Fitting the pieces together
The past few episodes of Raw have been excellent, and a lot of that has to do with the top of the card finally being stabilized. John Cena is still at the top of the food chain, regularly opening and closing shows. Chris Jericho is doing whatever he damn well pleases. CM Punk and John Laurinaitis have an excellent feud going, and it is getting better and better with each passing week. Dolph Ziggler is doing an amazing job as a role player. He is hitting all his marks during promos and performing excellently in the ring. Johnny Ace may be using Dolph in a chess game, but he is certainly no pawn. He is more like a bishop, zigging and zagging his way across the chessboard (which makes Vickie Guerrero -- you guessed it -- a knight).
On the Smackdown side, Daniel Bryan is slowly becoming an outstanding heel champion. The Big Show is playing his part very well, but he is just a place holder until Randy Orton comes back from injury. Even Mark Henry, who has lost some steam following his loss at TLC, is still doing well as a main eventer. Cody Rhodes is maturing by leaps and bounds, and is only held back by the lack of baby faces to challenge him. I expect that to change very shortly, though.
This allows the mid- and lower-card to thrive. The Miz is getting his ass handed to him by R-Truth in spectacular fashion. Zack Ryder is being used to further the Cena plot, as well as having his own storyline involving Eve, Jack Swagger, and the United States Championship. Brodus Clay is absolutely amazing and hilarious as a side show. The same goes for Santino Marella, to a lesser degree. Both Sheamus and Wade Barrett's pushes have stalled a little bit, as there is no need to rush them back into the main event. Alberto Del Rio can return from his injury when he is ready, and not be forced back into the WWE Championship picture right away.
For the first time in awhile, everyone is exactly where they should be. The Miz should not be headlining pay-per-views (PPV's), and Dolph should not be in the first match of the night. Punk and Cena are sharing the top rung of Raw. Eventually they will collide again, but for now they are in their own universes. Triple H can stay behind the scenes and not feel it necessary to butt in. While the execution of each story is not necessarily ideal, the pieces are perfectly in place. That, in my opinion, is why WWE has been on such a great run. Lets all hope they can keep it up.
The rest of the show after the jump.
Cena! Kane! Attempted Homicide!
Cena decided to stick up from his best friend forever Ryder and try to kill the new U.S. Champion Jack Swagger last week. Because, as everyone knows, when a wrestler who is holding a title is murdered, the belt automatically goes to the person who previously held it. This is exactly what Kane wanted Cena to do, so he stopped him from actually going through with it. If this doesn't make sense to you, that's because you don't work for WWE Creative. All that aside, tonight they will set up his match with Kane at the Royal Rumble, and from there we are going to see what WWE wants to do with Cena. He is either going to "rise above hate" on his way to WrestleMania, or succumb to it and heel it up for a little while. Perhaps it wont be so black and white, but this is Cena we are talking about.
Punk! Laurinaitis! Ziggler! WWE Championship!
There is little I can add to this that would improve it. If you are not looking forward to these men on your screen, then I'm not sure why you are watching. Punk is an absolute jerk, but has honest problems with how Laurinaitis is running the show. Johnny Ace is trying his best to do what is right for business, but is losing control of the proceedings. Ziggler is the opportunist, putting himself in the right place at the right time. It is a beautiful waltz that will lead into the Royal Rumble and, hopefully, beyond.
Chris Jericho! Silence!
I was going to write a pretty long paragraph here, but Jericho made the hot tag and left. One comment, though. If he does not sit with the announcers for a match and say absolutely nothing, I will be forever disappointed.
Ryder! Swagger! Eve! US Championship!
So Geno said that the United States Championship is dead. Personally, I think that might be a bit of an overstatement. Ryder is going to chase after it and fight to get it back. Who holds the strap is not nearly as important as who is challenging for it. Yes, Swagger got destroyed by Cena later in the night. But Cena's overreaction was necessary to his story. Ryder will get the belt eventually, Swagger will have a chance to prove that he shouldn't be a jobber, and things will be right in the state of Denmark again.
R-Truth! Miz! Disney Land!
I love R-Truth. If you are not on board with him, you are going to feel foolish when everyone else is saying how awesome he is. You already got left behind on the Johnny Ace train. Don't let it happen again. On a normal week, this would end with a no disqualification at the next PPV. Since the next PPV is the Royal Rumble, there is no reason to have them in a separate match. Unless WWE figures out how to spin these two away from each other, look for this to last until the Elimination Chamber. That is not necessarily a bad thing, though.
Brodus! Funkasaurus! Squash Match!
On Smackdown, Brodus Clay had a dance off with Vickie Guerrero and later William Regal. It was a great segment, and I encourage you all who didn't see it to go watch it. I'm not sure what WWE plans for Brodus are but the character is so absurd that he will fit in anywhere. Hands up if you want to see the Funkasaurus in the Elimination Chamber. They have to get to six guys somehow.
Smackdown! On Raw!
Daniel Bryan is absolutely amazing at being a professional wrestler. He understands that the best heels don't come out and say they are the bad guys. They are not supervillains. Daniel is working the field in order to protect his title, but speaks as if he is a babyface. He has to carry an injured Mark Henry and now an injured Big Show, but he is probably one of the only people that could make it work. Props to WWE Creative for their work here. If we are going to bash them when they screw up, then we must give them credit where it is due. Also, I love the phrase "crocodile tears." It's just a fun phrase, and the way Daniel says it is so wonderfully perfect.
Hopefully this has gotten you prepared for the nights activities. Leave a comment about what you are looking forward to, make sure to follow the action @Cagesideseats and please join Geno, myself, and the whole Monday Night gang during the live blog here.