Real American Wrestleblog

This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

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The Raw Review – 08/11/2014

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Start off the night with a mound of presents at the top of the rampway as tonight is Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration – AKA just an excuse to boost ratings on what fans know full well is likely to be a crummy take home show where nothing real happens and the entire point is to plug SummerSlam and the WWE Network as much as possible.  #$9.99, in case you didn’t know.  And if you by any chance didn’t know that, then let me inform you that Paul Heyman’s client Brock Lesnar conquered the Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania.  I think HHH and Heyman must have a personal bet backstage over who can say their phrase the most without the audience rioting.

And speaking of Heyman and Lesnar, they started off the show with a very solid promo in which Paul Heyman relives the highlights of Brock Lesnar since his return to the WWE for probably the 10-billionth time in the past 4 months, lest anybody somehow forget that Lesnar is still around because he really only shows up for maybe a dozen shows a year, yet somehow he’s going to win the WWE Championship in 6 days.  First, The Rock comes back for a grand total of two matches before he gets to win the title off of Punk and now Lesnar, who has wrestled seven matches in the past two and a half years, is going to be our next World Heavyweight Champion for a near certainty.  I personally have a problem with the spotlight being taken away from the guys that are there each and every week, night in and night out.  It’s not a big problem, but it’s like that annoying itch you get right in the middle of your back that you have to really stretch to rid yourself of.  Anyways, Heyman caps the promo by announcing that the WWE ring is now Brock’s house and he and the man of the house are going out for dinner, but not to let the party (Hulk Hogan’s birthday party) get too out of hand because after he eats, the man of the house is coming back home (back to the ring).  Pretty solid foreshadowing without boring everybody at the top of the show.  I am however, a little disappointed that Lesnar didn’t destroy the “birthday packages”, but there was still another 2 hours and 40 minutes for that to happen at that point.

In the first match of the night, Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring and then Kane’s music hits, which was good news to me as I feared after last week where he once again relinquished his mask that perhaps Kane was retiring.  Kane announces that since Reigns beat Kane last week, which was almost like beating two men, the authority would like to see how Reigns fairs actually fighting against two men this week and Reigns is placed in a Handicap match against Rybaxle.  It winds up being a typical Reigns match in which he doesn’t do a whole lot other than his usual punch, kick, Spear, Superman Punch set-up (and people give Cena a hard time over his supposed Five Moves of Death).  Reigns ends up winning by DQ, apparently meant to save Rybaxle the embarrassment of losing a handicap match in their favor.  After the match, Reigns cuts one of his best promos to date in which he points out that Randy Orton thinks Reigns stole something from him, but he hasn’t taken anything from Orton yet.  However, he says that at SummerSlam, he’s going to take everything away from Orton.  He also points out that once you punch the teeth out of a Viper, it’s really just a big worm.

Next up was Seth Rollins against Rob Van Dam in the match we were promised last week on Raw before the bait and switch that led to Seth Rollins losing to Heath Slater due to easily one of the most entertaining in-match distraction segments in the history of Monday Night Raw.  But Rollins redeems himself this week after a physical match with RVD and Rollins wins with the Curb Stomp, which for the record, is a pretty crummy finisher in my book because there are so many situations in which it doesn’t make any sense for his opponent to roll over and get into position for it.  After the match, Rollins takes a close look at Hogan’s presents at the top of the rampway, as though expecting Dean Ambrose to be hiding in one.  And predictably, just when he gives up on the idea and starts to leave, Ambrose of course comes bursting out of the biggest present and attacks Seth from him behind, rolling him all the way down the rampway and back to the ring and Seth before Seth manages to escape.  Nothing to complain about with the match, but the bit with Ambrose popping out of the box could have been done better.

Next up is some B.S. segment with Stephanie and Daniel Bryan’s supposed therapist in which Stephanie coaxes the young lady into claiming to have had an affair with Daniel Bryan and it’s obviously just a crummy ploy to pump up the hype for Stephanie and Brie, which for some reason seems to be the second Main Event on SummerSlam.  Really, after TNA did that incredibly shitty AJ Styles fake affair storyline a couple of years ago, WWE decides to do the same thing?  Thankfully, at this point in the storyline, it seems like this won’t be nearly as overly drawn out as that atrocity was and it’ll be quashed by the time Brie and Stephanie have their one and only match at SummerSlam, except for perhaps an eventual mixed tag with Brie & Daniel against Stephanie & HHH sometime in the future.  I pretty much tuned out this whole segment and if you didn’t do the same thing, then I’m sorry for your loss.  Apparently, Stephanie promised that they’re going to get it done and out of the way later on tonight instead of at SummerSlam, but I somehow doubt we could get that lucky.

