WWE Monday Night Raw - April 30th, 2012
Two nights in a row of eventful, semi-logical, entertaining wrestling is something we've come to not expect. Not this week! WWE closes April strong with an interesting show that made effort to move story lines along and change up the usual Monday Night formula. And at the least, the "Monday Night Raw starring Brock Lesnar" graphic was good for a laugh.
Raw starts with John Lauranaitis out, telling the fans that we should be thanking him for bringing Lesnar in. Lesnar has proved Cena to be a mere mortal. Lesnar follows the warm welcome from Johnny and tells us he did just what he said he would: He brought the pain to John Cena. Cue HHH's entrance music and a ludicrous pop from the crowd. HHH tells Johnny that he's here to do the job that Johnny won't. Lesnar will receive no special treatment: No jet, no limo, no raise, no immunity. HHH tells Lesnar that Lauranaitis did not have the authority to broker the deal that was made one week ago (No more '...starring Brock Lesnar' graphic, I guess).
HHH assures Lesnar that he wants him in WWE; that the fans want a rematch with Cena. Johnny tries to tell HHH that he's being disrespectful and HHH immediately shuts him up. HHH turns to give Johnny the business, but Lesnar attacks from behind. HHH tries to fight back, but he gets locked into the Kimura and Lesnar wrenches the arm, apparently breaking it. When Michael Cole is entirely against what a heel is doing, you know he's being made to be a monster. HHH screams in pain and is helped to the back by Big Show, Kofi, R-Truth and Sheamus, who run out to make the save.
Lesnar attacks the steel stairs in frustration, further showcasing the idea of him being an uncaged animal. Later in the night, we'll be told that Lesnar will be off TV for some time, what with the goings on. So Brock Lesnar has demolished Cena and HHH in the span of two nights, but will be off TV for a while. Baffling.
Eve comes out and informs us that the new #1 contender to the WWE title will be determined in a 5 match Beat the Clock challenge. The man who wins his match the fastest will be the #1 contender.
Match 1 - The Miz vs Santino Marella (United States Champion), Beat the Clock Challenge
Similar to the match on the preshow last night - back and forth signature spots. The change is the pace: Playing into the Beat the Clock concept, Miz comes out aggressive and with quick roll ups and pin attempts. Santino starts to come back with a hotshot and lands jabs, followed by the split, hip toss and headbutt. The Cobra comes out, but Miz tries an okana roll which Santino rolls through. Miz kicks out, lands a boot and the Skull Crushing Finale for the win in 4:18.
Winner: The Miz via pinfall, 4:18 is the time to beat
Match 2 - Brie Bella vs Nikki Bella vs Layla (c), Divas Championship Triple Threat
The Bellas argue, Layla dropkicks one into the other then schoolgirls the projectile Bella for the win. That's literally the whole match.
Winner: Layla via pinfall
The one good idea at play here is reintroducing Layla to the TV crowd that didn't buy the PPV. The Bellas are on their way out, so they're made to look like incompetent goofballs: The WWE way. Brie had no right to be in this match; at least Nikki had her rematch clause.
Match 3 - Chris Jericho vs Big Show, Beat the Clock Challenge (time to beat: 4:18)
Show opens up strong and hard, attacking Jericho. After a scoop slam for two, Show lands the running ass in the corner and hits the ropes for a spear, but Jericho dropkicks the knee. Jericho lands boots to the head and a low dropkick for one. Jericho comes off the top rope, but Show swats him out of midair. Show hops on the middle rope for a Vaderbomb, but comes up empty, allowing a Lionsault from Jericho for two. Jericho tries the Walls of Jericho, which Big Show turns into a small package (big package?). Jericho escapes a Chokeslam attempt and DDTs Show for two. Show responds with a spear for two. Jericho ducks the WMD and tries the Codebreaker, which Show stops. Both men tumble over the top rope and Big Show misses a boot, leading to him falling into the timekeeper's pit. Jericho slides into the ring at a nine count, but the ref's count does not beat the clock. Jericho wins, but does not beat the Miz's time.
