-Apologies for skipping out last week. Eric didn’t want to accept my hybrid Eagles game/Raw rant review, so I just missed Raw entirely and got to watch my Eagles blow another fourth quarter lead. Lesson learned: spurning Eric Gargiulo has dire consequences. Ask Jimmy Hoffa. Oh yeah, I went there.
-Also, with Raw in Boston tonight, there is an “Occupy WWE” movement taking place outside the TD Garden, and I’m speaking with the ringleader via Twitter. It may seem a bit silly, but it’s certainly more topical and less stare than some of the hackneyed bile that Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn have been regurgitating. The movement can be found here (http://occupywwe.tumblr.com/) and their Twitter here (http://twitter.com/OccupyWWE). If anything timely happens in tonight’s demonstration, I’ll insert it in the rant. Until then, give the folks a follow. They seem earnest enough.
-Live from Boston, former home of Jonathan Papelbon.
[adinserter block=”2″]Opening Segment: Michael Cole Challenge
Finally, we get the payoff for this inanity. Hopefully, this ends Vince McMahon’s raging hard-on for embarrassing Jim Ross, but I won’t count my chickens. The first challenge is arm wrestling, which should be for Jesse Ventura’s trophy. After mucho stalling by Cole, Ross firmly slams his hand down in a millisecond. The next contest is a dance competition, and Cole….well, he dances better than Vince. Then again, comatose homing pigeons can dance better than Vince. Jim Ross decides to get low to amusement of no one (well, maybe it was KINDA humorous….) and the crowd easily votes him the winner. The last contest is a “Who Weighs Less” contest, since Cole is the heel, stacking the contest and all. Cole weighs in at 200 lbs, whereas JR weighs 239. Cole declares himself the winner, but CM Punk (the new Stone Cold, I called it) makes his way out. Punk says that Cole was just going to stack the contest and waste everyone’s time, because everyone knows that JR is a better announcer than Cole. Punk says he wants Cole gone, because Raw is getting unbearable. As Punk continues the dress-down, Johnny Ace makes his way out to chastise Punk, and Punk offers a hearty “screw you”. Ace makes Punk and Big Show vs. Del Rio and Mark Henry for tonight. I wonder if they remember that Punk and Show were enemies last year. Cole wants an apology from Punk, and gets an Anaconda Vice instead. I guess this means we get JR.
SEGMENT RATING: 7/10. Hey, it showcased Cole at his snarky finest, and it was better than the usual Cena talk segments. Different can be good.
Oh, and Mick Foley is back. So much for those interviews he did in 2008 saying he didn’t need WWE, the Hall of Fame, etc.
Match 1: Sin Cara/Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes/Hunico
It’s like Survivor Series Showdown from 1990, except not. I dig Hunico’s “Konnan in 1997” look, but hopefully he has an actual work ethic. Dual planchas from “Sinful Paradise” takes us into commercial. Back from break and Cody is in control on Cara. We learn that “MICK FOLEY” is trending on Twitter. Then again, so is “GOT AIDS”. What can I infer from this? Cara finally manages the hot tag, and Kingston and Rhodes go at it, with Kofi hitting the sky high cross body. Give these two a few months to feud over the IC title and you can REALLY resurrect the belt. Rhodes steals the match with the Cross Rhodes.
WINNERS: Cody Rhodes and Hunico via Cross Rhodes
RATING: 5/10. Just hype for Survivor Series and nothing more.
Match 2: Dolph Ziggler vs. Mason Ryan (non title match)
In a perfect world, Ziggler beats Ryan in 14 seconds when Mason tears both quads while sneezing. Also, Johnny Ace throws JR out and allows Cole his seat back, just so the fans have less to enjoy. Ryan overpowers Ziggler to Vince McMahon’s faptastic joy, but certainly not the crowd’s. Vickie slaps Ryan and draws the cheap DQ. At least Ziggler wasn’t pinned. John Morrison heaves Dolph Ziggler back into the ring, and Ryan nearly blows a full nelson slam, almost breaking Ziggler’s neck. Send that clown back for more training.
