By: Todd Martin
Date: 04/04/11 from Atlanta, GA.
The Big News: WrestleMania XXVIII’s main event is already set a year out, The Rock vs. John Cena. Undertaker vs. HHH was very strongly teased as well. Melina vs. Alicia Fox may be third from the top.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were commentating Raw to start the show. The show is of course much more entertaining to watch with them announcing, but I sensed trouble. Indeed, this didn’t last long.
Triple H came out for a promo. He said that he has never been a nervous or rattled person but at WrestleMania when Undertaker made his entrance he almost hyperventilated. HHH noted he has wrestled Undertaker before and wrestled Undertaker at Mania before but never like that. HHH said the streak has become everything to Undertaker and Undertaker is willing to do anything to keep it going. HHH gave Undertaker everything he had but Undertaker kept getting up.
HHH said that they both left everything they had in the ring and for HHH that wasn’t good enough. HHH observed that people have different iconic names for Undertaker but what he saw getting carried out on a stretcher after the match was a man. HHH said a lot of people think given the way he was carted off that may be the last of Undertaker. HHH said he isn’t buying that but in case it is, thanks dead man. HHH then posited that Undertaker will be back and noted that he will be waiting.
This was an excellent promo. I really like that they’re shifting the Undertaker streak story from this unstoppable phenom to a man desperately trying to hold on to his pride and legacy with every last breath he has. It’s a much more interesting, real and emotional story.
Michael Cole came out in his wrestling outfit from WrestleMania. He gloated that despite overwhelming odds he emerged victorious over Jerry Lawler. Cole claimed to have stolen the show and said that he will now be known as Mr. WrestleMania. Lawler retorted that Cole didn’t beat anyone and that a computer beat him. Lawler noted he made Cole tap out and Cole was crying like a little girl. Lawler said that the record book may say Cole was the winner but he will always go down as a worthless jackass.
Cole told Lawler to get over it, because Cole beat him. Cole proposed a rematch on Raw. Lawler accepted and got into the ring but of course Cole wasn’t talking about a WrestleMania rematch but rather a rematch against Jack Swagger from last week on Raw.
Jerry Lawler beat Jack Swagger via disqualification. Swagger hit a body slam but missed a leg drop. He hit a clothesline but missed the Vader bomb. Lawler used some punches and a dropkick. He went up for a second rope fist drop but Cole got up on the apron. Lawler got down from the ropes and chased after Cole. He caught Cole and was punching him but Swagger applied the ankle lock from behind and Lawler submitted. I usually hate distraction finishes but the Cole-Lawler issue has been so well developed that Lawler going after Cole rather than trying to win the match felt like a completely understandable reaction.
After the match, Swagger refused to break the hold. The referee ended up reversing his decision because of this. Michael Cole then went and found some BBQ sauce in the Cole Mine. He squirted the BBQ sauce all over Jim Ross. Ross followed Cole to the back and that was the end of Ross. Vince McMahon never misses an opportunity to embarrass Ross. Josh Mathews, Booker T and Michael Cole announced the rest of the show.
Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio beat CM Punk and Cody Rhodes. The heels worked over Rey and then worked over Orton. Rey got the tag and went for the 619 but was caught with a knee to the head. For some reason, Booker repeatedly talked about this being a kick to the sternum. The heels again took over on Rey. Orton finally got the tag and gave Rhodes a power slam, draping DDT and Angle slam. Rey gave Rhodes the 619 and Orton hit the RKO for the pin. Punk ran off at the finish. The announcers didn’t really make mention of it, so I’m not sure what they were going for there.
Steve Austin and Triple H spoke briefly backstage. Austin said that he doesn’t know if “it” will happen again but if it does, he will be there. That would seem to tease the possibility of Austin refereeing the rematch and of course Shawn Michaels is also a possibility for that position. Austin and HHH shook hands.
Steve Austin came to the ring and plugged Tough Enough. He brought out the Tough Enough competitors. He had each of them introduce themselves as the crowd jeered them. None of them came off very well. Some fans in the front row began chanting “stun them all,” which seemed to amuse Austin.
Miz then came out. Michael Cole went crazy. He stood on the table cheering and then quipped, “I wonder if he saw me?” That was funny. Miz said that when he was on Tough Enough people told him to go back to the Real World but people will never say that again after WrestleMania. Miz claimed to suffer a concussion at Mania (and his head bounced off the floor badly), but went on to retain the title. He walked around the ring and told the competitors this was the closest they would get to the WWE title.
