-I’m still exhausted from both TNA Slammiversary (thumbs WAY up show, my review here http://camelclutchblog.com/tna-slammiversary-2012-results/), as well as a sinus infection that’s had me loopy and achy for the better part of a week. How to further test my slowly-replenishing endurance? With a three hour episode of Raw featuring the return of Vince McMahon, duh! If this reads as non-wordy or less-than-witty (you know, less so than usual), my apologies. I can’t get into Dr. Zahorian’s office until tomorrow. Expect me to bounce back next week with renewed vigor, veins popping out, and Clay Matthews’ sloping cliff of a forehead.
-WWE Monday Night RAW is live from Hartford, CT, the home state of future Senator Lind—BWAHAHAHAHAHA, I can’t even say it.
Opening Segment: John Laurinaitis’ Job Evaluation
The PEOPLE POWER SENIOR SCOOTER gets more mileage, literally. The fans want to see Laurinaitis fired, so Vince, in a case of art imitating life, will probably go the opposite route and keep him. It’s almost like a satire, really. Laurinaitis gets his name out before “No Chance” cues up. I’m hoping for crazy Vince, like the old days, just because. Vince is in no mood to be nice, and demands to know why he shouldn’t fire Laurinaitis now. Simple: “People Power!” Laurinaitis kisses up to Vince via pointing out how the fans used to boo him back in the day, because they didn’t understand Vince’s visions. In that case, maybe we should boo Vince more now. But Vince isn’t happy about the Lesnar lawsuits, and actually brings up Laurinaitis hiring the wrong one-legged wrestler in 2003. Vince calls Show’s re-signing a “horrible investment.” Vince needs to do a YouShoot. Laurinaitis sings his own praises, and this leads to Sheamus coming out. As expected, he points out the $500,000 fine for striking the referee. In short, Sheamus wants Laurinaitis out, and Laurinaitis promises Hell for him tonight. Vince says tonight had better be an impressive show, otherwise Laurinaitis is out. Laurinaitis storms away so angrily, that he forgets the PEOPLE POWER SENIOR SCOOTER at ringside, so Vince rides off on it, and dumps it off the stage.
Segment Rating: 5/10. Nothing special, but grunty Vince is always good for a laugh.
Match 1: Sheamus vs. Tensai (non title match)
This could be good with some time. Struggle over a lockup to start, and Sheamus shrugs off an early beatdown to land a chop block, but Tensai fights back. Slugfest develops, and Sheamus takes over with forearms, and a clothesline over the top floors both men as we go to an early break. We reset with Tensai hammering away, but he’s absolutely covered in welts and red marks. Better him than Sheamus, I suppose. Avalanche in the corner flattens Sheamus, and pump splash connects for 2. Sheamus is busted open from the eyebrow, but he fights out of an arm hold and chops Tensai down with strikes for 2. Tensai dumps Sheamus over the top, but the champ comes back with the Dublin Clubs from the other side. Tensai catches the diving shoulder block with the Bullet Train Wreck for 2. Rolling headbutts follow, but Sheamus gets the Brogue Kick out of nowhere to end it.
WINNER: Sheamus via Brogue Kick
Rating: 6/10. Fun TV match. It reminded me of Hogan’s SNME matches against big men in the 1980s, where there was a quick pace, and some quality brawling. I hope they don’t bury Tensai completely, because he’s had some good showings in a row.
-Tensai abuses Sakamoto in the ring. Yoshi Tatsu’s just glad it wasn’t him. Cole and Lawler care so much about Sakamoto’s health, they immediately promote Raw’s 1000th episode. Sigh.
-Raw memorable moment: Seth Green discusses hosting Raw. I have nothing to add that will quell your eye-rolling.
-R-Truth claims Lil Jimmy was traumatized by the Big Show beatdown two weeks ago. Truth guarantees a win for Cena on Sunday, so Show knocks him out cold. Ah, I was wondering how they’d write Truth off with his injury.
WWE: “It’s the biggest show in the history of Monday nights” Howard Cosell: “Deez nuts, amateurs”
Match 2: Santino Marella/Layla vs. Ricardo Rodriguez/Beth Phoenix
Glad they’re making the most of this three hours by having lots of matches. It’s like Glamarella are remaking Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Comedy spots with Ricardo and Layla, but Beth’s all “to hell with that” and mauls Layla for 2. Ricardo tags in, thinking he gets to face Layla, but cowers to Beth when Santino steps in. Cute. Divas continues, and Layla gets a springboard crossbody for 2. Layla gets a headscissors on Ricardo, and he avoids the Cobra outside by running head first into the post. Beth finishes with the Glam Slam inside. Ricardo celebrates vigorously, so Santino rips off his shirt to reveal a Justin Beiber shirt underneath. He has different tastes; BE A STAR SANTINO.
WINNERS: Beth Phoenix/Ricardo Rodriguez via Glam Slam
Rating: 4/10. Ricardo makes me laugh, so that’s good enough.
