I was live at WWE Raw last night at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC and, as I’ve always said, there is nothing quite like being at a WWE show live. But, I have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the DC crowd, especially after the crowd that was on hand for Raw last week in Miami. Maybe it was because last week was the night after Wrestlemania and everyone was still jacked up over that event, or maybe it’s because Miami is Miami and DC is, well, DC. But either way, with two exceptions, the crowd was pretty dead all night and even those two exceptions were not what I had hoped or expected. I came home and watched the show on my DVR just to make sure that it came across TV the same way that it did live, and it did.
Raw this week both began and ended with Brock Lesnar kicking John Cena’s ass, which as someone who is not a fan of Cena but is a fan of Lesnar, was just fine with me. However, the crowd reaction for Lesnar at the start of the show was not nearly as intense as it was last week when he debuted. Maybe it was because last week his debut was so hotly anticipated, or maybe it was because there were more Cena fans in DC than in Miami, or maybe it was because Lesnar came out with Raw & Smackdown General Manager John Laurinaitis (which, as my friend Pete noted, gave Lesnar cheap heel heat that he didn’t need). But in my opinion, it might have been because the fans in DC read his autobiography. I’m being facetious, of course, but there is a point in my sarcasm. I read Lesnar’s autobiography last November on my honeymoon and as I noted to my friend John last week, he was going to have to work to win me over after the things he wrote about his first stint with WWE. In the book he wrote that he never cared about the WWE, its fans, Wrestlemania or even wrestling in Madison Square Garden, that he only ever did it for the money and when he got bored he left to try out for the NFL and then eventually make his way to UFC. To me, that is not a man that I want to be in the main event of WWE shows and pay-per-views, and in talking with fans outside and in the arena before the show, a lot of them felt that Lesnar was going to have to prove himself before they accepted him back with open arms.
Well, while when Lesnar came out the first time with Laurinaitis there were more cheers than boos (and more silence than either one), when he came out at the end of the show, the Verizon Center erupted. My guess is that it’s because of how the first segment went down, when Cena came out to interrupt Lesnar and the two of them had a brawl that not only saw the entire WWE locker room erupt from backstage to separate the two, but saw Lesnar land a big stiff UFC-like punch to Cena’s face that bloodied him up. The live crowd didn’t realize Cena had been bloodied until later in the night when a replay was shown, and when he saw it, the crowd cheered the loudest they had all night (seeing that much blood in the PG era is a rarity and made me realize how much I miss it and how much, when used properly, it can add to a match or segment).
Between that altercation and Lesnar’s backstage promo about how he was proud of everything he had done, including once being WWE Champion and now coming back, Lesnar proved himself to me at least, and I assume most everyone else given the difference in reactions to him at 9pm and then two hours later.
In between the two Brock Lesnar/John Cena segments, there was a solid episode of Raw that was good but not great. Here’s my quick rundown:
Having the three actors in the new “The Three Stooges” movie hosting the show in character was a waste of time and was not funny at all; the only good part was when Will Sasso came out dressed as Hulk Hogan (complete with the original Hogan theme music), only to be interrupted by Kane who chokeslammed the actor in the middle of the ring.
The tag team match between Brodus Clay & Santino Marella and Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger was good and was given a lot of time. My problem here is that I would like to see Marella defending his championship more (did you forget that he is the United States Champion?) and I would like to see Ziggler and Swagger both losing less and in a title picture (whether it’s the tag titles, which were left of TV again, a mid-card title or one of the two world titles).
There were a few backstage segments with John Laurinaitis, one in which he berated Teddy Long (who is now his assistant) and ones in which he promised Eve and The Miz that they would talk about their futures later this week. I’m glad that admist everything going on that Eve and Miz were not forgotten. Both played big roles at Wrestlemania and both should be put into major storylines that lead to title shots in the near future.
R-Truth defeated Cody Rhodes after Big Show came out to distract Rhodes with a video from last week when he showed a video from Wrestlemania (which means that last night there was a replay of a replay). Whether Rhodes wins back the title or not, I hope that the feud between him and Big Show ends at Extreme Rules so that Rhodes can move on, hopefully to bigger and better things.
Last week on Twitter, Yoshi Tatsu challenged Lord Tensai to a match, and this week Lord Tensai agreed. For the second week in a row, Lord Tensai dominated the match, which ended in a TKO after Tatsu could no longer compete. The crowd was pretty dead for this match, other than an “Albert” chant, so I’m curious to see where the Lord Tensai character goes from here.
CM Punk cut a great promo about how what Jericho did last week to him did not break him, but instead made him stronger and ready to fight Jericho with everything he had. Jericho appeared on the TitanTron and repeated much of what he said last week, but it pissed Punk off enough that when his match with Mark Henry started, Punk immediately hit him with one of the monitors to get disqualified. With two victories in a row over Punk (he won by count out last week) Henry was granted a no disqualification, no count out match for the WWE Championship next week. After the match, Henry hit two World’s Strongest Slams on Punk which brought Jericho out, who hit a Codebreaker and then poured Natty Boh beer all over the fallen champ.
(What didn’t come through on TV was that after the show cut to a commercial break after Henry’s entrance, Henry said that he was not ready for the match and he was going to go backstage to finish warming up and then come back out. By the time the show was live again, Henry had made a second entrance and the match was underway.)
Albert Del Rio, who won a future shot at the World Heavyweight Championship last week by beating Sheamus, quickly defeated Zack Ryder, who actually got in a surprising amount of offense.
The highlight video from the Undertaker/Triple H math at Wrestlemania was awesome and sent chills down my spine yet again. For anyone who did not see it, the video is online at WWE.com and well worth your time.
After getting beat up by Lesnar, John Cena had told Laurinaitis that he wanted to prove that he is just as legitimate as Cena by still competing that night. Laurinaitis obliged and put Cena in a match against David Otunga, and while Cena won the match, after it was over Lesnar came through the crowd and hit an F5 on Cena. The crowd went nuts for Lesnar’s second appearance and was even chanting “One more time,” but Lesnar waved them off and left the ring.
Not on Raw tonight were the Epico and Primo (remember them, the Tag Team Champions?), Daniel Bryan (there were a ton of “Yes!” chants before and throughout the show), Randy Orton, Sheamus (which didn’t really bother me since I’m not a fan of him as the world champion anyway) or the Undertaker or Triple H (who have not been seen since Wrestlemania, making one wonder when we will again).
The dark match before Raw started was Damien Sandow (who came out to no entrance music but berated the crowd similarly to his promo on Smackdown last week) defeating JTG (who I had forgotten all about). After Raw went off the air, Dolph Ziggler came down to tell John Cena that it was his turn to kick Cena’s ass after The Rock and Lesnar had their turns, but as soon as Ziggler got in the ring he was hit with the Attitude Adjustment from Cena.
For photos from the event, click here.