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Hits & Misses
3/5 WWE Raw Hits & Misses: Triple H - Michaels, The Rock, John Cena, Cena and The Rock

Mar 6, 2012 - 1:15:08 PM
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By Jon Mezzera, Torch Specialist

RAW HITS
MichaelsShawnArt_130GG_7_18.jpg

Michaels - Triple H: This was a very good segment. I'm not sure it was the best way to start off Raw in terms of hooking the fans and making them watch the rest of the show, but it certainly worked in terms of hyping WrestleMania. Shawn Michaels was very good on the mic here. I loved how he kept interrupting Triple H. There was a clear progression from him acting like he was really happy to see him, to being angry at him after the video package aired. Clearly, he was angry from the start, but he built up to that moment nicely. Also, this was a good way to use a "previously on Raw" recap video in the context of an angle, by having a reason why someone like Michaels would ask to see it. The ultimate take away from the segment is that Michaels will be the special guest referee for Triple H vs. Undertaker at WM and that he claims to already know who will win the match. That leaves the big question over the next few weeks leading into the biggest PPV of the year as "who does Michaels want to win?" I am a bit worried that Michaels as special referee will overshadow the match itself, but perhaps at this point with this storyline, it makes sense.

The Rock's History Lessons: I was very entertained by The Rock's three history lessons throughout the show. The first and third were better than the second, but all three were fun. Rock had some great lines and was very funny. He was much better here, making fun of John Cena, but in the context of saying why he wants to fight Cena, and not just in the context of wanting to trend on Twitter. He talked about being sick of having Cena shoved down our throats. He talked about wanting to come back and fight in WWE which he can't do in Hollywood (I think Wade Keller can take some credit for that line). He also made it clear from the first video that he was going to be live in the arena later in the show to keep people watching. And in the end, the ultimate reason why these videos are a Hit is that Rock finally said that he was going to beat Cena. He didn't just say he was going to kick his ass. He said he was going to beat him and take him down. That's what we've been waiting for.

Cena's Empty Ring Promo: This was a little strange in terms of presentation, but it was different which I like. I said awhile back (when Wade Barrett was interviewed during a match) that it would be nice to see WWE trying more new ways of presenting the product, even if some of them don't end up being that good. This might fall into that category, but I give them credit for trying. Regardless of the format, I liked the promo. What a surprise! Cena talking like a normal person, in a serious manner, without any humor or silly faces, delivers a good promo. It was refreshing. He wasn't intense, but sort of solemn, selling the importance of his WM match against Rock. He did a great job of showing how important winning the match is to him, hinting at a possible heel turn (even if it doesn't happen, it will have fans thinking it might).

Jericho & Bryan vs. Punk & Sheamus: An argument can be made that WWE gave away too much of C.M. Punk vs. Chris Jericho and Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan in this tag team match. But, most of it focused on either Punk vs. Bryan or Jericho vs. Sheamus, so it worked well to tease more action between them in the two Title matches at WM. Plus, it was a good match. It was nice to see Jericho getting a clean win here. He hasn't been shown as being special (at least in the ring) since returning to WWE. He didn't win the Rumble. He didn't win the Elimination Chamber. He had to have help to win the #1 contender battle royal. Here even if it was in a tag team match, he god the 1-2-3 over the WWE Champion Punk. That helps sell that the Title will be in jeopardy at WM along with the possible back injury that Punk did a nice job of selling during the match.

RAW MISSES

U.S. Title Debacle: I'm calling this a United States Title debacle instead of a match because it wasn't much of a match at all. Santino Marella may have won the US Title from Jack Swagger, but once again the silly Teddy Long vs. John Laurinaitis feud got in the way, this time in the way of a Title match. I know the secondary Titles don't mean much in WWE, but they should (which is why I always choose to capitalize Titles). Even in a fake sport (like say a fictitious depiction of baseball in "Moneyball"), the Championships should be presented with respect so that the audience invests itself emotionally in the storyline of someone (a wrestler, or in the above example the Oakland A's) winning that Championship. If the Title isn't important, then why do I want to pay to see the Title defended? When you present a Title match in this manner, with nothing but distractions from two authority figures, two wrestlers and two women at ringside, you send the message that what happens in the ring isn't as important as what is happening outside. Now, an argument could be made that whoever wins control of both Raw and Smackdown will have power over all the Titles, so this feud is more important than a single Title match. That is a solid point, however I just don't care about that angle at all. I don't want to see it play out. I want the authority figures to take a back seat to the wrestlers, which is the opposite of what happened here.

Rock - Cena: I enjoyed Rock on his own away from the live audience. I enjoyed Cena on his own away from the live audience. I did not enjoy Rock and Cena together in front of the live audience. Cena was fine at first, but I'm not buying his whole Rock vs. Dwayne Johnson routine. Rock was being very intense and serious here when getting in Cena's face, but instead of matching that intensity, Cena was acting goofy and making silly faces the entire time. He was acting like an impudent child interrupting Rock. That may make fans want to see Rock slap Cena, but it doesn't seem quite befitting the mood of what is supposed to be the biggest match in WM history. I liked where Rock was trying to go with the segment in terms of stripping away Hollywood and trending etc., but Cena undercut it in a childish way. Then, he went back to his jab from last week which I felt was unprofessional in writing notes on his wrist. I'm not as enamored as others are with this whole question of work/shoot? I don't care if it is a work or a shoot, or some hybrid of the two. I want it to be good and compelling tv. This was not. It was close. It could have been. But Cena's antics, along with the fact that it failed to underscore why they want to fight and beat each other in the first place makes it a Miss.

Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com's WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at jmezz-torch@sbcglobal.net.

For another view from the original Hitlist author, compare Jason Powell's views to mine by visiting prowrestling.NET's "Hitlist" section here.

[Torch art credit Grant Gould (c) PWTorch.com]


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