The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 11/07/11

The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 11/07/11
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport

Live (or tape delayed by a few hours) from Liverpool, England this is the Raw Deal…

We start with a John Cena promo. Mostly cheers, but some boos too. He mentioned the record ticket sales for WrestleMania 28. Interesting how they say “one day ticket sales” yet the pre-sale code was out two days earlier so those should count. Still, to sell $6.3 million worth of tickets in a couple of days is very impressive. It’s proof that it was a good move to announce Rock vs. Cena so early. The previous high was WM25 and it was over $2 million less than that. He talked about how Rock wasn’t there tonight, but he will team with Cena at Survivor Series. Then he said the “never before never again” line that is getting annoying fast. He also mentioned that people weren’t talking about this Raw because they were talking about next week’s show when Rock will be live in Boston for a three hour edition of Raw. He sucked up to Liverpool and then said Miz & Truth would team up against Cena and a future Hall of Famer.

Before Cena could finish, he was interrupted by The Miz & R-Truth. Miz talked about how they were embarrassed by Cena last week, but that it would be the last time. Does anybody really believe that? Of course not. Truth added in his thoughts, which amounted to threatening that Cena and his partner will “get got” later in the show. I like Miz & Truth on promos, but this was nothing new. Cena went into his super hype mode to introduce his partner just as Miz & Truth were starting to attack him. Oh radio…it’s Zack Ryder as his partner. He ran out, the faces dominated and Ryder took out R-Truth with the Rough Ryder. The crowd was hot for Ryder. It was a decent opening segment. It was nice that they built up Ryder so much.

By the way, my favorite sign in the crowd? The guy holding one that said: “Anonymous Raw GM Storyline?” Well played. I don’t think we’ll ever get that answer, though. I also thought “Turn Cena Face” was pretty funny.

Before the next match, they mentioned Ryder’s online petition for a match against Dolph Ziggler at Survivor Series for the US Title. It looks like it’s a go although they didn’t make it official on Raw as I expected. The likely outcome is Ryder going over in his home state of New York, I think. Ziggler needs to move up the card.

John Morrison d. Dolph Ziggler (***)
WHAT DA HAYELL? John Morrison won a match! It’s been a while. Considering that Cole & Lawler referenced the losing streak throughout the match and there was an article on WWE.com about it, I could sense the Morrison win coming. They have great chemistry. I saw them wrestle for 15 minutes at a house show back in September and they had a match similar to this in terms of quality. The house show match had more believable pinfalls though because two months ago Morrison still had credibility. Now he’s been booked so poorly (and earned the John Horowitz moniker from me) that fans barely reacted to his nearfalls. It was still an entertaining 12 minute match, with a commercial thrown in of course. It’s different to see Ziggler getting a chant during a match, but I guess the crowd is appreciative of his awesome work. Morrison hit a kick, but Vickie distracted the ref. Morrison told her to get off the apron, Ziggler rolled him up, got a nearfall and Morrison was able to counter that into a pinfall of his own that was good enough for win. The announcers played up Ziggler’s losing streak now since he’s lost to Ryder and Orton recently. I guess it’s a gimmick that can be passed on to others just by beating them. I’ll never complain about a good wrestling match like this. It’s nice to see Morrison get a win too. I’m not sure if this means a push, but it’s better than losing in three minutes. By the way, another non-title loss for a champion. I think they are required on a weekly basis now.

They plugged the WWE ’12 video game. I may give it a try although I’m not a huge gamer.

They announced a 5 on 5 elimination tag match for Survivor Series: Randy Orton, Sheamus, Mason Ryan, Kofi Kingston & Sin Cara vs. Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Christian, Jack Swagger & Hunico. It’s interesting to note that Barrett is the captain of his team rather than Rhodes or Christian. Also no Ryder or Ziggler means their match is likely going to happen although as I said before it was not made official yet. I’m likely picking the faces to win that tag match, by the way. I’d expect more focus to be put on it during the Smackdown tapings tonight too.

Mason Ryan d. JTG (Squash)
Yes, JTG is still employed. This was a two minute squash. The crowd didn’t react much to Ryan even though he’s from the United Kingdom (Wales). You can see Ryan’s in-ring limitations the longer he has to go. It’s like he’s trying to think of the next spot in his head. Long term he’s better as a heel, I think. He’s bigger than everybody he’s wrestling so why should fans get behind him and show sympathy towards him? Plus, it’s not like he’s loaded with babyface charisma. He may be loaded on other things though.

