The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 03/14/11 (Cena/Del Rio)

The WWE Raw Deal for 03/14/11 (Cena/Del Rio)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter @johnreport

Live from St. Louis, Missouri (Go Rams!) this is the Raw Deal…

They started the show off with The Rock bringing it…via pre-tape. He was sitting at his desk talking to the camera when a kid dressed as John Cena showed up. The Rock talked to him as if it really was John Cena. It was funny. I laughed for most of it. There were a lot of one liners. Rock ripped on Cena very hard, which is common to what they’ve been doing, but it still surprises me since Cena is WWE’s top guy. What’s the motivation for it? What’s the payoff? I am not complaining. I’m just curious. Best line was the one about how Cena’s idol was Fred Flintstone with the Fruity Pebbles and that Cena could never have arms as big as The Rock. Cena used to have arms bigger than Rock, but Rock miraculously got bigger in his post WWE career. The ending of the promo featured Rock talking about The Miz. This was okay in terms of the words, but whose idea was it to feature music while he was talking? Bad idea. It made it cheesy. I want to hear the man talk. We don’t need music during it. It was nice to see him talk about The Miz and how he was pissed off that Miz mentioned his family. Ended it with the catchphrase. Well done.

Overall I thought it was pretty good. I liked it better than the other via satellite promo that Rock did. The kid was an awesome actor. People are already linking me to his work on youtube. I can’t say I want to see more of the kid’s work, but you can tell he was a trained actor that knew what he was doing. He was a better actor than 95% of the people on WWE TV. This opening segment took about ten minutes. I should add that I’m not a fan of the crowd shots during the video. To me it’s not that exciting to watch people who are watching a big screen. A small complaint. I did enjoy this although like a lot of people I want to see The Rock in the arena again. My guess is March 28 in Chicago, a week before WrestleMania.

Backstage, the beautiful Trish Stratus was talking to Snooki. The fact that Snooki is a NY Times Bestselling author is proof that people don’t know what to read.

– The NCAA basketball tourney is this week. March Madness! Join the TJR group on Yahoo right here. The winner gets nothing. Maybe I’ll let them pick a column for me to write. I’ll write a note about it if I think of something.

They showed the announcers and Michael Cole was in a glass cased box called “The Cole Mine” where he was separated from Josh Mathews and Jerry Lawler, who were at the announcer’s desk. I enjoyed that. Cole was actually great in that box.

The Miz came out to the ring to cut a promo. He was in his ring gear, which told you he’d be in a match soon. The promo was above average. Usually when he’s out there by himself he might screw up a line or two, but he handled himself well this time. The crowd was really on him too, chanting “you suck” and he fed off them in a way that really worked. He said that The Rock didn’t own Cena, he did. He told The Rock to bring it soon, maybe even in St. Louis and then he mocked the fans for their cheap pop. Then he fired off his catchphrases.

The GM buzzed in. Michael Cole got out of his “Cole Mine” to get it, but Jerry Lawler got up and scared Cole off. Lawler read that the GM has booked Miz and Cena in matches against opponents for the first time. Cena gets Del Rio in the main event while Miz gets The Great Khali.

The Great Khali d. The Miz via DQ (DUD)
They went to a break and then it ended after about a minute. Miz got DQ’d thanks to Alex Riley interfering even though he was “fired” as The Miz’ apprentice. Khali gave Riley the Punjabi Plunge and then Miz attacked Khali with a chair, hitting him about a dozen times with it. Part of the chair broke with a piece of it hanging off the side. It looks like that was sharp because Khali’s back was cut open. That was not on purpose. It was a good segment in terms of making Miz look like a badass. I think beating down a giant works well in terms of garnering heat for a heel that needs it. It was an effective segment.

Back in his cage, Michael Cole said he’d expose Jerry Lawler to the world later in the show.

They aired the HHH video package that was on Smackdown. He’s beat people over the years. We know.

Awkward backstage segment as John Morrison was talking to Snooki, Vickie Guerrero showed up with Dolph Ziggler, they mentioned Snooki being on the Rolling Stone cover and Vickie said she was gonna be on Playboy except she turned them down. Snooki made a fat joke. Isn’t she fatter? Anyway, Vickie went to slap her, but Snooki slapped her instead. Vintage bad guest star acting.

