Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: Brock Lesnar returns, Paul Heyman shines, C.M. Punk has a meltdown, The Rock celebrates his WWE Title win, awful comedy moments, War Games inside Elimination Chamber?
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to my 60-minute audio review of Monday's WWE Raw television show and the 99-minute audio review of WWE Royal Rumble that Chris Shore and I recorded on Sunday. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE Raw Hits
Paul Heyman: Where to begin? The dynamic between Punk and Heyman was great. Punk was flipping out over the way he lost the title, while Heyman was selling the fact that he would have his performance review by Vince McMahon later in the show. Heyman was phenomenal during said review. His admission to lying while desperately trying to save his job was classic and almost made me forget that the concept of Vince reviewing his performance did not make sense because it's always seemed like he worked for Punk and Brock Lesnar rather than WWE. Speaking of Lesnar, I love the way Heyman plays his role. He's not the puppet master pulling Brock's strings. Rather, he shows that he can't control Brock by expressing shock over his actions. Finally, he also showed the cold nature of his character during the Brad Maddox video.
Brock Lesnar return: If you read my live coverage review last night, then you know I suspected this might be the surprise finale. As much as Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman have butted heads over the years, I couldn't imagine that the final moments of Raw would feature Vince actually firing Heyman, especially not when Heyman has been so damn good. This was simple and effective. I'm still surprised that the 67 year-old Chairman of the Board would take the F5. Brock's latest return packed a big punch and helped make up for a lot of the crap viewers suffered through earlier in the show. I assume this sets up his WrestleMania rematch with Triple H. I'm much more intrigued by that match now that the word is out that Lesnar has agreed to a new deal with WWE. It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Hunter would get his win back. He may still do that at WrestleMania, but at least there's some mystery now that Brock is sticking around.
C.M. Punk on losing the title: Punk is the anti-John Cena. Rather than flippantly laugh off his title loss, he had a classic meltdown that made the belt feel important, just as it did throughout his 434-day title reign. The Phoenix Screwjob claim is phenomenal. His reaction to dropping the title was totally over the top, yet not in a corny, unbelievable way. He slipped up and forgot to mention the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, but Rock caught it and filled in that line. Although Punk is probably kicking himself over that one, this was one hell of a meltdown that played out throughout the entire show. I'm looking forward to seeing how his character rationalizes the use of The Shield and Brad Maddox now that the cat is out of the bag. Will we get Punk and The Shield as a unit going forward?
The Rock's first promo as WWE Champion: Rock spoke about his history and put this title reign over as the highlight of his career. I wish he would have done more to establish how important the title is to him going into the Royal Rumble, but he did a great job of covering that here.
Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane and Daniel Bryan: This was excellent use of the normally awful roulette wheel concept. The pairing of Jericho and Ziggler as a forced team really worked. Ziggler refusing to tag Jericho in played to his Showoff persona, and Jericho eventually taking a shot at Kane and then fleeing to ringside to leave Ziggler in no man's land was a clever finish. They also worked in Kane shoving Bryan to the mat to keep their story going.
The Shield attack John Cena: A good beatdown of Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback. Dot Net reader Chris Luther threw out an interesting idea on Twitter last night. What if all six men compete in the first team Elimination Chamber match match? Two men start with the other four in pods. The entrants are "randomly determined." Basically, it's War Games with six guys in the Elimination Chamber structure.
Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow: A better than expected match. Don't get me wrong, it's no surprise that these two were able to put together a good match, but it was a surprise that Sandow wasn't squashed quickly like he has been in other matches lately.
Wade Barrett vs. Bo Dallas: A simple and fun "rookie shocks the established veteran" story. Here's hoping that win earns young Bo some better entrance music.
Overall show: The Hits combined with some of the in between segments would have made for a hell of a two-hour Raw. The good was very good, and the bad was downright dreadful. The bad segments were so bad that it felt like Raw had expanded to four hours. So rather than feel that buzz that we used to get after a hot two-hour show, I think many of us were left feeling like we just went through a marathon.
WWE Raw Misses
Karaoke Challenge: You know a segment is horrible when I was actually relieved to hear 3MB's entrance music. It's not like they made things much better, but at least the same old gag of Khali singing stopped. This was a painful segment to suffer through and it played a part in making this feel like a four-hour show.
Kaitlyn vs. Tamina in a lumberjill match: The Vegas showgirl theme was useful in shielding the eyes of some ringside fans from the in-ring atrocities. The match breakdown down with a big brawl was silly, but at least they had the champion and the challenger stay out of it while remaining focussed on one another.
Tensai in a teddy segment: Okay, I must admit that the live crowd seemed to get a kick out of the segment. Tensai's dance routine was actually comical if you could get past the 300-pound man wearing a teddy. Tensai has potential as a comedy act. If this had been the only comedy segment of the night I may not have included it in this section (not that it would have been included in the Hits either). There was just too much comedy filler that made the show drag.
John Cena promo: This was far from the worst segment of the night, but it was disjointed. Cena gave away the Elimination Chamber main event before it had been established when he spoke about how only Rock and C.M. Punk could be champion at WrestleMania. The biggest problem I had with his promo is that he made the World Hvt. Championship look bad by talking about how the odds of him winning that title would be so much better than if he pursued the WWE Championship. It demands some type of response from Alberto Del Rio that will probably never come. I also rolled my eyes when Cena made it seem like he had no chance to win the WWE Championship. I don't mind him positioning himself as something of an underdog, but I doubt that even though youngest of Cena fans bought into that line. If nothing else, it was nice to get back to a more straight forward Cena rather than the bad comedy guy we'd been getting.
Alberto Del Rio and Big Show: A violent attack on Ricardo, but the whole duct tape thing is ridiculous. I had to laugh at Del Rio appearing to lose his ability to stand for a few minutes simply because his arm was taped to the middle rope. I also couldn't get past the fact that he had a hand free and could have unraveled the tape. I'm fine with one more match from these two at the pay-per-view or both men entering the Elimination Chamber as long as there is no duct tape involved. My guess is that these two will face off in a singles match at the pay-per-view and Booker will announce at the Smackdown taping tonight that an Elimination Chamber match will determine which which wrestler will challenge for the title at WrestleMania.
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