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WWE Raw Report
XANDER'S WWE RAW REPORT 4/25: Alt. perspective review of Draft episode, segment & overall show Reax

Apr 26, 2011 - 10:02:16 AM

WWE Raw Alt. Perspective report
April 25, 2011
Live from Raleigh, North Carolina
Aired on USA Network
Report by Xander Assaad, PWTorch contributor


-- WWE Open.


The show opened cold with a Raw vs. Smackdown Battle Royal. A number of Raw Superstars ganged up on Kane and threw him over the top rope for the first elimination. In the far left corner of the ring, The Big Show and The Great Khali engaged in a battle of big men. A number of Smackdown Superstars came to Big Show’s aid and helped him toss Khali out of the ring. Sheamus and Wade Barrett locked up for a moment and tried to eliminate each other. Drew McIntyre tried to toss Daniel Bryan out, but Bryan broke free and slid back under the bottom rope.

On the outside, Vladimir Kozlov had been eliminated. Back in the ring, Mark Henry eliminated Ezekiel Jackson. He and Evan Bourne then huddled in the corner and tried to regroup. Brodus Clay and Cody Rhodes attempted to toss Sheamus over the top, but he held onto the ring apron until several Raw Superstars came to his aid. The next out was Chris Masters, followed by Wade Barrett. Ted DiBiase quickly joined them. Mark Henry and Brodus Clay then eliminated each other. Back in the ring, Big Show hurled Yoshi Tatsu over the top and to the floor. McIntyre attempted to hit the Future Shock DDT on Sheamus, but Sheamus powered out. McIntyre tried again, but Sheamus back-body dropped out of the move. Finally, McIntyre caught Sheamus with a running knee and knocked him off the ring apron and to the floor.

[Commercial Break]

Back from commercial, their eight men left in the ring -- four Smackdown Superstars, four Raw Superstars. Evan Bourne eliminated McIntyre. Kofi Kingston leapt off the top rope and tried to hit an axe handle on Mason Ryan. Ryan didn’t notice and Kingston came up several inches short. On the ring apron, Santino Marella wanted to hit the Cobra on Big Show. Big Show knocked him off the apron with a punch. The final four were Big Show and Kofi Kingston for Smackdown, and Mason Ryan and Evan Bourne for Raw. Ryan and Big Show locked horns. Bourne and Kingston tried repeatedly to eliminate each other. Kingston was on the ring apron and Bourne hit a sunset flip over the top and tried to eliminate him. Bourne’s feet dangled over the floor. Kingston held him off and slid back into the ring. Bourne pulled himself back in, as well.

Finally, Big Show hoisted Bourne high into the air threw him towards the announce table. Kingston and Show double-teamed Ryan and quickly threw him out of the ring.

WINNER: Team Smackdown in 13:00 (estimated) to secure the first Draft pick.

The Draft graphic appeared on the screen. Smackdown’s first Draft Pick was… John Cena?! They cut to reaction shots of the Raw and Smackdown locker rooms. At the announce table, Michael Cole was irate. He screamed for someone to fix the Draft computer, then continued to scream. Cena popped onto the entrance stage and the crowd went crazy. He put on a Smackdown shirt and celebrated as the show faded to commercial.

REAX: That’s one way to fix Smackdown’s dwindling talent pool. We’ll see if the selection lasts until the end of the night, as WWE has pulled a similar bait and switch once before. The Battle Royal was perfectly fine and a nice deviation from the way Raw usually opens. Overall, a good segment to set up the rest of the Draft episode.

[Commercial Break]


-- Back from commercial, Tony Chimel interviewed Cena backstage. Cena said that the Syfy network was celebrating like it was 1999, then proceeded to through out a number of science fiction references. He segued into taking a dig at The Rock, then said that he was going to bring the WWE Championship “back to the ‘Smack.” The Miz interrupted and sold excitement over not having to deal with John Cena anymore.

-- At the announce table, Josh Matthews and Jerry Lawler discussed the Draft. Michael Cole interrupted and officially announced that he would face Jim Ross later in the night. Matthews and Lawler turned their attention to R-Truth and his heel turn last week. Highlights of Truth’s attack on Morrison aired.

