Monday Night Raw Warm Up for March 19th, 2012

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John Cena broke out his old theme music, basketball jersey, and pad lock for his rap routine shredding the Rock last week. The two did not meet face to face, but after what they had to say it's highly likely they will tonight in Philadelphia.

Obviously the big story coming out of last week’s Raw in Cleveland, Ohio, was the “John Cena rap versus the Rock’s concert” in the town that boasts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While neither performer is headed for induction, the musical battle didn’t quite go down the way the promos gave the impression it would be and it was a blessing. Most importantly, everyone got some air time with Cena and the Rock were limited to one segment each. As we head into tonight’s show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, expect a heavier focus on C.M. Punk and Chris Jericho and much clearer picture of the final names added to the card for WrestleMania XXVIII.

PTB: The old school “Doctor of Thuganomics” John Cena was in full effect last week. While I’ve always found this character to be epically silly, it was kind of fun to see him back. In two minutes he dissected the Rock as the “opening act” and by comparison the Rock did three verses working in his favorite (and familiar) Cena barbs about fruity pebble, teletubbies and lady parts. Cena even surprisingly won WWE’s online fan poll.


THE JASON: Sure, sure, but The Rock was pretty entertaining with his multiple versions of “jailhouse rock” at the end of the show.  Do you think Rock only learned how to play one song on guitar?  I kept waiting for him to play another song.


PTB: I’m thinking Jailhouse Rock was the only song going on that setlist and did not for a moment expect another tune. It’s impressive enough that he played one song as well as he did. It was interesting to see the normally PG Cena come off a lot more edgy to the point of being bleeped. It felt like he not only stooped to the Rock’s level of rudeness but exceeded it.

THE JASON:  I didn’t have a problem with that.  It’s the only way they’ll get a few more cheers for him!  There’s part of me that sees a horrible conflict in Cena’s platform; He wants The Rock to show up and not Dwayne Johnson which is implying that The Rock is a just a character, but John Cena basically did the same thing in order to run Rock down.  So was that John Cena that showed up, or was it the Dr. of Thuganomics?  I was happy to see Cena get back to what made him popular in the first place, before all of the PG poopy jokes and pro-WWE speeches.

PTB: That’s a good point and the Rock even questioned whether that was actually John Cena. I get playing it up for the rap angle, but I’d have preferred to see Cena stick with his claim that he hasn’t changed.

THE JASON: While the Rap and Rock segments were fine for what they were, I’m still not convinced that this is the best way to build the “biggest match in WrestleMania History.”  I know that they had a week to fill here and it’s getting tough to keep the two of them apart. I think they’ve said about all that they can say about one another without it getting physical.  I’m just hoping they go with my idea from last week’s Warm Up. I think they can do an extension of last Monday’s Raw and Cena can drop another rap on Rock, but have them be face-to-face in the ring. Cena, thinking he got the best of Rock, would turn his back and get KABONGED by the guitar. Rock should then retort in a way we haven’t seen yet. No catchphrases, not saying that Cena will be his ‘bitch’ – but that he’s been away for seven years and he’s got a point to prove. He should get serious and tell Cena that he can talk all he wants but on April 1st, The Rock is here to show why he came back to the WWE and that’s to beat him in the main event of WrestleMania. In turn that can always lead into another match afterwards with the two of them, where Rock does EXACTLY what Cena is saying he would (leave right after Mania) and refuse to give him another match while going to make movies.

PTB: I’d much rather see them get back to that argument and having them in the ring together is always better. I hope keeping them completely separate last week was setting up for some guitar swinging tonight in the City of Brotherly Love.

In the wrestling component of last week’s show, we saw Sheamus bust up Dolph Ziggler while Daniel Bryan and AJ watched from their skybox. Ziggler got pushed even further down the WWE ladder and the only way he’s making it to WrestleMania is the 12-man tag match between Team John Laurinaitis and Team Teddy Long that was announced last week.

THE JASON:  I would like to take this opportunity to recognize one thing about Ziggler. I love the dude’s entrance music. With the exception of both of Punk’s themes (The Killswitch Engage song and currently Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality”) I’m not a fan of wrestler’s entrance music. It’s all so generic and makes me wonder what happened to having something like “Pomp and Circumstance” for Macho Man. Everyone has songs that are so bland, yet there’s something about Ziggler’s that I really like. As far as wrestler theme’s go, this one gets a thumbs up from me. I also like the fuzzy vest.

PTB: I was with you until the fuzzy vest, at least about most of the current crop of entrance themes.

THE JASON: A great theme song and a fuzzy vest will not be helping Ziggler up the card. He’s going into that 12-man tag match along with Swagger, Henry, Santino, Del Rio, Christian, R-Truth, Kofi, David Bowtietunga (David Otunga), and whoever else they want to give a spot on the card. I’d love to see an extended program with Ziggler and Sheamus since I thought these two put on a great match.

