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By Revin Samuel on 3/6/2012 11:37 AM

RAW - 05/03/2012
What needs to be accomplished on this week’s Raw?
•WWE pulled a brilliant move last week in their attempt to get the fans to cheer John Cena. I don’t like WWE doing this, because given their track record I don’t see it as a long term thing with the Cena character, but since they are going forward with it I will commend them on the fact that last week seemed to have worked on some fans. For this week my only concern is that they don’t go overboard and try and get Cena over further by insulting our intelligence or doing something blatant that is obviously done to get us to cheer Cena. As for Rock, two weeks ago we had Cena come out and rip Rock for being obsessed with twitter and last week Rock came out and talked twitter and then Cena came out and dropped the “continue trending” line so this week it appears it’s time for Rock to drop the twitter reference and cut that blistering promo I asked for last week
•Triple H-Shawn Michaels. These guys know what they are doing and it helps when you can eliminate your wife’s sixteen person creative team from the equation. I’m not sure what the point is of inserting Shawn into the program unless A) He’s wrestling, which we know he’s not going to do so it has to be B) Shawn’s going to ref and I like the idea from a storyline perspective, but I’m really interested to see how they get there and whether they do it this week or next.
•Over shadowed by last week’s Rock-Cena confrontation was the Punk-Jericho confrontation which was fantastic television in its own right. Jericho also laid out Punk in the same night, which I’m thinking they should have saved for this week since we have four weeks till Wrestlemania. I’ll be interested to see how they continue this program without having the two really get physical and I also think we need a killer promo from either Jericho explaining himself or Punk vowing vengeance tonight
•Teddy Long is running Raw. Teddy needs to shake things up and make the show feel different if he’s running Raw and that doesn’t mean having David Otunga wrestle Great Khali. They need to do some different things, but it should not be the focus of the show especially with both Shawn and Rock on Raw this week
Show Breakdown

  1. Right away I notice off the top that Michael Cole referred to the audience in the arena as the WWE fans and not “the WWE Universe”.

  1. Fantastic reaction for Shawn in Boston. The crowd is hot early.

  1. I love the visual of Shawn and Hunter standing under the Wrestlemania sign and the added touch of the crowd chanting “Shawn is better”. WWE is so good at those things and the crowd was an extra bonus for them.

  1. I don’t see the need for Hunter and Shawn to point out that Shawn doesn’t watch the show. I do however like Hunter adding in that I’ve texted you and left you voicemails, but if you want to do this in front of the world line.

  1. Fantastic verbiage from Shawn and Hunter. Hunter pointing that he can’t stand Shawn being looked at as a loser and Shawn responding saying he was right last year and he’ll be right again this year.

  1. I like the way they announced Shawn as the referee. There wasn’t any convoluted scripted promo to get him in there, he just announced it. Of course Hunter as the COO should know that, but that is the type of thing we can give WWE a creative license on. I don’t like that they added the line at the end that Shawn knows Hunter will lose, because he will be the referee like Shawn would side with Undertaker. Great overall segment and they’ve kept me interested in the promo exchanges going forward.

  1. Punk and Sheamus –Bryan and Jericho on Raw four weeks out? Terrible idea. This is the type of stuff I wish WWE would avoid and if you were going to do it, announce it a week in advance and make it feel special and maybe do it on the go home or week before go home show. Hopefully it’s just an angle, but I’m skeptical.

  1. I’m starting to get tired of Santino, WWE is really utilizing him a lot more these days and I’ve never seen him as entertaining and funny as a babyface, but he is over with the crowd.

  1. Santino is the United States champion…I don’t like it, although the crowd really popped for the title change. I don’t like Aksana as mentioned many times. Kofi’s random placement is probably a good sign for him and his future at Wrestlemania. Overall this segment was interesting, it again was right out of the Vince Russo playbook with so much going on, but I don’t mind one of those segments per show. Teddy throwing Laurinaitis and Otunga out of the arena and their reaction while security took them away was great stuff.

  1. Santino’s reaction to winning the title was great for placing an importance on the Championship.

  1. Rock has me laughing here and you know what this is the type of comedy they write for Cena as well. Another line here that Rock says “transvestite wonder women”, Rock says that and he makes it funny. Cena says it and its groaning television and that’s flaw in the writing team right there. They haven’t changed up the material; they lose The Rock and just gave it to another guy who couldn’t deliver it as well.

  1. Eve’s theme music doesn’t really fit her heel persona. Kelly on commentary could be cringe worthy.

  1. They really need to do more “creative” things with the divas then having twelve second matches; it doesn’t do anything for anyone. You’d think with that sixteen person team of writers they could figure something out.

