Monday Night Raw rolls into Richmond, Virginia tonight on the heels of last night’s Over the Limit pay-per-view and a lot of build up from last Monday. Friday’s edition of Smackdown also drove forward the rivalries between C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship as well as a burgeoning feud between Sheamus and Randy Orton for the World Championship. Both of those titles along with the Tag Team and Divas Championships were successfully defended last night, but we’re sure to see more from the principals involved tonight. It’s also a safe bet that we’ll see more of new Intercontinental Champion Christian and former champ Cody Rhodes.
THE JASON: The centerpiece of last week’s show was built around John Laurinaitis and The Big Show. This built off of the angle from two weeks ago where Eve reprimanded Show for making fun of Johnny’s voice. Show was first booked in a match with Kane, another match-up which I hope they do not go back to. When you say a match is smooth, this is not it. I give Show and Kane credit for trying to incorporate different moves (I particularly liked the opening chain wrestling segment), but it just looked like they were throwing bits of different exchanges together in the hopes of creating a decent match. The ending chokeslam was spectacularly bad.
PTB: Everything looked off in that match and I’m really unsure what to attribute it to. The two have worked together many times and both have been decent in the ring of late. Kane even had a decent showing with C.M. Punk on Smackdown last week.
THE JASON: The post-match segment saw Johnny threaten Big Show with his termination until he produced a heartfelt apology. Show’s acting in this segment nearly saved it, but it seemed to drag on forever until Johnny ultimately “wished him well in his future endeavors.” And just in case no one understood that terminology, he made sure to tell him he was fired.
PTB: I really thought Big Show might be making an exit with his subsequent firing, but helping Laurinaitis get a win over Cena at Over the Limit suggests he’ll be back trying to keep his job by any means necessary. I really don’t like how much Laurinaitis we’re seeing lately with time dedicated to his feuds with Cena, Punk, and Big Show, but at least this had some pay off.
THE JASON: I was shocked that the crowd was on Big Show’s side for all of this, since I was ready to boo him as soon as he was considering dropping to his knees. A babyface shouldn’t be begging for his job. Something tells me that Steve Austin wouldn’t have been as a big a star if he begged Vince for his job instead of giving him 100 stunners. Why was Show breaking down and crying? TNA would probably pay him a boatload of cash and let him keep their championship for more than 5 seconds to boot.
PTB: The “WWE Universe” is clearly sympathetic to the gentle giant, but I agree that begging for his job makes it difficult for his character to appear dominant on any level. Maybe I just don’t want him to be so gentle. Let’s hope this is a step in that direction.
THE JASON: I think that there would need to be some major changes with his character. Perhaps if he were portrayed more menacing, since being fired by Johnny he realized he must apply a more mercenary approach to his career. Otherwise, I see him turning back into a babyface in six months which tends to be his pattern. Raw’s show closing segment seemed to contradict Show’s earlier dismissal, but it would set up for Over the Limit’s finish. With that being said, I felt that not only should John Cena have been fired for the exact same infraction as Big Show, but he was about 10 times more annoying in mocking of Johnny Ace. There was simply WAY too much John Laurinaitis last week. When Cena started sniffing him my first thought was “Yes, I smell some bad jokes and unfunny comedy cooking too.”
Ultimately everyone’s job is on the line in the Cena/Laurinaitis match.
PTB: This was just one of many segments I could have done without last week, and having careers on the line seems very overused right now. I would have preferred to see Cena’s Make A Wish Foundation video package (I truly respect his efforts there) in place of every segment with Laurinaitis last week.
THE JASON: Ah, those Make A Wish segments! As DDP might have said, they are surely a “self hi-five.” In the spirit of such company bolstering let’s switch to the boss. While I liked HHH’s delivery during the opening segment, I have to agree with Paul Heyman in that it was “spin control.” WWE’s revisionist history is headache inducing at times. If we were to take HHH’s words literally then the reason Brock quit WWE the first time would be because Goldberg had “more heart” than he did, and that he ‘quit’ the UFC because Overeem had more heart as well. None of those statements are remotely close to true. But I suppose HHH can’t say “Brock didn’t love this business as much as everyone else, was tired of the travel and wanted to play football. He had to retire from the UFC because after having diverticulitis he couldn’t compete at a high level against competitors like Alister Overeem. Overeem by the way was suspended for having a 14-1 testosterone to epitestosterone ratio! That would never happen in the WWE! No steriods here! Nope! Wellness Policy! YEAH BABY!”
PTB: I can’t disagree with any of that, but I was on board with Triple H on the “legitimacy” issue. It’s a good angle for Lesnar to come in with since any WWE fan should agree that they do not need a guy to come in and make their product “matter.” Also I have to admit, I was hoping that #simpletonfarmboy was a trending topic.
THE JASON: Heyman was great in trying to reign this in, but again I have to wonder if the audience wants to see a feud built on a lawsuit as opposed to classic issues like “I don’t like you, so I must beat you.”
PTB: The lawsuits are secondary to how clear it is that the characters involved here don’t like one another. I love having Paul Heyman back on Raw and everything is playing out nicely so far. I watched some of WWE’s classic Heyman clips last week, and while I enjoyed seeing him put guys like Edge and JBL under the microscope years ago, it’s far more satisfying to see him confront a top guy like Triple H.
THE JASON: I can name the exact moment you were just referencing – ECW One Night Stand 2005. I loved Heyman’s insult to JBL. I do agree that the best use of Heyman is at the top of the card since his promo skills are virtually unparalled and they should be used to bolster top-level fueds.
