Monday Night Raw Warm Up for April 2nd, 2012

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WrestleMania XXVIII set a Sun Life Stadium attendance record at 78,363 last night.

The biggest night of the wrestling year has come and gone, at least until tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw. The night after WrestleMania has a history of breaking new ground, and there are a lot of new directions possible for some superstars that came up short last night like Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and of course, John Cena. There’s also the possibility that we’ll see The Rock, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels for one more night along with regular roster and the debut of Lord Tensai that we’ve seen teased in last few week. As John Laurinaitis takes over as the permanent General Manager of both Raw and Smackdown, WWE Champion C.M. Punk is likely to see more obstacles in his championship reign and he may not have seen the last of Chris Jericho.

Monday Night Raw comes live from Miami on the heels of WrestleMania XXVIII with the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony as a lead in. We’ll get into what went down at the “Showcase of the Immortals” and what we expect for tonight.

PTB: Before we get into any details, did WrestleMania XXVIII miss, meet or exceed your expectations?

THE JASON: I’d have to say that this show went above and beyond my expectations.  It was a really solid show (with the exception of a few black eyes) and all of the big matches that needed to deliver did so exceptionally well.  After a few years of Wrestlemania not fulfilling the wrestling quotient, I thought this year made up for it.

PTB: I agree that it was a better show than I was expecting and certainly falls in the top half of WrestleManias, maybe even top ten.

THE JASON: I need a little time to ruminate on it.  But I really enjoyed it.  Unquestionably this was the best show top-to-bottom since the WrestleMania 24 which featured Flair’s retirement match (at the time) and Edge/Undertaker.

PTB: You’re right to point out that this year had it’s share of action in the ring (along with a few “entertainment” bits that we’ll get into later). I was happy with most of the matches, but the glaring exception was Sheamus and Daniel Bryan. I fully expected a Sheamus victory, but not the complete absence of a match. What a waste of both guys. It was absolutely a “WrestleMania moment,”, but a match with entrances that were longer than the match isn’t what I want to see at the top of the show. While Daniel Bryan’s wizard robe was something to see, I just don’t think he’s the monster heel that this type of squash works best with. Too many people like him.

THE JASON: That was not the best way to start off the show.  That was the first black eye I was speaking of before.  It was a great way to put Sheamus over, but I felt like it was a slap in the face of all the people who are fans of the art of professional wrestling.  Everyone knows that Bryan is great, and to have him go out there and not even get an offensive move in doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless you intentionally want to irritate your core fanbase. If that’s what they wanted to do they were very successful since the audience was chanting “Daniel Bryan” on and off for the next 3 matches.  Thankfully, the show would progress in a far better direction after this.
And man, that robe was awesome.  It definitely started a trend that would continue through the rest of the show.

PTB: Following that match up with Randy Orton versus Kane didn’t help from where I was sitting, and it raised the stakes for that match to justify it even being on the card. Orton’s entrance was as long as ten championship matches, but I was really happy to see Kane win by the time it was done.

THE JASON: Surprisingly, I did not hate this match.  I thought it was fine, and Orton and Kane worked hard with the spot they were given.  I was shocked to see Kane get the win, but I get the impression that this was the “swerve” ending match for the evening.  No one expected Kane to win, so he winds up winning.  The top-rope chokeslam was pretty cool.

It sucks to be Orton though.  I feel like the 2nd match in is “his” slot. Didn’t he get stuck there the year he had the match against Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase?

PTB: He may have been early in the card that year, and while I enjoyed this match more than I was expecting I would have preferred something different.

THE JASON: I think that it was during this match that you pointed out the “Best Honeymoon Ever” sign.  There certainly were some choice fan creations this year.

PTB: There were some choice signs in the crowd and MLD even had our own supporters live in Miami tweeting from ringside!

Overall it was an odd order for matches, with Cody Rhodes and the Big Show landing third and Cody wearing another wizard robe for his big night. I went in thinking that Big Show had better win and was thrilled when he did after a decent match between the two.