PTB: As far as Sheamus’ WrestleMania opponent, it’s interesting to see Bryan’s heel persona evolve from a guy who worked his way up through the indies to getting special treatment and skybox seats. That strikes me as far more “Nature Boy” than internet darling. It’s also worth mentioning that his “Flight of the Valkyries” entrance music is reminiscent of Savage’s use of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

THE JASON: Yes, speaking of Macho Man, I love Bryan’s current character. The relationship with AJ is totally channeling Randy and Elizabeth. And he’s World Champ now! He’s major label! He’s box office, time to put the Ring Of Honor indie credentials (which they never acknowledge anyway) to rest in favor of him being a big shot.

PTB: I definitely like the change, but I’d still have prefer Bryan’s feud with the Big Show took him straight throughout to WrestleMania. That rivalry was part of every stage of Bryan transformation into the heel champion he is today and it would have been fantastic to see it play out in a high profile singles match.

We mentioned the recently announced Raw/Smackdown General Managers’ 12-man WrestleMania power struggle match, it’s way to get a lot of names on the card, but isn’t this essentially the Bragging Rights pay-per-view main event?

THE JASON:  Would you rather have a battle royal? It seemed like the plan was originally to have a Money in the Bank match, but they decided to move it back to its own pay-per-view instead. That left them needing a way to get a bunch of guys on the card in one match. While I’d rather see a Mick Foley/Dolph Ziggler match that we touched on last week, or a tag-team division that made having a match on the card worthwhile, or an Intercontinental Title Scramble Match, or a special Easter-rabbit’s-foot-on-a pole match (ok, strike the last one), I can live with this. I think that it will ultimately be a fun match, and I’m hoping they let Teddy Long be the GM for both shows.  He’s the only guy that has been in the babyface GM role for such a long time, and he’s done a great job with it, “playa.”

PTB: I’m with you on “Team Teddy,” but I think a big match like this, that’s not likely to be be given a lot of time, plays out better as a battle royal. At least it’s not an elimination tag match that will end up making everyone look bad.

We got to see Teddy Long’s team captain Santino Marella go one on one with John Laurinaitis’ team captain David Otunga. Those captains make sense, but with the prospect of guys like Ziggler ending up in this match that has to be seen as a step down.

THE JASON:  BOWTIETUNGA!  Did he learn how to strike poses at Harvard Law?  Is that part of the curriculum?  Wrestling certainly is not.

PTB: The scrum at the end of that match revealed that Mark Henry will be part of Team Laurinaitis and it looks like that match is where R-Truth and Kofi Kingston have landed as well.

THE JASON:  I feel bad for Mark Henry. The guy was on a roll there until he got injured and they wouldn’t let him take some time off. To go from World Champ to being on a team captained by David Otunga?  How the mighty have fallen.

PTB: Not to mention Henry was replaced at Elimination Chamber by the Great Khali.

THE JASON:  Speaking of falling, there’s Miz!  He and Drew McIntyre should have a dog house match at WrestleMania where the winner has to stuff their opponent in a dog house and the winner’s girlfriend gets rehired by the company. Of course, since they are both in the dog house the match will be before the pay-per-view goes on the air. It will take place at 3 AM the night before in an empty stadium and will only have taped portions shown on the WWE website.

PTB: The Miz is everywhere, except WrestleMania, but he is in the background of the shot of Cena and the Rock from the press conference. It’s kind of sad. Despite our hopes for what Miz would unveil in his hometown to get himself involved in the main event at WrestleMania, he lost a one-on-one match with C.M. Punk last week trying to get himself into that 12-man tag match.

THE JASON:  I’m fine with Miz losing right now, since he’s been on a losing streak and no one should be beating Punk before the big show.

PTB: I’m still fully expecting Miz to get put into that match (probably on Team Teddy) at some point. I even thought it might happen on Smackdown, where it looks like Christian was added instead.

After that match the Punk / Jericho feud took a very personal turn. I don’t know that this needed to get personal with Jericho bringing in the business about Punk’s alcoholic father just yet. Jericho claiming he’d make him hit rock bottom and drive him to drink was enough in my opinion. Save the really personal stuff until after you’ve laid the groundwork for that angle, especially if a rematch is in the works for after WrestleMania.

THE JASON:  I disagree on this point. I really liked it. I did think Jericho was cutting really deeply in bringing up Punk’s alchoholic father, but I thought it brought a new dimension to Punk’s character. As a babyface, they never really explored Punk’s rationale for being Straight Edge. As a heel, he always plays up that he’s a role model and better than you. As a good guy – he just happens to be a guy with tattoos who doesn’t drink or do drugs. They tend to downplay the Straight Edge lifestyle when he’s a good guy.I think they even had him drinking a Pepsi during one of Steve Austin’s beer bashes a few years back. I thought Jericho’s attack made Punk really sympathetic and Jericho came out of it far more hated than he went in. It made sense to me. Jericho needed to get in Punk’s head and the only way to beat the guy who claims to be the best is to throw him off his game. I dug it and both guys really did well with the segment.

