WWE Raw Report
By: Todd Martin
Date: 04/02/12 from Miami, FL.
The Big News: A really hot crowd and really big return made WWE feel like a hot thing for the first time in a long time.
John Laurinaitis and David Otunga started the show standing in front of the entire locker room. Laurinaitis said he is in control now and won’t abuse his power. He announced Santino vs. Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler for the US title. CM Punk spoke up and said they all think Laurinaitis is a tool. The faces laughed and the heels frowned. Laurinaitis then announced Punk vs. Mark Henry for the WWE title. He said this would be a new era of people power. The heels applauded and faces frowned.
Rock came out to a huge reaction, which he milked for a while. The crowd throughout the show was unbelievably hot for just about everything, one of the best Raw crowds ever. Rock thanked John Cena and put him over for a historic match. The crowd was at first negative but then basically accepted it without booing loudly. Rock thanked fans for traveling to the event and talking about going from being cut from the CFL to where he is now. Rock said this wouldn’t be the end and in fact guaranteed it would be just the beginning. There were loud yes chants. Rock said he had a vision to be WWE champion again. Rock was absolutely tremendous here.
Santino beat Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. Swagger and Ziggler double teamed Santino for much of the match. Oddly, they went to a commercial break in the middle of this match just three minutes after the last commercial break. Santino made a brief comeback with a head butt on Swagger and went for the cobra but Ziggler cut him off with a neck breaker. Swagger and Ziggler did a double team leg drop, but they got into an argument when Ziggler went for the cover. Swagger gave Ziggler a belly to belly throw. Swagger then went for the Vader bomb but Santino got up his knees. Santino gave Swagger the cobra for the pin.
After the match, Ziggler and Swagger went after Santino. Santino pointed to the sky as a distraction and then speed walked away, at which point the heels pursued. At the top of the stage, Brodus Clay came out to protect Santino. Ziggler ran at him and took an awesome bump for Clay’s head butt. There were Funkosaurus chants and Santino danced with Clay. This was fun.
Lord Tensai beat Alex Riley. They acknowledged Tensai as a former WWE wrestler who had been in Japan. He had tattoos across his face. Tensai hit a spinning back elbow, head butts, butterfly suplex and senton bomb. The referee stopped the bout after Tensai’s old baldo bomb. Tensai applied the claw after the match.
Mark Henry beat CM Punk via count out. Henry worked over Punk, talking trash and yelling at him. The crowd got into chanting yes when something went right for Punk and no when something went wrong. Punk kept trying to make comebacks but Henry would cut him off. Punk eventually gained control with chops, a high kick and a top rope elbow. Punk hit two high knees and went for the bulldog, but Henry threw him over the top rope at that point and Punk was counted out.
This was a good match even with the finish and Henry looked like a monster again. They also gave it enough time that the finish felt like a legitimate conclusion to the conflict as opposed to a screwjob. Henry then gave Punk the world’s strongest slam on the floor. John Laurinaitis came out and said there were dark clouds in the horizon for Punk. Chris Jericho next came out through the crowd and said that he and Punk should have a drink to celebrate their great match at WrestleMania. Jericho poured what looked to be a bottle of Jack all over Punk and then hit him with a gimmicked second bottle over the head.
Sheamus came out to a ton of boos and was immediately interrupted by Ricardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez of course introduced Alberto Del Rio, who was greeted with si chants. That segued into loud Daniel Bryan chants that practically drowned out Del Rio. Del Rio said that as quick as Sheamus won the title, he will lose it. That received more si chants. Sheamus replied that people don’t want to see him talk but want to see him kick people in the face.
Del Rio said he was not looking for a fight because Laurinaitis already granted him a match against Sheamus on Smackdown. Loud chants of Daniel Bryan returned. Del Rio kept talking when the microphone cut out. As Del Rio went for a second microphone, Sheamus gave him the Brogue kick. Backstage, Bryan refused comment on WrestleMania.
Kofi Kingston beat Cody Rhodes. Rhodes hit the disaster kick. Big Show then came out and had a video of Rhodes’ embarrassing WrestleMania moment getting knocked out by Show. Of course the idiot Rhodes turned his back on his opponent to stare at the screen, allowing Kingston to hit trouble in paradise for the pin. I hate these stupid finishes.
Mark Henry spoke with Abraham Washington backstage. Henry was mad about not winning the title. Washington said it’s time for a change and Henry needs representation. Washington gave Henry his card. I’m all for more managers/agents.
Eve Torres came out and said her WrestleMania moment was manipulating Zack Ryder. She said it was easy. No shit. Eve said it’s easy for her to manipulate anyone except John Laurinaitis, who can’t be manipulated. If she helped Laurinaitis, so be it she said.
Miz beat Zack Ryder. Ryder was angry and attacked Miz at the start. Miz took over with punches. Ryder hit a face buster and kick to the head for two. Ryder went for a neck breaker but Miz escaped and posted Ryder. Miz then hit the skull crushing finale for the win. I’m glad they had Miz go over because after the way they’ve booked Ryder there is no point burying anyone else by having him beat them.
John Cena came out for the final segment of the show. They played up the sympathy card for Cena all night long and said he would call out Rock. Cena came out to boos. Cena said he never thought of losing but we all lose in life. Cena said he talked a lot heading into Mania but won’t backtrack because he meant those things. Cena said he never thought he would lose for one second because if you think like that you have already lost. There were loud “you’re a loser” chants.
Cena said people are wondering if this would be the day he finally lashed out at the audience. There were loud yes chants. Cena said that won’t happen and was booed. It was more evident than ever here how much Cena would gain from sticking up for himself against the critics. The crowd badly wanted him to just show his real human reaction to being disrespected. Cena needs less Jesus and more Truman.
Cena apologized to the people who support him if he let them down. He vowed to wipe the slate clean and try to be the best he can. Cena said he wasn’t there to call out Rock, because they settled their issue. There were then loud “we want Lesnar” chants. Cena held out the microphone to basically encourage it, tipping WWE’s hand a little. Cena said he just wanted to have Rock come to the ring so he could show respect and congratulate Rock on being the greatest WWE superstar ever.
Cena acknowledged coming up short again. That led to more yes chants and Cena started yessing along. He said Bryan owes him one and cracked up. That was a perfect illustration of why improvisation works well in wrestling as Cena came across more real and thus more likeable than in delivering a scripted speech full of clichés. Cena again reiterated he wanted to congratulate Rock.
At that point, Brock Lesnar’s music hit. The crowd went absolutely nuts. Grown people were jumping up and down and acting like giddy children. There were holy shit chants. Lesnar offered his hand to Cena but then gave him the F5. For good measure, he kicked Cena’s tacky green hat. This was an awesome segment and it was great to see the physical menace of Lesnar which is a completely different attitude than most of the rest of the show.
This show was tremendous fun and a very promising start to WWE’s post WrestleMania period.