This recap and analysis of WWE’s Monday Night Raw are the personal opinions of the writer. The author of this article is a former promoter, writer, and referee in the wrestling industry. You won’t find analysis as accurate as this anywhere else on the internet.
WWE Monday Night Raw Results 4/16/12 from London, England.
WWE Championship- No DQ No Countout: CM Punk (c) vs. Mark Henry- So much for my rant last week about how WWE Championship matches need to main event the show and be prestigious. That’s out the window. On the other hand, it is kinda cool to start the show with a championship match. Hopefully this show is heavy on wrestling. English fans demand wrestling. Every time the WWE goes there they hear “we want wrestling” chants. The crowd is hot right off the top. Very loud CM Punk chants. Mark Henry doesn’t even get an entrance. Really? I’ve never seen that happen in a championship match before. Henry looks like a jobber at this point and isn’t a credible contender. Why would a guy that isn’t worthy of a TV entrance deserve a title shot? Michael Cole starts the match by calling the championship “the most prestigious title in sports entertainment.” Is that in response to what I said last week?
Kicks to the torso of Henry to start the match. They barely phase him. Tie up. Henry tosses Punk into the corner and uses a headbutt. Henry clubs at Punk’s back which sends him to the mat. Punk gets up and uses more kicks. He runs off the ropes, but Henry catches him and uses a modified Alabama Slam to toss him to the mat. I say modified because it was pretty much botched. Imagine that, Mark Henry botches a spot. Punk rolls to the outside and Henry follows him. Punk runs back into the ring quickly and uses a suicide dive on Henry to the outside. He used his speed and outsmarted Henry there. The crowd is chanting “yes yes yes.” Henry sends Punk into the turnbuckle then stretches his body over it. Punk kicks himself out. He runs across the outside barricade and hits a jumping bulldog to the floor. Very cool spot. More hard kicks to Henry’s back. Punk goes to the apron and attempts to jump on Henry, but he’s caught, and thrown head first into the barricade. Another cool spot. Commercial. Very good match so far. Punk is completely carrying it.
Back from break Punk is in a chin lock. He kicks Henry in the head to get out. Punk runs off the ropes but is hit with a clothesline. Punk super sells it and makes it look nastier than it was. That’s how good he is. Henry stands on top of Punk’s head against the ropes. Punk rolls to the outside angrily and grabs a chair. He nails Henry in the gut and back with the steel chair. He covers Henry for a two count. He attempts a third chair shot, but Henry kicks it out of his hands. Henry uses a chair shot of his own to Punk’s back. He sets the chair up in the corner between the ropes. Punk fights back with hard chops in the corner. The crowd chants “yes yes yes” very loudly on every single blow. I’m so glad a hot crowd continues these chants on Raw. We didn’t hear them last week very loudly because Washington DC is full of wrestling marks.
Punk runs at Henry, but he’s hit with another clothesline. Bear hug by Henry. Punk fights out with nasty elbows to the face. He dropkicks Henry’s knees and DDT’s him from his knees. Another very nice spot. Punk goes to the top rope but his cross body block is caught. Henry attempts the World’s Strongest Slam, but Punk rolls down his back. Yakuza Kick to the head sends Henry into the corner. Running high knee to the face by Punk. The running bulldog is reversed as Punk is sent flying. Henry runs at Punk in the corner, but Punk moves, and Henry goes face first into the steel chair that he set up earlier in the match. Punk grabs another steel chair and using a Macho Man Flying Elbow Drop off the top rope with the chair. 1-2-3. Punk retains the title. Excellent match. Damn Punk was good tonight. So many great spots in this match. Everything about the match was great.