Jack Swagger takes on Cesaro in our next match, and obviously Swagger has to come out looking strong in this one to promote his match with Rusev at SummerSlam.  It’s a shame that Cesaro apparently isn’t working the show and if he is, it’ll be one of those matches with no build-up where he jobs to somebody that they want to push but couldn’t decide what to do with until the last minute.  Like every Cesaro match, this one delivered plenty of excitement and unique spots before Swagger ultimately made Cesaro tap out to the Ankle Lock.  WWE, you’re pushing the wrong guy here.  However, once Swagger vs. Rusev is done, that will probably be rectified.  After the match, Rusev interrupts and proceeds to kick off another round of what I like to call the worst flag waving competition ever.  Thankfully, this round of flag twirling didn’t last very long.

Next up is pretaped footage between Bray Wyatt and Chris Jericho talking face-to-face in an interview segment.  This is really not the best setting for Wyatt, whose character is better served sticking to the shadows or working a crowd from a pulpit.  It was kind of like watching Batman walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the day in plain daylight.  I think the segment took away some of Wyatt’s mojo.  Both guys were brilliant, but Wyatt’s character just seemed out of place.

AJ Lee is in action in the next match against Eve Marie.  And you know when you see Eve Marie in the ring, you are about to see a terrible match.  From what I’ve seen from Eve in the past, she has no hustle in the ring.  She lollygags along at less than half speed and does nothing exciting or entertaining.  She only has a job because she has a slim waist and a boob job.  Paige comes out and causes a very boring distracting by skipping around the ring.  As much as I like Paige, that was a snoozer and Eve Marie for some reason gets handed a win over the Diva’s Champion in a match that lasted all of about 30 seconds before the distraction and Eve rolling up AJ for the win.  Paige wraps up with a poem and that part was pretty brilliant.  Diva’s promos usually suck balls, but that one was pretty decent.  Eve for no apparent reason is then down on one knee rubbing her neck outside the ring, so AJ goes out after her and beats the crap out of her while wailing and screeching.

John Cena’s then comes out to respond to Lesnar and Heyman’s comments from the start of the night.  I really like Cena when he gets ready to go into the ring with somebody that he legitimately doesn’t like, like he was with The Rock and now with Lesnar.  The dude is very underrated as a talker.  He almost had me convinced that he was actually going to beat Lesnar at SummerSlam.  Almost, but not quite.  Very solid promo.  Cena can occasionally bring it and when he does, he’s on par with any of the internet darlings out there.

Then it’s back to Brie and Stephanie and it was obvious that this match wasn’t actually going to happen tonight instead of at SummerSlam.  Instead, Stephanie turns the tables on Brie from a few weeks ago and gets Brie arrested for slapping her husband’s physical therapist earlier in that crummy segment.  Another waste of time here.  Stephanie was at least mildly entertaining as she flopped around with her tongue hanging out of her mouth while Brie put her in a horribly executed version of the Yes Lock.  The second time for the night, she was as boring as it gets, sticking hard to her overbearing bitch boss character hardcore.

Next up is Dolph Ziggler against Heath Slater with The Miz once again joining the commentary team.  I don’t know who convinced WWE that The Miz was a good talker, but that person should be shot.  I find it hilarious that even Michael Cole, the guy that was the biggest Miz mark back in 2011, has turned on the Miz and makes fun of him all the time.  Miz is a joke and a bad one at that.  Anyway, he stands on the announce table for the entire match in yet another suit that exhibits his poor taste.  Meanwhile, Ziggler puts in a decent appearance against Slater until it looks like Ziggler is about to get the W, so Miz starts to interfere, only to have Ziggler cut him off at the pass and beat the crap out of him and throw him around outside the ring.  This causes Ziggler to get counted out.  After the match, Ziggler offers to shake Slater’s hand and Slater goes to kick him instead, so Ziggler KOs him and heads into SummerSlam looking strong.  This current edition of Ziggler vs. Miz reminds me a lot of Booker T vs. Christian from 2003 and it should ring some bells for you because it’s pretty much the exact same scenario.  A PPV battle royal for a vacant Intercontinental Championship gets won by the heel who people thought was already eliminated and then the face comes back and beats the crap out of him for a month and beats him for the title at the next PPV.  Here’s hoping that history repeats itself in this instance.

Sheamus made his return after sitting out the last two weeks due to severe flu symptoms, which I believe is the reason why we have another AJ / Paige title match at SummerSlam.  After their Battleground match was so terrible, I thought they would continue building the program between them and skip over SummerSlam to give them time to work together some more at house shows and build some better in-ring chemistry and then have their next title match at Night of Champions next month.  Instead, we are saddled with both AJ vs. Paige and Stephanie vs. Brie at SummerSlam instead of them potentially building a Sheamus US Title defense against somebody like Cesaro or Rusev.  Sheamus has turned into a really solid in-ring performer.  You can’t dispute that the guy gives a max effort every time he’s in the ring and like Cena, he blows other big musclebound wrestlers out of the water in terms of athleticism and willingness to experiment with new maneuvers that you don’t see coming from a big guy, so I support Sheamus and Cena where a lot of people don’t.  I’m not going to mark out for either of them, but I have no problem with either of them carrying championships and I give them a lot of respect.  In tonight’s final match, Sheamus takes on Randy Orton and these two put on a very solid match together as they’ve done many times in the past.  It wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was very solid and for a Main Event on a take home show that didn’t feature anybody from the Main Event of the upcoming Pay Per View, it was more than adequate and it ended with another phenomenal RKO.  Randy Orton is among the best at finding exciting ways to hit his finishing maneuver when we as a viewer aren’t expecting it.  He may be the best at hitting his finishing move as a surprise since Shawn Michaels. 

