KELLER'S TAKE KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 1/23: Final Raw hype for Royal Rumble, big Laurinaitis news, big injury angle with Ryder, Jericho speaks
Jan 23, 2012 - 11:08:04 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
KELLER'S WWE RAW
JANUARY 23, 2012
LIVE ON USA NETWORK
-C.M. Punk saying it's hard to referee with two broken arms reminds me of what a few angry wrestlers have said to me over the last 25 years regarding typing with broken fingers, but anyway… Good promo from Punk. There is a trend that WWE might want to pull back on, though, which is babyfaces downplaying heels as non-threats who just get ahead through cheating and favoritism. While that's part of being a heel, there should be an ounce of respect paid toward how tough they are. Punk comes from the school of tearing down everyone around him, and he's especially skilled at it, but in the long run he'll draw more money showing a little tinge of concern or fear that the heel he's against isn't a complete inept loser getting by exclusively by cheating. It fits Dolph Ziggler's character to take the approach Punk did, but it wouldn't hurt anything to make him seem a level above total incompetence.
-Quotebook - Punk to John Cena who came out after Punk called out John Laurinaitis: "Umm. I get it. I can see how you've been confused. I'm out here talking about a company man named John, but I didn't want John the Boy Scout, I wanted John Nobody Cares About Me Laurinaitis."
-John Laurinaitis was fantastic as he talked about how sometimes people have an off week and aren't themselves and do things they regret. Just as you were about to think he was going to weasel out an apology for hitting Mick Foley, he said with a broad smile, "But last week was not one of those weeks." Good build up and even better delivery. He's good as the heel authority figure you want to see get beat up. I'm still against heel authority figures as I think there are more drawbacks than benefits, but Laurinaitis is good - even better than Mr. McMahon was in recent years.
-Punk's reaction to Vickie Guerrero walking out was hilarious. Great body language and facial reactions. I think, though, Jack Swagger stole the scene with his zombie-like intensely blank stare piercingly aimed at John Cena. It was good to see last week's happenings addressed with everyone reacting as you'd naturally expect them to. Too often big angles are blown off or not followed up on with the degree necessary the week later because the writers have moved on to other hotshot angles, but Swagger promising to get Cena back for his attack was spot on the right thing for him to be preoccupied with this week.
-When they were about to cut to an early break in the opening tag match that Laurinaitis booked, they cut to Laurinaitis at ringside and he was staring at his phone typing into it. Cole said, without a hint of sarcasm, that Laurinaitis was intently watching the action. Good for Jerry Lawler for calling Cole out on that, exclaiming that Laurinaitis was Tweeting or texting. Lawler also called out Cole earlier for praising Laurinaitis for his actions last week. Raw needs a strong babyface voice defending common sense and pointing out the obvious, and Lawler had been too timid in that regard in recent months.
-Laurinaitis was hilarious when he jumped onto the ring apron to protest Punk shoving the referee, when all Punk did was gently put his hand on the ref's torso to indicate he wanted to get past him so he could climb to the top rope. It's well laid out because it give Laurinaitis that plausible "just cause" to cling to even though everyone sees it as an opportunistic chance to knock Punk off the tracks as he was going for a win.
-When Laurinaitis agreed to face Punk, the only missing line was Laurinaitis saying, "I keep myself in impeccable condition at all times to better serve the WWF Universe, so the answer is yes" or something along those lines.
-Was the fan who held up the sign that said "Y2J! Y2J! Y2 Say Something!" satisfied when Jericho said, "Hold on, hold on one second" as he ran backstage. I laughed out loud when Jericho returned to the ring with a t-shirt gun. That is freaking' hilarious, especially because everyone started popping for him again over a 1-in-5,000 chance at a shirt. When Jericho was asking the crowd to "shhhhh" I might have punched someone next to me if they were among those still yelling and screaming. Seriously. He might talk if you shut up and you're still yelling.
-It was good timing to have Jericho speak, and have his brief statement add intrigue to what he has planned at the Royal Rumble and what he means by the world will never be the same. Good star-building video, too, showing what big moments Jericho has had in WWE.
-Zach Ryder does make a good sympathetic scrappy underdog being abused by the EVP (as Punk called Laurinaitis) to get at Cena. WWE is essentially giving Kane the effective dominant bully heel push they gave Henry in the second half of 2011. If they pick one person every six months or year for this type of push and be this effective, I'll take that over catering to the Internet, plugs for Twitter, references to TV ratings, and everyone walking around saying it's their job to please the fans rather than saying their job is to win matches and titles.
