WWE ‘Monday Night Raw’ recap – [4/30/12]
Following up on the the absolutely awesome ‘Extreme Rules’ pay-per-view, the WWE put on a ‘Monday Night Raw’ designed to answer all your lingering questions from the night before. What’s the deal with Brock Lesnar and his contract? Is John Cena really injured and taking time off? Who will be the new No. 1 contender for CM Punk’s WWE Championship? Is there anyone left for Brodus Clay to squash? WWE answered all of these and more, while also giving fans no less than eight wrestling matches to chew on.
To find out the answers to the above questions, along with the five most important moments from this week’s ‘Raw,’ keep reading, and make sure to add a comment telling us what you thought about the show. Finally, link us up through Facebook and your other social networks and follow me on Twitter so we can yammer about wrestling together ALL WEEK LONG.
Starring Brock Lesnar?
Building up to his ‘Extreme Rules’ match against John Cena, Brock Lesnar made arrangements with Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and General Manager of both ‘Raw’ and ‘SmackDown’ John Laurinaitis, for his to become the face of WWE. This was to include the title of the company’s flagship show gaining a “Starring Brock Lesnar” addendum, the use of the promotion’s private jet and more, and after a special opening card featuring the former UFC Heavyweight Champion’s mug, it looked like WWE might be going through with it (storyline-wise at least).
But at the top of the show Laurinaitis and Lesnar (sounds like a personal injury law firm) were interrupted by none other than WWE’s storyline Chief Barbarian Operation Officer, Triple H. Trips tried to force Brock to abide by the original terms of his contract, seeing as Laurinaitis didn’t have the authority to offer all the additional perks listed above, but this just enraged Lesnar, who attacked his boss, beat him up, put him in a Kimura Lock and kayfabe (I hope) broke Triple H’s arm, drawing out much of the locker room to defend the COO.
I loved this segment. While I’m not sure how WWE will logically explain Lesnar’s continued presence after he broke the boss’ arm on live television, I thought it was a great way to quickly reestablish Lesnar as a monster following his loss to Cena the night before. I don’t think his ‘Extreme Rules’ match hurt him too much in fans’ estimation, seeing as his loss came only after a long match spent brutalizing his opponent, but if there were any concerns about his “legitimacy,” they should be gone now. I was also happy to see Triple H used in this capacity, as when he came out, I was immediately worried that the GAme would step in and beat up Lesnar, which would have done nothing to build WWE’s new threat, and retroactively made Cena look like kind of a joke. Well done all around.
Brodus Clay vs. JTG, the sequel
It seems like WWE has pretty much run out of guys on the roster to feed to Brodus Clay, having sent the Funkasaurus tearing through much of the lower card already. In my mind, that should mean it’s time to put Clay in an actual storyline, but apparently WWE disagrees, instead letting the wrestler face off against JTG for the second time. If I remember correctly, JTG got in a little more offense than he did the first time around, but the match was still basically a squash. The most interesting part of the contest, however, was how JTG sold all of his opponent’s attacks: Crazily.
It wasn't quite at Shawn Michaels at ‘Summerslam’ 2005 levels, but there was absolutely nothing naturalistic about the way he flopped around the ring and fell on his back with his legs straight up, causing even my (very patient with the television on Monday nights) fiancé to point out how lousy it was. This wasn’t fun, emotive Dolph Ziggler selling, it was a guy having a laugh. It might be reading to much into things, but given the way that JTG has been ensconced on WWE’s non-televised programming the past year or so, and the fact that the annual talent purge is still ahead of us, I wouldn't be surprised if the former Cryme Tyme member isn’t expecting to hang around much longer.
New Tag Team Champions
This week saw Primo & Epico lose the WWE Tag Team Titles to Kofi Kingston & R-Truth, which if you’re anything like me, elicited a big fat “Who gives a turkey?” WWE has done nothing to build the tag team division or protect the titles, which makes their changing hands largely meaningless. The Colon boys had even already lost matches to Kingston & Truth, as well as any number of other tag teams in recent months, making the change even less exciting.
Still, whenever the tag team titles change hands, I get a little hopeful. This might be too optimistic on my part, but any new set of tag team champions is a chance for WWE to start rebuilding their tag team promotion. With the recently dethroned team, the Usos, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil in the mix, there’s actually the potential for some good tag team storylines to kick in. Additionally, the fact that Epico & Primo might sign a managerial contract with Abraham Washington points to at least some kind of plan being in place for the division.
YES! YES! YES!
I’m a sucker for a good Beat the Clock Challenge – it guarantees a decent amount of wrestling on any given episode of WWE television and adds a nice extra dramatic element as wrestlers try not only to beat one another, but do it quickly as well. This particular BtCC didn’t stand out as a particularly fantastic one, but that’s absolutely fine, because the upshot was seeing Daniel Bryan beat up Jerry Lawler to become the new No. 1 contender for the WWE Title.
Like most everyone else on the internet, I’m a huge Daniel Bryan fan, going back to his days in Ring of Honor as Bryan Danielson, so of course I’m delighted to see that after getting knocked out of the World Heavyweight Title picture, he’s received a de facto promotion to compete for the slightly more well-regarded WWE Championship. Even better is the fact that he’ll be facing another talented internet darling for the title at ‘Over the Limit’: CM Punk. Finally, I’m not sure what the point was really, but I also really enjoyed seeing Bryan wrestle against Lawler. The King annoys the hell out of me on commentary, and generally I think he’s past the point where he should be involved in extended in-the-ring storylines, but this week showed that with the right opponent, he can still put on a seriously enjoyable match.
The biggest question coming out of ‘Extreme Rules’ was whether John Cena was legit injured or not. While he seemed to have no problem hitting the Attitude Adjustment on Brock Lesnar to win their match, afterward he sold some kind of serious injury to his left arm, letting it hang limply to his side and even alluding to needing to take some time away from the ring. Apparently that was all just a work, however, as Cena revealed that he is “hurt” but not “injured” and will be continuing to wrestle. Soon afterward, he was joined in the ring by John Laurinaitis, who was ready to introduce Cena’s opponent for ‘Over the Limit,’ after teasing Lord Tensai (which I would have been totally fine with actually), the Omni-GM then revealed that it would be, in fact, him that faced Cena.
I’m excited to see the former Johnny Ace step back into the ring, especially against Cena, who is more than capable of getting a good match out of the guy, even if he’s forgotten everything he used to know in his All-Japan days. Trouble is, Laurinaitis stepping into the ring against Cena is kind of too-little too-late, as what fans were clamoring for just a few short months ago was to see the EVP of Talent Relations square off against CM Punk, with whom he had a much more heated rivalry. I’m looking forward to this, but have to wonder why, if Laurinaitis is capable of having a match, WWE didn’t pull the trigger on it earlier, when he was involved in a much more intense angle.
Finally, a couple thoughts about Cena’s worked injury…While it was certainly effective in piquing my interest both after ‘Extreme Rules’ as well as throughout ‘Raw,’ I have to wonder about the long-term wisdom of storylines where a serious injury is teased only to turn around and say, “Nope, he’s fine and will be wrestling at the next pay-per-view.” Given Cena’s non-injury and the weird worked nature of whatever is going on with Beth Phoenix, it causes fans to be extra skeptical of anytime someone is supposedly legitimately injured…like when WWE’s COO sustains a broken arm on live television. Cena’s non-injury injury was certainly effective now, but this type of storytelling will start yielding diminishing returns extremely quickly.
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.