Monday Night Raw Warm Up for April 30th, 2012

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WWE Champion C.M. Punk successfully defended his title last night against Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.

Coming off of the annual Extreme Rules pay-pre-view last night in Chicago and a three-hour Raw last week in Detroit, it’s fair to say the WWE Universe is currently in a weird place. Last week’s edition of Raw was haphazard and even with the bonus hour didn’t divide the time well for the Extreme Rules feuds, which were primarily rematches from WrestleMania XXVIII. Coming off the PPV, Brock Lesnar lost the battle, but may have won the war with John Cena who took a savage beating. Meanwhile, C.M. Punk defeated Chris Jericho in his hometown, avenging his family that had been drawn into Y2J’s crosshairs. This could mean some new feuds are starting at the top of the card tonight in Dayton, Ohio.

PTB: So far, the Brock Lesnar / John Cena feud has been superior to the Rock vs Cena with this immediate payoff. We only had to wait four weeks to see them face off in the ring as opposed to twelve long months.

THE JASON: I suppose it depends on your point of view. I like a good long storyline that builds up to a match. I don’t think Rock vs. Cena achieved the drama that they were anticipating. Brock vs. Cena needed to be turned around quick, since that was the nature of the story. Cena needed to stand his ground in order to fend off this hostile invader. With that being said, I think that the only way that they can spin it tonight is that in defeat, Brock still won since Cena took such a beating.

PTB: That sounds about right, and Cena may not appear for a few weeks to sell it before returning to defend his “home” once again. Lesnar was met with a quiet reaction from the crowd in Detroit last week and what was audible was almost exclusively boos. Cena got his typical mixed reaction but at least it was loud. It was also Cena’s birthday, but maybe popular opinion is starting to swing back his way here.

THE JASON: You see, PTB… You see. If Brock said “You see…” one more time I think even John Laurinaitis would have grabbed the mic and said “Damn kid, that’s not how you do a promo!” It reminded me of any one of Kevin Nash’s promo’s during the heyday of WCW Nitro which you could expect him to open with “You know…”

I’m not sure what the point of Lesnar pulling a power play with Johnny Ace is supposed to accomplish besides getting the crowd to view him as a mercenary who is only out for himself. I thought Brock came off poorly in this segment except when he wasn’t talking, Johnny Ace looked even more foolish than usual and Cena suddenly started to take Brock seriously. Regardless of the brutal beating Cena took last night, I think it is going to take a lot more than one match to get the crowd back on his side after about six to seven years of “Cena Sucks” chants.

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

PTB: Putting Cena back over with the crowd is going to be a tricky thing, but certainly fun to watch. I really thought Cena would win at WrestleMania. Losing to Tensai in London was a surprise. It all really had me thinking Cena had a chance of going over Lesnar at Extreme Rules, but I couldn’t believe Lesnar would take the loss. Lesnar is turning out to be a good opponent for Cena as a true heel, but I don’t see how Laurinaitis adds anything. Amazingly, Laurinatis still lacks the most basic mic skills and is constantly bumbling over things like whether he’s “asking” or “telling” someone what to do. Both he and Lesnar were brutal in that contract signing segment.

THE JASON: I didn’t think Cena had a shot last night. I’m not sure now what the point of having brought Lesnar in was; Cena needed to lose and he needed to be beaten convincingly. If he’s leaving for awhile, as the end of Extreme Rules suggested – wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to leave defeated? The best direction would have been for Cena to get beaten and disappear for a few months while Lesnar runs through other guys on the roster. Then they could have brought Cena with a new determination and focus to slay the beast. Do a Rocky III type of angle, bring Rock back to be the next in line to give Cena a pep-talk. But in WWE’s version – Clubber Lang gets beaten by Rocky in their first match. I’m confounded by the results from last night.

PTB: On that note, it was kind of great to see Edge last week! We got another in a string of Cena pep talks after Mick Foley and Roddy Piper in recent months. After listening to what Edge had to say, it seems impossible for me not to conclude that Brock’s return really is like Rock’s return, but where was this kind of outrage? Lesnar’s not third generation, but to me the Rock is just as uninterested in being a pro wrestler.

THE JASON: I think that the feuds were two very different things. Cena wanted the match with Rock, he wanted no part of Brock. If we buy in to what Lesnar is saying, Cena’s ascension to the top wouldn’t have occurred if he was still there. In any case, Edge was really great in that segment.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpwQVSfRr1A]

PTB: It was interesting to see the recap of Brock’s history throughout the show last Monday, but I didn’t need to see the Lesnar promo video twice even if it there were three hours to fill. I couldn’t help but notice Jeff Hardy being destroyed and referee Teddy Long. Things have really changed in the last eight years. Speaking of which, Teddy Long deserves better.