Chris Jericho is on the Titan Tron. He is in a bar. He says he’s been granted a title shot at Extreme Rules. The match will be a Chicago Street Fight match. I wasn’t aware that they fought in the streets in Chicago. Punk says that Jericho won’t survive. He says he can’t wait to beat Jericho in his hometown in front of his father, mother, and sister. Chris Jericho then shows a clip of CM Punk going into an English Pub. He shows him leaving later. He asks Punk why he was in a pub. He asks Punk if he’s drunk. Punk says that he has friends who drink and went to hang out with them and to eat English fish and chips. Jericho wants Punk to admit that he’s now an alcoholic. Punk goes to respond but Jericho disappears off the screen. He stops talking. That was awkward. Apparently Punk didn’t realize that Jericho was supposed to get the last word and that the segment was supposed to end with a reaction shot of him in the ring. Oh well, all is forgiven because of his great match tonight.
Teddy Long is in the back with R-Truth. Truth is dressed up as Sherlock Holmes. His assistant is Little Jimmy Watson. Truth says his job is to find Teddy Long a job. He says good day and walks away. Yawn.
United States Championship: Santino Marella (c) vs. David Otunga- Santino is wearing a bunch of girly kickball soccer jerseys. He takes them off one by one. The crowd boos all the heel teams. The gimmick is that he keeps getting the jersey wrong. Finally Santino ends with whatever kickball team the crowd likes. They cheer. Otunga is looking more and more cut each week. So we get two title matches in a row to start the show. Very nice. I’m all for that. But it seems like every time Raw starts off hot like this it always gets pretty bad by the end. The second hour can never carry the momentum of the first hour when they have a hot start.
Tie up to start. Otunga tosses Santino to the mat. Another tie up results in botched chain wrestling. I’m trying to praise Otunga for being good and then he goes and shows that he can’t chain wrestle? Ugh. Otunga works Santino on the mat. He uses elbow drops that are elevated by pushing up on the rope. He runs at Santino in the corner but is met with a back elbow. Santino punches away at Otunga. He does a split but Otunga kicks him in the chest. Otunga picks Santino up and botches his finisher. He then covers him on the wrong side. By the time he gets to the right side it’s already a two count. Santino gets his foot on the rope. Otunga argues with the referee. He turns around to get hip tossed by Santino. But Santino botches the hip toss and almost drops Otunga. Saluting fist drop followed by the Cobra for the win. Santino retains the US Championship. That match was the complete opposite of the first one. Awful. 4 botches during a 3 minute match. I like how Otunga is improving, and I love his character, but it looks like he has a lot of work to do in the ring.
Josh Mathews interviews Lord Tensai. His Japanese servant cuts Mathews off. Tensai then cuts his servant off. He says “you fear the unknown.” Then he talks in Japanese. Short segment. Quick character development to show that he will speak.
Brock Lesnar highlight video and interview. This better be good. They already teased it twice tonight. Obviously Lesnar didn’t make the trip to England, so this is what we get of him tonight. He says there is nobody in the WWE past or present that has the accolades that he has. College champion, recruited by the WWE, 3 time WWE Champion, youngest WWE Champion ever (which is kinda true…Randy Orton is the youngest world heavyweight champion and the youngest champion ever), and UFC Champion. He says he came back for business and that the WWE needs a guy to legitimize the business. He says “we’re tired of John Cena’s old crap.” Brock says Cena is only in the spot he’s in because Brock left. If he would have stayed, Cena would be carrying his bags into the building. He says there is nothing about him that is fake and that’s why he busted Cena’s mouth open. He says “this is real.” GREAT LINE. Brock says “I don’t give a crap what’s running through his mind. What’s more important is what’s running down his leg….piss.” I seriously LOL’ed on that one. He goes on to say “he’s shitting his pants is what he’s doing.” He says April 29th isn’t a wrestling match. It’s Extreme Rules. He’s coming for a fight. He says he’s not a “superstar.” Beating people up makes him happy.