-Nobody does the soft voice solemn mood thing better than Lawler. I really liked Eve turning and blaming Cena for what happened to Ryder after he was loaded into the ambulance. I wonder if the next time we see Ryder he's turned heel because "things just weren't working for him" as a babyface, and because Eve gets in his ear and persuades him to turn to the dark side.
-Things were going well for something that can get melodramatic quickly until Cena turned to the camera began that shaking and snorting thing. It was over the top and corny and just broke the mood. They were right where they needed to be and then they had to add that extra dose of syrup.
-Using Ryder, an "Internet creation," as the sympathetic figure getting beat up by Kane is a good way to at least try to get the "too smart for the room" Internet fans who sometimes want to cheer heels or sit on their hands to actually boo a heel. The goal of every wrestling promotion should be to give willing fans something to believe in for the time that they're invested in watching the product. Kane gives fans a heel act to believe in because he plays it straight, without a wink and nod to insiders or dog whistle references catering to the "smart fans."
-Josh Mathews is having a very bad hair night.
-Disney now allows beards. I'm just throwing that in there. It seemed newsworthy.
-What was with the fan in the crowd with a huge picture of a baby on a stick? I hope it was a picture.
-Quotebook - William Regal on Brodus Clay: "400 pounds of septic tripe jiggling around is absolutely disgraceful." I also loved how he said, as a clip played of his dancing on Smackdown last week, "How could anyone say I didn't win that dance competition?" Regal is gold and it's nice to see him back in front of a larger audience.
-WWE Fact: More people watched Smackdown last week than either NBA game on ESPN. That's sad only because the Timberwolves-Clippers game was awesome. It also has to make Kevin Love sad that more people watched Vickie Guerrero's dance last week than saw him hit that three-pointer to win the game (at least live, since ESPN replayed it a gazillion times).
-I look forward to Brodus Clay each week.
-Quotebook - Regal on Brodus: "Watching him gyrate like that and jiggle about is like watching a walrus give birth."
-Nothing can make chanting "Cena sucks!" less cool than WWE turning it into a marketing opportunity by putting it on t-shirts. Anyone who buys a "Cena sucks!" t-shirt loses a certain authenticity about hating Cena since Cena gets a cut of those sales. It's clever if WWE's goal is to cut back on the chants.
-When Lawler said he couldn't think of any worse news to deliver than Ryder had a "broken back," it really made him and WWE look bad considering how engrained in so many of our memories the news of Owen Hart's death is. Lawler sat in that very position next to Jim Ross when much worse news was delivered. Yes, one was real life and one is an angle - and the uneasy feeling when they essentially reenact that familiar scene to sell these shorelines still exists - but it just comes across as bad taste. He even reenforced it a minute later by saying he couldn't think of anything worse. In that time, someone should have said in his headset to sell it a little softer than that.
-The borderline "bait and switch" of plugging the Laurinaitis vs. Punk match and then not delivering was softened by making it such a newsworthy segment otherwise - with Laurinaitis's job being on the line next week - and because Punk delivered the GTS to Laurinaitis after battling back against David Otunga's sneak attack. When they said Triple H can fire Laurinaitis next week, how many Punk fans or Laurinaitis haters were thinking, "Triple H had the power all along to fire him and hasn't yet? What has he been waiting for, anyway?" I was waiting for Punk to say, "Who still sends faxes, anyway?"
-Laurinaitis phony apology was delivered pitch perfect. Once backed into a corner, he had all of the excuses ready. I loved the line that he only threatened to be biased against Punk because he hurt his feelings last week by making fun of him.
- No sign of Mick Foley was a little bit of a surprise, but the news that he will be entered in the Royal Rumble after all was probably enough. Why risk overexposing him if he didn't really have a role on the show otherwise?
-Good, fun show, ending with a ray of hope that Punk will get a fair shot, after all, against Ziggler, or at least if not then maybe Laurinaitis will end up fired. Pretty smart booking because fans have a new reason to order the Rumble because it seems likely Punk will win the WWE Title or Laurinaitis will act in a way that leads to his being fired the next day.
Wade Keller launched Pro Wrestling Torch as a print newsletter in 1987. The newsletter is still published every week. It's distributed to thousands of wrestling fans internationally via postal mail and digital PDF's online at the VIP website. He has interviewed some of pro wrestling's biggest power brokers over the years in their longest insider interviews ever done, including Steve Austin, The Rock, Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Eric Bischoff, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Goldberg, Paul Heyman, Jim Cornette, Mick Foley, Vince Russo, Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Jerry Lawler, and many many others. He writes every week for the PWTorch Newsletter and also blogs on PWTorch.com. He is also the supervising editor of MMATorch, records the Keller Hotline every day for VIP members reviewing and analyzing the news of the day, and hosts the PWTorch Livecast twice a week. Contact Keller: email@example.com.
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