Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - C.M. Punk steals The Rock's WWE Championship, The Shield brawls with Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus, Jericho vs. Bryan, Zeb Colter gets all Fox News with Jack Swagger
By Will Pruett
- Paul Heyman's Raw opening segment seemed like something WWE rushed to TV to capitalize on the resignation of The Pope. At the same time, it was well performed and very entertaining. Perhaps this is the route WWE should take when trying to be topical.
- Watching Paul Heyman deal with the consequences of Brock Lesnar's recent return is extremely interesting. Heyman is frightened and reverent. Heyman believes in Brock, but fears him. The dichotomy this creates is something we have never seen from WWE.
- The transition from Heyman's resignation to promoting C.M. Punk's match with The Rock on Sunday was expertly done. Punk's job of convincing Heyman to stay was great. Heyman and Punk have some of the best chemistry I have ever seen from a manager and wrestler.
- There's a fun worked-shoot quality to the promos that Punk and Heyman are giving. The fun is the way they are still worked promos meant to draw heat. They aren't getting lost in the admiration of meta-fans. They are doing their jobs and doing them well.
- I would have watched Mark Henry beat people up all night.
- Is anyone else amazed when they see Great Khali taking major bumps like the World's Strongest Slam? It's sad to see how much pain he is in just walking to the ring.
- Does Hornswoggle count as one complete wig that Mark Henry split? Since he is smaller, would it be a fractional wig? I would like Mark Henry's theme music to clear up this issue.
- Booker T was around Raw again making matches. Is it possible Booker actually overrules Vickie Guerrero as an authority figure? She is just a managing supervisor, while he is a general manager.
- Chris Jericho seems to be having a lot of fun being the obnoxious babyface he was in 1999. I know I'm enjoying it, although I could see it wearing thin if given a long run. Remember how outdated Jericho seemed in 2007 just weeks after his return.
- Vince McMahon was on a conference call of sorts yelling at Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman. Was this an inside joke between former writers, Paul Heyman, and McMahon himself?
- It fun to see Heyman, Guerrero, and McMahon interact. All three of them have very distinct personalities and they're very talented. This is a buddy comedy I would watch. Maybe the three of them could open a pizza place and replace "The Office" on NBC Thursdays.
- Will the stipulation keeping The Rock from getting counted out or disqualified hurt or help Rock vs. Punk II on Sunday? I'm worried about it being anticlimactic because of the stipulation, like the Triple H vs. Randy Orton WrestleMania 25 main event.
- If you want to see the evolution of Daniel Bryan in WWE, watch his NXT match with Chris Jericho from three years ago, and then watch his match against Jericho on this show. The NXT match was good, but clumsy and oddly timed. This match was perfectly timed and expertly executed. Bryan has evolved so much as a performer. His in-ring skills have sharpened considerably.
- Chris Jericho may also be in better shape than he was in three years ago.
- Jericho and Bryan had an athletic and technical match. It served as a nice change of pace on a show where we also saw Henry vs. Khali. They worked an aggressive and fast style. It was great to see them in the ring together again.
- Daniel Bryan was working as a heel against Jericho. Is this the future direction of his character? It might be the best for him, even if he will be overshadowed by heels like Brock Lesnar, Mark Henry, C.M. Punk, The Shield, and Dolph Ziggler.
- There's something therapeutic about seeing 3MB get beat up. This means they're doing their job well. They still annoy me, but they do so well.
- How did the camera miss the wide shot of Ryback, John Cena, and Sheamus all doing their finishing moves?
- John Cena's anti-Shield promo was actually really good. The delivery was passionate, but slightly overblown. This is really the best we can hope for from Cena sometimes. A fiery babyface is the best babyface going into a major match like the six man tag.
- Big Show's silent angry promo was a thing of beauty. This segment was really well done. Once again, I would love to see Matt Striker get knocked out on a weekly basis.
- The addition of Zeb Colter (Dutch Mantell) to Jack Swagger's act is a welcome one. Swagger needed a mouthpiece and the slightly racist Colter adds the mouthpiece and an extra heat-garnering element. Swagger's eventual matchup with Alberto Del Rio (probably mid-Spring or early Summer) should be really fun (or tasteless) with Colter in play.
