The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 02/06/12
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport

Live from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma this is the Raw Deal…

They showed a video of last week with Undertaker coming back to challenge Triple H only for Hunter to walk away from it. Then they announced matches for the show including a Six Pack Challenge with the six guys in the Elimination Chamber and Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show. Why can’t they announce these matches before the show? Is it because they only came up with the matches hours earlier? Long term planning is your friend, WWE. It’s not that hard to book key matches a week ahead.

Guess what Raw starts with? A promo…this week by Triple H. Hunter talked about the John Laurinaitis storyline. He did the same insults he always does. Then he said Raw ended last week with JL’s future up in the air and that JL was presenting his case to the Board of Directors, who would have a decision as early as Tuesday. What about last week? Hunter said he had the power (as COO) to take back the job any time he wanted, yet here we are one week later and it’s up to the board to decide. More info on that angle in a bit.

Hunter talked about how last year Undertaker may have won their match, but Taker’s the one that got carried out while Hunter walked away. Then Hunter put him over saying being in the ring with Undertaker gives him butterflies in his stomach and he stands in the ring truly humbled by Undertaker. He said Undertaker is the only one that makes him feel that way. That’s so cute. I hope they get eachother Valentine’s Day cards too. Anyway, Hunter said the scene last week was similar to last year when he challenged Undertaker to the match. Hunter claimed that last week he didn’t feel those butterflies when he looked into the eyes of The Undertaker because he felt sorry for him. He said he remembers what he did to Undertaker last year and chooses to remember him in a different light. Then they played a video package highlighting The Undertaker destroying people over the years. Hunter said that’s the Undertaker he wants to remember, not this…which led to a video package from the end of last year’s match when Undertaker needed help after their match. Hunter turned down the challenge, saying out of respect he can’t accept it and that if they had another match he’d have to finish Undertaker for good. And that Undertaker knows it too. He pointed at the WrestleMania sign saying “this is over” meaning his rivalry with Undertaker. What percent of the audience actually believes that? Maybe 10% at the most.

As Hunter left, his music played. Then it stopped. He was surprised. Suddenly, a video package played as Undertaker was watching clips of last year’s match with Hunter’s voice talking over it talking about how Undertaker had to be carried out. I believe it was the promo from last year after WrestleMania. Undertaker spoke while watching the video saying “this is not over” and “I will not let that be the last image of me.” He said he would give Hunter one more chance at immortality and he repeated “this is not over.” I liked the video. It was different in a good way. It puts over the idea that even though he won last year, Undertaker wasn’t happy with how it ended and he wanted to do the match one more time to prove himself. Back live, they showed Hunter looking at the big screen as they went to break.

(Commercial)

The match is obviously going to happen with Shawn Michaels as the referee, which is the rumor making the rounds. I’m sure some are complaining about Hunter facing Undertaker again. Me? I like it. Last year it was the best match I’ve ever seen live. This year I’d like to see it live at WrestleMania one more time. Why not? I’m not opposed to great matches. These two can deliver again.

Back to the Laurinaitis angle, on Tuesday morning it was announced on WWE.com that he would retain his position as the interim Raw GM. He’s not the full time GM, but still the interim one. This isn’t a surprise because the character is over as a heel. Doing major changes this close to WrestleMania wouldn’t be a smart move. I’m okay with it. They obviously like having a heel in the role, as has been the case for most of Raw’s history, so Laurinaitis as GM will continue for the foreseeable future.

Back from break, it was time for Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan. They showed clips from last month when Show accidentally ran over Bryan’s girlfriend AJ, which injured her. Show entered first. Bryan followed…with AJ at his side. She’s still sporting the neck brace.

Big Show d. Daniel Bryan via countout (*1/2)
They worked for about a minute before going to break.

(Commercial)

The story of the match was Show was on offense for much of it, Bryan tried to put him in submissions and every time he did the big guy was able to fight out of it. Show kicked Bryan out to the floor as DBry was acting as if his right knee was hurt bad. AJ stood in front of Big Show so he couldn’t attack Daniel. Then Bryan miraculously recovered and went after him. Show came back, charged at Bryan by the steps/post and AJ somehow got in the way. This time Show stopped himself before he accidentally hit her again. Bryan was furious, so he grabbed AJ and walked away while Show rolled back in for the countout win.

