Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WWE Raw - June 11, 2012

Let's see if I still remember how to do this.

So Vince McMahon is in charge again? I know he wasn't fired when Triple H took over (remember that?), only no longer in charge of "day-to-day operations," but how does he have the authority to fire the guy that is now in charge of those day-to-day operations? That strikes me as a conflict of interest and I think Big Johnny would have a hell of a wrongful termination lawsuit on his hands if he were let go. Vince did his usual pre-firing ritual and continued to act like my dad after he's had a couple Keystone Lights, but they were interrupted by World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus, who took the role usually reserved by John Cena to beg Vince to fire the villain of the month.

Vince told Laurinaitis that he had one night to impress, otherwise he'd be FAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRREEEED! Vince stole Johnny's HoveRound too and threw it off the stage. Good thing Laurinaitis works for the front office, so his insurance will pay for a new one.

Hardee's/Carl's Jr. got the fast food tie-in for The Amazing Spider-Man? Hardee's is either doing really well or Spider-Man is doing really bad, I'm not sure which.

Sheamus vs. Tensai was our opening contest and the announcers confirmed that Alberto Del Rio suffered a massive concussion and would not be able to compete at No Way Out this Sunday. A new #1 contender would be determined later in the evening, but first Sheamus had to survive the former A-Train. I was really looking forward to seeing these two lock-up and they really didn't disappoint. For a match that probably won't even be remembered this time next week, these two beat the hell out of each other. It shouldn't come as a surprise, these guys are two tough bastards, but you don't usually see guys get this rough in a glorified throwaway match. Maybe I'm just being cynical though, because if they want to, this match should easily set Tensai up as a major threat to Sheamus's title reign. Sheamus got the win, putting Tensai, on a two-week losing, but it was not an easy victory.

After returning from commercial, Tensai obliterated his man servant, Sakamoto. My guess would be this will write the character out, which I'm perfectly fine with. The "worshiper" thing was way too gimmicky and limited the character, let Tensai tear through people on his own.

A 1000th episode of Raw promo featuring Seth Green aired next. Green was one of the best guest hosts they had and oddly enough, I've been re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning, so he's been on my TV a lot lately.

Backstage, Big Show punched R-Truth in the face.

Santino & Layla vs. Beth Phoenix & ...Ricardo Rodriguez was next and I have no idea why this match happened, but Ricardo wrestling in his tuxedo was priceless. Of course, tuxedos in wrestling work like trophies and cakes: if they're introduced, they're going to be destroyed. Ricardo's tux was ripped off to reveal... a Justin Bieber t-shirt. The joke oddly fell flat with the audience, but it got a smirk out of me.

Backstage, David Otunga lobbied Vince McMahon for the GM job, but due to Vince's feelings on lawyers not named McDevitt, I don't like his chances. Kofi Kingston barged in and demanded a match against the Big Show, which he received, but Laurinaitis made it a cage match.

Daniel Bryan joined us next and admittedly, I have no idea what the hell is going on in this story with AJ and the triple threat at No Way Out. I haven't watched a full episode of Raw since the night after Extreme Rules, so I'm definitely jumping in the middle of the soap opera here, but Bryan was magnificent as always. I'm pretty sure he just got himself a huge royalty check by coining the phrase "once you go Bryan, there's no point in tryin," which is certainly going to end up on a t-shirt.

CM Punk interrupted to thunderous applause and it's really cool to see how Punk has climbed up into that special territory reserved for only the cream of the crop. I'm honestly not sure if anyone has done it since Rey Mysterio and even he's debatable. Anyhoo, Punk did his thing, guaranteeing victory on Sunday, but the fact of the matter is, he couldn't hang with Bryan on the mic here, who totally had his number, despite Punk throwing out "goat face" which is going on a t-shirt too. I gotta admit, I'm still not used to the fact that these two are having weekly battles on the mic and in the ring while also feuding for the WWE Title, it's still pretty surreal.

Kane naturally interrupted, but no one cares about that. As long as this doesn't end with Kane winning the WWE Title, I'll be fine.

Christian vs. Great Khali vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger to determine a new #1 contender for the World Championship was next and there was only one right move here, Ziggler winning. Will this be his chance to finally break out or is it another case of Ziggler being the utility player they need at the time?