- Dolph Ziggler's reasoning for wanting to be in the Elimination Chamber all of the sudden was more than slightly flawed.
- I was expecting a little more of a burial of The Miz after he dropped C.M. Punk on his head this weekend. The attack by Antonio Cesaro was vicious, but it just didn't reek of punishment. Cesaro did a better job than he previously has on commentary for this segment as well.
- Where was the WrestleMania reading challenge when I was in school. I plan on forcing my not-yet-existent kids to read constantly going into WrestleMania season to win me some tickets. The pressure to finish a book will be strong.
- How is it that Tensai became the Hip Hop Hippo once again in less than a year?
- A few things about The Shield's promo really stuck with me. The main one was the comfort and ease on the mic shown by Seth Rollins. Rollins' mic skills were suspect going into this story and he suddenly seemed very poised.
- Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose also seemed comfortable talking. Sadly, despite the ease shown by The Shield, there was a disconnect between them and the fans. The promo was effective, but it didn't strike a major chord.
- The brawl between The Shield and Cena, Ryback, and Sheamus was really well done. It captured the intensity the promo preceding it seemed to lack. It also showed just what we can expect at Elimination Chamber. I only wish this match was in a chamber (but I'm still looking forward to it).
- Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes don't seem to be lighting the world on fire as singles acts. Breaking up their tag team seems to have been because of a lack of mid-card jobbers for the main eventers. On the plus side, they're both fun to watch.
- Alberto Del Rio shows great babyface fire when under pressure, but when he isn't he just seems to pander. The act is still a work in progress and it deserves a little time to develop. Del Rio has all the pieces, he just has to it them in the right place.
- Is WWE going to start selling souvenir Mexican flag buckets?
- Bo Dallas attacked Wade Barrett, which was far superior to him cutting a promo last week.
- Kofi Kingston couldn't beat Wade Barrett, even with an assist from Bo Dallas. This is a little depressing for Kingston.
- Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler was a really fun match for late in the show. They started off a little slow, but built into a frenzy by the end.
- What do I have to do to get Big E Langston to wear a suit and pants? Heck, I'd even settle for a t-shirt! Why does he show up in wrestling tights if he has never had a match on Raw? Is Vince McMahon anti-pants?
- I enjoy the choice to put Kane in the Elimination Chamber more than I would the choice for Ziggler. Kane is a veteran of the match and can perform extremely well inside the chamber.
- Fun fact: two participants in this year's sole Elimination Chamber match were in the very first Elimination Chamber match at Survivor Series 2002. They are Kane and Chris Jericho.
- The Rock's promo was really fun to watch. It wasn't intense, but it told a story (which is more what Rock is into these days). He engaged the crowd and was accessible to fans at home. It wasn't the intense focussed Rock we saw three weeks ago, but it wasn't an all out parody and joke telling Rock either.
- Was this the first time Jeff Jarrett's name has been mentioned on Raw since 1999? It was odd to see Dutch Mantell show up on the same show Jarrett was name-dropped on. It was an unintentional effort to work in the founders of TNA.
- C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman didn't need to say anything here. Personally, I would have loved to see another face to face confrontation between Rock and Punk, but I understand why WWE would believe it wasn't necessary. Why ruin a good thing instead of just keeping it going?
- Here's the thing about how good the first interaction between Punk and Rock was; it has created six weeks of story for them to base two matches on. Think about that and compare it with the blow-hardiness of Cena and Rock last year.
- The Rock sells the GTS in the same slightly overblown style he used to sell Steve Austin's Stone Cold Stunner. It's fun to see him take the move for that reason.
- I'm always down for a little bit of title belt theft in a storyline. It's an old school style story and I tend to love it anytime I see it.
This show was pretty good. It built towards the top four matches at Elimination Chamber really well. This Sunday's show is crazy loaded, more so than I can remember an Elimination Chamber or No Way Out being in the last ten years. This episode of Raw has some really nice work on it, especially in the ring from Jericho and Bryan.
WWE didn't produce the best episode of Raw, but it was one of their better go-home shows. Sometimes the go-home gets caught up in trying to squeeze in an extra chapter of a story. This show did more maintenance of stories and set up the big Elimination Chamber match. Sunday should be fun.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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