-Otunga lobbies to Vince to give him the job should he fire Ace. Kofi wants Big Show after the Truth beatdown, so Laurinaitis books them in a cage match.
Talk Segment: Daniel Bryan
Bryan claims AJ is the distraction that will be Punk and Kane’s undoing. So apparently, Punk’s trying to hook up with AJ to make Bryan jealous. So AJ is still in love with D-Bry, it seems. And really, how could she not be? HUGE “Yes” chants. Bryan: “Once you go Bryan, there’s no point in tryin’!” Yesing ensues, and this brings out Punk, to huge chants. Punk seems to think Bryan still wants AJ, and apparently he’s not in her league outside the ring, nor is he in Punk’s league in the ring. Punk guarantees victory on Sunday, and Bryan NOs him. Bryan calls Punk the voice of the voiceless, because the voiceless have nothing intelligent to say. Like the way they call Big Show a sellout, but Punk’s apparently a bigger sellout. Punk rebukes him easily, and regales us with the Pipe Bomb speech. Punk says he made it on his own without anyone’s help or by compromising, but he can’t say the same for Bryan. He even calls him a “goat-faced moron”, which will be trending soon, I’m sure. Maybe we can get a Jim Breuer cameo. Cue Kane, who runs down the bad things he’s done as proof of his dominance. AJ hits the ring as a welcome aesthetic distraction. She looked into Kane’s eyes and saw that he has a heart, which makes Punk incredulous. “CRAZY CHICKS” chant, which is fine with me. She speaks heartbrokenly to Bryan before calling Punk the coolest guy ever. She says the best man will win Sunday. I smell a swerve. Laurinaitis pops up on the screen, and makes a match: Kane and Bryan vs. Punk and AJ.
Segment Rating: 5/10. Had its moments, but kinda dragged as it went on. These three hour shows are gonna be death when they really kick up.
Match 3: Christian vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger vs. Great Khali (#1 Contender’s)
Hopefully Christian doesn’t have jet lag. Khali dominates early, which is probably a prelude to his early elimination.Indeed, Jack Dolph take Khali down, and Christian lands a frog splash, so all three men pin him. This leads to our next break, and we return to Christian trying to fight off Jack Dolph with both hands. BRUTAL face eraser bomb/face plant for 2 on Christian. Vickie slaps Christian for stealing her husband’s frog splash. Only Rey’s allowed to exploit him. Christian manages to dump Dolph, and gets a diving back elbow on Swagger, but Dolph gets a roll-up with the tights for 2. Swagger fights the Killswitch, and the Swagger Bomb hits knees. Christian gets a diving sunset for 2, allowing Swagger to apply an ankle lock. Christian escapes and Killswitch connects on Swagger, though Dolph takes the pin for himself. Vickie is livid, as we reset with Christian and Dolph. Christian gets a flapjack for 2, and Dolph goes to the bad ankle before hitting a dropkick for 2. Ziggler gets a modified standing half crab, but Christian kicks him off. Christian slingshots Dolph into the post, and spears him for 2. Ziggler connects with a fameasser for 2. Zig Zag misses, and Christian gets the fallout DDT for 2. Christian misses a dive, hurts his own ankle, and Ziggler lands the Zig Zag to earn the shot.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler via Zig Zag (#1 Contender for World Heavyweight Championship)
Rating: 7/10. Omit the Khali and Swagger involvement, and you had a damn fine match between Ziggler and Christian. Those two can do no wrong.
-Sheamus stares down Dolph, and Ziggler actually looks like a threat for a change.
-Vince catches up with Natalya, who gets all Hart historical, and then the boss runs into Cameron and Naomi, and gets down with them for old time sake. Zack Ryder is flabbergastered, so Vince WWWYKI’s him. Alright, that was fun.
Match 4: Ryback vs. Willard Fillmore/Rutherford PS Hayes
Jobbers die. Film at eleven.
WINNER: Ryback via double Shell Shocked
Rating: 3/10. Same Ryback handicap squash we’ve seen. Had its high impact moments.
-Steel cage lowers as we hit the break.
-Vince and one-time son laugh at the Jim Ross impersonation. Of course they do. Vince then imitates JR, while sorta mocking the Bells palsy. Yeesh. Cena shows up, and Vince makes him promise that he’ll beat Big Show. Also, he tells him not to save Kofi tonight, because that’s beneath him. Otunga kisses up to Vince, and Vince says nobody respects an ass-kisser, leading to an amusing Regal cameo, who looks forlorn.
