Monday Night Raw Recap & Review 7/2/12


Tonight’s Raw opens with the announcement that Teddy Long will be the GM. Which doesn’t bode well for tonight’s show, but I accepted that it was inevitable. John Cena enters the ring while promos for Money In The Bank are mentioned. Cena then starts talking about the ending of last weeks show, where he got beaten by Jericho and then attacked by Big Show. He goes on to talk again about how that loss has only motivated him to Try Harder™ and to Never Give Up™ and all the usual boring Cena rhetoric that he spouts. Thankfully, he is interrupted by Daniel Bryan, who comes out and reminds us of his MITB match with CM Punk.  CM Punk comes out, and they all make points about the potential outcomes of MITB, with John Cena essentially being the winner as a given, because he’s John Cena. This really hurts the value of that PPV since they’re already talking about Cena as the winner, and undermines the whole point of that match. Why have a match if everyone involved basically admits that John Cena is going to win? What’s the point other than showing us yet again that the scales are tipped in his favor at all times?

Thankfully, the promo got better with CM Punk and Bryan playing off of each other and involving the crowd. If this storyline develops to include Cena, it could potentially make every single fan in the audience go hoarse between “Yes”, “No” and “Let’s go Cena/Cena Sucks” chants. Not one to be out of the spotlight, Jericho then enters, and puts in his 2 cents. He comes out, and reminds us all that between the four of them, Jericho is one of the best catchphrase makers of all time. He then runs through all of his catchphrases that he’s had over the years, and says that he plans to win the match, and not let Cena cruise his way to a title shot. Then Kane and Big Show enter one after another, both to re-enforce the idea that they plan to win the match. They then get into a big brawl, and Show comes out on top, ostensibly as the victor. It’s an attempt to rectify the foregone conclusion that Cena will win, but really, the damage is done. They’re clearly trying to set up the many possible storylines that could develop between Punk/Bryan/Show/Cena/Jericho/Kane, but WWE is anything if predictable, and it’ll probably end up being a Punk/Cena match we’ll get in the future.

This is a strange match up. I don’t quite get the pairings other than the Tag Team champions against the #1 contenders The Primetime Players. They’ve developed all of the feuds in previous shows, specifically Smackdown, but as for the actual reasons they’re booked against each other, I’m drawing a blank. Why are Otunga and Cody Rhodes a team? No clue. Why are Santino and Christian buddies? Does holding a championship title make you instant best friends? It’s not clear, but it’s building for their respective matches at MITB.  8 man tag-team matches are never something I’ve been too big a fan of. Most of the time it’s unbalanced, and everyone involved is just used sparingly until the lot of them find some way to get hurt and then the good/bad guys win.

I had a hard time paying attention to the match because A, It was kinda boring, and B, AW’s voice was incredibly, ridiculously loud. I don’t know if he had a direct mic hooked up, but the dude was louder than Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and the audience combined. The guys voice boomed like he was Odin, and was announcing Ragnarok to all the peoples of Earth. Or maybe he temporarily siphoned the powers of Blackbolt, and his whispers don’t move mountains but his words can be heard clearly no matter where you are in the world. Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating, but the dude was crazy loud.  Eventually, AW leads the Primetime Players away, because them leaving matches seems to be their thing now. Then Cody Rhodes exits too,  leaving David Otunga alone with the rest of the other team. Brodus Clay then enters, and throws Otunga back into the ring to be Cobra’d by Santino. After Santino wins the match, they all take turns needlessly beating on Otunga. After ruthlessly destroying him, they all start dancing to Funkasaurus’ music, as little kids enter the ring. Meanwhile, Otunga writhes in agony. Funk is on a roll!

We then cut to Teddy Long dancing alone inside his dressing room, watching the match, which is exactly what I always thought he did, and it was hilarious to see my suspicions confirmed. Alberto Del Rio walks in, and begs for a title match, destiny, et all. Teddy informs him that the Board of Directors have made him the #1 contender, and given him a match at MITB, but that Teddy has given Del Rio a match tonight, and it’ll be a Teddy Long surprise, which I hope to god isn’t a sexual euphemism. Knowing Teddy Long, the Teddy Surprise is the same damn thing he always does, and is just a tag team match. Man, I really want Vickie back as GM, at least she was creative.

I remember watching this training montage between Vince McMahon and Shane. It was a fairly funny parody of Rocky and all the boxing movie/training montages you’ve ever seen. I loved seeing Vince becoming motivated to bulk up by his pure hatred of Stone Cold alone. I know a thing or two about hating things, and it’s inspiring to think that if you just hate someone or something enough, you can accomplish your goals, no matter how ridiculous, improbable, and pointless. Vince McMahon was a probably the best villainous character in the history of WWE, and boy, I sure do miss him. On a side note, Stephanie McMahon has aged REALLY well. She looks 10x hotter than I remember her being in the Attitude era. Lordy.

