Thumbs Up: Hating Eve Throughout all the melodramatic insanity that’s been ensuing the past six or so weeks involving Eve, it seemed like people were expecting some kind of Eve heel turn. Maybe she would align herself with Kane, or perhaps her tongue-sexing John Cena last week would get her enough heat on its own. But last night, WWE shoved it in our faces that she is now bad, and that we should hate her. My initial reaction was to think that nobody really cares enough about Eve to expend the energy booing her, but holy hell was I wrong. I found myself hating this woman. Her character is now the insanely hot, insanely conniving, backstabbing female that every guy thinks is a perfect match for some chick they know in real life, even though they probably don’t. But it worked. She got booed out of the building about 30 seconds into the show.
Thumbs Up: That Awkward Moment When John Cena was Standing Behind You the Whole Time I got a kick out of the camera revealing Cena standing behind Eve, with a facial expression letting us know that he had heard most of what Eve had been saying. There are a lot of areas to hang out backstage. What brought him to that part of the building? Comedic timing, that’s what.
Thumbs Up: I Laughed, I Admit It The segment with Cena and Eve in the ring was pretty funny. There were several moments here that induced an “OHHHHHH, SNAP!” reaction from the audience, and I’m sure many folks watching at home. Eve turning out to be a horrible person shouldn't necessarily lead to Cena forgetting to "rise above hate" and completely trashing her in public, because two wrongs don't make a right. However, this is wrestling, and rarely does the good guy actually take the high road. The anti-bullying campaign that WWE endorses hasn't been taken seriously in forever, so there's no need to start now.
Thumbs Down: They’re Tricking You Here’s my problem with that Eve-bashing segment, and the whole Eve heel turn as a whole: the creative minds behind the scenes at WWE are using Eve to get Cena over as a likable character. Our hatred for Eve, and the subsequent joke-making bit from Cena is intended to get us to somehow, all of a sudden like him. And to an extent, it seemed to work. People were cheering him. Maybe they were cheering what he was saying more so than the man, but still. I realize I just gave a thumbs up to Cena’s promo (I guess it wasn't really a promo), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t see what they were trying to do there. We’re cheering for a guy who we hate, someone implicated in breaking little Zack Ryder's fragile heart, because he is yelling at a woman we hate even more. I’m guilty of enjoying it. I won’t be guilty of being duped into liking Cena out of hatred for another character. That's not the way it should work.
Thumbs Down: Stop Doing This to Mark Henry There was a lengthy amount of time last year when Mark Henry was unstoppable, then became an unstoppable World Heavyweight Champion. I loved it all. He was the main, if not the only, reason to watch Smackdown on a weekly basis. Then he suffered a real life groin injury, and everything since has gone to hell. He lost the title and instead of forcing the guy to take time off to rest up, they’ve used him to get other guys over by making him look like a fool. I hate it. I may or may not like Mark Henry even more than CM Punk, so seeing him getting beat clean in the middle of the ring against Sheamus Monday night was the most depressed I’ve been since the last time Mark Henry didn’t outright destroy his opponent. Granted, his opponent was Sheamus, who needs to look strong heading into Wrestlemania, but spare Henry the embarrassment. No way he is fully healthy yet. Until he is, just keep him out of the ring, or let him face guys who he can plausibly beat in a squash match so as to better avoid re-injuring anything.
Thumbs Up: Just Keep Giving Me These Backstage Segments No need to advance this storyline between soon to be permanent GM of Raw and Smackdown John Laurinaitis and current Smackdown GM Teddy Long. I’ll stay a happy camper if you simply continue with amazing, hilarious backstage segments. We need more interaction between the two. I take back what I’ve said in previous weeks about figuring out this control of power situation—let Johnny Ace and Long keep talking backstage, with my favorite lawyer/wrestler/Jennifer Hudson fiance' David Otunga standing there with his coffee mug, and I’ll be fine with it never being resolved.
Thumbs Down: There Are Tag Team Championships Still? Good to see Epico and Primo on live TV again to remind us that they are the champions, but seriously, how long has it been since they’ve wrestled on Raw? And in the first match they’ve had on Raw for however long, they lose pretty handedly to the randomly paired team of Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, despite getting help from Rosa. Kofi and Truth could make for a pretty entertaining tag team, and I’m sure they’ll be the champions by the time Wrestlemania comes to an end (probably even sooner, like next week), but it pisses me off when all we see from the tag champions is them losing. That’s no way of making the titles or the non-existent tag division look legit.
