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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: 30 Thoughts... RAW 4-9-12
1. As the Three Stooges are announced, I can't help but think two things... One, will Patterson and Brisco return and have a battle of the stooges? And two, where is Zoidberg when you need him?
2. John Laurinaitis opens the show with theme music that is half-Superman, half William Regal. Johnny puts over Brock Lesnar huge, so it makes the idea of him returning as a heel all the more possible, immense face-pop notwithstanding. I'm really interested to see how Cena reacts to all of this, because once again he'll really have to step up his game. If he keeps at the level at which he's been, that could make for a second straight very interesting main feud. Both video packages of Cena's loss and Brock's return were done quite well, which is nothing knew for the video editing department.
3. Laurinaitis announces that Brock Lesnar is here to return some legitimacy to the company, and Cole actually mentions the name "UFC" on television. It does add some credentials to his resume in the eyes of the casual fan, that's for sure. Lesnar immediately starts getting heat by thanking John Laurinaitis, but can't get anything else out as Cena's music immediately interrupts. I was hoping for an intense Cena face, but he's all smiles. I'm reserving my judgment for now, but I'd like to see some Nexus-storyline level seriousness out of the guy who just lost at WrestleMania and got owned by Brock Lesnar the next night.
4. Good JBL, Cena bitchslaps Lesnar, and it's on. It looks like the entire roster comes out trying to break them up, which is a bit much, but gives that aforementioned intensity, and I like that. This was something I was hoping to see before the Rock/Cena match. It gives a "shoot" feel to the entire situation, and I like that.
5. Either Cena's nose or mouth is busted! OhmyJBL, all the children are permanently traumatized from the sight of blood! We can't have this on television ever in the history of anything ever again! Avert your eyes, the rapture is coming! Nothing will ever be the same!
6. Teddy Long is basically now the Chris Jericho to Johnny's Stephanie McMahon.
7. It's Funkasaurus time, and Santino Marella is out to join him. This could be an interesting blend of personalities with some great potential for comedic promos. Now that Brodus finally has something to do, I'm curious to see him in a match longer than his entrance. Vicki Guerrero comes out looking like she got in a fight with a raven, and brings out Dolph and Biff. Maybe last week in the locker room, Brodus called him yellow. And it's on when that happens!
8. Jerry Lawler says that he hasn't seen legs like Brodus's since the brontasaurus died out, which implies that he's been alive that long. I didn't really hear anybody debating him, so I'll go along with it. We don't even go into the cheap heat before going to commercial, but somehow Santino is taking it when we get back. I really, really hate commercials in the middle of televised matches. Funkasaurus gets the hot tag and appears to be pretty over with the live crowd. He comes in and throws Ziggles a vicious t-bone, followed by an immediate splash and a win for his team. Ziggler sold it like a champ, and Brodus's momentum seems to be going strong. Complete the moment with a double trombone, and a good win for team face. Dolph seems to be stuck in Kofi Kingston limbo right now.
9. Laurinaitis has another meaningless quick moment with the Miz, before Teddy brings in John Cena, busted mouth and all. Cena hams it up about Johnny going out and getting Lesnar to face him at Extreme Rules. This was more of the Cena for which I was hoping early in the show, and is refreshing for his character. Long continues to run JL's errands, and I'm sure he'll be taking care of his little pet dog within a few weeks. I guess I missed the "slave for a month" stipulation.
10. Santino is on a search for the Stooges, and an ominous red light is in the hallway, which can only mean that an angry Red Monster is nearby. Kane is definitely not impressed with Santino's antics, and surprisingly escapes with his soul.
11. R-Truth has not been given a live microphone in far too long. It appears that Cody Rhodes will be taking on the other half of that makeshift tag team, and working his way up the ladder while trying to avoid more embarrassing Big Show moments. TROOF does his best Road Dogg impression and gets some offense in before Rhodes counters with Holly's old Alabama Slam. Sure enough, right on schedule, Big Show is out to taunt Rhodes with what happened last week. In a repeat as well of what happened last week, a snap finisher, which I didn't realize was called the Little Jimmy, nets the TROOF the win. This is an interesting continuation of that feud, and I look forward to seeing where they go with it.
