The Redman Report: WWE Raw 4/7/11: Raw is Punk

Even though he ain’t even here, RAW is CM Punk. Even though its a taped 4th of July show, I hope none of you skipped this show, because there was some good wrestling and some equally engaging development in the SAGA.

I liked the opening Cena promo. Cena being the all American, protecting free speech kind of guy completely fits his character so it made sense for him to be all “I disagree with what you say but respect your right to say it”. I also liked him referencing shoot details like confiscating signs and the Bryan firing to make his point while keeping in with the ‘we’re shootin’ brother!” angle. This was John Cena the character “shooting”. Good stuff.

The girls tag was fine. I have to say, Kelly and Eve walking backstage…Kelly Acting is just…something else.

I’m not American and I dont see Geico ads so the point of Truth’s skit was lost on me. But his interview with SCOTT STANFORD was good.

The tag title match was, actually, perfectly fine. Santino is so good I couldnt hate these men. Although I have to say, I saw it last week live and here again, I do like the double team move Otunga and Mike use now. Mike’s neckbreaker is a lame finish though. And anyway, ZACK RYDER. Zack at least (seemingly) getting a tag title feud out of this is something.

Miz has such a goofy face. Its made worse because they always seem to do these severe close ups on the guy so all you can see is his goofy face and bug eyes and weird hairline. But this promo was actually really good, he’s starting to look desperate about being upstaged by his rookie all this time.

Speaking of Acting, this was another Acting skit with Slaughter, but by Evan Bourne standards he Acted well. Anyway, Swagger/Bourne as the neverending slip-on-a-banana-peel feud is comical by this point.

Its sort of crazy that Slaughter is as healthy enough to work as he is. He’s 62 years old. Anyway, this was whatever, Swagger wins, then gets foiled by the babyfaces because its the 4th of July. Not hating, it was fine, but, you know…whatever.

I have to say, putting these three guys in the new triple threat because they’re guys who had “big wins” last week on the show is a touch of logic that one often feels beyond Raw. Good stuff.

Its funny, on paper, trading CM Punk out and R-Truth in to a match sounds like a bad deal, but I think this was just as good a triple threat as the one 2 weeks ago. Really fun match, all action all the time, and a bunch of cool spots and counters. I liked the different “everyone stacked up” spot of the electric chair-crossbody, rather than just a superplex. And I really loved the last few minutes when everyone was throwing bombs but there was always someone there to break it up, helped by King’s great line that “they dont have energy to kick out anymore, guys breaking up pins is the only thing keeping this match going.” I thought that really added to it. And I was expecting another “heel steals Rey’s pin” finish so when Alberto swooped in with the almost-forgotten ARMBAR instead I marked. Really, really fun match.

A cake. Uh-oh. Vickie legit looked great in her jeans and singlet there, and any heel in a WHITE SUIT is money. I liked Dolph’s promo, he’s actually a better promo than a lot of guys and should be talking a hell of a lot more. Without having anything to say whatsoever, he came across well. And anyway this means we get Kofi! Man, speaking of guys who need to talk more…this guy. I laughed at the way they did it, with bump into her ass, and then just as it was sinking in bump into her face! I laughed. And I enjoyed the brawling as well because if there’s one thing we need more of, its Angry Kofi. I eagerly anticipate #601.

Totally enjoyed the Riley video, it really put over the point of Riley. In the last month or so they’ve been playing video packages every week and its one of the best production changes they could have made. Video packages make everyone look great. And its especially helpful to articulate Riley’s deal in this way since he cant really cut babyface promos yet.

Miz vs Riley was actually pretty great, I enjoyed it a lot. I get such a kick out of Miz and Riley working together, because, in this match and every other time they’ve interacted…Riley kicks his ass. Any time they start brawling Riley gets the better of it and beats the crap out of him. Not just the usual “this week its my turn, next week its your turn” Even Steven laziness. Every. Single. Time. Riley is just better than Miz, he kicks the Miz’s ass. End of. THAT is what I love most about this feud.