  1. Michael Cole is dead on; Ryder comes back and delivers that line. I really once again question if they are out to sabotage him, because he got over on his own. He’s not getting Kane at Wrestlemania as he’s clearly married to Orton so he’s a babyface not even seeking revenge. I really am concerned for how they will play him going forward and the second he forgives John Cena is going to be channel changing television.

  1. Interesting twist with Eve kissing Ryder backstage hopefully this is leading to a twist where Ryder dupes Eve into thinking he’s falling for her charms.

  1. John, I’m pretty sure they’ll remember second place if your hand is raised at the end.

  1. Let’s breakdown this promo briefly. First, nice touch by WWE to have Cena do that promo in the empty arena and to mute out the crowd response. Second, good touch for Cena to subtly mention Boston and the loss of the Patriots trying to gain a common ground with the crowd. Third, Cena speaks about winning and needing to win and in The Rock’s backyard. Rock has yet to talk about winning so they are really foreshadowing a Cena victory. The only other thing I could see happening and I doubt Vince has it in him to pull this off is that Cena becomes so obsessed with having to win that he goes heel or cheats to do it. I remember a similar storyline with Steve Austin leading up to Wrestlemania 17 so he aligned himself with the devil to get it done.

  1. Seeing AJ with Bryan reminds that I do have to say one of the goals I had when I started these columns was that WWE intermix the women into more storylines with the men as oppose to just doing 30 second matches and they have seemed to go that direction more with AJ and Bryan, Eve-Zack, Rosa with the tag champs, Aksana/Teddy and of course Vickie with Dolph and Jack Swagger

  1. I don’t like Punk and Jericho having physical contact to start this match. WWE is watering down this feud a little in my book. Hopefully they can resist having them interact physically too much. Also Punk is acting like Cena with his reaction to what Chris Jericho did to him last week.

  1. I didn’t see Jericho get his shoulder up on that package and the theme music kicked in way too soon. That’s the type of production gaffe that makes the entire product look fake.

  1. I like this match, but I felt it was unnecessary to have these four men in a match with each other, let alone four weeks out. I do like what Jericho being able to sneak out the win over Punk was designed to do. I don’t like that neither Jericho or Punk especially addressed Jericho’s attack from last week. Some holes in this storytelling so far and I have to wonder how much input Jericho and Punk are getting.

  1. Another on fire promo by The Rock and he is the only man who could nail this material. These two promos have told us one thing. Same writers, different performer.

  1. Good to see a plug for Smackdown and Laurinaitis as GM. I see WWE is showing a replay of Laurinaitis being escorted out and Santino winning the US title. I wonder if Jericho beating the WWE Champion will be given a replay later in the show.

  1. Just hearing Miz’s music I feel sorry for him. It used to be that WWE did one losing streak for the entire company whether it was MVP or Matt Hardy, now they can’t stop doing it and they have one per show with Miz on Raw and Drew on Smackdown.

  1. Nice plug by Cole for the Cody and Show match at Wrestlemania, but I would have put the graphic on the screen. Verbiage is good, but visual is better.

  1. The Cody Rhodes presents is great, however that seemed liked more of a plug for Wrestlemania 18 then Big Show being embarrassed since he wasn’t actually eating in that clip.

  1. Poor Miz…

  1. The pointing to the sign hasn’t been as obsessive this year with all the Superstars pointing to it so I can give Show a pass on pointing to it.

  1. Did WWE change the music they are using for the Wrestlemania commercial, because the NBA All Star game had Nicki Minaj performing it a couple weekends ago? I wouldn’t be surprised.

  1. A third excellent Rock promo. I’m so used to John Cena and others being given this same material and not delivering with it so it just showcases how amazing The Rock’s talents are to be able to make it work. Also Rock finally said he’s going to beat John Cena at Wrestlemania and that’s what we were waiting for. It wasn’t as emphasized as much as the Cena promo and the obsessive need to win, so they are still kind of foreshadowing the Cena, but they at least had Rock acknowledge that he intends to beat John Cena. I didn’t use the word win and I think they might have been careful with their words as well, because Rock saying “beat” doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll win, but we can safely assume the way Rock phased it that he did indeed mean win.

  1. I really like that plug for next week with Shawn and Undertaker and that’s the type of stuff you can advertise ahead of time when you don’t rewrite things on the fly.

  1. Well Miz and now Truth have certainly fallen since they main evented Survivor Series. A needed win for Kane however after the decisive loss to Cena at the Elimination Chamber.

  1. Shockingly I actually don’t mind the storyline with Orton and Kane and the dialog of “Welcome back”, “It’s good to be back” while hitting their finishing manoeuvres on each other.

  1. It must be pretty embarrassing for WWE and John Cena that he comes out in his hometown and gets booed. It’s all fun and games for Cena and probably Vince, but it’s a clear sign at the detriment he’s been to the product over the last several years.

