Thumbs Up: Best in the World x 2 After complaining for weeks, this feud finally starts going somewhere. The psychology behind everything Punk and Jericho were talking about is great, and actually makes a lot of sense. Jericho feels like Punk is plagiarizing everything about him, and Punk retorts that it’s just jealously that he has become more than Jericho ever was. I love Punk, but I'm not sure I agree that he has quite yet reached the level of Y2J. He’s certainly on pace to. Regardless, it’s both guys’ prerogative to feel the way that they do. They both are supposed to be “the best in the world”, and of course there can only be one of those. They did a really good job at hammering home that fact, and an even better job by Punk for further selling their upcoming match by reminding us that Wrestlemania is where this thing gets settled. This segment was a large step in the right direction for this feud. In just one week’s time, I went from thoroughly disappointed to looking forward to what comes next.
Thumbs Up: Champion vs. Champion Their matches are full of entertainment. These two have a history of working together, and they are tremendous workers in the ring, so it only makes sense that they can consistently put on great matches. They also got more or less a full two segments to work, giving them time to tell a story in the ring and progress from one move to the next. Good stuff in the ring as always from Punk and D-Bry.
Thumbs Down: This Seems Vaguely Familiar I could probably watch a match between the two of them each week and not grow tired of it, because really they’re good enough to mix things up, but that doesn’t mean you should actually put this match on TV so often. This is now the third champion vs. champion match in… two weeks? That’s a lot, and a match of this much importance (or at least it should seem important) shouldn’t be given away for free when it is potentially a main event of a major PPV down the road.
Thumbs Up: Epic Amounts of Pandemonium The absolute chaos in the ring that ensued towards the end of this match, and after it, was absurdly fun to watch. I’m loving this feud between Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis probably more than I should be. Here you have Punk and Bryan in a match, Sheamus running down to throw a retreating D-Bry (alongside his perfect girlfriend AJ)back into the ring, Punk going for the GTS and pin only for Johnny Ace to call for the disqualification because of Sheamus' interference. Then Teddy gets involved, he and Big Johnny are about to throw down but Otunga and Santino hold back their respective general managers. Holy hell was it insane.
Then on the ramp while Punk is trying to celebrate and be like “hey, look at me, I’m still the champion and having a championship should be considered more important than two middle-aged guys angrily throwing off their jackets in the ring” (and Punk is right), he gets ambushed from behind from Jericho. Which brings me back to the Punk/Jericho feud. I’m so very thankful that this week, Jericho actually one-upped Punk. He needs to be made to look like a threat from now until Wrestlemania, because he really hasn’t done much else aside from applying the Wall of Jericho on Monday night. Also, anybody notice how many boos Jericho has been getting lately? You’ve gotta give credit to the guy—he knows how to get a desired audience reaction.
Thumbs Down: Watch Miz Lose to Cena Were there any questions on who would be winning this match? This does not make Cena look stronger, and only makes the Miz look weaker. The match itself was decent, so I’ll give it credit there. Cena looked really good in the ring, and Miz didn’t botch anything, so yeah, there’s that.
Thumbs Up: Hooray for Exciting Tag Matches I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in one of my columns before, but I have definitely been talking about it for like two months now. Why not put a few (and by few, I mean the only three or however many you have) tag teams in the ring together for a match, and the winners will become number one contenders for the titles. WWE basically did this last night, except the match was actually for the titles. And guess what? It was really entertaining. There were a lot of good spots, especially near the end when each guy exchanged his finisher. I’m glad Epico and Primo got the win to retain—it makes them look somewhat competent and worthy of holding championships. And them being champs means we still get to see Rosa Mendes on TV every once in a while.
Thumbs Down: Oh Hey, Please Remember That Kane is an Evil Monster Heel I imagine the creative team felt sorry for having Kane lose at Elimination Chamber. As a sign of their appreciation for the guy, they had him return on Raw to bury six mid-to-upper-mid carders so he would be made to look like a monster again. But c’mon, unless Kane is going to become the tag team champions all by his lonesome (which I wouldn’t say is impossible), was there really a need for him to return now, at that particular moment?
Thumbs Up: Johnny Ace Doesn’t Agree with Jean Dujardin Winning Best Actor The most hilarious part of the night was Otunga and Johnny Ace backstage giving their two cents on the Academy Awards. Big Johnny rhetorically asks how a guy who doesn’t say a word wins for Best Actor. Well, Jean Dujardin does actually speak a word in The Artist—in fact, he speaks two! It’s cool, though, because it makes sense that Laurinaitis would comment on a film he hasn’t even seen. I strangely now respect his opinion on movies and how things like the Academy Awards work.
