-So WWE Extreme Rules is in the books, and I have to say that it’s, without question, a thumbs up show (review here: http://bluebarcage.blogspot.com/2012/04/extreme-rules-mini-review.html). The World Title matches were excellent, and the Cena/Lesnar brawl is something that will be remembered for quite some time. Even Kane/Orton was a fun, late-nineties style hardcore match. Add to that the hot Chicago crowd, and it’s easy to see why WWE easily cleared the fences last night. I’ll reserve judgment on Lesnar losing until we see what Chapter Two brings, and if you want to enjoy the story, I’d advise you to do the same. Maybe by this time next month, we’ll say “Oh, THAT’S why they did that!” Or maybe not. Either way, the concept of the unknown is a fun one, methinks.
-WWE Monday Night RAW is Live from Dayton, birthplace of the King of the Ring PPV.
Opening Segment: John Laurinaitis
[adinserter block=”2″]Ahh, dammit, they changed to his song to something more processional. I miss the faux-John Williams tune already. So Laurinaitis says he revolutionized WWE in the name of People Power, and we should all thank him for giving us Lesnar/Cena. For once, the hyperbole isn’t hyperbole; it was indeed an epic clash. Laurinaitis kisses up to Lesnar in spite of the loss, and brings him out. He’s still able to jog in place in spite of the damage done last night. Guy’s a trooper. Brock begins to brag in spite of losing, and this brings Triple H out. Hunter sure looks fairly svelte now that he’s not wrestling anymore. Less incentive to ‘work out’. Hunter informs Brock that he won’t be holding up WWE anymore for demands, and denies Brock a free flight on the personal WWE jet. HARSH. And the show is no longer starring Brock Lesnar. Man, what a HORRIBLE 24 hours for Lesnar! Apparently, Laurinaitis had no right to approve of Lesnar’s demands. But he’s the talent relations head, right? Indeed, Laurinaitis claims he should have his say, and thinks they should uphold the demands. Hunter disagrees and, after some rambling, we get to the point: Hunter wants to have Lesnar in big matches with Cena, Punk, Orton, and Sheamus. I want Lesnar/Ziggler, just to see Dolph set new standards for absurdly deadly stuntman bumps. After Hunter emphasizes the loss to Cena to raise Brock’s ire, and asks Lesnar if he’s staying with his current contract. Laurinaitis keeps raising objections, which allows Brock to viciously maul the COO. Hunter tries to fight back, but Lesnar hooks the kimura and snaps HHH’s arm. The babyfaces hit the ring, and Brock bails. R-Truth: “WE HAVE TO GO SAVE HUNTER! HE FIRED ME ONCE, BUT SCREW IT, NO ONE REMEMBERS!” Lesnar walks out, presumably fired (but obviously not) as Hunter is helped away.
Segment Rating: 7/10. Took a little while to get to the damn point, but Hunter getting his arm snapped is always good for my happiness. I think Lesnar just got his heat back.
-Backstage, Hunter is worked over, displaying a level of acting slightly above “Don Muraco tries to help crippled Billy Graham jog”
-Eve Torres makes her way out, now with bitchy glasses and a white skirt. I’m sold. It’s a Beat the Clock Challenge for Over the Limit. Alrighty then.
Match 1: The Miz vs. Santino Marella (Beat the Clock Challenge/Non Title)
Guess they impressed on the YouTube show well enough to earn a spot on Raw. Miz and Santino go for near falls as it’s revealed that Lesnar has been escorted out. What time will he come back, I wonder? Miz lands a sick set of kicks about a 1:15 in for 2. Marella gets a roll up for 2, but Miz responds with a Side Effect for 2. Are there Divas in the Beat the Clock challenge? If so, one of them will win. Diva matches never go longer than 52 seconds. Anywho, Miz gets the Mizline and axe handle for 2. Santino escapes a chinlock with a back suplex, and lands a hotshot. Wow, both are adding to their movesets nicely. Santino lands the hip toss/headbutt combo, and out comes Cobra, but that lands to a series of reverse cradles for 2 each. Miz gets the SCF out of nowhere to win.
WINNER: The Miz via Skull Crushing Finale (4:18)
RATING: 7/10. Whew, that was a fast paced, fun match! Nice to see both men alter their arsenals a bit. Hopefully, tonight will be full of rarely used faces as a means of creating an uprising of new talent.
