Tonight Raw pulls into CM Punk’s favorite venue THE PEPSI CENTER in Denver, Colorado. Let’s hope AJ doesn’t share his love of the soft drink because I think we had our fill of her last week. It’s a shame mainly due to the fact that AJ has become and important figure in the WWE landscape and the positive reaction to her has led to overkill. The current WWE status quo is a far cry from where things were heading into last year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view that featured C.M. Punk on the final night of his contract taking on John Cena for the WWE Championship.
THE JASON: You know what tonight needs more of? MORE AJ!!! Last week was a virtual AJ-fest. It was a case of too much of a good thing. AJ plays her role well and her involvement in the Punk-Bryan-Kane storyline has been fine, but having her all over both Raw and Smackdown was excessive.
PTB: I couldn’t agree more. She got more air time than Punk and Bryan and that’s not a good plan. Much like Brodus Clay was everywhere you turned for a few weeks, we now have AJ on multiple segments on both shows. One person I was happy to see more of last week was Teddy Long as guest GM.
THE JASON: I never get tired of thuggin’ and buggin’.
PTB: He’s the guy I’d like to see stick around in some capacity. He’s been in that role for years and he plays it well. There are certainly more exciting options when you think about who’s out there, but Teddy has been there for years and I think any replacement will be far shorter lived.
THE JASON: I agree. I also like the dynamic of the face general manager. The whole character of the evil general manager is a very tired concept. Maybe that’s why Teddy still plays his role well, the good guy GM hasn’t been done to death. This week’s Smackdown we’ll get someone else in that role as Zack Ryder won a 20-man battle royal to determine that show’s GM. Tonight’s RAW GM is still a mystery though.
PTB: At the top of last week’s show, we saw a recap of Jericho/Cena/Show confrontation from the previous week. I’ve enjoyed seeing these three working together and I like the notion that they’re all vying for a title match. I’m hoping they can put together a decent one this Sunday at Money in the Bank.
THE JASON: I wish they hadn’t shown that chokeslam to Cena in slow-motion. That was a questionable editing choice. The chokeslam is supposed to be around the neck, right? Because Show was chokeslamming Cena’s abdomen.
I liked the opening segment with the lineup of Cena, Bryan, Punk, Jericho, Kane and Big Show all coming out in succession. I thought Bryan did really well in there, Punk not so much and Jericho seems like he’s headed back to being a good guy since he pumped out a whole batch of catchphrases during this segment.
PTB: Jericho is being put in a good spot here as he endears himself with the fans at the same time as remaining in his self-obsessed heel persona. His criticism of Bryan’s one word catch phrase was particularly fun.
THE JASON: Bryan really needs something else besides YES. If he can get that to catch on, he can probably work in a few “more arrows in his quiver.”
PTB: YESing is still a lot of fun for the live crowd, but with AJ camping on and bringing it to every appearance it dilutes what fans are chanting in support of. I think everyone is in support of “Mr. Bon Jovi” though.
THE JASON: Man, that was a dated reference. Even for us! Do people still listen to Bon Jovi?
PTB: Bon Jovi somehow remains relevant. He got punched in the face before eating so that helps.
THE JASON: I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’d like to punch Bon Jovi in the face too. If not for anything else besides that “Blaze of Glory” song from Young Guns II.
PTB: Seeing that opening definitely made it feel like it’s been a long time since we’ve had “all of those combustable elements in the ring together.” All the participants are well established and I really like the way money in the bank it coming together.
THE JASON: I’ll retract my statement from last week – the Money in the Bank match was not always about launching a guy up the ladder, so to speak. The first match had Jericho, Kane, Benoit, Edge, Christian and Shelton Benjamin. The former three were already world champions, Edge was on his way and Shelton was IC champ at the time. So, there is a precedent for there being top-level talent in the match. I’d just like to see a few more names added to the Raw match. Smackdown last week saw more names get added and I’m liking the possibilities that match will offer. Do you think we’ll see more names added to Raw‘s version, or will they stand pat at 4?
PTB: I absolutely think they have to add more names. The Smackdown match is up to seven with the addition of Cody Rhodes. I don’t see how they’ll leave the two matches so lopsided. Unfortunately I think the likes of Randy Orton and The Miz will be thrown in and that should have come weeks ago. It’s too bad the six guys in the ring last Monday can’t just work the match together.
The solid opening was followed by an 8-man tag that will impacted the Smackdown! ladder match on Tuesday and will likely (unless its been announced already) a tag team title match at Money in the Bank with the Prime Time Players against Kofi/Truth and Christian, Rhodes, Santino, Otunga vying for entry in the ladder match
THE JASON: What a mess that 8-man match was. The only person who wound up getting the better of anything on that deal was Brodus Clay, who made an appearance to serve up a cold dish of revenge on Otunga. Angle-wise, shouldn’t Otunga be fired since Johnny Ace has been removed?