Winner: Chris Jericho via countout
An argument can be made that this is a no contest, as the clock for the match ran out. What I think happened was Jericho was supposed to beat the 9 count with a second left on the clock, giving him the slight lead, but the cadence was screwed up. Regardless, Miz's time still stands.
Match 4 - Brodus Clay vs JTG
Boots, scoopslams and elbows, followed by ignoring a chop block and a t-bone and splash. Standard Clay match at this point.
Winner: Brodus Clay via pinfall
Clay brings some kids into the ring to dance with him and the funkettes; cute moment for the kids. I know I would have been thrilled to get in a ring as a young'un. I hate to echo myself at this point, but the act is getting a bit old for the 'real' fans. It's great for the kids and the casual fans, but maybe once in a while Tyson Kidd could get on TV instead?
A recap from the top of the show plays: Lesnar vs Cena and Cena's speech
A replay of Lesnar snapping HHH's elbow plays, as well.
Johnny, Eve and Teddy are in the back. Eve is giving Johnny a pep talk. He may have lost Lesnar at this point, but he still needs to be a leader. Johnny will inform us who Cena's next PPV opponent will be.
Match 5 - Randy Orton vs Jack Swagger, Beat the Clock Challenge (time to beat: 4:18)
Orton opens aggressively and with roll ups, as expected. Swagger muscles him into the corner, but Orton hops over a shoulder block attempt for another roll up and one count. Swagger lands boots to the head and a Swaggerbomb for two. Orton escapes the Gutwrench Powerbomb attempt and lands his signature backbreaker for another quick two count. Swagger ducks a clothesline and dives at Orton's knee. He follows with a big shoulder block for two. Orton strikes back, but Swagger surfboards his arms, which the announcers note is an awful strategy with time ticking away. Swagger transitions to a headlock/hammerlock combination pin for two, which the announcers don't note is a great strategy. Swagger makes the classic mistake of trying the same move twice in a match and whiffs a Swaggerbomb, letting Orton land clotheslines and a powerslam. Orton follows with the middle rope DDT and coils, ready for the RKO. Swagger drops Orton into an ankle lock, but Orton escapes and lands the RKO for the new time to beat - 4:16
Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall, 4:16 is the time to beat
Graphics and announcements continue to make a huge deal out of Cena's next PPV opponent.
The "Loco move of the week" plays...which is just a replay of the Colons vs Ryder and Santino last week. With a name like that, why not the AA to the steel steps, the Kimura or Lesnar's suicidal leap onto Cena at ER??
Match 6 - Kofi Kingston and R-Truth vs Primo and Epico (c), Tag Team Championship Match
Another unearned title shot. Primo boots Lil Jimmy, and R-Truth takes exception. Truth dances and lands a right hand, followed by a clothesline over the top rope, leading to break. In the interim, it is announced that the Bellas have been fired. That's the last we hear of it on the show. Back from commercial, Truth has a two count. The cousins Colon isolate Truth with boots in their corner and quick tags. Truth tries to make a break for it, but Epico whips Truth into a Primo dropkick. Primo kicks Truth in the ribs and a cover gets a one count. Truth fights up out of a chinlock and lands a jumping heel kick. Kofi and Epico both get hot tags and Kofi runs wild. I normally hate Kofi's strikes, but his chops and dropkick looked a bit better than normal and the follow up high jump clothesline had the best impact I've ever seen out of him.
Kofi follows with a Boomdrop. Rosa hops on the apron and Kofi shoves Epico into Truth on the opposite side, who gives him a hotshot. Kofi lands Trouble in Paradise and we have new tag champs.
Winners: R-Truth and Kofi Kingston via pinfall
Well that was an odd title change. Hopefully this doesn't mean "spring cleaning" for the Colons. They meet Abraham Washington in the back and agree to talk to him about representation. Because that would have made them not get their asses beat, apparently. The conversation is cut off by Great Khali's jobber entrance.
