–Cheap Plug I: My WrestleMania retrospectives are back! Beginning with the first three events, which Eric has so graciously re-posted for everyone’s edification, there are so many memories to be had. You know, between WrestleMania’s nostalgia, as well as me spending weeks last spring writing these damn things. When events 24 to 27 come up, if they seem rushed, that’s because I was scrambling to finish writing them last year before taking a hot date to see Paul, starring Seth Rogen. I knew I wasn’t going to be in any condition to write afterward 🙂 http://bluebarcage.blogspot.com/2012/03/wrestlemania-i-ii-and-iii-portraits-in.html
–Cheap Plug II: My manifesto on how WWE’s reliance on the stale and overused past, often at the expense of talents that need room to blossom. Warning: NSFW language, and references to Three Minute Warning abound! This might be my most researched, as well as angriest, work yet. I sincerely hope you enjoy. http://bluebarcage.blogspot.com/2012/03/wwe-class-of-2002-and-how-history-is.html
-WWE RAW is live from Cleveland, future home of Trent Richardson
[adinserter block=”2″]Opening Segment: Rock vs. Rap
Lawler (no stranger to Cleveland) is in ring, giving the hard sell for tonight’s Rock vs. Rap concert. And with that, out comes 2003 John Cena, complete with Mark Price jersey. Go figure that Cena wears the jersey of the whitest player of the last thirty years. Cena begins with a LeBron James reference. “If you get stuck singing your song tonight, Rock, it’s all in your wrist.” Cena bringing up Rock’s chest implants, and threatens to defecate on him. Then he drops the s-word, and threatens to teabag him. Alright then.
Segment Rating: 6/10. It was entertaining, but was that it? They hyped the segment for a week, and then give us two minutes of 2003-era vulgarities? They better have a killer finish for the Rock Concert later.
-Vickie Guerrero screeches. What are they going to do if the crowd stops booing “EXCUSE ME?!?” She brings out Dolph, and it’s time for a match. If Cena had been going for twenty minutes, would Dolph and Vickie be patiently waiting?
Match 1: Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler
Remember when Dolph won a lot of his matches? Dolph shows off, and Sheamus powers him down to establish dominance. Cole calls Cena’s performance “Attitudinal”, which is as meta a reference as WWE will do. Ziggler avoids the Dublin Clubs as we go to commercial.
We return to Dolph near death. Geez, did Ziggler get blamed for TLC’s buyrate or something? Sheamus hip tosses Ziggler awkwardly to the floor, and Dolph crawls under the ring, emerging to dropkick Sheamus from behind. Then Sheamus gets sent hard into the table. Vickie has a laugh like Marcy D’Arcy, it’s occurred to me. Sheamus crawls in to avoid a count out, and Ziggler lands a neckbreaker for 2. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan and AJ watch from a skybox. AJ’s motif, dark blue jeans and strapped black boots. Bryan comes off as a wifebeater, angrily declaring his love for AJ, who is frightened to go against him. See, there IS a Benoit connection. Sheamus mounts the comeback with a powerslam for 2. He’s got quite the welt on his back from that table bump. Of course, being that white makes it more noticeable. Ziggler throats Sheamus on another Dublin Clubs attempt. Irish Curse countered into a crucifix for 2, who lifts Dolph for the Celtic Cross, but awkwardly throws him down for 2. Seemed botched. Sheamus eats the post and Dolph gets a fame asser for 2. Crowd’s cheering more for Ziggler; must be an Ohio thing. Sheamus lands the Brogue Kick out of nowhere to win.
WINNER: Sheamus via Brogue Kick
Rating: 7/10. Serviceable tune-up match for Sheamus. Replay shows Sheamus pretty much decapitated Ziggler with that kick. Wish the crowd had been a bit more into it; it was main event quality.
-Team Long vs. Team Laurinaitis is made official, and both GMs will speak next. Finally, a way to get the roster involved that doesn’t involve ladder bumps.
Match 2: Santino Marella/Aksana vs. David Otunga/???
Santino is officially Long’s captain for WrestleMania. If Santino wins at WrestleMania, he’s 3-0. If Undertaker beats HHH this year, we need Santino vs. Taker at WM29: streak vs. streak. Of course, Otunga is Ace’s captain. Laurinaitis, however, cancels the mixed tag, and makes it a handicap match. Otunga and Mark Henry vs. Santino. Bell rings, but Teddy Long comes out, because this wasn’t enough of a clustershag. Otunga beats on Santino early as the GMs bitch and moan, and Long shoves Ace, who takes a comedic back bump over a chair. Santino draws the Cobra, but Henry stops him with a headbutt. World’s Strongest Slam finishes. Henry just ANGRILY threw the cobra sock to a fan. He’s such a heel, he gives away free merchandise. MARK HENRY MUST BE STOPPED. Kingston runs in to break up the 2 on 1, but he gets taken out as well. Then R-Truth hits the ring, but Otunga and Henry double team. Guess five of the twelve entrants are named, and we’ll get more with the coming shows.