Thumbs up: Ron Simmons I approve of his entry into the Hall of Fame. Good for him. I’ll always remember his days as Farooq and as one half of the APA. He’s had a lot of great moments outside of that, though. Go search him on YouTube and such so you can aware yourself.
Thumbs Down: Shut Up, Jericho So I guess I’m just bored with Jericho at this point. It’s more because of how he’s been booked to look like any other incompetent heel since he began actually speaking. Hearing him promise the end of the world as you know it, one more time for good measure, now just makes me expect for him to, at best lose his match, or at worst, do nothing. At least he’d prove me wrong later, even though it was so very predictable.
Thumbs Up: Mr. Otunga Give the guy a solid victory in the ring, will ya? I mentioned this around the interwebs a few times last night while watching, but I shall restate it here: it’s odd how entertained I am by this David Otunga lawyer character. It’s the same case as Johnny Laurinaitis. I love to hate them so much, that I actually love them. Now if only Cena would have that effect on me, hmm…
As a very important side note, another thumbs up to Otunga for capturing the best group photograph in the history of everything at Sunday's Elimination Chamber. I can't even describe the joy this brings me. I may frame it and hang it on my wall.
Thumbs Down: Are Christian and Del Rio Officially Back? Speaking of that fabulous photo taken at the PPV on Sunday, it would have been great if we had an appearance from Christian and ADR on Raw. Not everyone watches the pay-per-views, and not everyone knows that both men made their return on Sunday. If they're not ready to compete yet, why not at least have them be interviewed backstage or come out to the ring to cut a promo, so that we all can be reminded of their existence.
Thumbs Up: Triple H and Undertaker Promo I liked basically all of this, so I need not spend too much time going over each detail. I’m liking Triple H sticking to the business aspect of the streak, Undertaker sounding like he legitimately wants this match to happen for valid reasons and, of course, Hell in a Cell. That should certainly spice things up a bit. I’m confident that these two guys will put on a great show at Mania. The added stipulation of hell getting involved in this match should make this feel a little less like the third time we’ve seen these two fight at WM. Triple H being emphatic about not going through with the match, only to be coaxed into agreeing to it because HBK’s name was mentioned is indeed weak, but c’mon, we’ve known this match would be happening. Deal with it.
Thumbs Down: Irony in a Bad Way What I didn’t like is the irony prevalent during this segment. With all of Trips and Undertaker (mainly Triple H, but Undertaker eventually alluded to this stuff as well) speaking about what’s good for business, how they’re the end of an era, how H is going to one day be running the thing and is responsible for keeping the product at a quality level, it got me thinking about the younger superstars who will inevitably be stacked lower on the WM card to make way for these two dudes’ match. Talk about the end of an era and keeping the business going once Trips and Taker are done in the ring. Maybe if the powers that be in WWE would actually stand firm in building up some younger guys and give a feud as much time as Triple H and Undertaker got last night and have been getting, then maybe you’d have more legit main event players to begin with. Maybe the titles would feel important. Maybe we'd have a stake in the outcome of matches. Instead of moaning about how shit may suck if the streak ends or once they’re both done as competitors, fix the problem before it gets worse than it already is. You have few stars. Build some. I’m not saying legit stop your promo and have someone like Dolph Ziggler and Brodus Clay (by the way, is Brodus ever going to be on TV again or is that completely finished) come down to the ring, but fix what you’re concerned about in storyline mode by doing something about it backstage.
Thumbs Down: Don’t “What” The Undertaker, You Clowns It’s a shame I have to give a thumbs down to the Minneapolis crowd, because they were fired up all night. But seriously, it goes without saying that you do not unleash the “what” chants when Taker is speaking.
Thumbs Down: That was Quick Santino’s potential for a main event-caliber push ended pretty quickly last night, huh? I could never see him being pushed to the point of winning a major title, but good lord, at least give him a nudge and see where it goes. The crowd absolutely loves this guy. He won be over at Elimination Chamber. Have Daniel Bryan destroy someone else this week, and let Santino pick up a few decent victories. Maybe we’ll start taking him seriously. Nope, guess that plan isn’t happening.
Thumbs Up: Diva’s Segment I’m attracted to all of them, and all four seem like very lovely, pleasant women in real life.
Thumbs Down: Diva’s Segment But they shouldn’t be wrestling.
Thumbs Up: Hustle, Loyalty, Respect, and for once, Seriousness When Cena puts on his serious face and cuts a real, seemingly from-the-heart kind of promo, people listen. Dare I say he was actually captivating for a few minutes on the mic last night. Finally, his beef with The Rock seemed genuine. What a difference a change in tone and giving a shit about your character’s believability will make. This was easily Cena’s best promo since Money in the Bank-time, maybe even before then.