-- R-Truth made his way out to the ring sans music. He yelled, “Raleigh, North Carolina… shut up!” Truth said that the audience shouldn’t be booing him, they should all be booing themselves. As he tried to talk, the crowd yelled, “What?!” Truth said, “Ya’ll gonna stop with that or what.” It was a pretty good ad-lib. Truth tried to explain what happened between him and Morrison last week, but the crowd kept interrupting. He told the audience that they were “pissing him the hell off.” Finally, Truth said that he wouldn’t let the crowd get to him. He blamed the audience for his accepting Morrison’s challenge last week. He was angry at the fact that he had spent his entire career trying to give the audience what they wanted, and it had pissed him off. Truth said that he had spent years dancing and rapping for the audience and that it hadn’t done anything for his career. He ripped on the fact that nobody had any rhythm. Truth then proceeded to interview and imaginary child named “Jimmy.” Truth asked the child if he enjoyed chanting “What’s up?!” and dancing to his music. He asked if that put any titles around his waist, then told “Jimmy” to shut up. Truth declared that he was done pandering to the audience, then said, “Peace out, deuces!” The audience continued to boo, so Truth decided to continue his promo. He yelled at someone in the audience and told the person to sit down. He said that for the first time in his career, the truth had set him free.


Suddenly, John Morrison attacked Truth from behind and knocked him down the entrance ramp. Referees quickly ran out and tried to pull Morrison off of Truth. Morrison broke free and dove on Truth, then punched away at his head. The pull-apart continued with Morrison repeatedly breaking free. Truth finally rolled down to the ringside area and escaped the onslaught.

REAX: Week Two of R-Truth’s push was even better than the first. I don’t know where his mic skills suddenly popped out of, but Truth was absolutely brilliant. His breaking out of his promo to attack the crowd was gold, and I was more excited listening to him talk than I have been for any WWE Superstar in months. He came across as delusional and angry. At the same time, he was extremely entertaining, which should be the goal any time a Superstar takes a microphone. This may be sacrilegious to say, but something about his promo and delivery reminded me of The Rock when he was initially transitioning into a heal persona.

[Commercial Break]

-- Back from commercial, Eve Torres was already in the ring for a match. Layla came out for the Smackdown side. Michelle McCool did not accompany her, then made her own entrance a moment later. A replay of McCool’s attack on Layla last week aired.

2 -- EVE TORRES vs. LAYLA -- Raw vs. Smackdown match for a Draft pick

Layla immediately took to the offensive. Eve caught her with a Facebuster. Suddenly, Michael Cole interrupted the match. As Cole spoke, Eve rolled up Layla from behind and scored a surprise pinfall.

WINNER: Eve Torres in about a minute.

Post-match, Michael Cole announced that he had to leave the announce booth to prepare for his match against Jim Ross. At ringside, Layla attacked McCool and smashed her into the ringside barrier. She bounced her head off the guardrail, then smashed McCool into the ring apron. Layla started to cry, then hurled McCool into the announce table. She continued to sob as she realized what she had done.

The Draft graphic aired. And going to Monday Night Raw is… Rey Mysterio. Mysterio stepped out onto the stage and celebrated for the audience. Backstage, the Raw Superstars celebrated their good luck. That’s the second interesting move of this Draft.

-- Backstage, Jim Ross was warming up for his match. He did some jumping jacks and stretches.

REAX: Well, the Divas match was an afterthought… to just about everything else. The Divas didn’t even get a female draft pick. I still don’t agree with WWE burying the division with Cole’s interruptions. At the same time, I really don’t have any desire to watch Eve or Layla in single’s competition. The bigger story was Rey Mysterio transferring to Raw. Given that Mysterio has been such a staple of Smackdown’s roster, especially when it comes to his Hispanic fan base, I’m curious as to what precipitated the move. It should help create some fresh feuds on the Raw side, though, and that is a good thing.

[Commercial Break]


-- Back from commercial, Cody Rhodes was standing backstage for an interview. He promised to give Rey Mysterio a going away present at Extreme Rules. Rhodes removed his hood and said that the present would be a new mask -- the kind someone wears after suffering a severe facial injury. His intensity and delivery was great as he talked about Mysterio having to “huracanrana a nurse” at the hospital. He finished the promo with, “Boo-yaka, boo-yaka, bye, bye, bye.”

-- Kofi Kingston made his way out for a match. Sheamus came out for the Raw side.

3 -- KOFI KINGSTON vs. U.S. champion SHEAMUS -- Raw vs. Smackdown match for a Draft pick -- non-title match

Sheamus lit into Kingston at the start. He squashed Kingston with repeated knees to the face and back. Sheamus then stepped onto the ring apron and propelled himself into Kingston with a flying shoulder block. Sheamus locked Kingston into a neck vice. Kingston broke free, then dodged a shoulder block. He leapt off the top rope and nailed Sheamus with a cross-body block. Sheamus then floored Kingston with an axe-handle clothesline. Kofi nailed with Sheamus with two Trouble in Paradises, and that was good for the win.

