Monday Night Raw Warm Up for April 23rd, 2012

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A clear sign that we're in WWE's "Extreme Rules" season: matches ending with a "flying chair to the throat"on Raw.

We’re back from our short hiatus in time to get ready for tonight’s special three-hour Raw from Detroit, Michigan. With Extreme Rules less than a week away, it’s safe to expect a night full of high risk maneuvers and illegal objects along with a contract signing between John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Last week’s Raw came to us from the land of bangers, mash, and alleged bad teeth, London, England. The crowd was pumped all night, proving that it isn’t only US crowds that are ready to chant loudly throughout the show, and thankfully we can focus on that positive energy as our break will keep us from talking much about the appearance by the “new” Three Stooges two weeks ago.

THE JASON: CM Punk and Mark Henry opened the show with a classic Vader/Sting big man vs. little man match up. They worked a long match and I wish that these guys had the chance to bring this to a pay-per-view. We’ve discussed before how unfair it is that Henry seems to have been pushed out of the main event spotlight due to an injury late last year. He has really found his groove and I’d like to see him get another chance if he can continue to deliver like this.

PTB: I’m honestly a little surprised Henry isn’t in the mix with Punk and Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules, but a Chicago Street Fight sounds right for those two. More surprising though was seeing no sign of Abraham Washington backing up Henry.

THE JASON: I think they’ve dropped that pairing already. Punk was great as always, but when WWE rarely has their champ headline the show it diminishes both the wrestler as a star and the title. I see no reason why the Cena stuff couldn’t be done in the middle of the show. Let Punk go on last and see how it flies.

PTB: I hear you, but opening the show with this match worked for me. Henry and Punk have been building a solid rivalry for weeks and this was definitely what the London crowd wanted to see.

THE JASON: What happens to Henry now? I’m not sure there is another upper level babyface to pair him off with. The roster seems really thin right now.  I think that he should be paired off with Kofi, and maybe Kofi could inch out a win on him after being destroyed. I think getting guys to the next level is a good spot for Henry.

While I was enjoying Jericho’s continual machinations pushing Punk’s buttons, it is beginning to reach its expiration date. Punk is straight edge, he’s not going to break because Jericho dumped a beer on his head. Punk shouldn’t seem as upset because Jericho is showing him entering a pub. It’s getting to the point where it is becoming annoying.

PTB: This is why I would have preferred to see the personal stuff between Punk and Jericho come after WrestleMania. It feels like they’re reusing material for the rematch this way.

Do you think Steve Austin will come in to accuse Jericho of gimmick infringement?

THE JASON: I think Jericho vs. Austin would make more sense right now rather than Austin vs. Punk, which I know Punk and Austin are jockeying for at next year’s WrestleMania.

THE JASON: Speaking of things that make sense, David Otunga should wear the bowtie to the ring and during his matches. The posing is still completely ridiculous. I’m not sure how that connects to his character. He’s a Harvard graduate, he’s a lawyer, he drinks coffee, he wears a bowtie, he hangs around Johnny Ace and… he works out and loves him some baby oil? That doesn’t really hang together. Shouldn’t he carry a briefcase? Maybe they need to get Clarence Mason back. I can’t think of any other wrestling lawyers. If there were any, they could form a faction called “The Firm.”

I should mentioned that Otunga and Santino had a match in all of this.

PTB: They did and it’s clear Otunga needs some direction which they even hinted at after the match. Eve managing Otunga works for me and that seems to be a strong possibility.

THE JASON: Is that where they were going?  I think Eve could make a good manager with her current character.  Speaking of characters, Truth’s Sherlock Holmes bit was on par with the Three Stooges two weeks ago.

PTB: The brawl between Cena and Brock Lesnar should have been the take-home story from from that night, but the “Three Stooges” promoting their movie derailed a lot of the goodness that was happening back in Washington DC.

THE JASON: I have to mention that Curly was played by Will Sasso. Sasso, during his MAD TV run was in a match with Bret Hart on Nitro. That was the moment when I realized just how awesome Bret truly was. He could make this goofy actor look halfway decent in a match.

PTB: It’s too bad that’s what opened your eyes to the “best there is, was, and ever will be,” but Bret himself thought a lot of that match too… or very little of WCW.

THE JASON: Well, that match certainly solidified my fandom.  I wouldn’t say it was his best match in WCW, but seeing as how things turned out for Bret there I’m not about to argue.

There was a pre-tape done with Brock Lesnar. I thought that this was fantastic. It came off completely different than any other package that WWE has done recently. It gave Brock’s background, his accomplishments in both WWE and UFC and his motivation for coming back: He’s an ass-kicker who likes to hurt people. It was like a UFC package and reminded me of the build from Summerslam 2002 with Brock and Rock doing their insane work-out routines. Or when TNA had their lone triumph with the Samoa Joe/Kurt Angle feud. It just made everything instantly seem so much more legit and made me want to see Cena vs. Brock.

PTB: It seems like Brock is an actual human this time around. I honestly don’t remember him talking during his original run. The video package is well put together but Brock could have left some things to the imagination.

THE JASON: You don’t remember Brock dancing with a mariachi band in his feud with Eddie Guerrero?

