The Big News:  John Laurinaitis fired Big Show but was informed by John Cena that he too would be fired unless he emerged victorious in their match at Over the Limit. Meanwhile Paul Heyman made another appearance and threatened Triple H with a lawsuit after Hunter made physical contact with him and Chris Jericho inflamed further animosity between Sheamus and Randy Orton in the build to their fatal four way world heavyweight championship match.

In a Nutshell: Phoney lawsuits, false firings and comedy villains or how the WWE stopped caring and learnt that they could simply rely on Wrestlemania.

Triple H and John Laurinaitis bumped into one another backstage at the start of the show. Laurinaitis explained that he had no idea Brock Lesnar was going to attack him like he did and then amusingly disguised an insult with false sympathy by saying how painful it was to watch Lesnar humiliate Hunter and break his arm. He then let him know that he had his full support and sympathy and Hunter responded by saying that he would say what he had to say had in the ring before repaying the false sentiment by wishing Laurinaitis luck in his match on Sunday.

Hunter came down to the ring and called Lesnar arrogant for wanting to bring legitimacy to the WWE and said this stupid ambition disrespected all the legends he had ever fought such as Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. He then said that Lesnar had lost his respect because he always backed down and quit when things got tough and used examples of him leaving wwe the first time round, quitting UFC and his recent departure following his loss to John Cena.

He was then interrupted by Paul Heyman who was accompanied down to the ring by an attorney. Heyman argued that Hunter was merely conducting damage control after having lost his biggest star and that as COO he had breached Lesnar’s contract. He said that Hunter had brought a fighter into an entertainment company and then didn’t like it when the fighter wanted to fight. Heyman then handed Hunter a lawsuit and  got under his skin by claiming that Lesnar had expected a fight from Triple H but instead had discovered a corporate sycophant who didn’t live up to the hype.

In reaction to this, an enraged Hunter grabbed Heyman’s face and said that Lesnar would get everything that he deserved. Heyman proceeded to  squeal “what are you doing?” in a brilliantly incensed voice before Hunter relented and Heyman informed him that he was going to take him to court on charges of assault and battery.

This was a solid segment but we’ve seen so many of these stupid lawsuit angles and nearly all of them have been so wretched that it’s very hard to suddenly invest interest in them. The only thing the crowd responded to do during this ordeal was when things got physical because audiences want to see violence or at least the threat of violence, they are not interested in a couple of suits going back and forth over legal issues. Somehow in a month we’ve gone from Lesnar and Cena being so angry at one another that they engaged in an immediate brawl to a part time wrestler and a non wrestler talking.

1.) Tag Match:  CM Punk and Santino defeated Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes via pinfall

They did a really fun spot at the start where Punk sent Cody and Bryan over the ropes before Santino emerged and instructed Punk to fly out at them through the ropes which he did. Punk then asked Santino to give it a shot but he got caught up in the ropes instead provoking a response from an amused Punk who informed his partner that he was supposed to go through the ropes and not land on them.

Santino then took a lengthy beatdown from the heels with the fans going crazy with “Yes” chants for Bryan’s offence. Another fun spot saw Santino flip out of trouble only to launch himself in Punk’s direction and land flat on his face. Punk’s reaction was priceless.

Santino finally made contact with the wwe champion though shortly afterwards as Punk emerged to plant Cody with some left and right kicks followed up by a running knee and a bulldog. Punk then attempted a GTS but Cody ducked only to then be kicked right in the head as Bryan interrupted the subsequent pinfall. Punk then launched the interfering Bryan in the air for a GTS but Bryan escaped out of the ring. Cody took his chance to attack Punk from behind and tried to stun the champion with Cross Rhodes but Punk slipped out and sent Cody to the corner where he quickly sidestepped away from the threat of Santino’s cobra on the apron and ran straight into another GTS, this time successfully executed for the pinfall.

*** 1/2

 

This was a really fun contest but fancy not having two of your best talkers (with a storied history to fall back on) go back and forth on the mic to try and promote their match at Over the Limit.

 

2.) Divas Match:  Beth Phoenix defeated Alicia Fox via pinfall

Beth won the power game early before Alicia ducked a right and leapfrogged over her running opponent only to then see her monkey flip telegraphed. Beth then whipped Alicia in the corner, bench pressed her and hit the Glam Slam for the victory.

During the match, Layla came down to watch and applauded Beth for her efforts after she had prevailed. Beth then tried to send a message to the champion by moving to inflict further damage on Fox but Layla made the save and hit Phoenix with a face plant.