THE JASON:  This was a quick affair overall, and another match which wasn’t a show-stealer but it was put together well and had a good ending with the right result.  Show seemed legitimately emotional after the win and was finally able to put his singles losing streak to rest.  The kiss with his wife was a nice touch.
Something that probably won’t be touched for awhile are Cody’s privates which were crushed in a spectacular fashion by TBS’s slightly botched spear.  At least he had that cool, sleeveless wizard robe.

PTB: The spear may have done some damage downstairs, but Big Show’s knock out punch to the jaw may see Cody back in his protective face shield. How much sweeter would Show’s WrestleMania moment have been if it had been for the world title? I would have much more willingly accepted a one-move match with Big Show rolling over Bryan than Sheamus.

THE JASON: While I would have rather seen an actual match with Bryan, the 18-second World Title affair would have worked much better in context with your scenario as it would have brought closure to Big Show losing the title in such a short time to begin with.  The moment would have been fair more suitable for a big event and Bryan could have played the same clips of Show as Cody had done leading into the match.  But it’s done and I hope that Show holding the IC belt brings a bit of luster back to what is often a forgotten championship.

PTB: That’s the truth. Michael Cole pointed out that Cody had been Intercontinental Champion for more than 200 days last night and the only truly memorable moment was moving back to the white leather.

THE JASON: To be fair, it’s also the classic Randy Savage “80’s Design.”

PTB:  Channeling the Macho Man in any way shape or form is welcome. We’ve mentioned the wizard robes from last night, but what was Beth Phoenix’s headdress? Her match saw what should have been an obvious requisite celebrity victory for Maria Menounos, but Beth deserves better. At least this will get her some publicity.

THE JASON:  The less said about the satellite dish taking up space on our favorite Diva’s head, the better.  Kelly tried here, busting out Molly Holly’s top-rope Molly-Go-Round move, and even trying a Rey Mysterio-styled reversal into a bulldog, but anytime she runs the ropes I get sucked out of the match.  I’ll give Maria Menounos credit – she supposedly had two broken ribs from Dancing with the Stars and still went out and performed.  I’d be remiss in my duties though if I didn’t point out that wearing white may not have been the best choice in a match with other girls wearing make-up.  The “stinkface” spot was ill-advised. She came out of that looking like she had a poop-streak for the rest of the match!

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PTB: The Divas gave way to the “End of an Era” match that opened with a great promo from Shawn Michaels and the introduction of Jim Ross joining the commentary team. I can’t believe I’m saying this after what we saw from Triple H and Undertaker last year, but that match stole the show. Which is crazy because we should expect greatness from those two.

THE JASON:  It was one of the best matches of the evening.  Michaels was great in this match.  His performance was incredible and he really sold the story of what was happening. Taker and HHH took incredible beatings.  I think that was legit blood from both guys, and I’m not sure if it came across in the regular feed, but in HD you could see A LOT of bruising of Undertaker’s back from the insane amount of chair shots.

PTB: Both of them were a mess by the time the bell rang, but the big spots were well paced and the whole thing played out like a highlight reel in real time.

THE JASON: There were so many great moments in this match.  I loved Taker accidentally locking Michaels in the Hell’s Gate, the moment where they played off of HHH being locked in the Hell’s Gate with the Sledgehammer in hand from last year, Taker tossing the sledgehammer out of the ring and after the end where Taker still had trouble getting up.  It was really well-done and dramatic.

PTB: Undertaker sent a number of objects flying into the side of the Cell last night: the sledgehammer, a few chairs and the steel steps! The whole thing had this super hero battle quality to it that was tremendous and everyone involved shined.

THE JASON: While they could attempt to redirect to Michaels/HHH down the line, it doesn’t seem like their end-game after this match. Considering Taker was wearing what our friend Homer described as the “Grand Wizard Robe,” I don’t see how they could top this.

PTB: Haha! No way. In this case, when they say it won’t happen again I believe them. I don’t think they could put on a better show than they did last night. I could see either of them having more matches but not against one another.

THE JASON: I liked the post-match where Taker and Michaels helped HHH to the back, and the subsequent 3 man hug.  I don’t know, but I’m not sure “hug” will be the first thing on my mind the next time you hit me in the back 43 times with a chair and blast me in the face with a sledgehammer.