  1. John Cena makes some great points on his promos and WWE is going to wonder why it doesn’t work to get the fans to cheer John, but the issue is John doesn’t come across as likeable as The Rock. He comes off as the second coming. CM Punk started shooting last year, WWE had Cena do it and he came off as a the follower. Rock does the “Rock promo”, Cena does the same thing with great points, but the way he conveys himself on camera just isn’t as likeable. This all being said Cena is doing some great promo work, but it’s not promo work that is going to get the 50/50 reaction, it’s just going to get Rock fans more heated to see him win and if he loses they are going to be more annoyed.

  1. The self deprecating promos are just too obvious, Cena has done it too much in the past and I think the audience knows he’s trying to take the power away from his competitor before they can use it against him.

  1. I do like Cena pointing out that Rock was shaken down and flustered.

  1. Another attempt by Cena to get the cheers by saying “University of Miami”…I like the effort.

  1. In one corner we have Hunter calling Shawn “the greatest in ring performer” and in the other corner we have Cena calling Rock “the greatest superstar in the WWE”. It’s interesting that WWE is labelling Rock that and I can only assume they are doing so, because it will mean that much more when Cena beats the greatest.

  1. Really fine promo work from Cena, when he stays mostly away comedy, he does good, but he needs to stay with this past Wrestlemania, which is the concern.

  1. Cena really needs to get better facials going. His reactions are just terrible. I’m assuming he’s nervous, but he needs to work on it.

  1. Excellent promo exchange from Rock and Cena. Cena’s verbiage at the end was his best stuff and he finally was able to come across as likeable.

What this show accomplished?
The Good
•Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Fine opening segment and I liked the way they announced Shawn as the ref without having some convulated scripted promo where he needs to ask to be n it or they ask him and he goes back and fourth on it. I’m also highly anticipatin the Shawn-Undertaker confrontation set for next week
•The Rock and John Cena. The history lessons was Rock at his best. My issue with this kind of stuff is that Rock is the only person who can pull this off and the WWE writing team try to pawn it off on others including John Cena and it doesn’t work. I also like the John Cena empty arena promo and the emphasis on needing to win. As for The Rock and John Cena verbal exchange, I really enjoed certain aspects of this and John is certainly holding his own with Rock, I’ll be Rock isn’t really throwing at John Cena as much as Cena is throwing at Rock
•Randy Orton-Kane. I surprisngly don’t mind the baby steps to begin this forced feud with the “Welcome Back”, “It’s good to be back”.
•Eve kisses Ryder. I like this if the plan is for Ryder to trick Eve into thinking he is falling for it.
The Bad
•John Cena. I just can’t invest into this current John Cena character. I like that WWE has made adjustments to his character for this exchange with The Rock, but why has it taken them this long to do it? And will they go back to the old John Cena once Rock is gone? Can we really trust WWE after all the times they’ve let us down? I don’t think so. Also WWE can try to split the audience, but I don’t think it will work in Miami, because 1. John looks really goofy with his wrestling, while Rock is very crisp and 2. John’s facial expressiosn are awful and another reason he has been unable to sustain a positive reaction. On another note John’s facial reactions and smiling during The Rock promo isn’t helping business. Rock is doing everything in his power to help get John over and John doesn’t seem to be doing his part at all to sell what Rock is saying
•Teddy Long as GM of the show. I said I didn’t want this to be the focus of the show, bu they also did nothing with it for something they advertised a week in advance.
•Chris Jericho-CM Punk. The angle seems to be watered down into just another feud to make sure the two top feuds stand out. I didn’t particularly care for what they did this week, but hopefully with three weeks to go they can get back on track.
•The burial of Miz. Another case of not playing to a guy’s strengths to help him get over. Miz is a guy who needs to be the leader of stable ala Ric Flair and the Horsemen.
Overall Thoughts
•Pretty strong Raw and the hype for Wrestlemania isn’t perfect, but it’s been good so far
What this show needs to accomplish next week?
•I’m interested to see where they take the Undertaker-Shawn Michaels exchange and I hope it’s leading to Undertaker at least pointing out that Shawn and Hunter could be in cahoots
•Teddy and John. With three weeks out as of next week, I want them to setup the match for Wrestlemania
•Jericho and Punk. I think next week we need another killer promo from one of these guys or another verbal exchange to sell the match
•Rock and Cena. They are doing alot of things right in this progam. I really hope for next week that John adjusts his facial reactions to what Rock is saying. John no selling what Rock says isn’t doing anything for the overall feud. Once again WWE has got themselves of the mindset that get John Cena over and nothing else matters. It’s the diesease that has hindered them for the last few years and continues to do so and really it leads to the underlying theme of Vince McMahon’s obesssion with control of not only his product, but his audience