-So at 4:30 this afternoon, I took my temperature, and found it to be a concerning 102.3. I’ve been a tad sick these last few days, but THAT number is enough to raise more red flags than the possibility of Ric Flair’s rehiring. Then I thought to the kayfabed tale of Bret Hart defending his Intercontinental Title against The Mountie in 1992 with a 104 degree temperature, and I figure “If the Hitman can gut it out, fictitious as it may well have been, then I can review a creatively-bankrupt wrestling program at 102.3! As of 7 PM, I’m down to 99.8, but I will consider my efforts tonight to be heroic and inspirational. Entertaining you good folks; it stokes my fire.
–Cheap plug: tomorrow’s the new ECW DVD’s release, so to commemorate the occasion, here’s my look at the fifty greatest moments in the history of ECW (http://bluebarcage.blogspot.com/2012/06/top-50-moments-in-ecw-history.html) The link will take you to my site, then back to Eric’s site, because we’re both traffic whores. Look, don’t argue, just help us both out. We provided you this service of sitting through two hours of rehashed sewage, okay? Cut us some slack, damn it. And remember: we do this for you, because we love you.
-WWE Monday Night RAW is live from Greenville, SC, where there has apparently been some Ric Flair sightings. Several of which I’m sure were in the bathroom at Bennigans.
-Lengthy Show/Cena video kicks off the night. Given the quality of the storyline, the vignettes are the wrestling equivalent of Heaven’s Gate.
[adinserter block=”2″]-Opening Segment: Michael Cole interviews John Cena
Cole believes John Cena’s responsible for Show’s rampage. Maybe a push for Show makes Cena happy during his divorce. Nice to see Raw borrow the heat machine from Smackdown for Cena’s initial pop. It’s a Supershow, so it can certainly work on both brands. Cole rattles off the victims of Show last week, and blames Cena for not supporting Show when he was fired. Cena’s best response is a My Little Pony joke. And here I thought he’d go Strawberry Shortcake. Cole to Cena: “It’s not all about you!” Easy, Mike, you’re not trying to turn face here. Cole: “You can’t beat a giant.” Except for the dozens and dozens of men that have pinned him in the last 13 years. Cena reasons that Show turned his back on everyone on his own volition. Cole tries to play the jealousy card, and calls Cena overrated. Cole may have replaced Punk as Voice of the Voiceless. Anywho, Ace comes out on the PEOPLE POWER SENIOR SCOOTER, and says Cena has the right to choose his opponent tonight. Show has the night off, however. Betcha he shows up anyway, what say you? Cena wants Ace, but Ace declares he has retired. Going out on top, I see. And if you couldn’t see it coming, Cena chooses Cole. Did someone bet Vince he couldn’t go lower than a 2.7? Cole is irate.
Segment Rating: 6/10. Cole’s tough journalistic style was actually compelling to listen to, even if I’m not buying Cena/Show. I’m sure the match will be a real thrill.
-Cole appeals to Laurinaitis, and says the audience doesn’t want to see Cena vs. Cole. When did Cole start making such accurate statements?
Match 1: Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler (non title match)
Cole angrily breezing past Vickie on the ramp is a hoot. Reason #2622 why no one takes WWE seriously: Cole has to continue plugging WWE social media and upcoming matches in his usual cadence when he’s supposed to be afraid of Cena. Ziggler gets a sunset out of the rolling senton, but Sheamus pulls him back into the move, hitting it for 2. Dolph low bridges the champ over the ropes, and Sheamus angrily drags him out. Ziggler leaps off the steps to avoid crashing into them, and a distraction from Vickie leads to Dolph landing a baseball slide before break. We return to Ziggler kneeing Sheamus in the gut, which he follows up with his Crossface/Rings of Saturn hybrid move. Sheamus tries to power out, so Dolph goes to a chicken wing. Sheamus eventually breaks and mounts the powerful babyface comeback, landing a powerslam for 2. Ziggler ends up landing a swank leaping DDT for 2 in response. Dolph ends up planting him with a top rope rocker dropper for 2, which Sheamus barely kicks out of. Faint dueling chant for both men, as Dolph tries for a sleeper, which is spun into White Noise by Sheamus. Brogue Kick finishes, killing Dolph on impact.