PTB: That’s wrestling though. That was Undertaker’s moment to be Mark Calloway after what was probably his final and arguably one of his best WrestleMania matches.

[tweet https://twitter.com/MLDtweets/statuses/186616414927470592]

THE JASON: It was wonderful to hear Jim Ross on commentary, even if it was only for one match.  It seemed like Michael Cole vanished at some point during the opening minutes.  With that being said, Cole was far more tolerable last night than he has been recently.

PTB: I liked that Cole backed off during the Hell in a Cell match, and I agree that he was easier to take. However, there were moments when he said things that were just awful, like that the Rock defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin with the People’s Elbow at WrestleMania.

And then there were the floating Teddy heads… I can’t say I’m that surprised that Team Johnny Laurinaitis came out on top. Teddy Long’s been around for a long time and might be on his way out. Plus the Miz being in that mix was an indicator of how things might end.

THE JASON:  First off, how many people did they manage to squeeze into this thing?  I think that I counted 20 people, including Eve. There were a few slow spots in the match that were unwarranted. You have 12 guys in the match, and you’ve got Kofi, Truth, Swagger, Ziggler, Miz, Ryder and Santino – there shouldn’t be any down time.  Once guys started throwing people out of the ring it picked up.

PTB: It really was the kitchen sink match. Each team had six competitors, a general manager candidate, a valet and a Bella. Plus Eve, Hornswaggle, and from what I could tell, Little Jimmy, makes twenty-one.

I noticed a few seemingly dead moments too, but they seemed to come after everyone was out of the ring as things moved toward the finish. I really think they need to move Santino beyond the comedy bits. I wouldn’t change a thing about his character but having him out there winning a high profile match would really capitalize on the momentum he has right now.

THE JASON: I wasn’t happy with the ending (even though I picked Team Johnny to win – speaking of which, I went 7-2 on my picks) especially how they went out of their way to make Zack Ryder look like the biggest tool in history there.  Was it me or did he get booed coming out?

[tweet https://twitter.com/MLDtweets/statuses/186620984709750784]

PTB: Possibly, but not the way Machine Gun Kelly got booed. I was below .500 on my picks, but that’s a good thing because I picked against what I really wanted to happen in most cases.

THE JASON: Well, Machine Gun Kelly deserved it.  I’m not dedicating any more print space to the musical acts on the show.  Whatever momentum Zack had is gone.  I can’t see Ryder ever getting his comeuppance on Eve.  That was quite literally a kick in the nuts. I just don’t know what to make out of this.  I can’t help but read into this. WWE did not like that this guy took to the internet and built a groundswell of support.  It’s like they had to prove to the audience “See, we told you that this guy was a geek!” I’m surprised that they didn’t have Eve take her Team Teddy shirt off to reveal a Team Johnny one underneath.

PTB: I fully expected that too. Eve’s involvement constitutes double booking and I’m never a fan of that. I just hope it pays off tonight on Raw.

Laurinaits was already throwing his weight around at WrestleMania, and I was really afraid that disqualification stipulation he added to the WWE title match was leading to a loss for Punk. Punk and Jericho had a great match, but I really didn’t think the DQ business at the outset helped it at all. Those two have proven they can work a match and that was too last minute for my tastes.

THE JASON:  Punk vs. Jericho.  Match of the Night.  This was fantastic.  I know you thought the Cell match stole the show, but for me this was IT.  I didn’t mind the added stip that if Punk got disqualified he’d lose the belt.  Jericho tried to use that to his advantage at the outset, but then after the absolutely insane suplex to the OUTSIDE he started working on Punk’s back and it turned into the match that they wanted to tell from the beginning: Who is the best in the World?  There were tons of near-falls and just awesome submission reversals in this match.  Jericho tapped to the Anaconda Vice, but it was one of those matches that both guys wound up looking strong in the end.