Thumbs Down: All the Rest of that Segment Did the rest of that backstage segment make sense to you? Cole and Lawler tried clarifying later in the night that changes were going to be made to Raw and Smackdown, but they seemed to just make everything more confusing. Then, later again, they reported (I use that word loosely) that the Board of Directors would be making a huge announcement about Raw and Smackdown, and to check WWE.com in the morning (I will have already written this, so please, go searching on your own) to find out what it is. Laurinaitis will be running Smackdown for one week, and Long will be running Raw for one week. I’m right, aren’t I? That's the announcement, is it not? Even through all the confusion, I figured that out pretty easily. Was the only reason they couldn’t simply make that clear to us because they wanted people checking their website to find out? On a side note, somewhat related: Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter.
Thumbs Down: Seriously, Stop Doing This Shit to Mark Henry What’s been going on here is egregious. I’m fairly certain I’ve never used that work in anything I’ve ever written, but it feels damn appropriate here. I think what they’re using an injured Mark Henry for now is to get his opponents over as credible threats. The problem is, when Henry keeps losing in the same quick amount of time that he used to be destroying guys in, we forget that he once was this monster heel who was better than anyone on the roster. What we’re left with is Mark Henry circa 2010. If he keeps getting squashed, then it’ll be worthless having main event guys, or even mid-carders, beat him handedly. If we expect Mark Henry’s opponent to win, it won’t make them look any better when they actually do.
Thumbs Up: The Rock Defends Himself Job well done there. He honestly explained that people shouldn’t have expected him to be back on a weekly basis, but that what he meant was that he wasn’t merely just going to go away for long periods of time like he did in the past. I can dig that.
Thumbs Down: You Didn’t Bring It I consider myself a man of my word (when it’s convenient to be). Last week I wrote that if Rock came out to bash Cena about the same old shit and try to get things trending on Twitter (he was successful at doing so, which I commend him for—no matter what he says, people eat out of the palm of his hand still, including me), I would call him out for it. He followed up a solid couple minutes of his promo to ramble on for a good 15 or so about what we’ve already been hearing for a year—Cena isn’t a man, he has lady parts, nobody likes him, etc. I was more than fine with hearing it around WM 27 time. I actually enjoyed hearing it. But now it’s a year later, you have this huge match in a month and it’s go time. After Cena’s heated, pseudo-realistic promo last week, it was time for the Rock to hit Cena with some hard truth of his own. He could’ve let fiction bleed into reality and given us a work-shoot promo that we know he is capable of. Instead, we got talking points that are meaningless when you consider that it’s a month away from Wrestlemania. Maybe this was the way it was supposed to happen, maybe Rock is in agreement to let Cena dominate this part of the feud. It’s no secret that WWE wants Cena to look strong and have even the least bit of fan support going into WM, so maybe it was planned for him to own Rock last night. For instance, I’m having a difficult time believing Cena’s line calling out the Rock for having notes written on his arm wasn’t planned, but then again, the Rock sure as hell seemed flustered by it. Hey, he’s an actor—he probably just sold it really well. What I know is that Cena came out looking a lot better than Rock did. He will still continued to get booed while Rocky gets cheered. And he will get booed out of Miami when it comes April 1, but for what it's worth, Cena has been strong on the mic the last two weeks. Now there are still four more Raws for Rock to put Cena and all of his detractors in their place, but last night sure wasn’t a good start. For the record, the Rock not at least matching Cena blow for blow on the mic is not good for this feud. I understand wanting to protect Cena and have him coming out of this thing looking like a king, but for the sake of entertainment and bringing this feud to the potential greatness it has, which means selling more people on buying the product, WWE, the Rock and whoever else involved can't be afraid to cut some serious promos on Cena and bring him down a notch or two. It'll make this thing much more entertaining, it will make it feel real and it will put over Cena even more if he comes out of his Wrestlemania match as the winner.
Welcome to this week's edition of The Raw Story. Before we begin, here are a few notes as usual:
• The live crowds have been really good as of late. With the exception of a few shows, the excitement in the audience this year has made the product feel more special. • Question: Where are Brodus Clay, Christian, Alberto Del Rio and Kharma? Just wondering. If you have any idea, feel free to let me know. • This week's column is a little shorter, for reasons that aren't really that important. It's an issue of time, alright?
Enough of this bullet point stuff, it's time to get Raw...