WWE Raw Report XANDER'S WWE RAW REPORT 4/18: Alt. perspective review of Monday's Raw in restructuring mode, plus overall show Reax
Apr 19, 2011 - 11:03:14 AM
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WWE Raw Alt. Perspective report
April 18, 2011
Taped in London, England
Aired on USA Network
Report by Xander Assaad, PWTorch contributor
-- WWE Open.
-- Raw Open. The video has changed to include Dolph Ziggler and The Rock.
-- A full-on pyro display opened the show. The Raw stage was set up with an English theme.
-- R-Truth’s music hit and he danced on stage with a renewed sense of energy. I guess that’s what a main event push will do for you. At the announce table, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler tried to introduce the show. Michael Cole interrupted and kept yelling that they were live (when they weren't).
In the ring, Truth waited out a loud chorus of cheers. He yelled for London to make some noise, then did his usual spiel. He asked the audience for a little bit of time, then said that he was going to “preach the gospel.” Truth explained that he was incredibly happy right now. He said that he had been down a road of trials and tribulations and demons. He said that that all led him to a chance to become the WWE Champion. Truth promised to walk out of Extreme Rules as the WWE Champion. He then went into saying that, as WWE Champion, he was going to fight everyone. He was going to be a fighting champion. He finished the promo with, “And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!”
John Morrison’s music hit. He came out and hugged Truth and congratulated him on winning the Gauntlet match. Morrison said that he was happy for Truth, but that Truth needed to realize he got lucky. He explained all of the different things that led to Truth winning the match. Truth continued to celebrate and he danced and gyrated a little bit. Morrison said that he wanted to show him some footage. A video aired from last week. Truth was drinking a bottle of water as he waited for Cena to enter the ring. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler laughed about it and said that the action may be a first in WWE.
Morrison laughed about the sight and said that if Truth were in the best shape of his life right there, he would hate to see him at his worst. Truth asked the audience if he looked in good shape. Morrison said that he looked in great shape for being an athlete who smokes. Truth said that it was true -- he was trying to quit smoking. He also said that he knew what Morrison was trying to do: he was trying to goad him into a match with the #1 Contendership on the line. Morrison acted as if that wasn’t his plan. He plugged the WWE Draft next week, then said that that was a brilliant idea. After the Draft, the WWE Universe might never get a chance to see Truth and Morrison battle again. Truth tried to back out of the suggestion. He said that he wasn’t ready to fight; he wanted to celebrate. After a little more goading from Morrison, Truth finally gave in. He told the audience that if they wanted to see a match, he needed two things: a bottle of water and a cigarette. Morrison said that he forgot the most important thing: luck. Morrison called for a referee and one quickly entered the ring.
1 -- R-TRUTH vs. JOHN MORRISON -- If Morrison wins, he takes R-Truth’s place at Extreme Rules
Both men locked up and Truth took Morrison down for an early pinfall attempt. He went for another pinfall attempt, then rolled out of the ring and looked for a bottle of water.
[Q2] Back from commercial, Morrison hip-tossed Truth across the ring. The men locked up again. Truth gave Morrison a hip-toss. Truth went for a number of roll-up attempts. He used a side-headlock takedown, then locked in a rest hold. Morrison started to mount a comeback. Truth quickly stopped his momentum with a spinning heal-kick. At the announce table, Cole continued to take jabs at J.R.
Back in the ring, Morrison tried to suplex Truth. Truth reversed the suplex into a neck breaker. Truth went for a springboard off the middle rope. Morrison sidestepped Truth, then went up top and hit the Starship Pain. That was good enough for the win.
WINNER: John Morrison to become #1 Contender in 7:00.
Post-match, Morrison tried to shake Truth’s hand. Truth refused. Morrison stepped away and tried to celebrate his victory. Suddenly, Truth attacked Morrison from behind. He huffed and puffed into a camera and acted as if he was in the middle of a major dilemma. As Morrison rose to his knees, Truth charged at him and knocked him out of the ring with a knee to the skull. Outside of the ring, Morrison tried to pull himself up against the ringside barrier. Truth smashed his skull into the barrier with another running knee. He grabbed Morrison by the face and tried to act remorseful. He cradled Morrison and said that he was sorry, but that Morrison brought this on himself. Truth tried to help him to his feet, then threw Morrison back to the floor. He grabbed the bottle of water, took another sip, and smashed Morrison in the head with the plastic bottle.