Thumbs Cautiously Up: Good, Now Keep Up the Intensity I've been complaining for a while that this feud seems completely one-dimensional. Cena is pissed that Rock is never there, and Rock hates Cena because of things like him being stupid, gay and having no fans. This feud is apparently taking place in third grade, no offense to third graders. On Monday, we finally got something out of either of these two that is more than a promo on Twitter tending, a pointlessly long staredown or an exchanging of finishers. Now keep going. If the level of intensity and hints of realism can be kept up until their match at Wrestlemania, then I'll forget the fact that much of this build has been so very shallow. I've had enough of hearing Cena talk about the Rock not being around presently. Nobody should've expected him to show up on a weekly, or even bi-weekly basis. He's now a movie star first, a wrestler second. I'm not going to blame him for that. What I'm cool with hearing is Cena's gripe that Rock left WWE too soon back in the early 2000's. That's legimate, and that's something to be pissed about from Cena's perspective, a guy who (hate him or love him) has stuck around the company for years and doesn't seem to be leaving anytime soon (although I'm sure Cena would have never bailed too had he been wanted in a larger form of entertainment like, uh, film.) If next week the Rock comes down to the ring and continues to badger Cena for meaningless bullshit like how he dresses and talks, then I give up. After the rant Cena gave on Raw, though, I am hopeful that the Rock will bring it. If there was ever a time for such a cliche': Just... Bring It.
Thumbs Up: CM Punk on Commentary Not necessarily last night, but in general. If you haven’t heard this man’s commentary skills, please take time to enjoy the linked video.
Thumbs Down: Wade Barrett’s Injury There have been a heinous number of injuries in the past few months, and it’s terrible. (If you didn't see when it happened last night, go to 3:35 in the above video. Big Show tosses Ziggler out of the ring onto Truth and Barrett, who lands awkwardly on his arm.) Real injuries are obviously never a good thing, but it’s even worse when they happen on live TV, and are apparent to those watching. You don’t just read about it on a results article of a house show, or find out the next day that, for instance, Mark Henry injured his groin, unknowing to the audience, in a match on Raw. You see it. That sucks. WWE.com is reporting that Barrett suffered a partially dislocated elbow and could be out for up to two months. Basically, he'll be out for 'mania. Awful news for him, and the Smackdown roster takes yet another hit.
Thumbs Down: Y2J Finally Comes Through, Awesome And we all knew it was going to happen. I hate to beat the dead horse and then continue to bash it over the head, but I find it hilarious (infuriating, really) that the reason Jericho may not have won the Rumble is because fans expected it, but then he wins a number one contender's match for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. I think last night’s outcome was more obvious than him winning at last month's PPV. And how worthless can you make Punk's challenger seem? The creative team figured to just throw together this match on live, free TV that is to decide who will be the number one contender for a title that is the holy grail of the company. So weak. This feud between Y2J and Punk better start picking up steam real soon, because next week we’ll be five Raws away from WM and this thing has yet to really get going.
You find yourself onstage at the Mahaffey auditioning for America’s Got Talent.
I welcome you to this week's The Raw Story. As usual, I wrote a whole lot about Raw , but I did promise to give my thoughts on Sunday's Elimination Chamber as well. Let me just use these handy bullet points to summarize my thoughts:
• Both Elimination Chamber matches were as entertaining as you'd expect from six guys locked inside an amped-up steel cage. Bryan and Punk retaining were the correct choices, though Jericho being knocked out cold from basically nothing happening to him is a poor way to have him lose while protecting his credibility. • Funny that a PPV called Elimination Chamber would end in an ambulance match where no titles are on the line. The Cena/Kane match was pretty solid, nonetheless. Cena winning is the right call. It just would've been great to not end the show with him standing triumphant without any signs of feeling beaten down after partaking in what's supposed to be a grueling match. • Tamina Snuka and Beth Phoenix made good with the few minutes they got a chance to work. This isn't saying a whole lot, but that was the best Diva's match in months. • Natalya farted backstage again. The more than usual sounds effects had me laughing, but really, is this still happening? • The crowd was awfully weak most of the night, aside from the deafening chants for Santino (which he deserved) and the usual "Let's go Cena, Cena Sucks" chants.
Some more of my feedback on the PPV will be mentioned throughout the column. So let's get Raw...