Oh, how the times have changed. The last time The Rock was doing a concert in the middle of a WWE ring he was a heel and the last time John Cena was rapping he had the entire audience cheering him on and buying his CD (myself included). But now, years later, fans are cheering for The Rock and booing John Cena. I guess last year’s crowd reaction was partly because Raw was in Cena’s hometown because this year the crowd was definitely into Cena’s rap at the start of the show but Rock had them eating out of the palm of his hand for his concert at the end.
Cena had a good rap and even dropped a curse word that got bleeped out. But I don’t think the “old” John Cena is back, as some people on Twitter suggested. I think it was a one-time thing because you have a lot of weeks to fill between Elimination Chamber and Wrestlemania and can’t have The Rock wrestle or have the two come to blows until the pay-per-view. But it was good to be reminded that, once upon a time, there was a time when we actually enjoyed John Cena and his Superman gimmick wasn’t being shoved down our throats.
The first match of the night was Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler is right in that it isn’t showing off if you can back it up and he can certainly back it up. I see a world title around his waist sometime in 2012 and if it doesn’t happen then the WWE will just prove once again that they just don’t know what to do with what they have. Unfortunately, with Sheamus already in the world title picture at Wrestlemania, he had to win the match to continue his momentum with just three weeks left before the big show. But Ziggler looked fantastic in defeat and definitely held his own.
I liked the cutaway during the match to Daniel Bryan and his girlfriend, AJ, in a skybox scouting the match. With the way Bryan continues to demean AJ and she puts up with it, I have to wonder if she is going to have a role in Wrestlemania, either costing Bryan the match or sticking by her man no matter how badly she is treated because she’s in love.
Earlier in the day it was announced on WWE.com that Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis and Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long would each captain their own team at Wrestlemania with the winning team’s respective captain becoming the general manager of both shows. I predicted earlier in the day on this blog that Laurinaitis would be represented by Alberto Del Rio, David Otunga, Dolph Zigger, The Miz, Christian and Mark Henry and Long by Alex Riley, Brodus Clay, Rey Mysterio, Zack Ryder, The Great Khali and Booker T. Somehow, when going through the roster on the website to make my picks, I completely forgot about Santino Marella because otherwise I would have definitely put him on my list and then Booker T off. I also made that pick thinking that Kofi Kingston and R-Truth would be in a match for the Tag Team Championships and Randy Orton and Kane would have their own singles match.
Well, it seems like I was right and wrong in my prediction. Santino Marella was announced as the captain of Teddy Long’s team and David Otunga as the captain of John Laurinaitis’ team. The next match featured Marella in a handicap match against Otunga and Mark Henry, a match which Henry won for his team. During the match, Long came down and shoved Laurinaitis to the ground, furthering the feud between the two. And after the match, Otunga and Henry continued to beat up Marella until Kofi Kingston and R-Truth made the save. Laurinaitis then announced that Mark Henry was the second member of his team, but no such announcement came from Long at the time. If Kingston and R-Truth do become a part of his team, I just hope that the Tag Team Championships are on the line at Wrestlemania and not in the dark match and against an established team with a storyline built around it.
Earlier in the night the TV show Extra had host Maria Menounos (who has wrestled and won a WWE match) interview the Bella Twins and Alicia Fox about Wrestlemania. Brie Bella made a comment that she expects Wrestlemania to be a bunch of women throwing fists and kicking butt and I certainly hope that she’s right and that there is a Divas match on the show. After showing us the clip from Extra, Eve was seen telling Zack Ryder she wanted to be friends with benefits and personally, with Eve in that dress, I would have also said yes if it was me in Ryder’s shoes. Beth Phoenix then came up (marking the first time we’ve seen the Divas Champion on Raw in weeks) and said that she was tired of Menounos talking about the Divas and that she was going to go on Extra to confront her. If the Divas match at Wrestlemania ends up being Beth Phoenix vs. Maria Menounos I’m going to be very upset.
Backstage, The Miz wanted to know why he didn’t have a match at Wrestlemania yet (I’ve been asking the same thing for weeks) and told John Laurinaitis that he wanted to be on his team. Laurinaitis told Miz that if he could beat CM Punk later that night, he would be on his team. Well, if nothing else, at least Miz has a guest spot on the hit TV show “Psych” this week.
Next up featured the return of the only living, breathing, romping, stomping Funkasaurus in captivity – Brodus Clay! Clay has been off WWE TV for one reason another since he made a huge debut. You can choose to believe or not believe any of the rumors that you want, but one thing is for sure – after a big “WTF” debut, the fans have certainly gotten behind the character and having him off TV is a huge mistake. His appearance tonight and subsequent victory of Jindar Mahal, along with the reaction that both got from the fans in attendance, is proof of that.