Match 5: Kofi Kingston vs. Big Show (Steel Cage Match)
There was literally ten minutes between the cage lowering and the match beginning. Seriously, there’s sixty guys on the roster, and you have three hours. This doesn’t bode well for the future. Kofi attacks before the bell, but Show clubs him down and throws him around in short order. Match becomes a squash pretty quickly, as Kofi does his best dying cat impression while Show stands on his chest. Kofi gets pressed into the cage, and gets another. I get that Show needs to keep his killer’s edge, but when you’re turning a three hour show into a dumping ground for 1986-style squashes, that seems counterproductive. Kofi tries to fight back with kicks, but that doesn’t last. Show tries a corner charge, but runs into boots. A Kofi dive is caught, and a cat and mouse game leads to Kofi hitting Trouble in Paradise! It only gets 2, so Kofi tries to escape several times. WMD flattens him and Show soaks in the negative crowd reaction. Show simply chooses to exit through the door while Kofi lays dead.
WINNER: Big Show via cage escape
Rating: 6/10. That turned into a rather fun squash by the end when Kofi got his hope spots in. One of the few highlights in a while tonight.
-Backstage, Laurinaitis is happy. Of course he is.
Match 6: Sin Cara vs. Curt Hawkins
Cara gets his headscissors and twisty offense, followed by a corkscrew plancha to the floor. Jericho should feud with Sin Cara and make Hawkins his new Lenny Lane. LOVERBOY TAPES. Hawkins gets a modified abdominal stretch in the ring, and tries for an electric chair lift, which is countered by Cara with kicks, followed by a handspring elbow. Cara gets a double step armdrag, and finishes with the La Reinera faceplant.
WINNER: Sin Cara via La Reinera
Rating: 3/10. Not as fluid as the match with Hunico last week, but still had its moments. I think one of the biggest problems is that these developmental call-ups have only one gear to work in, and don’t know how to adapt to an international worker who relies on aerial moves the way Sin Cara does.
-Raw moment: Ziggler’s pick is the first Raw, and he was all excited in school about the first show. He and I as kids didn’t have to sit through WWE Did You Knows, either.
Match 7: Curt Hawkins vs. Vader
Wow, Vader got in slightly better shape. Slater tries to match power, to no avail, and the crowd is really giving the nostalgia love to “The Man They Call”. Vader Attack flattens Hawkins, and another gets the same result. Vader plants Slater with a suplex for 2. Slater tries a slam, but Vader crushes him for another 2. Slater gets dropped in the corner, and the Vader Bomb finishes.
WINNER: Vader via Vader Bomb
Rating: 3/10. Fun nostalgia.
-WWE Be a Star visited Hartford. I hope they taught kids not to mock a man’s Bell’s Palsy, no matter how much money you have.
Match 8: CM Punk/AJ vs. Daniel Bryan/Kane
Kane and Punk begin, and Punk uses his nimble to evade the monster, but the corner bulldog is countered into a big boot. Bryan tags in and kicks away, YESing at AJ, for 2. Punk manages to take control with a leg lariat, followed by a neckbreaker. Corner knee connects, and Punk lifts the Joe/Orton snap slam for 2. Savage Elbow misses, and Kane tags in. Punk instinctively goes to tag AJ, but stops, and gives it a go. He gets knocked into the corner, and his contact with AJ indicates a tag. She enters the ring and gives him the sweet smile. Then she skips in a circle around him. Then she jumps into his arms and makes out with him. That flabbergasts Kane into leaving, so Bryan jumps in, AJ tags Punk, and the Savage Elbow finishes. Well then.
WINNERS: CM Punk/AJ via Savage Elbow
Rating: Seventy Kajillion Stars out of Ten. Yes, I went there. Have I mentioned I love AJ, and would give up oxygen if she asked me to?
Blatantly Obvious Main Event: The Job Evaluation
Alright, let’s get it over with. Vince sucks up to Connecticut. Gee, I wonder why. Laurinaitis forlornly walking past his crashed scooter made me chuckle. I see independent wrestler Max Bauer is one of the security guards. Vince says the guards are there to walk someone out, and Laurinaitis begs. Vince goes to fire him, and Big Show makes his way out to take up for the boss. Show lays it all at the feet at Vince’s feet, and points out that Vince ruined his image. But Laurinaitis restored Show’s true identity with a contract that makes him fearless. Vince SHOULD be worried about Cena at No Way Out, because Show’s going to kill the ‘golden goose.’ And this brings out Cena, who thinks Show has no right to blame anyone, and says Show has no excuses, because he’s always been a giant. Cena then plays head games, asking Show what happens if he loses, even with everything in his favor. Vince interrupts and says he’s going to be there Sunday, and decides that if Show loses Sunday, Laurinaitis is fired. Pullapart breaks out with the security guards, and in the skirmish, Show WMDs Vince (which missed by a mile).
Segment Rating: 7/10. The promo was a nice back and forth, although the missed punch at the end kinda took the air out of it.
OVERALL: AJ, Vader, Ziggler, and Christian. Without them, it’s a drag-ass three hour show that is a harbinger of what I can look forward to this summer. Did I run over someone’s dog in a former life?
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 Wrestlechat.net and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.
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