Finally, we cap the night with Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration, which was the ratings grab they’ve been promoting all week to try to bring in viewers.  I’m kind of surprised that they saved it for the end of the show instead of leading off the second or third hour with it to reach the largest audience as the segments at the top and end of each hour easily get the best ratings of any given wrestling show.  Anyways, typical token appearances by legends and then Brock Lesnar comes back to try to spoil the party, but then Cena comes out and cuts him off and Lesnar disappointingly backs off and exits without the two having any real contact at all in the only show where they both appeared before their title match Main Event at SummerSlam.  This isn’t going to be a match on Sunday, it’s going to be two guys taking turns beating on each other and resting with numerous wear down holds and it’s probably going to suck, but because it doesn’t end with Cena winning and keeping the title, people are going to probably love it anyway.

Overall, not that great of an episode of Raw, but pretty good for a final episode of Raw before a PPV (Aka a take-home show).

 

 

Written by I Am a Real American

August 12, 2014 at 3:29 am

Posted in AJ Lee, AJ Styles, Antonio Cessaro, Battleground, Booker T, Bray Wyatt, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Christian, Curtis Axel, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Eve Marie, Heath Slater, Hulk Hogan, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kane, Lesnar vs. Cena, Michael Cole, Monday Night Raw, Paige, Paul Heyman, Pro Wrestling, Randy Orton, Raw Response, RKO, Rob Van Dam, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Rybaxle, Seth Rollins, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, SummerSlam, The Miz, The Rock, Triple H, Undertaker, United States Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE Championship, WWE Network, Yes Lock, Zeb Colter

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Five Things to Take Away from Extreme Rules 2013

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Folks, I was actually there for the show, so I have a slightly different perspective than the viewers at home, so keep that in mind.  I’m sure all of you who bought the Pay Per View or managed to watch it through other, more dubious means had a better view of most of the action, but sitting up in the stands, I might have caught some things that the cameras missed, for example, the first takeaway I got from the night.

1) Mark Henry sells harder and better than the Big Show, or at least he did last night.  What really sold me on this was the two similar spots they did where they got pulled or pushed into the ring post.  With Henry facing off against Sheamus in the Strap Match, at one point they took the fight out of the ring, but exited out different sides, leaving a ring post in between them.  Sheamus then used the strap to pull Henry into the ring post and when Henry through himself into the spot and made contact, the ring post moved violently and I almost thought they could break it off the side of the ring if they did that spot just one more time.  But they went back in the ring and completed the match.  Then, three matches later, Big Show takes on Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules Match and they too take the fight out to the floor and Big Show swats a ladder away from Orton and hoists Orton up like he’s going to use him for a battering ram and slam him into that same ring post that Henry collided with.  However, Orton counters and gets down behind Big Show and shoves him into that ring post and low and behold, nothing happens.  The ring post didn’t shake at all, which after what Henry did during his spot led me to believe that Big Show took it easy on himself while Henry went full bore.

2) Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H should not have been the closing match of the night.  I understand why they thought it had to close the show, since it was supposedly going to be the third and deciding match of their rivalry and thus should prove to be the best match between them, but it wasn’t.  On top of that, after the St. Louis crowd violently cheered on the hometown hero Randy Orton against Big Show and then going through the self-imposed obligation of showing all the kids in attendance who the boss is during the “Let’s Go Cena – CENA SUCKS,” chants, the crowd was pretty well out of it.  Coupled with the fact that the match didn’t end cleanly immediately after the only WWE / World Title match of the night didn’t have a winner and everybody leaves feeling slighted.  I don’t even think people cared who won, it just would have been nice to see a clear winner and a clear loser.  By the way, as my brother pointed out about the finish of that match was Paul Heyman was doing a sell job and then he pops up to low blow HHH and then goes right back to doing his cell job and acts like he’s unconscious up until Lesnar exits the cage and then reaches in and drags Heyman out by the leg.  What exactly was the point in that?  That was horrible planning on Heyman’s part.  Once you pop up and hit the low blow and don’t get touched again, how do you go back to being knocked out?  I thought Paul Heyman was smarter than that.

3) The Shield might not actually be a cohesive unit for much longer.  We’ve seen it before with pretty much every heel group that’s been cut from the same cloth as The Shield.  The Nexus, the Corre, Evolution, the nWo – once the members start winning titles, jealousy starts to set in and it becomes a pissing match over who is better.  That’s pretty much the way all of these things end and the beginning of the end usually comes once one or all of the members start winning titles.  As we saw with Evolution and the nWo, that can lead to a series of decent rivalries and play out for a long time, or as we saw with the Corre, it can completely break up the group in pretty much no time flat.