Truth backed away and continued to try and figure out what he was doing. He picked Morrison up again and reiterated that Morrison was the one at fault. In a greatly psychotic display, he acted as if having to hurt Morrison was destroying him. As the audience booed, Truth told them that he was going to have a smoke. Someone in the audience handed him a pack of cigarettes. Truth lit up right then and there. He walked back over to Morrison. The audience started chanting, “That’s illegal!” Truth knelt down over Morrison’s body and blew smoke in his face. He flicked the lit cigarette at Morrison, then finally left the ringside area.
REAX: Interesting developments here. I thought R-Truth was exceptionally strong in his opening promo. Morrison’s interruption and subsequent attacks on Truth’s character were out of place, which killed the momentum of the segment. The match was plodding and sloppy, but it almost seemed to be by design, especially with the post-match storyline. Truth’s heel turn, though, was pitch perfect. I know there are those people who will decry the fact that he smoked on television. There are people who may even think it was a racial stereotype being played out. I disagree -- WWE found a way to take one of his vices and used it to craft a whole persona. If WWE really has the courage to go further with this character, Truth could quickly become a very compelling heel.
-- A Draft promo aired.
-- Back live, the announcers narrated R-Truth’s actions moments ago. At the announce table, J.R. and Lawler tried to figure out what led to Truth’s drastic change.
-- In the ring, Evan Bourne was already out for a match. Vickie Guerrero came out on stage and introduced the “new and improved” Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler game out sporting dyed black hair and a short-cropped cut. He looked eerily like a cross between Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase. Ziggler and Vickie entered the ring. Vickie taunted Bourne, then the referee escorted her out of the ring.
2 -- EVAN BOURNE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Ziggler started off aggressively and displayed a bit of mat-wrestling. Bourne quickly took him down with a huracanrana. He tried to hit a springboard, but Ziggler nailed him with a dropkick to the chest. Ziggler tried to remain on the offensive, but Bourne continued to one-up him. Finally, Bourne nailed Ziggler with a running knee. He went up top and tried to hit the Air-Bourne. Ziggler rolled out of the way. Bourne landed on his feet, but Ziggler charged at him from behind and nailed the Zig-Zag for the win.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler in 2:30.
Post-match, Ziggler and Vickie quickly left the ringside area. It seems as if WWE is trying to emphasize a new and overly serious Ziggler. His intensity was spot on. The new look definitely cut away some of that inherent “innocence” that so many people thought was holding Ziggler back.
-- Still to come: Michael Cole will be knighted. Okay...
-- WWE Rewind: A replay of Sin Cara’s debut over the last two weeks aired.
-- Back live, Lawler said that Sin Cara would face Alex Riley next. J.R. segued into talking about Edge’s retirement last week.
-- A career retrospective for Edge aired. The music was provided by 3 Doors Down and included narration from Edge’s retirement speech.
-- J.R. and Lawler continued to discuss the retirement. They brought up that Alberto Del Rio would be throwing Edge a retirement party on Smackdown. The Miz’s music hit. He led Alex Riley out. Both men were wearing baseball t-shirts with the words “Awesome” written across the chest.
In the ring, Miz took the microphone and waited out the audience’s boos. Miz said that he had been preparing for his Triple Threat match at Extreme Rules. He was angry at the fact that R-Truth made an irrational decision by putting his #1 Contendership on the line. Now, Miz would have to face both Cena and Morrison -- a man he was unprepared to face -- in a steel cage match. Miz explained all of the different ways that a cage match stipulation could lead to him being screwed out of the WWE Championship. Miz said that he was refusing to exit the ring until the Raw General Manager corrected this situation. Riley grabbed a steel chair. Miz sat in the center of the ring and waited for the G.M.’s response.