 

3.) Kane defeated Big Show via pinfall

John Laurinaitis watched at ringside with Otunga. There was some unbelievably clumsy stuff going on inside the ring but nonetheless there is something oddly satisfying about watching two big men fight and take bumps from one another. Show threw his opponent around to start but Kane dodged a dive to the corner and gained momentum with a crossbody. Both men then wound up on the outside where Show whipped Kane into the barricade and sphered him. With Show in control Laurinaitis then stood up and demanded an apology from him at that very moment. Show acted all gob-smacked and Kane used the distraction to prevail with a chokeslam.

Post-match Laurinaitis demanded an apology from Big Show. Show tried to plead to the GM by claiming that wrestling was his life and something that he loves doing and that he didn’t want to be fired over something so petty. He said that he was sorry and that if Laurinaitis had any decency then he would let him continue to do what he loves.

Laurinaitis commended Show on his passion fuelled speech but said that he never heard the apology. Show, almost in tears by this point said that he was sorry again but this time Laurinaitis was worried that people in the cheap seats probably couldn’t hear so again Show apologised. Laurinaitis then told Show to prove that he meant it by getting down on his knees. Show almost went to ground but kept resisting and making anguished sounds as if he was trying to fight out of a submission making for an utterly ludicrous spectacle. Eventually Show begged on his feet and Laurinaitis said that he would reconsider despite being disgusted by his behaviour.

Laurinaitis then got up to the stage and said that he had already reconsidered and started to go through the firing process which caused Show to fall to his knees and beg, cry and blubber. A passionless Laurinaitis then simply wished Show the best in his future endeavours before firing him.

Watching Chris Jericho beg Stephanie McMahon for forgiveness a few years back was great entertainment because the Jericho character was such a jackass that it was really fun watching him struggle to swallow his pride. He was a heel however. When a big babyface star does this it just makes for painful television. And once again, the wwe have established yet another firing angle where the guy being fired will no doubt be back in under a months time.

 

4.) Six Man Tag: Brodus Clay, R-Truth and Kofi Kingston defeated  The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger

Truth outsmarted Swagger to start and then tagged in Clay who head-butted Swag to the outside. An enraged Dolph then burst in but ran straight into and came bouncing right off Clay’s giant frame before Miz flew off the top into a headbutt.

Back from the break Ziggler had Truth locked in the headstand headlock as we briefly went backstage to see Abraham Washington with his new Puerto Rican clients and Mason Ryan as we heard that Ryan was close to signing a deal with Washington.  The fact that a big man is going to be involved in this group gives me hope that Vince might actually do something with this storyline.

Back in the ring Ziggler earnt a two count following the world’s best dropkick (sorry Orton) before tagging in Miz who locked Truth in a front facelock. Miz then got distracted by Clay however and Truth was able to tag to Kofi who came in and ran wild on Miz culminating in an S.O.S for a close pinfall broken up by an interfering Swagger who was then tricked over the ropes by Truth and Ziggler who came in to receive more punishment from Clay.  Kofi then planted Miz with the Trouble in Paradise and Brodus tagged himself in to win the match with a splash and remain undefeated under his current guise.

**

Prior to this match it was confirmed that R-Truth and Kofi Kingston would be defending their tag team titles against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. How about they give some of these guys a freaking storyline instead?

 

AJ came up to Punk backstage and tried to seduce him with her affection but Punk was wise to a set up and so told her that he didn’t want to get involved with any of the drama surrounding herself and Daniel Bryan.  Now this is how a top babyface should behave.

5.) Chris Jericho defeated Randy Orton via DQ

Sheamus was on commentary to talk about two of his challengers this Sunday. Orton took control at the start hitting a shoulderblock, blocking an arm drag to hit one of his own and then executing the second best dropkick in the business before following it up with a clothesline and then throwing Jericho over the ropes.

Back from the break, Jericho regained momentum inside the ring by poking Orton in the eye and locking his opponent in a cravat. Jericho proceeded to land a crossbody for a near fall and then delivered some humiliating slaps to Orton in the corner. Orton fought out only to run into a boot from Jericho which the Canadian followed up with a missile dropkick and a lionsault attempt that was blocked by Orton’s knees.

Orton went into full on viper mode, landing his trademark manoeuvres including the Draping DDT for a near fall.  The finish of the bout then came as a result of an incident on the outside where Jericho sent Orton tumbling into Sheamus and Sheamus ended up dragging Jericho out of the ring for revenge as Orton was preparing to execute an RKO. Hence, Jericho won by disqualification.