4) Dean Ambrose and Kofi Kingston put on a pretty sloppy match while Chris Jericho vs. Fandango seemed pretty sound.  During the United States Title Match, it seemed to me that Ambrose was having quite a bit of trouble keeping pace with Kofi, which led to Ambrose looking pretty stupid by having to hurry at the last second to get into place to take some of Kofi’s moves.  And there was also the botch where Kofi tried to jump over Ambrose, but Ambrose didn’t get out of the way quick enough and Kofi kicked him in the head accidentally, which they no sold and moved on.  Conversely, Jericho vs. Fandango didn’t seem to have any slip ups at all, but then again Jericho is amazing and Fandango doesn’t do any moves that can really be screwed up except for usually landing wrong on his opponents heads.  His move set strikes me as overly basic, which sometimes when you’re still just getting the hang of the business, it’s better to K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid).  So there really wasn’t any opportunity I saw for him to really screw up the match other than if he had taken Jericho’s flying crossbody at the start of the match wrong and dropped him on the floor kind of like The Miz did to R-Truth last year that got him in hot water.  So, Fandango can at least take other people’s high spots without screwing up, which is more than can be said for The Miz or Sim Snuka / Deuce.  However, I’d rather watch a match like what Ambrose and Kingston put on that is slightly sloppy because at least they were taking some risks to try to put together a better match even if they couldn’t get the timing right.

5) HHH’s Sharpshooter is almost as bad as The Rock’s.  Anybody that is a part of the fan group I comment in on facebook knows that I’m pretty hard on The Rock for his extremely bad version of the Sharpshooter.  Well, Triple H brought it out for the cage match against Brock Lesnar last night and it ended up being every bit as bad as the version utilized by The Rock.  However, it didn’t start out that way.  It looked like HHH actually did a semi-decent job of applying the move at the start and had a decent version locked in, but Lesnar fought to stretch himself out to lessen the pressure because he apparently couldn’t take it, but that wasn’t supposed to be the finish of the match, so the move just ended up looking really bad by the time Lesnar drug himself almost all the way down to the mat instead of letting HHH hold him up and selling the hold.  So, I put most of the blame for HHH’s version on Lesnar not cooperating, unlike when Rock just plain puts the hold on wrong from the start.  Chris Benoit is the only one who has come close to doing the move correctly since Owen and Bret Hart’s time, and Bret gives him credit for it, but always points out that it isn’t right any time I read anything where he’s asked about it.  In this day and age though, nobody cares about doing the submissions correctly and making it look good (with the exception of Daniel Bryan’s Crossface No Lock and Punk’s occasional Anaconda Vise).  Pretty much the only time Jericho gets to put in a decent looking Walls of Jericho any more is when he’s wrestling the human gumby known as Kofi Kingston.  Maybe it’s just that wrestlers are softer now than they were ten years ago or maybe they just don’t care about the technical wrestling side of things as much, but something has to be done to reverse the trend of horribly applied submission locks.

Raw Response – 05/07/12

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After last week’s surprise ending with John Laurinaitis getting his own hands dirty by attacking an injured John Cena with the help of Lord Tensai and Sakamoto, a lot of buzz was created about just what the encore would be this week on Raw.  Couple that with the anticipated fallout from Brock Lesnar’s attack on the Chief Operating Officer Triple H and Monday Night Raw this week was assured to reveal much about the near future of the WWE.  However, John Cena was not in the arena and appeared via satellite.  Neither Tripe H or Lesnar would make an appearance either, but Lesnar did send his “legal representation” in the form of Paul Heyman, which was a very pleasant surprise, but we’ll get to that later.

We started the night with John Laurinaitis explaining his actions, describing how upset he was when John Cena made fun of his voice and otherwise insulted him.  The Vice President of Talent Relations and General Manager of both Raw and Smackdown then proceeded to put the rest of the locker room on notice that anybody insulting or making fun of him would receive similar treatment to what Cena got the week before.  So, of course, WWE Champion CM Punk immediately comes out to the ring and starts insulting Laurinaitis, prompting the General Manager to place him in a match against Lord Tensai for later in the night.

In the first match of the night, Big Show would get a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship after Rhodes was able to recapture the title under dubious circumstances in their Table Match at Extreme Rules on April 29.  Shortly into the match, Rhodes would decide discretion is the better part of valor as he bailed out of the ring and grabbed his title and headed to the back.  Big Show was able to block his exit once, but after he threw him back into the ring, Cody ran right back out the other side and made good on his escape, purposefully getting himself counted out.  Eve Torres would then come out and chastise Big Show after Big Show had a brief altercation with John Laurinaitis before the match and made fun of his voice.  Eve then forced Big Show to apologize and reminded him that outside of the professional wrestling business, there isn’t much use for a 40-year old giant and she called him a freak.  This segment went a long way toward establishing Eve’s authority in her position as Laurinaitis’ Executive Assistant, publicly humbling Big Show in the process.

