Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday Night RAW recap: Long Live the King...Or Not

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Announcers: King and Cole

Opening Segment

Leading up to RAW, we were lead to believe that HHH was going to start off show, and address his status with the company. You would think I would be thrilled when that did not happen. 

Unfortunately, we had to continue the CM Punk vs 62 year old commentator Jerry Lawler instead. 

CM Punk came out sporting a fresh cut, hearkening back to his new Nexus days. Or rather maybe he was trying to channel his inner Walter White. Punk went on to a faux apology, which was amazing. He ripped into King quite effectively:

"I'm sorry that to get into the WWE Hall of Fame all it takes is to beat a bunch of no bodies from Memphis."

I hate this feud, but damn, that was a great opening promo (really though, how hard is it to get into the WWE Hall of Fame? Pete Rose and Drew Carey each have been inducted). The close was one of the best displays of unintentional comedy I've ever seen. After Punk challenged King to a fight later on RAW, Lawler's rebuttal was just fantastic. 

Camera close up on Jerry Lawler

Cue Lawler dramatic face

Lawler: Hey Punk......I'll think about it!

(As stale and repetitive as King has gotten, Michael Cole has been no better. Every week he seems to flip between being a heel or face announcer. One minute he'll play it straight, the next he's going off on how Sheamus is the Great White Cheater. All I want is consistency...and for Lawler and Cole to both get fired.)

Ryback vs Jack Swagger

Swagger got in one or two offensive maneuvers but it was mostly the Ryback show. The catch-22 creative has with Ryback is that they want to get him over with the crowd (which he has to a degree) but they don't want the crowd to chant "Goldberg" at him. They tried keeping him on Smackdown in order to edit out the Goldberg chants/pipe in the "feed more more" chants. This was effective but keeping him on Smackdown limits his opponents to local jobber and Jinder Mahal (some might argue they are one in the same).

Bringing him back to RAW has re-opened the crowds ability to chant on live television. At least his opponents are gradually starting to get more respective. However he still has yet to beat anyone of substance, unless you count Stan Stansky and Arthur Rosenberg....which I do. The win tonight gives Ryback 26 consecutive wins on television. Wake me up when he wrestles someone the WWE actually cares about like Randy Orton or Sheamus.

Natayla vs Layla

Layla's got some new entrance music. The lyrics consist of "I'm insatiable, I can't get enough, I need to find a boy." Combine this with "Holla, holla, holla" and "Let's light it up" (which would be better suited for X-Pac...ZING) and you have some of the worst music by artists not named Chad Kroeger. Who is in charge of assigning theme music to the wrestlers nowadays? It can't still be Jim Johnston, the man who gave us the greatest theme song in history.

As for the match, Layla wins with a kick to the back of the head. I like Layla, but I would like to see her title run come to an end soon. She's not really adding much to the show by going out and having three minute matches. It would be nice to see Natayla Neidhart get a run with the Butterfly belt. 

After the match Vickie Guerrero entered the ring.  She talked about replacing AJ Lee because  she's been acting in a manner unbefitting of an authority figure. So logically AJ Lee came out and double arm tackled a woman who isn't an active wrestler. AJ Lee has me reminiscing fondly on the days of Mike Adamle as general manager. 

Goddamn AJ's theme song straight to hell 

Anger Management segments

I don't normally recap backstage segments but I'm going to make an exception in this case. Daniel Bryan, Kane and Harold were absolutely fantastich here. Kane telling his back story was better than anything that's been on RAW in years:

"I grew up locked in a basement, suffering severe pyscological and emotional scarring when my brother set my parents on fire. From there I shifted around among a series of mental institutions until I was grown, at which point I buried my brother alive, twice. Since then, I've set a couple of people on fire and abducted various co-workers. Oh and I uh...once electrocuted a man's testicles. Years ago I had a girlfriend named Katie but uh, let's just say that didn't turn out so well. My real father is a guy named Paul Bearer who I recently trapped in a meat locker. I've been married, divorced, broke up my ex-wife's wedding and tombstoned the priest. And for reasons never quite explained, I have an unhealthy obsession with torturing Pete Rose."

This is WWE creative throwing their longtime viewers a little bone for sticking through all of the trash they serve us up. Promo of the decade right there. 

Lawler on the mic

Lawler accepts CM Punk's challenge of a fight after defending the sanctity of Memphis wrestling. 