Match 2: Layla vs. Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella (WWE Divas Championship)
Bobby Heenan: “LAYLA BEAT THE WRONG DOINK! ERR, BELLA!” Bellas argue as the bell rings, so Layla dropkicks one into the other, and rolls the other one up to win. 12 seconds! LAYLA VS. PUNK AT OVER THE LIMIT! CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION!
WINNER: Layla via roll-up (Still WWE Divas Champion)
Rating: 1/10. They were nice to look at.
Match 3: Chris Jericho vs. Big Show (Beat the Clock Challenge)
Former Tag Team Champions collide en route to a possible title shot. I’m glad Ax and Smash never came to this. Show throws Jericho around and tries for quick pins to no avail. Jericho takes the knee out with a dropkick. Show chops Jericho down with a mid air chop, but misses the ensuing pump splash. 2:30 remains when Jericho lands a Lionsault for 2. Jericho tries for the Walls, but Show gets an inside cradle(!!!!) for 2. Jericho blocks a chokeslam with a stump DDT for 2. Jericho clubs Show while bellowing “STAY DOWN!”, but gets speared for his efforts. About a minute remains when Show calls for the WMD, but misses. Show blocks the Codebreaker, but Jericho manages to pull him to the floor. Both men brawl outside, and Show falls over the rail. Jericho makes it in on 9, but the clock apparently expires before Show can be counted out. The referee confers as we go to break….and it’s ruled that time expires. Now THAT is a cliffhanger!
WINNER: Neither man at the 4:18 expiration
Rating: 6/10. Fun match with a creative, well-timed ending.
Cheap Plug: A look at Rey Mysterio’s suspension and current path in life (although this may be questioned by recent allegations that WWE doctored the circumstances of his drug test). http://bluebarcage.blogspot.com/2012/04/west-coast-popped.html
Match 4: Brodus Clay vs. JTG
I assume this ISN’T a Beat the Clock Challenge. Is it too much to rehire Shad and reform Cryme Tyme? They NEED teams. Lawler hints that JTG has a surprise for Clay. Usual squash match ensues, so maybe Lawler’s talking out of his ass? Wouldn’t be the first time. MAH BAD elbow connects, but JTG comes back by clipping the knee. Clay comes back with the rhino headbutt, corner splash, and SHUDDAHGETTEM t-bone. Big splash connects. Yep, out of Lawler’s ass. Clay invokes the spirit of JYD by bringing kids in the ring to dance.
WINNER: Brodus Clay via big splash
Rating: 2/10. Decent squash, but what a waste of the underrated JTG, especially after Lawler teased something different.
– UPDATE: Triple H can open water bottle with one arm; trademark entrance not in jeopardy.
-Teddy Long gets paid for a 12 second cameo with the name tag as Eve tries to ease Laurinaitis. She tries to motivate him into not letting the opening segment hold him back. Laurinaitis has bad intentions for Cena.
MATCH 5: Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger (Beat the Clock Challenge)
Jack Swagger’s tights make him look like Charlie Haas with a learning disability. Orton gets quick roll-up for 2, and Swagger responds with corner thrusts. Orton gets another roll-up for 2. Sound strategy, actually. Swagger ends up with the Swagger Bomb for 2 after barely a minute of action. Loving the faster pace. Gutwrench fails, and Orton lands the O-Zone for 2. Remember when this was the World Title match for Extreme Rules in 2010? No? Okay. Orton gets clipped (and has a curse word muted) as we reach the two minute warning. Swagger goes into a butterfly lock, converted into a complex pin for 2. Another Swagger Bomb fails, and Orton clotheslines away with a minute left. Hanging DDT hits with 40 seconds to go. RKO doesn’t connect, Swagger gets the ankle lock with 20 seconds, Orton breaks, and hits the RKO to win with 2 seconds left. Awesome!
WINNER: Randy Orton via RKO (4:16)
RATING: 7/10. Have I mentioned I love this killer pace, plus the drama to otherwise random matchups? Great stuff in the final two minutes.
-John Cena, who will NOT be on vacation, and will have a mystery opponent at Over the Limit. Hmmm.
