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WWE Raw results and reactions from last night (Feb. 20): A fresh John Cena

WWE Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 20, 2012) emanated from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and featured Undertaker calling out Triple H to set up their match at WrestleMania and Chris Jericho winning a battle royal to set up his match against CM Punk at the "Grand Daddy of Them All." And we even got a newer -- and much fresher -- version of John Cena ... both good and bad.

If you want full results from Raw last night, click here for the running live blog. Time to get to reactions from the show:

  • Oh, John Cena. Let me start by saying he was mostly awesome last night. I mean that in the best possible way. Having him kind of sort of shoot on Rock while letting him actually get passionate and show the side of him that doesn't involve cracking really bad jokes and snickering while wearing goofy clothes added depth to his character that's sorely been lacking. He put real emotion into this feud and took quite a few shots at Rock that he's going to have a hard time answering back to. If he comes back with something lame like "Cena's lady parts," he'll have lost this little volley. Cena just delivered an awesome opening shot and it's up to Rock to respond strong. Round one goes to Cena. Really great stuff.
  • Now for the ridiculously crappy part of last night's show featuring Cena acting like a complete jackass. We know WWE is sexist and anyone not named Stephanie McMahon is treated with little to no respect but what in the blue hell was that opening segment last night? Eve turning heel on Zack Ryder was the right move and got her a ton of heat. But what happened next was just low and frankly, irresponsible on WWE's part. To have her get caught by Cena and then trot her down to the ring so Cena could basically call her a slut and entice the crowd to call her a whore while she lay there crying was the worst possible message WWE could send. She throws herself at Cena and he reacts by saying, "I'm disease free and would like to keep it that way." This after he blamed her for losing his best friend -- "I lost a broksi for a hoski." Uh, did you forget, John, that YOU FREAKING PULLED THE DICK MOVE BY KISSING HER BACK AND THEN ACTING LIKE A DICK ABOUT IT. How is it possible that he gets to take the high road and turn Even into a modern day Lita? This is how WWE is getting him over to the audience? The most sad aspect of this is the one time Cena got the crowd to unanimously do something with him was when he was asking them to belittle a crying women in the ring by calling her a whore and pointing and laughing at her. This was such utterly ridiculous crap that as my partner in crime Sergio opined, this has to mean she's about to get future endeavored, right? That was a grade A burial by the biggest star in the company.
  • Last point on this and then we'll move on. An argument was made last night on the Cageside Twitter account that Eve shouldn't get to connive her way through Ryder, dump him and then try to manipulate Cena without having to pay some sort of price for it when she was caught. And I agree with that. But is this really the price she should have had to pay? If WWE is marketing to a 12-17 age range with a guy like Cena, what did he just teach them? That if a woman betrays your friend by messing around with you and you find out she just wanted to play you, too, you can insult her by calling her a bitch and a whore and then encourage large crowds to do the same. It's okay to ruthlessly berate her, because hey, she deserves it, right? That's what women get when they act this way! No. That's not how it should be. And in a similar situation, there are far better ways to handle it. What a disturbing message sent by WWE. John Cena rises above hate but he's not above calling women bitches and whores (even though he was acting like a whore, too) when he finds out they're planning to play him.
  • Seriously, to hell with John Cena after that.
  • I really thought the manner in which Undertaker got Triple H to accept the match was quite brilliant. And to those that took issue with Trips only accepting the match to prove he's better than Shawn Michaels, have you watched WWE programming for the past 20 years? This is exactly the angle they should be using. It's one of the rare times they've actually bothered with continuity. Hunter and his buddy Shawn spent their entire career trying to one up each other in a constant struggle over who was the better of the two. This dates all the way back to the D-Generation X days. That's not even mentioning the fan debate throughout the years. Plus, it made for that awesome moment with Undertaker outright telling "The Game" he was never as good as "The Heartbreak Kid." Because, you know, he wasn't.

Thoughts on the rest of the show after the jump.