PTB: Brodus follows Big Show’s end to his undefeated streak by entering a feud with David Otunga. That’s a big step down the ladder although he’s actually facing guys on the roster. Otunga should have gone the way of Eve after Big Johnny’s firing, but we did see him trying to butter up Vince McMahon recently so at least that’s something.
THE JASON: Well, at least it is a feud he can win. There is a dynamic that they can develop: The obnoxious Harvard Law grad with the picturesque physique vs. The Dancing, street-wise, pleasantly plump former body guard of Snoop Dogg. The matches will be an atrocity, but they could provide some decent storylines if they are dead-set on matching them up.
PTB: Last Monday we were teased that Lesnar would return after quitting weeks ago to answer Triple H’s challenge. Did it happen? NO, instead we got Paul Heyman via satellite and the answer will come at Raw 1000. This is part of the brilliance in bringing Heyman in for this and his invoking Triple H’s exit strategy as Lesnar ends his career is part of why he works so well. I have no idea how to call this one.
THE JASON: Well, Paul is the highlight of the show for me. He brings the goods every time and he made me want to tune in and see what happens at Raw 1000, as opposed to feeling (and knowing) that they are dragging this out. Ultimately, it makes sense to hold off on the announcement. Brock’s appearance are few and far between both due to his contract and the storyline, so I agree with holding off on resolving this for another few weeks. With that being said – I really, really, really (did I say really yet) hope that Triple H does not win at Summerslam.
PTB: I think Lesnar’s loss to Cena guarantees a win over Triple H. What exactly is going on with ADR? He’s number one contender, then it’s Ziggler after Khali injures him, then it’s ADR again, then Teddy says it might not be, and he has to face mystery man Sin Cara. I thought that the Raw match was for the hometown crowd, but ADR’s immediate beat down of Sin Cara and the booking over the last few weeks is the real mystery to me.
THE JASON: Sin Cara? More like Sin lógica. The mystery to me is what they are doing with Ziggler. This guy has been pinned by Sheamus more times in a 2 week period than anyone. He is the Jerry Flynn to Sheamus’s Goldberg. I don’t see how anyone can take the guy as a championship contender again. If he wins Money In the Bank, he would actually be the first guy to cash in and lose.
PTB: I like Ziggler but I’d hate to see him win Money in the Bank. He’d definitely be the first to cash in and lose and I’m already thinking that’s the direction for the Raw Money in the Bank winner.
THE JASON: Not if Cena wins the briefcase. Nuh uh.
PTB: Another mystery, AJ gets paired with Sheamus to continue her feud with Vickie Guerrero. This isn’t the match to go with headed into Money in the Bank if she’s a guest ref for the WWE title match. It’s overkill and crow-barring her into more segments.
THE JASON: YES! MORE AJ! Is there anyone else on the roster. All AJ, all the time!
PTB: At least it lead to a run in with Punk backstage, but Eve even pointed out how much air time AJ has been getting. Did I miss Eve? I think I may have.
THE JASON: Is Eve the giant of the Divas, or is AJ (AJ! AJ! AJ!) that much smaller? There was a crazy size disparity in that backstage segment. I think one of Eve’s boobs is as big as AJ’s head. Much like Otunga though, her appearance makes little sense with Laurinatis’s firing. They need to appeal to whomever the new GM is to keep their spots on the roster. Wouldn’t it be nice to close that loop? I’m just asking for a 30 second backstage segment!
Speaking of backstage segments, I thought the bit with AJ (MORE AJ!!!??!!?) and Daniel Bryan was great just for the line where he gives AJ a flower, AJ responds with “How sweet” and Bryan says “I know.”
PTB: You’re a sucker for the “I know.” Was AJ on every segment last week?
During this week’s Slater match with Doink. I was ready to be disappointed that the Legends well was running dry but then… DDP, and it was great this week.
THE JASON: Why didn’t DDP just have a match? I liked DDP in WCW, but I still haven’t forgiven WWE for what they did with him during the Invasion period (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEY4DJs6II0). Getting pinned by Sara Undertaker? Becoming a motivational speaker? I was not a fan. But at that time, I could see that there was a definite difference in how WCW styled a match as opposed to WWE. I don’t think DDP ever fit in with the style.
PTB: He didn’t, but like all things he did his best and did leave some decent memories during his WWE tenure.
THE JASON: I was dissapointed that they didn’t use his old “Smells Like Teen Spirit” ripoff entrance music.
PTB: We haven’t talked about No Holds Barred, but do we need to? Even as young PTB, I knew that movie was absurd.
