Monday Night Raw Warm Up for September 3rd, 2012

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C.M. Punk’s latest turn as a heel was cemented last week with a brutal assault on Jerry “The King” Lawler. Punk’s reception tonight in his hometown of Chicago is expected to remain overwhelmingly positive regardless.

Last week’s Raw saw C.M. Punk showed definitively that he was no longer walking the line between good and evil as he goaded Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler into a fight and then proceeded to brutally beat him inside a steel cage to end the show. Regardless of the direction of this storyline, a large part of the audience still cheered Punk. With such headway made to show this new side to Punk’s demeanor, tonight’s Raw eminates from Chicago where Punk will absolutely be received as a babyface. Will he apologize for his actions or give his reasons for attempting to teach Lawler the meaning of “RESPECT!”

THE JASON: Before we jump in, I have to say that this 8 PM starting time is killing me. I usually don’t get to sit down and start watching Raw until 9 PM.

PTB: I’m feeling the same thing and I really hope the first hour of the show doesn’t take a ratings hit that turns it into a meaningless recap. As it stands, the show has opened with C.M. Punk and Jerry Lawler for the last two weeks which have been solid starts, but the storyline has then been hyped at every turn through to the end of the night. I’d sooner not have the third hour than see Raw adopt WCW Nitro‘s formula of bait and wait.

THE JASON: As much as I like the term “bait and wait”, give WCW some credit! That first hour wasn’t always a time drain. I fondly recall a lot of the luchadores, cruiserweights as well as Fit Finlay, Kanyon, Regal, and a lot of the good workers putting on matches in that first hour.

THE JASON: Lawler was fine at the start of the show. I thought Punk was pretty great in conveying EVIL. They definitely decided not to have this turn be organic like his heel turn from a few years ago, but to shift it into high gear and start force feeding us the change. I know it’s LAZY character development to have him be looking for respect one week and completely overblown in his arrogance the following week. The crowd didn’t seem to want to play along though.

PTB: And they shouldn’t. Punk is being pushed as the most boring kind of heel. Chris Jericho made this type of gimmick work with humor. Bret Hart had the advantage of Vince McMahon as the target for his rage. I’m a huge fan of Punk, but he’s just simply not at his best with this approach lashing out against the likes of Lawler and Joh Cena. His mic work is coming off as redundant and the justifiable outrage that he’s played up so well in the past has completely disappeared. It really is a shame since not being the main event is an angle that’s been building for a year and it’s been replaced with a zero-to-sixty descent into #HEEL mode.

THE JASON: It would be interesting if the crowd sustained their love for Punk and he’d be the reverse of Cena. A guy who is a complete heel, but who has a continuous and very vocal segment of the audience that cheers him no matter how much we’re told “boo this man.”

PTB: The crowd rejected it when they were told Daniel Bryan was not to be cheered and I hope they do it again here. Not because I don’t want Punk to be the “bad guy” but because he can be a far better bad guy.

THE JASON: I agree, but sometimes it takes a bit of time until a turn gets some traction. It took a few months for the Batista turn we briefly cited last week to really work. They’ll be in Chicago tonight. Do you think Punk will be a face?

PTB: Beyond. I just fear what dumb thing they’ll try to have him do to get the crowd against him. Tear up photos of Ditka, Jordan, and Harry Caray?

THE JASON: But back to the Lawler/Punk conflict, I was surprised to see blood in the cage match. The end was particularly brutal, but it means nothing if Lawler is back doing commentary tonight.

PTB: The blood was suprising and it made me think this whole confrontation was motivated by a desire to give Lawler some time in the spotlight with the WWE Champion as much as it was to cement Punk as a villain. I like Lawler, but I’m not crazy about this angle.

THE JASON: Punk’s continually evolving look is very American History X. It’s definitely a step-above his “evil lawyer from Regarding Henry” slicked-back look that he’s donned for the past year.

PTB: I like the change. The slicked back hair always seemed like more effort than I’d expect from his character.