They aired a WrestleMania 28 video about the tickets being on-sale. Did you get yours? I’ll be there. I’m so excited about going to Miami. It should be an incredible weekend.

Backstage, some awkward Bella dialogue was interrupted by Zack Ryder who bragged about being Cena’s partner. They mocked when he got attacked a couple of weeks ago. Then they were happy for him. He told them to vote in the petition and to call him. Cue cheesy Zacktastic smile.

Plug time: I’ll be a guest on the OForums Podcast tonight (Tuesday) at around 9:45pmET for about 45 minutes or so. They are old friends of mine and part of a community that I’ve been involved with for about a decade. I still post my columns at The Oratory and my column archive is still there as well. It should be a good time. Their show starts at 8:30pmET so check it out if you get a chance.

Back from break, the announcers mentioned no Jim Ross this week for the Michael Cole Challenge. It will be next week in Boston. This stupid challenge has had more hype than Survivor Series, I think. Not really, but it’s been a few weeks now. With a three hour show next week, that should be one of the most awful segments. Cole ended the promo about it by saying instead of “Raw gets Rocked, Raw gets Coled” next week. That was atrocious. I’m sure Vince was doing his big “hahahahaha” laugh though. He loves it.

Alberto Del Rio d. Kofi Kingston (1/2*)
They had good matches earlier in the year on Smackdown, but this was a dominant two minute victory for Del Rio. He won via tapout with the Cross Armbreaker. They made no mention of Evan Bourne, who was obviously not there since he’s suspended for 30 days due to failing a drug test. Kingston’s a part of the 5 on 5 tag at Survivor Series. I’m not sure if they’ll do anything about the tag titles except have Bourne show up to defend them once the 30 days are up. Your guess is as good as mine. As for the win, it was much needed by Del Rio. I’m glad it was short rather than a 15-minute back and forth match even though that would have been good in terms of quality. It’s more important that Del Rio be booked strong going into the match with Punk. Post match, Del Rio put Kingston in the Cross Armbreaker again only for CM Punk’s music to hit and he stood at the top of the ramp as they went to break.

They had a good dueling promo. Del Rio complained about how Punk got his title shot because he attacked ADR after Big Show had knocked him out. Punk pointed out that Del Rio took a lot of shortcuts to win the WWE Title by cashing in Money in the Bank and then when he got the title back he did so thanks to a lead pipe he used to hit Punk in the head. Del Rio ripped on the fans and demanded to be treated with respect. Punk responded by saying that when people watched Del Rio’s promos on DVR they could hit fast forward without missing anything, which basically means Del Rio says the same things over and over. (That’s where the banner of this column comes from, thanks Melo Man.) While it is true to an extent, I don’t think it’s a great idea to basically call your WWE Champion boring. ADR is a heel, though, so I guess they can get away with it. Punk said he’d beat Del Rio and make the WWE Title interesting again. Del Rio said he’s the best in the world, which is a shot at Punk’s slogan. Del Rio wanted Punk to cancel the match. The crowd set up the proverbial drumroll (that was fun) as Punk said: “NO!” Del Rio tried to attack, Punk fought him off, ADR bailed and as usual it was Ricardo Rodriguez that ate the finishing move as Punk hit him with the Go To Sleep.

For the most part, I enjoyed the promo. It was nice to see two wrestlers do a promo like this without the lame “contract signing” gimmick. It was simply two guys talking trash in the center of the ring. You don’t always need to have a reason for it other than to say they are wrestling on PPV in two weeks time. Aside from insinuating that the WWE Champion is boring (again not a major problem, but I wouldn’t have gone that route), they did a good job of making you want to see this match. Del Rio escaped from Punk again. In two weeks at Survivor Series you can pay to see Punk get his hands on him. I’m not sure if Punk will win there. They might save it for a rematch at TLC in December. The last Raw of the year is in Chicago on December 26, so perhaps that could be the day for Punk win it back. They have a lot of options. I will predict this: Before year’s end I see Punk holding the WWE Title once again.

They aired a video package on The Muppets as the guest stars of Raw last week. That’s nice.

