Beginning at 8 PM EST, Justin Henry provides live coverage of WWE Monday Night Raw, and will post the wittiest, most irreverent tweets he receives through the night. Hit him up and follow along with the first Raw on the Road to WrestleMania, as the build to Cena-Rock II: You Only Live Twice takes shape.
POSITIVES FROM THE ROYAL RUMBLE
ACTUAL CHARACTERS!: My usual PPV viewing parties consist of my brother, and a few longtime chums that have been fans for as long as I, if not longer. I’m the only one in the room that watches on a regular basis anymore, so it’s always my job to explain the gimmicks, storylines, etc. To save myself the energy, I sent an e-mail out to partygoers Saturday afternoon, giving them crib-notes on certain aspects of the show (“Miz is now a babyface. Take John Cena, mix him with Steve the Dell Guy, and viola.”).
One of the biggest criticisms my friends levy is the near-eradication of ‘characters’ from the company. In recent years, it seemed like everyone wore the same style of tights, had the same fluffed-and-coifed hairstyles, and cut the same stilted promos.
Last night was something of a revelation for my friends, as they got to experience Daniel Bryan at his huggenest, 3MB, Ryback, Prime Time Players, Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro, and others actually standing out above the din.
It helped that WWE aired that aired that montage of promos, a la the old Rumbles, earlier in the night. Why can’t they do that more often?
CODY RHODES AT HIS DOUCHIEST: But the character that shone the brightest was Rhodes. Before, my brother and one particular friend had dismissed him as another second generation guy with zero redeeming values. Of course, that was when he was just some Burt Ward-looking goof who either ran interference for Randy Orton, or was easily crushed by DX or Super-Cena.
But the way Rhodes conveys arrogance, superiority, mirth, and rage was on full display last night, particularly when he paired off with brother Goldust in a hot segment. My brother, generally more pessimistic and hypercritical than Woody Allen, remarked to me today, “Cody Rhodes is a lot better than I realized.”
Any bets on when Rhodes makes “the leap” that Dolph Ziggler is currently in the midst of?
TWO-PLUS MONTHS OF Y2J: This requires no further explanation. One of the 20 best performers of the modern era (yes, I have a list, but more on that another time) is back through Wrestlemania. No arguments here.
A MINIMUM OF THROWBACKS: Jericho, Goldust, and Godfather. I’m fine with such a truncated nostalgia wave, as opposed to loading up on comedy entries. If the match is to determine a #1 contender, it should be the active scrappers fighting for it, not Kharma and Michael Cole and Ricardo like last year.
Besides, like Brandon Stroud pointed out earlier, Goldust looks like he can still go, and should be out there helping the kids hone their craft. You need a veteran’s hand out there, and if Regal’s not the one, you could do worse than Dustin Rhodes.
PUNK-ROCK WAS A GREAT MAIN EVENT: Forget your delusions that Rock being champion is somehow a bad thing. I’m a Punk fan, and while I would have loved to see my hero go another 434 days as champ, it’s not to be.
As it was, the match between the two was main event caliber, and had the big fight feel I, and many others, crave.
Punk will have his day to shine again, so no worries on that front. Sometimes, it pays to live in the present, and enjoy the moment.
8:02: A glammed up Vickie welcomes us to Raw Roulette with 3 wheels. The Wheel of Superstars (on loan from Kelly Kelly), the actual wheel, and the wheel of Vickie challenges. Orton and Cesaro is the first spin, and it lands on “Guest Referee”. And….that’s about it.
8:04: Punk’s out to have a tantrum over last night, and claims to still be champion. See, we wouldn’t get this manic promo if he’d won, so count your blessings. He calls it the “Phoenix Screwjob”, which I don’t think is any worse than Steve Kerr’s decisions as Suns GM. Vince arrives, and he claims to have video evidence of the Shield’s malfeasance. Oh, and he might fire Heyman too if the evidence proves solid. Brian Gewirtz is all lubed up just thinking about it.
8:08: Orton and Cesaro opens, and Miz is your guest referee. Amazing that the heel’s biggest rival would end up as guest referee! What a startling turn of events!
8:18: Good physical match thus far, aided by Miz having made no discernible mistakes so far. Seriously, I wouldn’t have put it past him to have botched frisking both men for weapons before hand. Orton lands a lot of European uppercuts, presumably because Cesaro stole his chinlock last time they faced off. Wrestlers are protective of their movesets , you see.
