Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Jerry Lawler suffers a heart attack, John Cena, C.M. Punk, and Bret Hart push through to deliver a memorable segment, Kane and Daniel Bryan team up, Paul Heyman and Punk followup
By Will Pruett
- It's difficult to even begin to critically evaluate this show. Given the situation with Jerry Lawler, I must address that first. My thoughts and prayers are with Lawler for a speedy recovery and return to the announce position. This was a legitimately frightening moment of television. I'm sure it will be discussed to death, but I merely want to offer my prayers.
- As we discuss Jerry Lawler and that frightening situation, I also would be remiss not to mention the brave work on commentary from a visibly shaken Michael Cole. Cole was a total professional as he tried to continue calling the show, then stayed at ringside to deliver updates to the TV watching crowd. We are quick to criticize Cole, but on this night, he was amazing.
- I watched this show late on Monday night when we already knew Lawler was in stable condition. This made the show feel almost eerie to me. For the first two hours, there was a sense of anticipation. As I watched Lawler wrestle, I was just worried. Finally, when Lawler collapsed, the confusion and chaos was palpable. Even as I was watching with the benefit of knowing Lawler was stable, it was frightening.
- Now, I will attempt to review this show and do it some justice. If one removes to Lawler situation from the show, it was a pretty good one.
- Seeing Bret Hart return to Montreal was every bit the moment that WWE wanted it to be. While some may criticize WWE for drudging up the past again, the ovation for Hart made it well worth it. Hart seemed to be visibly moved and the Montreal fans were more than happy to show Hart a ton of love.
- When we discuss Bret Hart, especially since his 2010 return to WWE TV, we always say that his promos are lacking something. One of the most remarkable parts of Hart's performance on this show was his ability to talk. Perhaps this is because he was in the ring with John Cena and C.M. Punk, two wrestlers capable of brilliance on the mic.
- It was interesting to not see Paul Heyman with C.M. Punk when he came to the ring for the opening and closing segments. Of course, Heyman was still involved. This does a lot to refute the claim of many that Heyman would be speaking for Punk. I don't see why some believe a manager is just around talk for a wrestler. There are many other ways that Heyman can enhance Punk's act.
- I was actually hoping that the fans voting on Twitter would vote Brodus Clay into a match with C.M. Punk. I feel like Clay was in that pole as a way to gauge his popularity at this moment.
- It seemed like Raw was more focussed on Antonio Cesaro this week than they have been since he won the U.S. Championship at SummerSlam. It's great to see Cesaro getting a little more spotlight on the A-show.
- I still don't understand why R-Truth spins after hitting his opponent with an elbow. Does the spin enhance the move? Is there a bonus impact that comes from the momentum about to go into the spin? Does he just do this because he can't let go of his K-Kwik days?
- Kofi Kingston's "Trouble in Paradise" kick looked better on this show than I have seen it in a long time.
- This week's video pre-tape production was nowhere near as entertaining as the Kane and Daniel Bryan sketches. David Otunga and Sheamus' legal briefing was long, oddly shot, and poorly executed. I'm all about silly entertainment in my wrestling, but I prefer it to be good.
- I like the way WWE is pushing Eve at this moment, but I don't see why they are doing so when she is not in the Night of Champions match. Eve's character is more dynamic, fleshed out, and compelling than Layla or Kaitlyn's combined.
- This show did not feature A.J. overload at all, which is a good thing. She has not been used extremely well recently, but this show (and the step back that it contained) was the right thing for this moment. A.J. was not necessary to forward any of the major programs going into Night of Champions.
- I enjoyed the match between C.M. Punk and Randy Orton and I also enjoyed the non-finish. Dolph Ziggler getting involved made total sense. Punk and Orton always work well together and it was a treat to see them on Raw for as long as they were allowed to go.