Post match, Bryan got a microphone saying that the first time he ran her over it was on purpose because this time he proved that he could stop. Bryan said protecting the woman who loves him (he still hasn’t said that he loves her by the way) is more important than winning or losing a match. He says at Elimination Chamber he’ll still be a vegan and he’ll still be World Champion. Basically, he’s using AJ’s injury as an excuse to get out of getting beat up by Big Show. The manipulative boyfriend angle has been a part of wrestling for a long time, going back to Randy Savage’s heel days with Elizabeth. Bryan’s playing his role well.

They advertised that Jericho would speak later on.

(Commercial)

They returned with a video about WrestleMania 28.

They showed a clip from last week’s Raw when NASCAR driver Carl Edwards showed up to the arena to tell John Cena that he’d be waving the green flag at the Daytona 500 in a few weeks. I love sports. I don’t watch NASCAR, though. I respect what they do, but I’ve never gotten into it. It is a big event though, so nice exposure for Cena & WWE there.

Next up was a video package about the Elimination Chamber, which pointed out that the champion only had a 1 in 6 chance of retaining his title. It’s a solid video package every year.

(Commercial)

Back from break, David Otunga talked about how John Laurinaitis should remain as interim GM. This was designed to draw heat, but the crowd was pretty dead the whole night. Then he was informed by Justin Roberts (who got orders from Triple H) that he had a match at that moment. So Triple H could book matches on this show? Apparently.

Sheamus d. David Otunga
Otunga was wrestling in his “street clothes” so to speak. You know the drill. Sheamus wins in two minutes with the Brogue Kick. Still no word on what Sheamus is doing at Elimination Chamber. I could see them feeding a heel to him so he can beat them at the PPV, but otherwise no real feuds for him until after the PPV.

Jericho was shown walking in the back, so he would speak after the break.

(Commercial)

This week on Smackdown it’s Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton in a non-title match. That should be awesome if they get 10-15 minutes. I was hoping that would be the WrestleMania match, but with Sheamus winning the Rumble that’s not going to happen since he’s likely going for the Smackdown World Title. I’d imagine he will say that he’s won the WWE Title twice before, so he wants the World Title this time. That kind of thing.

Chris Jericho promo
Finally, we get the Chris Jericho speech we’ve been clamoring for the last month. He talked about how other people in WWE have stolen things from him from his mannerisms to his look to his phrases. He called the people in the crowd wannabes. I’m glad he didn’t sing the Spice Girls song “Wannabe” there. It’s nice to have limits. He talked about trolling people, even saying the word “trolling” there. He ran down the six guys in the Elimination Chamber, claiming they all stole something from him although it was weak when he mentioned R-Truth’s “what’s up” is a rip off of when he tells people to “shut the hell up.” You’re my favorite Chris, but that was a reach. Then he mentioned CM Punk, calling him a liar and a wannabe. I loved this line from Jericho: “I am the best in the world at everything I do and I don’t have to write it on the back of a t-shirt to prove it.” He talked about winning every title, being the first Undisputed Champion (still going on about that 11 years later!), eliminating 28 guys from the Rumble including Randy Orton in his home town and earning the right to be called the best in the world. He said it was the end of the world as we know it because he’s back to reclaim what is his, meaning the World Title. There’s still no explanation for the girl in those videos, but at least he’s using the phrases we saw in the videos.

Cue CM Punk. The WWE Champ walks out to a big pop although not that big because like I said the crowd was dead for much of the show. Punk had a microphone in his hand with Cole noting it was “pipe bomb” time. They stared at eachother as Punk entered the ring. Punk looked like he was going to talk. Instead he dropped the microphone and then raised the WWE Title in the air. Then he confidently turned his back to Jericho. Chris didn’t attack him at all. Punk left. Jericho was trolled by the WWE Champion. He was furious about it, yelling at Punk to say something. Instead the champ left with a smile on his face.

Jericho was awesome in that promo. It would have been better if he won the Royal Rumble as was originally planned (if you want to believe that rumor like I do) because then his words would mean that much more and he could brag about something more current. Saying I “eliminated 28 guys from the Rumble” is impressive albeit fictional in the sense that he only eliminated a few, but if he had won the Rumble it would be a much bigger deal. Know what I mean? I hope so. Anyway, last week was the first seed planted in the Punk/Jericho match. This was the second seed. I like the slow build. The epic face to face promos are coming. I don’t mind them trolling us, so to speak, as they build up to that moment.