PTB: This was a solid match from bell to bell, but I’m still picking Undertaker and Triple H as the match of the night. Punk and Jericho were great, but the crowd noise wasn’t there for a lot of big spots and I think that affected the way it came off. It’s funny you mentioned the suplex to the outside. That’s one of those moves you see many attempt but it always gets reversed back into the ring. I remember finding it remarkable when Cena did it to Punk back at Money in the Bank as well.

THE JASON:  I am shocked that Punk is willing to go through with that suplex to the outside on more than one occasion. I think the DQ stip may have confused the audience a bit, and I think they lost the crowd at the outset.  Once it transitioned to “let’s have the best wrestling match possible”, they got the crowd back.

PTB: Do you think the Punk / Jericho feud continues tonight? or is Punk on to new things?

THE JASON: I certainly hope they continue the feud and take this to the next PPV in Punk’s hometown.

To quote our friend Homer once again though, “Do you know what the biggest letdown of this match was? …That Jericho’s sparkly jacket was not designed as a Wizard Robe.  That would have been an automatic 5 stars right there.”

PTB: That seems like an opportunity missed!

THE JASON:  Despite Laurinaitis altering the rules for this match, the backstage segments weren’t as omnipresent as they’ve been for the past few years.  Hey, it was the only way Heath Slater was getting on the show.  Speaking of whom, why did he add “Southern” to his “One Man Rock Band” deal?  Is anyone clamoring for some Lynard Skynard and Molly Hatchet lately?

PTB: That guy is the worst and adding “Southern” doesn’t help. The backstage stuff was right at the level it should be, but Mick Foley is wasted in a bit like that Deadliest Catch nonsense. The guy is good for a laugh, but this is WrestleMania.

THE JASON: I have to bring up the Brodus Clay bit.  I’ve made mention of my love of the Funkasaurus, and he was great last night, but the segment was definitely another black eye moment for me.  Bringing a whole bunch of African American women out with comically large posteriors to dance to Clay’s theme music was offensive on multiple levels.  I suppose that I expect some morally questionable matter from pro-wrestling, since it’s been historically well-established that WWE feels the need to do something reprehensible or just plain stupid on occasion.  But this was just terribly unnecessary.

They couldn’t have just had a match?  Did they run out of jobbers for Clay to squash in 20 seconds?

PTB: Agreed. Have Clay squash Slater if you want to get both of them on the card. It’s better than having Flo Rida shoving guys around backstage. Let him perform his song and dazzle us with his TRON font and light cycle.

THE JASON: I’m not talking about Flo Rida.  Boo that man.  I bet he was a fan of Tron: Legacy, which I refuse to discuss as well! I’m still dissapointed about that movie.

At least the segment finally revealed that Brodus Clay is apparently at least half-black.  I always thought he was a white guy, and in my opinion that only enhanced the ridiculousness of the gimmick.

PTB: For the record, I’m a fan of all things TRON. I’m not sure Brodus’ bit had much redeeming value, but who doesn’t love that “Somebody Call My Momma” song?

THE JASON: You know I do!  Funk is on a roll!

PTB: So that brings us to the final contest of the evening. The “live” pre-show on YouTube started at 5:45 which I thought was just ridiculous, but the first hour was just the Once in a Lifetime documentary as if we hadn’t seen enough promotion for this match. I have to say, I like the Rock I’m seeing in the documentaries and “real life” segments far more than the one I’ve been seeing in the ring. I still don’t think he should have gotten the nod here, but at least it was a decent match.

THE JASON:  I’m totally fine with Rock winning.  Cena winning may not have caused the riot that I would have expected though.  I was surprised at the amount of cheers that Cena received.  There looked like there were a whole lot of those green shirts in that crowd, so I was definitely off in my predictions of a 95% to 5% pro-Rock ration.

PTB: Cena still has his supporters and I certainly enjoy him when he’s used in the right feuds. Rock looked a little gassed at some points and there was a little less snap to his moves, but he brought it.

THE JASON:  Absolutely.  I was willing to accept the extended STF bit and even the Bear Hug spot (They are doing a Bear Hug in 2012? Seriously?) just so The Rock could catch his breath.  Other than that, while it wasn’t match of the night, it was very good.  It was going to be an enormous task to follow the HHH/Undertaker and Punk/Jericho matches.

