shouldn’t choose to cheer anyone that they don’t want us to cheer for.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csS1OAl1cVk]

PTB: It certainly seems like he wasn’t ready for the spots they put him in. I really thought they’d move him into a program with Kane, but that’s not happening anytime soon. I could not care less about Kane versus Randy Orton, a guy WWE clearly wants us to cheer for. Normally I enjoy Kane but the feud with Cena became terrible and Orton has never captured my interest.

THE JASON: That’s what I was thinking when you were talking about the lack of resolve with Bryan and Big Show. I think that the whole Smackdown side of things is a mess. I like what they’ve done so far with Big Show and Cody Rhodes. It’s a match that feels fresh to me, but I don’t feel that they ever ended things conclusively with Big Show and Bryan, but they didn’t end anything with Mark Henry either. And what happened to Alberto Del Rio? And Christian? You mean to tell me that Kane is a better option to face Randy Orton rather than any of those guys? I dig Kane’s new welder’s mask and his hair extensions probably make Kelly Kelly jealous, but once the guy gets in the ring it is the same old Kane we’ve seen doing the same old moves. Orton is one of those guy who I feel is only as good his opponent. They put him in with Punk last year, I’m interested. Put him in with Kane? Not so much? And who is writing their dialogue? “It’s good to be back?” Well, good for you Mr. Viper but if you don’t stay away longer we really can’t start to miss you.

I think Del Rio could have played the same role with Orton that Kane is and the resulting match would have wound up being a bit more interesting.

PTB: Wade Barrett ‘s injury certainly left Orton without an opponent for WrestleMania, but I agree that there were better directions to go. I agree completely about the Rhodes / Big Show feud as a suitable replacement for more of Big Show / Bryan.

Heading into Cleveland tonight, just how ridiculous do you expect the “musical” confrontation between Cena and the Rock to be?

THE JASON:  I see some bad, bad, bad song parodies coming – all from Mr. Johnson’s side of things. I’m sure Rock will work “Kung Pao” into an Elvis song.  “You aint nothing but Rocky’s Bitch, John… crying all the time.” That’s where I see it going.

Isn’t the Miz from Cleveland? Maybe he’ll come out and insert himself into the main event this year! Or not.

PTB: Capitalizing on their history going back to last April would be a nice touch to get the Miz on the card at WrestleMania, but everyone will have to be at their best tonight or it could turn into another “John Cena, This Is Your Life.”

With three weeks to go until WrestleMania XXVIII, here’s the card we’ve seen announced so far:

  • Chris Jericho challenges C.M. Punk for the WWE Championship
  • Sheamus challenges Daniel Bryan for the World Championship
  • Triple H versus the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match
  • The Rock versus John Cena
  • Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes versus The Big Show

2012 Hall of Fame inductees announced to date:

  • Edge
  • The Four Horsemen
  • Mike Tyson
  • Ron Simmons

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
March 5th, 2012 edition / March 19th, 2012 edition

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