EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: John Cena attends a press conference to announce that MetLife Stadium will host WWE Wrestlemania 29 in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
WWE Monday Night Raw last night (March 5, 2012) emanated from Boston, Massachusetts, and featured John Cena beating The Rock at his own game, again, Shawn Michaels announcing his role in the Triple H vs. Undertaker match at WrestleMania 28, and Santino Marella winning the U.S. title.
- I find myself constantly switching back and forth on the whole Triple H-Undertaker-Shawn Michaels triangle. On the one hand, this thing is quickly devolving into an overbooked mess that feels unnecessarily drawn out. On the other, they're making all the right moves and following the natural progression of the storyline. 'Taker can't be there every week, so they're using HBK to help the program along in his absence. That works because they teased it so much last year. His insertion as special guest referee is fine except for the fact that they didn't explain who put him there. Isn't Triple H still COO and in charge of the entire ship? Unless they use that fact next week when 'Taker and Michaels have their confrontation and 'Taker accuses the former DX members of being in cahoots, there will be a big problem in this story, one that would greatly take away from it.
- All that said, I really like the way this is playing out because it gives us pissed off Shawn Michaels. And I'm not sure there's anything better in pro wrestling than pissed off Shawn Michaels, except maybe pissed off heel HBK. He's such a charismatic performer, you can't help but buy whatever he's selling. That look he gave Triple H after they rolled footage of Trips only accepting the match with 'Taker because he wants to prove he's better than Michaels had me marking out of my seat. I can just imagine the old HBK breaking through inside his own head and having murder kill thoughts of "The Game," a friend of his, sure, but still the most egotistical guy in the business next to Hulk Hogan. What are the chances he was actually looking at him and thinking, "Dude, I could still run circles around you in this ring and you know it." And it's true and that's why it's awesome.
- We covered the Rock and John Cena here but let's go ahead and again mention the fact that Cena looked better last night, likely by design. I couldn't agree more with a comment left by Cagesider DustinH(oo) last night: "This whole program so far is really a testament to the humility of Rock (much to the chagrin if the anonymous lockerroom critic) to let Cena take him to the woodshed verbally every week to ultimately put the guy over. He's clearly the anti-Hogan despite what his naysayers may think." Not much more to add to that other than how utterly incredible it is that WWE is doing such a masterful job of booking this feud. That has to be thanks to the heavy input by Rock, right? We've seen WWE botch far too many storylines to think they could be pulling off such subtle manipulation of the crowd on their own.
- One criticism I have of Cena is his inability to maintain the same manner of speaking. I'm not a fan of his talking in a normal voice with no accent in the pre-tape (which, by the way, was a terrible idea) only to come out live and he's breaking into and out of his West Newbury accent. When he puts the added little twist of a mini-rap in and starts using his bullshit ebonic, hip-hop voice, it's cringe inducing. This aspect of Cena's character is just as fake as any claims he levies at Rock.
- Is it at least a little odd and off-putting that this year's WrestleMania is centered so strongly around relics of times past? It's a good sign that CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, the WWE champion and world heavyweight champion (YES!), respectively, were given the coveted 10 p.m. time slot, but don't they feel a little too much like afterthoughts? Especially in the case of Bryan and his pending match against Sheamus, which feels so terribly undervalued, it wouldn't feel out of place as the dark match at the pay-per-view. They could just reveal the result on Twitter or the WWE website. I'm not bleeding for Sheamus because I fear they give him the title to justify his big push and I'm not looking forward to that but Bryan, Punk and Jericho deserve more than a silly tag match. It was good for what it was but I'd like a little something more than a lazy way to make sure everyone gets TV time.
Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.
- It's totally okay that I feel genuine hatred for Vince McMahon for the fact that he took Brodus Clay away from me, right? The Funkasaurus from Planet Funk who is funky has been gone from our lives for far too long now.
- What does it say about the inability of the WWE to cultivate its stars when Santino Marella (our funny guy) wins the U.S. title and the TD Garden in Boston pops louder than they did for Stone Cold Steve Austin back in 1998 when he beat Shawn Michaels for the WWF title in the same venue? Don't get me wrong, I went just as nuts as everyone else did, but it really speaks to how little WWE listens to its fans.
- That said, how awesome is it that Santino has become a star the way he has? I'm not sure he couldn't win a major championship and carry it without making it a joke. The dude is good at what he does and deserves more credit than he ever gets. It's impossible not to like him. Now it's time to figure out another meter for him to use in place of the Honk-a-Meter. Who held the U.S. title the longest, Cagesiders? Get on it and let me know.
- Sad fact about Jack Swagger's U.S. title reign, as brought forward by Todd Martin: Before winning the belt, Swagger lost his previous nine singles matches. After winning it, he didn't win even one singles match before dropping it to Santino last night. Why would Dolph Ziggler even want to be caught dead near this guy?
- Seriously, just get rid of the U.S. title.
- The burial of the Miz continued with a quick loss to Big Show. That's only a sidenote to the fact that the best part of Raw each week has quickly become Cody Rhodes and his embarrassing moments featuring Big Show at WrestleMania. The troll face he uses in the picture to introduce it on video each week is almost as good as Jericho's when he first came back. It's also incredible to think of how thoroughly dumped on Show has been throughout his career at the biggest show of the year.
- Zack Ryder is two gimmicks in one: a bad Jersey Shore knockoff and a raving lunatic mark. I enjoyed how WWE collapsed him in on himself by having him pull out the ridiculously stupid "broskis before hoeskis" line on Eve only to act like a complete buffoon when she showed up and kissed him again. He's a mark and it's glorious because it makes him look incredibly stupid for ever saying the broskis before hoeskis line, which is a nice little way of halfway making up for the slut shaming deal with Eve.
- There was nothing better on Raw last night than R-Truth doing an split screen interview with the camera and stopping suddenly to ask who he's talking to. Only Truth could pull that off. His ensuing loss to Kane didn't even matter, that's how glorious it was.
- Speaking of Kane, can this guy just retire already? I legitimately feel bad for Randy Orton for getting thrown into a feud with him. If this leads to a match between the two at WrestleMania this year, that would almost seem like a punishment to Orton for getting injured. Like there has to be more to the story because that's a terrible feud that would never draw a dime on any pay-per-view ever. Wasn't Orton supposed to get his wins over Mark Henry back at 'Mania, not to mention the world heavyweight title? Now it looks like they'll be giving Sheamus the belt and having Orton against Kane? Suddenly Smackdown doesn't make sense and that's a scary thought.
- One thing about Orton that continues to amaze me, though, is that he retains his star power and status as a main eventer even while he's toiling away in the mid-card in feuds with guys like Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, and Kane. That's impressive.
- The John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long angle is starting to bore me, though Laurinaitis makes it bearable. I'll be glad when it's over and Ace has something better to do with his time. Plus, it will mean Long is gone by that point, though it's scary to think that maybe Ace comes out on the losing end of this because Teddy is never actually going to take a bump. We're already dealing with the loss of the Funkasaurus, I'm not sure we could handle no Laurinaitis and his sidekick, David Otunga.
This was another solid effort from WWE and WrestleMania 28 is really starting to feel like it will be something special. I'll give last night's show a B+ for building well and keeping heat on all the major players, especially the brilliant booking of the Rock-Cena angle.
But that's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show.