After winning the WWE Tag Team Championships last week along with R-Truth, Kofi Kingston would take on Dolph Ziggler.  And after these two men spend the previous two summers fighting with each over the Intercontinental and United States Championships, one could easily expect these two to put on a very entertaining contest.  And although it was too short, the match was well done, ending with Ziggler getting some outside help from Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger to pick up the victory, taking a huge step back in the right direction after spending previous weeks giving lackluster performances while being matched up against Brodus Clay.

Throughout the match, we were shown clips of A.W. (formerly Abraham Washington) back stage with his new clients Primo, Epico and Rosa and they were also joined by Mason Ryan, hinting at a possible relationship between A.W. and the big Welshman in the future.  A.W. appears to be making a move toward being a big-name manager like Vickie.  In an era where ringside managers are now few and far between, Vickie has enjoyed a good amount of success, which seems to have opened the doors for somebody like A.W. to give it a shot, but in this era, far removed from the time when legends like Bobby Heenan, Mr. Fuji and Jimmy Hart accompanied their men to the ring, we’ll have to wait and see just how much of a chance he really gets.

John Cena appeared via satellite for an interview with Michael Cole and Cena made it abundantly clear that even against doctor’s advice to not compete for the next couple of months, he would be at Over the Limit to kick John Laurinaitis’ ass.  Surely, Laurinaitis at least thinks he has some aces hidden up his sleeve because going into a match, even against a one-armed John Cena, it’s clear that Laurinaitis wouldn’t have a chance.  Expect heavy outside  interference from Tensai or a last second change of rules for the match to put things in the General Manager’s favor.  My guess would be that this ends up being some kind of Handicap Match with Laurinaitis teamming with Tensai and probably still falling short against Cena, who almost certainly will be overcoming the odds once again.  Cena is currently 2-0 at Over the Limit with victories over Batista and The Miz in “I Quit” Matches for the WWE Championship.

The new Diva’s Champion Layla teammed with Kelly Kelly to take on Natalya and Maxine and it was a foregone conclusion that Layla and Kelly would be winning this one in short order.  And sure enough, Layla finished Maxine off with her Neckbreaker, which she calls the Lay Out, in only a matter of minutes with Kelly’s only purpose in this tag match being to knock Natalya off the apron and thus prevent her from stopping Layla from finishing off Maxine.  It was announced earlier today on wwe.com that Layla will defend the Diva’s Championship against Beth Phoenix at Over the Limit on May 20.

We started off the second hour with a tag team contest, featuring Chris Jericho teaming with Alberto Del Rio to take on Randy Orton and the World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus.  Sheamus and Orton beat on their opponents for much of the match until Jericho and Del Rio would take advantage of Sheamus’ weakened shoulder, which was injured by multiple attacks from Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio on Smackdown last week.  The momentum would swing back and forth several more times before Del Rio would taste the RKO.  Sheamus then inadvertently hit his own partner Orton with the Brogue Kick and Jericho beat Sheamus with the Codebreaker.  This was easily the biggest win Jericho has had in quite some time, pinning the World Heavyweight Champion in a tough tag team match.  In the aftermath, Sheamus helped Orton back up only to feel the Viper’s wrath as he was hit with the RKO.  This match shows how much the title picture on both Raw and Smackdown is fluctuating.  There has been no mention of a Draft to shake up the rosters as of yet, so it appears that superstars are going to just be able to jump back and forth to challenge champions from either shows at any given moment.  Daniel Bryan is already representing Smackdown to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Over the Limit and now the World Heavyweight Title match at Over the Limit has been changed to a Fatal 4-Way with Sheamus defending against Randy Orton and Chris Jericho in addition to Alberto Del Rio.  This tag teammatch was also easily the best of the night, but when you’re given over 20 minutes to work with while others are fortunate if they have 5 minutes of air time for their matches, it’s easy to have the best match of the night.

The Miz continued his downward slide as he was matched-up with Brodus Clay.  It wasn’t all bad for Miz as he delivered a decent promo on his way to the ring, telling Clay that if he wanted to see King Hippo dance, he’d play Mike Tyson’s Punchout.  Miz even looked very impressive in the early going. beating down the Funkasaurus numerous times and staying on the attack, but it wouldn’t last as Clay was able to finally overpower Miz and drive him into the mat and then follow up with his Running Headbutt.  Miz then got caught coming off the ropes with a T-Bone Suplex and Brodus finished Miz with his Big Splash for the victory.

Paul Heyman delivered a statement from Brock Lesnar, stating that he did not regret any of his actions, that he did exactly what he promised he would do by kicking ass and hurting people and he felt betrayed by the WWE Universe and as a result of the broken agreement he made with the company on the final Raw before Extreme Rules.  He claimed that Triple H was always jealous of him and that while Triple H was able to last nearly an hour in a Cell with the Undertaker, he could not last one minute in a fight with Lesnar.  The statement culminated with the revelation that Brock Lesnar had quit.

