The Raw Story: The Road to Wrestlemania Drags On


Thumbs Down: This Isn’t Working For Me
I didn’t take a firm position either way on the direction this feud went last week. I waited until this week to judge. And yeah, I’m just not feeling it. Punk was great on the mic like he always is, but there’s something about the characters he plays in general that makes it just seem somewhat off for him to be rallying the fans and teaching us positive life lessons like he was Monday night. For wrestling standards, he sold his emotions well, and of course Jericho is a master at playing the heel, but this straight edge versus alcoholism thing just doesn’t fit. It went from being a little bit random and strange, but intriguing in a “let’s see where this goes” way last week, to now borderline comedic this week with Jericho trolling Punk by apologizing then bringing up his sister’s drug problems. Comedic is not an adjective I think WWE is looking for out of this feud.
You have two guys who are immensely talented at what they do. I like the concept that they’re working with, it’s just that the execution of it is pretty bad. This is coming off as forced, unnecessary and petty. Bottom line is that it’s not working for me, despite how much I love CM Punk and how great I think Y2J is.



Thumbs Up: At Least They Kept the Kane vs. Big Show Match Short
Because seriously, nobody should want to see this match. The concept of it is horrendous, so seeing it being advertised as coming up next made me want to run the other way. I sat through it, and thankfully it lasted maybe two minutes. No disrespect to either of these wrestlers — they both can work a good match from time to time, but with younger, more athletic talent. Putting them together in a single’s match screams boredom, because it produces a slow moving, awkward looking contest. Once it was over in such a quick fashion, I found some semblance of appreciation that the writing team had enough recognition to keep this thing short.


Thumbs Down: Cody Rhodes as a Boxer
My first problem is that this, just like the match before it, was awkward to watch on TV. Maybe it was fine live, I don’t know. It was awkward television seeing a guy with clown-sized boxing gloves pummel a friendly giant (a giant who he has just caused to lose his match, and then handcuffed to the ring ropes) while said giant helplessly sits there taking the punches.
Another thing I hate in general — but Big Show did it here, so I’ll use him as an example — is when a superstar sells a move, or moves, when they happen outside the ring or after a match as if they hurt more than when they are done during a match. Rhodes was punching Big Show with boxing gloves on. Don’t you get punched with bare fists during matches? That’s at least what you’re supposed to be pretending is happening, so why can you walk away unscathed then, but now that it happened following a match with boxing gloves on, you’re hobbled by it? A move should be a move, that’s it. This isn’t Cena giving an attitude adjustment through a table, it’s a guy punching you like he presumably is doing during a match. So sell it the same way.
Lastly (because seriously, this is now three paragraphs I’ve spent on a feud involving Big Show), I’m beginning to question whether Cody will beat Show at Wrestlemania. It would be a huge mistake for him not to go over cleanly against Show, considering the latter is way past his prime and the company seemingly has a lot invested in Rhodes. But the more he gets the best of Big Show on a weekly basis, the more it makes me think it’s just because Show will destroy him and leave WM as the new Intercontinental Champion. That would be a bad move. Big Show isn’t the future, Cody Rhodes is — and Rhodes beating Show would help Cody a lot more than Show beating Rhodes would help Big Show.



Thumbs Both Ways: The Not so Cryptic Lord Tensai

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The good news is that I love vignettes. They get people talking and build some kind of excitement.
The deal with this Lord Tensai dude is that he’s probably A-Train, also known as Prince Albert, a former WWE wrestler from back in the early 2000s. He was just a mid-carder, and eventually he made way for New Japan Pro Wrestling where he has been a bigger star. Late last week, it was said that he would be returning to WWE sometime in the near future. A-Train (real name Matt Bloom) denied these rumors on Twitter, which of course is what he should do if he plans on keeping his return a secret. Well, the vignette shown on Monday night sure seemed like it was him. It was his body type, his bald head, he’s been in Japan for years so returning with this character name makes sense. Which is why I have a thumbs kind of down here, because if it turns out to be him, it’ll be the worst kept secret in wrestling since… well, I guess since Jericho returned in January. That’s the problem with having Internet and dirtsheets and technology and living in 2012. Oh well, deal with it.
Thumbs up though because I look forward to his presumable return. The roster could of course use a boost, and his size and experience will make him a main player almost immediately.


Thumbs Up: Daniel Bryan is Doing This Heel Thing the Right Way
Now here’s a video of him yelling “Yes!” for a really long time.


Thumbs Down: Zack Ryder Should Either Still be Hospitalized, or Feuding with Kane
While I like seeing the World Heavyweight Champion and boyfriend of AJ getting solid victories over guys he should be beating, this match made no sense for a lot of reasons. Really, how is Zack Ryder wrestling all of a sudden? You do remember that he had a broken back that was then downgraded to some other injury that still probably should have kept him out for longer than now, right? And even so, if he was somehow able to miraculously return to the ring, why can’t the commentators make mention of anything that has happened to this guy in the last three or so months? What the hell is going on here? Continuing on my game of 21 questions, why is he returning from being buried into the ground, only to lose a match to a guy who he has no feud with? It should be Kane he should be facing, damn it. If not Kane, then someone other than Daniel Bryan or any heel who needs to have a victory. If you’re bringing Ryder back, let him win a few. And if he isn’t going to face off against Kane, who is currently occupied in his horrendous feud with Randy Orton, then maybe just keep the guy backstage with Eve or talking about how he needs to get his revenge against Kane. Something other than what happened on Raw.