MATCH 6: The Colons vs. Ghana Get Got (WWE Tag Team Championship)
Great to see a team that hasn’t been together for 2 months getting a shot. Apparently, the Bellas have been fired, according to Cole. That’s okay, Layla will compensate for my daydreams. Primo “attacks” little Jimmy, thus incensing Truth, who goes ballistic. Truth dumps Primo as we hit commercial. We return to Truth in control, but a distraction allows Primo and Epico to double team in the corner. Update: Triple H’s arm IS broken. I feel like the tag title matches are just for providing storyline interest points to the audience. Crowd rallies behind Truth, who comes back, but Primo stops him dead with a high kick for 2. Crowd is really into this with rhythmic claps. Truth gets a high leg lariat, and double tags are made, with Kofi taking over. Controlled frenzy goes off on Epico, complete with BOOM Drop. Rosa tries to distract, but Kofi gets Trouble in Paradise anyway for new champions. Good, they’re on guys who’ll be on TV.
WINNERS: Ghana Get Got via Trouble in Paradise (New WWE Tag Team Champions)
RATING: 6/10. Decent old school formula tag with a fun crowd. Betcha Rosa gets dumped/dumps the Colons, and Abraham Washington takes over. Rosa moves onto the Divas division afterward.
-Indeed, Washington catches up with the losers backstage. Yep
MATCH 7: The Great Khali vs. Kane (Beat the Clock Challenge)
I need an animated gif of Khali dancing. Orton’s sitting down for this match, because lord knows a Kane/Khali match is too much to endure while standing up. Khali chops away and blocks a Kane goozle, so the Big Red Monster takes the knee out. Kane lands a DDT for 2 with just under three minutes to go. Match slows to the expected crawl as Kane heads up top for a diving clothesline at the two minute warning. Slooooooow. Down to a minute with nothing of note happening, except that Khali has taken over. Kane rolls to the floor with 30 seconds left and Khali follows. They fight over a chokeslam and time expires. Kane gets the chokeslam anyway.
WINNER: Neither man at the 4:18 expiration
RATING: 2/10. Just godawfully slow, thus negating the idea of the fast-paced matches. Eh well, at least it’s the only black mark so far.
MATCH 8: Daniel Bryan vs. Jerry Lawler (Beat the Clock Challenge)
If Bryan pulls this out, and we get Bryan/Punk, there’ll be tons of people upset about Lesnar jobbing that will suddenly shut their mouths. As for Lawler, this is certainly an oddball selection. Bryan goes aggressive early with punches and a dropkick for 2. Lawler fights back with his awesome right hands. Lawler gets a dropkick for 2 as we go under 3 minutes. Bryan misses a corner charge, and Lawler lands the second rope fist drop for 2. Bryan backdrops his way out of a piledriver, lands a kick, and gets the YES Lock for the submission!
WINNER: Daniel Bryan via YES Lock (2:02 left)
RATING: 4/10. Decent little match, and it gets us Bryan vs. Punk. Fine by me!
-Punk comes out for a distant staredown to get the wheels in motion.
[adinserter block=”1″]Closing Segment: John Cena
Gotta say, Michael Cole on his own, without Jerry Lawler to throw his forced barbs at, is a VERY competent announcer. Cena, in a sling, informs the crowd that he has to tears or breaks, and the crowd boos. Funny stuff. Laurinaitis makes his way out to solve the riddle for us. Cena asks if Laurinaitis is commemorating the release of No Holds Barred by giving him Zeus for Over the Limit, but no. Laurinaitis points out that putting him with Lesnar brought out the best in Cena. He’s got a point. Cena gets all insubordinate, actually getting some laughs with his mockery of Laurinaitis. And Laurinaitis drops the hammer: Lord TENSAI. Fine by me; I dig monster heels, and I loved Giant Bernard’s resume. Sakamoto and Tensai surround Cena, and Laurinaitis takes Cena out with the mic! The opponent for Over the Limit: JOHN LAURINAITIS. Awesome! Three on one beatdown commences, and the crowd boos lustily. They destroy the arm, and Laurinaitis smashes it on the stairs with a chair.
Segment Rating: 8/10. Just for the surprise ending.
OVERALL: Now THAT was a Raw. Fast paced matches, Punk/Bryan for OTL, Cena/Ace, Lesnar/HHH, and a good Tag Team Title match. What more can you ask for?
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.