411’s Instant Analysis 04.02.12: WWE Monday Night Raw
Welcome to this week’s Instant Analysis of Monday Night Raw. I’m your humble reviewer, Chad Nevett and another WrestleMania has come and gone. I watched ‘Mania at a movie theater last night and, honestly, the energy of the crowd and its enthusiasm helped keep me with the show for most of it. I really loved the Undertaker/Triple H match, thought Chris Jericho and CM Punk delivered, and found that the crowd being into some of the fluffier segments made them much easier to stomach. What, surprisingly, killed it for me was the Rock beating John Cena. I wanted Cena to win going in, but was prepared for the Rock to win, and, yet, when it happened, it completely deflated my enjoyment. Something about that look on Cena’s face as he sat on the ramp. It looked like a mix of embarrassment and trying to put on a brave face while the company you’ve helped carry for the past seven years went with the guy who left instead of you. I’m still not sure what I think of the show overall, trying to get some distance between an immediate response and a more thoughtful, distanced look at the show. Anyway, tonight, we’ll get the fallout from WrestleMania XXVIII and possibly begin the road to WrestleMania XXIX. Let’s get to it…
SEGMENT ONE: The Rock Basks in the Adulation of the Fans and Shares His Vision
Oh… kay…? This promo began how you would think it would: lots of cheering, the Rock going over what happened last night, he put over Cena a bit, and, then, what, made a somewhat vague statement of something he would like to do… maybe… someday… possibly…? I’m just not sure I get what they were going for with that end point of the promo. There’s making sure we understand that the Rock will continue wrestling in some fashion and that’s a nice sentiment to put out there. But, a vague desire from someone who doesn’t wrestle full time that he wants to win the WWE Championship again? That’s weak. They should have just kept it to the victory lap.
The pre-theme segment with John Laurinaitis set up a couple of matches and let the era of ‘People Power’ begin. And, by ‘People Power,’ Johnny Ace obviously means rewarded the members of his team, which is exactly what it should mean to a heel General Manager.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
SEGMENT TWO: Triple Threat Match for the United States Championship – Santino Marella (C) vs. Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler
Match Result: Santino Marella pinned Jack Swagger
Match Length: Five and a half minutes
This was a decent match that followed a predictable structure somewhat: heels teaming up to beat on Santino until eventually they turn on one another, and Santino takes advantage to sneak in a win. Surprisingly, they didn’t have too much of Swagger and Ziggler fighting one another. Probably because of the post-match stuff with Santino and Brodus Clay. It’s hard to buy them as a united front if they just spent five minutes beating on one another. It’s nice to see the Funkasaurus look like he might actually progress beyond dancing and squashing a little. Putting him with Santino makes sense. Also, who didn’t love that Ziggler ringpost bump? Good stuff.
Rating: 7.0 out of 10
SEGMENT THREE: Lord Tensai vs. Alex Riley
Match Result: Lord Tensai beat Alex Riley after the ref ended it
Match Length: Two minutes and fifty seconds
I get what they were going for here, but it didn’t quite work for me. Tensai was dominant, but slow without seemingly methodical. It seemed more like he couldn’t move any faster or work a quicker pace than like he was dissecting Riley. Also, the finish was lacking. Riley had had been beaten down, sure, but he was still moving. We’ve seen guys look worse than that and the ref doesn’t call it. What makes this so special? He was back on his feet 30 seconds later to eat the… claw. If they wanted a finish like that, they needed Riley to look much more defeated and broken, I think. The concept behind this match was good and there were some good moments, but the overall execution didn’t work.