US Title: Sheamus d. Daniel Bryan (***)
Holy shit, a match on Raw that actually gets more than 8 minutes! It went about 9 minutes. They basically said Sheamus was an utter failure as King of the Ring, so he didn’t have any of that outfit with him and was back to being the Celtic Warrior. In other words WWE is telling you: “We messed up putting King of the Ring on that guy. Sorry. Let’s not speak of it again.” Their chemistry was really good. They worked their asses off, Bryan’s offense was really over thanks to his variety of kicks and Sheamus did a good job selling. The match ended with Bryan coming off the top with something while Sheamus countered by hitting the Brogue Kick for the win. It was out of nowhere, so it worked. I hope this leads to a rematch at WrestleMania. It would be nice to see an actual feud for a secondary title. WWE is sorely lacking in that area.

– My buddy Christian Michael wrote a great two part column about the Top 50 WrestleMania matches ever and here are matches number 25 to 1. A list is always arguable. I like the writing a lot. The order? It’s tough to say. I’ll just say my #1 is Christian’s #6 although I can absolutely understand why the ones ahead of that one are there. There are so many classics at Mania. Christian does a good job covering them.

Cole hyped the person from Lawler’s past would be out next.

A reminder that tomorrow is Steve Austin 3/16 day. Find somebody to give a middle finger to. Hit them with a Stunner if you want. Then pour a beer on them. It should be a holiday in my opinion.

Michael Cole was in the ring and he brought out his guest from Jerry Lawler’s past, his son Brian Christopher aka Grandmaster Sexay. He came out to his Too Cool music doing his dance and the crowd was absolutely silent. Wow, they had no idea who he was. Or they didn’t care to cheer. Can’t blame them. Cole asked him why he never used the name Lawler when he wrestled. He cut a heel promo saying he felt like he never had a father and all Jerry cared about was himself, saying Lawler never wanted a son. Lawler responded saying he’s glad he didn’t take his name because he’s a bigger screw up than Charlie Sheen. Brian asked his dad how it felt that he competed at Mania before Jerry did. He then poked him and slapped him. Lawler never hit him back. He ended the promo by saying he never used Jerry’s last name because he was ashamed of him. He left. Poor Brian looked tired just delivering the promo. He did an okay job. Things got better, though.

With Brian’s part done, Cole called Lawler a loser and that led to Jim Ross’ music playing. The crowd popped HUGE for JR as they should. Best announcer ever. Ross told him this went too far while Cole told him that it was his show now and that he’s the voice of WWE. JR said that Lawler had been carrying Cole like a mama kangaroo carries a baby pouch, but Cole wasn’t lovable. He was a rat bastard. Good setup to the line! They teased a fight. Then Swagger showed up, attacked Lawler at the announce desk and ran into the ring where he put the Ankle Lock on JR. It looked like he grabbed JR a little too hard as he took him down, but I’m not sure. I’m sure JR had no problem putting over his fellow Oklahoman Jack Swagger. Lawler came back, saving Ross, but Cole jumped on his back (I guess the “no touch or you get fired” stip only applies to Lawler?) and Swagger put Lawler in the ankle lock. Cole cheered him on. Cole ended it by putting the Ankle Lock onto Jim Ross to huge heel heat. This saved the mediocre promo work that Brian Christopher did. The end of the segment was really good in terms of garnering heat.

The entire segment took 15 minutes. I’m not sure if this ran long, but the show ran 20 minutes past the top of the second hour, so something went long on the show. In terms of performance I thought Cole, Ross, Lawler and Swagger all did a great job with their roles. Cole is a heel drawing a lot of heat. It worked. I also hope that it leads to Ross sitting at the announce desk for most of WrestleMania along with Mathews & Booker since Cole will likely be out of the picture. Where it goes after WrestleMania is unknown, but at least JR should be on the call for the big matches at the show. It’s a damn shame that he didn’t get to call Shawn Michaels’ last match a year ago.

Edge & Christian vs. the tag champs Slater & Gabriel on Smackdown. There are tag champs in WWE still? Who knew? Good to see E&C together. One of them is turning heel post Mania. I would guess that it’s Christian.