Before Jack Swagger’s match, he cut a promo (from earlier in the day) about Santino beating him last week although he struggled to get through it because he was so mad. Basically he said he lost to a Muppet.

Jack Swagger d. Santino (1/2*)
It was basically a squash that went about three minutes. The announcers spent most of it talking about the Michael Cole Challenge, which again gets way more hype than it should. Swagger won with the ankle lock because he had to get his win back after losing the comedy guest star match last week. That’s how WWE does these things.

After a break, Jerry Lawler was in the ring and he introduced Kelly Kelly, who walked out in a dress. They had the giant magazine covered up behind her. She’s on the cover of Maxim. I haven’t read that since I was in my mid 20s, so about five years ago. Five years ago this also would have been a Playboy cover. My how the times have changed. She was cutting some awful promo, then Beth & Natalya came out to rip her, calling her a Barbie Doll among other things. Before anything can happen, Eve & Alicia came out to save Kelly. Suddenly the heels left. It’s the second week in a row where they bailed from the three skinny girls. Then Eve & Alicia pulled off the cover. It’s a pic of Kelly in a bikini. There are only 50,000 of those pics of her on the internet. That’s how she got hired. Ask Laurinaitis. They used to recruit “talent” off bikini.com and Hawaiian Tropic bikini shoots among other things. Anyway, it was nice to see a segment instead of the same two minute match where Natalya loses via rollup, but I continue to be bored by the babyface divas in WWE.

On another note, I saw that Chyna was on The Howard Stern Show and she was talking about how she’d like to get back into WWE. Here’s a tip, genius: Don’t choose hardcore porn as a career move. It’s a publically traded company with a PG label, Linda McMahon is running for office again and the last thing they would ever do is hire a woman who works in hardcore porn. I guess she took the phrase “Suck It” a little too literally, huh?

They plugged the video game with Lawler saying it was his favorite game ever. Yeah, because we’re supposed to believe a man in his 60s plays video games regularly. My dad is ten years older than him. His hobbies are lottery tickets and cards. Not WWE ’12. Another reason for Lawler to get off TV soon: fans can’t relate to him. He’s old and uncool. Then again he does have a 22 year old girlfriend apparently, so maybe he does it to stay “hip” so to speak. Cole’s in the game too. That’s a good selling point for people that hate him. Beat him up electronically, I guess. The game comes out on November 22.

The interim Raw GM John Laurinaitis came out to introduce Kevin Nash. He had a new contract. He talked about seeing Hunter in 1995, how he wasn’t sure about him, but that Shawn Michaels liked him and thought he’d fit in well with their Kliq. I thought they were friends for 20 years like they always said. That’s 16 according to my math. In WWE they round up apparently. Kids, if you’re 16 years old then that means you’re 20. Congrats! Nash claims he got the biggest pop of the night at the Royal Rumble, but Hunter wouldn’t sign him. He bitched about only having a Legends Contract. I guess that’s a good reason to explain the motivation for his attack on Hunter. He wanted a full time job, Hunter could have helped him, he didn’t, so Nash attacked him when he had the chance. Nash said he was still the best and that he could be a World Champion any night of the week. He could also get injured any night of the week. The announcers put over how mean he was. It was a nice promo. Great intensity. Despite my smartass jokes, I liked it. They had to re-introduce Nash to a lot of the fanbase and they’ve done a good job of making him an asshole without even putting him in the ring.

They had a video package on Brodus Clay. No debut this week. Is it a “debut” if it’s a return? Rhetorical question, fella.

Backstage, Laurinaitis talked to David “Bowtie” Otunga. He mentioned how he couldn’t have Clay debut in Liverpool in front of those fans. I guess he didn’t tell the video package team from last week. CM Punk walked up. A new Nexus reunion? No. He said they don’t want a WWE Champion to look like he worked at a gas station. Punk attacked him. Del Rio showed up and beat up Punk. Laurinaitis had a great line: “Don’t make me take off my jacket!” Ha. That cracked me up. It’s almost as good as the doctor asking “does he have a pulse?” when Triple H got attacked. Del Rio won the fight as Punk was down after falling over on a table of food.

Back from break, they recapped the Punk/Del Rio attack. The announcers tried to sell it as a personal feud. I do think this week’s show did a good job of advancing the WWE Title story.

Before the main event, they recapped last week when Truth attacked Cena with a mask on, but John “miraculously” managed to beat up both guys easily.