As for the match, it was elimination style, which is always preferred, but as always, it's just a Fatal 4-Way... I still couldn't tell you a truly amazing F4W match, especially one on Raw. It was fine, don't get me wrong, but it was only there to serve the purpose of making Ziggler the #1 contender. They could've just started it at Christian vs. Ziggler and had a truly memorable TV match, but there's plenty of time to let these guys hook up in the future. I wouldn't argue with them feuding over the WHT, would you?

Ryback vs. The Presidents of the United States of America was next and Platinumberg added some new ways to kill guys this week. Ryback is awesome and his finisher is great when he's carrying two dudes, but he's going to need something new when he starts fighting real guys.

Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston in a steel cage was pretty much a massacre. Nothing fancy about it, but Show won easily.

Sin Cara vs. Curt Hawkins was next and Cara looked fantastic. I've seen a couple of his matches since his return and he's looked better in each one than he did during his entire first run. Spoiler: Hawkins didn't win.

To hype the 1000th episode of Raw, Heath Slater was put in a match with a former main eventer. Before we got this special treat though, we had to sit through Heath Slater talking, which is like being fisted by Edward Scissorhands, he can't even get his own nickname right!

But his opponent? BIG... VAN... VADER!!!!!! Tell me this, Vader is pushing 60, how does he look EXACTLY the same? He hasn't lost a step either, and watching him murder Slater in true Vader fashion was magniflorious. Kudos to Slater for taking that NASTY Vader Bomb like a champ though.

Our main event match of the evening was Daniel Bryan & Kane vs. CM Punk & AJ and while I haven't seen much of AJ's crazy shtick, she's playing her role extremely well and I don't think it's going unnoticed by WWE. I know this is a point I've hammered since the birth of the blog, but it's tough to be a woman in WWE. AJ is doing great work, taking something pretty silly, but making it work and is succeeding with it. Unfortunately, there's not much she can do because there's not much for women to do other than be window dressing or wrestle in 2-minute matches. But she did a great job here distracting Kane with the most disturbing kiss since Al and Tipper Gore and allowing Punk to win with the Macho Elbow on Bryan. And goddamn, she looked adorable doing the CM Punk Indian style pose.

Our finale for the evening was Vince McMahon making his decision on the fate of John Laurinaitis. Vinny Mac had an entourage of security guards to "walk someone out of my business," but that seemed strange considering how good the show had been up to this point. Vince demanded a good show and got it, if he fired Big Johnny, wouldn't he be saying he thought the show all these people showed up for kinda sucked?

But before the hammer could come down, Big Show interrupted. Oh yeah, it's mid-June and Vince McMahon is on TV, you know what that means... CARCINOGENIC FIST! Honestly, is it really necessary to kill off Vince every year? Especially when he hasn't even been on TV in the last year?

Now, to be fair, Big Show was fucking phenomenal here. The promo preceding the WMD may have been the best moment in Big Show's 14-year history with the company, assailing Vince for the decade-plus of stupid costumes, WrestleMania humiliations, Floyd Mayweathers, Shaqs, Ben Roethlisbergers and coffin-surfing. John Cena made an appearance too, but therein lies my problem with this whole thing: Big Show is doing the best mic work of his career, but it's being wasted in this jumbled mess of a story. John Laurinaitis has become a great villain, but no one cares about the power struggle here. John Cena vs. the evil authority figure? We've seen this on-and-off for seven years. Vince McMahon threatening to fire the authority figure? This springs up every time Vince isn't in charge. John Cena vs. Big Show? That was Cena's first WrestleMania match and it's happened many, many times since.

This is the biggest story in WWE, but in 2012, it's second tier at best. Summer is typically when WWE gets a little ballsy: last year we got Punk's shift in character, in 2010 we got Nexus, in 2009, WWE let Punk and Jeff Hardy run with the ball, 2008 was Edge solidifying himself as a true main eventer, etc. But Cena vs. Big Show in an evil authority figure storyline? Can you get more bland than that?

Otherwise, this was a rock solid Raw and a fun show to jump back in. I also just found out that Raw is moving to three hours permanently, which I don't think is a great idea, but I guess USA finally got their wish. I really don't think it's necessary, but with the roster split completely dead on Raw, perhaps it'll work.