WINNER: Sheamus via Brogue Kick
Rating: 7/10. Spirited match, which followed the necessary formula: Ziggler is the crash dummy, and Sheamus is the immovable object.
-Del Rio jumps Sheamus on the stage, and Ricardo assists in the beatdown. It’s more promising than Cena/Show, at least, seeing as its two fresher names. Del Rio gets a honey of a cross armbreaker as Sheamus dangles off the stage. Finally, a heel commits a diabolical act!
-Otunga informs Laurinaitis that Vince is coming next week to evaluate his job. Laurinaitis: “I don’t care what’s on WWE.com” I have more in common with him every day.
Match 2: Sin Cara vs. Hunico
Hey, it’s like Nitro, with the luchador match in the first hour. Must be practicing for the 3 hour Raw. Cara gets a handspring into a double jump armdrag, followed by a rana to the floor. Back inside, Hunico lands a high-angle double arm backbreaker for 2. Cara gets an armdrag out of a torture rack drop. High kick from the apron connects, followed by a springboard rana. Cara even handsprings out of an armdrag and takes Hunico over. La Reinera finishes.
WINNER: Sin Cara via La Reinera faceplant
Rating: 6/10. Fast paced, exciting, and free of botches. When Rey gets healthy, they have to give us Cara vs. Mysterio. Money.
-Raw Moment: Cena’s pick is him being drafted to Raw in 2005. Yes, there was once a time when Cena being on Raw was a new concept.
Match 3: Ryback vs. Arthur Rosenberg and Stan Stansky
The jobbers freestyle a bit. Jobber one gets thrown into outer space. Delayed suplex on Rosenberg (Kirby Mack, a Hardyz trainee), and more a double clothesline with one arm lays out both men. Impressive, that is. Modified muscle buster on both men finishes.
WINNER: Ryback via modified muscle buster
Rating: 4/10. For a squash, it was certainly fun. Ryback’s outgrowing the Goldberg doppelgangerism and is becoming a fun character in his own right.
Match 4: CM Punk vs. Kane (non title)
Cole’s on the phone trying to get out of his match. Bryan comes out before Kane can make his entrance, and Greenville loves their YES. Standing on the table, Bryan holds an impromptu Q&A session. AJ is delusional since he dumped her, Kane will kill Punk, and Bryan will win the title at No Way Out, it seems. Kane pounds Punk in the corner, and strikes away while Bryan looks on. Suicide dive torpedoes into Kane, and Punk follows that with a Savage axe handle to the floor. Back inside, Punk lands a cross body for 2. Punk dominates with kicks, but Kane halts the assault with a knee to the gut. Kane lands his monster offense and works a chinlock, but Punk elbows the knee and thigh to escape. Punk’s comeback is short lived as Kane choke tosses him over the ropes, to Bryan’s merriment, as we head to break. Punk takes control after the adverts, applying a sleeper, but is soon dropped with a back suplex for 2. Kane goes back to the deep chinlock, and Punk valiantly fights his way out, only to eat a throat thrust and side suplex for 2. Punk knocks Kane off the top rope with the high knee, and then gets the knee/dog combo in the corner for 2. Springboard clothesline also gets 2. Punk assures us that its bedtime, but Kane escapes with a big boot. Punk avoids the chokeslam with a neckbreaker, but gets throat thrusted on the top rope. Punk blocks a superplex, and Mongolian chops Kane off the top. Savage Elbow lands for 2. The fight spills outside, and Punk goes into the barricade. Sure enough, Bryan lands some kicks on Punk, which the ref kinda saw. Kane tries for the chokeslam, but Punk lands a roundhouse. AJ runs out, looking hot in her daisy dukes, and Punk angrily goes over Bryan for trying to accost her. Kane chokeslams Punk immediately after to win.
WINNER: Kane via chokeslam
Rating: 8/10. Kane’s best match in a long time. Formulaic, but exciting. He’s earning his way into the feud, I’ll say that much.
-Afterward, Kane stalks AJ as if she were Lita, albeit with a feminine face and a sense of monogamy. AJ makes loving eyes at Kane, which weirds him out into leaving. Interesting. She goes back to fawning over the fallen Punk.
-Josh Mathews questions AJ about the look she flashed Kane, and she seduces him. Apparently, she likes when men look at her. Oh, she’s gonna fall in love me. So yeah, she’s pretty much my favorite diva ever. My apologies to Beulah McGillicutty.