THE JASON: Time for a confession – No Holds Barred was, in part, what drove me away from wrestling until the combination of the Monday Night Wars and N64 Games pulled me back in. As a kid, I always knew that wrestling was somehow pre-determined but I was willing to suspend disbelief the same way I knew that while watching the GI Joe cartoon it was impossible that no one ever got shot with about 100 trillion laser blasts happening in every firefight. No Holds Barred kind of killed things for me. They brought in ZEUS (aka Tiny Lister) an actor from the movie to feud with Hulk Hogan. That gave the 14 year-old THE JASON a big headache. I already knew the guy was an actor from watching 1st and Ten on HBO. So, we have Tiny Lister playing Zeus in the movie No Holds Barred, Hulk Hogan playing Rip Alottashirts, and then they have an actual match in the WWF where Hulk as Hulk is facing off against Zeus. The actor. From the movie. IN CHARACTER. Not Tiny Lister the actor. Not even Tiny who went crazy after working on such a horrid film, thought he was Zeus and decided to take his rage out on Hulk. Just Zeus. And the matches SUCKED. That was pretty much my breaking point. I know I stuck it out through Survivor Series 1990, but the break commenced shortly after that for a few years.
I’ve never seen No Holds Barred, and I don’t intend to. However, I have seen Ready to Rumble. We can save that discussion for another time since that film may be in the top 5 worst movies ever made.
PTB: I have not seen No Holds Barred either but what drove me from wrestling was the Hart Foundation not defeating Demoltiion for the tag titles at SummerSlam 1988. Demolition with Fuji and Jimmy Hart was too much for them to contend with and I just thought it wasn’t worth watching if they’d never be champs again and I gradually stopped watching. WrestleMania 12 was really the next thing I watched, meanwhile The Hart Foundation went on to defeat Demolition for the WWF Tag Team Championships at SummerSlam 1990 about six years earlier.
Another thing I didn’t see was the latest entry in Kane v Big Show last week. I FFed through and it still seemed too slow for words. Did I miss anything?
THE JASON: I slept through it, I’m sure we didn’t miss anything. I can provide a recap of what I imagine the match to be. Punch, kick. Punch, slap. Punch, Punch. Spear. Chokeslam. Big Show wins.
PTB: The foil to this match was Tyson Kidd not only on Raw, but getting a win over Tensai??! I was shocked by his win over Swagger on Smackdown to get into their Money in the Bank match, but this… this is crazy.
THE JASON: I think that shows how much Tensai’s stock has dropped since he first debuted. Look, in the time we were off this guy lost his lordship and it looks like he’s on his way to losing his manager as well.
PTB: I don’t get not capitalizing on his history paralleling Laurinaitis’. They both left to wrestle in Japan and enjoyed some success. Laurinaitis brings him back to the States to be his heavy and then Laurinaitis gets fired. If you’re going to start burying Tensai, why not make this part of the rationale?
THE JASON: I think it comes down to them just having little regard for Tensai at this point and not wanting to waste time explaining it. It doesn’t make it right. It would take just a few seconds of commentary on each show to clear it up. It makes me miss Gorilla Monsoon.
PTB: A main event of Punk/Cena vs Bryan/Jericho is hard to get wrong. While it’s still higher pitched voices cheering Cena, it’s a major shift after his program with the Rock. The main event was actually fun booking but it didn’t go over so well in the execution.
THE JASON: You know what this match needed?
Wait for it…
Wait for it…
Can you not figure it out?
MORE F’N AJ!!!!!
OKAY, WE GET IT. Did WWE see what TNA was doing with AJ Styles and just figured “Hey, we’ve got an AJ too, let’s make her to focal point of the show!” Man. I guess I wouldn’t care if AJ’s presence were inserted into, say a David Otunga vs. Santino match, but she’s involved in PUNK VS. BRYAN. It’s like you’re getting a delicious meal and you get a couple bites into it and there’s hair on your chicken.
Sorry – odd analogy.
PTB: Yet very apt. I don’t mind her being involved in that feud provided it goes somewhere (and I’d like to see her used to elevate a new contender to feud with both of them). I just don’t like that she’s being put in segments with everyone right now. Save some of that for when the Punk/Bryan program is over.
THE JASON: The whole bit with AJ looking like she was going to throw herself into the table for attention was interesting, but it defies wrestling logic. She is a wrestler and a valet, doesn’t she know that the guys in the match shouldn’t be distracted when they are trying to win?
PTB: More than that, this comes close to WWE running a suicide angle as she strives for attention and I’d rather see something else.
THE JASON: I see your point, but I get the feeling that isn’t what they were going for. Self-inflicted injury yes, suicide no. I’m also not entirely sure what AJ’s motivations are supposed to be. Is she crazy, is she acting crazy in an attempt to get attention, or is this all some form of misdirection? All in all, this was better than Michael Cole calling her a teenager on Smackdown (she’s not) and then proceeding to hit on her (which was creepy.)
PTB: Good point. It’s more cutting than suicide, not sure that makes it any more palatable.
We’ll see how it plays out tonight, as well as this weekend. The Money in the Bank PPV has proven to be a stand-out show for the company since its inception. The lineup looks fairly strong and we’ll see if the landscape changes when we’re even closer to RAW 1000 next week and the show’s new start time of 8PM.
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