WWE Monday Night Raw last night (Jan. 9, 2012) emanated from Anaheim, California, and featured Chris Jericho trolling us even more, John Laurinaitis getting better and better and CM Punk cutting two promos, one horrible and one amazing.
- For starters, I'd like to thank Jesse for filling in for me on the live blog last night. He did a fantastic job and you crazy Cagesiders once again made the comments section a riot. Thanks everybody.
- We knew Chris Jericho would have to continue finding new and interesting ways to troll us if he was planning on keeping this character he's building but did anyone think WWE would be this genius about it? When it was announced he would be participating in a six-man tag match in the main event, I was disappointed to say the least, though his theatrics with the light up jacket continue to amuse me. I wondered how they could play off the angle without slightly ruining it if he was to participate in the match itself but I underestimated all involved. They're so committed to this gimmick for him that they had him celebrate from commercial to commercial for the main event and didn't give any of the heels television entrances. Then the match starts, they build to a hot tag from CM Punk to Jericho and he comes in, does his troll face and crowd commitment gag, tags Daniel Bryan in and takes off smiling and screaming, "YEAH, BAY-BAY!" Incredible.
- Another awesomely interesting aspect to the Jericho character is that it's like it resets in each new city. Everywhere they travel, no one wants to boo him. He gets raucously cheered before doing everything he can to piss everyone off and leaving. Even then, no one wants to boo him. This has been going on for three weeks now and it's starting to feel like crowds are smartening up to the game and cheering him even though they know in storyline they should be booing. I love the game of tug-of-war going on. I'm sure Jericho does too, and he's taking it as a challenge.
- CM Punk had one of those nights where I absolutely loved some of what he was doing and then wasn't a fan of the rest of it. His promo on John Laurinaitis to close the evening was masterful, a work of art on the stick if there ever was one. He accomplished the rare feat of transference during a promo. While he was berating Laurinaitis and making him feel about as small as an ant, one couldn't help but get sucked into it and feel the embarrassment and humiliation that Laurinaitis must have been dealing with, even if it is kayfabe. And that was the brilliance of it. It felt real. Like Punk was legitimately humiliating Johnny Ace in front of the world and you couldn't help but feel that too. He worked like a heel, which is clearly what he's best at, but because of the nature of his character, he can occupy a space in between heel and babyface. It worked on all levels. His stuff earlier in the night where he was bagging on Dolph Ziggler for wearing a pink shirt? Yeah, that's taking the low hanging fruit and it's the furthest thing from clever. Frankly, it's something I would expect from John Cena before Punk. Enough with the gay cracks. Funny this was the route they went on a show that featured a guest appearance from Perez Hilton.
- By the way, I have no clue who Perez Hilton is. Judging by his performance last night, I'm guessing that's a good thing.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- If you don't like Brodus Clay at this point, I'm just not sure what to tell you. Sure, he's got a goofy act and he'll obviously have to grow past it to be taken seriously as a main eventer but for the time being, it's a nice change of pace during each show and "Somebody Call My Momma" is undoubtedly the greatest song ever written.
- I'm going to do a complete separate post on the death of the United States championship. What a complete waste and it's utterly disgusting how little WWE cares about that belt. Why keep it around to treat it the way they do? It just makes no sense.
- Zack Ryder is a jobber whose appeal has come and gone. They took away what made him great to begin with and turned him into a mini-John Cena and not even a good one at that. I wonder what kind of chants he would get at the Garden now, if any.
- Speaking of Cena, was anyone else surprised by his lack of screen time? What was he on TV for, three minutes total? WWE is doing the right thing with the story arc here with Cena finally snapping a little bit and beating someone down -- though they chose the completely wrong guy to get beat down, but more on that later -- to tease that Cena finally is, in fact, embracing the hate. It's funny, though, that Kane interrupted Cena to tell him he's coming along nicely right before Cena was about to take Jack Swagger's head off. Kane made the save when he was getting what he supposedly wants. Odd.
- Air Boom had their tag title rematch and were squashed in short order. That's not surprising and, really, was to be expected. What did surprise me, however, was the Air Boom shirts Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston were wearing. Was that new gear? Because if so, it would seem downright silly to start burying them and taking the titles off them if they just got some merchandise for their tag team, which was a mildly over babyface team that could probably move a few units. The vindictive nature of WWE management wouldn't stop them from doing such a silly thing, of course, but it seemed odd to me. Correct me if I'm wrong, Cagesiders.
- R-Truth, Miz, Sheamus and Wade Barrett all had a segment together, which was nice and convenient, considering how little anyone cares about any of them. Thanks, WWE, for lumping them together and getting them out of our hair early, though Truth was mildly entertaining.
- Daniel Bryan is finally starting to get some heat as a heel and it's about damn time. This storyline with Big Show knocking over his old lady is cheesy, yeah, but it's provided Bryan with something to latch onto and use to get himself over, which wasn't happening previously. And he's really thriving in this role, lambasting Show for his recklessness. The fact that WWE made the decision to put Smackdown guys on Raw has really helped drive interest in the show. Well done on all sides.
- John Laurinaitis telling Eve to "shut your mouth and have some respect for authority" was the line of the year. It won't be beaten, I'm convinced. Her shocked reaction deserves credit, as well.
- Last point on Laurinaitis: he's not the most talented performer but watching him grow each week has been an entertaining ride all unto itself. He was arguably at his best last night, reacting perfectly to getting humiliated by Punk and snapping on Mick Foley afterwards. His anger about not being taken seriously and how he's doing a fine job running Raw and getting no credit was conveyed wonderfully. His laying out Foley was the perfect way to close the show.
- As far as Foley goes, THIS is how he should be used. Bringing him in to be the fall guy to help advance storylines and take a minor bump or two is perfect. He was a punching bag for Dolph Ziggler in the opening segment, which helped get Ziggler some much needed heat and he was the guy who took the first real shot from Laurinaitis. Perfect on both counts. Having him announce his intention to enter the Royal Rumble is probably the best promotional tactic the company has used for the pay-per-view yet.
Overally, I thought this was a pretty good show and it gets a solid B grade from me. But that's enough blabbering on my part. Time for you Cagesiders to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts and feelings on the show.