WWE Monday Night Raw last night (March 12, 2012) emanated from Cleveland, Ohio, and featured hipsters being hipsters, Shawn Michaels teasing collusion with his good buddy Triple H, and Chris Jericho making his feud with CM Punk deeply personal.
Oh, and the return of THE FUNKASAURUS!
- For starters, I hope you folks listened to the debut of the Cageside Seats live podcast last night. It was, admittedly enough, a short show, as we only went 30 minutes, but we just wanted to roll things out and give you a taste of what's to come. If you listened, I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any criticism or thoughts on it (and we still need a name for it, too), please let us know. Next week we'll be live for up to three full hours, and you'll be able to call in, Cagesiders, so stay up with us and talk Raw and WWE. Click here to listen to the first episode in its entirety.
- Now, onto more important matters, like teabagging and a man's constant struggle with his lady parts. The idea of a match between The Rock and John Cena, when first presented, was easy to get behind. One of the biggest stars of the Attitude Era against the unquestioned biggest star of the PG Era. Simple enough and it meant getting Rock back in the ring for a big money match. Sounds great, right? The only problem is the manner in which they've gone about hyping said match is to have the two fling high school level insults at each in new and creative ways each week. I laughed when Cena did his rap. I laughed even harder when Rock did his little "concert." But I also shook my head in sadness at the fact that they've said so many words without really saying anything at all. It's the same old tired talking points, just presented differently. I'm ready for something more, something deeper. Something that you know, actually has to do with the match at WrestleMania.
- That said, purely from a "I'm just a fan sitting down to enjoy this and nothing else" perspective, I enjoyed both guys' work last night. I don't want to do an entire post and score one for either guy but if I had to, I would go with Rock because he made me laugh more. Cena was great reverting back to his Dr. of Thuagnomics character and it surely made plenty of fans clamor for him to return to it full time but that character lacks depth. It's actually better this way, we just refuse to realize it on most days. I didn't like how Rock purposely fumbled his lines when they played Queen, and the WWE cameras showing him reading lyrics off the Titantron made the wrist notes work all the more obvious but when they're strapped for ideas, this is what we get. The Rock looks good but not too good, and Cena looks just as good as Rock. I just wish there was more to it than kung pao bitch and nuts on chins.
- I don't want to hear the Undertaker cut a promo again, mostly because his timing is terrible and his lack of emotion, while conforming to his character, kills whatever segment he's in. In fact, I was down on last night's issue between he and Shawn Michaels until the very end when Triple H came out and teased collusion with his old D-Generation X partner before giving 'Taker the old crotch chop. Hey, that's another sexual reference making its way into a main event level match at WrestleMania. These dudes are entirely too obsessed with their junk. Nonetheless, WWE is doing a damn good job of making us curious on how the Triple H vs. Undertaker match will play out with Michaels as the X-Factor. It's nice, too, that they actually have legitimate talking points, even if the Deadman is better off keeping his mouth closed.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- At first, I wasn't enamored with the fact that Chris Jericho brought CM Punk's family into their feud and used it as a way of getting to the champion. I felt it somewhat out of place but a second thought makes clear that this was probably the best thing they could have done. For starters, they needed a deeper issue than mindless bickering over who the best in the world is and this accomplishes that in spades. Secondly, it's a legit storyline because it's rooted in reality. To top it all off, they're showing a great deal of continuity by using an angle Punk had already done on the indie scene. Plus, this is better character development than a shoot promo. In the podcast thread, Major brought up the idea that they could have Jericho knock Punk out and pour liquor into his mouth as a way to get heat on him and I couldn't be any more on board with this idea. Sergio informed us it had already been done but to hell with it, let's do it again. Then we can finally feel invested in this program in a way we hadn't before.
- Brodus Clay is back in our lives, Cagesiders. He's still only squashing mid-card jobbers and dancing but you know what? I'm fine with that. They could do it every week for the rest of the year and I wouldn't complain. Not once. He's a perfect change of pace on the show and something nice for the live crowd.
- Dolph Ziggler can get a good match out of anyone and he did that yet again last night with Sheamus. And while I think this is definitely a good way to use him, I'm still waiting for someone -- anyone -- to give me a reason to care about "The Great White." I also find it downright criminal that Daniel Bryan got all of 20 seconds on television. I get it that they have plenty of horses in the race here but we're talking about the man holding the world heavyweight championship. Give him some time on your flagship show. Everything about this feud makes me think he drops the strap to Sheamus at WrestleMania and shoots back down the card. By Summerslam, he'll be going after the U.S. title in a feud with Santino Marella. And it will be better than whatever is going on in the main event on Smackdown.
- Speaking of the Milan Miracle, he continues to get the loudest ovations of any superstar on the entire roster. He was made to job but his ability to get over with basically every crowd is something I continue to marvel at. The most amazing part is the cheers seem to be growing.
- Watching Teddy Long shove John Laurinaitis week after week has the Cageside crew thinking Team Ace will go over at WrestleMania and Laurinaitis will take over both Raw and Smackdown as permanent General Manager. Long is serviceable but Laurinaitis is a star character who can draw money. Easy decision. Mark Henry mashing folks as a special enforcer type for Laurinaitis' squad is just what the doctor ordered for the big man. Let's keep that rolling.
- Zack Ryder continues to be a mark and the dumbest character in the history of WWE television, and that's really saying something. The fact that he was scripted to ask Eve if she's playing him at this point in their storyline after all that's happened tells you everything you need to know about how the brass at WWE feel about him.
- Hey Miz: I know you're a heel but soak in the love when you can get it, buddy. You ain't getting reaction like that anywhere else.
- While my esteemed colleague Sergio has had his fill of Randy Orton, I think he deserves praise for his performance last night. Sure, he went over on Jack Swagger but he gave a glorified jobber one hell of a match and at one point sold so well for him, I thought he may have legitimately been injured. There are plenty of guys who wouldn't waste the time on making someone like Swagger look like anything other than the jobber he is at present time. I really like this version of Orton.
- Kane, Kane, go away, don't come again another day.
Overall, this was yet another good Raw show on the Road to WrestleMania. It's too bad they don't put as much effort into their shows year-round like they do in the weeks leading up to the biggest show of the year. This show gets an A from me.
But that's enough on my end. Now it's time for you Cagesiders to sound off with all your thoughts from last night's episode of WWE Raw from Cleveland.