Randy Orton d. Mason Ryan (*)
Orton got a bigger than normal pop because he was in St. Louis. They showed his wife and daughter in the crowd. This was the same as the other matches against Nexus guys. It was a short match because Ryan’s very green in the ring. He dominated for the majority of it, but Orton countered his finisher with the RKO for the win after 3 minutes. CM Punk watched the whole thing from the ramp. Orton exited the ring to stare at him. Then he went back in the ring and punted Mason Ryan back to FCW with the other guys. Punk looked on shocked. It’s like this hasn’t happened three times before. Then they stared. I like this feud because it’s more psychological than the others at Mania. They don’t need the promos. They tell the story with their actions. It’s working. Then a stretcher came out to take Ryan away. I guess this is where Orton’s wife says: “Look honey, daddy sent a man to the hospital!” Maybe the kid’s smart already? I dunno. Will the new Nexus return after Mania? I’m not sure. If not they are one of the worst stables ever.

They plugged the True Story of WrestleMania DVD. Saw it over the weekend. Love it. The documentary is as good as any of the others they have ever done. The matches you’ve probably seen, but it’s worth a look for the documentary.

They announced Drew Carey as a celebrity inductee for the Hall of Fame. Shockingly, he has a TV show on the Game Show Network that he wants to plug. That’s why he was on WWE one time at the 2001 Royal Rumble. And he gets in the HOF for one appearance. In other news, the Hall of Fame doesn’t matter. It’s awesome for moments like when Shawn Michaels goes in, but it’s awful for moments like Drew Carey being in because they want to get a five second mention on Entertainment Tonight.

Cole did another promo bragging about himself, but they cut him off award show style to show the graphic for the Cena/Del Rio match coming up later.

Trish was walking with Snooki the midget backstage as Zack Ryder walked up to them. He asked Snooki what she thought of his abs. She said they are pretty solid. People on my facebook and twitter blew up over this. Zack’s got a lot of fans. He deserves some kind of push. I don’t know if this means he will get a chance, but at least he got TV time on Raw even though it was really short.

I officially love the “Written in the Stars” Mania theme song. When I told people that on my FBook the Brits said that Tinie Tempah is annoying. I don’t even know who he is, but the song is getting bigger on North American radio now. It’s a catchy tune.

Snooki was introduced as the guest star. The announcers bicker all night, but when Snooki comes out they agree that Jersey Shore is awesome and they are fans of it. Of course they are. I hate guest stars. Anyway, she needs to talk less. Vickie comes out, saying Snooki stole her Rolling Stone cover and they have a funny pic of Vickie on the cover. She drew massive heel heat like usual. Vickie’s great.

Vickie Guerrero d. Trish Stratus (DUD)
It wasn’t really a match. Vickie stalled except unlike Jeff Hardy it wasn’t because she was out of it. It was part of the script here. Trish finally got her hands on her, but it was mostly a comedy match. Dolph came out to protect Vickie, then Morrison followed and nailed him with a plancha on the floor. This led to Laycool coming out to go after Trish. They double teamed her leading to Vickie pinning Trish for the win. It was no DQ apparently, so Vickie is on the Raw roster. By the way, Layla looked tremendous. Wow. She would have thrived in the smuttier TV14 era of WWE with the outfits she can pull off. Fine looking woman.

Post match, Laycool talked trash to Snooki. She hit a Thesz Press on Layla that was pretty impressive actually. I’m stunned by that. Trish took care of Michelle and the heels bailed. Vickie challenged them to a match at WrestleMania: Laycool & Ziggler vs. Snooki, Trish & Morrison. The babyfaces agreed. The match is on for WrestleMania. I wonder how much they are paying Snooki. And if she’s worth it. I’d rather see Morrison in a singles match or winning Money in the Bank, but this is better than nothing. I hope he gets that push up the ladder after Mania.

What do I think about Snooki in a match at WrestleMania? It’s interesting. Snooki will get them a lot of press. Does somebody like my girl Natalya or Beth deserve to be at WM in a match? Yes, but Snooki will get them media attention and maybe some people will watch Mania that weren’t likely to watch it before. It’s not like it’s a top match. The origins of WrestleMania were based on celebrity involvement. Think of Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T, Liberace and Muhammad Ali to name a few. My beef is that she is a celebrity in the first place. What is her talent? Being a drunken slut? Any college or university campus has those. In a semi-related note, I miss college.

It took Jerry Lawler a lifetime to get a WrestleMania match. It took Snooki a few years of being a drunken whore on television. That’s the American Dream isn’t it? USA! USA!

