Monday Night Raw Warm Up for May 7th, 2012

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There went the pain? After a viciously assaulting WWE COO Triple H last Monday, Brock Lesnar's return to wrestling seems to be at an end. Expecting him to disappear for a few weeks before another monster return.

It’s fair to say last Monday’s Raw coming out of the annual Extreme Rules pay-per-view wasn’t the best we’ve ever seen, but it was by no means the worst. The whole show was structured around a Beat the Clock Challenge to determine the number one contender for C.M. Punk’s WWE Championship at Over the Limit on May 20th. While the execution has been better, The Beat the Clock gimmick is solid and the outcome can only be captured in one word: YES! Tonight’s show in Greensboro, North Carolina will hopefully give us more of Daniel Bryan’s quest to take the WWE Championship from Punk, and less of all the things we found ourselves saying “NO!” to.

PTB: Eve continues to serve as General Manager John Laurinaitis’ mouthpiece setting up the Beat the Clock premise last week, but she really could do more paired with someone, even Laurinaitis’ “legal counsel” David Otunga.

THE JASON:  I agree, and I hope that they head in that direction with her.  While I’m fine with a General Manager, I don’t know if we need the General Manager’s entire staff as (non-wrestling) characters on the show.  With that being said, the fusion of Eve plus business suit and glasses gets a definite thumbs up from me.  HUZZAH.

PTB: It certainly is a good look. The Beat the Clock matches kicked off with Miz defeating Santino in a rematch from the Extreme Rules pre-show and setting a time to beat of 4:18. It was so hard to call whether Miz could stay in the lead for the whole night. He’s been scraping bottom lately, but he could be back on top in a heartbeat.

THE JASON:  I love the “Beat the Clock” concept.  I think it is a great way to push the importance of the title, and it can be a method to make two guys look like stars.  I think the concept works best when the first match is between two top-level guys or one top-level guy and someone on the cusp of that and they just battle it out so there’s a longer time to beat.  This was none of those things.  They should have done Jericho-Kofi again here with Kofi winning and Jericho beating him down post-match for costing him another shot at the title.  It could have set up a good program.  They could have re-established Ziggler with a good, long match as well.

As it was, it completely buried Santino and the U.S. Title.

PTB: It certainly seems like a waste, especially when Chris Jericho and the Big Show are a great pairing under any conditions. In four minutes they turned in an impressive performance, and it was probably the highlight of the Beat the Clock matches, but was it meant to have such a confusing finish?

THE JASON:  That match makes my point.  If you have a longer time to work with, there’s a far better chance that you will reach a conclusive finish.  If you have 4 minutes to beat, the match just dies at the end when neither party can get a pin.  I’m not sure why they booked it the way they did.  But I suppose they really didn’t have anyone ready to match up with Punk coming off of Extreme Rules. Well, they HAD Mark Henry.

PTB: Mark Henry could have been used so much more effectively in the last few months along with a lot of other names. We’ve reached a point in the year where WWE’s pay-per-view schedule seems to be hurting the product more than normal. Extreme Rules was three weeks out from WrestleMania and now there’s only two weeks until Over the Limit.

I know we’re both ready to be done with the “C.M. Drunk” angle with Jericho (even though the matches have been fantastic), but I feel like a pay-per-view called Over the Limit represents an opportunity lost.

THE JASON:  I don’t think long-range planning is the strong suit of the WWE right now.  There would have been several fun things that they could have played on for their promos whether Jericho accused Punk’s Blood Alchohol Content of being “over the limit,” or Jericho going “over the limit” with his attacks.

PTB: Not to beat a dead horse, but if Jericho had to work for a rematch against someone else at Extreme Rules, the phrase “Over the Limit” could only have helped the material in his “Punk’s a drunk” segments.

The other Beat the Clock matches were pretty unremarkable until we got to the finish, though I will say the thought of Randy Orton being back in the championship picture was stomach turning.

THE JASON:  What?  You didn’t enjoy seeing Kane and Khali again?  They need to stop throwing that match out there.