WINNER: Mason Ryan via DQ
RATING: 1/10. Mason Ryan is as useless as an umbrella in a fiery apocalypse.
In Ring Segment: Mick Foley’s Return
Hey, that guy who swore off WWE in 2008 and promised to help TNA reach the promised land came back without an ounce of reprisal from people calling him out on his hypocrisy! That NEVER happens! Foley hypes up The Rock and John Cena (who gets booed in his hometown), and basically panders to try and get the crowd to cheer for Cena. Wonder if he misses hanging around Curry Man and Shark Boy yet. Anywho, Cena makes his way out. Cena says that Rock isn’t his friend, but Foley seems hellbent on trying to get them to mend fences. Foley goes as far as to list off Cena’s backstage acumen of respect, and the crowd is still lukewarm on cheering him. Foley: “I think you’re one of the very best to ever step inside this ring”. Crowd: “BOOOOOOOOO!” Anyway, it turns into John Cena’s “This Is Your Life” and I don’t forsee the 8.1 rating that the Rock one from 1999 got being matched. This montage of Cena childhood footage is making me sleepy. Voice #1 comes from Cena’s old little league coach, and I have no patience right now. The punchline: Cena struck out in a crucial situation. Can we call him C-Rod? Voice #2: BULL “BLING BLING” BUCHANAN! I TAKE IT BACK! SEGMENT OF THE YEAR! Bull calls Cena his best partner ever. I don’t know, you also teamed with Stevie Richards AND Sniper. Anyway, Bull’s life apparently went down the hopper, and it ended when his dog gave him rabies. Man, that’s tough luck! Voice #3 is John Cena Sr, who sounds eerily just like him. Cena Sr chastises the fans for chanting “Cena Sucks” and points out his boy’s work ethic. Cena Jr, however, downplays the crowd hate, as he usually does in his typical “aw shucks” fashion. Finally, The Rock comes out, drops Foley, and simply leaves. Uhh…..that’s the payoff?
SEGMENT RATING: 5/10. Had some comedy value until the pointless ending. That was twenty five minutes of wasted time, except for Bull’s funny downfall and Cena Sr’s spirited speech.
Match 3: Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger
Now THIS could be fun if they give it time. Even if it’s short, give me “spirited”. Power match to begin, with Sheamus getting the upper hand. After the throwback fun of Crimson and Matt Morgan at Turning Point last night, I wouldn’t mind some more “hoss brawls” to spice things up, as long as the talent is there. Swagger comes back after the commercial with some vicious shoulderblocks, and then tries to wear down Sheamus with submissions. Sheamus comes back and mauls Swagger with a corner attack and powerslam for 2. Swagger escapes the Celtic Cross and gets the pump splash, followed by the ankle lock, but Sheamus kicks his way out. Irish Curse backbreaker, followed by the Brogue Kick for the decisive win.
WINNER: Sheamus via Brogue Kick
RATING: 7/10. Give these two a longer match. As I said, a power brawl with the right people is usually fun to watch. This was a nice teaser.
Match 4: Natalya vs. Kelly Kelly
Kelly Kelly is so over with the crowd, which is why she has to wear a Tom Brady cutoff jersey. Because she’s so over, you know. Natalya tries the Sharpshooter, Kelly cradles her and pins her in under a minute. Yeah.
WINNER: Kelly Kelly via cradle
RATING: 0/10. At least I have Velvet Sky, Gail Kim, Winter, and Mickie James on Thursdays
Match 5: Alberto Del Rio & Mark Henry vs. CM Punk & Big Show
Del Rio attacked Punk in the locker room before the match to try and derail him before Survivor Series. If they’re serious about pushing Punk, he’ll just shake it off like Cena does with every beatdown he’s received since 2006. Punk comes out holding the arm, but no else worse for wear. Fair enough. Huge CM Punk chant, the most the crowd has been alive in an hour. Show and Del Rio kick it off, and Show simply dominates. Punk comes in and maims Del Rio. Kinda question having this match for free so early. Double tags bring in the other World Title participants. Slower hoss fight ensues. Show throws Henry down to a sizeable cheer. Match slows down as Show becomes monster-in-peril. Show manages to fight Henry off and tries for the WMD, but Henry tags Del Rio, who refuses to enter as we hit a commercial. Back from break and Henry is tagged in to stomp Punk, who obviously was beaten down during the adverts. Punk ends up taking a nasty tilt a whirl backbreaker from Del Rio. Punk and Show go all Gumblel to Gumbel on the heels, but Henry catches Punk with the WSS. Show fights Henry away, and Del Rio steals the pin. Guess Punk’s winning Sunday then? *sigh* another quick change? Del Rio adds the Cross Armbreaker afterward to further injure the shoulder.