THE JASON: Cena then came out to cut a corny promo in response and instead of the focus being on Brock, he turned it to John Laurinaitis.

PTB: That wasn’t great. We learned Lesnar is working for Laurinaitis two weeks ago and most fans still backed him over Cena. Lesnar is clearly playing the heel but it may not help Cena.

THE JASON: I find it interesting that when Brock first arrived in WWE, we were in the aftermath of the “Invasion,” and WWE was going through an odd-rebuilding phase. That was during the period when Raw and Smackdown were very separate entities. Raw routinely was too deep in the Sports Entertainment end of things (See the Katie Vick angle) and was struggling under Triple H’s championship reign of terror, and Smackdown was the more athletic show. WWE was bringing back a lot of older stars (Scott Steiner, The NWO, Goldberg) in an effort to grab fans, but Brock was a new face that they chose to push and push hard. Now he’s on the other side where they are again bringing old faces back (Rock, Jericho, Brock), but the flipside is that it doesn’t appear as if there is a new face that they want to be “the guy.”

PTB: Certainly no one brand new, but C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan fit that bill even though they’re not being pushed like Lesnar was. It was clear that London (and Miami coming off of WrestleMania) loved Bryan.

THE JASON: The crowd were Daniel Bryan fans, showing that the past few weeks were not an anomaly. Bryan’s in-your-face “YES!” chants to Kofi were the height of heel obnoxiousness.

PTB: It was great and he fully committed to it. I’m also liking the “YES!-lock,” but I’m not so sure about what they’re planning with him and AJ. Distancing them is the wrong move. Any chance they’ll turn him back to a fan favorite with this kind of crowd response?

THE JASON: I can’t see them turning him yet, especially after the great work he did on Piper’s Pit during the recent live Smackdown. I loved Bryan wanting to rename the LeBell lock and asking “What did Gene LeBell ever do?” but I’m no fan of calling it the “Yeslock.” Really? I know WWE wants to capitalize on the “YES” chants, but this ranks up there as one of the least interesting finisher names in history. I would have preferred “The Affirmation.” Who comes up with this stuff?

PTB: There are certainly more clever names and “The Affirmation” is one of them, but is it too much to want a crazy chant like this one?

THE JASON: Speaking of tribute video packages – they did a nice tribute to the late Chief Jay Strongbow. A man who was neither named Jay nor Native American. I’m not sure I ever saw Strongbow wrestle when I was a kid. I may have. I definitely knew his name and had his WWF trading card.

PTB: Admittedly, Jay Strongbow is on the fringe of my wrestling memory. He’s a big name and made huge contributions to the business but I can’t absolutely recall seeing him in the ring. Regardless, it was nice to see a sincerely heartfelt look at his career.

THE JASON: The Funkasaurus made an appearance and beat Dolph Ziggler by DQ in the blink of an eye.

PTB: It was quick and spoke to some uncertainty as to how to work Brodus into the regular roster on Raw. Honestly the thing that really caught my attention here was Vickie Guerrero’s Twitter handle, @ExcuseMeWWE.

THE JASON: Big Show and Khali teamed up in “a big dudes have nothing to do tonight besides beat up the tag champs” match.

PTB: Big Show is certainly getting his shots at demolishing Epico and/or Primo. What’s worse though was hearing the commentators talk about how the tag champs were disgusted about their lack of TV time and being on the WrestleMania pre show. I’m disgusted that they don’t have a team name. The tag division is something I’d love to see get some quality attention, but I don’t see it coming with offerings like this.

THE JASON: Titus O’neil and Darren Young were just brought up to Smackdown as a team. While I’m not getting my hopes up either, it’s a good sign.

In the main event we saw John Cena take on a mystery opponent in an Extreme Rules Match. Lord Tensai turned out to be John Laurinaitis’s secret man. Interference from Tensai’s follower, David Otunga and the dreaded Japanese GREEN MIST (as well as a healthy amount of “Albert” chants from the UK crowd) ultimately led to a defeat for Cena.

PTB: Green mist?!? I’m a sucker for that every time! This was a huge win for Tensai/Albert even if it was a cheap one.

THE JASON: If nothing else, I was thrilled to see the return of the Green Mist. Now Albert just needs to bust out the burning red mist and the black mist, which I think results in partial paralysis.

This was an improvement on Tensai’s last two outings which saw him walk through Alex Riley and Yoshi Tatsu, but I’m wondering if going from squashing two lower tier guys to beating Cena is just too much, too soon.  I think that WWE must have felt that if there is a way to get the crowd to take this guy seriously and stop chanting “Albert,” then have him get a win on the top guy. But after two weeks?  Even though the circumstances are completely different, it reminded me of when Steve Austin beat a pre-Big Show “The Big Nasty” Paul Wight after he was in the company for a few weeks back in ’99.  It just seemed like something you would want to build up to.

PTB: Well, Cena will be busy with Lesnar tonight in Detroit so I don’t expect a rematch. There’s definitely a chance the approach they’re taking won’t work here for both Tensai and Brodus Clay. Undefeated streaks and weeks of dominating squash matches can be tough to navigate down the stretch, but at least their wins over bigger names on the roster weren’t clean and we’ll hopefully see more significant matches from them tonight.

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
April 9th, 2012 edition / April 30th
, 2012 edition 

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