(Commercial)

Important plug time: I’m reviewing every WrestleMania from February 1st through the end of March. Recent updates: WrestleMania 2 and the very historic WrestleMania 3. I loved WrestleMania 3, so be sure to check that one out. Up next: WrestleMania 4 on Wednesday night. You can also view the archive at any time. I’m having a lot of fun with it. The feedback has been excellent. Keep it coming. It’s a pleasure to relive the good and bad moments with all of you.

Randy Orton & Great Khali d. Cody Rhodes & Wade Barrett (*)
I’m still not a fan of Wade Barrett’s new theme music. I’m even less of a fan of Great Khali being involved in the Elimination Chamber match. He can barely move at this point in his career. The crowd popped for everything, but for Khali they don’t care. And why should they? He was a former World Champion and was not a draw in the role. Since then he’s been pushed down the card while being used as a novelty act. He’s fine as a novelty act. He’s awful as a main eventer. Why? Because after months of building up young talents like Rhodes & Barrett, we saw Khali beat Rhodes with a chop to the head in 3 minutes. Lame finish.

Post match, Orton was pissed with Khali because Khali tagged himself in while Orton was getting in that “zone” of his. Never interrupt a viper in their zone, I guess. Anyway, Orton hit a RKO on Khali. I’m surprised Khali was able to sell that move. Christian has to be healthy from his ankle injury, right? Use him in this spot. He needs just one…more…match!

The announcers plugged the Twitter war of words between The Rock & John Cena. I enjoy their tweets to eachother. It’s a smart way to keep the hype going until Rock gets back to Raw live at the end of the month.

Next up, they aired the same John Cena video package that has aired on pretty much every show since the Royal Rumble. We get it. John Cena is a better person than everybody else in the world. I like Cena, but can’t they use this four minutes of show time on something more productive?

They plugged the WrestleMania 28 match for 467th time (that’s just a guess) and also the Six Pack Challenge match in the main event.

(Commercial)

They mentioned Rock’s new movie Journey 2 that I doubt I’ll see. Not my kind of thing. Good luck to him, though.

Tamina, Eve, Kelly Kelly & Alicia Fox vs. Beth Phoenix, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Brie Bella (1/4*)
This match was very short, which is usual for a Divas match although I think it was going to go longer if not for Eve getting hurt. When she was in there with Beth, she was the recipient of a very hard clothesline and you could tell she was in a lot of pain. It appeared to be a broken nose. Ref Jack Doan was doing the “X” sign, which means an injury. After Beth tagged in one of the Bellas with a hard tag to the chest, Eve tagged out to Tamina and she quickly got the pinfall with the Superfly Splash at the 2 minute mark. Half of the girls didn’t even get to be in the match. What was sad was after the match they showed some fans for reaction and they were absolutely motionless. It was a bad time to cut to the crowd. They tried to put over that nobody was a threat to Beth, but the win by Tamina would suggest that she’s next in line. My guess is Beth vs. Kharma at WrestleMania.

After the match, more Rock. He was on Jay Leno on Monday so they showed clips of that since NBC owns USA Network. I saw the interview. Rock is a phenomenal talk show guest. He carries himself so well in everything he does. I guess I have a mancrush huh? I just have a lot of respect for the man.

Backstage, Triple H was talking to somebody about the Laurinaitis decision as Johnny L showed up. He told Hunter that Shawn Michaels would be on the show next week. Hunter was shocked by the news saying Shawn is busy hunting things. They also announced Cena vs. Kane in an Ambulance Match at Elimination Chamber. That’s not a good gimmick match. A Last Man Standing match would be better. Anyway, Hunter made fun of JL some more.

(Commercial)

Back from break, the announcers threw to a video package about the Undertaker/Triple H happenings. This week’s Raw sure loves its video packages. They also mentioned a decision about Laurinaitis as GM would be made on Tuesday morning. As we know now, JL is still the interim Raw GM. Any angle involving the “Board of Directors” has sucked in the last year.

Backstage, Josh Mathews bumped into Laurinaitis. JL ripped HHH, saying he’d be unfit to run Raw because he won’t accept Undertaker’s challenge.

Justin Roberts tried to explain the rules of the Six Pack Challenge. He messed it up. R-Truth entered the arena first and then they went to break.

(Commercial)

They plugged Shawn Michaels returning to Raw next week. It will involve the Hunter/Undertaker story since Shawn is expected to be the referee at WrestleMania.

The other guys made their entrances for the main event. Instead of all the video packages, it would have been nice to hear from Ziggler, Truth, Miz or Kofi to put over how important it would be to be the last man in the Chamber match. That’s the stipulation for the main event. The winner of the match got to enter the Chamber in the sixth and final spot. When I heard that I knew it would be Chris Jericho.