I really feel like Orton needs to take a vacation.  They need to put this Kane angle behind him and rebuild him again. I’d like to see him used to allow Lord Tensai to get a convincing win to make him seem like a threat.  I don’t see that happening, but Orton needs to go away for awhile.  Even better, how about Daniel Bryan takes him out with the YES!-Lock?

PTB: I have no problem with that. Daniel Bryan won the Beat the Clock challenge last week against a surprise opponent in Jerry Lawler, and will face C.M. Punk for the WWE Championship at Over the Limit. I honestly can’t wait to see how this builds and the two have had many opportunities to work together lately with their string of matches going into WrestleMania. It should be incredible.

THE JASON:  The use of Jerry Lawler left me perplexed.  There wasn’t anyone else to match Bryan up with?  Maybe they felt that they needed someone who they wouldn’t boo against Bryan.  That leaves you with Rock, Punk… and Jerry Lawler.

PTB: Using Lawler needed some element of the match being a reward for Bryan from the GM or some other benefactor. Either that or it could have been presented as a reward (or punishment) for Lawler since he’s not on the active roster. As it stands, it’s perplexing as you said. Michael Cole even pointed out that Lawler had a title shot during his feud with the Miz a year ago, but it doesn’t explain the booking on a random Monday in 2012.

THE JASON: I agree that the ensuing match with Punk and Bryan will be great.  But then they just had Sheamus defeat Bryan twice on last week’s Smackdown.  I’m hoping it all leads to a Bryan-AJ reunion.

PTB: On the surface, it all seems like an attempt to stem the tide of Bryan support from the crowd, but more shameful was Punk’s air time being so limited last week.

PTB: Moving on to other changes to the WWE landscape, it looks like the Bella Twins got squashed right out of WWE last week at the hands of Layla of all people. Were they fired or just not re-signed?

THE JASON:  I heard that they decided not to re-sign, making a second loss to Layla even more mind-boggling.  They are apparently done with the company.  They had the deal with Kharma, which was basically a year in the making, and they didn’t even allow it to play out.  I need closure!  They didn’t even have to have a match, they could have just had Kharma come out, powerbomb both of them to pieces and send them packing.

PTB: Having the Bellas simply run away from the ring, building, and company in fear of Kharma would have done the job.

The Tag Team titles also changed hands last week as Epico and Primo were defeated by Kofi Kingston and R-Truth. I hate that another team made up of two guys with nothing holding them together now holds the championships. Meanwhile Epico and Primo are back negotiating with Abraham Washington to represent them. I hope tonight we get something logical from the tag division.

THE JASON:  I think that we’re heading to the tag titles winding up on Titus O’Neal and Darren Young, and Kofi and Truth’s reign is the bridge to get them there.  Not that it really matters, since the Usos are the only other team in this division.  I know it wouldn’t be any good, but I think they should have Mason Ryan and Ezekial Jackson form a team.  At least it would give us a team, a reason for the team (well, they are both freakishly big) and they wouldn’t be in singles matches for the foreseeable future. They could be like a Powers of Pain for the new generation!

PTB: If only! Tag teams are unique to professional wrestling and can bring so much to the show from the top of the card to the bottom. Is it so hard to just apply a name to these pairings and put any two in the ring against one another every week?

The other big story out of last week centered around Triple H being attacked by Brock Lesnar. After refusing to let John Laurinaitis give in to all of Lesnar’s demands, Triple H took a beating resulting in a broken arm. I was really confused by some of the commentary as the night went on. Are we supposed to think Lesnar is gone from WWE?

THE JASON:   Lesnar needs to be built as something of a special attraction.  I feel they need to do that to build him up (or re-build him from the loss to Cena) as a big deal, and because they only have a limited amount of dates to utilize Lesnar.  They have to give some kind of explanation for his absence.  Having him “fired” is as good as any..  I give Triple H credit for making it look like Lesnar demolished his arm.  But if a 300 pound animal like Lesnar is cranking away on you, you need to sell it like you’ve just been through a war.