Rating: 5.0 out of 10
SEGMENT FOUR: WWE Championship Match — CM Punk (C) vs. Mark Henry
Match Result: Mark Henry won via countout
Match Length: A bit under 14 minutes
That finish seemed a bit odd until what happened after. First, John Laurinaitis gloated a bit and promised that CM Punk would defend his title on a more regular basis in the future. Then, Chris Jericho took advantage to give Punk a drink and smash a bottle of Jack Daniels over his head. Henry was the right opponent to leave Punk beaten enough for Jericho’s pouring of booze and bottle smashing — as well as kick off a period where I wouldn’t be surprised to see Punk defending the WWE Title every week on Raw. The match itself was good. Henry crushed Punk, Punk used his skill to get the upper hand at various times. It wasn’t a five-star classic, but they played their roles well. The post-match stuff was excellent.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10
SEGMENT FIVE: Alberto Del Rio Returns to Challenge the new World Heavyweight Champion
Well, they moved past Daniel Bryan rather quickly, didn’t they? Alberto Del Rio’s return isn’t a surprise necessarily, but him returning right when Sheamus came out was. He was arrogant and immediately played into Laurinaitis’s obvious bias towards the heels that stood behind him. The mic cutting out was a forced way to lead into the Brogue Kick when they’d already established Del Rio turning to Ricardo Rodriguez to say his name and that being a more organic opening. I assume because of what we saw backstage, Bryan isn’t out of the picture yet. Still, this set up Del Rio/Sheamus on Smackdown Friday.
Rating: 6.0 out of 10
SEGMENT SIX: Cody Rhodes vs. Kofi Kingston
Match Result: Kofi Kingston pinned Cody Rhodes
Match Length: Around one minute and forty-five seconds
A logical follow-up to last night’s ‘Mania match with Cody Rhodes looking visibly upset as he came out, him dominating Kofi Kingston with aggressive wrestling, and the Big Show showing last night’s loss as a ‘An Embarrassing WrestleMania Moment’ for Cody Rhodes, leading to Kingston winning the match. Short, sweet, to the point. Well done.
Rating: 7.0 out of 10
SEGMENT SEVEN: The Miz vs. Zack Ryder
Match Result: The Miz pinned Zack Ryder
Match Length: A bit under three minutes
A rematch of sorts from last night and, while Ryder hit the Broski Boot this time, the match still ended with a Skull-Crushing Finale and the Miz winning. I wasn’t sure which way they’d go: either add to the Miz’s triumph or give Ryder back a win… I’m glad they went with this. Maybe the Miz will actually get rebuilt a bit now. And Eve’s brief promo was fine for garnering some more heel heat.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
SEGMENT EIGHT: John Cena Addresses His Loss and Brock Lesnar Returns
Most of this was John Cena doing exactly what was expected: admitting that the Rock was the better man, thanking those that support him, and trying to move on to what’s next. It was a little dull and a little awkward with the Lesnar chants and Cena sort of repeating himself. Was he stalling until Lesnar’s music hit? I don’t know… then, Lesnar’s music hit, the crowd went crazy, he came down and delivered an F-5 on Cena… because… he wants to beat Cena, too? Another return that doesn’t immediately make me excited if only because I don’t see why it should. I see why the WWE, its employees, and its shareholders are excited. Me, I just see a random return leading to a random act of violence that played out in an oddly calm and dull fashion.
Rating: 6.0 out of 10
Segment of the Night: WWE Championship Match – CM Punk (C) vs. Mark Henry
Trash Segment of the Night: Lord Tensai’s Debut
Final Analysis: Ah, the post-‘Mania Raw where we get follow-ups and tentative steps towards the future. I like how they began laying out John Laurinaitis’s tenure as General Manager of the WWE with him booking matches that skewed against those that opposed him and in favor of those that supported him under the guise of them being what the people want. Jericho’s stuff with Punk was more material taken from Punk’s indie past and worked wonderfully. The Rock and Cena stuff didn’t impress, partly because it seemed hollow and like they didn’t know exactly what to do to make it interesting, and partly because it seemed obvious what they would do. Blame my lack of enthusiasm on lingering disappointment over WrestleMania if you want, but I found tonight’s show to be pretty average and unexciting.
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