-Cole begs the fans to use social media to help him get out of the match. Next week’s Did You Know: “More fans begged Laurinaitis to spare Cole than watched the Florida Face-Eating Video!”
-Yet another Show video. Laying it on thick, I see. I appreciate these testimonial style videos that the Cena-Lesnar feud borrowed from UFC. It adds a lot more character insight and feeling than just generic insta-feuds.
Match 5: Ghana Get Got vs. Curt Hawkins/Tyler Reks (non title)
Such faith is had in Reks & Effeks that the match begins during the break. The champs are wearing gauze wraps to sell the injuries via Big Show. Double hip toss on Hawkins, but Reks gets in and takes over on Truth. Truth avoids a reverse death drop and sends Reks into the corner. Kofi gets the tag and goes all crazy on Hawkins, punctuating with the Boom Drop. Kofi misses Trouble in Paradise, but manages the reverse crossbody for 2, Reks saving. Hawkins misses a charge, and Trouble connects finally for the win.
WINNERS: Ghana Get Got via Trouble in Paradise.
Rating: 4/10. Technically fine. Just wish there a legit team to build for the champs.
[adinserter block=”1″]-Raw Moment: Triple H returns after his quad injury in 2002. I DARE someone to say “Raw is Owen” for their favorite moment.
-It’s 10:44, so we’re expecting schmozz, right? Laurinaitis makes his way out on the PEOPLE POWER SENIOR SCOOTER and he makes the match a No DQ match……if Cena can beat Tensai first. Cole gets down with his bad self in glee.
Possible Main Event: John Cena vs. Tensai
Cole: “Cena has never beaten Tensai!” Justin: “Except in 2002, 2003, and 2004” Tensai dominates from the get-go with clubbing blows, followed by a Blanchard slingshot. It’s amazing how Cena can get so many cheers when he actually chooses a twiggy announcer to wrestler. How heroic is he, really? Cena mounts a comeback and clotheslines Tensai to the outside, but Sakamoto attacks as we go to break. Tensai grounds Cena with a shoulder barge after the commercials, and a corner avalanche follows. Cena tries to comeback, but Tensai lands the shoulder rocker dropper for 2. The fight spills outside, and Cena eats table. Cole slaps Cena, and Lawler gets physical with Cole. Well, it’s a far cry from their bland line-towing each week. Cena barrels into the ring steps as Cole continues his taunting. Tensai lands the delayed underhook suplex for 2, and Cena comes to life with shoulder blocks. Sakamoto is knocked off the apron, and Tensai takes the spinout bomb. 5KS connects. AA lands, and Cena wins to a thunderous pop, to Cole’s chagrin.
WINNER: John Cena via Attitude Adjustment
Rating: 7/10. Hot crowd and a solid brawl. I don’t ask for much.
Main Event: John Cena vs. Michael Cole
Cole is standoffish, and tries leaving through the crowd, but Cena prevents him. A childish noogie ensues. Cole tries to beg off over the mic in the ring, and nobody’s buying it. Then Cole gets aggressive with his tone, and the taunts begin. Then he pokes Cena in the chest, which is never a good idea. Cena, as expected, chops Cole’s bare chest, and then strips his clothes off. Isn’t this bullying? Cena lifts Show’s Shhh-chop spot. Cena makes Cole apologize to Lawler and JR (at home), and then he makes Cole put over the BBQ sauce: “IT’S SLOBBERKNOCKER GOOD!” Lawler produces some bottles of the sauce, and Cena Sauces It all over Cole’s body. Out comes the fire extinguisher for the usual comedy. Cena goes for the AA, but Tensai runs in and Bullet Train Wrecks Cena. Cole scampers over and covers….for 2! Thought he was gonna take it there. Cole gets the extinguisher, and tries to bash Cena, but eats an AA for the loss.
WINNER: John Cena via Attitude Adjustment
Rating: 4/10. Dumb comedy, but it had a few humorous moments. This was the Cole I loved before he was overexposed.
OVERALL: A much better show than recent weeks, due to the infusion of some non regulars (Sin Cara, Ryback, Reks and Hawkins), as well as a trio of solid matches in Punk/Kane, Sheamus/Ziggler, and Cena/Tensai. Cole was on his game tonight from a comedy standpoint as well, so add it all up, and it’s a win.
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.