By: Todd Martin
Date: 05/02/11 from Miami, FL.
The Big News: Rock celebrated his 39th birthday on Raw.
The show started with a WWE 9/11 package and Lilian Garcia sang the national anthem. Rock came out and referenced Bin Laden’s death and said the pledge of allegiance. He told some jokes about his life and said he was ready to party. A GM e-mail popped up. Rock insulted Michael Cole and told him to come deliver the message in the ring. Cole called himself a winner and unveiled a Kevin Garnett jersey for cheap heat.
Michael Cole came into the ring and said the GM wanted an apology for what Rock did to the GM at WrestleMania. Cole said he wanted an apology, too. Rock apologized and offered to shake hands with Cole. Of course it was a set up. Rock said “go Heat” and then gave Cole the rock bottom and people’s elbow. Jim Ross commentated the rest of the show, which was nice. Miami rapper Pitbull and the Heat cheerleaders then came out to perform. This opening went nearly half an hour. Nothing of importance happened; it was just meant to be a fun time.
They had celebrities wishing Rock a happy birthday throughout the show. It really showed Rock’s cache relative to WWE given they were collectively a completely different level of celebrity than WWE can usually get on their own. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Kimmel, Paul Walker, Samuel L. Jackson, Steve Carell, Ellen DeGeneres, Ludacris, Dan Marino, George Lopez, Regis and Kelly, Craig Ferguson and one other wished Rock a happy birthday.
John Morrison was making his entrance for a match when he was jumped from behind by R. Truth. Truth beat up Morrison and gave him his leaping downward spiral on the floor. Morrison sold his neck big and was being helped to the back when Truth gave him another leaping downward spiral on the stage. This angle came off well.
Maryse and Kelly Kelly’s match ended as a no contest. Kelly gave Maryse a terrible looking bulldog, the only move of the match. At that point, Kharma’s music hit and she came to the ring very, very slowly. Kelly just sat in the ring scared, as they teased Kharma would destroy her. However, Kharma gave Maryse the implant buster and left Kelly alone.
The crowd reacted well to Kharma and she has great music and presentation. I wouldn’t have her take quite this long to come out, though. There’s of course a positive to building anticipation for her destroying the other women, but there comes a point when you’re moving so slowly that people who haven’t seen you before are going to assume you’re unathletic and immobile.
Backstage, Miz was angry that Alex Riley wasn’t at ringside for his match at Extreme Rules. Miz said his personal services contract takes precedence over the draft. Miz told Riley to be at ringside for his match. Rock did a backstage comedy bit with Vladimir Kozlov, Santino Marella, Hornswoggle and Great Khali. Ron Simmons observed the scene and made a brief exclamation.
John Cena beat Miz via DQ to retain the WWE title. Alex Riley got on the apron early. Cena knocked him off, but that gave Miz his chance to take over and get the heat on Cena. Cena came back with shoulderblocks, the Cena slam and the five knuckle. He went for the FU but Cena got out. Miz hit a neck breaker and went for the skull crushing finale but Cena reversed out and in the process knocked down the referee.
Cena applied the STF and Miz tapped, but there was no referee. Riley ran in with the briefcase. Cena caught him and went for the FU but Miz hit Cena in the gut with the briefcase. Miz then hit the skull crushing finale but Cena kicked out at two. Cena hit the FU but Miz kicked out at two. Riley distracted the referee and Miz hit Cena with the belt. He covered and got the three count.
Miz started celebrating with the belt. However, since the referee wasn’t sure where Miz got the belt from, he just went ahead and disqualified the Miz. This was a very good match marred by a horrendous finish. At some point, WWE has to figure out that you can’t effectively sell pay-per-views with an unending string of bullshit TV finishes.
Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston beat Jack Swagger and Drew McIntyre. The heels worked over Kingston. Jim Ross compared McIntyre to a high draft pick that you keep waiting to see in the Pro Bowl. I guess that’s nicer than comparing him to Joey Harrington or JaMarcus Russell.
Rey got the tag and came in with a spinning head scissors on McIntyre. Kingston threw Swagger out and gave McIntyre trouble in paradise. Rey followed with the 619 and top rope splash on McIntyre for the win. Alberto Del Rio, who was doing commentary, hit the ring after the match but was knocked out of the ring by Rey. It’s weird to see them go back to Rey/Del Rio after they already did an extended program.
Backstage, Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero said they know Rock likes pie. So they had a cake with Mae Young in a bathing suit behind it, and laughed about it. Rock said Vickie will never be as beautiful as Mae. Rock gave Mae a long kiss on the lips. John Cena then came in. He said that now he has the title and he will keep it until WrestleMania. Cena vowed to keep it through WrestleMania and told Rock he will have to go through Cena to get it. Rock told Cena to bring it.
Kane beat Mason Ryan via DQ. This was an awful match with an awful finish. They did one of the worst lock up/one guy gets shoved down spots you’ll ever see. Ryan used a body slam. Punk then just ran in for the DQ.
After the match, the other Nexus guys ran in. Kane fought them off and went for the choke slam but Ryan pulled off Kane’s hand and gave Kane the side effect. They played that up big. Big Show went to make the save and fought off all the Nexus guys until Ryan laid him out too with a spear. Vince is still in 1980s mode where a big, jacked up guy who doesn’t have wrestling ability, speaking ability or charisma gets the push over much more talented performers.
Rock came out for the final segment. They gave everyone in the audience party hats. Rock said next year’s Mania will be the biggest of all time. Vince McMahon came out and wished Rock a happy birthday. He thanked Rock for his contributions to WWE and congratulated him on his successes in general. He thanked Rock for coming home. Both Rock and Vince seemed emotional about this and it was a nice moment. They then aired a cool video package looking back at Rock’s career with the same Coming Home song by Diddy that Mark Hominick used Saturday night. Mya sang happy birthday to Rock and balloons and confetti came down.
This was a different show. The wrestling was downplayed even more than usual and the finishes were terrible pretty much across the board. WWE was also in full self-glorification mode. With that said, it wasn’t really intended to be a wrestling show in the first place. They basically just let Rock do some promos, put him over, and kept things light. And if you just look at the show in that light, it was fine.