THE JASON: What I found most interesting was that they showed Brock destroying 3 people who are arguably TNA’s biggest stars in Hardy, Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle. That had to be a cheap shot in their direction, because Brock did defeat Big Show and Undertaker too – surely that would be a better sampler for today’s WWE fan? I also don’t know why you wouldn’t show Brock destroying Cena’s leg from 2003. Unless they want to give this the Hogan/Andre or HHH/Undertaker “it never happened” treatment.

I agree that Teddy deserves better. Michael Cole was going wild on commentary about how Teddy incorrectly called the WWE championship the “World Championship.” Easy mistake to make. Meanwhile, ten minutes later Cole went on to call The Walls of Jericho the Lionsault. Which is the bigger infraction?

PTB: I missed Josh Matthews on the Extreme Rules pre-show on YouTube as Cole took his place with Matt Striker. I really wanted Matthews to physically retaliate against Brock during their segment last week. I hate the bully garbage.

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

THE JASON: I agree that wrestlers bullying the announcers has become terribly cliched, and besides JR and Lawler the crowd doesn’t have any particular fondness for anyone else. With that being said, I thought that even though this was a waste of time, Lesnar was fine here. I think you had a good point last week when you said you don’t remember Lesnar ever talking. I think it has to do with the fact that he was physically impressive, but when it comes to talking… not so much. You see…

PTB: You know… moving on. Last week, we got another meeting between Kofi Kingston and Chris Jericho that fired on all cylinders. These two have worked really well together and I hope it means big things for Kofi. He could use some new music too.

THE JASON: I agree. Enough with the fake reggae for the fake Jamaican. They’ve announced him from Ghana for 3 years already.

PTB: I particularly loved that crowd was into it, and seeing how well they worked together made me think I might have preferred Punk versus Mark Henry for the title at Extreme Rules and Kofi/Jericho on the card in a number one contenders match.

THE JASON: Wow – that would have been a great way to elevate Henry, Kofi and give the Jericho/Punk program some more legs. I thought the match was great as well. I love that Jericho is working with guys that want to take the “Liontamer” version of the Walls of Jericho. It looks so much more impressive.

PTB: I was most impressed that the Chicago Street Fight rules required by Jericho and Punk to wear pants. That’s always a better look. I’ve been critical of the Punk/Jericho straight-edge segments in recent weeks, but the worst infraction: superstars can’t drink within 12 hours of an event?!?!

THE JASON: Does Steve Austin know this? And look at Eve – what a go-getter. She had that job for all of an hour and she’s quoting regulations.

PTB: The “C.M. Drunk” act needed a foundation that Jericho was hiding from Punk and this was the only way he’d risk being in the ring with him. It was honestly embarrassing. If they’d just waited on the personal stuff until after WrestleMania, we’d have seen a liquor bottle smashed into Punk’s head going into Extreme Rules instead of the field sobriety test.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsYp9DKDdsU]

THE JASON: While I really liked Jericho’s reaction to seeing what he thought was Punk giving in to drink, the rest of the segment was an abomination. I’m sure a few people who attend WWE events have been pulled over for driving under the influence. What did they not do? Hey crack police force – why not administer a breathalyzer? The crowd knew it was a farce so they were with Punk the whole way – even when Punk was supposed to be correctly reciting the alphabet backwards during the “Oh wait! He’s Sober!” portion and still proceeded to mess it up. While being able to recite the alphabet in reverse is difficult, he should have practiced it a few times since he was going to be doing it on live television. The crowd didn’t care, definitely a testament to how loved Punk is right now.

Punk retained last night, I think that it is time for these guys to put this feud behind them. The match was good, but not at the caliber of last month’s meeting at WrestleMania.

PTB: I’d like to see them move on as well. The World Championship match at Extreme Rules was also a WrestleMania rematch between Daniel Bryan and current champion, Sheamus. Two-out-of-three falls matches are something I really go for and I like that it’s a gimmick that’s not overused. One of my all-time favorite matches is a two-out-of-three falls match between the Rockers and Bobby Heenan’s Brain Busters

THE JASON: The majority of my recollection of two-out-of-three falls matches were always were with tag teams, never singles. I remember the Hart Foundation and the Bulldogs having a few too.

PTB: They had a classic one on Saturday Night’s Main Event, and it’s a shame we don’t see more attention to the tag team division in general. I still don’t like the way things went down between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania (and Sheamus’ new t-shirt celebrating it just twists the knife), but a two-out-of-three-falls match makes up for it even if Bryan came away with another loss.

THE JASON: How great is Bryan’s “yes-ing” while having some trapped in the “Yeslock”?

PTB: It’s pronounced “YES!-lock” and it is pretty great. I really hope we see WWE capitalize on Bryan’s momentum.

THE JASON: I hope so. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t switch the title back to Bryan last night, with AJ’s help. I still think that they have plenty of life left in the Bryan-AJ relationship.