  • If you weren't sold on Undertaker vs. Triple H part three last night, you're just not going to be. Although we knew they were headed for a match, we thought Shawn Michaels would be the special guest referee and that would be the only gimmick. And while that's still possible -- and would be awesome -- instead they went with the Hell in a Cell (HIAC) match. It produced a genuinely surprising moment and instantly provided excitement for the match. I mean, these are the two guys who have been in more HIAC matches than anyone else, ever. And for the first time in god knows how long, WWE properly used this stipulation. This is how you get two guys inside the Cell, not just creating a pay-per-view and forcing it.
  • Ain't No Grave by Johnny Cash was a great song to use for Undertaker. The Memory Remains by Metallica is not. I know they're pushing the idea that he can't get rid of the memory of Triple H beating the hell out of him at WrestleMania last year but that doesn't mean you find a song he likes with the right title. And I'm a Metallica fan who greatly enjoys most of their work. The song doesn't even fit the scenario. It's about a former celebrity driven mad by the fact that no one cares anymore. Just because the title fits doesn't mean it should be used.
  • Sheamus is still really bland and I have a hard time with the fact that they basically took Randy Orton's gimmick, gave it Sheamus, started calling him "The Great White," and expect us to cheer him accordingly. Maybe marks at arenas are willing to do so but I just don't see enough from him week in and week out to commit any actual emotion to what he's doing. And that's the name of the game, after all. I need a reason to care and he doesn't give me one.
  • One night after Sheamus chose to challenge Daniel Bryan for the world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania 28, they both had singles matches on Raw that had nothing to do with each other. Both won clean and both won quick. Neither interacted with the other. Get hyped for 'Mania, huh?
  • Maybe no one else feels this way but if the only way to keep the tag team division alive is to randomly throw two guys together -- in this case Kofi Kingston and R-Truth -- and have them beat the tag team champions clean to earn a shot at said tag team champions, I would rather they just kill the division altogether. The belts look goofy enough that I wouldn't care if I never saw them again. It's almost as bad as the Diva's division at this point. I just don't care because they never bother to give me any reason to. Plus, what the hell are Kingston and Truth doing teaming together one night after competing against each other for the title with no explanation for it. They were in there acting like best buddies. Just dumb.
  • Ron Simmons in the Hall of Fame. DAMN!
  • I dig the idea of John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long feuding over control of the two shows. It actually adds an air of importance to the position that doesn't really exist otherwise. It also gives both of them something to do. Hell, I even enjoyed David Otunga going over clean on Ezekial Jackson, though he was a tad sloppy while doing so. The thumbs up Laurinaitis gave Long after Otunga got the pin was absolute money, too. More of this, please.
  • I don't want anyone to tell me that they killed Santino Marella's heat by having Daniel Bryan beat him clean in a short match. No, they didn't. Santino will always be over with this character, no matter how many times he gets beat. He's built to lose, really. He's our funny guy, remember? Our funny guy doesn't need to win to be our funny guy. This, of course, was proven later in the night when he was still crazy over and getting huge pops for eliminating Wade Barrett and R-Truth in the battle royal. They don't need to push him, he's just fine where he is.
  • Speaking of the battle royal, what a terrible idea, huh? Not only was it the laziest way to get to Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk for the WWE title at WrestleMania, it damn near got everyone involved killed. No less than five of the nine guys eliminated took bad bumps on their way out. Kingston's fall looked ugly, Truth and Barrett both had a bad spill and then, of course, Ziggler took a rough one on the chin on the announce table, which is also where Barrett ended up breaking his arm. When Santino was eliminated, he was nearly thrown directly onto Barrett while he was still being attended to by physicians. It was just terrible all around.
  • Jericho winning that battle royal felt like a way for WWE to make up for him not winning the Royal Rumble like he was originally booked to. But how cheap was this? He couldn't win the Rumble to get his title match, instead winning a crappy 10-man battle royal and even then, he needed help from Cody Rhodes to get Big Show over to win the match. After showing up with a fresh new character and ton a of hype, Jericho has quickly become just another annoying character on TV. The feud with he and Punk is terribly weak. "I'm the best in the world." "No, I'm the best in the world." "No, me." "No, me." "Let's have a match at 'Mania to find out." "Fine." "Fine." Just shut up.
  • How does WWE follow up a cool Divas match at the pay-per-view last night? By having neither participant in said match appear on Raw and throwing out Kelly Kelly, Aksana and the Bellas to go 75 seconds and do the same tired crap they always do.

For all the various issues with it, this was actually a pretty damn good show, mostly because it set up WrestleMania well. Jericho and Punk's feud sucks so far, but we can be fairly sure they'll deliver at the big show in the match and that's what matters. 'Taker and Triple H in a Hell in a Cell is awesome and John Cena upped his game and made The Rock match super personal. Everything looks great going forward.

Overall, I'll give it a solid C+ and that would be higher if not for my disgust with how they handled the Eve thing.

That's enough from me, though, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts from the show.

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