WWE Monday Night Raw last night (Jan. 23, 2012) emanated from Phoenix, Arizona, and featured Chris Jericho speaking his first words on the mic, CM Punk giving John Laurinaitis the GTS and Zack Ryder breaking his back.
- Chris Jericho will be getting a post of his own but I think it's worth noting that his one line promo last night did more to sell the Royal Rumble pay-per-view than anything anyone else has done in the last month. I was disappointed he talked, at least at first, but quickly realized how amazing it was that those were the words he chose when he did finally speak. Perfect executed once again.
- After thinking on it, I can't see why the decision was made to have CM Punk give John Laurinaitis a GTS to close the show last night. If the goal was to have this moment be as big as it was when Stone Cold Steve Austin first gave Vince McMahon a Stunner -- and you would be dense to think it wasn't -- then the timing here was awful. The match between Punk and Dolph Ziggler at the Rumble has little to do with Ziggler and centers almost solely around whether or not Laurinaitis is going to screw Punk. the way the story has been crafted, they payoff to the build should have been for Punk to finally beat the hell out of Laurinaitis. So why would you do that on the Raw show before the pay-per-view instead of at the show where the payoff is supposed to happen? It created the photo of the year, sure, but it was the wrong time to make this move. It can be explained away partially by the fact that they announced Triple H's return next week to "review" Laurinaitis and evaluate him in his job, therefore taking away any incentive he has to screw Punk. The only way to give him incentive again is to have Punk put him to sleep. So they made a bad booking decision but the explanation for it is decent enough. Still, this left a bad taste.
- I love Dolph Ziggler but he's not a main event player and this feud with Punk hasn't elevated him at all. That's too bad, really, because he's probably the most talented guy on the roster. If he was booked correctly, there's no telling what he could do.
- We now know Triple H will return on next week's episode of Raw to give Laurinaitis his review. What makes this interesting is how they'll decide to book Triple H's character. Because all signs point to another match against Undertaker at WrestleMania 28, he's likely going to be a heel. Having him come in and fire Laurinaitis would instantly make him a babyface, though he could get some of his heat back just by challenging 'Taker to a match to put his streak on the line. But Trips being who he is, I can't imagine they'll compromise that. Plus, Laurinaitis has been outstanding in his role and has just lately started getting some real heat, due in large part to his program with Punk. It would be a shame -- and a bad business decision -- to end that now.
- Poor Zack Ryder. First he's made to job to Jack Swagger and drop the U.S. championship he worked so hard to get. And that hard work was very real. He busted his ass to get as popular as he has and worked as hard as anybody to deserve to be in position to even win a small-time strap like the U.S. title. But now he's saddled in a goofy program where he's constantly made to look like shit so they can get John Cena's storyline advanced. Someone had to be the lesser guy in this story and it just so happens Ryder was chosen for the job. What's worse for Ryder, he's lost almost all the credibility he gained with the Internet audience he cultivated to get him where he is just by his close association with Cena. Now he's been written off TV in one of the most horribly executed matches/segments in recent memory.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- Let's briefly touch on that pathetic waste of time last night, which was actually given a prime slot bleeding into the 10 p.m. ET hour. For starters, why is Ryder being written off TV? If he's not gone for at least a few weeks than telling us he broke his back will have been one of the dumbest things WWE has done since they hired Michael Cole. If he makes a ridiculously fast return and miracle recovery -- think Triple H no selling death -- the storyline becomes an even bigger joke and invalidates Kane as the monster they so want him to be. Speaking of which, why did he literally run through the crowd to avoid a confrontation with John Cena? That's your monster? That's pathetic. This is all without mentioning the fact that Eve's acting is about as good as her wrestling and Cena has regressed as far as his facial expressions go. His angry face into the camera to close the segment was a fitting end to some of the worst TV I've been exposed to in quite some time. I'm looking forward to seeing which of you attempt to defend this garbage. The gimmicked stage wasn't even done right. The whole thing was atrocious. I can't wait for Cena to squash Kane at the pay-per-view so 1) we'll be done with this nonsense and 2) they will have sacrificed Ryder's big push for nothing.
- Dear WWE: If something is working just fine and getting over as is, DON'T MESS WITH IT! There was no single segment on this show I was looking forward to more than Brodus Clay and they damn near ruined his character in one night. I'll explain in a later post when you get your weekly dose of The Funkasaurus.
- One thing I'll say about this show that was really good was that they didn't even bother to trot out the Divas. Instead of wasting our time with women pretending to work a match, they made us watch actors do a stretcher job on Ryder. The sad part is I can't decide which is worse.
- Wade Barrett did well on commentary and made me see why some might enjoy him in some capacity. Kind of. A little bit. About a half cup. Sheamus still sucks and is terribly uninteresting and Jinder Mahal still has potential but will always be held back by the color of his skin thanks to the company he works for.
- Why did it take until the go-home show for a Royal Rumble stipulation match to happen? The promotion for the actual Rumble match this year has been downright criminal. They've literally done nothing to make anyone want to watch it, instead relying on the fact that it's such a legendary match on its own merits, fans will pay for it no matter what. Still, it's far preferable to see matches like the one between R-Truth and The Miz in which the loser would be forced to enter the Rumble at the dreaded number one spot. Miz will be that guy and I can't imagine him eliminating a bunch of people, so we could be looking at Rumble booking this year dictated by letting a lot of people get in the match and be in at one time. I would still like to see a Rumble match that features all 30 superstars in the ring at the same time with no eliminations happening until all 30 are in. Pipe dream, I know, but something I would like to see some day.
- Final thought: I panned the Truth vs. Miz match last night because the finish came out of nowhere, so much so that the commentators weren't ready for it at all. X-Pac brought up a great point on Twitter when he said it's entirely possibl -- likely, even -- that the referee told them they were running short on time and to "go home quickly." So they improvised and ended the match as fast as they could. Indeed, the main event didn't go on until the 11 p.m. ET hour. Just an interesting point.
From an entertainment standpoint, this show had its good. The booking once again left a lot to be desired and I would like the head of whoever decided to mess with Brodus Clay's character but I'll give the show a C- for effort. Most of that is Chris Jericho, though.
That's enough from me, Cagesiders. Time for you to sound off with all your thoughts on the show in the comments section below. And don't hold back. I never do.