PTB: In that capacity, the story with Lesnar works. Also stemming from a Lesnar beating, we got the announcement of Laurinaitis going against an injured John Cena at Over the Limit. Cena versus Laurinaitis is obviously ridiculous, but why does it seem like Punk’s feud and relationship with Johnny just got transferred to Cena via the transitive property?

THE JASON:  Um, because that’s exactly what happened?  Cena’s had his beef with Laurinatis going back to decking him at Money in the Bank last year, so it isn’t as if there’s no storyline-basis for what we’re seeing right now.  I just question if we need to see it at all!

PTB: With so many pay-per-views on the calendar, adding a match like this hardly convinces me that Over the Limit is one to rent. Punk and Bryan will be worth every penny, but these events should never hinge on one match. Cena against any one of Laurinaitis’ loyalists would be infinitely superior.

THE JASON: Cena vs. Tensai, with Tensai as Johnny’s hired gun is fine to an extent.  It doesn’t make complete sense because the whole issue with a GM looking to get rid of the brand’s top star is counterproductive business.  But I think we can suspend disbelief and apply “wrestling logic” here.  Wrestling Logic also means that you can assault people with no legal ramifications, that no one speaks to one another during the week and can only address each other when a camera is rolling, and that a person will get thrown into food anytime there is so present during a confrontation (that applies to coffee, catering and double for cake.)

I wouldn’t mind Cena vs. Tensai, but Cena vs. Johnny at Over the Limit?  That’s a bad idea.  And what happened at the end of Extreme Rules?  It seemed like all signs were pointing to Cena taking time off.

PTB: It certainly did, and having Laurinaitis send Cena off personally isn’t what I want to see. While we (and many others) have been critical of Laurinaitis’ painful on air role since the outset, it’s possible his “legacy” may have fans viewing his tenure favorably. None of it can really be attributed to him, but under “his watch” there seems to be a ton of new talent showing up. Tensai is clearly on that list, but there have been a number of recent debuts Smackdown. As these wrestlers establish themselves, is there a chance we wistfully look back five years from now and see this a heyday of new and exciting superstars?

THE JASON:  I don’t think anyone will attribute that to Johnny Ace.  There’s always been periods on Smackdown where there’s been an influx of new talent.  I remember a few years ago we got MVP, Kennedy and Jesse & Festus all at once.  Seeing as how all of the guys are gone from WWE now, maybe that wasn’t the best reference point.

PTB: Probably not, but I’m not lying when I say there are times I think episodes of Raw from the Eric Bischoff and the Three Minute Warning era were more memorable than some recent shows, and there’s certainly room to go down from here.

THE JASON: In storyline, Three Minute Warning was very much linked with the Bisch, whereas all the guys that are being brought up now are not specifically linked to Johnny. Didn’t Teddy Long run a new talent initiative a few years ago?

PTB: He sure did, and Mr. Kennedy was a part of it along with Bobby Lashley so it fits with your previous example. Some of the guys he brought in during his tenure with WWE’s ECW are still around like Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger. As far as these new guys being tied to Laurinaitis, Tensai clearly is on Raw and he’s been directly involved with Antonio Cesaro, Darren Young and Titus O’Neal.

THE JASON:  I’m upset that I haven’t caught Antonio Cesaro yet either. Cesaro is Claudio Castagnoli from Ring Of Honor. I’ve watched a bunch of his stuff there and he’s been really great so I was interested in seeing what he’d be like in WWE.

PTB: They’ve got Cesaro in an interesting program with Aksana and the demoted Teddy Long. His debut is another bright spot on Smackdown as a “new talent” Laurinatis has brought in. The guy I’m really enjoying though is Damien Sandow . His promos are awesome.

THE JASON: I finally got to see him appear on Smackdown this past Friday.  He didn’t wrestle and I couldn’t pay attention to anything he said because I was too busy marveling at his similarity to General Zod’s non-speaking Phantom Zone henchman in Superman II.  It’s uncanny!

