Welcome to The Raw Report.
Every week I’ll be dissecting WWE’s Monday Night Raw and analyzing what worked, what didn’t work, and what left audiences thinking wtf?
If a segment works, it will receive a resounding YES! Conversely, if a segment just didn’t pan out, it will receive a CHANGE THE CHANNEL! (one of the best ECW chants of all time). A grade of WHAT? will be given to any segment or match that was just downright stupid or confusing.
Let’s get it on.
Brock Lesnar Opening Segment: Even though John Laurinaitis is the GM of both shows, as decided at Wrestlemania 28, he still answers to Triple H? I’m confused, but willing to see when/where Triple H becomes key to Lesnar’s involvement in the WWE. Lesnar abruptly walked out on Raw, thus leaving his future participation in the WWE up in the air. While I somewhat liked the ambiguity of Lesnar’s situation in the company, I still feel there was a lack of closure following the intensity of the Cena/Lesnar match at Extreme Rules.
Triple H and Lesnar’s interaction was intriguing, but it might appear highly disappointing if nothing becomes of the two. Will we see Triple H and Lesnar fight in the near future? I hope so, otherwise Lesnar breaking Hunter’s arm will just seem malicious. I think Triple H and Lesnar could mean a tremendous amount of money. Being a Triple H mark, I’d be totally down to see this match. However, there are better ways to build up a feud between the two than have Triple H immediately get pummeled by Lesnar.
I understand the importance of Lesnar taking out the main WWE authority figure. However, I think it would have made more sense to establish a Cena/Lesnar rematch on Raw this week. Lesnar’s surprising loss to Cena the night prior at Extreme Rules was only mentioned briefly in passing. I’m surprised they didn’t make a bigger deal out of this loss. Lesnar is a fighter, and a former UFC champion; losing to John Cena should have been a monumental occurrence. I was hoping to see Brock come out and be furious with Cena. Instead, we saw a brawl that seemed to only further remove Lesnar from the reality of his failure the night before.
Beat the Clock challenge: Eve announced that there would be a Beat the Clock challenge to determine the latest #1 contender for the WWE Championship against CM Punk at Over the Limit in three weeks. I’m always a fan of beat the clock challenges. There’s a great mix of anticipation, excitement, and pure wrestling in Beat the Clock matches which maintain a solid pace throughout the program.
Swagger vs. Orton: This was a great match through-and-through. Both Orton and Swagger are solid competitors who put on a fairly high quality TV match. This may not have had the intensity of a pay-per-view bout, but it looked great on TV. I consider Swagger to be a brilliant and underused talent. I’d love to see Swagger receive more opportunities to shine like he did in this match against Orton.
Bella Twins vs. Layla: This was apparently an exit strategy for The Bellas to leave the company since their contract recently expired. Considering that this match only lasted seconds, there’s little to analyze. However, I will say that Layla is a great talent who I hope to see receive more than a minute long match in the near future. With the possibility of Kharma returning soon, a match-up between she and Layla could be really great.
Kofi Kingston/R-Truth vs. Primo & Epico: Neither Kofi nor R-Truth have good luck with tag teams. When Kofi was with Evan Bourne in Air Boom, Bourne was suspended for a wellness policy violation. Their tag-team obviously fell apart just as they were starting to bring life back into the struggling tag team division. Likewise, when R-Truth fought with Miz in Awesome Truth, we saw everything abruptly end when Truth got his own wellness policy violation. I love Kofi and consider him one of the most underrated workers in the WWE. I’m glad to see him winning the tag team belts with R-Truth if only because it will give him more TV time to prove his talents.
Bryan vs. Lawler: This was a decent match, due mostly to Bryan’s exquisite talent. Bryan’s laughter when he saw Lawler step into the ring was a perfect old-school heel tactic. Bryan’s win ensures that he is now the #1 competitor to face CM Punk at Over the Limit. After leaving the World Heavyweight Championship picture, Bryan appears to be in pursuit of the WWE Championship title. I’m overjoyed to see Bryan remain in the title picture, especially since many fans felt that his loss to Sheamus at Extreme Rules meant that he was out of the main event spotlight. With Sheamus left to feud with Christian, Orton, and Del Rio on Smackdown, I’m sure that Bryan will provide us with a superb feud against Punk in the next three weeks on Raw.
John Laurinaitis segment with Cena: Relax, everybody. I’m fairly certain that John Laurinaitis is not going to face Cena at Over the Limit. Given that Triple H was removed of his kayfabe Raw position last year due to fighting with the talent, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the same obscure rule come down upon Johnny by none other than Triple H himself! I can’t see Johnny vs. Cena selling a tremendous amount of tickets at Over the Limit. The way WWE has been hyping up their b-level pay-per-views, as they did with Extreme Rules, leads me to believe that Cena will have a slightly more high-profile match. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cena’s match at Over the Limit went to Ace’s henchman Lord Tensai.
Santino vs. Miz: The Miz’s win in this match teased that he was going to get a title match against CM Punk at Over the Limit. Unfortunately, when the match went too long, which the announcer’s even pointed out, Miz’s time was easily beaten by Orton’s match afterwards. Another troubling week for Miz gives me the sense that he may be ignored even longer.
Jericho vs. Big Show: The Jeri-Show tag-team was one of the few times I liked Big Show. I think Jericho and Big Show surprised everyone years ago by their uncanny chemistry. Unfortunately, this match did little to highlight Show’s limited talents or Jericho’s abundant skills.
Kane vs. Great Khali: This was not a good match. To be fair, The Great Khali is not an incredible wrestler. For Great Khali matches, you have to go into it as a fan knowing what to expect. You’re not going to see a Shawn Michaels performance; you’re not going to see Daniel Bryan style mechanical wrestling maneuvers. Instead, fans witness a guy like Khali with limited abilities wrestling in a match against opponents who are fully aware of his limitations. It’s unfair to trash this entire match because Khali worked the way he always has. Kane tried his best to get a decent match out of Khali, which is totally commendable.
Overall, despite the short-comings of this week’s Raw, I’d still confidently give it a YES! I’m a fan of Beat the Clock challenges and liked the fact that the entire Raw focused on determining who the next #1 contender would be. WWE put the WWE Championship at the center of the entire Raw, which seemed to subtly raise the importance of Punk holding the title. Bryan’s win against Lawler made him the #1 contender to the WWE Championship, which was the most exciting moment for me during the entire program. Fans immediately rejoiced at the idea of seeing Punk and Bryan in the main event of the next pay-per-view. It’s hard to find anything wrong with seeing two of the best wrestlers in the industry battling each other for the biggest championship in a few weeks!
I really enjoy everything about Johnny’s character at the moment. Johnny is almost child-like in his innocence, but his heat with the crowd is incredible. However, it was time for him to evolve a little bit. You can only be the goofy, haphazard head of Raw for so long. I’m curious to see where this new rage-driven Johnny goes. With Tensai at his side, Johnny seems to have an army of cronies slowly forming around him (where was Otunga, btw?). In one single segment, Ace went from goofball to aggressor. We have three weeks to see where this goes and I’m optimistic.