-Cheap Plugs: Been a busy week at Blue Bar Cage. First off, I’ve posted the twenty worst matches in WrestleMania history (http://bluebarcage.blogspot.com/2012/03/20-worst-wrestlemania-matches-ever.html), and then one I’m considerably more proud of; a look at CM Punk’s rise through WWE, navigating the bureaucracy along the way. If you read nothing else I’ve written, read THIS: http://bluebarcage.blogspot.com/2012/03/20-worst-wrestlemania-matches-ever.html
-On another note, I’d like to personally thank Brett Clendaniel and WrestleChat.net for welcoming me to their family. I respect the vision and articulacy of WrestleChat, and Brett and I go back fifteen years. It will be a pleasure working with him, Jeff Peck, and the others.
-And finally, Eric Gargiulo is a daddy! Congrats to Eric and his wife Jessica on their bundle of joy, Nora, whom I’m certain is named for the greatest diva of all time, Nora “Molly Holly” Greenwald. Congrats, Garg!
-Tonight’s WWE RAW is live from Atlanta, site of last year’s debacle.
Forget about the match….WE GOT BOOKER ON COMMENTARY! Getting Booker on commentary is like getting extra gravy at Boston Market. Bryan and Orton start off, with D-Bry getting all kicky before Orton backdrops him. Lawler: “Bryan is the luckiest human in WWE!” I take it whatever’s in Mason Ryan’s locker is the luckiest mineral then. Kane and Sheamus are in now for a power match. I dunno, Kane’s really lost his monstrous luster week by week. Now he’s just “any other guy”, except he wears a crab mask. Sheamus lands the top rope shoulder block for 2, and tries for the High Cross, but a Bryan distraction leads to Kane knocking him through the ropes. Bryan lands an apron-dive kneelift, and a beauty, as we hit commercial. We return to Sheamus/Bryan brawling, and Bryan misses a senton in the corner. Orton gets a hot tag and annihilates Bryan with the snap powerslam and rope-hang DDT, but Kane pulls Bryan out before the RKO can connect. Bryan takes over after Orton is floored outside, and Kane gets the tag. Kane’s so evil, he applies a chinlock. Seriously, months ago, he was throwing Zack Ryder off loading docks and entrance stages. Kane gets the BIG RED SIDESLAM for 2, and then heads up top, hitting his big clothesline. Booker: “WATCH YA BACK SON!” I SO wanna take Book to see a slasher film now. Orton hits a dropkick, and double tags are made. Irish Curse connects on Bryan, and Team Contrast takes Kane out with a clothesline over the top. However, Orton eats the post outside, and AJ runs in, coming between Sheamus and Bryan. During the distraction, Sheamus misses the Brogue Kick, crotching himself, and Kane chokeslams Sheamus, allowing Bryan to score the pin.
WINNERS: Kane/Daniel Bryan via Chokeslam
Rating: 7/10. Good, spirited opener, and I’d have to think Sheamus is going to overcome Bryan at Mania and become champ. Even Steven booking!
-Highlights from WrestleMania a year ago, when Rock screwed Cena over, as a receipt for Cena’s AA the week before. It’s SO much better with Ross on commentary. Feels more authentic.
-Cole’s donning a “Team Johnny” shirt, and he informs us that he’s the “official commentator” for the team. Lucky us. This brings out Laurinaitis, who brings out Vickie Guerrero as the team’s “flagbearer”. Then Otunga comes out. I’m more transfixed on Vickie and those tight black pants. Booker gets on the table, and names himself the official commentator for Long’s team, and brings out Teddy himself. Then we get Santino and Hornswoggle. Kinda hoping this is going somewhere. Oh, it’s a match. That was a little vague.
Match 2: Santino Marella vs. David Otunga (non title)
Why even HAVE a United States title? Cole, of course, only cares that he’s trending. Otunga waves the flag while Santino’s down, so Hornswoggle waves his in retaliation. The distraction leads to the Cobra, and the expected finish. Ace and Long have their usual gabfest afterward, so Santino aids Long with embarrassing him. Before Santino can hit the Cobra, Miz runs in and lands the Skull Crushing Finale to save him. This puts Miz on Team Johnny officially. Whew, the drama was killing me.
WINNER: Santino Marella via Cobra
Rating: 2/10. All silliness except for Miz’s inclusion.
-Rock/Cena flashback II: the challenge for WrestleMania XXVIII.
-“Special look” at Undertaker/HHH/Michaels, which provides a lengthy look at Taker’s career, and how it intersects with Shawn Michaels and Triple H at WrestleMania. Not pictured: the American Bad Ass character. Why not pictured: Because Vince runs the show.
Match 3: Eve Torres vs. Kelly Kelly
Beth must be a Mad Men fan, based on her hairstyle of choice tonight. Hoeski chant develops, and Eve gets an early edge, using the elevated choke on the middle rope. Is Jerry Lawler allowed to bring up Dancing with the Stars, given that it’s in the same time slot as Raw? Kelly gets the irritating Screaming Bitch Headscissors. Eve soon misses the moonsault, and Kelly gets a modified magistral to win.
WINNER: Kelly Kelly via modified magistral cradle
Rating: 4/10. Hey, they actually wrestled! Credit where credit it due.
-Rock/Cena flashback III: Survivor Series. Good thing they’re showing this now, since nobody watched it at the time. Miz’s fault, obviously.