PTB: I’ve always hated that Punk’s straight edge lifestyle (and now Daniel Bryan’s veganism) is not only portrayed as a bad thing but it’s what defined him as a heel for a long time. This angle with Jericho is a huge improvement on that front. I just would have saved it since I felt like there was more than enough heat between the two.


PTB: So Maria Menounos was shown interviewing the Bella Twins backstage last week and it turned into some nonsense with Eve and Beth Phoenix. Somehow that’s turned into a match at WrestleMania with Menounos teaming with Kelly Kelly against Eve and the Divas Champion, at least Beth made it onto the card.

THE JASON:  Beth looks bizarre in a dress. Especially a bright yellow dress. She looked like a damn banana. Who in wardrobe is letting this happen? That look did not help her. Maybe it’s because she’s playing second banana to Eve (OH! PUNS!) What is going on here anyway? Beth should be beating every girl in the company to set up something…. anything… that isn’t what we’re getting. The only way this ends well is if Zack Ryder turns on Eve after hooking up with Beth… and then dumping them both and hooking up with the Bella Twins. That’s how you do Long Island douchebaggery, Zach.

I realize that this will never happen.

PTB: Never.

The Funkasaurus, Brodus Clay, returned after four weeks away from television to destroy Jinder Mahal. Who does WWE care less about?

THE JASON:  I was ecstatic about this. Ecstatic I tell you! I love the Funkasaurus.  Ask me again in 3 months if they keep doing 30 second matches and 5 minutes of dancing if I still love it, but the guy cracks me up. I was upset that we didn’t get a “SUPLEX!”, “MY BAD!” or my favorite: “SHOULD I GET HIM?” but I think they are tweaking him to be more serious once the bell rings.

Jinder Mahal is another case of a guy that they brought up and gave minimal  backstory to and then proceeded to kill him off as soon as he didn’t get over.  I find him boring in the ring, but he’s playing “Stereotypical Evil Foreign Guy” right now, so he may have more to show than that.

PTB: I enjoy the spectacle of Brodus Clay, but there’s a long way to go in the ring to justify the air time he gets.

Jack Swagger is in the dog house too getting fed to Randy Orton last week following two straight losses to Santino Marella.

THE JASON:  ADD HIM TO THE DOG HOUSE MATCH!  Isn’t Evan Bourne due back any day?  It can be a 4-Way!

PTB: A highlight of the show last Monday was Shawn Michaels coming face to face with Undertaker . I love the idea that Shawn could still be the guy to break the Undertaker’s WrestleMania win streak as the guest referee in the dead man’s rematch with Triple H. With the crotch crop from Triple H and someone talking behind Shawn’s back, is the swerve that obvious?


THE JASON:  Shawn was just fantastic in this segment. Despite HHH’s crotch chop at the end, I think the fact that the two of them didn’t do it together said a lot.  To me, I interpreted that as HHH thinking he’s got HBK in his pocket – but that’s not necessarily the case. Shawn is out for Shawn with this match and he’s got an ax to grind with both participants.

I could see HBK coming out of retirement and having one more match against Triple H at WrestleMania next year. I know that the current WWE philosophy is to cover up certain parts of history, and we’re supposed to think that Triple H and HBK have been friends since 1996. Regardless, if they do decide to have a match next year, I really hope they touch on the history they have as rivals since there’s a good four years of material that they can work with. They had plenty they could have culled from with Triple H and Undertaker as well, but they seem to want to start fresh as opposed to acknowledging history. I shouldn’t be surprised since they did the same thing with Hogan and Andre in ’87.

And I was glad to see Undertaker drop the zombie bit for this promo when he said “Shawn, what do you want me to say?”

PTB: Even if they’re conveniently ignoring long term history, they’re doing a great job with the short term stuff in that feud. The fact that this will be the fourth straight year that Michaels is directly involved in the Undertaker’s WrestleMania win streak is pretty cool.

Of course they’ve also failed to mention a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee announcement from back in October, so maybe short term isn’t always their game either. A Mil Mascaras video package appeared on WWE’s YouTube page this past week after his inclusion in the 2012 class seemed to be largely ignored. The uncle of Alberto Del Rio appeared on the Mexico City Smackdown show, but I’m not sure that it aired. The man is truly a legend and we had to share that we was the first announced inductee this year even if it’s been absent from TV in the run up to WrestleMania.


With two 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
  • The Undertaker vs. Triple H (Hell in a Cell Match with special referee Shawn Michaels)
  • The Rock versus John Cena
  • Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes versus The Big Show
  • Team John Laurinaitis vs. Team Teddy Long 12-man tag team match to determine the new General Manager of Raw and Smackdown
  • Randy Orton vs. Kane
  • Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos vs. Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Eve

2012 Hall of Fame inductees announced to date:

  • Mil Mascaras
  • 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 12th, 2012 edition / March 26th, 2012 edition

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