The 242 Raw Review!
Ladies and gentlemen, we are one week away from Survivor Series! It’s time for the WWE to break out all the stops, to convert even the most skeptic of us into salivating PPV buyers. Now that’s going to be a tough sell, given that…holy fucking hell wait a minute, The Rock is on this card!? Well yeah, but he’s probably just going to be eating up airtime with promos and shooting backstage segments and…what…he’s wrestling? Holy fucking hell! Well what about Punk, he was totally get buried and then…what…he’s got a title shot??
Alright, well maybe the WWE could just mail this one in…after all, The Rock’s in-ring return alone pretty much sells this PPV (especially to past or casual fans). But regardless, they’ve got a 3-hour Raw to fill, meaning we have to respond with 50% more jokes…both which could end up a total disaster!! So hop aboard the Titanic and let’s do this!
Of course, I forgot to mention that a certain electrifying someone was promised to be here this week. And it’s the start of the show! It’s time to get hype!! That can only mean…
Cole gets a crowd reaction along the lines of what you’d expect, but that reaction quickly turns once he introduces our old friend…
…and apparently they’re going to go through with this Michael Cole challenge. Although this segment has “cringe” written all over it, I’ll admit, the stakes are interesting. If JR wins this challenge, he gets his old job back, and awesomeness ensues. If JR fails, Cole keeps his job, and this was a huge waste of time. In case the outcome isn’t obvious (don’t tell me…my heart wanted to believe)…let’s take a close look at the proceedings.
The Michael Cole challenge consists of three parts, all of which are under wraps because they’re totally top secret. First up, arm-wrestling!
Cole performs some heelish stalling (time constraints weren’t exactly a concern on this episode), then finally sets up and tells the ref that he’s ready. A millisecond later, JR wins. Yay!
Next up, dancing!
This one Cole promises he won’t lose, except he turns around and says that the fans will vote for the winner. While I’m surprised he didn’t start some kind of a poll on Twitter or Facebook (given that this show will use any opportunity to talk about social media) that we’d all have to sit around and wait for, a simple cheer did just fine in determining a winner in JR. But to be fair…he totally deserved it. I can’t describe it, but it totally ruled.
Now we have our third and final challenge, which is a “who weighs less contest!?”, and while I held out some sort of hope that JR secretly had lost a ton of weight and had a pillow under his shirt, he clearly out-weighed Cole.
Meanwhile, just as you’re sitting at home disappointed that we have to sit through THREE hours of Cole/Lawler…
…a rather surprising guest appears! A firm supporter of JR, CM Punk calls this mess a huge waste of time, and basically says everything that we’re all thinking (and credit to the WWE for knowing that). Punk rips apart Cole, rightfully so, until…
…the interruptions just don’t stop! Johnny Ace is cross with Mr. Punk, and decides to make a tag-team match partnering Punk & Big Show against Del Rio & Mark Henry. It’s PPV booking 101, yes, but it involves Punk, so it should have a hard time sucking.
Once Laurinaitis leaves, Cole demands an apology. Instead, Punk decides that an Anaconda Vise is more appropriate.
Punk’s appearance definitely saved this segment, and I was actually a little giddy at the thought of Cole leaving the booth (even if only to stick to Smackdown), but deep down I knew it never to be true. Why they continue to tease us with JR is beyond me though. It’s an irritating ploy…the WWE knows that people don’t like Cole, and we know this to be true because he was forced to turn heel. This was a smart idea that worked…for awhile…until he decided to unbearably ham that up as well, making us all realize that we really really just don’t like Cole no matter what he does. Unfortunately, it’s hard for the WWE to determine our dislike from legitimate heel heat…by writing letters and making signs asking for Cole to be fired, we’re basically just fueling his push. Instead, I propose we send them letters with rainbows and puppy dogs saying what a nice guy Cole is and how we totally wish he would babysit our children. And then neglect to mention that by children we mean ferocious-tigers-who-haven’t-been-fed-for-days-except-that’s-totally-cruel-to-animals-so-they-did-have-some-meal-supplment-bars-so-they-didn’t-get-too-hungry-but-are-just-hungry-enough-to-eat-jerks-like-Cole. Actually no, fuck it, who writes letters.