Thumbs Down: Physical Contact With Mark Henry Still Does Not Count
I laughed pretty hard when the Rock came down to the ring and swiftly delivered a rock bottom to Mark Henry, because, what the hell, just make the guy look more pathetic than he already does! People have wanted some seriousness from Rock and Cena; more importantly, people have wanted some kind of physicality between the two. I can understand and respect that WWE doesn’t want to injure either guy before their big match at Wrestlemania, but … um, if you’re going to put Cena in a match with a 400-pound individual and have him hoist that man up on his shoulders, I think it’d be safe to allow him to do the same to a 275-pound man, or at least have him eat a rock bottom from said 275-pound guy. The Rock came out looking like he wanted to destroy somebody, and he did… but Mark Henry doesn’t count. Beating up Mark Henry, or whoever it is, doesn’t matter, so long as that person isn’t John Cena. That road goes both ways. We don’t care to see these two trade finishers, unless it’s against one another. So I guess I’ll see you next week when Rock and Cena tear Michael Cole limb to limb, yay!


Thumbs Up: Miz is on TV
At the very least, he’s still on Raw each week losing matches. At the very most, he’s still on Raw each week losing matches. I’ve learned to accept it, because history shows that this is WWE’s ass backwards way of pushing a guy. First, he gets dropped several pegs down and is made out to look like a clown. While this is happening, no mention of his losing streak is made. Then, one week the commentators begin talking about how bad of a streak he’s on and how irrelevant he’s become. Once that’s been established, that guy all of a sudden begins winning again. I dearly hope that Miz does not play a role in the Rock/Cena match, because holy hell that would be awful, but certainly I’m all for him doing something during Wrestlemania, and getting a push following it.


Thumbs Down: Sheamus is Still Feuding with Nobody
I somehow still feel the need to beg WWE to stick Sheamus in a feud with someone, then I realize that he already is. He is going after the WHC Daniel Bryan, yet it doesn’t feel like it. Maybe it’s because the feud is grounded on nothing except for Sheamus having won the Rumble and he chose a title match for the WHC because it’s on Smackdown and that’s more convenient anyways since Punk, a face, is feuding with Jericho. That’s really all there is to it, and we still haven’t seen that much interaction between the two guys. The title already feels pretty unimportant as it is, and a Wresltemania match with it on the line doesn’t seem like it’ll help.


Thumbs Up: “Excuse Me” is Now Music to My Ears
Hearing Vickie Guerrero belt out “excuse me” into the microphone Monday night made me incredibly happy. It’s not that I like hearing her scream at people, but I knew that her presence meant that Dolph Ziggler would be coming out for a match, which means that we were about to see a fairly enjoyable match. We went far too long in the show for there to be a fast-paced, exciting tag team match, so the contest of Ziggler and Swagger against Kofi and Truth was really refreshing. The outcome of it wasn’t all that important, it was just crucial that we got something in that segment to entertain us and keep us going for the show’s finale.


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Thumbs Down: Because That Finale I Just Mentioned Happened to be Really Boring
I’m sure you will come across this thought more than once throughout the week, but really I think the time it took for each man to enter the ring exceeded the time they spent talking. Aside from teasing that this match could end up being streak vs. career — a stipulation that isn’t very surprising at all but I guess kind of makes the outcome of the match more unpredictable — the segment added nothing to the feud, the show or the PPV. It seems as though it’s purpose was more or less to allow Cole and Lawler to keep reminding us throughout the night that all three men — HBK, Triple H and Taker — would be in the ring at once! I suppose in a way, that’s what was delivered to us. Not much else, though.
Are you excited for Mania this year? I honestly am not. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that. Let me put it this way. I’m excited for certain things. I look forward to seeing CM Punk square off against Jericho because they are both great in-ring workers; I’m excited to see if the Rock and Cena, Triple H and Undertaker can pull off great matches; I’m intrigued to see if Sheamus and D-Bry have any chemistry in the ring and I’m generally excited for Wrestlemania just because it’s Wresltemania. See the trend there? Everything I’m excited for is from my own pre-existing perceptions and expectations. Nothing I listed can be attributed to WWE doing its job in building this thing to be something special. Right now what they’re banking on is that the aura of Wrestlemania and the big names surrounding it will get people to buy the event and be happy about it. Everything else seems to be just going through the motions. This is supposed to be the biggest event in wrestling, and the best time of year for a wrestling fan. It doesn’t feel that way to me. Come Sunday, April 1, I’m sure I will be really excited with anticipation. But that’s more because I’m a fan of wrestling and less because I’m a fan of how all of these different matches are being put together.

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Welcome to this week's edition of The Raw Story. A few quick notes before we get underway here:

• My apologies in advance if this week's column seems a bit lackluster. I'm only trying to match the tone of this week's episode of Raw.
• I'm currently undecided on whether I should write a column with my thoughts on Wrestlemania. I guess I still have a couple weeks to decide, so I will reevaluate this next week and see where I'm at.
• It's been a while since I've given a shameless plug, so I'll just say feel free to leave a comment below! Discussion is a good thing.

Now, let's get Raw...

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