Awesome segment. Hilarious. And it really tied this whole storyline together. It made sense of a lot of things. They are really trying to take a realistic approach to this match. How can you do anything otherwise with Lesnar. It’s the only way that this storyline can happen following his UFC run. Having him say that “this is real” and that he’s not a “superstar” is a unique way to push the product towards a different kind of audience. WWE is really trying to steal the UFC audience here. They want them to believe that this is a real fight. They want to build this like the main event of a UFC show. I’m not really sure if the UFC audience will tune in because they will never get that stubborn narcissistic idea that “wrestling is fake” out of their heads. Most UFC fans are meat heads who are blinded by the fact that the UFC is also booked towards storylines and is also predetermined itself. When I was in the wrestling industry I knew multiple ex MMA fighters and promoters that weren’t afraid to admit that the sport was fixed. I’ve also seen a booker’s card showing the fixed outcomes of MMA events. With all of that being said, I hope the UFC audience gets into this. The problem is that Lesnar was a true heel in the UFC. People generally didn’t like him. Regardless I don’t think the WWE needs the UFC audience. They can draw off of the success of the Wrestlemania audience who continued to watch after the emergence of Lesnar. The Extreme Rules PPV will do well. Eventually Vince McMahon will kill and own UFC anyways.
Zack Ryder vs. Kane- Pretty funny to see a fat British guy with the Ryder Broski wig on. Weird that they decided to bring back up this Ryder/Kane feud that was never really finished. Ryder is on the outside apron as Kane gets into the ring. Kane turns around and boots Ryder in the face, which sends him flying into the commentator’s table on the floor. Kane goes to the outside and slams Ryder’s head into the turnbuckle. He kicks away at Ryder and tosses him onto the commentary table. Kane throws Ryder’s back into the ring apron. He tosses him into the ring. Chokeslam. The match never officially started or ended. They are really starting to cross that fine line of misusing Ryder. I’m tired of seeing him take beatings now. It’s time to start the next phase of pushing him. People feel sorry enough for him. If he jobs again next week I’ll officially be angry. Kane picks up a microphone to talk about Randy Orton. He talks about how he laid out Randy and his father on Smackdown. That’s all he really said. Pointless promo. Pointless segment. This show is starting to go downhill and not carry the momentum from the beginning. I didn’t see that coming (sarcasm.)
Kofi Kingston is in the back with AJ. Daniel Bryan walks up. He asks Kofi if he’s hitting on AJ. He says that he clearly doesn’t want AJ, but that it’s not open season on her. He says he will put the Lebelle Lock on Kofi tonight. Then he says that he’s better than Gene Lebelle and that the hold will now be called the “yes lock.” He screams “yes yes yes yes” about a hundred times and the crowd goes crazy chanting it with him. Love it. Nothing else to say but that. “Yes” has replaced “What” as the best wrestling chant of all time. Daniel Bryan is becoming the greatest of all time. Watch out Bret Hart.
John Cena comes to the ring. They show a recap video of the fight last week. There actually hasn’t been that many recap videos tonight. I guess my point was heard last week. Cena talks about Laurinaitis being responsible for all this. The crowd doesn’t care. They just chant “yes yes yes.” Cena chants “yes” with them. Cena talks about Lesnar wanting to destruct and torture and that kinda stuff. He says that Lesnar’s sole purpose is to end Cena. Cena keeps saying “i will fight.” He doesn’t care if he takes the biggest ass whipping of his life. John Laurinaitis comes out. He puts over “people power.” Laurinaitis books an extreme rules match tonight. He plugs next week’s 3 hour long Raw. There will be a contact signing next week. He won’t tell Cena who his opponent is.
R-Truth is in the back with Hornswoggle. Truth comes into a library through a secret door and looks around on his eyeglass. Hornswoggle tries to get out of the secret door I think. I really didn’t understand this one. Was Hornswoggle stuck? How would he have gotten in there in the first place if he didn’t know about the secret door? Couldn’t he have exited where he came in and where Truth exited? I don’t understand. Is it a Sherlock Holmes thing?
Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan- Huge pop for Bryan. Lot’s of “yes” chants from the crowd. Lot’s of yes signs too. Tie up to start. Bryan works Kofi into a hammerlock and back body drops him. Kofi gets up and Bryan yells “yes” in his face. Bryan reverses an Irish whip and hits a running drop kick in the corner. Knee drops to the neck of Kofi. Arm bar and breaker. Bryan works Kofi into the ropes and throws his knee into him. Irish whip off the ropes results in a knee lift. Bryan continues to work the arm of Kofi into the mat. He stomps the inverted arm. Kofi starts to fight back. Every time Kofi punches Bryan the crowd chants “no!.” Kofi rolls out of an armbar and hits a high shoulder to the jaw. Bryan throws Kofi to the outside. He misses the running knee of the apron. Kofi springboards up with an inverted cross body to the floor. Commercial break. Amazing start as anticipated. Bryan is putting on a wrestling and psychology clinic. Kofi is adding a nice blend of unique spots himself.
Back from commercial Kofi uses a reversed monkey flip. He’s then caught in a drop toe hold that puts him in the corner. Bryan kicks the rope which backlashes into Kofi’s face. AJ is shown on a monitor watching in the back. Bryan steps on Kofi’s neck and yells yes. Kofi powders up into the corner but is hit repeatedly with kicks to the chest. Bryan and the crowd chants yes for each kick. Bryan snapmares Kofi and kicks him in the back. Chin lock by Bryan. Kofi fights up with kicks. He comes back strong with his typical running offense. Boom Drop by Kofi. He goes for Trouble In Paradise, but Bryan ducks. Kofi hits the SOS for a two count. Kofi stomps at Bryan in the corner. The crowd chants no for each kick. Bryan Irish whips Kofi in the corner, runs at him, and is met with boots to the face after Kofi slides through to the apron. Kofi goes to the top rope but Bryan knocks him off. Kofi fights Bryan to the mat but misses a flying cross body. Bryan hooks the Yes Lock in. Kofi taps out. Bryan and the crowd yell yes. Bryan hooks another Yes Lock in. Sheamus comes running down the ramp. Bryan escapes and heads up the ramp. The European crowd boos the European Sheamus. Because Bryan is better. More yes chants from Bryan and the crowd. Great match. Better than the WWE Championship match in my eyes. Can we get a Bryan match like this every week please?
“The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger- The crowd is dancing more than normal for Brodus. British people are funny. This match has potential to not be a squash. Let’s find out. Ziggler starts the match with a dropkick that doesn’t phase Clay. T-Bone suplex by Clay. Swagger grabs Ziggler. Clay pulls Swagger into the ring. Disqualification. Clay sends Swagger through the ropes. He pancakes Ziggler. Vickie Guerrero is on the apron. Cameron grabs her leg. Vickie kicks her to the mat. Naomi gets in the ring and backs Vickie into Brodus. Brodus shakes. Vickie runs away. They dance. I just wasted finger strength by typing all that. Let’s hope Clay vs. Ziggler is added to the Extreme Rules PPV. And let’s hope that it’s a legit match and not a squash.
John Laurinaitis is in the back with David Otunga. He tells Otunga to put as much emphasis into his wrestling as he does with Laurinaitis. Eve Torres walks up. She says she never got her 1 on 1 meeting. They go into his office. I guess they are going to involve Eve in a bigger storyline. They are really going to push her as a top heel. She will be more hated than Vickie Guerrero eventually.
Tribute video to Chief Jay Strongbow. He passed away last week. He was in the first ever WWE Hall of Fame class. If your parents or grandparents watched wrestling before 1980, and you ask them about it, one of the first two names they will mention will be Strongbow. Guaranteed.
Teddy Long and R-Truth are in the back. Truth says that Little Jimmy found a job. General Manager of Smackdown. Long says he was fired from that job. Truth says that he has 8 years experience so he’s the perfect candidate. That’s it. God that was stupid. Please stop. Seriously. Of all the reoccurring backstage segments I’ve ever seen, that may have been the stupidest of all time.
