WWE Raw Report
By: Todd Martin
Date: 03/05/12 from Boston, MA.
The Big News: The positive alterations WWE has made to John Cena’s character are starting to pay dividends when it comes to crowd reactions.
Shawn Michaels came out to start the show and was acting kind of heelish. He basically pointed out all the bad things he said about HHH, after which HHH still wouldn’t accept the match with Undertaker. Michaels called HHH to the ring to ask HHH what made HHH accept the match later on. Eventually Michaels just had the footage rolled himself, where Undertaker suggested HHH didn’t want the match because HHH knew he couldn’t get it done since Michaels couldn’t and Michaels was always better than HHH.
An angry Michaels wanted to know why HHH considered it such an insult that Michaels might be better than him. HHH said it wasn’t about that, but rather people were saying Michaels couldn’t get it done against Undertaker and wasn’t good enough. HHH said he thinks Michaels was the greatest in ring performer of all time and it pains him to see people think of Michaels as a loser. Thus HHH needs to end the streak to prove Michaels isn’t a loser. HHH said he will do it for both of them.
Michaels sarcastically thanked HHH. Michaels said last year it hurt him to say he knew Undertaker would win. HHH looked like he had it, but Michaels in the end was right. This year, Michaels said he knows who will win again and he will be right again. He added that’s because he is the special referee. This was a good segment with an intriguing storyline. It’s interesting they introduced Michaels as the guest referee by teasing he will screw HHH, given the natural expectation would be Michaels screwing Undertaker. I assume in the coming weeks Undertaker will bring up the possibility that Michaels and HHH are in cahoots.
Santino beat Jack Swagger to win the US title. The story is Teddy Long was made GM for this show so he made the match. John Laurinaitis came to ringside to complain. Santino went for the cobra but Dolph Ziggler attacked Santino behind the ref’s back and Swagger hit a gut wrench power bomb. Santino kicked out at two, at which point Teddy Long, Aksana and Kofi Kingston came out. Long argued with Laurinaitis.
Santino again gained control and Ziggler again attacked him. Santino gave Ziggler the cobra. Vickie Guerrero got up on the apron but Aksana pulled her down. Santino went for the cobra but Swagger ducked down and applied the ankle lock. Long shoved down Laurinaitis on the outside and Santino rolled up Swagger for the pin. Long had Laurinaitis ejected after the match and the faces all celebrated. This feud between Long and Laurinaitis is so annoying. They’re both irritating with their bickering and to say they distract from the wrestlers is an understatement.
They really should get rid of the US title as it means nothing and just makes titles in general seem less meaningful. Fun US title fact: Jack Swagger lost his previous nine singles bouts on Raw before winning the title from Zack Ryder and hasn’t won a singles match on Raw since.
Rock was shown at Boston Harbor for the first of his history lessons. He talked about the Boston Tea Party and then threw John Cena merchandise into the harbor. Rock was hilarious here making fun of Cena’s crappy merchandise and this was the best of the history lesson vignettes.
Eve Torres beat Alicia Fox. Kelly Kelly was on commentary here and was in exquisite form. She opened by giggling and no selling any anger at Eve. Then she said Eve has been trashing her for years, in direct contradiction to the story they’ve been telling in recent weeks that Eve has changed. Alicia missed a kick and Eve pinned her with a leg sweep basically immediately. After the match, Zack Ryder made his return looking like a goof with a walking stick. He said broskis before hoskis, but then Eve kissed him backstage and Ryder was smitten with her again. What a fool.
They showed John Cena speaking to the camera in an empty arena before the show. Cena put over the importance of his match with Rock. He said Rock is the most successful wrestler in the history of WWE but Cena won’t be happy to just be there at Mania. Cena said he needs to win because nobody remembers second place. He said if he loses to Rock he is just another name but if he wins he wins the big one. He said it will be the biggest event in WWE history and reiterated that nobody will remember second place. He called it an all or nothing opportunity of a lifetime. This came off hokey. It sounds like a good idea in theory but it just didn’t work. The verbiage hurt.
Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan beat CM Punk and Sheamus. The heels worked over Punk early. Sheamus got the tag and hit a powerslam and back breaker on Jericho but Jericho caught him with a springboard dropkick and the heels took back over. Sheamus eventually got the hot tag to Punk. Punk hit a springboard clothesline, swinging neck breaker, high knee, body slam and elbow off the top on Jericho. Bryan broke up the pin and a brawl erupted. Punk went for the GTS on Jericho but Jericho escaped and went for the Walls. Punk reversed with a rollup but Jericho countered with an inside cradle of his own for the pin. This was a good match and the finish was ideal.
Rock was shown standing in front of a statue of Paul Revere. Rock said if it was Cena rather than Revere we’d still be ruled by the British because Cena would get shot for his stupid attire and the people would be sick of him. Rock did a goofy routine about going back in time to beat up Cena. Rock said if Revere was around now, he’d be saying the Rock is coming to kick Cena’s ass.
Big Show beat Miz very quickly with a spear and knockout punch. Before the match, Cody Rhodes highlighted Big Show simply appearing at the WWE restaurant for WrestleMania 18 rather than performing. That actually is pretty embarrassing in hindsight.
Rock was shown at Boston Common. He talked about the overthrow of the British and compared it to the overthrow of Cena by Rock. He concluded that the history lesson was over and now he would make history. He vowed that Cena will fall to the Rock at Mania. They announced Undertaker will appear next week on Raw.
Kane beat R. Truth. Truth missed a kick and Kane hit a choke slam for the pin very quickly Orton came out after the match and gave Kane the RKO. Orton told Kane that it was good to be back.
John Cena came to the ring for the final segment of the show. Cena told people to look behind the Rock’s showmanship and look at his material. Cena said Rock is trying way too hard and is close to a midlife crisis. He added that Rock was shook up after Cena’s entrance last week. Cena said Rock was making a bunch of stupid twitter references and all of a sudden he was stuttering because of this guy Rock is always ridiculing. Cena admitted he looks ridiculous, including wearing knee pads out just to talk. Hopefully this leads to Cena switching up his look or least wearing less tacky t-shirts.
Cena noted Rock was threatening to come out but said that was a bad idea because Rock’s best stuff is pre-recorded or via satellite. Cena wanted Rock to come out so Cena could see if he’s wrestling the guy who spends 20 minutes talking about Chinese takeout or the greatest superstar in WWE history. Cena said he wants Rock, not Dwayne Johnson.
Rock came out and said that he sees fear in Cena that Rock will take everything away from him. Rock starred down Cena while Cena grinned at the crowd. There were some light Cena chants. Rock said he has never been more confident than about getting Cena. At that point there were Tooth Fairy chants. Rock said when you strip away the catchphrases and gimmicks, he is 6’4”, 265 and will rip out Cena’s throat. Cena grinned. Rock said Cena is a little boy who will go down as Rock’s bitch and left.
Cena scribbled on his wrist as Rock left. Cena said Rock has other options but if Cena loses he will lose everything. Cena said he is not afraid and if Rock thinks that Rock has lost his damn mind. Cena said at Mania he will make history by whipping Rock’s ass. He then dove into the crowd, celebrated with friends and family, and drank some beer. This was a strong segment with Cena getting the best of the Rock in the verbal duel.
This show was a heck of a lot like last week’s show. It was a good show carried by the beginning and the end. The middle again wasn’t much, although the middle of this show was a little better than the middle of last week’s show.
It’s gratifying to see that fans are reacting a little more positively to Cena after they made much needed changes to his character. I hope WWE doesn’t forget this after Mania and bring back the material that made Cena so unlikeable. The goofy jokes have been minimized, it seems like he is taking a match seriously, and he’s self-aware of the criticisms people have of him. Cena, who has frequently struggled with authenticity, is now flipping that and effectively going after Rock’s authenticity. The Rock-Cena feud that for a year was a slaughter is now actually turning into a competition.