WWE ‘Monday Night Raw’ Recap – [4/9/12]
With one of the absolute best first segments in recent memory, this week’s ‘Monday Night Raw’ started out extremely promising. But apart from a great CM Punk/Chris Jericho segment and some Three Stooges slapstick that I am a little embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed far too much, the show was largely downhill from that colossal John Cena/Brock Lesnar brouhaha.
To find out the five most important moments from this week’s show, keep reading, and make sure to add a comment if you think I missed anything. Then, make sure to irritate all your friends and family by sharing this article across every last single one of your social networks – even Google+ – and follow me on Twitter so you can be exposed to my inimitable charm and wit throughout the week.
Ground and pound with Brock Lesnar
There’s no two ways about it: ‘Monday Night Raw’ opened hell of strong this week. First up, John Laurinaitis came out to his hilariously pompous new entrance music, and Brock Lesnar showed up with his awesome Danzig/Swamp Thing hybrid t-shirt. Then, just as I was starting to get irritated by what a goofy voice Lesnar has, longing for a Paul Heyman return, the former UFC Champion was interrupted by John Cena. The two proceeded to get into a locker-room-clearing brawl, in which Lesnar appeared to actually connect with at least a few of his punches, bloodying Cena's mouf in the process.
Maybe it’s just my Twitter feed, but people are already starting to complain about this feud, and the fact that billing Lesnar as “legitimate” somehow chips away at the verisimilitude of WWE or Cena’s believability. I think that’s just nonsense though, and the fact that folks are getting upset about it just means that WWE’s plan to have another “reality-based” storyline is working. Right now it’s looking like WWE might bill Lesnar as a heel during this angle, which I think would be a smart move, as it could help get some more folks on Cena’s side in the wake of his ‘WrestleMania’ loss.
My only concern moving forward is that if Cena ends up losing to Lesnar as well, then he’ll have fully transformed into the guy who takes on part-time WWE carpetbaggers only to get beat up by them. But all that’s to be determined a couple weeks down the road when the two meet at Extreme Rules. What we got tonight was an intriguing segment that continued to pique my interest in the Cena/Lesnar angle. The only thing wrong with it was that it kind of took the wind out of Brock’s reemergence at the end of the show, as it all felt like something we’d seen not only last week, but also a short two hours earlier.
Tag Team Match of Misfit Toys
Brodus Clay & Santino Marella vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger. Aside from Swagger – who I think has some serious potential at least – these are all wrestlers I really like. I enjoy watching them work, and I’d love to see any of them involved in some type of ongoing storyline or feud. Brodus has gotten tremendously over despite a somewhat haphazard debut and ill-advised stint off of television – he just needs an angle beyond being the fat guy who loves to dance. Ziggler is easily one of the best, hardest working guys in WWE today and even has World Title legitimacy from his too-short stay in that picture earlier this year. And Santino? The guy was the standout star of ‘Elimination Chamber’ and is the current United States Champion for crying out loud – give him something to do!
It was frustrating to watch WWE leave so much money on the table in regards to these four wrestlers. Worst of all though, is that of the four guys in the ring, Ziggler ended up being the one to get his shoulders pinned to the mat. I understand that he’s great at selling and the best worker of the four, able to lose without looking too terrible, but he’s also the guy with the most potential, so it kills me to see it squandered in midcard haphazard tag team matches about absolutely nothing.
What happened to Lord Tensai!?
Last week I absolutely raved about Lord Tensai and his first match back in WWE, but this week I had to sit feeling embarrassed about how enthusiastic I was regarding the former Prince Albert. I went into Tensai’s match against Yoshi Tatsu extremely optimistic – while I’ve never been as into the Cardiac Kid as some folks, I liked that WWE was addressing the fact that there’s another guy with a Japanese gimmick in the promotion, and unlike Tensai, Tatsu is actually Japanese. But what followed was a perfunctory match in which neither Tensai nor Tatsu appeared to really know what they were supposed to be doing.
Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t helping much either, as they continually chanted “Albert” at Tensai. WWE’s worked themselves into an odd spot with Lord Tensai: They’ve acknowledged that he used to work for the company before leaving for a stay in Japan, but on television they still seem to avoid mentioning any of his previous ring names. If they fully committed to Tensai being a new person, people would have eventually given up on the smarky “Albert” chants, and if they had fully embraced his previous identities, the chants wouldn’t have felt odd or distracting – and maybe wouldn’t occur at all. But until they commit to one direction or the other, they’ll be stuck in this “neither fish nor fowl” territory.
Chris-weisers? Jeri Ice? Y2J Ultra? Jericho Cream Ale? Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rolla Blue Ribbon?
I really enjoyed everything CM Punk was involved with tonight. I dug his Straight Edge promo as it spun the lifestyle as something that even a dedicated Curved Edger like myself can support. I liked his match with Mark Henry as it ended with the belt around Punk’s waist, but with the World’s Strongest Man still looking strongish. And I absolutely loved Jericho emerging from the back to drench his rival in beer. There was just one thing wrong with it all: It was a month too late.
When Jericho finally got around to making his rivalry with Punk personal, bringing up his alcoholic father and drug addicted sister, it all felt like too little too late. Granted, I couldn’t have been more excited to see their match at ‘WrestleMania XXVIII,’ but it always felt more like an exhibition match between two pros as opposed to a heated rivalry. Now, the feud is more personal than ever but it’s hard for me to get too involved in it, as it feels like a rivalry that’s already come to a close after Punk’s decisive ‘Mania’ victory.
Shemp ain’t got nothing on Santino
As mentioned earlier, I liked the Three Stooges bits on this week’s ‘Monday Night Raw’ far more than I probably should have. Generally, I find WWE’s attempts at comedy to be eyeroll-inducing at best, and offensive, wrongheaded and embarrassing at worst, but everything the stars of the new “Three Stooges” movie did this week completely worked for me, especially Will Sasso’s spot-on Hulk Hogan impression and his subsequent bumping for the slapstick-hating Kane. What’s more, I don’t even really understand the complaints of people who hated these bits.
The argument that it undercuts the drama of WWE is patently absurd coming from anyone who has watched the product in the last, oh, I don’t know, 25 years. Even more so considering the fact that pretty much everyone everywhere loved the Muppets appearance on the show, and that episode actually established that Sheamus and Beaker are cousins. The broad physical comedy of the Three Stooges is pretty much the only comedy that professional wrestling can pull off reliably, and Santino Marella is that style of humor’s foremost practitioner in WWE. Putting him together with the Stooges was a natural fit and I enjoyed every minute of it. Bonus points for WWE not forcing any unfortunate midcarders to job for the guest stars.
Aubrey Sitterson is a professional writer and editor specializing in comics and professional wrestling. For GuySpeed, he writes weekly reviews of ‘Monday Night Raw’ and previews of ‘Friday Night SmackDown.’ Find him on Twitter and at aubreysitterson.com.