WINNER: Kofi Kingston in 2:30 to give Smackdown a Draft pick.

-- The Draft graphic aired. The newest Smackdown Superstar was… Randy Orton?! Backstage, the Raw locker room sold dismay.

-- Orton stepped out onto the entrance stage. Someone threw him a Smackdown shirt, but he dropped it. He picked up the shirt and held it up for the audience to see.

-- Up next, Jim Ross faces Sir Michael Cole.

REAX: It’s become apparent that WWE is using this Draft to really build up some new talent. Cody Rhodes was fantastic in his short promo. I didn’t like his gimmick at first, but he really has grown into the role. It’s creepy, but in a realistic sort of way. I’m surprised that Kofi Kingston beat Sheamus cleanly and relatively fast, especially after WWE has spent the last three months rebuilding the Celtic Warrior. I’m sure the loss will be forgotten by next week.

[Commercial Break]

[Q5 -- Top of the Second Hour]

-- Back from commercial, Jack Swagger’s music hit. He and Michael Cole made their way out. Cole was dressed in wrestling gear. At the announce table, Booker T. joined Lawler and Mathews. On the entrance ramp, Cole and Swagger did a round of push-ups. A replay of Cole’s “coronation” aired. J.R. came out next. Jerry Lawler left the announce table to stand in J.R.’s corner.

4 -- SIR MICHAEL COLE (w/Jack Swagger) vs. JIM ROSS (w/Jerry Lawler)

To start the match, Cole and Swagger taunted J.R. by trudging around the ring like Godzilla. J.R. shrugged it off. Cole pointed at Ross and smacked his belly. He stepped over to Swagger and got some last-minute advice. Cole bounced around the ring like Shane McMahon and kept dodging right hands from J.R. He left the ring and grabbed J.R.’s hat from the timekeeper, then resumed his taunting.

Back in the ring, Cole held out the cowboy hat, dropped it on the ground, and stepped on it. He then went back over to Swagger, who dabbed sweat off of his face with a towel. Cole then started doing one-armed push-ups. Finally, J.R. got a hold of Cole and shoved him down to the canvas. Cole asked for a timeout and Swagger putt a stool into the ring. Cole sat down and took a breather.

Finally, Cole charged at J.R. and tried to bodyslam him. J.R. shifted his weight and fell on top of Cole, then mounted him and unloaded with right hands. At ringside, Swagger attacked Lawler and smashed him into the ringside barrier. J.R. continued to punch away at Cole, then Swagger slid inside and attacked him. The referee threw out the match.

WINNER: Jim Ross via DQ in 4:00.

Post-match, Swagger locked J.R. in the Anklelock. Cole stood up. His lip was busted wide open. Swagger ripped off J.R.’s belt and handed it to Cole. Cole screamed at J.R. Swagger locked in the Ankle Lock, and Cole whipped J.R. across the back. Lawler finally re-entered the ring and threw Swagger over the top rope. Cole tried to slip away, but Lawler grabbed him by the feet and whipped Cole repeatedly.

Suddenly, the G.M. buzzed in. He/she had decided that the match at Extreme Rules would be a “Tag Team, Country Whipping Match.”

-- Backstage, Scott Stanford attempted to interview The Miz. Miz said was angry that, once again, none of the attention was focused on him. It was focused on the Draft, on R-Truth, on The Rock’s birthday next week. Miz vowed that next week, everyone would be celebrating The Miz successfully defending the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules. Miz said that everyone should pray that he doesn’t end up drafted to Smackdown. If that were to happen, Miz promised that Raw would be cancelled within a month.

REAX: The entire segment revealed a couple of glaring flaws in WWE’s programming methods. The first was dedicating a nearly ten minute section of Raw to a non-match between Jim Ross and Michael Cole. If Cole's pathetic attempts at stalling and skirting around the fact that neither man is a wrestler are any indication, then the match at Extreme Rules is going to be horrible. The other flaw that was revealed was WWE’s lack of any focus on the main event of Extreme Rules. Morrison hasn’t even talked about the fact that he is now involved in the match. There have been no storyline developments to further the “feuds” or to give the audience a reason to be invested.

[Commercial Break]


-- Back from commercial, Randy Orton was already in the ring. Dolph Ziggler, who I didn’t notice at first, was also in the ring.