Teddy’s surprise turns out to not be a tag team match, but actually Del Rio matched up against Sin Cara. I’m actually surprised these guys haven’t wrestled before, because they’re both of luchador backgrounds. Del Rio actually makes quick work of Sin Cara, interrupting his ostentatious and stupid intro sequence, and then puts him in a cross armbreaker, ending the match before it starts. I like Alberto Del Rio crushing people. I like him winning cleanly, and I like him straight up being BETTER than other wrestlers who are forced on us. His talent is relatively underutilized, and dammit, he needs to have more promos, and we need to see more Ricardo Rodriguez actually wrestling. #Rudo forever.

After that match, we cut backstage to AJ and Daniel Bryan, who shows up with a rose in hand, trying to apologize to her for how he treated her in the past, saying he always cared about her. She calls him on his BS, says she sees through his transparent attempt to curry her favor for his match at MITB, and then bites off the head of the rose he gave her. No really, she bites off the head of the rose. Every week I keep wondering how they’re going to build on AJ’s “crazy chick” character angle, and every week she keeps doing something to up the ante, or at the very least, continue it in a believable fashion. What’s next? Does she start tearing up turnbuckles and eating chunks of the foam inside? Whatever they do, i’m enjoying it. Her character is fascinating right now, and she’s bringing a sliver of hope and legitimacy to the Diva’s division. Hopefully her becoming popular will continue this, and make it a trend. I know I want to see more scantily clad, attractive women actually wrestling competently, don’t you?

Then we return to the old recap of the HHH/Paul Heyman/Brock Lesnar storyline, where we see HHH fail over and over at mind games or understanding basic assault charges. Tonight we were told we’d get a response to HHH’s proposition of a match to settle things at Summerslam. Paul Heyman shows up VIA satellite, and tells us that the decision will actually be made, face to face, at the 1000th episode of Raw. He continues to sum up his impressions of HHH’s intentions for the match between Lesnar and HHH. He basically says that this match will provide a reason for HHH to throw in the towel and become a CEO/COO/Whatever full-time, and cap off his career as being the “last of his kind”, or the “end of an era”, as he’s put it before. I think Heyman is mostly right, but I also think HHH is just kind of dumb, and doesn’t think things through in terms other than “I’m gonna beat you up and then that’ll be that”. Which I guess makes sense, since as a wrestler turned corporate executive, that’s about the only logic he’d apply to any transgression or disagreement he’d ever have, professional or otherwise. I’m guessing if a plumber overcharges HHH for 3 hours work, HHH pedigrees him into his bathroom tile and demands a price reduction, or sliding scale  payment plan. If his cook makes him undercooked pasta, he scalds him with the boiling pasta water and demands perfectly al dente ravioli. HHH is that guy who went to the club and thought it was cool to give the bouncers shit, tried to fight them, and was confused when he wasn’t let back in next week.

I can’t think of the last time I saw an inter-gender Tag Team match, but holy crap how much does Raw reek of Teddy Long as GM so far? One hour in, and the only two real matches (ADR vs Sin Cara doesn’t count) are both Tag Team matches. Dude, seriously? We get it. You love tag teams. Please bring back John Laurinaitis, WWE Board of Directors, I’m begging you. We’ve seen Dolph Ziggler vs Sheamus a few times now, and these guys are definitely learning to make each others moves look pretty good. They work together well,  Sheamus’ moves look good on Ziggler, and Ziggler is pretty great at getting tweener heat from audiences. Eventually Dolph dodges a brogue kick and tags in Vickie.  AJ quickly pins her, then grabs a mic and  YES YES YES’s her way out of the ring. She’s then seen backstage looking for CM Punk, and catches him on the phone. After Punk doesn’t answer her immediately about who he’s talking to, she starts to go Overly-Possesive Girlfriend on him again, asking if he saw her match. He rebuffs her saying he was on the phone the whole time with his sister, and she starts to LOSE IT, and somehow manages to be crazy, creepy, and pitiful at the same time. Punk just shrugs and stands there, I laugh well through the entire commercial break, and the beat goes on.