- One of the weirdest things about Jerry Lawler's heart attack was how great he looked in the ring. He didn't seem to miss a step as a part of the tag team match with Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, and Punk. If this was Lawler's last match, he performed admirably in it and should be proud of this effort.
- Paul Heyman getting involved and convincing Punk to leave the tag team match was a nice touch. I like the way little was revealed about the Punk and Heyman dynamic on this show. Even backstage, Punk simply said that he is a Heyman guy. It's more interesting to leave us asking questions at this point instead of delivering every answer possible.
- I would have been fine if the video package recapping the Kane and Daniel Bryan hug had been five minutes longer. It was the hug of the decade and WWE should pay it proper respect.
- I'm actually glad Dr. Shelby is still being used on WWE TV. Make him the manager for Kane and Daniel Bryan. I smell money,
- Replacing Zack Ryder with Ryback is a definite upgrade.
- I cannot believe how bad the Primetime Players' backstage promo was. Did WWE intentionally try to make Cryme Tyme minus the crime, or is this the only way they can push an African American tag team? Whatever the answer is, this act is not entertaining.
- I'm glad that WWE seems to have called an audible and put Kane and Daniel Bryan together as a tag team. Last week's segment showed a really fun chemistry between them and I look forward to seeing them at the pay-per-view. I would completely condone putting the tag titles on "Team Friendship," as Dr. Shelby attempted to call them.
- It was at this point that the show turned eerie with Jerry Lawler collapsing. I'm amazed by everyone that was able to perform after this.
- There will be a ton of debate about whether the show should have gone on, but having worked in situations where the show must always go on, I can say that WWE did the right thing. Pulling commentary made total sense. If I had to guess, I'd say that Lawler is glad the show went on as well. It wasn't tasteless, that's just what you do in show business.
- Michael Cole even attempting to call Alberto Del Rio vs. Tyson Kidd was admirable. The match itself was very good. Kidd looked great in front of the home country and I'm sure he made his family proud.
- Sheamus vs. David Otunga was a throwaway match. Neither man seemed to want to be there, and understandably so.
- I'm glad Booker T didn't belittle A.J. when he interrupted her. It would have been easy for WWE to label her as a little woman and they took the high road.
- Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, and The Miz all worked hard to take people's minds off of Lawler. The match and angle afterwards told the story surrounding the Intercontinental Championship well. Especially with a lack of commentary, all three men should be commended. I'm assuming we will see a triple threat match between these three at Night of Champions and it could be great.
- Fun fact: there were two WrestleMania 27 rematches on this show.
- The end of Raw was basically perfect. John Cena, C.M. Punk, and Bret Hart all performed extremely well. They all deserve a ton of credit for what they did here.
- John Cena spoke a ton of truth while discussing Punk. One of the fun elements of the Punk-Cena dynamic is the way both men can speak truth to each other on the air and have it ring as true as it was. There is a certain magic between them that was so evident on this show.
- I'm not sure I would have drawn the comparisons between Punk and Cena and Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. The main ingredient missing from the Cena-Punk dynamic is real life animosity. As an in-ring feud, I would say that Punk and Cena has surpassed Hart and Michaels. As far as historical impact, Hart and Michaels may never be surpassed.
- Punk's character was out in full force and seeing him get his from Bret Hart after verbally abusing him for so long was fun. Hart deserved that moment and it didn't hurt Punk at all. It's not like Punk was knocked out, he was simply caught by surprise.
- Michael Cole seemed like a completely different person when announcing that Jerry Lawler was in stable condition. Once again, I have to say that Cole's performance on this night was exceptionally brave.
Taking out the situation with Jerry Lawler, I would say that this was a good show. There was a minimal amount of filler and the major segments with Cena, Punk, and Hart delivered big time. This show, under normal circumstances, would have expertly pointed towards the pay-per-view. As it is, Night of Champions was highlighted majorly.
Of course, more than Night of Champions, we are all thinking of Jerry Lawler. Get well soon, King. We're all praying for you.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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