This weeks episode of RAW absolutely flew by. I know a lot of people are getting sick of the three hour shows, and pleading for them to be downsized back to the original two hour slot. When watching the show most weeks since the switch, I have felt the same. Not last night. Last night was one of the few episodes these days that had me wanting more! Three hours just wasn’t enough. It’s been getting more and more like that since the turn of the year, and that’s obviously because we are heading down the Road to Wrestlemania. But this show reached a new level. I thought it was jam packed with good matches, amazing segments, stunning returns and one of the best TV main events I’ve seen in a long, long time. There is pretty much only one thing I would have changed about the show, but I’ll get to that in a little while.
Because so much took place on RAW, I’m just gonna focus on some of the major points that I think hold most importance or interest. The opening segment of the show can usually go one or two ways. It can either light a fire under the card and start off a great show, or provide a very dull, unmemorable beginning to an often likewise night. This week was definitely a case of the first choice. Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman came together for their “fight” and the latter seemed to be getting into it. He was relishing the chance to take out the already injured and extremely senior Chairman of the Board. Vince managed to turn this around and had Paul on the ground with crutch in hand.
Then it hit, the moment we were all waiting for deep down, Brock Lesnar’s music hit. He swaggered to the ring and proceeded to stalk Vince. Just as you thought he was going to add insult to injury, the infamous opening seconds of that classic Motorhead theme dropped. Everyone in the arena, and everyone at the show knew what was about to happen. Out comes Vince’s son-in-law and Chief Operating Officer Triple H, but he’s not in a suit and he’s not here for business. He is sporting his new short hair, and looks ready to fight.
The two of them meet half way between the ring and the tron and begin brawling uncontrollably. At one point Hunter smashes Brock’s head against the ring post causing a huge cut to open up on his head. Brock bled profusely as the two of them continued to fight it out. Triple H then smashed him out of the ring with the chair. As Lesnar walked back up the ramp, he was smiling in that classic heel way. It’s pretty obvious that this means the two of them will be coming together on the grandest stage, so that the McMahon family name can be defended and honoured. It’s a great story and the two of them told it to perfection. I love accidental blood in WWE, but it’s ironic that Lesnar is always involved in it. I really can’t wait to see what’s in store for this one.
Aside from the no longer rumoured Undertaker return, the biggest hot topic in wrestling right now is probably Jack Swagger and his new persona. Moronic bigot Glen Beck took his despicable image to new lows in my eyes this week when he basically called everyone involved in and every supporter of wrestling an idiot. In his view, the guys in the ring, and us in the crowd have something in common. We are all “stupid wrestling people” – Now he has said some despicable things in his time, and I pretty much wish death upon him at the best of times. But this is a step too far. I really would pay someone to slit his fat throat if I could.
The hilarious irony of this is the fact that he is complaining about the offensive nature of Swagger and his legendary new manager Zeb Colter. He cries that their characters show conservatives and particularly Vietnam veterans in a dim light. They are characters you complete fool! They are aligned and played out as heels (bad guys) – This itself shows that the company is not endorsing their attitudes. It is not saying they represent everyone of a certain belief or political stance. They are just bad guys, and the crowd should boo them. It’s that simple. The real truth that Beck knows to be a fact, is that he sees himself and his own ideologies in those characters, and he can’t handle that. He is a racist, pathetic idiot and it kills him to see himself and everything he stands for parodied and hated.
The two in question were on this weeks show again, which I was delighted about, After the news of Swagger’s unfortunate incident with the good old Mary Jane, I thought it was inevitable before he was dropped from Wrestlemania and they went in another direction. That apparently isn’t going to happen and the two are getting more heat and causing more controversy than ever. I’m a big fan of what they are doing. Swagger has all the physical attributes to be at the very top. All he needs is some help with the mic. Colter is doing a spectacular job in getting heat heaped onto the two of them, It’s a superb partnership, and this feud with Alberto Del Rio has the potential to become extremely emotional and personal by the time they get it on, if booked well. I’m glad to see that they are not dropping this one.
And then there was Cena and Punk. A great promo in the ring by the best in the world. A great backstage interview by the hero. A chance to face The Rock at Wrestlemania for the brand new shiny WWE Championship. The stage was set for what Cole described as the ‘one of the most important matches of both of their careers’ – We’ve seen it before many times, but it never disappoints and it’s never predictable. This was no different.