Two more things to plug and then I’m done the plugging for the week. Hey, if WWE can plug stuff so can I!

– There was a disaster on TNA’s PPV on Sunday involving Jeff Hardy. I covered it here. I’m not ripping him. I feel sorry for him. I want him to get better. Read it and spread the word.

– The TJR youtube channel has been updated with discussions about Punk vs. Orton’s feud and WWE’s secondary titles. We update it regularly, so give it a look.

They showed a Sin Cara video. Good. I’m excited to see him post-WrestleMania.

They aired another video of Shawn Michaels talking about the Undertaker-Triple H match. Neither guy was on this show although Triple H wrestled after the Raw tapings ended. Michaels spoke about how intimidating Undertaker was and how tough he was to beat. This followed last week when he talked about Triple H. As I’ve said for weeks I love these videos. They are like the UFC Countdown shows, which are great. The best thing about this feud is they’ve had no physical contact. Keep it that way. That’s how you build to the big moment at WrestleMania. Well done!

John Cena d. Alberto Del Rio via DQ (*1/4)
This match started as the overrun began. That’s rare. Like I said earlier some stuff must have went long. You know who does the timing for the shows? Former WCW/WWE wrestler Billy Kidman. That used to be Gerry Brisco’s job for many years. Del Rio came out with Brodus Clay. Before the break, Michael Cole said The Rock would be there. Some people were naïve enough to believe it. Despite Del Rio being a favorite of mine this did not have a big match feel to it. The match ended at about 7 minutes when Brodus Clay attacked Cena when he was about to win with the Attitude Adjustment. So it’s a DQ win for Cena.

Post match, The Rock’s music hit and the crowd went nuts. Instead it was The Miz dressed like The Rock, which included a bald headed skull cap. Miz quickly hit Cena with a Rock Bottom. I bet secretly Miz was marking out because he grew up a huge WWE fan. Del Rio and Clay each took turns hitting moves on Cena before departing. Miz took off his skull cap and continued the beatdown while he had some Hollywood style makeup on his face that was holding the cap on. Miz beat on him with the microphone, saying he’s owned Cena for three weeks and will continue going into Mania. He hit a suplex on the ramp. Cena went for the AA, but Miz hit a DDT at the top of the ramp. Miz threw him into the WWE logo at the top of the ramp and gave him a Skull Crushing Finale on it. The show ended with Miz staring down at a fallen Cena.

I liked how strong they made Miz look. You know WWE was aware of how weak Miz was as a champion and now they are doing the hard push to make him look tougher. I think this was the best of the weeks of attacks he’s had on Cena. Does this make me think he’s going to beat Cena? No, it doesn’t. However, if he hits the Skull Crushing Finale in the WrestleMania match people are going to believe he might win…before Cena kicks out of it. It would be nice if Cena sold the beating next week. I don’t expect him to. He never does.

Three Stars of the Show
1. The Miz – He was booked strongly and he did a fantastic job.
2. Jim Ross – I marked out for him. Glad the crowd did too.
3. Trish Stratus – Just because I missed her. More ass shots. I hate PG camera work.

7 out of 10
Last week: 6
2011 High Score: 9 (Jan. 3 & Feb. 14)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10)
2011 Average: 6.14

A very solid edition of Raw. A 7 is a score representing a lot of things I enjoyed, but as usual on the road to WreslteMania we don’t get much in the way of in-ring action. That’s okay. I liked the Bryan-Sheamus match. The angles on the show were all very good for the most part. It’s interesting to note that the show had a 20 minute overrun instead of the usual 5 minutes. I wonder who was at fault for that.

That Cole-Lawler segment was great for the most part. The Brian Christopher part wasn’t, but the rest of it was. I almost gave Cole one of the stars because of it. He did his best work ever in this segment. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

The Road to WrestleMania is going well. I wonder if we’ll see The Rock in person on Raw again or if we’ll continue to get the pre-tapes. If he’s there live they should absolutely promote it beforehand. The Cena-Miz feud is getting hotter and more attention is being paid to Miz, so that’s a good thing.

I’m pleased with how things are in WWE right now. Do I wish the midcard was looked after better? Yes, I do. Other than that it’s pretty solid. Bring on WrestleMania. I’m ready. Three more weeks.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – john@thejohnreport.net
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