This is problematic for two reasons:

1. This "match" is going to be terrible.
2. This leaves Michael Cole as the sole voice on commentary. 

Does Jerry Lawler just bring his ring gear with him everywhere in the off chance that someone challenges him to a match? 

John Cena vs The Miz 

Josh Matthews joined us on commentary after the commercial break. Say what you want, but I would rather hear Matthews over King or Cole any day of the week. Of course I'd prefer JR, Regal or Gus Johnson first, but beggars can't be choosers. 

I liked that Miz gave Cena a competitive match here. It makes Miz look stronger so vis-a-vis; the Intercontinental championship gains more value. If Cena ever wanted to add another move to his arsenal he can always learn how to throw a knife edge chop from these fellas.

Thankfully tonight we were given a choice what kind of match CM Punk and Lawler would have tonight. 


we should all choose  just to piss WWE off for setting up the cage 

Heath Slater vs Santino Marella

Terrible match. The only reception from the crowd was the chant boring mid-way through. Aksana attempted to distract Santino (maybe) but then we saw that the cobra has a life of it's own and he knocked out Heath Slater. With the exception of "the worm", this is the absolute dumbest finishing move in WWE history. Some of you may say, "what about Mick Foley? He had Mr. Socko." The difference between the cobra and Mick Foley's sock is that Foley didn't pin his opponents after tapping them with a sock. Foley shoved his entire hand down a person's throat until they passed out. Plus Mick had the double arm DDT and he took the sickest bump of all time. Never besmirch his name.

This match makes me want to Benoit myself. 

(Editor's note: Wow)

Sin Cara/Brodus Clay vs Cody Rhodes/Damien Sandow

More and more our intellectual savior is becoming one of my favorite parts of RAW. Speaking of intelligent wrestlers, I loved seeing Dean Douglas get some love in this "20 Smartest Superstars in History" column from WWE.com. Even more surprising was who the WWE allowed to be number one. Pretty decent list, although Raven who has an IQ of 143 and is a member of Mensa, should have been included as well.

Sorry, but this match was kinda my pee break. Brodus Clay got the pin on Cody Rhodes after Cody inexplicably jumped directly into Clay's head. The head butt/splash combination by the Funkasauras will get you every time.

R-Truth w/Kofi Kingston (in a suit) vs Daniel Bryan

Sign of the night: The fan that had the "Mr. Small Package" sign during Daniel Bryan's entrance. Not exactly Mr. Monday Night, Mr. PPV or Mr. Wrestlemania but pretty solid. 

Before the match started R-truth offered Daniel Bryan a fist bump. 

A pre-match fist bump denotes that this is being conducted under the Code of Honor Hood rules. 

R-truth picked up the victory because Daniel Bryan was counted out when he was arguing with a fan in the front row. No really, that's how it ended. I suppose that's one way to utilize the greatest technical wrestler in the world today. 

 Im sorry I cost you your match keep your eye on the ball youre a great talent embrace the yes! 

(My favorite Lesnar/Sheamus fan was directly responsible for the outcome of this match up (kayfabe). New plan for my life: make friends with this guy, buy a matching shirt and travel the country going to shows and getting on camera with @WWEMarkOutMan. I have so many questions I need answered. How does this guy get such good seats? Does he know someone in the production truck in order to get such face time? Does he have a job? How does he afford to travel the country following RAW from city to city? Does he own more than one shirt? Does he want to team up and challenge the John Cena family fan club? Winner gets to take out the kid's mom to a nice seafood dinner.)

HHH boo hoo pity segment

HHH starts off by milking a tepid crowd response for what seemed like eternity. Finally he got what he wanted when seven people started an unenthusiastic "HHH" chant. He then gives a faux-teary retirement speech. 

To be fair, it was a pretty good speech by HHH if it's just viewed on it's own. But when you put things in perspective, your response should be nothing more than a shoulder shrug. He's done a lot for this business and deserves to be commended for it. However he's also a raving egomaniac who never put anyone over that wasn't a close friend of his. The only exceptions I can think of is HHH vs John Cena at WM 22 and most recently against Lesnar.

He's put over Sheamus, his work out partner and Randy Orton and Dave Batista, his two best buds not named Shawn Michaels. That's it. The list of wrestlers he's buried is too long to list. Some notables include CM Punk, Kane, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho and Booker T. Along with many, many more. 