The top-of-the-hour segment was the one that I had been waiting for all night – Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker face-to-face for the first time since the night after Wrestlemania 26 when The Undertaker retired the Heartbreak Kid. With Michaels serving as the guest referee for the match between Undertaker and Triple H, I was definitely intrigued as to how the two would reach to each other tonight and, as expected, neither one disappointed. Michaels kicked off the segment by reminding us that Triple H told him last week that everyone in the back thinks he’s a loser for losing to Undertaker at Wrestlemania twice but Michaels noted that no one has said such a thing to him ever before or since last week. He then called out The Undertaker to find out exactly how he feels about him and the fact that he’s the special guest referee for his match at Wrestlemania. Undertaker proceeded to tell Michaels to let go of his insecurities but Michaels pointed out that it was Undertaker who begged for this match, it was Undertaker who at 19-0 still seeks validation. Undertaker said that the match this year, as well as his Wrestlemania matches the last three years, were all destiny, but that Michaels had not let ego get in the way of the match this year. Michaels countered by saying it was ironic that the man who Undertaker retired might just be the man who ends The Streak after all, which lays even more speculation and intrigue for the match this year. The segment ended with Michaels walking up the ramp, where he met Triple H at the top, who did a DX crotch chop after Michaels left. For a match that I was begging WWE not to do, I am really, really excited for it now.
By the way, if Triple H thinks Shawn Michaels is a loser for losing to Undertaker twice at Wrestlemania, what does that make Triple H? And what will that make Triple H when he loses for the third time in less than three weeks?
Next up was CM Punk vs. The Miz and I think the only match I’ve ever wanted The Miz to win more was last year at Wrestlemania against John Cena. Unfortunately, after a great match where both men got in a ton of offense in a short period of time, The Miz tapped out to the Anaconda Vise, costing him a match at Wrestlemania. I was hoping that Chris Jericho would come out and cost Punk the match, but instead, Jericho showed up on the TitanTron after the match and told the audience that he found out the reason that Punk is Straight Edge is because his father is an alcoholic and that Punk will become like his father and that he is going to make Punk drink after Wrestlemania when he takes Punk’s title and claim to be the best in the world. As for The Miz, I don’t think there’s anyone I feel worse for in the WWE right now – last year he was in the main event at Wrestlemania and successfully defended his world title against John Cena and this year he doesn’t even have a match. I do have a prediction for what his role at the show will be, but I’m going to wait to see if the WWE does put him in an official match before posting it.
What was up with the weird law commercial for David Otunga? Does that mean I can get him to come fight a speeding ticket for me the next time I get one? Because I get a lot and I could use his help.
The final match of the night saw Randy Orton against Jack Swagger. If anyone has fallen faster and harder than The Miz, its Swagger, who has gone from being a world champion to barely even getting on TV at all, including when he was recently the United States Champion. Tonight may have seen Swagger on TV, but he lost to Randy Orton in a surprisingly competitive match. After the match, Kane’s pyro went off but was nowhere to be seen.
What’s the point of having Cena face Mark Henry next week on Raw? Yes, theoretically, if Cena wins then he looks good heading into his match against The Rock, but up until last week Henry was losing matches left and right. Cena doesn’t need to win a match to gain momentum heading into Wrestlemania. He’s John Cena, believe me, we all know what he can do in the ring.
The final segment of the night featured The Rock and his “Rock Concert.” Before starting the concert, to everyone who thinks that The Rock can’t draw anymore, it was announced that tonight was the largest sellout crowd for the WWE in Cleveland. Trust me, it wasn’t the last time around. The Rock then noted that the John Cena we saw earlier was not the John Cena we’ve been having to see for the last eight years, the one who looks like Marky Mark had sex with a Teletubby. As for the concert itself, anyone who missed it has to go watch the video online because my writing it down here just wouldn’t do it justice. Suffice to say, every single verse was absolutely hilarious, from making of Cena and his wife and mom and also any grown men who are Cena fans.
If John Cena won the battles with the war of words the last two weeks (which I think he did), The Rock definitely won the battle tonight with his concert. Before tonight I was wondering if Vince McMahon and the WWE writers were writing the battles between the two men so that the crowd would be 50-50 at Wrestlemania, but now I think that everyone behind the scenes has accepted the fact that Cena’s fans will root for Cena and everyone who hates Cena will root for The Rock and there is no changing anyone’s minds in the next three weeks. As for me, I am not a John Cena fan by any stretch of the imagination and I hope The Rock puts his boot to John Cena’s ass at Wrestlemania in Miami.