-- Back from commercial, Miz was in the middle of a promo talking about some conspiracy. He said that at Extreme Rules, he would retain the WWE Championship. He tried to finish with his catchphrase, but Sin Cara’s music cut him off. Miz and Riley exited the ring. Sin Cara did his entrance routine. Suddenly, John Cena’s music hit and he charged into the ring to even out Sin Cara’s odds. The Raw G.M. chimed in and Cole read the email from his Cole Mine. The G.M. decided that the bout was now changed to a tag-team match.
3 -- SIN CARA & JOHN CENA vs. THE MIZ & ALEX RILEY
Cena and Riley started things off. Cena lit into him with right hands, then dropped Riley with a running bulldog. Riley rolled out of the ring and Miz tried to help him regroup.
[Q5 -- Top of the Second Hour]
-- Back from commercial, Cena shoved Miz to the mat. He hoisted Miz up for an Attitude Adjustment. Miz slipped out and dropped Cena with a leaping Rock-Bottom type of move. Miz and Riley isolated Cena in their corner. Riley tagged in and continued his team’s offensive. Miz tagged back in and nailed Cena with a boot to the face. The audience began dueling chants of “Let’s Go Cena!” and “Cena Sucks!” Miz hit his running lariat, then tagged Riley back in.
Cena finally caught a modicum of offense and took Riley down with his variation of a Death Valley Driver. Cena tagged Sin Cara in. Cara used his high-flying offense to decimate both Riley and Miz. As he stood on the ring apron and tried to hit another high-risk move, Riley grabbed his feet and threw him down to the ringside area. Riley attacked Sin Cara on the outside. Miz joined in on the attack, then rolled him back into the ring.
Miz and Riley isolated Sin Cara. The men took turns attacking Sin Cara. Miz went for his running lariat, but Sin Cara rolled out of the way. He tagged Cena in. Miz tagged Riley back in. Cena hit all of his signature offense, then nailed Alex Riley with the Attitude Adjustment. Miz thought about interfering, but instead, he simply left the ringside area. Cena tagged in Sin Cara, who hit a springboard moonsault (which he almost overshot). That was good for the win.
WINNERS: John Cena and Sin Cara in 10:00. The match was more of the same from Cena, Miz, and Riley. Unfortunately, Sin Cara (as good as he was) didn’t do much to change the dynamic. He did receive a good rub from Cena, though, so we’ll see how that helps his push in coming weeks.
-- Still to come: Michael Cole’s coronation. Also, Randy Orton faces C.M. Punk in a WrestleMania rematch. Isn’t that the point of the Extreme Rules PPV?
-- An Awesome Kong vignette aired. She ripped apart a Bratz doll.
-- Back from commercial, Eve Torres made her way out for a match. The Bella Twins then came out. Brie Bella took a microphone and said that she was looking forward to their eventual re-match. She said that the Draft might prevent it from ever happening.
4 -- NIKKI BELLA (w/Brie) vs. EVE TORRES
Nikki and Eve started things off quickly. They exchanged punches and kicks, then Eve hung Nikki up on the top turnbuckle. She tried to hit a baseball slide, but Nikki lifted herself out of the way. Nikki kicked away at Eve’s back, then locked in a rest hold. After Eve broke out of the hold, she dropped Nikki with a fierce knee to the face. She rolled her opponent up and secured the quick pinfall.
WINNER: Eve Torres in 2:00. More filler from the Divas’s Division.
Post-match, Michael Cole took a microphone and told the Divas to get out of the ring. He said that the big Royal Wedding was in just a few weeks, but first, he was going to be knighted.
-- WWE Slam of the Week: Highlights from Lawler’s match against Jack Swagger from last week. They focused on Cole costing Swagger the match, then showed Cole taking the 619 to protect Swagger on Smackdown.
-- Back live, Cole stood in the center of a carpeted ring. A rustic, “royal” desk sat next to him. Cole introduced Jack Swagger, who came out in a dress suit and carrying something that looked like a Papal robe. Cole and Swagger hugged. Swagger then put the robe of Cole’s shoulders. Cole walked over to the desk and unrolled a sheet of parchment paper. Swagger read the message on the scroll. He started with, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” He said that from this point forward, Cole would no longer be known as Mr. WrestleMania. He would now be Sir Michael Cole. Swagger then introduced “Queen Elizabeth.” A pretty good fake made her way to the ring.