On his way to the ring for the final match of the night, CM Punk found out that his match with Lord Tensai would be changed to a Handicap Match and his opponents would be Lord Tensai as well as his challenger for the WWE Championship at Over the Limit, Daniel Bryan.  Punk would make a valiant effort throughout the match, but Tensai and Bryan pulled many pages out of the 2-on-1 advantage playbook and Tensai was eventually able to blind punk with the Green Mist Claw Slam combination and pin him for the victory.  After the match, Bryan applied the Yes Lock on Punk, getting his own jabs in and adding fuel to the fire for their title match at Over the Limit.  Tensai continues to be put over as he has now gained victories over both John Cena and CM Punk, albeit with help in both instances.  However, this certainly is not going to be enough to put a stop to Punk’s rebellious antics.  We are supposed to take away from this that making John Laurinaitis angry is a bad idea, but Laurinaitis continues to be a joke.  His delivery is horrible, he frequently mixes up his words and the only reason anybody cares to boo him is because they know he’s bad at his job.  There is a definite difference between getting booed because you are good at your job and getting booed because you are bad at your job and after all these years, that’s a distinction that WWE still needs to learn.

Written by I Am a Real American

May 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Posted in A-Train, A.W., Abraham Washington, Albert, Alberto Del Rio, Batista, Beth Phoenix, Big Show, Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes, Bobby Heenan, Brock Lesnar, Brodus Clay, Chief Operating Officer, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Diva's Championship, Dolph Ziggler, Epico, Eve Torres, Extreme Rules, Fatal 4-Way, Friday Night Smackdown, Green Mist, Handicap Match, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, Jimmy Hart, John Cena, John Laurenaitis, Kelly Kelly, King Hippo, Kofi Kingston, Layla El, Lord Tensai, Mason Ryan, Maxine, Michael Cole, Mike Tyson, Monday Night Raw, Mr. Fuji, Natalya Neidhart, Over the Limit, Paul Heyman, Paul Heyman Return, Primo, Pro Wrestling, Punchout, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Raw Response, RKO, Rosa Mendes, Sakamoto, Sheamus, Tables Match, Tag Team, The Claw, The Miz, Triple H, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Vickie Guerrero, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Yes Lock

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Raw Response – 04/23/12

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Start off the night with a surprise appearance by Edge and a great promo from the new Hall of Famer about how Cena getting punked by Brock Lesnar every week is a slap to the face off all of the greats who got into the business and stayed in the business because they love it – guys like Edge, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker.  Edge’s statement that he’s not asking Cena to beat Lesnar, but he’s telling him to makes me believe that Lesnar will beat Cena on Sunday at Extreme Rules and as a result Cena is going to have to face the wrath of Edge in the near future and something big is going to change this summer for Cena.

Edge telling Cena repeatedly that he needs to “Wake up” echoes the sentiments the fans have been throwing at Cena for the past five years that something needs to change in his character and his attitude.  The general consensus among the adult male fans is that John Cena’s character is stale, that they are tired of seeing him be the same every week, but now that greats like Roddy Piper, Mick Foley and Edge have come out on the air and called him out on his attitude in regards to how the fans feel about him and Kane fought Cena leading up to Wrestlemania over Cena’s inability to “Embrace the hate” make it more plausible to me that we might actually see Cena’s character undergo some changes.  Cena could be about to suffer an Attitude Adjustment of his own.  It is still entirely possible that the only change Cena will undergo is that he will shake off the hangover of losing to Rock at Wrestlemania and Hulk Up to destroy Lesnar at Extreme Rules, like he has done against every other heel that’s come along and dominated him on Raw for weeks only to have Cena “overcome the odds” yet again and if so, I think many would join me in the opinion that for Cena to overcome Brock Lesnar in the same way he has every other opposing heel opponent from The Great Khali in 2007 to Kane earlier this year would be a complete and utter waste of the storyline that they have spun around Cena for the past 4 months.  The time is ripe for a change.  The fans have been thirsting for it.  And a significant change in Cena’s character could launch the WWE into a new direction and lead the WWE out of the doldrums that some would say it has been in for the past few years.

The opening contest of the night held no real surprises as Chris Jericho fought Kofi Kingston, the only man Jericho has beaten one-on-one on television since his return.  So, of courseJerichowas going to beat him again.  However, the two still put on a great match with a solid finish.  Then, after the matchJerichopoints to his beatingKingstonas proof that he will win the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules.  Never mind that he beatKingstona couple of times before Wrestlemania and still ended up tapping out to the Anaconda Vice.  Never mind that this match withKingstonis the only televised matchJerichohas had since Wrestlemania.  In another segment, CM Punk received a liquor basket fromJericho, that he regifted to Josh Matthews.  However, Punk kept one bottle of Jack Daniels, which he promised to hand deliver back toJerichoat Extreme Rules this Sunday in his home town ofChicagoduring their Chicago Street Fight.  Later in the night, Jericho and Alex Riley would spy on CM Punk, who was apparently drinking the Jack Daniels himself, but it felt like there was definitely a possibility that it was a ruse when Jericho went to John Laurinaitis and had the General Manager force CM Punk to undergo a field sobriety test at the risk of being stripped of the title should he fail.  Punk did a masterful job of playacting, but as he was on the verge of surrendering the title toJericho, Punk dropped the ruse and pummelsJerichoand chased him off to the back.  As always, anything can happen in the WWE, but CM Punk still has the edge in my mind and while evidence would suggest thatJerichohas to turn the tables in their rivalry at some point, I’m still predicting that Punk once again retains his title and defeatsJerichoat Extreme Rules.