You read that right!! Well, apparently it wasn’t much of a secret, but it’s awesome to see him again. Or so we think…
Cody Rhodes has finally been unmasked (thanks to Randy Orton), and his entrance music has evolved along with him. When he came out, wearing that old-school Intercontinental Title, I got a bit of a chill at how much potential he has with this new packaging.
The Human Armdrag Machine himself Sin Cara starts this match, against Hunico (seemingly the only guy who can work with him at the moment). After a series of impressive armdrags, Kofi decides to get mixed up with this and they both pull off some impressive high-flying moves together, causing us to continue to wonder where that guy who used to tag with Kofi went off to. I mean…I could be wrong but…didn’t there used to be TWO tag-team belts to go with that championship?
Anyway, some confusion occurs in this high-flying madness, and Rhodes takes advantage by hitting the Cross Rhodes on Kofi, followed by a successful cover.
Ryder & Santino decide “fuck it, let’s just go work at Gamestop”, and try to sell us on the special edition of the WWE video game. Sorry guys, when I pre-order from Gamestop, I only deal with that one-nerdy-girl-behind-the-counter-who-blatantly-hates-her-job-but-does-it-because-she-knows-she-can-sell-anything-to-desperate-guys-and-she-secretly-doesn’t-mind-the-attention. Because she’s totally into me. WWWYKI.
Vickie gives us some sad news…Christian is hurt, and will not compete at Survivor Series.
Ziggler himself (who actually gets a nice little pop) follows this up with the FANTASTIC news that he’ll be taking Christian’s place, along with some very fine promo work (something he’s clearly been working on, and it shows, in a good way). I’m old-school, so yes, I still mark out for Survivor Series teams, and I sort of wish the team matches would mean something again.
Just after this match was underway, Ryan gets slapped by Vickie, causing a DQ.
As much as I don’t think Ryan (who’s done absolutely nothing) belongs in the same ring as Ziggler (who’s almost too good for this), it’s hard to deny that he’s quite the physical specimen. And there’s something inherently entertaining about Ziggler feuding with a living He-Man toy. Just a note, I will continue to make that joke every week that we see Mason Ryan, so strap on in and enjoy.
The good? Mick Foley’s return, along with the fact that he looks pretty good. He has a noble goal…to unite Cena and The Rock (which sort of takes away from that whole WrestleMania biggest match ever thing, but anyway), and get Cena the respect from the fans that he’s due (which he’s been vocal about, and I actually agree with 100%…shocker I know).
The bad? A long, drawn out, and not very funny “This Is Your Life” segment, complete with cringe-worthy overacting by Cena, and painfully scripted Cena-trying-to-be-as-witty-as-CM-Punk reaction lines (y’know, as if they wanted people to hate Cena more).
But then we got back to something good…this madness is finally ended by The Rock showing up, giving Foley the Rock Bottom, and promptly leaving…which was actually sort of perfect. Did we need 20 minutes to get there? I’m not sure about that. But at least there was payoff. And although I know it’s TOTALLY not true, it would be pretty damn cool if it turned out that ending was an ad-lib, along the lines of someone backstage saying “fuck it, this isn’t going well…Rock, do your thing”.
Also, no one had any idea who Bull Buchanan was. When they showed the video of Cena at the height of his heel days, I could only imagine how many children were seeing that for the first time and wondering what the hell was going on with The Marine and why he was rapping.
Right at the onset of this match, Jerry talks about how hot Sheamus is, and we immediately know we’re in for some good stuff. Sheamus overwhelms Swagger early, then Swagger takes control, and finally Sheamus (a notably more tired Sheamus) starts taking over again. He sets up for the Celtic Cross (that no one ever reverses), but Swagger reverses (!) and hits a corner splash. Swagger gets the ankle lock on, but Sheamus fights out, and lands an Irish Curse backbreaker. Sheamus signals for the Brogue Kick, and hits it. Boom. Done. If it feels like you’ve read this paragraph before, that’s because this was a very average match. So average I’m not even putting any jokes in the “winner” line.