The Miz & R-Truth d. John Cena & Zack Ryder (**3/4)
Good pop for Ryder and Cena got mostly cheers although during the match that changed a bit. I’m assuming some of the cheers were piped in. They are better at putting in the fake cheers than TNA is, that’s for sure. I knew the heels had to win, so I figured Ryder would be the one that got pinned. Zack played his part as a main eventer well, even throwing out Truth for the vintage “floor to commercial” spot. That was a painful bump by Truth. I wonder if it messed him up later. Back from break, Ryder was the one getting worked on for much of it. I liked the chants for him with the crowd chanting “Woo Woo Woo” and “Let’s Go Ryder” as well. He is over, people. After beating up on Ryder for much of the match, he finally got the hot tag to Cena at around the 15 minute mark. They did a double Five Knuckle Shuffle, which was cool in the “aww look at that Ryder kid getting to play with his idol Cena” kind of way because Ryder comes off like a fanboy. Fans won’t take a fanboy seriously, so they need to tweak his character going forward. Miz hit Cena with a boot to the face, he covered, Truth grabbed Cena’s foot and apparently that was enough to kick Cena down. Really? That’s it. Weak finish. The heels retreated.

To end the show the heels smiled on their way up the ramp while Cena was smirking in the ring. I wish John Cena sold defeat by being angry. He should have been slapping the mat. He should have sold frustration on his face. Instead, he laughed about it thinking how cheap it was that he lost. He needs to show anger to make people want to see him get revenge. Instead, he laughed to end the show. What does that accomplish? It means he’s not taking the heels seriously enough and it makes them look like a joke. It’s in your best interests to make them look like a threat. Instead, they look weak, which is typical of any Cena opponent. He’s too strong and the opponents are too weak even if they manage to win. Why do you think he gets booed? Because of the booking. I’ve read reports from people that were at the show that said he got booed way more than what was on the show. They edited heavily, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody.

Apparently they had to shoot the ending twice. The first time, Truth didn’t grab Cena’s leg when he was supposed to. What you saw on Raw was the second time they did it. Pretty funny that they are used to doing this show live nearly every week, but this time when they had a few hours to edit they were able to correct it. Truth can be sloppy at times despite having nearly 20 years of in ring experience. This was one of those times, I guess. I thought the ending fell flat. It was a boot to the head, Cena went down, Miz covered, Truth grabbed the leg and Cena wasn’t able to power out. Huh? That’s it. Obviously the idea they are trying to play up is that Truth & Miz will do anything to win, but to me they could have done it in a more impactful way with perhaps a chair to the back or something that was more impactful. Holding a guy’s foot is weak for a finish. Maybe that’s just me. It’s typical WWE booking where they want to protect Super Cena.

Three Stars of the Show
1. Zack Ryder – Did a nice job in a big match. He’s getting over, broski.
2. Dolph Ziggler – Continues to have the best matches on a consistent basis.
3. John Morrison – Hopefully this sets him on the right path again.

6 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 3.5 (October 10)
2011 Average: 5.69
Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 6, 3.5, 6.5, 6

A slight bump up from last week thanks to some really good in-ring action and solid promos from Kevin Nash as well as CM Punk in particular. There weren’t a lot of Smackdown people on the show because they had a house show in the UK as well, so most of them were there.

If you look at Raw on a week to week basis, you knew how everything involving the top guys was going to be booked. Last week Del Rio got beat clean by Big Show and made a fool of by Punk. This week he got a decisive. He ran from Punk again, but he wasn’t made out to be a fool. In the Cena story, you knew that since he won the week before that something would happen to make it seem like he needed the Rock. Guess what? He lost. This is typical WWE “Even Steven” type of booking that is consistent on a week to week basis.

This show was a small step in the right direction. Hopefully with a 3 hour Raw next week plus The Rock’s live return (he will be in the building in Boston) they can do a better job of promoting Survivor Series on November 20th. I’m excited to see Rock in the building again. It’s been about six months. This show needs his energy badly. His promos next week will be key in terms of getting people interested in Survivor Series.

Next week is Survivor Series week. I’m working on a historical SS piece that should be up either this weekend (thinking Sunday) or in the middle of the week. Of course on the weekend there will also be another edition of Canton’s Corner.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – john@thejohnreport.net
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