8:24: If you’re the nostalgic type, Cesaro just hit a Michinoku Driver and Sullivan Stomp, his tribute to the 1997 Monday Night Wars.
8:27: Miz gets into it with Cesaro after he thumbed Orton’s eye, and wouldn’t cleanly break out of the corner. The distraction leads to an Orton RKO and victory. The Miz lands a Skull Crushing Finale, because that’s what good guys do. Hogan set a dangerous precedent in the 1980s with his poor sportsmanship; a wave of self-indulgent bitterness still felt in today’s youth.
8:29: Ryback has to make Vickie laugh, per the wheel. Unless he plans on showing the footage of Miz’s figure four from last week, this is gonna be death.
8:34: Hey, Steffi Graf’s here! Wonder if her crazed stalker fan’s gonna shank Kaitlyn.
8:35: So it’s Ryback vs. the Primetime Players in the joke contest. PTP’s joke about Striker is lame, but Titus sells it like gold. Ryback’s response is to set up PTP’s imminent death. Eh, coulda been worse. Then Ryback kills Striker, and Three Sheets Layfield loves it a little too much. I’m all for Ryback killing these crappy interviewers until Big E Langston takes over full time on the mic.
8:45: Wade Barrett gets a Player’s Choice landing, and he naturally picks Bo Dallas after the events of last night. Dallas gets bonus points for making as much noise as possible during the Conway Pop he got. Compensation is key.
8:47: You know you’re getting old when an NXT rookie from 3 years ago is now a “seasoned veteran”
8:49: The plucky underdog run continues for Dallas, as he took a beating, avoided the Bullhammer, and hit a high angle powerslam to win. It’ll be forgotten within eight weeks, so enjoy it while you can.
8:50: Cody Rhodes spins, and gets John Cena. But what kind of match? I’m hoping for Kennel from Hell.
8:54: No joke, they actually have a tale of the tape for John Cena and Fred Flintstone, due to Cena being on the cover of Fruity Pebbles. Bosses: “Mr. McMahon and Mr. Slate. Mr. Slate needs to institute a Wellness Policy for the quarry workers that might be abusing Flintstones chewables.
8:57: Rhodes declares the match a waste of his time, and goes to leave before Cena stops him. Cena wins with the AA, preventing Rhodes from going on Twitter to bitch about last night’s booking. Protective of the company name, that Cena.
9:01: Cena puts over Punk as a champion that’s impossible to beat. To smarks, that’s like Satan allowing your dad to win the lottery. Cena showing some serious vulnerability in this promo, admitting both Punk and Rock have owned him over the past year. In other words, this is Cena apologizing for last week’s awful promo.
9:05: Cena chooses the WWE Champion, be it Rock or Punk, and we get The Shield, who swarm Cena almost immediately. Sheamus tries to save, to no avail, and Ryback gets more of the same, going headfirst into the steps. Cena gives it one last go, but eats the Triple Bomb.
9:15: YAY! It lands on Lingerie Pillow Fight! BOO. It’s for Brodus and Tensai! So Brodus spins the Vickie Wheel and gets a dance off. Who says they don’t have the audience’s best interests in mind?
9:18: Cole declares that the dance-off could be the best segment in the history of Raw. Better than Austin driving the beer truck? Vince thinks NOT.
9:22: Oh, it’s the old “Nobody told him it’s not a lingerie contest anymore” gag! Tensai looks better than most tattooed chicks with attitude, I’ll say that much.
9:26: Tensai dances the robot and adds a lawnmower to the mix. Cole: “This is godawful”. When COLE thinks a segment on Raw sucks….
9:30: Did the chick on Lizard Lick Towing used to be Jamie Noble?
9:31: Del Rio and Big Show are next in a bodyslam challenge, which constitutes the third actual match of the evening. Big Show needs his own personal ring announcer. I nominate Joel Gertner.
9:34: Show KOs Del Rio and duct tapes him to the ropes as a receipt. Then he mauls Ricardo and makes Alberto watch the carnage. I love when feuds get personal like this. Anytime the babyfaces get a little too goofy for the heel’s liking, this is a great way to cool it off. Makes you wanna see Alberto avenge his friend.
9:39: Show crescendos the beating with the WMD on Ricardo. The crowd’s silence is more of the stunned variety, not so much boredom. A second WMD takes Del Rio out.