Chris Jericho d. CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, The Miz & Kofi Kingston in a Six Pack Challenge Match (**1/4)
The rules are the first person to get a pin wins the match. It’s not an easy match to book or to work because when there are six guys in there it can get disjointed very fast. They worked for a couple of minutes and then the guys were on the floor for the customary “jump on the guys on the floor” spot to lead into break. The problem was when R-Truth did his leap over the top, the Miz did not catch him. The back of R-Truth’s head hit the floor in a way that would suggest a concussion. I’m not sure if it’s the fault of Miz or maybe R-Truth dove too far away from him. I’d say it’s more on Miz because the other guy doesn’t have much control there. They went to break with Ziggler choosing not to do the dive to the floor and Punk getting a pinfall attempt on him.

(Commercial)

Back from break, refs helped Truth to the back. That was not planned as far as I know. They were legit worried about him. Later in the night, Joey Styles tweeted that Truth would be fine. This was not a good match for The Miz. There was also a point where you could audibly hear him calling a spot to Jericho. I’m a fan of Miz, but it wasn’t his night. Like I said it was a tough match to work, but they got it right with a hot finish. It was fun with the five guys getting a lot of their big spots in. Jericho had the Wall of Jericho applied, but Punk broke it up and threw him outside the ring. Ziggler ran at Punk, going for the Fameasser, but Punk caught him and hit the GTS by the ropes. He covered with his legs towards the ropes, so Jericho yanked him out and threw him into the barrier behind the announce table. Then Jericho slid back in the ring to cover Ziggler for the win at the 12 minute mark.

Post match, Jericho put the WWE Title on his shoulder while sitting in the ring in CM Punk’s famous pose. Punk was seething at ringside. My guess is for the Chamber, Jericho will be fresh as the 6th guy, eliminate a couple of them and then Punk will pin him. Post match, Jericho can attack him to set up their match at WrestleMania. Either that or Jericho wins the title and Punk gets it back at WrestleMania. I’d be opposed to that, though, because there doesn’t need to be a title change.

To end the show, Kane stalked Eve saying the same stuff he says every week. This time he added that he was afraid for Cena, afraid for Eve and for the first time in his life he’s afraid for himself. I guess he really does want Cena to embrace the hate huh? This was taped earlier in the show before Eve had her nose busted. It’s called a pre-tape, kids. This story sucks. I’m sure it will lead to Ryder vs. Kane at Mania with Ryder going over or at least it should. That way Ryder can be taken more seriously by the fans.

Three Stars of the Show
1. Chris Jericho
2. CM Punk
3. Daniel Bryan

4.5 out of 10
Last week: 9
2012 Average: 6.08
2012 High: 9 (January 30)
2012 Low: 4 (January 9)
Last 5 Weeks: 9, 7, 7, 4, 5

Last week’s Raw got a score of 9 and I called it an amazing episode of Raw. This week? It was half of that with a 4.5 rating out of 10. This show was a letdown. It felt like it set the record for most video packages in one edition of the show, which is saying something considering there’s still seven weeks to go until we get to WrestleMania.

For months I’ve said Undertaker vs. Triple H and Punk vs. Jericho would be matches at WrestleMania. After the events on this show, it looks like the seeds have been planted in an official way. I’m looking forward to both matches very much although definitely Punk/Jericho is the one that intrigues me the most since they’re my favorite performers in WWE right now.

No Brodus Clay this week. I guess there was no time for him. It feels like I’ve written that before.

The OKC crowd wasn’t very lively. Maybe they’re saving the noise for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who might be the best team in the NBA. It was a weird night. I’m not sure if it’s the crowd’s fault because there were so many promos and video packages on this show that there wasn’t that much to get excited about. Still, I can’t remember a Raw where the crowd was so quiet.

Radio plug: Wednesday at 10pmET/9pmCT TJR Radio returns. Details HERE. We’ll be on for two hours, you can call or Skype in to talk Frank The Clown, The Ace, Jakey and myself. It’s always a good time, so be sure to listen in. If you miss it live I’ll put the link up on TJR and it is available on iTunes as well.

That’s all from me. Keep checking out thejohnreport.net for Mania recaps, the radio show, Canton’s Corner and all the fine columns from the staff at TJR. Thanks for reading!

John Canton – john@thejohnreport.net
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