Lord Tensai would go on in the second match against R-Truth and everybody expected a squash match and that’s exactly what we got.  After Tensai was barely touched in his first few matches and then went on to beat John Cena in an Extreme Rules match last week inEngland, what chance did R-Truth have?  Tensai continues to look dominant, but this time he actually pins his opponent instead of the referee having to stop the match.  I love the use of the green mist, something we haven’t seen in the WWE since Tajiri left the company several years ago and it’s unique to see the mist used in a package with the Claw.  The Claw in and of itself has been retooled by Tensai to include a Slam, which is something I’d never seen done before.  Tensai is bringing a lot of unique combinations into his new character and is much more imposing and intimidating than he ever was as Albert or A-Train.  He also brings about a sense of mystery for an imposing heel character which is something WWE is going to need in the next few years with characters like Kane and the Undertaker inching closer to retirement.

And speaking of Kane, the Big Red Machine is as good now as he ever was.  His masked character has seemed to me like it had a cult following among the fans ever since he was forced to unmask almost ten years ago.  Once again donning the mask has helped breathe new life into a character that had lost a lot of the qualities that made him so imposing during his early feuds with the Undertaker and Stone Cold and his intense and destructive rivalry with Shane McMahon shortly after he lost his mask.  And Kane made it clear tonight that he has distanced himself from things he once cared about by refusing to rescue his “father” Paul Bearer from Randy Orton.  It appears that nothing will stand in the way of Kane’s path of destruction this time around.  However, I believe Orton is going to find some way to overcome the Big Red Machine in their Falls Count Anywhere match at Extreme Rules on Sunday.

I don’t see Big Show holding the Intercontinental title for long.  This is the second straight week that Big Show has teammed with The Great Khali and I can see them becoming a regular tag team like that Big Show has formed with Kane in the past.  It wouldn’t be a lasting union by any means, but Big Show has teammed with other big men in the past to form dominant tag teams in periods when the division has been in a lull, which it is definitely still in.  I see Cody Rhodes winning the Intercontinental Title back from Big Show either at Extreme Rules or in the near future and Big Show moving into regular tag team action along with Khali.  Doing so would allow both big men to compete and remain dominant every week without having to spend too much time moving around in the ring because they would be splitting ring time.  In the meantime, Big Show continues to dominate Cody asDel Rioruns out on Cody during their tag team match against the two giants tonight andRhodesfalls victim to Big Show’s Chokeslam.

A NEW Diva’s Champion was crowned tonight in Nikki Bella, giving both of the Bella Twins one title reign apiece.  They made a point of Beth approaching the record for the longest reign in the short history of the title, which tipped me off that she was probably going to drop the title either tonight or at the Pay Per View on Sunday.  With the title back on one of the Bellas, it opens the door for Kharma to make her return to the Diva’s division and get even with the Bellas for their remarks when she left last summer for her pregnancy, which she tragically miscarried.  It appears that Beth may not see in-ring action in the near future, so we could see Kelly Kelly beat another Bella and get another run with the Diva’s title or somebody like Natalya or Alicia Fox could step back into whatever dim spotlight the Diva’s division has to offer in the current era.

From Smackdown, Sheamus faced off against Mark Henry and we were surprised when Daniel Bryan was announced as the Special Guest Referee.  Bryan attempted multiple times to get Sheamus to attack him, which would have resulted in Sheamus being fired as a result of John Laurinaitis’ declaration that Sheamus was on permanent probation after he purposefully kicked referee Chad Patton a few weeks ago on Smackdown, but Sheamus held his temper in check tonight, but a distraction from Bryan allowed Henry to steamroll Sheamus and pin him and Bryan delivered a quick count. Bryanthen taunted Sheamus and threw his referee shirt at him and once that shirt was off,Bryanwas no longer serving as a referee and Sheamus charged him like an enraged bull, beat him down and threw him back in the ring where Henry was waiting.  Sheamus then kicked his way through Henry, butBryanwas then able to put Sheamus in the Yes Lock, getting in his licks before Extreme Rules, but we don’t yet know if Bryan or Sheamus will get the final edge going into Extreme Rules until after Smackdown this Friday night.  Either way it goes, I’m predicting that Sheamus retains the title at Extreme Rules.  It had been a long time since an individual won the Royal Rumble then went on to Wrestlemania and won the title before Sheamus pulled it off and I see him having a long term reign as champion before finally losing the title, perhaps to the winner of the Smackdown Money in the Bank ladder match sometime in the fall.