The Great Khali and Big Show vs. WWE Tag Team Champions Epico and Primo w/ Rosa Mendes- There is a new storyline going on where Epico and Primo are complaining about a lack of TV time. Maybe this will push them. Probably not though. I’m sure it will bury them in the end. Great Khali hits an awful clothesline on Epico. Chop to the chest. Abraham Washington comes out on the ramp and watches. Kahli hits a chop in the corner. Then another bad clothesline. Big boot by Kahli that makes him fall down. Seriously…he fell down….after a big boot. Epico and Primo grab the titles and try to leave. Big Show grabs them and throws them back in. Multiple head chops by Khali. Big Show gets in the ring. Chokeslam/Punjabi Plunge at the same time. They win. I vomited. What to say? First of all, Abraham Washington is looking for a client. It won’t be two guys who already have a valet. I would try to think of a fit for him, but I just don’t care. Michael Mcgillicutty. There, I named someone. And how about them burying their tag team cham…..eh whats the use of complaining? Same old crap. I’m done wasting my time on this. Worst possible segment that could have been imagined in my head.
Extreme Rules Match: John Cena vs. Lord Tensai- Laurinaitis introduces Tensai. His servant’s name is Takamushi or something like that. I’m stoked to see this guy main event a show and wrestle a real talent. This ends my bad mood. This show makes me bipolar. Apparently the writing on his face means “Tensai is coming.” Tie up to start. Back elbow to the head by Tensai. I love that start every single week! Tensai tosses Cena into the turnbuckle head first. Boots and uppercuts by Tensai. Cena reverses a suplex and hits one of his own. That was Tensai’s first bump in the company.
Tensai pops back up quickly and hits a running clothesline. Headbutt by Tensai. Strong Irish whip into the corner that face bumps Cena. Another boot to the face. Another strong Irish whip. Running splash in the corner. Cena rolls to the outside and Tensai follows. Tensai kicks Cena on the floor then sends him face first into the steel steps. He goes for a powerbomb, but Cena reverses it into a back body drop on the floor. Cena picks up the steel steps and nails Tensai in the face. The servant guy attacks Cena with kicks to the chest. Otunga picks Cena up and throws him into the ring. Hanging suplex by Tensai. Cena kicks out at two. Tensai applies a shoulder nerve hold.
Cena fights up and attempts an Attitude Adustment but doesn’t have enough strength. He’s hit with a clothesline and a third strong Irish whip. Tensai misses a splash in the corner and is hit with multiple shoulder blocks. He finally bumps again. Reverse suplex by Cena. He goes for the 5 Knuckle Shuffle but Tensai jumps up and hits a knife edge chop. Running senton by Tensai. Two count. Leg drop to Cena’s arm followed by a reverse arm bar. Cena rolls through into an STF. Otunga runs into the ring. Attitude Adjustment to Otunga. Cena turns around into a green mist from Tensai. Land of the Rising Sun Powerbomb. Tensai wins. Huge upset and push for this future world champion. The show goes off the air with Cena applying water to his eyes and Tensai doing a Japanese ritual.
Interesting show. The segments were either great or awful. It’s really hard to judge the show overall. The WWE Championship match, Daniel Bryan’s match, and the Tensai match were great. The championship match should have main evented the show though. As much as I like them putting Tensai over in the main event spot, his push isn’t as big as the WWE Championship. Nothing is. Aside from those 3 matches and the awesome Brock Lesnar video, the rest of the show was garbage. Not just bad…but garbage. As in worse than TNA Impact garbage. I see better segments on TNA than I did with R-Truth, Santino, Kane, and Great Khali tonight. What a hit or miss show. More so than any show I’ve seen before. Where were The Miz and Alberto Del Rio? Extreme rules is looking pretty good. Lesnar vs Cena will be great. Bryan vs. Sheamus 2 out of 3 falls will be great. Punk vs Jericho will be great. This show is looking better than Wrestlemania so far. I’ll be purchasing. Questions and comments please.
Follow Mark Brown on Twitter @FantasyGodmb.