We talked last time about where things were headed with Brodus Clay and Lord Tensai as they continue to dominate week after week. I suppose Ryback, formerly NXT’s Skip Sheffield, should be added to that list. Last week, they fed R-Truth to Tensai, showing where Truth’s standing is right now. And the Green Mist goes into the hand?!? I don’t get that at all.

THE JASON: I had no problem with this. I feel that since Truth returned, his act doesn’t work as a good guy. The whole crazy bit and calling kids in the crowd “Little Jimmy” was great as a heel, but not in his current incarnation. Tensai’s back to squashes though.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9mfu0NnHco]

PTB: Brodus teamed with Hornswaggle against the “new Varsity Club” of Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger and won last week. Last night he beat Ziggler. I honestly didn’t get a look at the card before the show aired last night, but I did not see Ryback or Brodus Clay advertised as being on it. Seems like two squash matches from former NXT guys that have been dominating lately means they could be on a collision course.

THE JASON: I can’t see that happening just yet. I think there’s a lot of building that has to be done for Ship Sheffield/Ryback. He’s just squashing jobbers right now. And wearing RVD’s old tights.

PTB: They can keep pushing Orton vs Kane all they want and I’m not really going to care, but bring in Paul Bearer and you’ve got my attention. Kane played it off pretty well, but wasn’t Bearer encased in concrete at one point?

THE JASON: Yes, but that was The Undertaker’s doing. I’m not sure how they got rid of Paul last time during Kane’s feud with Edge. Was Kane sticking him in a freezer at the end of the segment?

PTB: Yes. I should retract part of my statement and admit that Kane is kind of fun again now that he’s not feuding with Cena. On the not fun list, Khali teaming with the Big Show two weeks in a row. Last Monday it was against Alberto Del Rio and Cody Rhodes (still with the wizard robe). It was one of a pair of tag matches that were pretty uninspired along with Santino/Ryder against Primo/Epico, and worse yet did nothing for anyone involved headed into Extreme Rules. They also teased a pairing between the tag team champs and Abraham Washington. Why would you put a team that already has a manager with another manager?

THE JASON: Rosa Mendes is not a manager. She can’t even manage to dance well.

PTB: Manager, valet, whatever you want to call it, they have an extra element to get them over and Washington would be better suited with someone that doesn’t.

Another person that could use an extra lift is the Miz, who opened the free YouTube pre-show of Extreme Rules. He spent a lot of time lamenting that he’s not only out of the main event like he was last year, he wasn’t even on the card. It seemed odd that he got so much mic time when Santino successfully defended his U.S. Championship via the Cobra. These pre-shows are a neat idea, but the choppy feed is almost unwatchable. Hopefully that technology will improve.

THE JASON: Miz has a ways to go in the downward spiral. Ask Chavo Guerrero. He could be jobbing to Hornswoggle for the next five months.

PTB: Beth Phoenix made a rare appearance on Raw and then missed the pay-per-view. Her injury seems like it has to be a work, but it ended up making Nikki Bella the new Divas champ for six days before dropping the title to the returning Layla last night. Beth was close to breaking a record for the longest Divas championship reign in history, but apparently she broke her ankle instead. It’s not often that the Divas make for one of the bigger stories coming out of a pay-per-view.

THE JASON: I heard it was a work, then a legit injury, then a work again. In any case, Beth played off so convincingly that I thought she had to really be hurt. I’ve also heard that the Bellas are on their way out of the company. This led me to believe that Kharma was coming back and the logical match-up was for her to destroy the Bellas, get the belt and then eventually build to a match with Beth. Instead – the brought Layla back who won the belt from one of the Bellas last night. I don’t get it. The crowd was chanting for Kharma the whole match.

I wonder if they are even going to have the face off between Kharma and The Bellas, as they were the last ones to poke fun at Kharma before she went on maternity leave. While wrestling sometimes delves into real issues to support their angles, often it doesn’t deal with the most politically correct of matters. Let’s face it – they like to drag some pretty dirty laundry out there. In any case, I’d have to hope that Kharma losing her baby is not fodder for a wrestling angle.

PTB: I don’t think there’s any way we’ll see that on Raw.

As the show goes back to it’s typical two plus hour format tonight, the landscape could be changing and hopefully that makes for a better edition of Monday Night Raw in this current stretch of hit or miss episodes coming out of WrestleMania XXVIII.

Below is a complete list of results from WWE Extreme Rules 2012. Photos courtesy of WWE.com.

  • United States Champion Santino Marella defeated The Miz
  • Brodus Clay defeated Dolph Ziggler
  • Ryback defeated two local athletes
  • Randy Orton defeated Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
  • Layla defeated Nikki Bella to become the Divas Champion
  • Cody Rhodes regained the Intercontinental Championship defeating Big Show in a Tables Match
  • WWE Champion CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho in a Chicago Street Fight
  • World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
  • John Cena defeated Brock Lesnar in an Extreme Rules Match

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Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
April 23rd, 2012 edition / May 7th
, 2012 edition

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