Cole knelt in front of the “Queen.” The Queen took the microphone and read a prepared statement. She asked Cole if he promised to defend the nobility of the knighthood of the United Kingdom. Cole said that he did. Swagger handed the “Queen” a saber. She took it and knighted Cole. Suddenly, Cole jumped up and excitedly kissed her on the lips. Cole grabbed the microphone and asked the audience to give him a round of applause. He tried it ignite a “Sir Michael Cole” chant, but every time he said it, the crowd finished the statement with, “Sucks!” Cole told everyone they had to respect him because they were all his peasants.
Cole turned his attention to J.R. and Lawler and said that they should show him some respect. He wanted them to kiss his feet. Lawler said that he was going to get in the ring, and Ross agreed. Swagger immediately attacked Lawler and tossed him back out of the ring. Cole taunted J.R. , who took off his jacket. As he charged at Cole, Swagger grabbed him from behind. Cole told J.R. to kiss his feet.
[Q7] J.R. told Cole to go to hell. Swagger threw J.R. down and put him in the Anklelock. He shoved J.R.’s face into Cole’s feet.
REAX: Eh. The entire thing just fell flat. It was another attempt at “WWE style humor,” but there was nothing even remotely funny. The degrading of Jim Ross continued, though, so I’m sure the Vince McMahon considered that the most important part of the segment. Also, it seems as if Lawler has become an afterthought in the feud. The last two weeks have focused more on J.R. and Cole with Lawler relegated to the same status as Jack Swagger.
-- Back live, Santino Marella’s music hit. He came out by himself and jogged towards the ringside area. At the announce table, Josh Matthews had replaced Lawler and J.R. Cole had his feet propped up. His toes were yellow and bleeding, and he said that he had Athlete’s Foot.
-- Sheamus made his way out. He told Santino that last time they were in England, Santino embarrassed him with his “tea party.” This was his chance at retribution.
5 -- United States Champion SHEAMUS vs. SANTINO MARELLA -- Non-Title Match
Sheamus took control early. He took Santino down with a knee to the gut. Santino did the splits, but Sheamus didn’t fall for it. He kicked him in the pack of the head, then continued to tear Santino apart. He locked in a rest hold and Santino acted as if he was about to pass out. Sheamus then dropped multiple elbows across Santino’s chest. He locked in another sleeper-hold and Santino started to pass out again. Santino came back to life and tried power out of the hold. He escaped, but Sheamus simply took him down with a running clothesline.
Sheamus whipped Santino into the corner. He charged, but Santino ducked out of the way. Santino wound up for the Cobra, but lost his footing and stumbled across the ring. Sheamus responded with the Brogue Kick, and that was it.
WINNER: Sheamus. The rebuilding effort behind Sheamus continues. The match was effective for that purpose.
-- Josh Matthews narrated highlights of R-Truth’s attack on John Morrison.
-- Backstage, a split-screen showed Randy Orton and C.M. Punk making their way to the ring.
-- Back live, C.M. Punk’s music hit. The Straight Edge Superstar made his way out. The announcers stated that the members of the New Nexus had been banned from ringside. A replay of Nexus’s attack on Orton from last week aired. How is it that Husky Harris is still on the shelf after receiving The Punt, but the other members of Nexus are perfectly fine?
Randy Orton’s music hit. He came out and glared into the ring. He rubbed his chin as he sauntered to the ring. C.M. Punk got on his knees and waited for Orton. He was great as he simply rocked his head back and forth and smiled slightly. It just occurred to me. I said earlier that this match should be happening at Extreme Rules. I’d bet money that the reason behind this is because Orton is getting drafted to Smackdown next week.
6 -- C.M. PUNK vs. RANDY ORTON -- WrestleMania Rematch
Orton stalked Punk to start things off. Both men locked up and Orton backed Punk into the corner. Punk shoved Orton. Orton retaliated with a right hand. He followed that up with several haymakers, then proceeded to stomp away at Punk’s midsection. Punk struck Orton in the chest, then lit into him with several knees to the face. The crowd engaged in a dueling “Randy Orton/C.M. Punk!” chant. Orton dropped Punk with a snap body slam. He tried to hit the RKO, but Punk shoved him out of the way.
