WWE Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 13, 2012) emanated from San Diego, California, and was the go-home show to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV) this Sunday night. To that end, it was rough but the show was actually quite entertaining by the time it was over.
- The show opened and closed with the angle involving John Cena, Kane, Zack Ryder and Eve, so it's only fitting that I do the same. For weeks now, I've done nothing but bag on this entire program, blasting it for his campy nature and utter and complete stupidity at all turns. Kane creepily stalking Eve has been something we would have all been better off not having to see but something weird happened last night. The entire angle turned the corner. The decision (which had to be Stephanie McMahon's, right?) to turn it into a love triangle was brilliant to say the least. Not because it's the logical conclusion but because it actually made the whole thing bearable. Eve cheating on Ryder with Cena by making out with him after he saved her from Kane and Ryder catching them was one of the greatest moments on Raw so far this year. Ryder's lack of saying, "Are you serious, hoe?" is a mark against him but having him go out to the ring and smack Cena in the face while proclaiming, "You have everything, bro, you had to have her too?", was genius. Cena acting like he was going to blast Ryder built some serious heat for both guys. To top off all this awesomeness, Kane then sent Ryder flying off the stage in his wheelchair for what looked like a nasty fall, leading to more bad acting from Cena and Eve, including Cena throwing up the "X" sign to try to play it off like it was real. It was flawless. I went from hating this feud to loving the absurdity of it all. The best part? Cena looks like a complete asshole in all this.
- A buddy of mine on Twitter, Anthony Pace, had an idea for Ryder that I think is brilliant. Instead of giving him legitimate pushes and a lot of TV time, just have him get killed and do a stretcher job every week, something like what South Park did to Kenny getting killed every episode. If done right, this could be the best thing on Raw each week.
- When Cena squashes Kane in the Ambulance match this Sunday night at Elimination Chamber, I'll probably take it all back.
- While the Cena, Kane, Eve, Ryder angle has turned into something great after a bad start, I find myself teetering on the brink of falling for the program with the Undertaker and Triple H and now, Shawn Michaels. I don't know how to feel about the idea that Trips is openly admitting that he's going to be taking over the company here soon and when he does, he wants to have Undertaker's brand still going strong so he can profit off it. Beating him into retirement makes no sense in that manner and that's a fair point. Still, it's a little too rooted in reality. We're not talking about a cool, easy to recognize shoot sentence like CM Punk busting out real names, but an actual issue that WWE is having right now with what to do with 'Taker as he nears the end of the road. It just seems like an odd way to go about the whole thing.
- That said, the collective ability of Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker as performers is enough to make me want to see this thing through and allow myself to enjoy it. I absolutely loved The Heartbreak Kid (HBK) last night and his calling out "The Game." Adding the wrinkle between Michaels and Hunter that Shawn wants to live through his former partner in crime because he was never able to beat 'Taker at WrestleMania is perfect. They teased this same thing last year but didn't quite follow through with it the way they are apparently planning to do this year. I'm slowly starting to come around to this thing and am looking forward to seeing more.
- After all the outrage regarding Undertaker's wig, it's no surprise they decided to show him cutting his hair to get around actually having to use it again. It was still utterly ridiculous and hilarious at the same time, but at least it's out of the way. Check out the Raw live blog thread for some awesome photoshops of a bald Undertaker.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- It is absolutely inexcusable that Brodus Clay has disappeared from WWE television. How in the hell do they invest the time in creating a character like the Funkasaurus from Planet Funk who is funky, send him out there to die only to see him get over faster than anyone could have imagined, and then yank him off TV? I suspect it's similar to the reason it took so long for him to re-debut -- they just don't know what to do with him. Or maybe it's something else altogether. Who knows with WWE. What's for certain, though, is that he needs to come back. Immediately.
- Also not on television last night? Your 2012 Royal Rumble winner, Sheamus. That's right, on the go-home show to the next big PPV, Elimination Chamber, the guy who won the Rumble and will contest for one of the two major titles at WrestleMania wasn't anywhere to be found. If that's not a scathing indictment against the idea behind the Chamber PPV, I don't know what is. They didn't even give him a backstage comedy segment. Even Santino Marella got a backstage comedy segment. You want to swerve the Internet by having Sheamus win the Rumble, fine, but at least have something to do with him when you do it.
- Big Show can't wrestle! I'm kidding. But seriously, terrible botch on the first RKO from Randy Orton, who looked like he was visibly holding his anger in. That is until the crowd -- which was awesome all night -- let Show hear it for his mistake. Props to both guys for taking it in stride and salvaging the match afterwards.
- A debate? A freaking debate? They actually kicked off Raw with a 20 minute segment complete with six podiums for the Raw Elimination Chamber members to have a debate. Whoever had this idea should be shit-canned immediately and whoever put their stamp of approval on it should be forced to watch it on a loop for a day so we never see anything like it again. All it did was reaffirm all the things we already knew: No one cares about Kofi Kingston, The Miz is terrible and no one likes him, R-Truth is a nutjob, Dolph Ziggler is awesome and the CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho feud will be amazing. Just a waste of time.
- Speaking of Punk, he referred to us as the "WWE Universe" and not in a mocking way. I'm sorry but there's very little making me enjoy this man anymore. All that edge he used to have has been replaced by a startling blandness.
- David Otunga has a plan to make John Laurinaitis permanent General Manager of both Raw and Smackdown, you guys. Meaning more Big Johnny and less Teddy Long. I'm giddy.
- It's funny that CM Punk and Chris Jericho are arguing over who is truly "The Best in the World" when really, Dolph Ziggler is better than both of them right now. Maybe I'll catch a lot of heat for that but I truly believe if he was booked right and allowed to shine the way we know he can, he would be the best thing going in the entire industry. It just sucks that they make him job week after week. Why get him beat by R-Truth? It was done exactly how it should be done in a scenario like they were in, with Ziggler showing off and Truth catching him in a roll up, but it would be nice to see Ziggler actually made to look like the super talent he is.
- Last point on this show: Did it make anyone on Earth want to order the Elimination Chamber PPV this Sunday night?
Thanks to the crowd and the absurdity of the final segment, this show gets a solid B+ from me. I dug a lot of what they did and am willing to overlook some of the bad.
But that's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts and reactions to last night's show. What's your grade?