Match 4: CM Punk vs. Christian (Non Title)
My two favorites, awesome. Nice hair, Christian. All you need is a slingshot to fire at Mr. Wilson. Jericho can’t leave well enough alone, thus he arrives on the Titantron to make more threats. This time: remarks about Punk’s mother. Turns out, Punk’s parents married after he was born, blah blah blah. Christian attacks before the bell, but it isn’t long before Punk is smashing his face into the announce table with blind fury. Christian eats the ringsteps and Punk locks on the Anaconda Vice at ringside, screaming “THIS IS YOU JERICHO!” Punk is forced off, but soon reapplies it. And that’s pretty much that.
WINNER: No match
Rating: 5/10. The bastard revelation was weak, but Punk’s freakout was solid. Call it a split.
Match 5: Brodus Clay vs. Curt Hawkins
Can we get Naomi vs. Layla in a sumo challenge at WrestleMania? Would ANYONE complain about this? Hawkins gets some early offense with a bulldog. Lawler: “Maybe we should talk about Curtis Hawkins!” Vince: “SHUT HIM THE F–K UP!” Clay comes back with the t-b
one and splash to win.
WINNER: Brodus Clay via big splash
Rating: 2/10. It was a match.
-Rock/Cena flashback IV: the war of words. Essentially just Cena’s brutal shoot on Rock from a month ago.
Match 6: Big Show vs. Primo
Wow, six matches before 10:20 PM. We must be under Crash TV Rules. Anyone think Show/Rhodes will be the “under one minute” special, and Show finishes him off with ease? Oddly enough, Show’s first Mania win came when he pinned Primo’s brother. And damn, Christian’s been taken out of the match at WrestleMania. Maybe it IS Alberto? Chokeslam finishes. Epico gets the same treatment. Then we get Cody Rhodes to taunt Show some more. Rhodes vows that “Big Show” will become a verb synonymous with failing in crucial moments. Yeah, Show’s winning.
WINNER: Big Show via Chokeslam
Rating: 2/10. It was a match.
-Lord Tensai vignette. We need Rowdy Roddy Piper on commentary to scoff and say, “That’s Prince Albert, what are you trying to pull?!?” the way he did with Saba Simba/Tony Atlas.
-Ryder scares off the Bellas, but Eve’s there to play with his feeble mind.
-Punk cuts an intense promo about his family being off limits, and how Jericho bent the truth in his diatribes. “I am not a bastard; I am the Best in the World.” Well, technically you COULD be both. Good promo.
Match 7: Mark Henry vs. Great Khali
This match is like a penance or something. I’m amazed Long got Khali on his team, all the times he forced him to face DA UNDATAKAH PLAYA. Drew McIntyre is announced as the sixth man, replacing Christian, for Johnny’s team. World’s Strongest Slam finishes in short order.
WINNER: Mark Henry via World’s Strongest Slam
Rating: 2/10. It was a match.
-Afterward, Laurinaitis calls out his team to block the stage, as Henry corners Teddy in the ring. Truth flies into the fray, and the pile awkwardly collapses. Kofi dives into the ring, and Henry hits the WSS on him. Henry tries the same on Henry, but Booker jumps in for the save, getting the Axe Kick on Henry to a THUNDEROUS pop. Booker at WrestleMania? I’m down. Team Teddy = three black men, a clueless Italian, a big Indian, and a dumb white guy. It’s like a bus ride to Hoboken.
-Rock/Cena flashback V: The Rock Bottom on Henry. Okay then.
Rock is out first, greeted with faint “boots to asses” chants, as well as a smattering of boos. The chant slowly takes over, and Rock milks the reaction. WrestleMania 20, the last match for The Rock, or so he thought, as everyone asked him when he was coming back. Even the starlets in Hollywood wanna know when Rock’s coming back. He didn’t know…..until last year. I’m depressed, because I just saw the rolls on the back of Rock’s neck. That’s one Hell of a facelift. Rock says he wanted to create his return match with one man only, and that’s John Cena. Well yeah, money, and all that. Rock really puts Cena over……until he mentions he’s never faced The Rock. Before Rock can get to his promises for Sunday, Cena makes his way out. Cena notes the boos on hand, and says he’s used to it by now. Well hell, I’d hope so. Cena offers the other side of the coin: Rock has never faced Cena. “Civil War Pie” is now trending after a Betty White joke Rock made. Our society, people. Dueling Cena chants start up, and Cena points out the comparative been Rock’s reactions and his own, since both are full of electricity. And this brings us back to Cena’s original point: Rock turned his back on WWE fans, but Cena won’t. Cena: “I rise above….and I win.” Cena then guarantees victory. Cena points out more facts, like the truth that he was here, “when it wasn’t cool to be a WWE Superstar.” Well there’s an interesting line. After WrestleMania, Rock will go back to Hollywood, but Cena will still be here, and that’s why he has to win. Cena: “I will be goddamned if you come in as a visitor and take my life from me.” Rock says the match is just as important to him, because he helped build “this house.” However, Rock is the first opponent that Cena “can’t overcome.” Rock points out that, if he wins, he’ll have beaten Hogan, Austin, AND Cena at WrestleMania, thus attaining immortality. Rock: “But on a personal level, I just don’t like you.” And then Rock guarantees victory. Cena: “It doesn’t MATTER what you think!” Cena reiterates his guarantee, and we get the staredown as we fade to black.
Segment Rating: 9/10. Much more serious build after Rock’s silly intro, but at least you still want to see who wins the epic encounter. Good ending, good sell.
OVERALL: Much of the in-ring action was terrible (beyond the opener), but at least they hit on all eight matches tonight. Call it a thumbs up for the build.
See ya in six!
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.