THE JASON: I definitely prefer the look. I always felt that the slicked-back look didn’t work with the rest of his look. Man, if I haven’t mentioned it, the new Raw theme song suuuucks.

PTB: It lacks a lot of energy and reminds me too much of the music bed behind TNT’s NBA coverage.

THE JASON: While we’re on the topic of bad theme music, what is Aksana’s theme music supposed to be? The theme to “Moonlighting?”

Jack Swagger’s losing streak was cited by Michael Cole. Great! I don’t think calling attention to a guy’s losing streak has ever lead to anything positive. This was an ugly match. I thought Swag was dead after that backdrop onto his head. Ryback going up for the slam was particularly business-exposing. I’m willing to bet that he goes back to squashing no names tonight.

PTB: Well Swagger did also cry out “that’s it!” after his most recent loss. I guess enough is enough and it’s time for a change until he’s back to square one (again) and he’s onto another losing streak gimmick (this is already his second).

THE JASON: Thank you, Owen Hart. Speaking of Harts, Natalya and Layla had the best divas match in months, too bad Vickie undermined the whole thing.

PTB: The Divas have been making more in-ring appearances lately and I even spied Beth Phoenix in a match recently. Vickie needs something else to do because she’s only going drag the women around her down if this is where they put her.

THE JASON: But a feud with AJ? That’s not something that I think anyone wants to see. And why were we having Miz vs. Cena? They hate letting this guy win for more than a week. There was a fantastic DDT spot in the match though. I give Cena props – but then he pops back up and wins in all of 5 minutes. Way to kill the IC champ… AGAIN.

PTB: This needed an interesting twist that it sorely lacked. At the same time Punk is putting himself over as the villain with Lawler, Cena needs more to do to stay on the radar.

THE JASON: I don’t think Cena’s involvement is ever in doubt, and he made his presence felt at the end of the show. Although he may have won the worst save in history by standing there and pleading for the cage to be raised instead of actually climbing it.

THE JASON: Brodus Claywins again with a splash. You know (™Kevin Nash), I’ve never had a 400 lb man splash me but is there a move less impressive than the big splash?

PTB: It’s a tough sell, but the Ultimate Warrior made a fine effort. Honorable mention to the Stinger Splash and King Kong Bundy’s Avalanche if those count.

While we’re on this, I would totally buy the 50 Greatest Finishing Moves of all time DVD.

THE JASON: If Saturn’s “Moss-covered Three Handled Family Gredunza” isn’t on it, I give it no buys.

PTB: I don’t think that made the cut, but I can’t imagine they won’t mention it as having one of the greatest names of all time.

THE JASON: What about the “Big Wiggle” from Norman Smiley?

PTB: More likely than the Norman Conquest…

THE JASON: I think I would take umbrage with this list. I’m sure the top 5 are the Stone Cold Stunner, the Rock Bottom, the Pedigree, the Tombstone, and Shawn Michael’s Superkick.

PTB: You’d only take issue with the bottom of the list. I guarantee your top twenty five are in there. Or are you really going to argue the Big Wiggle over the Sharpshooter? Or Macho Man’s elbow drop?

THE JASON: No, of course not.

PTB: The only way I’m taking exception is if Hogan’s Leg Drop is in there.

THE JASON: That move always sucked

PTB: It did. And he only had it because he had to have something. Oh and that he couldn’t wrestle.

THE JASON: I kind of always liked the original Liontamer and Victoria’s Widow’s Peak.

PTB: The Liontamer should be in there. However, the Code Breaker should not. The Widow’s Peak is one of those moves that requires an elaborate set up that the victim has to be too compliant with. Like the Christian deal.

THE JASON: Walls of Jericho is probably in there, the Liontamer is different to me. You mean The Unprettier? I always liked that move.

PTB: Is that what it’s called? No, they changed it to the Killswitch.

THE JASON: Yeah, the Killswitch. I preferred it being called the Unprettier. What about the Vertebreaker? That move was awesome and yet completely improbable. What are they basing this list on? Actual effectiveness or how cool it looks?