12. Santino finally finds the Three Stooges in the easiest pried open box in history. Must be the same manufacturer of Chris Jericho's pre-impact shattering Jack Daniel's bottle. I'll give the Stooges credit; they seem to have the roles down, and the corny old-school sound effects are a nice touch. They should've given Larry a better make-up job, since the skull-cap of the wig is clearly visible, but that's just nitpicking.
13. Albert Tensai Train and his samurai sidekick are likely ready to feast on another low-card face. A little bit of storyline is built up between AT&T and Yoshi Tatsu, who hasn't had something relevant to do in... Ever, so at least he's getting a little bit of mention by the commentators. The crowd appears to be taunting AT&T with an "Al-bert!" chant, though it does Tatsu no good. I guess Tatsu thought he now led the Foot, and dared let any who challenged step forward.
14. For the second week in a row, AT&T wins by match stoppage, and does his best Muta impression before locking in the CLAW! It's the CLAW! TATSU, YOU ARE SCARED OF THE CLAW! How dare you try to be relevant on television, you must suffer!
15. Hey Michael Cole, is Washington, D.C. the Nation's Capital? I'm really not sure. I mean, I realize it's not something as complicated as, say, Wade Barrett being in a skybox, but I think we can understand it after the sixth or seventh time you mention it. What's next, will the company name a Pay-Per-View with a punny name like Capitol Punishment or something?
16. Maybe it's just in contrast with the greatest crowd in wrestling history last week, but this crowd doesn't seem very alive, even with CM Punk appearing to get a nice reaction comparatively. It appears that we could be in line for a pipe bomb, but he doesn't quite drop to the full Indian-style position. Punk's aggression is even higher than it has been in recent weeks, and is defending his choice to be straight edge quite adamantly. Finally a heavy "CM Punk" chant seems to bring the crowd alive a little bit.
17. Punk's doing an excellent job of showing the effects of the mindgames, and his anger is quite righteous. He slips a bit, saying that he had to regain "where I are", but even the best make a verbal miscue every now and then. The crowd seems to really be behind the sympathetic point of view that the dastardly heel in Jericho has brought out. Jericho throws gasoline on the fire by appearing on the Titan Tron with some smarmy bastardness. Jericho talks about the 12 Steps, which is interesting to a music nerd like me who heard his voice appear in the song "Repentance", which was part of a series of songs about the 12 Steps. And tonight's winner of a Large Ham will be the first to name the band who did that song. Punk really saves the fire for the response, and bookends it quite well.
18. Oh yeah, there was a title match going on, wasn't there? Yay for continuity! Henry's destruction of Punk last week earns him a shot at the belt, and if they can work together as well as they did last week, we're in for another good match. Punk starts off the match house of fire, but quickly gets put down by Henry, who almost appears to hurt himself with the cut-off clothesline. He immediately gets disqualified by snapping on Mark Henry with one of the monitors.
19. Jericho comes out for the distraction, and Henry is immediately all right and gets another one over on the champion... Or make that two. Jericho is bringing down two cases of beer, likely to follow up on his magical whiskey bottle adventure, but taking proper precautions to not fall on his ass.
20. Before Jericho can give Punk the Austin taunt, Punk manages to mount a bit of a comeback before he's put down with the third finisher in a minute. Jericho gives him a beer bath, complete with more dastardly smarmy bastardness. In the late 90s, this would've been a face tactic, which is a fun little comparative analysis of the times. Punk finally gets himself to his feet and eats a second Codebreaker. This is like playing a match on a WWE video game in story mode before you've built up your character's stats. Hit the guy with four finishers to finally keep him down and give yourself a chance to win. I really dig this angle, as it's getting the crowd more and more behind Punk and building both Jericho as a superheel and Mark Henry as a legitimate title contender again. Well done.