WINNERS: Alberto Del Rio and Mark Henry via World’s Strongest Slam
RATING: 6/10. Formula, but decent.
In Ring Segment: Santino Marella
Great, MORE talking. I do dig Marella’s modified gi t-shirt, though. Marella talks about how close he was to winning the Royal Rumble in this city earlier in the year. As he vows to avenge his Rumble loss, Kevin Nash makes his way out. Great. Nash requests a trombone and punks Marella out as he attempts one. Great, the crowd’s cheering Nash. When he’s holding the title, you can blame Boston. He complains about not getting hired, despite the crowd loving him in Boston, and he Jackknifes Marella. Well worth the time!
SEGMENT RATING: 2/10. I think my watch is broken, like both of Nash’s kneecaps.
Main Event (I Guess): Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton.
Barrett brings out Rhodes, Swagger, Ziggler, and Hunico, while Orton has Sheamus, Sin Cara, Kingston, and Ryan. I wish we could go back to the all Survivor format one year, but this match has potential. 3 to 1 odds Ryan and/or Sheamus get DQed. Glad to see Orton, Kingston, and Sheamus are all friends now. Barrett dominates early, but we’re just stalling until we get to Rock’s segment at the end, so look for a schmozz. Sure enough, Orton takes over and gets the elevated DDT, followed by his spastic viper taunt. Everyone hits the ring for the schmozz DQ, clearly. Faces clean house, just to build to Survivor Series.
WINNER: No contest
RATING: 4/10. Sheer build and nothing more.
[adinserter block=”1″]Actual Main Event: The Rock Talks
Justin Roberts gives The Rock the worst possible intro ever. We get it, Kevin Dunn likes Roberts’ cheekbones and peppiness. Rock smiles, because he knows he’s catching a flight back to Inglewood in forty-five minutes. Rock highlights his day for everyone interested, and panders more than he usually does. Rock hits the Cena insults while the fans chant “THANK YOU ROCK”, and then he coerces a “BOOTS TO ASSES” chant. I’m noticing a difference in eras here, in terms of how much freedom performers had thirteen years ago to work the crowds. Rock calls out Awesome Truth, and Miz immediately hits him with the “Reallys”. Truth calls tonight’s Raw a joke, thus making him my temporary hero. Miz threatens Rock with a beating, but balks on doing it now, preferring to do it at Survivor Series. Cena arrives for the High Noon moment, finally putting all four in the ring together. Cena trashes Rock for his ‘via satellite’ messages, and Rock fires back by mocking Cena’s young fanbase, then threatens an ass-whooping. Cena brings it around to them having to team up, and if Rock gets out of line, Cena promises to bitch slap. Miz interjects, having enough of Rock and Cena hogging the limelight. A fight ensues, and R-Truth eats a Rock Bottom, as does Miz, which totally makes me want to order Survivor Series. Rock and Cena have a staredown to end it.
SEGMENT RATING: 6/10. Some lines were funny, but it’s quite counterproductive. We get it, more people will order to see Rock wrestle than to see a competitive match, but can’t WWE just lie a little and give the heels the benefit of the doubt?
OVERALL: These three hour shows need to stop. You could have fit most of the better stuff into two hours just fine, without the This is Your Life segment, or some of the matches involving those in the elimination match. For something hyped as a special Raw, it sure didn’t feel special.
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.