Match 7 - Great Khali vs Kane, Beat the Clock Challenge (time to beat: 4:16)
Strikes back and forth for another aggressive start. Khali stops a chokeslam attempt, but Kane dropkicks him low and delivers a DDT for two. Kane keeps the pressure on and hits his diving clothesline for one. A low dropkick for two follows. Khali fights back and lands the Brain Chop. Both men grab each other by the throat for a choke stalemate and time runs out. Kane delivers a chokeslam afterwards for good measure.
Well, I'll take that over Khali winning, but this could have easily been replaced by a couple young guys fighting for a chance.
Match 8 - Daniel Bryan vs Jerry Lawler, Beat the Clock Challenge (time to beat: 4:16)
It is beyond me how Jerry Lawler is in contention for this title shot. The men tie up and Bryan opens with his corner dropkick for two. King fires back with rights, but Bryan answers with a snapmare. Bryan lands repeated knee drops and covers for two. King fires back with more rights and then jabs Bryan, followed by a dropkick. Bryan tries to answer with another corner dropkick, but airballs it. King lands his middle rope fist drop for a close two. Lawler sets up for the piledriver, but Bryan backdrops him out of it and lands an execution kick to the side of the head, followed by the Yes!lock.
Winner: Daniel Bryan via submission, winner of Beat the Clock Challenge
So that's that - Daniel Bryan is now the #1 contender for the WWE title. CM Punk comes out clapping for his old friend, and you can see in their faces how happy they are that they'll (semi) main event the next PPV over the biggest title in the industry. The next couple weeks is the ideal time to remind fans who may not know how long in the making this is. It really adds to the story to show just how far they've come for this. We'll likely get one segment on TV in three weeks concerning this and then a video on wwe.com
John Cena comes out, arm in sling. Johnny shows up, as does Lord Tensai; apparently Tensai is a lackie for Johnny now.
There was a lot of talking, but I slept right through it; needless to say, I expect it didn't add much to the goings on. Tensai, Johnny and Sakamoto surround Cena and it's Johnny that attacks Cena with a mic shot to the back of the head. Cena's opponent at No Way Out? John Lauranaitis. Johnny rips off Cena's sling and the brutalize the injured arm - They wrap it around the ring post and Tensai stretches it out, allowing Johnny to stomp at it and whack it with a chair, leaving Cena to scream in pain. Now THAT's the kind of heel authority figure we've been missing.
Lots of matches, but a lot of short ones tonight. When it's by design, it's not so bad. I don't at all agree with KofiTruth winning the tag titles like this, but if it leads to the Colons with an actual storyline involving AW, it could pay off. I still say Young/O'Neil will be wrestling for those straps within three months. I'm thrilled to see Bryan vs Punk for the title, but I still find it odd that Lawler was the one fed to Bryan. Perhaps next week we find out that was a heel-favor for Bryan from Lauranaitis for some reason? After stalking Bryan at ER, no appearance from AJ tonight; likely a follow up on Thursday.
Most important tonight is where Cena and Lesnar are going. Lesnar popped the boss' arm and is off TV for a while. Cena is hurt, but scheduled for a match with Big Johnny in three weeks. I'm actually intrigued to see where this goes. As far as Lesnar, it's an odd place - everyone expected him to win at ER, so with the loss, he's shown to be formidable but beatable. He can still run roughshod over everyone and Cena comes back in a few months, refreshed and crisp, ready to take Lesnar on.
Lesnar will of course be eager and willing, to avenge his loss at ER, but will likely be bested by the returning hero. It's what Cena needs: Stay off TV for a while. Nobody can miss someone who's on every show. Let the fans long for their hero or any hero to come beat the big bad Lesnar. If I don't see at least one Ace Crusher when Johnny faces Cena in three weeks, I'm going to be upset.