PTB: I’m never sure what they mean by “Greatest” with these lists. Vertebreaker was Shane Helms’ move? It’s an exciting move, but if I was unable to execute it on our colleague Brian it lost appeal.

THE JASON: I couldn’t understand how that move was put on. And you would have assuredly killed him had you attempted it.

THE JASON: Sign of the night…Mr. Small Package.

PTB: I was partial to the “HBK was better than you” sign. I agree with the sentiment for the most part, but it got me to thinking about who is more recognizable to the general public and what that means for how these guys’ reputation endure.

THE JASON: The other big segment that we need to touch on his HHH’s psuedo retirement. It was a great promo but in a way it kind of sucks that he isn’t retiring.

PTB: Exactly! At this point he just said some stuff. You can’t even refer to it as the night he retired despite the Triple HHHighlights throughout the show.

THE JASON: This will invariably be better than the speech he gives when he does actually retire, because in all honesty what would he say at that point that is any different that what he said last week.
Of course, he never will retire. He will still be wrestling when he is Vince’s age. He’s ostensibly one of the owners, he isn’t going anywhere. He wrestles 2 – 3 times a year, and they should just keep it that way. His role really needs to transition to the old warhorse that wrestles a match and defends the WWE honor for special occasions.

PTB: And main event the two biggest ppvs of the year? It’s almost like he’s so worried about inevitably coming out of retirement for a match that he can’t bring himself to retire in the first place.

THE JASON: True, which is why the angle is kind of goofy. Besides the fact, if we are to go in accord of the storyline if Brock Lesnar just quit, what is HHH’s actual reason for retiring? The threat is gone.

THE JASON: I did enjoy some of the non-wrestling segments in the show. Those anger management segments sounded like they’d be a trainwreck but Daniel Bryan and Kane were both great in them especially Bryan’s “this isn’t going to be good” reaction prior to Kane sharing with the group.

PTB: Kane’s sharing was fun and I thoroughly enjoy Daniel Bryan, but those anger management skits were tough to take. Although I have to admit I want to see his anger collage.

I know three hours is tough to fill but Otunga/Ryder/Kane came way too late in the show

THE JASON: I did not miss Otunga. The bow-tie however is sorely lacking from the broadcast.

THE JASON: I liked Cole standing away from the table while Kane doing his commentary spot.

PTB: It was amusing but everything he was saying was awful. Hearing Josh Matthews on Raw just speaks to how hollow Smackdown sounds each week. There’s no energy there at all.

THE JASON: Well someone referenced Gorilla and Bobby.

PTB: That could have been funny but the delivery and content was nothing. Its not enough to just invoke some names that people care about.

THE JASON: I was always more of a Gorilla and Jesse guy to be honest.

PTB: Gorilla and either of those guys was infinitely better because of how those guys delivered. They could work from the exact same script and there’d be no comparison.

THE JASON: They wouldn’t be working from a script!

PTB: To be fair none of them do, but you can take those same words and Gorilla, Jesse, Heenan, Vince, Ross, Taz, and Styles could all put Cole and Matthews to shame. They’re Tony Schiavone in more expensive suits.

THE JASON: Let’s cut Fat Tony a break. He wasn’t bad at one point. During Nitro years though, he was unrepenatently awful. Look at me being a WCW apologist tonight.

PTB: I’ll give you this, Larry Zybysko and Mile Tenay were brilliant compared to Cole and Matthews in that first clip you shared this week.

How is Heath Slater still on Raw and how little must they think of Sin Cara having Slater get a victory over him? I really thought Santino Marella would be handed a loss and Slater was getting a chance.

THE JASON: I honestly have no recollection of Santino or Sin Cara on Raw last Monday! Let’s hope that tonight is filled with more memorable moments for us to discuss next week.

PTB: Let’s hope! At least they’re mixing up the talent we’re seeing in the extra time each week so I’ll take it. Especially with a weekly dose of Damien Sandow with or without partners he feels he could have an intelligent conversation with.

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
August 27th, 2012 edition / September 10th, 2012 edition (coming next Monday)

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