Anyway, like I said I enjoyed this match. Riley beating Miz’s ass, some cool moves, and I really liked Riley countering Miz’s knee-neckbreaker combo into the finish – Riley was his apprentice and would have seen Miz do that a thousand times, it makes sense that he’d see it coming. And then Miz’s FACE when he lost was fantastic, leading into another great brawl. The “rubbing your face into the stairs” spot was good. And I completely LOVED Miz’s face just before he booted him, he looked insanely angry and at the same time like he was about to cry, just completely bewildered and insane, to me he was saying “I cant believe I lost to this f*cker AGAIN!” So he needs to really just KILL this guy in order to finally beat him, or just get rid of him. Anything, because he’s been humiliated over and over again by the guy who was supposed to be his rookie. The idea of his own apprentice being better than him is impossible for Miz to compute, its driving him insane. I so, so, so love the storytelling of this angle, I really do.

This is just a general thing, but I cant be the only one who picked up on the “Can you imagine Vince McMahon ever changing his mind?!” ribbing, right? Pretty funny.

And so, the Vince angle. One thing I want to say before anything is that Vince really had an off night. He was stumbling over his words heaps of times, not getting his thoughts across properly, and he also wasnt speaking into the mic a lot of the time either. It was really weird to me since Vince, for all his faults, is pretty much always a good performer on TV. But he wasnt at his best here.

Anyway, despite that I enjoyed this. It was interesting and I think it progressed the angle well. Cena, again, plays his part perfectly as the stand up American guy who is defending free speech and wants to man up and defend the title against the guy who earned a shot.

Vince was also at least a consistent Vince in his…inconsistency. Vince, historically, has always been a power hungry egomaniac who does whatever the f*ck he wants, as Cena said. So, you insult me and my family? F*ck you, you’re suspended! Like, on TV Vince played it as if the promo was the “pretend” reason for the suspension, and the “real” reason was because he thought he’d beat Cena. But the way it came across was that being scared of Punk beating Cena was actually his fake real reason, and in the end, as Cena pointed out, it just comes back to the fact that Punk talked sh*t about Vince and Vince’s fragile ego was hurt so he f*cked the guy.

The other thing I really liked was that in the end it was about the title, how important it is, how bad it would be if Vince and WWE lost it, and how disrespectful it would be if Cena didnt defend it against the rightful No. 1 Contender. Despite Vince being jittery, the main points were nailed – Vince cant afford to have someone leave with the title (playing off Montreal) and he believes Punk is a threat to beat Cena, and Cena believes in the honour of the title and wants to defend it against any and every worthy challenger, or else the belt is worthless.

The last thing I liked was the way the conversation went from just talking about the title match or just Cena vs Punk, to talking about a wider issue; the “shoot” issues that wrestlers have with Vince and that Vince in turn has with talent. Punk has suddenly brought all of this out in Cena, in Vince, in everyone. So they’re arguing about having this title match, and Vince is like “F*ck you, this is MY company, f*ck all you wrestlers for pissing me off IRL” and so Cena is like “F*ck me? F*ck you! I work my ass off 24/7 for your company IRL and you dont trust me?!” And then Cena threatens to walk out because Vince is ruining everything by being an overbearing control freak. So these title match issues are bleeding into the “shoot” Vince issues, but in the end, everything revolves around the WWE Title.

The fired thing is…interesting. I would be better if they hadnt killed “Cena is fired” dead into the ground as a stipulation less than 12 months ago, but whatever. It still allowed for Vince to put the match back on and it gives an added layer of gravity for Cena after he was all gung-ho about fighting all comers no matter what they say and what not. Plus it opens up the possibility of a MITB cash in even more. If you think about it, MITB being there makes this the perfect PPV to do this stip on, because you’re not necessarily giving away the result when the third option is there to save Cena’s job if he loses.

Its crazy that I’m writing so many words on this one segment. To me its a good thing, because as I’m typing all this out I’m basically comprehending and digesting the angle out loud, and the fact that it all provably, demonstrably makes sense is good, there’s some serious storytelling logic unfolding here, and I love it.

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