5 -- RANDY ORTON vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER -- Raw vs. Smackdown match for a Draft pick

Orton started things off with a bodyslam and high-knee on Ziggler. Ziggler then caught Orton with a neck-breaker and went for a pinfall attempt. Ziggler then settled into an offensive and locked Orton in a rest-hold. Orton quickly broke away. He knocked Ziggler out of the ring. On the floor, Vickie Guerrero checked on Ziggler. Orton followed Ziggler outside. Ziggler dropkicked Orton over the ringside barrier and into the front row seats. The referee started to count Orton out. Orton made it back into the ring at nine, then caught Ziggler with a Lou Thesz Press. He followed that up with an Angle Slam and got a near fall for his efforts.

Orton caught Ziggler with his fall-away back-breaker, then set up for the RKO. Vickie Guerrero distracted Orton and Ziggler rolled him up for a near fall. Orton then caught him with a surprise RKO, and that was good for the win.

WINNER: Randy Orton to secure two Draft picks for Smackdown.

-- The Draft graphic aired. The first draft was… suddenly, C.M. Punk interrupted and said that the pick can wait. He found it ironic that the PPV Sunday was called “Extreme Rules,” but that he wasn’t on the card. Punk challenged Orton to a Last Man Standing match. He vowed to send Orton to Smackdown beaten and destroyed. Orton took a microphone and said that out of all the things he would miss on Raw, dealing with C.M. Punk wouldn’t be one of them. He said that come this Sunday, Punk wouldn’t be able to eat, drink, walk, or move. He would simply be unconscious. Orton vowed to be the last man standing on Sunday.

-- The Draft graphic started again, then the show cut to commercial.

REAX: The fact that I thought Dolph Ziggler was a jobber when he appeared in the ring does not bode well for his new look. I guess I misspoke when I showed my support of the change last week. Aside from that, he seems to be lost in the mix once again.

[Commercial Break]


-- Back from commercial, Josh Matthews revealed that the next two drafts for Smackdown were Mark Henry and Sin Cara. Well, there’s your replacement for Mysterio.

-- Wade Barrett came out for the next Smackdown vs. Raw match. For the Raw side, Rey Mysterio came out. Does anyone else find it weird that a person who has just been drafted to Raw is now competing for a draft pick?

6 -- WADE BARRETT vs. REY MYSTERIO -- Raw vs. Smackdown match for a Draft pick

Barrett immediately took Mysterio down with a kick to the gut. He whipped Mysterio across the ring. Mysterio slid out of a body slam attempt, then kicked away at Barrett’s knees. Barrett caught Mysterio with a spinning sidewalk slam, then continued to kick away at his chest and face. Barrett dragged Mysterio to the center of the ring and went for a pinfall attempt.

Mysterio broke away from Barrett and hit a cross-body block off the middle rope. That was good for a two count. Barrett then returned to the offensive and sat Mysterio on the top rope. He tried to set up a superplex, but Mysterio knocked Barrett to the canvas. He leapt off the top rope, caught Barrett with a huracanrana, and followed it up with the 619. Mysterio hit a frog splash, and that was good for the win.

WINNER: Rey Mysterio in 3:00 to secure two Draft picks for Raw.

The Draft graphic aired. The first pick for Raw was The Big Show. He made his way onto the stage. The second pick was Alberto Del Rio. His music played, but he was nowhere to be seen. He was backstage talking to Ricardo Rodriguez. Brodus Clay interrupted and asked what that meant for him.

REAX: It seems like WWE is just swapping the Raw and Smackdown rosters at this point. Most of the main players have traded shows, and that won’t really do a lot to freshen things up. WWE must feel the need to garner new interest in Smackdown, but it does seem as if Raw has received the short end of the stick this year. It’s entirely possible that the show will end with Mr. McMahon coming out and announcing that the Brand Split is over, which is the only reason I can see for WWE gutting the Raw roster throughout this show.

[Commercial Break]

-- Back from commercial break, a bloody and swollen Michael Cole was back in the Cole Mine. He rambled about punching J.R. in the face and injuring him. Lawler laughed it off, then the announcers turned to hyping the Extreme Rules PPV.

-- Teddy Long’s music hit and the Smackdown G.M. made his way onto the stage. Long announced that the main event of the night would be a six-man tag match for the final Draft pick. Representing Raw, it would be C.M. Punk, Alberto Del Rio, and The Miz. Christian, Mark Henry, and John Cena would be representing Smackdown. The Miz’s music hit and the WWE Champion made his way to the ring.