THE JASON: A feud that is decidedly not top-level is Kane vs. Zack Ryder, which was promoted as a YouTube Match taking place before Over the Limit. Ryder’s previous efforts against Kane didn’t exactly make the results of this match in much doubt.
PTB: What I can’t get over is that this seemed like a feud that was building toward a WrestleMania match at one point and it culminates in a match that wasn’t even on television.
PTB: I saw an interview heading into WrestleMania where Punk was asked about being clean shaven for the first time in a long time. Looks like the beard is back with a vengeance.
THE JASON: He needed to prove to Daniel Bryan that he is the best in the world in the ring and just at being more manly in general . Considering that last night was the one-year anniversary of Macho Man’s passing, maybe it was more a Randy Savage tribute than Brody.
PTB: I knew that date was approaching and considering how Punk’s ring attire was a tribute to Randy Savage last year, a beard homage seems fitting.
I never took the opportunity to honor the Macho Man here on MLD though I meant to. He is one of my all-time favorites and I’ll never forget how great it was to see him wrestle four times in one night in the WrestleMania IV championship tournament.
THE JASON: Did Michael Cole really say during Raw something to the effect of “What are these people doing on Twitter?” during the Punk/Santino vs. Cody/Bryan match? WWE – where we reach and achieve new heights in irony!
Santino’s dive spot during the tag match was laugh out loud funny.
PTB: It was remarkable how well that match brought together humor, top names, and decent work in the ring. It’s something I’d definitely like to see more of. The foil to Santino in this match was now-former Intercontinental Champion, Cody Rhodes. I have no idea how this battle royal deal with Christian came about, but a title change at Over the Limit was a nice surprise. I honestly expected to see Christian in a feud with C.M. Punk upon his return considering how Punk took him out before WrestleMania, but I suppose we’ll have to wait for that.
THE JASON: After last night’s pay-per-view, I’m not sure where they go with Cody. He was beaten pretty succinctly by Christian, who I’m glad to see back. With that being said, I’m not a fan of the ‘phantom turns’ when a bad guy returns and is suddenly a babyface.
PTB: It all depends on where things go once Christian gets a mic in his hands. Like Chris Jericho, the fans want to love him, but it’s only a matter of time until he tells them they should look elsewhere.
THE JASON: Maybe the beating he took from Punk prior to Wrestlemania caused him to forget the past year? That would be some serious comic book plot-line lifting that I would find incredibly amusing to see WWE pilfer. It worked in Spider Man 2, right? Good to see Beth Phoenix get that win over Alicia Fox in retribution for her face getting broken back in December. Alicia is terrible. Layla is uninteresting. I’m not a fan of shuffling the belt around for no good reason, but I was hoping that Beth would regain the title at Over the Limit.
PTB: I was hoping that too as I saw Layla’s win as a way to work around the departing Bella Twins.
THE JASON: We’ll keep going with Layla as champ. I have a feeling that despite the crowd chanting for “Kharma” last night, we’ll get another phantom turn and she’ll come back as a heel eventually to take the belt.
Ziggler and Swagger really need to get some kind of color coordination going when they are tagging together.
PTB: I’d settle for any kind of team name. The same goes for the reigning tag team champions R-Truth and Kofi Kingston.
THE JASON: I agree to a point. If this results in another name like Air Boom, I’m completely fine with the staying as R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. And AW, thanks for showing up! Abraham Washington: “I can’t get you a match on Raw, but at least I have good seats!”
PTB: Haha! I really hope the tag division goes somewhere and I don’t mind Washington, Rosa, Epico and Primo being part of it. Again, a team name would be great right about there.
THE JASON: Considering that Kofi is a fake Jamaican a fair name would be Truth and Deceit. Hawkins and Reks are a team as well, and they even have matching tights! They actually do have the makings of a tag division beginning to percolate. That would be a highlight for me if they could capitalize on it.
Last week’s highlight for me was Punk’s brief meeting with AJ. Basically, he didn’t play Sting. There are simply too many times where the good guys have their IQs drop 50% and inexplicably put their trust in people who will clearly turn on them. In WCW, Sting was the worst offender. Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, you name the guy and Sting probably got stabbed in the back by them. It was refreshing to see Punk have the prescience to see a possible set-up.
PTB: I enjoyed this segment as well. Even though Punk is throwing out “WWE Universe” and has clearly been reigned in a bit in his mic work, it’s great to see that his character isn’t being entirely transformed into a typical babyface champion. I would assume AJ’s involvement will drive a continuing feud with Daniel Bryan going into tonight’s Raw from Richmond.
THE JASON: Last night provided a frontrunner for Match of the Year between Punk and Bryan. Let’s hope that their feud continues for at least another month! AJ’s involvement is the definition of great episodic storytelling. We know something is amiss, but they are just throwing the hints out before the payoff. We’re interested to see where it goes and hopefully we’ll have more to discuss about her involvement next week.
Complete WWE Over the Limit 2012 results are listed below. Photos courtesy of WWE.com.
- John Laurinaitis defeated John Cena
- WWE Champion CM Punk defeated Daniel Bryan
- World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus defeated Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Alberto del Rio in a Fatal 4-Way Match
- Christian won a 20-Man Battle Royal and went on to defeat Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes
- WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston & R-Truth defeated Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger
- WWE Divas Champion Layla defeated Beth Phoenix
- Brodus Clay defeated The Miz
- Ryback defeated Camacho
- Kane defeated Zack Ryder on the YouTube preshow
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