Monday Night Raw Warm Up for September 17th, 2012

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Controversy surrounded the finish to WWE’s Night of Champions main event between WWE Champion C.M. Punk and hometown favorite John Cena. Expect a rematch announcement as part of the action tonight.

A lot has happened in the WWE Universe since last Monday, not the least of which was Jerry “the King” Lawler’s on air collapse that has since been confirmed as a heart attack. Our thoughts are with the King as he recovers, and we’re hopeful for a speedy recovery. The show has gone on in Lawler’s absence culminating in Sunday’s Night of Champions pay-per-view. We’ll get into where things stand coming out of the event and what to expect tonight on Raw after the break.

PTB: The big news coming out of Night of Champions was WWE Champion C.M. Punk going to a draw last night with John Cena. Let me start off saying I’m thrilled Punk kept the belt, but this ending is a bit on the cheap side. Why not just have Punk cheat to win? It’s not what I want to see, but that’s clearly the type of heel WWE is currently pushing him as. Plus Paul Heyman was right there at ringside and I loved the way they exited from their inpromptu tag match last week. I don’t mind a controversial finish, but there’s precedent for continuing the match after an unclear pinfall from just a few weeks ago.

THE JASON: The match was great, and I’d love to see their feud continue. Punk vs. Cena has provided a “big-match” feel seldom seen with other performers and the matches have been stellar in nearly every occurrence. It’s a feud that they’ve kept interesting throughout the past year, regardless of the revisionist history-spin that Cena gave of Punk’s title reign last week. We’ve spoken at length in the Warm-Ups about the dynamic between the two, and I still feel Punk should be the one guy that Cena can’t overcome and last night made them seem equal in their skills. While the double-pin is far from the optimal outcome for a finish in any match, it may be the best way to keep them on par and build to a subsequent rematch.

With that being said – Punk’s New York Yankee-themed attire was an interesting look. I had to wonder if that was just another attempt at cheap heat, considering that he’s a well-documented Cubs fan, as he looks for ways to emphasize that he’s the bad guy. The other scenario is that it was a call-back to when he accused Cena of becoming just like the Yanks. I find it doubtful that it was a subtle statement that Punk no longer feels that he should be viewed as an underdog and should be as respected as the most decorated team in baseball. And I say that as a Mets fan.

I loved the zip-up sweatshirt in place of a traditional wrestling robe (or wizard robe) for Punk to reveal the belt.

PTB: Punk in Yankees gear to tweak the Boston faithful is the worst unless he’s sporting Cubs colors somewhere! He’s established himself as a Chicago (and a Heyman) guy and it would have been far better to throw out Yankee themed Cena gear.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8lusKyJaUw]

PTB: I know we both want to send our best wishes and sympathy to Jerry Lawler. His heart attack last week created a surreal moment in the history of the show that I think was magnified by all the in ring work he’s been doing recently. I’m hopeful for a speedy return for the King and it appears John Bradshaw Layfield, aka JBL, will serve as a replacement. I do enjoy JBL, but seeing him back just reinforced that he should have been put on Smackdown every week a long time ago. I also wonder if it might have added some gravitas to the King taking ill to have Michael Cole work solo for a night or two.

THE JASON: It was truly surreal, although from all reports it seems that the fact that he had the heart attack at the arena may have saved his life since EMTs were on-hand. I hope he makes a full recovery.

I was fine with JBL’s return to the booth, as well as Cole’s reversion to his far better straight play-by-play style of commentary. Cole and JBL are a very solid pairing and I enjoyed JBL as the color-man last night. I don’t see it lasting though as JBL has designs on scaling Mount Wannahockaloogie or something.

PTB: Let’s give it a few weeks before discussing JBL’s future endeavors. One of the better moments from Night of Champions for me was seeing Kane and Daniel Bryan as tag champs. They’ve had a nice build up going back to their feuds with Punk and AJ and this has been a fun pairing. I would still prefer to see classic style teams, but I Iike this.

THE JASON: This is a great use of both Kane and Bryan. The therapy segments have revitalized Kane’s character and it has reinforced Bryan as main player. I think that when you have a duo that entertaining, you may as well strike while the iron is hot and putting the titles on them was the right move. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth were as thrown together as you could get with a tag-team and I kept hoping that with every defense that they would drop the titles.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8-2YPu9ACc]

PTB: Since expanding to three hours, the pre-taped bits have become a big part of the show each week. The Kane/Bryan anger management skits had their moments and while I like the way they’re produced, seeing Sheamus try to do comedy against David Otunga’s straight man was terrible.

THE JASON: That was really bad. Really, really bad. That insulted lawyers, Jewish people, Irish people, Irish Jewish people, hispanics and ultimately wasn’t even funny. Sheamus sure did throw himself into singing Hava Negelia quite heartily though.

PTB: It insulted me as a fan of television. The question I found myself asking by the end of last night was whether Sheamus is just boring. This feud with Alberto Del Rio does nothing for me and a feud with Dolph Ziggler has no promise of being better. I honestly don’t know who they could run him with that would overcome my need to fast forward.

THE JASON: So you’re saying that you didn’t appreciate his singing? It doesn’t do much for his character to tell you the truth. I feel like he’s becoming a bit too similar to Cena lately. And while I like Sheamus, he’s no John Cena. Our top babyfaces can crack jokes and make fun of the heels to a point, but eventually they need to take their opponents seriously otherwise it means nothing when they get beat for the title. It’s just another day at the office. There’s just too much goofy humor and Sheamus’s entire title run has been wrapped in it. Couple this with him feuding with Del Rio for months on end and virtually no advancement for either of them has made his title reign quite cold. I was hoping for Ziggler to cash in last night, but despite looking strong against Orton, he still lost there as well. I think Orton vs. Sheamus is really the only program they can do right now to make the title valid.

PTB: There really couldn’t be a less interesting pairing, but I’ll hope they prove me wrong. Miz, Eve and Zach Ryder amounted to the undercard last night with each finding themselves in a title match. All of them have been getting more air time of late, but unfortunately Ryder is the only one on my radar and that has more to do with his opponent. Ryder won a pre-show battle royal before Night of Champions went on the air to determine Antonio Cesaro’s challenger for the US title, but Cesaro is the guy to watch and I liked seeing him get some air time on Raw.

THE JASON: I wasn’t sure if Ryder winning the battle royal was the right call at first. But I’m sure it may have provoked a few last minute PPV purchases for some of Ryder’s fans (provided he has any left) to potentially recapture the title . I like Cesaro, so I’m hoping to see him get built up. But do we need two mid-card titles any longer?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3eld6jm9DM]

PTB: Last week’s appearance by Bret Hart got the treatment it deserved, and it was great to see the Hitman get a tremendous ovation in Montreal. Those kind of moments are rare these days. The only real downside was his interactions with C.M. Punk and I can’t believe I’m typing that. If it weren’t for the handling of Punk’s current run as a heel this could have been something special.

THE JASON: Bret was worked in to the program last week nicely, and it was a far better use of his status to be treated like a legend and not a guest ring announcer. However, I felt that Punk’s feigned cheap-shot towards Bret was a desperate attemp to achieve heel heat. He’s assaulted Jerry Lawler, insulted Bret, cut his hair, joined with Paul Heyman and dressed in Yankee colors in Boston. What will he do tonight? Punk may as well grow an evil moustache to twirl and tie AJ to some train-tracks.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLp34QhZkhg]

Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
September 10th, 2012 edition / October 8th, 2012 edition

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