Zack Ryder and Santino Marella teammed up to take on the Tag Team Champions, Primo and Epico, and the champions continued to show how weak the division is by losing to another random pairing of singles wrestlers for the second week in a row with Primo falling victim to the Cobra and going down for the three count.  It was forgivable for them to lose to two giants like Big Show and The Great Khali, but if they are going to show any promise as tag team champions, they need to win matches like this against random pairings of mid-card singles talent.  The Usos and Primo and Epico are the only seemingly legitimate tag teams right now in the company and doing jobs to Santino & Ryder isn’t going to help bring any credibility back to the division or to the titles.

In the final match of the night, Brodus Clay and Hornswoggle took on Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger and the match itself was specifically sponsored by Taco Bell and Doritos’ loco tacos.  Apparently each individual match is open for advertising sponsorships now.  It’s good for Brodus to be in the ring with individuals like Swagger and Ziggler, but their match once again ended without a legitimate finish as Vickie Guerrero got into the ring and slapped Brodus in the face, causing a disqualification.  Vickie then got surrounded by Brodus, Hornswoggle and their back-up dancers and tried to joke her way out of it, only to be bitten on the backside by Hornswoggle, providing some laughless comedy.  It feels like a shameless waste of talent for Ziggler to only be on screen for a few minutes and to not even have a legitimate match when he has become such a great performer over the past two years.

And we closed the night with the official contract signing between Brock Lesnar and John Cena for what is obviously the Main Event of Extreme Rules.  After Edge’s confrontation of Cena at the beginning of the night and Lesnar flipping out on Josh Matthews earlier in the night, it was unclear of what would happen in the contract signing, but the intensity was definitely palpable for the last time these two would come face to face before Extreme Rules.  So when Cena’s music hit and Cena didn’t show up, I was looking for him to come through the crowd and attack Brock, but that didn’t happen.  Brock and Laurenaitis start looking around in confusion and then Brock grabs the mic and starts taunting Cena, and I start think Cena’s going to show up with a new look, maybe a new gimmick or something.  Brock then starts talking about making some changes to the match and about how unhappy he is about the way things have been going and suggests Laurenaitis make some business changes before he will sign the contract for the match at Extreme Rules.  Brock then starts talking about how he’s an “enterprise” and no longer a “naive little farm boy” and how the company needs him, but he doesn’t need them.  Brock then tells Laurenaitis that all decisions regarding him and the WWE have to be run by him first and he demands the use of Vince McMahon’s private jet to chauffer him to and from Monday Night Raw every week and I’m wondering where all of this is going and why Cena isn’t out there yet and Brock just keeps talking down about the company and Laurenaitis and how he’s going to do what he wants and how he doesn’t care what any of the people think or say about him.  Laurenaitis agreed to Brock’s terms and Brock signs the contract and now Cena finally shows up, but there is no smile on his face, no words for the camera, no salute.  Cena just goes into the ring without saying a word and he’s got a steel chain in his hand, like the one he used to carry around when he was calling himself the Doctor of Thuganomics, giving us another indication that changes may be in the works for Cena.  Cena stands around and doesn’t sign the contract, so Brock pics up the mic and taunts him some more and tells Cena that he’s scared of Brock.  Cena then signs the contract and throws it at Brock, but the punches don’t start flying.  Brock then tips the table over, but still no punches are thrown.  Brock then leaves without any physical confrontation, which was unexpected.  The intensity was definitely there, but I think the contract segment wore on for too long and didn’t really add anything of value to their match at Extreme Rules.  I guess what we’re supposed to take away from tonight is a feeling that Cena might actually be scared of Brock, but I’m not buying it.  An otherwise very good episode of Raw ended with a big of a letdown in my opinion.

Written by I Am a Real American

April 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Posted in 2-out-of-3 Falls, A-Train, Albert, Alberto Del Rio, Alex Riley, Bella Twins, Beth Phoenix, Big Show, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Brodus Clay, Cena needs to wake up, Chicago Street Fight, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Contract Signing, Daniel Bryan, Diva's Championship, Doctor of Thuganomics, Dolph Ziggler, Edge, Extreme Rules, Falls Count Anywhere, Green Mist, Guest Referee, Hall of Fame, Hornswoggle, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, John Laurenaitis, Kane, Kane vs. Orton, Kelly Kelly, Kharma, Kofi Kingston, Lesnar vs. Cena, Lord Tensai, Mark Henry, Mick Foley, Monday Night Raw, Nikki Bella, Primo & Epico, Pro Wrestling, Punk vs. Jericho, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Raw Response, Roddy Piper, Santino Marella, Shane McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan, Special Referee, Tag Team, Tajiri, The Claw, The Great Khali, Undertaker, Vince McMahon, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Yes Lock, Zack Ryder

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