He has never done anything to garner the fans sympathy. There has never been a time where he's put himself in a vulnerable position where he convinced us that he was the underdog in any match. HHH is worse than 7 John Cenas. Cena just does as he's told. HHH is the one who does the telling. So I'm sorry when I don't get all emotionally worked up for a fake retirement angle when we're just going to see him back again to build up a feud for Wrestlemania in a few months. When the day finally comes when he does hang up his boots for good, I will give him a small golf clap for all of his contributions to the business, similar to when a player comes back to play against their old team for the first time after they are traded away. The fans applaud the first time they are announced at the plate, thanking the player for all of their contributions, but then boo every time after that, because they are no longer part of the team. So thank you HHH for the good times (Vegas wedding, feuds with the Rock, Austin, Mankind and the Rick Rude DX). As for the rest of your career, I got 2 words for ya: fawk you. 

That was a great speech from a guy that's going to disappear from TV for about seven weeks.

Alberto Del Rio/Dolph Ziggler vs Randy Orton/Sheamus

Orton and Super Sheamus with the victory after a botched interference attempt by Ricardo Rodrigo. Rodrigo tossed the Money in the Bank briefcase to Ziggler but Randy Orton caught him from behind. Most likely not Orton's first time doing that. 

Sheamus with the brogue kick on Ziggler, ipso facto, Ziggler gets pinned by Sheamus for the 30th consecutive time. Super Sheamus now with 15 consecutive victories on television. 

Zack Ryder vs David Otunga w/Kane on commentary 

On commentary Cole let us know that intellectually this was a major mismatch because Otunga went to Harvard and Zack Ryder went to Nassau Community College. At least NCC  got a shout out for all those future broskis. I'll be at the November 2nd home game against Globe Tech. Go Lions

Ryder won the quick match up. Kane was silent on commentary during the entire match, but once the final bell rang, he made his way to the ring. It looked like he was going to chokeslam Ryder until he changed his mind and chokeslammed Otunga instead. So um, therapy's working I guess?

CM Punk vs Jerry "The King" Lawler

Before the match AJ Lee made an appearance an announced that at Night of Champions, CM Punk will defend his belt against her choice of an opponent, John Cena. It's a good thing that was announced tonight so we have TWO whole weeks of build up for that match! Listen, obviously this match was going to happen. It's in Cena's hometown and there was no other credible opponent that has feuded with Punk recently. But come on , make Cena earn it somehow. 

CM Punk gave King a free shot to start off the match.  Punk hit a Rock Bottom at one point and Jerry Lawler tapped. I love CM Punk, but this was a huge waste of time.

Absolutely DEAD crowd for this match. Milwaukee sucked tonight in general, but it was especially silent during the "main event." I use that term loosely, because if I paid my hard earned money to watch CM Punk wrestle a geriatric, I would demand a refund. 

Grade: B +

Final Thoughts:  Fewer positives than negatives tonight, but that Kane promo was beyond epic. Punk shooting on King was entertaining and HHH going away for a while will be refreshing. The next PPV is in two weeks and up until about 11:05 of last night's RAW, the WWE champion didn't even have an opponent. And when he did finally get one, the man was just chosen by our RAW general manager quite arbitrarily. I'm not saying it shouldn't be CM Punk vs John Cena, I'm just asking that you apply some logic towards dictating that match. 

Top 5 Arbitrary 

5. Andy Kaufman - Absolute legend. Man on the Moon  available for only $10 on Amazon. 

4. Josh Matthews - Given time to shine tonight on live television. He did an average job at best, but he was still the lesser of 3 evils. 

3. Sheamus and Ryback - Both continued their (absurd) television win streak

2. Daniel Bryan and Harold - D Bry pulled double duty tonight, being entertaining backstage and in the ring.

1. Kane - His pre-recorded "Anger Management" vignette was amazing. I love it when the WWE acknowledges their history, no matter how screwed up some of it really is. 

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the column follow me @TheRawLibrarian on Twitter.

I'm gonna keep trying to write these columns as often as I can, but I just started my last semester in graduate school and that's gonna take precedent. I have messed up priorities, I know. 


  1. Good write-up, and I mostly agree. But wasn't MAVEN the one in Mensa, not Raven?

  2. Thanks for the comment. I had no idea Maven was a member of Mensa, that's good to know and somewhat unexpected. But I did intend to write Raven in the column. Raven aka Scott Levy is actually a member of Mensa with a 143 IQ. That goes a long way in explaining why his promos on Tommy Dreamer were so good. http://amog.com/entertainment/celebrity/101248-famous-braniacs-celebrity/ He's like 10 people down on the page.