** 1/2

 

Post-match Orton and Sheamus went mad at one another and had to be separated by officials. This was a stupid finish on paper but all three men were so great in their roles that it actually came off quite well. In particular it is refreshing to see two babyfaces being allowed to trade verbal blows rather than those silly backstage segments where they usually look on the verge of sharing a hug. It might be contrived but this feud is still helping to convey the message that there are no companions when it comes to a world championship and I’m all for that.
John Laurinaitis came down for the final segment of the show. He said that he was sorry if John Cena was anyone’s favourite superstar because that made them a loser. After all, he said John Cena himself was a loser. He lost to The Rock at Wrestlemania and looked like a loser against Brock Lesnar. He claimed that when he beat Cena at Over the Limit he would prove that the crowds are losers but that there’s nothing wrong with that because the worlds needs losers like them in order for there to be winners like him.

He actually delivered these well written lines impeccably well and did for a short moment cut a genuinely dislikeable figure. Then John Cena arrived however to very quickly eradicate that image by  turning the cringe factor all the way up to eleven. Firstly he sniffed Lesnar and said that desperation sure was a stinky cologne in the voice of the kid whose stayed up too late drinking coke at a party. He then imagined Laurinaitis as a presidential candidate and mocked his voice as he said “I like people.”

Things then somehow got worse.  He patronisingly wondered if Laurinaitis was going to fire him like he fired Big Show and then brought up Laurinaitis’ failings and assessed that in truth it was him who was the loser. Laurinaitis then tried to defend himself but every time he spoke  Cena attacked him with the word “loser” like Jim Carrey in Pet Detective Mode. Now I’m no big Jim Carrey fan but he was basically Buster Keaton in the comedy department compared to how obnoxious Cena was imitating him. Cena then pissed on “people power” saying that the only person Laurinaitis cared about him was himself. Following this he asked the crowd how many people wanted to beat him up and when they responded positively he used this as proof that Laurinaitis was out of touch with reality.

Finally after some more crowd pandering embarrassment, we got down to some business as Eve emerged to hand Laurinaitis a letter. As the GM was trying to read John Cena then ripped the letter out of his hand and actually said “we all know you never learnt to read”, which was both an asshole move and completely unfunny at the same time. It also tuned out to be a pretty hillarious botch as Cena then had to pretend that he was reading from the letter he had accidentally torn which had been sent from the Board of Directors. I was half expecting Cena to squeal “I’m getting pretty bored of the directors too” but graciously he revealed that the stipulations of their Over the Limit match had been decided and that it had been confirmed that there would be no special guest referee, that no-one would be allowed at ringside and that the only way to win would be by pinfall or submission. Further, any superstar who interfered in the match would be immediately terminated and that if Laurinaitis lost the match to John Cena then he would be terminated also. Cena then got in Laurinaitis face asking him what his big announcement concerned and the GM got mad and slapped him before departing.

Well this made no sense at all. How would John Laurinaitis winning a wrestling match satisfy the Board of Directors and why have said Board spent valuable time coming up with stipulations for a bout instead of firing the guy if they don’t like the job that he’s doing? Illogical nonsense like this is the reason why there is always such a lukewarm reaction to lawsuits and other politically orientated storylines because it’s like the WWE expect the term “Board of Directors” to have such an overwhelmingly powerful impact that they don’t need to actually try and explain what any of this nonsense means.

 

Verdict:

I’m not sure what was worse about this show. The fact that I witnessed two of the most awful segments of the year or that the crowd appeared to be fully invested in both of them. I can only hope this was a one off audience because if John Cena continues to maintain that kind of a reaction then we are probably going to be seeing a lot more of those types of promos and no doubt a number of other promising superstars being the butt of the “joke” and losing any credibility they had beforehand.

What really annoyed me about this edition of Raw though is that after investing precious TV time in humiliating Big Show in order to give Laurinaitis some heat they then immediately turned the guy into a goofball again by having Cena completely no sell his authority and laughing in his face as if he was going back and forth with David Otunga. Thinking that people are excited to see Cena beat up a villainous comedy character is like anticipating that audiences would pay to see Batman go up against a smarmy but brainless lawyer as his main villain in a film; it’s simply not that interesting and if anything makes you feel bad for the guy whose going to get his ass kicked. I’m sure there’s going to be some sort of swerve at the PPV involving Big Show but as it stands this whole thing has just made a mockery of the dangerous vibe brought in by Brock Lesnar.

 

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This article was first posted on May 16, 2012