Back from the break, Heath Slater is back, about to be jobbed to some former WWE Legend. They show a quick recap of all his previous losses, with bonus Three Stooges noises for every injury he took. He protests it, and starts saying how he’s not a clown. Yeah you guessed it,  Doink The Clown then enters the ring, looking just as terrifying as I remember.  Actually, he’s sort of dressed like a creepy clown version of Benjamin Franklin, and that thought alone will make my dreams really scary for a week at least. So they trade moves back and forth for a while, until shocker of shockers, Slater beats Doink! Then we’re treated to a really great surprise, and Diamond Dallas Frickin’ Page shows up, to the cheers of the crowd and me at home. He then drops a Diamond Cutter on Slater, and everyone loses their damn minds.  I miss DDP, he should come back and put the Diamond Cutter on some chump every week, until he gets to Randy Orton. Then we’d get 10 minutes of them just countering each others identical finishers until one of them decides to give up. They’d be the unstoppable force and immovable object of wrestlers whose finishers come “out of NOWHERE”.

So let’s forget that these two were tag team champions and best friends as recently as a year ago, and focus on the particulars of this match. It’s a No-DQ match between them, essentially to build up the tension for their match at MITB. The both of them are considered “Monsters” now, and the both of them are relatively big men, whose main thing is being strong and feared. So their match is just an exercise in big slow dudes moving slowly and attempting moves that seem a bit too much for both of them. Big Show does a good job of making short work of Kane, further establishing him as a dominant force in the WWE. The match itself wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. Aside from the use of a chair though, I don’t get why it was No-DQ. I guess they needed to sell the idea that Kane was only barely beaten by Big Show, but to be honest, it didn’t do Kane any kind of favor with his portrayal as an effective wrestler. Unless he has someone quick to complement his move set, he seems really slow and relatively weak.

Then we cut to Teddy Long and Eve, who I had forgotten about entirely, but good lord does she look great in red, white and blue. Even though Eve is pretty, she’s still better as a backstage character than wrestler. Her character is one of the WWE female staples, that being: The Bitch. I’m not sure what her absence in the WWE was for, kayfabe or otherwise, but her return post-Laurinaitis is a bit superfluous. Is she still in a position of power? It’s something I’ll just have to guess at in continuing weeks. I’m guessing right now, her purpose is for us to just remember her, which seems apt, as that’s all Teddy seems to think, as he slaps a name tag on her. That’s his idea of a revenge for being made to wear a name tag and maids dress by the way.

Like dude, if you’re the GM, and somebody ridiculed you for weeks on end, FIRE THEM. But I digress, as we see Eve approach AJ. Eve makes fun of AJ, calling her a little girl and all those typical insults an older, jealous woman makes of a younger, hotter, more talented woman than themselves. AJ then goes 2-0 tonight, and calls Eve on all of her BS, and rightly accuses Eve of being a brown noser with nobody to brown nose, and no attention to gain from anyone. AJ then says she’ll show her and everyone else,  just how to get attention. I’m presuming she means she’ll win another match, or challenge Eve to a fight, but maybe it’ll mean she’ll actually wrestle women of equal wrestling ability and create a viable women’s division? Either that or she’ll look directly into the camera and profess her love for me. Both would blow my mind equally at this point.

So every time I see Tyson Kidd on Raw, I make a game with myself, where I take a shot. Of course, this has never happened until last week, and usually my shot of alcohol gets all full of lint,  excess cat hair and dead bugs from sitting so damn long. But this last month I’ve taken that shot, and tonight will be the second time. I also have a secondary rule, where if I see Tyson Kidd win a match, I finish the bottle of booze right then and there. The third rule I have, is if Tyson Kidd wins that match in under a minute, I drink all of the booze in the house. So tonight, after seeing Kidd defeat Tensai in under a minute, I drank every last drop of Jameson, Jager and Vodka I had. Strangely, it hasn’t kicked in yet ohwaitthereitgoes ohsfsnj dk lorfd tenzai ish fat urnd gonba habe wressle AJ I LOVE YOIIII ohhbbbb

Ahem.

Backstage, we see Jericho preparing for his match, and Daniel Bryan walks in wearing his jacket. They then argue about whose jacket is better (no really), and then decide that they must embarrass John Cena tonight. Daniel Bryan agrees with his catchphrase, which Jericho detests. Bryan continues Yes-ing, while Jericho continues his catchphrase, “Never EEEEEVER a-gain”,  in a catchphrase-off that I can only describe as being as funny as it is weird. I know in reality they both stop the camera cuts away, but man how great would it be if they only communicated to each other in catch phrases? Just have the both of them come out and represent the apotheosis of wrestling heels, who say their catchphrase, destroy people, and then leave. Jericho already did the opposite of this when he returned, and didn’t say a damn word for 3 weeks straight, gaining heat off of everybody who wanted him to come back face. Daniel Bryan has pretty much built up his whole heel turn around his catchphrase, and already pretty much communicates solely in catchphrases, so why not try it out for a month? Make them a tag team called The Catchphrase Kings, and I’ll love you forever WWE. Returning from the break, Tyson Kidd gets attacked by Tensai in the locker room, because Tensai is a big fat whiny loser baby man. Then, we finally get to the main event of the night.