WINNER: Mark Henry/David Otunga via World’s Strongest Slam
Rating: 3/10. More of an angle than a match, but at least it gets people onto WrestleMania. I’m all for that.
-Cheap plug for Psych, starring James Roday. If I based all my judgments and assessments on commercials, then James Roday is the most annoying person in the world.
-Replay of Cena’s rap from earlier. Calling it “old school Cena” is a nice acknowledgement that Cena completely changed who he once was to play a kid-friendly goof. Hopefully, we can keep this Cena (or at least the one who cuts intense promos, like recent weeks have seen
-Fluff piece with the attractive Maria Menounos and WWE Divas, which leads to Idiot Boy Ryder hitting on Eve Torres. WWE, they are geniuses, aren’t they? They don’t want to push Ryder, who the fans love, so they make him completely stupid and inept in the hopes that fans will stop favoring him. What a productive company. Beth Phoenix, however, is pissed that she wasn’t part of the Extra fluff piece. Okay then.
-Miz appeals to Laurinaitis for a spot on his team at WrestleMania, and tries to use James Roday to prove his star power. Roday gets a guest ring announcer spot, and he name drops Finkel, just to tease the fans. Oh, and Miz is facing CM Punk.
-Brodus Clay is BACK. Jesus, he goes missing more than Snooki’s diaphragm.
Match 3: Jinder Mahal vs. Brodus Clay
Hey, the Funkettes are wearing Brutus Beefcake’s old pants! Makes sense, Beefcake’s a giant ass, and Naomi has one. Mah Bad Plex and big splash end it quickly.
WINNER: Brodus Clay via splash
Rating: 1/10. Uhh….errr….I like Naomi’s a$#. Yeah, I said it.
-Shawn Michaels is…..walking? Wandering? Man, this is sad. Watching him stagger with that wonky eye makes me want to remind him to take his meds before I have to call security.
More Talk: Shawn Michaels
Michaels didn’t bring his cowboy hat, so either he left it home due to the gravitas of this segment, or Alzheimer’s is kicking in. Michaels is still miffed by Triple H’s sleight last week, in regards to the “loser” remarks. Shawn rebuts Hunter’s assertions of people calling him a loser and a failure. You mean Hunter isn’t always truthful? This is new to me. And with that, Shawn calls out Undertaker, who arrives in his oversized Baron Von Raschke Tribute Hood. Shawn talks respect and their WrestleMania classics, but then says Undertaker to have the guts to say those prior remarks to his failure. Undertaker responds by insinuating that Triple H is lying to Shawn. LIKE HELL, YOU SAY. Undertaker then claims Shawn has insecurities, but then Shawn says Undertaker is insecure, at 19-0, and he still feels the need to defend his streak. Undertaker says he’s prepared to accept the outcome, win or lose, but not if Shawn is going to interject his ego. Sounds like Undertaker remembers 1995-98 quite well. Taker says if the match ends uncleanly, there will be Hell to pay. That, and a lot of angry customers/illegal streamers. Shawn toys with the irony of being the man who turns Undertaker into a loser by counting him down. Shawn says he can still “end the streak”, and then Taker grabs him by the arm. If Shawn doesn’t do things right, Taker will end him. Tension pause. Then Shawn leaves with an unsettled expression, but is met by Triple H on the ramp. The two share a glance, and Shawn walks off. Hunter and Taker lock eyes, and Hunter zaps him with a DX chop.
Segment Rating: 9/10. Even Shawn and Undertaker’s dueling promos have more workrate than matches involving most clumsy FCW call-ups.