9:41: Del Rio is the first babyface in AGES that I’m aching to see get revenge on the heel for his actions. Bravo.
9:44: Lumberjills match with the other Divas in Showgirls attire (complete with Cameron’s “I’m gonna get wasted and plow into a bus terminal” look), as Kaitlyn faces Tamina.
9:48: Random scrums ends it without a winner. You’d think Tamina would have dressed as a Showgirl to help promote RuPaul’s Drag Race.
9:53: Recap of the Shield beating! It’s like an extended commercial break!
9:55: Justin Roberts is German? He just said “Derrrr Rock.” Or maybe he called him Derrick with a Welsh accent, I dunno.
9:57: RD: “Going out on a limb that Rock doesn’t get tested. He looks like he just stepped out of that WWE All Stars game.” More like going out on a sapling, Deal.
9:58: Irony is plating The Rock’s name on John Cena’s Prize-Grabber toy belt.
10:01: Brian Gewirtz: “He called Paul ‘Twinkie Tits’, just like I asked him to!!” *promptly rubs his crotch with a comic book.*
10:03: Punk accuses Rock of stealing the title from him, in his classic righteous-anger tone, and a large portion of the crowd claps. Probably not a good sign. So Punk makes his way to the ring to get his belt back, but stops and rebukes Rock to some more scattered cheers. The match for the Chamber is official. It should be noted that Rock never promised to work house shows when prompted by Punk. Some fighting champion….
10:13: Damien Sandow’s spinning of a tables match took 47 takes, including landing on Thong Stinkface Match 18 different times. I assume that’s why the spin aired taped via WWE’s app. Anyway, he gets Sheamus, who lasted 37 minutes in the Rumble last night.
10:15: It just occurred to me that Sandow has the same disgusted expression as Marcy D’Arcy. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with this information.
10:17: Sandow gets all vicious by Pillmanizing Sheamus’ arm inside a table leg. Cole notes that Sandow was trained by the late Killer Kowalski, which seems to imply that Sandow was trained by a dead person. Bad ass.
10:21: Sheamus finishes with a flurry, hitting White Noise through a leaning table. Took 2 hours, but we finally got another entertaining match. Being a fan is like cooking a baked potato sometimes.
10:26: Ryder and Khali in a karaoke contest. This is the internet’s punishment for complaining about last night’s PPV. Khali sings Shawn’s theme, and Natalya’s dancing to it. If this was 1998-2010, Bret may have arranged to have her brutally beaten. 3MB mercifully interrupts, and it leads to more alleged comedy.
10:29: Cole: “I want to apologize to the WWE Universe.” They could just insert that soundbyte when needed. Like 40 times tonight.
10:34: Hey Jericho, on behalf of everyone watching tonight: Save_Us.222
10:38: Kudos for remembering that Jericho was fired for losing a match. I thought I was the only one. Then Vickie reveals that she rehired Jericho. Wow, Vickie and AJ just had a double turn like Bret and Austin. It’ll revolutionize the biz. Anyway, they get “Strange Bedfellows”, which means they have to face Team Hell No.
10:45: The presence of Jericho and Scott Armstrong has appeased my “Saturday 6:05 ch’i”
10:46: Jericho sets Dolph up for failure by angering the Big Red Monster, and Kane chokeslams Ziggler to win. If it leads to a feud, cool.
10:47: Trish is the next Hall of Fame inductee. I’m fine with it, as long as Snooki inducts her.
10:54: Vince brutally assaulted The Mad Hatter and stole his jacket before the show. Time to embarrass Heyman so Gewirtz and Stephanie can get their jollies. They could have a circlejerk, literally, and just cut out the middleman. Unless Paul’s into that.
10:55: E-C-DUB. E-C-DUB.
10:58: Paul Heyman admits he lies every day of his life. Danny Doring’s sitting home going “yeeeeeeeeeep.”
11:01: Heyman gets caught on camera admitting to Brad Maddox that he and Punk pay the Shield for his services. But how did Vince get the footage? Eh, it’s late; I don’t have the energy.
11:04: Heyman tries to claim it was the one-armed man. It almost single-handedly saves this show.
11:06: Vince goes to fire Heyman, and herrrrrre’s Brock. Vince is stunned, he can’t bring himself to finish his sentence. Brock knows all about Vegas. Pieces of Frank Mir are still strewn about MGM Grand.
11:10: Vince dies at the end.