Kelly comes out wearing a Patriots jersey, hoping that really drunk Bostonians would see it and think they’re cheering for Tom Brady instead of her. One minute later, Natalya puts her in a sharpshooter, but Kelly reverses and rolls her up for a pinfall victory.
Natalya looks extremely shocked. I’m still shocked that no one taught her how to kick out of a roll-up. The Anvil is SCREAMING at home right now.
Alright, seriously , no fucking Brodus Clay again!?
Look, I was fine with last week’s no-show. It was disappointing, but things happen when you travel…you can have visa issues, you can get sick, etc.. But to tease him for this week, and then cancel again? Just seems like a really weak thing to do. Makes me not want to care about Brodus. Just to spite them, I’m not going to care from now on. That’ll show them.
…so, uh, he’s on next week for sure then yea?
…don’t feel like talking.
…when did Matt Striker get so small!?
Nickelback’s playing, and we’re going to commercial, but then OH MY GOD DEL RIO ATTACKS CM PUNK FROM BEHIND!! NOOOOOOO!!!
Punk comes out looking pretty pissed, and goes straight after ADR (while ADR runs around the ring, smiling and asking “u mad!?”). Things settle down, and the match starts with Big Show and Del Rio. Shortly in, Big Show tags in Punk, who goes berserk in ADR in a good old-fashioned high-energy beatdown.
Show is tagged back in, and Del Rio quickly tags Henry. Both Show and Henry lock up, with Henry winning the strength war twice, until Show gives it all he’s got and pushes Henry clear off his feet. Show then tries to follow this up with a bodyslam, but falls on his ass instead.
As much as I’m not a fan of “big man” matches (I find them too slow and low-action), I’m really digging this Henry/Big Show feud. Both men are perfect opponents for each other…Show isn’t used to someone with the strength to match (and possibly exceed) his, while Henry isn’t used to having to use the full extent of his strength just to move his opponent. Their chemistry is undeniable, and when they get in the ring, it somehow looks different than the “big man” matches we’ve seen in the past. The pace isn’t faster, there’s not a ton more action (if you don’t count rings collapsing), but something about seeing these two mammoths push eachother around is, well, exciting. Who would’ve guessed a year ago that I’d be loving a Mark Henry/Big Show feud!? Anyway…
Del Rio is tagged back in, and puts the boots to Show (his loss a couple weeks ago fresh in his mind, no doubt). Henry gets tagged back in, but Show fights his way back to his feet. He signals for the KO punch, but Henry immediately flees, tagging Del Rio back in (much to his protest).
After the Commercial-Break-Counter, somehow both Del Rio and Punk are down in the ring. Things don’t look good for Punk, as Del Rio and Henry take turns on offense. Eventually, Punk manages to fight his way back with his epic awesomeness, but after a springboard lariat attempt he lands in Mark Henry’s loving arms, and is the recipient of the World’s Strongest Slam.
Big Show chases Henry away, and ADR (who was apparently the legal man) comes in to steal the victory.
Del Rio locks on the armbreaker, continuing his M.O. of trying to injure Punk for this Sunday’s match, when Show finally comes in for the save. Although, it would’ve been kind of cool if he walked away…Punk did break his hand after all, and they even had a bit of a staredown a couple of weeks ago that seemed to indicate that Show didn’t forget that. Which makes me think, is it just me or does Show get a body part injured every time he faces a new opponent? He better hope that Richard McBonerbreaker never gets called up from development.
Also, didn’t Punk save Kofi from this fate a week ago? Kofi’s a dick.
Ok, you need to watch the advertising before this promo starts, because I swear King says “let us put some Cajun in your butt”. Just go watch it.