PTB: The resemblance to Non is undeniable. I like to think he’d have similar things to say but just couldn’t get a word in with Zod around. I’m really enjoying Sandow, but he’s yet to make his in ring debut and that could change everything.

THE JASON: What about Ryback? Haha. I hate to admit that I’m enjoying him, but as an old WCW fan I must be inexplicably nostalgic for Goldberg. Ryback is basically their attempt at re-creating that vibe. Which is fine by me since he seems to be getting over. I just wonder where they take him after he squashes every lower tier guy on the roster.

PTB: Has he even made it up to facing the roster yet? It seems like they’ve been feeding him guys off the street.

THE JASON:  Does Derrick “The Master” Bateman count?  He sent that dude packing back to NXT in short order.

PTB: The comparison to Goldberg is fair, but Goldberg was aided by an epic ring entrance from the music down to the sparklers and Ryback’s just doesn’t compare. On a related note, I added Lesnar’s music to my alarm clock playlist, but it lacks the warpy noise at the beginning. So disappointing.

THE JASON: No warpy noise = no buys. You have a point about Ryback’s entrance.  If they are going to recreate Goldberg, why not go the full monty with it and give him some epic ring music as opposed to “Generic Rock #6”.  While we’re on this, I have to mention the ridiculousness of the current trend in WWE to give guys ring names that are often less interesting than their actual names. Ryback’s real name is RYAN REEVES. That is such a great wrestler name and they gave him Skip Sheffield and then RYBACK.  What the hell does Ryback mean? That’s just awful. The other guy’s name was Claudio Castagnoli and they changed it to Antonio Cesaro. How is that an improvement? Titus O’Neal is a great ring name – but his real name is THADDEAUS BULLARD. Thaddeus! How often are they going to get a Thaddeus waltzing in? That’s great stuff. The girls in Brodus Clay’s act are named Naomi and Cameron respectively – but their real names are Ariane and Trinity.  How are Naomi and Cameron better names than that???  And I wouldn’t even know the girls had names if I didn’t look on WWE.com!

PTB: In fairness, Naomi and Cameron’s names have been mentioned a lot on TV, but all I can think of when reading your thoughts on Ryback is Shawn Stasiak not understanding his own gimmick as the “Mecca of Manhood.”

THE JASON:  That was actually a far better moment for Stasiak.  Think of his first run as “Meat.”  I recollect him wrestling Bossman with a viagra-induced situation in his tights.

PTB: That guy never had a chance, even as Planet Stasiak. Back to the Trinities and Thaddeuses at hand, I’ve never gotten renaming people to conventional names that aren’t part and parcel of a gimmick like “Roddy Piper” or just totally awesome like “Randy Savage.” Although any name can work with something like “The Dragon” or “The Hammer” appended to it.

THE JASON: Even so, Roddy and Randy were those individuals actual first names. We can go on – especially as they’ve renamed people who are 2nd and 3rd generation stars (Joe Hennig became Michael McGuillicutty, Sarona Snuka became Tamina.)  Some people don’t have “superstar” names (Wade Barret’s name is Stu Bennet – which is pretty bland, but is Wade Barret really that much better?), but some of the stuff they come up with is just ridiculous.  I still haven’t figured out why they changed Bryan Danielson’s name to Daniel Bryan.  Maybe you should have made me change my name when we started doing the Warm-Ups together.  “You will now be known as THE… SEYMOUR!  YES! We don’t have a Seymour writing for the site, this will add to your uniqueness as a MLD contributor!”

PTB: Would you still need to add the definite article in front of the name, ONE OF MANY JASONS?

THE JASON:  It must stay.  We do have other Jay’s on the site.  But only one THE JASON, and certainly no Seymours. That is unless Seymour is Lydon’s real name and you wouldn’t agree to bring him up to the roster unless he went with something more commerically viable.

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
April 30th, 2012 edition / May 14th
, 2012 edition

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