PTB: No question, but this held up as a main event level match. I’m really interested to see where things go with Cena tonight. Was mocking the Rock’s People’s Elbow the start of a true heel turn for Cena? Does he regret that his mockery lead directly to his loss? Has he lost the drive in his career with that loss? I said it before, but it’s true that Cena is a guy that can take this loss and run miles with it.

THE JASON: I don’t see a Cena heel turn happening right now. They just made a brand new bright green shirt for Cena!  They have to sell those badboys. The other issue is if Cena turns, and Rock is back to shooting movies, who does he get paired with? Besides Punk, I don’t see anyone else that makes for an intriguing match.  As much as so many people would love to see it, I’m thinking they stay the course with Cena being Cena. Hopefully he doesn’t just shrug it off.  I’d love to see some of the roster take jabs at him for losing which could lead to him developing a more aggressive edge.

PTB: Before Raw goes on the air live with another show from Miami, the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony will air on USA tonight at 8PM. I have to say seeing Barry Windham out there at WrestleMania with the Horseman was better for me than seeing Ric Flair appear while he’s still part of TNA. Windham’s heel turn to join the Horsemen is one of the most dramatic turns of all time. As a kid that was Hulk Hogan joining the nWo at Bash at the Beach for me. I’d never seen anything like it.

THE JASON:  I’ve seen it, but I wasn’t watching NWA at the time. I was watching during the period while Luger joined the Horsemen and Ole was turfed. Honestly, my parents thought I was rotting my brains watching too much wrestling every weekend and my dad felt that  in comparison to WWF, NWA looked bush league (the old WCW Saturday night matches in the TV Studio didn’t provide the same big-event feel that WWF did) and would constantly criticize it so I stayed mainly with WWF during my early wrestling viewership.

I have to wonder how Flair felt, going from TNA’s small-time atmosphere at the Impact Zone to seeing 80,000 people at the Sun Stadium. He has to question if coming out of retirement was the right choice at this point.

PTB: Wrestling’s a weird game. I’m sure he misses the big crowds and bright lights, but a lighter travel schedule and I’d imagine more control over how he’s used clearly wins out. Could you picture a place for him in WWE today?

THE JASON:  As long as he isn’t wrestling (or allowed access to anyone’s bank account, liquor cabinet… or wives) then I think Ric Flair is an undeniable asset to have on the roster if he is motivated. I think Flair is tremendous in a managerial role, which he did for the majority of Evolution’s run, as well as with Fortune in TNA. There are several guys on the roster that need a mouthpiece and I could see Flair being the guy to turn them into something. For instance, if you took Justin Gabriel, Mason Ryan, Titus O’Neil and Ezekial Jackson and stuck them together you just have a bunch of guys. But attach Flair as the source to congregate them and it may actually mean something. If that isn’t the direction you’d want to go, it can always be done with more established guys as well in an effort to create a new horsemen-type faction but I think the best use of Flair is to help get new guys to the next level.

But certainly, keep the man out of the ring, please.

WWE WrestleMania XXVIII set an attendance for Sun Life Stadium as sold out crowd saw the results below. Photos courtesy of WWE.com.

  • WWE Tag Team Champions Epico and Primo defeated Justin Gabriel/Tyson Kidd and the Usos in a triple threat match
  • Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan to become the new World Heavyweight Champion
  • Kane defeated Randy Orton
  • The Big Show defeated Cody Rhodes to become the new Intercontinental Champion
  • Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos defeated Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Eve
  • The Undertaker defeated Triple H in a Hell in a Cell Match with special referee Shawn Michaels
  • Team John Laurinaitis defeated Team Teddy Long making Laurinaitis the new General Manager of Raw and Smackdown
  • WWE Champion C.M. Punk defeated Chris Jericho
  • The Rock defeated John Cena

2012 WWE Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Mil Mascaras
  • Edge
  • The Four Horsemen
  • Mike Tyson
  • Ron Simmons
  • Yokozuna

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
WrestleMania XXVIII edition / April 9th
, 2012 edition 

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