After all had been said, and entrances had been made, the two got it on, and let me tell you, it has to be one of the best television main event’s I’ve seen in recent memory. This was no throw away tag team match involving Kofi Kingston. This was a highly anticipated, thoroughly executed and perfectly performed match by two of the best in the business. The first ten minutes was the kind of impressive chain wrestling I never thought I’d see from Cena. From the start it was clear that John was in one of those ‘One Night Stand’ moods when he just wanted to prove the world wrong and rebuttal the infamous “You can’t wrestle” chants. There were no such chants last night. The crowd were firmly behind him. He must have just felt the need to earn his spot by putting on a brilliant wrestling match. If so, he succeeded.
The match went on from there to include countless reversals, some amazing storytelling, ring psychology, multiple finishing manoeuvres and even a John Cena hurricanrana, and an explosive CM Punk piledriver. Both men were pulling unbelievable moves and tricks out of their respective hats. Both men gave everything they had mentally and physically. At the end of the match, John Cena won the match clean and had his hand raised. He is going to Wrestlemania. I’m sure there are a lot of Punk fans, or more accurately Cena haters, who will now label the match as terrible. The predetermined winner of the match is not important. Two guys put their bodies on the line and gave every single drop of enthusiasm they had to put on a show. It was a great one.
Now to my only real issue with this weeks RAW. Where the HELL was The Undertaker? Last night, just before the show I made a post all about how excited I was to see The Deadman. I guess I’ll still have to wait. I don’t know if it’s because he carried the Smackdown brand for so long, and they intend to bring him back there and have him be a central part of that show in the run up to Mania. I personally think that would be great for Smackdown and the business in general. Somehow I don’t see that being the case. I suspect he will be on RAW at some point to make it clear who he intends to face for the streak.
All logic now points to CM Punk. The two had tremendous battles for the World Heavyweight Championship on Smackdown a few years back. They would have plenty of video to use for the build. The two of them could breathe new life into the mostly cadaverous second string show. The Undertaker admitted that during those past battles CM Punk earned his respect. I’m sure Punk would admit that duelling with the phenom also helped him to raise his game and reach a new level. With four of the biggest stars in history already tied up, I don’t see many other options.
Raw or Smackdown based, I fully expect it to be Taker and Punk fighting it out for respect and for the title of ‘icon’ – This is why I was so surprised not to see them kickstart the build up last night. They basically waited until seconds before the main event, then made their first mention of Taker by showing a Tout clip filmed on a mobile phone of his return at the Texas house show. I thought this was SO lame. Granted I already knew about his comeback and so do most ‘internet fans’ so I get that they don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence. Nonetheless, you want a return (whether you expect it or not) to be dramatic, and especially when it’s the legend of Wrestlemania. But no, the first glimpse was on Tout – ridiculous!
After Cena got the pin on Punk, it seemed to me that the logical step was to have him leave Punk lifeless on the mat and walk back up the ramp after his celebrations. Punk could then either slowly crawl to his feet and begin to leave the ring, or he could grab the microphone and complain about being screwed. Either way, with him alone in the ring, it would be the perfect moment for the lights to go out, the gong to hit and the Deadman to appear behind Punk, ready to question his accusations earlier in the night that he is “the icon”, “immortal”, “the greatest of all time”, “greatness on two feet” and my personal favourite “GOD!”. The fact that this didn’t happen may mean they have a different opponent in mind, or they may just want to wait, or they may have screwed up big time. Who knows? The good thing from a WWE perspective is that I will be watching next week to find out, and I can’t wait.
To sum up, we now have Rock v Cena, Triple H v Lesnar and Swagger v Del Rio booked for Wrestlemania. Providing the world doesn’t end, or something equally problematic, these should all be taking place. I expect to also see Punk v Undertaker. The three hour RAW’s can sometimes be a chore, but this week’s certainly wasn’t like that. I’d advise you all to check it out, and be sure to tune in next week for more! The card and build for Wrestlemania is heating up, and the anticipation is reaching fever pitch. I realised the other day that the event clashes with the UK tour I’m going on with my housemate Andy (www.facebook.com/brainsforbreakfastmusic) – I’ll be in Liverpool on the night of the show and need to find somewhere to watch it. There is no way I can miss it! I can’t wait!
Are you excited for Wrestlemania? What did you think of RAW? Please let me know. Go ahead and post a comment, and also post any questions or queries you may have about wrestling for the upcoming video Q&A series!
Thank you very much for reading!