Santino brings up the fact that he came very close to winning the Royal Rumble in this very city, until Alberto Del Rio ran with the whole thing and became, well, Alberto Del Rio. ‘tino swears that from this point forward, he’s going to put his career back on track, but he should know that mention of the Rumble summons a mythical angry giant…
That’s right…Nash can’t resist talking about the fact that he got the loudest ovation of the night when he returned as Diesel for the Rumble. The fact that he can’t let go of that is kind of sad…but it’s sad in a kayfabe kind of way (I hope). After a boot to the face, Nash whines about HHH, then hits a powerbomb on Santino and leaves.
With both men backed by their Survivor Series comrades…you didn’t think this was going to be a match did you? Nope…good ol’ fashioned clusterfuck.
As much as this 5-man elimination match doesn’t really matter for anything, and is thrown together just for the sake of it being Survivor Series, I’m actually kind of excited for it. There’s show stealer potential here…after all, now Ziggler’s involved.
A little history here.
When The Rock first returned, it was momentous. Unlike most “surprises” in the WWE, it was speculated but never fully leaked. People were optimistic, but cautiously so…they’d gotten their hopes up for Rocky so many times before, and every time there was a letdown. It was starting to look like The Rock had burned all bridges and was never coming back. Until he did. He did, and he cut the best promo that anyone’s heard since he left in the first place. That was a magical night, and I can imagine that most of us can visualize it just as clearly as when it happened.
But then the unthinkable happened…The Rock started to lose momentum. Week after week, he was sending out taped promos, and each one seemed to be progressively weaker. His role at WrestleMania was widely criticized (although I continue to think that it was the fault of the show being overbooked, not Rock himself). People were starting to remember an awful truth that they’d forgotten…Rock is great at what he does, but what he does is incredibly formulaic. Finally, his feud with Cena (who was now running circles around him in promos) came to a head when they announced a match at WrestleMania…a full year away. This was exciting…never had we seen a year-long build to a match, and we’re still not sure what to expect from it. It’s legitimately new territory, something that’s hard to find in the WWE landscape.
The Rock all but vanished after that announcement, which turned out to be a great move. Why? On this night, people were excited…Rock was an event again. It felt special again. And that’s how it should feel…Rock should be transcendent, he was a star during the Attitude Era, the peak of the WWE’s popularity. Just like The Rock vs. Hogan was icon vs. icon, so is Rock vs. Cena…the generations have just moved up one level. And considering the fact that for years, it looked like The Rock was never coming back (and had zero reason to), and even if he did, was certainly never going to wrestle again… an in-ring return this Sunday is something special when you look at it in perspective. I’m not sure how you could not be at least a little excited for this.
To be brief, The Rock cut a terrific promo, seemed genuinely enthused by the crowd (mouthing the words “thank you” a couple of times, and breaking a smile at a “boots to asses” chant), and managed to look a clear step above Cena again.
And unfortunately for Miz & Truth, they look like the Washington Generals. Fortunately, the Generals do hold a win over the Globetrotters…
After last week’s show of little note (except for me and Psycho Soldier’s awesome review, of course), tonight’s show looked great. Most of that was The Rock’s return, which was honestly better than I expected it to be. Nothing was especially weak…the Foley bit dragged, but it was nice to see Foley again in any capacity, and it was saved by the ending. The ADR/Punk feud, which could’ve been a disaster, has been thoroughly entertaining with a clear story for both guys. The one Survivor Series team match is being built quite well. Hell, even Kevin Nash seemed to be “on” tonight. Good show all-around.
…except for this. We got the treat of JR and King for the first part of the night (after Cole was laid out by Punk), but this was “rectified” a few matches in. The one plus is that when talking about Twitter, it seems to come across much more naturally from Cole than it does JR or King. It’s a moot point, however, because there’s waaaaaay too much talk about Twitter in the first place, and they need to dial it back a bit. Sadly, I doubt that’s going to happen, and I even think that the rest of television might follow this trend. Talking about TV is the new watching TV.
The Rock Returns
Match of the Night
Alberto Del Rio & Mark Henry vs. Big Show & CM Punk
Sign of the Night
Colt of Personality. We need more Colt.
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