Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman mock Jerry Lawler's heart attack, WWE airs footage of Lawler receiving medical treatment, C.M. Punk vs. John Cena, Ryback vs. Brad Maddox
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
C.M. Punk vs. John Cena: The Hit is for the actual match. The flaw with the match is that it wasn't built up to be any bigger than the average Raw main event. This is the biggest match WWE has had involving two main roster stars in recent years. Giving it away on television with no more hype than any other Raw main event diminished the rivalry. The closing moments of the show were comedy gold. Cena and Ryback realized they were holding the belt upside down, so Cena had to noticeably call for them to drop the title and pick it up again simultaneously so they could set up the final shot of the two pulling at opposite ends of the belt while Punk showed concern in the middle of the picture.
Ryback vs. Brad Maddox: It went as I expected yet not how I hoped it would. I was actually hoping they would have Maddox go over with help from C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman. Actually, I was hoping that John Cena's attempt to counter the Punk and Heyman interference would backfire in a way that Maddox would win in an ultra fluky manner. It would have played into the idea that Punk and Heyman put Maddox up to turning on Ryback at Hell in a Cell, but Punk could have explained it away by saying he was trying to cost Vince McMahon $1 million by helping Maddox in this match. It would have added tension between Ryback and Cena. Finally, it would have put some heat on Maddox, which was the key ingredient missing from this match. They could have stretched this out for a bit and made viewers want to see Ryback destroy Maddox. That said, I like the ambulance and the stretcher gimmick they used and the straight forward approach was fine for a one-off.
Opening matches: I could have done without seeing Randy Orton pin Dolph Ziggler for the millionth time, but at least Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio got some heat back by beating Orton and Kofi Kingston in the tag match that followed. Many people assumed they would open with Jerry Lawler's return. It was wise to not deliver that moment at the top of the show because they probably would have lost a good portion of the audience who tuned in specifically to see it. Rather, I liked the way they strayed from the usual long talking segment opener in favor of a couple of good rapid fire matches.
The Miz and Kane vs. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes: Daniel Bryan made the match with his jealous partner routine. The Miz turning babyface is a logical move at this point. His act was stale because he had lost whatever in-ring credibility they gave him. I just hope it's not a swerve. if Miz turns on his team at the pay-per-view, then he's right back where he started and stuck in a dead end heel role for the foreseeable future. It was also good to show the Kane and Bryan relationship is more strained than usual heading into their title defense against Rhodes Scholars on Main Event. Could we see a title change tonight at the taping?
Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Tyson Kid, and Justin Gabriel vs. The Prime Time Players and Primo and Epico: An action packed ten-man tag match. We need to see more of this type of high energy action on Raw. Michael Cole raved about the current state of the tag division. It's certainly in a better place than it was, but it would be so much better if the Kidd and Gabriel, and Primo and Epico teams were given some level of character development. I assume Rosa ends up with Alberto Del Rio, but is it possible that Primo and Epico also form an alliance with Del Rio? I don't expect it to happen, but I would like to see WWE do more with the talented duo.
Big Show vs. William Regal: Having Regal play the fall guy would be much more effective if he had his friendship with Sheamus been firmly established. Most viewers know Regal as a heel, and WWE is throwing a lot at them by expecting them to accept him as a babyface while also viewing him as a mentor for Sheamus all at once. I don't think it will take long for them to get to that point, but it's not clicking the way it should right now. I'm still hopeful that the long term plan is for Regal to turn on Sheamus and align himself with Wade Barrett.
C.M. Punk crashes the Jerry Lawler party: This was the best moment of the show. It went off the rails and we'll get to that in the Misses section, but my jaw dropped when Lawler wrapped up his return address and Punk's music hit. I just didn't think they would go there on Lawler's night. The shit eating grin on Punk's face as he walked onto the stage was classic. His mic work was awesome and his latest exchange with Mick Foley was great. Foley is so good when he has something to get fired up about. I realize that Punk's mic work was a huge turnoff to many. We all have our own sense of what's offensive and what's not. I was bothered by aspects of the angle, but the mic work just didn't cross the line for me.
WWE Raw Misses
Jerry Lawler heart attack footage: What makes WWE think viewers want to see footage of Lawler receiving medical treatment? It disgusts me that WWE kept the cameras rolling while paramedics were saving Lawler's life. They've probably convinced themselves that this is award winning material and it's okay to air because Lawler is fine with the footage being shown. They have to know how exploitative this makes the company look and how uncomfortable this footage is for many viewers.
Paul Heyman's fake heart attack: I wasn't bothered by Punk's scathing promo nearly as much as some people were. Rather, it was Heyman faking a heart attack that served as a major turnoff. I don't think it puts heat on Punk or Heyman nearly as much as it puts heat on the company for presenting it. Having said all of that, I must admit that I laughed when Punk told Foley to have respect for Heyman because "this man just had a heart attack and I brought him back to life." Yes, I feel guilty. The sad thing about all of this is that WWE had a true feel good moment in Lawler's return, yet everything else that happened overshadowed that moment.
John Cena and A.J. saga: Why are we supposed to care whether single Cena and single A.J. had a sexual relationship? Granted, the idea is that A.J. lost her general manager job due to an alleged affair between the two, but it's not as if they have suggested she's trying to get her job back. The way to make this relevant was simple. They merely had to say that the board of directors had ruled that A.J. could work as a Diva, but she would be fired if it were revealed that she and Cena had an affair while she was the general manager. They left that out and now we're left with two consenting adults defending themselves vociferously for no good reason.
Antonio Cesaro: A lifeless performance on commentary combined with a new gag about a satchel. I hope they are paying royalties to Zach Galifianakis, who did the same purse or satchel gag in "The Hangover" a few years ago. Vince McMahon really needs to update his Netflix queue more often.
Layla vs. Kaitlyn: How many times do we have to watch the same two women challenge Eve for the Divas Title? You can't tell me that there isn't someone in developmental who is better in the ring than Kaitlyn is at this point in her career.
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