Match 4: CM Punk vs. The Miz (Non Title, Miz Needs to Win to Earn Spot on John Laurinaitis’ Team)
James Roday gets a better titantron than David Flair. Then again, everyone does. Roday says “FINALLY” in a voice reminiscent of Kermit the Frog being hit in the nuts with a claw hammer. Roday does give Miz the hometown recognition, however. If Punk runs over Roday with a steamroller, I’ll give this show eleventy billion stars. Hell, Cole can run him over, I don’t care. Miz gets a front clip to the leg as we go to an early commercial. We return with Miz hooking an abdominal stretch, but Punk escapes with an arm drag. High kick followed by a springboard clothesline, then a swinging neckbreaker rejuvenate the crowd, as Punk follows with the kneelift/bulldog. Cole works in “Attitudinal” again. Leg lariat gets two for Punk. Miz misses an axe handle, and the two counter finishes, but Punk hooks the vice and draws a submission. Plummeting….. Afterward, Jericho sarcastically congratulates Punk on the titantron, and then reveals the origin of Punk’s straight edge credo: his dad was an alcoholic, and because alcoholism can be hereditary, Punk is afraid of turning into his waste of a dad. Jericho promises to make Punk drink by leaving him with nothing at WrestleMania. That’s pretty much the most evil promo I’ve seen in WWE in years. Punk even sells the emotion, and the crowd rallies behind him. Now THAT is a character segment. Punk doesn’t shake it off by being a goofy hero like Cena has been; he uses the adversity to build upon, and Jericho has the upper hand until then.
WINNER: CM Punk via Anaconda Vice
Rating: 10/10. The match was only a 5 or a 6, but the Jericho promo, and Punk’s subsequent selling of it were AWESOME. That could have been a show ender, but clearly, Rock and a guitar are more important.
-Cheesy lawyer ad for David Otunga, and you can reach him via Twitter. Well, you knew that was coming.
Match 5: Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger
Swagger beat Orton in fifteen minutes at Extreme Rules 2010, but I smell squash tonight. Swagger works the arm, getting his token offense, but Orton gets the abbreviated Garvin Stomp to counter. To the floor, where Orton sends Swagger flying into everything cumbersome as we go to commercial. Swagger gets to live through a commercial? Someone’s feeling generous. Orton breaks a top wristlock upon return, but Swagger responds with a front clip for 2. Hey, somebody uses the leg DDT for a change! I thought that existed only in video games! Swagger Bomb misses, but Swagger manages to get the ankle lock. Orton kicks off, and a counter sequence ends with Orton getting Dad’s Superplex. Draping DDT hits (called “Vintage Orton” by Cole), and RKO finishes. Then Kane’s pyro explodes, and the MYSTERIOUS RED LIGHT turns Orton into the Heat Miser. No Kane, though.
WINNER: Randy Orton via RKO
Rating: 6/10. Nifty little match. It’s all I ask.
[adinserter block=”1″]-Christian returns on Friday! That makes up for having to sit through that tool from Psych.
Talk Segment: The Rock Concert
Rock looks as thrilled to be here as Vincent Jackson did in 2010 for the Chargers. Ehh, I guess stardom will do that to a man. Rock milks the crowd before hitting the “FINALLY”. At least he didn’t sound like a constipated douche like Roday did earlier. After some sucking up to the city, Rock gets into the Cena dissing (“He looks like what would happen if Vanilla Ice banged a Teletubby!”). I’m pretty sure 90% of WWE’s target demo has no idea who Vanilla Ice is. He was popular when Rock was backing up Warren Sapp. First song both pays tribute to Cleveland and accuses Cena of lacking testicles. So, about what you’d expect out of Rock. Second verse accuses Cena of asking his doctor for a rectal exam, and third verse invokes Cena’s sexual misadventures with Eve. Then it goes into a story of Cena’s birth (and the return of ‘ladyparts’), and the crowd is actually eating this up. Rock then asks if there are any adult males who like Cena, and he manages to find a few. So he declares them to be sci-fi virgins. Then Rock talks about going to bang Cena’s mom tonight. Then Rock leads the crowd through a rendition of “We Will Rock You.” I’m actually watching this. I can’t believe it. No Cena run in, end show.
Segment Rating: 3/10. You know, this takes me back to when Hogan and Andre cut rhymes and diss tracks on each other leading up to WrestleMania 3. Oh wait, that didn’t happen. I’m glad WWE finds humor in the dueling promos, but having 2 men sing about their hatred of one another doesn’t exactly make this fight-for-immortality seem so special. Then again, the two of them teaming up to destroy Miz and R-Truth didn’t either.
OVERALL: A lot of good (Jericho/Punk, Shawn/Taker, Sheamus/Dolph) and some bad (Rock concert, James Roday), but nothing that’d make me tune out. They sure packed about 6 or 7 feuds into two hours, which is an effective use of time. That said, the next logical step would be to have a better plan for each. Call it a slight thumbs up this week.
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.