21. Zack Ryder is out to face Alberto Del Rio. I don't give him much of a chance, but at least he seems to be working with main event heels. As they flash back to Smackdown, it appears that both Ricardo and Sheamus would've been dining on Easter Ham.
22. It's pretty much the exact same match as Ryder had against the Miz, down to getting in offense, hitting the boot, counter to the Rough Ryder, and instant finisher. I'm not the biggest fan of the guy, but it'd be nice if they gave him something relevant to do again.
23. Even though it's part of a Three Stooges ploy, I do have to admit it is cool to hear the "Real American" entrance theme again. Regardless of what Hogan has done with himself in the last ten years, that is still one of the best entrances in wrestling history.
24. Okay, this guy's Hulk Hogan impression is FREAKING AWESOME! This segment just immediately picked up in coolness. The crowd doesn't seem to appreciate it, but someone else appears to hate it even more. Kane is not impressed with Curly Hogan, and we could have ourselves a Drew Carey Rumble '01 moment here. Curly tries to Hulk up, complete with the "YOU!" crowd callback. Kane doesn't succumb to the punches and leg drop, but instead just chokeslams Curly straight to hell. Major props to Will Sasso for taking that bump, as it was no Linda McMahon super-protected bump either.
25. Mark Henry is backstage with an interview, and has a no-DQ, no countout match with CM Punk for the World Heavyweight championship next week. I'm supposing this will be Punk's shift in momentum, which he will need after being broken down pretty bad in the last few weeks. It'll also be a decisive ending in the match, which is always good for the heavyweight title.
26. Brock Lesnar gets another interview, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, he's being a really great arrogant heel at taking all the credit for successes of more than one company, but at the same time, he's got a little Randy Orton-promo issue going on. It really makes me miss Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece, to be quite honest. It did the job it needed to do though, and the actual match will likely be something that even Stan Hansen would call stiff.
27. Every time I hear the first few notes of "The Masterpiece" David Otunga's entrance music, for some reason I think he's coming out to "Hollaback Girl".
28. Cena's back to his usual divided-chant reaction, and a match we saw back in the NXT Season 1 days, among other times during the Nexus angle, is now main-eventing Monday Night RAW. Otunga's getting a surprising amount of offense in against Cena, including what looked to be a POOUUUUUUUUUNCE! Otunga took Cena to the Serengeti! Right on schedule though, cue the "Five Moves of Doom!" cry, and Cena wins.
29. Well, we're not in Miami anymore... Lesnar is getting heat for ambushing Cena. He follows it up with an F-5 for the second straight week, but honestly, I can't help but laugh at the Jimmy John's plug on the back of the shirt. Not that JJ's isn't the shit, I lived in Minneapolis too, but it just made me laugh. Overall, not a bad show, but a lot of the same things that we saw last week.
30. I'm gonna take thought number 30 tonight to do something important to both Chris and me. About a year ago, we lost a great man in "Sweet and Sour" Larry Sweeney, which has been well-documented on this column. Memorial t-shirts have been released, where 100 percent of the profits will go to Thresholds, which was a company that helped him with his bi-polar problems. Please take the time to click on the link and support this project. It's only available til Thursday, so don't hesitate.
I've got to give it to Will Sasso for that Hogan impression. That was dead-on, and bonus points for taking a full chokeslam.
1-9-12 – R-Truth
1-16-12 - John Laurinaitis
1-23-12 - William Regal
1-29-12 - Ricardo Rodriguez
1-30-12 - R-Truth
2-6-12 - Triple H
2-13-12 - Shawn Michaels
2-19-12 – Santino Marella
2-20-12 - John Cena
2-27-12 – Al Laiman, for thinking no one read this
3-5-12 – John Laurinaitis
3-12-12 - James Roday
3-19-12 - Theodore Long
3-26-12 - Booker T
4-1-12 - Santino Marella
4-2-12 - Dolph Ziggler
4-9-12 - Will Sasso