-- Back live, C.M. Punk was firmly in control. Punk locked in a neck-vice. Orton tried to power out, but Punk dragged him back down to the mat. He released the hold and dropped a knee across Orton’s shoulder. He hit a suplex, then locked in a sleeper hold. Orton once again tried to escape and nailed Punk with right hands to the gut. He broke free, but Punk quickly took him back to the canvas.
Orton rolled out of the ring to try and gain some separation. Punk got on the ring apron and launched himself at Orton with a flying clothesline. He asked the referee if he could pin him outside of the ring, then chuckled. Punk rolled Orton back into the ring. He went for another suplex, but Orton rolled him up for a nearfall. Orton couldn’t gain any offense, though, and Punk wrapped his legs around Orton’s neck for a submission hold. Suddenly, Orton bit Punk’s fingers and forced him to let go of the hold. Orton mounted Punk and punched away at him. With both men on their feet, Orton tried to whip Punk into the corner. Punk reversed, then followed that with a running, lifted knee to the face.
Orton got to his feet and tried to hit an Angle Slam. Punk reversed into a bulldog. Orton got up and hit a back-breaker. He followed that up with the Angle Slam and received a near fall for his efforts. Punk then snapped Orton’s neck across the top rope. He propelled himself off the top rope and hit a springboard clothesline. He made another pin attempt, but Orton kicked out at two. Punk sold frustration and hoisted himself up to the top rope. Orton got to his feet and punched away at Punk’s face. He joined Punk on the top rope, then nailed a superplex. He went for a pin, but Punk kicked out.
Punk rolled out to the ring apron. Orton caught him and tried to hit his DDT. Punk wiggled out of it, slid back into the ring, and tried to hit the G2S. Orton escaped and went for the RKO, but Punk slipped out. He kicked Orton in the face, then went for another pin attempt. Orton kicked out and Punk became even more frustrated. Punk tried for another kick to the face. Orton ducked the kick and rolled Punk up for a surprise pinfall.
WINNER: Randy Orton in 16:00. The crowd was quiet early on, which hurt an otherwise solid match between the two. I thought the contest was a step above their confrontation at WrestleMania, and they really played up the “cerebral” aspect of both characters. The finishing sequence was especially well-done.
Post-match, the New Nexus charged the ring and attacked Orton. A winded Punk called the action from his knees. Otunga and MMCG tossed Orton over to Ryan. Ryan took him down with a variation of a sidewalk slam. The other members of Nexus tried to attack Orton, but Ryan shoved them out of the way. He wanted Orton for himself. Ryan backed up to the corner and wanted to go for the Punt. Suddenly, Punk got in his face and told a rabid Ryan that Orton was his. Ryan shrugged him off and became even more irate. Punk screamed at him and told him to get out of the ring. Ryan freaked out but let Punk take his place. Punk then set-up for the Punt, and his expression was amazingly cartoonish. He looked like Roger Rabbit on a bender. Punk charged at Orton. Orton leapt to his feet and caught Punk with the RKO, then rolled out of the ring as Punk threw a fit in the ring to close out the show.
SHOW REAX: This was an interesting episode of Raw. It was obvious that, in light of Edge’s retirement, WWE went into restructuring mode. They used the opening segment to try to create renewed interest in both R-Truth and John Morrison. That experiment worked, mostly in regards to Truth. Morrison is now in the main event of Extreme Rules, though. Dolph Ziggler was also another example of the restructuring, and I think the change in his look and character completely revitalized his character. On the opposite side, it does seem like WWE had the rubber match between Randy Orton and C.M. Punk. If that’s the case, then I would expect Orton to end up on Smackdown next week.
In spite of the attempts at elevating new stars, the show once again treaded water. Even though there were six matches, most of the contests fell flat. The Miz-Cena storyline is on repeat from the early stages of WrestleMania season, and the only other storyline that got any major focus was the Cole-Lawler feud. And with that one, it seems as if WWE is reaching for any kind of cheap heat they can muster. Ultimately, the episode was intriguing and newsworthy, but I didn't think it was a very enjoyable experience.
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