So yeah, our main event is, surprise, a tag team match. Teddy Long, you are the worst. Seriously.

The name tag is a photoshop, but it’s what you deserved Teddy.

Along with nearly every single match tonight being a tag team match, this Raw suffers from pre-PPV syndrome hard. Sometimes a PPV is the culmination of storylines and matches that occur naturally, and provide either an endpoint or a bullet point in a feud between wrestlers, but sometimes the case is like tonight, where the story and its booking are all there to serve the PPV, rather than the PPV  serve the story and the booking. I had a hard time thinking why everyone was wrestling tonight, other than “Well, they will be at the PPV”. Not that I mind seeing Jericho, Bryan and Punk in a match together, but the reason for them being in a match with Cena is tenuous at best, and it only serves to undermine the previous feud that Punk and Cena had last year, as we saw them earlier just throw away all their history literally in a handshake. You could argue that it’s a noble thing to do between two faces, but it’s boring for me, and doesn’t adhere to Punk’s devil-may-care attitude, and comes off as fake to me, in a really wrong way.

All that being said, when you have so much good talent in the ring, it’s hard to have a boring match. Jericho and Daniel Bryan actually make a surprisingly good team, and do a great job of isolating Cena from his partner. But tonight, Robo-Cena is in full effect, and despite Jericho and Bryan really hitting him hard, he continues to kick out, and slowly build momentum, until he gets the tag to Punk. Punk jumps in and turns the momentum of the match,  and Jericho and Cena battle outside the ring,  disappearing up stage. Bryan gets a huge kick on Punk, and it looks like he was about to win cleanly for the second week in a row against Punk, until Punk counters and gets a huge superplex off the top rope. AJ then shows up, (duh), and Bryan starts to get a lead on Punk. AJ then paces around the ring, looking for something under the ring, until she pulls out a table. She carefully sets it up, and spends a long amount of time considering the table, slowly climbing the to the top of the turn buckle. It looks like she’s about to jump onto the table, although I’m clueless as to why, when suddenly Daniel Bryan jumps out of the ring, and pleads with her to not jump. CM Punk then comes up, to also convince her to not jump, and she kisses Punk. He stands there confused for a moment, and she shoves him into Daniel Bryan, and they both crash through the table. AJ starts Yes-ing, and we end on a shot of Bryan and Punk writhing in mutual confusion and agony.

It seems AJ has picked CM Punk as her object of affection, but is quick to jump to anger if ignored. Pushing Punk through that table is her way of putting you in the dog house, so to speak. The real thing to ponder is, why they both acted as if her jumping 4 feet onto a folding table was tantamount to a suicide attempt. Guys, she’s a trained wrestler remember? If she wants to jump through a table, let her jump. I’m sure she knows how to take a bump. The better ending would have been she jumps through the table, goes all Mick Foley and starts rolling around in the smashed bits of table, smiling in pleasure/pain, and we end as both Punk and Bryan stare in horror.

Also, what the hell happened to Cena and Jericho? Are they still fighting backstage? Do they just get out of camera shot and then go hit the showers and play grab ass? Maybe they’re secretly working together and the second they get backstage they high-five and go bro it out in the green room, eating chips and making fun of Kane. Or just maybe, they’re still  back there, fighting each other during every moment they’re not on camera, and they’re waiting for AW to summon Odin with his God-Voice, and they shall be the Valkyries that bring about Ragnarok. That’d be better than the non-ending we got on Raw tonight. Even my Mom was asking if that was it, and she usually doesn’t even pay even half-attention to Raw at all.

So let me point some things out to you. If the WWE Universe ever gets to pick who the new GM of Raw and Smackdown is, for the love of god, please don’t pick Teddy. On a 2 hour show that had 7 matches, four of them were singles matches that ended in quick squashes in under 2 minutes, and everything else was long, boring tag team matches, with a main event that didn’t even have a real ending. The dude is TERRIBLE at his job, and literally anyone else is better than him. So please, don’t support Teddy. He is a bad GM.  Vote for Vickie, she may be annoying, but she can at least book an entertaining show.

Stick to what you know Teddy. RIP People Power.

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