Miz asked Austin if Austin thinks he has one more fun in him. The crowd chanted “one more match.” Miz suggested they do it right then. Austin told the Tough Enough kids to clear the ring. Alex Riley jumped Austin from behind and Miz left. Riley went after Austin for a while until Austin made his comeback with a Thesz press, punches, elbow drop and stunner. Austin looks as good as ever so it’s always tantalizing when he does a few spots and you wish he wrestled regularly.
Austin celebrated with a bunch of beers and threw beers to the Tough Enough kids. The crowd booed and heckled the ones who didn’t catch the beers. They all drank beer together. Austin then threw beer on Cole. It’s not really anyone’s fault, but something about this segment with the crowd rejecting the Tough Enough kids and nobody making a positive impression felt like a real negative in trying to sell that show. Sticking the premier at the tail end of a four hour block of wrestling is kind of risky too.
Alberto Del Rio beat Evan Bourne. Del Rio was bleeding from the mouth early in the match. Bourne was caught with a big boot charging into Del Rio. Del Rio threw Bourne into the barricade on the outside. Bourne came back with kicks and a knee to the head. However, when he went up to the top for the shooting star press, Del Rio gave him an enzuigiri. Del Rio then locked in the armbar for the submission.
John Morrison and Trish Stratus beat Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero. Prior to the match, Guerrero scapegoated Lay Cool for the WrestleMania loss. Ziggler said Snooki was the most talented member of Morrison’s team. Trish and Vickie did some comedy spots. Morrison missed a springboard kick on Ziggler. Ziggler tossed Morrison over his head with a German suplex where Morrison did a full flip. Trish then slapped Ziggler and Morrison hit starship pain for the win.
Sheamus beat Daniel Bryan to retain the US title. This was basically a squash after fans complained about Bryan’s match not making the pay-per-view telecast Sunday. Sheamus worked over Bryan throughout. Bryan hit a few kicks and went for the LeBell lock but Sheamus quickly countered with a back breaker and Brogue kick for the pin.
After the match, Sin Cara made his debut. They dimmed the lights and had a cool video and music. Cara ran out and botched a dive over the ropes into the ring. Luckily it was just close enough that the fans didn’t turn on him. He then nailed all his other spots perfectly including a spectacular looking springboard crossbody off the top rope to the floor on Sheamus.
The final segment of the show started with a smiling and laughing Cena coming out. Yes, this guy gets screwed out of the world title in the main event of the biggest show of the year and even then he still isn’t angry about it 24 hours later. What is this guy thinking? Is it that hard to grasp the sort of message this sends about the importance of matches? Derek Anderson was caught laughing very briefly on the sideline of a random, uncompetitive regular season NFL game between two terrible teams and he was excoriated for months over it and will likely spend the rest of his career trying to live it down. Cena gets ripped off in the biggest match of the year and he’s as jolly as ever. Why does he even wrestle if the title is so unimportant to him?
Cena was loudly booed. He told some jokes. He said he wouldn’t complain because if Rock didn’t do what he did Mania would have ended in a draw. He told that one like a joke, too. He congratulated Miz for retaining his title. Cena said it’s obvious he hasn’t earned the Rock’s respect and Rock doesn’t like him that much. Cena said he has business to settle with Rock right now.
Rock came out. The crowd chanted “Rocky.” They then chanted “Fruity Pebbles.” Cena laughed at this. Good to know he’s cool with fans thinking he’s a joke. Rock asked Cena what he expected screwing with the Rock. Rock then said he respects Cena. The crowd loudly booed. Rock said he knows Cena loves WWE and has become one of WWE’s biggest stars. The crowd again loudly booed. Rock did add that he doesn’t like Cena. Rock said they are similar in that they want to do the best they can. Cena told Rock to listen to the people. Cena said they want a match between Cena and Rock. Cena took off his shirt and challenged Rock. Rock proposed they do it at WrestleMania XXVIII. He offered his hand and Cena shook it.
At that point, the Corrrrrrrre ran out to randomly attack Rock and Cena. That was of course the setup for Rock and Cena to clean house. Cena did the five knuckle and rock did the people’s elbow. Cena did the FU and Rock did the Rock bottom. Finally, they shook hands again. Clearly, they want to try to undo the damage they have done to Cena’s character while building interest in a Rock-Cena match.
This was a fun show. With so much talent it would be hard for it not to be. Announcing Rock vs. Cena a year out is a really interesting gamble. On the plus side, by the time that match comes it is going to feel like a huge deal. But on the flip side, it’s going to be really difficult to get fans interested in anything Cena does until then. Cena is in a tough position because his character has come across like such an uncool, annoying tool in his feud with Rock and it will be tricky to turn around that perception while fans are still waiting to see Rock kick his ass.