[Commercial Break]


-- Back from commercial, C.M. Punk made his way out as the announcers hyped tomorrow night’s supplementary draft. Roberto Rodriguez then introduced Alberto Del Rio. Christian made his way out for the Smackdown side and received a strong reaction from the live audience. Mark Henry was out second. John Cena rounded out the introductions, and Michael Cole talked about this being Cena’s final appearance on Raw.

7 -- TEAM RAW (WWE Champion The Miz, C.M. Punk, and Alberto Del Rio) vs. TEAM SMACKDOWN (Christian, Mark Henry, and John Cena) -- Winning Team Receives the Final Draft Pick

Christian and The Miz started things off for their respective teams. Christian quickly tagged in John Cena, and The Miz darted out of the ring.

[Commercial Break]

-- Back from commercial, Cena and The Miz were in the ring. Miz tagged out and was replaced with Punk. Cena backed Punk into the Smackdown corner, then tagged in Mark Henry. Henry chopped Punk across the chest several times, then knocked him to the mat with a right hand. He stood on Punk’s chest for several seconds, then tagged in Christian. Christian hopped onto the middle rope and knocked Punk down with a spinning elbow. Suddenly, Punk hoisted Christian up for the G2S. Christian slipped out and tried to charge at Del Rio. Punk attacked Christian from behind, then tagged in Del Rio.

Del Rio tossed Christian into the Raw corner, then nailed him with a running knee strike. The Miz tagged in and continued to isolate Christian. He locked in a modified Camel Clutch, but Christian broke out of the hold. He tried to make it to the Smackdown side, but Miz pulled him back down to the mat. Punk tagged back in and dropped several knees across Christian’s chest.

[Q9 -- Overrun]

The Miz tagged back in and taunted a winded Christian. Christian made it to his feet and tried to hit the Killswitch. Miz escaped and nailed him with his leaping clothesline in the corner. Del Rio then tagged in and hit a jumping arm-breaker. He focused on Christian’s injured shoulder. Christian made it to the ropes to break the hold. Del Rio then placed Christian on the top rope. The two men exchanged punches up top and Christian finally knocked Del Rio to the mat. Christian hit a massive Tornado DDT, then crawled over to the Smackdown side and made the hot-tag to John Cena. Del Rio tagged in The Miz. Cena charged at him and hit all of his signature offense.

Suddenly, Mark Henry entered the ring and clobbered Cena with a clothesline. Henry exited the ring and Christian got in his face. Henry press-slammed Christian over his head and tossed him onto the ringside stairs. Back in the ring, The Miz nailed Cena with the Skull-Crushing Finale and that was good for the win.

WINNER: Team Raw in 11:00 to secure the final Draft pick. Not a bad match. Christian showed that he could hold his own against the other main-event stars. The surprise heel turn by Mark Henry was good for a quick shock, but it probably would have been more effective if it were a more popular star in his shoes. Par for the course, the post-match focus on the Draft took precedence.

Post-match, the Draft graphic aired. Raw’s newest superstar was… John Cena?! Back in the ring, Cena attacked the heel members of the Raw roster. He cleared the ring of everyone but The Miz, then hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena tried to lift Miz up for an Attitude Adjustment over the top rope, but he seemed to lose his grip. Instead, he simply threw Miz over the top rope and into the arms of Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. Cena celebrated in the ring as the announcers discussed all of the major Draft picks tonight.

[End of Show]

SHOW REAX: Certainly a newsworthy episode. Out of all the past Drafts, this one may have included the most dramatic exchange of Superstars. The landscape of both shows has changed, which will create interesting new storylines for the immediate future. The bait-and-switch with John Cena was expected, but it also seemed incredibly pointless. There wasn’t enough time for it to sink in, which took away from the drama of the trade.

Even more important than the Draft, in my opinion, was the focus (and the lack thereof) on creating several new stars. Early in the episode, it seemed as if the reconstruction of the roster was a primary focus. R-Truth gave a career-changing promo, and he was the undeniable star of the episode. Cody Rhodes also stood out in the little screen time he received. On the other end of the spectrum, John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler seemed to be sliding back down the totem pole. Yes, Morrison is involved in the main event at Extreme Rules. He was an afterthought in the hype for the match, though, and the only screen time he really received was in his brief attack on Truth. The people last week who said that Ziggler’s drastic change in appearance was a negative may have been right, as well. He literally took a jobber role against Randy Orton and barely received any chance to shine in the match.

Overall, this episode of Raw was much more enjoyable than the last several weeks. The in-ring action was still at a minimum (even with seven matches), but the show never seemed to drag. We'll see if Raw’s momentum carries over to next week, especially since the Michael Cole Comedy Hour could be over after the PPV on Sunday.

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