This will put some butts in the seats. Photo via WWE.com.
WWE Monday Night Raw last night (May 14, 2012) emanated from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and featured the go-home show to the Over the Limit pay-per-view (PPV) this Sunday night in North Carolina.
And, as has been the case for months now, they failed miserably to effectively sell the show on the final episode of Raw. In fact, save for a few graphics in the lower left corner of the screen, fans may have been hard pressed to know there is a PPV this weekend.
Outside of that, Triple H and John Cena both returned from two and one week absences, respectively. "The Game" playing executive might be something I never get used to but at least it paved the way for yet another Paul Heyman performance.
That's always worth tuning in for.
Enough with the small talk, though. If you want full results from Raw last night, click here for the running live blog. You can also listen to Sergio and I on the Cageside Live podcast gabbing about the show (among other things) right here. Time to get to reactions, posted after the jump.
- As mentioned previously, WWE has a very real problem with running effective angles to promote its PPV shows. There's certainly a debate to be had regarding the number of events they run every year watering down storylines and creating far too much content to keep up with but as long as they're going to run 12-13 PPVs a year, they need to find the best way to service them. They don't have big enough stars to carry these smaller shows and fans simply don't believe "B-shows" are worth shelling the cash out for. That's because they aren't.
- Speaking of poorly set up PPVs, adding multiple stipulations to the John Laurinaitis vs. John Cena match was probably the right thing to do in terms of servicing that story but if any fan who has been watching for longer than one year knows WWE doesn't stick to its stips. Sure, they can set up that Laurinaitis will be fired if he loses to Cena, but every halfway intelligent fan quickly booked the show and figured out the easiest way to get around it. And that's the problem. Stipulations are meant to provide excitement for the outcome within the stipulation, not intrigue on how WWE will get around it. And because stipulations are done simply to help sell a match, they fail extra hard because they aren't going to get hardly any buys for Over the Limit.
- Triple H taking up a ton of screen time with a rambling promo is nothing new. Neither is WWE's propensity for using storylines that have nothing to do with pro wrestling. Honestly, who wants to see Brock Lesnar and Triple H embroiled in a legal battle? Paul Heyman is phenomenal and I love everything he does when he's on Raw but he and the big bad monster Brock Lesnar are going to sue Triple H? We'll see them in court? Sorry, I don't watch this show to see how a lawsuit will play out in the main event. Angles like this need to go away forever.
- Please unify the U.S. and Intercontinental championships. Cody Rhodes has zero heat right now and Santino Marella, as much as I love him, is carrying around a belt that is worth less than the time it took him to win it. Rhodes vs. Marella in a unification match sounds about right.
- So that CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan feud sure is lighting the world on fire, huh? What a complete and utter waste of time this has been. I'll blame Creative for doing a piss poor job of booking two of the most talented workers in the promotion in dumb tag matches every week and kind of sort of acknowledging a match between the two at the PPV. Seriously, they dropped the ball on this one.
- The art of selling an injury is dead. Triple H wears that stupid cast that will undoubtedly be ripped off and stomped on by someone, and still moves his arm around like it's not hurt at all. Beth Phoenix's ankle injury magically disappeared with hardly a mention from anyone. John Cena's arm was apparently so bad that doctors wanted him to spend six months on the shelf but because he's committed enough, he went against orders. And, as though through magic, his arm healed completely and he didn't even need a sling last night. He was even shaking it out while breaking the fourth wall to tell us he's totally fine. I get that it's not real and it's just a story and if you call this kind of shit out it usually results and being made fun of and called a mark but do you remember the time when the workers actually respected the business they're in? If they don't respect it, we won't either. And then the entire infrastructure crumbles.
- One man who deserves praise for his selling is Big Show, who continued to sell a choke slam from Kane far longer than he probably needed to. That's not the best thing he did last night, though. I've seen folks blasting how silly and bad his segment with Laurinaitis was but I couldn't disagree more. As I mentioned to my partner in crime, Sergio Hernandez, during the Cageside Live podcast, this scene felt like something that played out at your friend's house when you were young and your friend was getting punished by his overly abusive parents. You feel uncomfortable looking on while knowing your parents would hardly blink at this infraction, and simply sit there helpless to stop this abuse. Your friend cries and it makes you terribly uncomfortable. He begs not to be punished and you can't help but grimace in pain at what you're being made to witness. WWE recreated something like this last night. For all those who felt that discomfort and didn't like it and assumed that meant it was bad, you're wrong. That meant it was good. VERY good. Unbelievably good. Show's dramatic drop to both knees might have seemed just a bit cheesy, but it was perfect within the narrative. This segment may have been the best thing WWE has done all year.
- David Otunga is back and that makes this WWE fan a happy man.
- I would love to talk extensively about the six-man tag match that happened last night but there really isn't that much to say. The tag team champions, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, are what they are, the challengers, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger, still look like donks in comparison, The Miz looks terrible for the eighth month in a row, and Brodus Clay is still a racially stereotypical dancing dinosaur. Meh.
- AJ has less issues with men than CM Punk has with women. Discuss.
- Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton is a main event level match, right? So why did it feel like a throwaway match last night? And who is it in WWE that believes 78 consecutive matches ending in a smoz finish is a good way to hype the Fatal Four-Way at the PPV? The one good thing to come of this is Orton's getting utterly livid at Sheamus simply because he got Jericho a disqualification win and Orton really wanted the win. "That was my W," he shouted. It's nice to see someone in WWE act like wins and losses mean something.
- There's nothing to say about Cena in text that we didn't say last night during the podcast other than he's terrible at everything he does and the sooner he leaves the pro wrestling industry the better. His character might as well be the guy who takes a fat dump on every principle pro wrestling has been built on since its inception. It makes me sad that so many kids buy into his crap (which is why kids are barely people) because as long as he's selling a lot of merchandise and granting a million wishes, he'll be at the top of the card and in our face, stagnant ratings and plummeting PPV buyrates be damned.
- Seriously, John Cena is terrible at life.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts and grade from last night's episode of Raw. I give it a solid C- on the strength of Heyman and Big Show's segment.
What about you?