ThunderStruck: Raw Analysis 04/16/12

We open Raw with a no DQ, no countout WWE Title match with CM Punk defending against Mark Henry. Punk wins the match via the three count after using a steel chair drop from the top rope with the chair in place of his elbow.

^This wasn’t incredible, but it was pretty good and definitely an entertaining match. Henry dominated Punk all over ringside and looked to have a major upper hand when he threw Punk into the ringside barrier. The character of Punk looked angry and frustrated throughout the entire match and he is selling the storyline of being emotionally tormented by Jericho perfectly every time he sets foot in the ring. My only complaint about this match is that I don’t feel like it needed to be for the WWE Title. Knowing that the Punk/Jericho rivalry is going to continue on made the audience already know that the title wouldn’t change hands. It didn’t have that big-match feel to it whatsoever.

Jericho cuts a promo on the tron after the match and accuses Punk of drinking in a bar earlier today. Punk says he was having lunch with a friend but didn’t drink. Jericho announces that they will have a match at Extreme Rules and that it will be a Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Title.

^Once again, Punk shows just how angry and annoyed he is by the taunting from Jericho. I believe the match at Extreme Rules will easily be the best of the night. I still have mixed feelings about the alcoholism storyline that just keeps dragging on each week, but the emotion between Punk and Jericho is so perfect for two guys that can literally steal the show together.

R-Truth acts like Sherlock Holmes and talks with Teddy Long backstage about Teddy needing a job.

^Truth is funny, and I understand his comic relief role for the show now. I just wish he was doing more and feel his popularity should be taken advantage of a little bit more often.

Santino defends the US Title against David Otunga and defeats him in a very short match using the cobra.

^Just like last week, I’m going to point out the high quality matches that Otunga’s former tag team partner, Michael McGillicutty frequently produces on NXT. Otunga, on the other hand, can’t wrestle above a mediocre level to save his life. Santino could be defending the title against legitimate talent every week but instead the US Title is being treated with little prestige and starts to become a stale object when it isn’t used to elevate talent to the next level.

Backstage interview conducted by Josh Mathews with Lord Tensai. Tensai says a bunch of things in Japanese and then talks about people fearing the unknown.

^Tensai reminded me of the Shredder character from the Ninja Turtles in this segment. I’m glad he’s back and dominating in matches with a relevant storyline, but I’ve never really been a huge fan of his.

A video promo is shown of Brock Lesnar talking about John Cena’s success and the reasoning behind it. Lesnar says he would have been on top this entire time if he had never left WWE. He says his match with Cena at Extreme Rules won’t be a wrestling match, because he is an ass kicker and not a superstar.

^I’m going to speculate that Lesnar is only half right in his theory. Lesnar may have stayed on top if he hadn’t been gone for the past eight years, but Cena was a rising star at the time and it’s very feasible that Cena and Lesnar may have worked several rivalries with one another during the last eight years. You can throw out ideas all you want, but the bottom line is that it’s 2012 and the people that missed Brock are the same people that are sick of Cena. This will be a rivalry where Lesnar has the fans support no matter what he says or does, and WWE is going to be forced to realize that Cena turning heel eventually will be the ONLY way to get him cheered by the fans again.

Kane faces Zack Ryder but beats him down and nails a chokeslam before the bell can be rung. Apparently it’s a no contest. Kane cuts a promo on Randy Orton and talks about being surprised that Orton went down so easily like his father.

^I’ll continue my stretch of optimistic thinking regarding Zack Ryder’s future and hope that creative has something big in store for him down the road. Kane and Orton continue to push their feud. I hope their match at Extreme Rules surpasses their Mania and Smackdown battles as of late; it would be a great way to cap off their random and chaotic rivalry.

Backstage promo between Kofi Kingston and AJ Lee. Daniel Bryan walks up to them and accuses Kofi of hitting on AJ. Bryan says he’s renamed the labell lock the yes-lock. The crowd chants yes.

^It’s good to see Kofi getting some air time again. Bryan is just too over with the crowd. No matter how much he tries to be a villain, the crowd cheers. If this is going to be a continued trend with fans cheering the heels and booing one of the biggest faces, how can WWE think that they can avoid the show becoming what it started to be in late 1997(Cena = Bret Hart just before the heel turn…)?

John Cena comes out and cuts a promo on Brock Lesnar. He says he is scared of facing Lesnar but he will be ready to fight at Extreme Rules. John Laurinaitis comes out and tells Cena he will face Lesnar in an extreme rules match, and that he will have an extreme rules match tonight against a mystery opponent.

^The fans certainly weren’t cheering Cena while he spoke; they also weren’t cheering JL. I’m going to go out a limb to guess that they’ll cheer for Lesnar in their match at Extreme Rules(please sense my sarcasm). Despite all the passion that Cena has tried to put in his promos as of late, he’s becoming stale and boring when he says the same thing for every feud. It’s sickening.

We have another backstage segment with R-Truth coming through a library wall and walking past Hornswoggle.

^Good to see Hornswoggle make it onto the Super Show in some form.

Kofi Kingston goes one on one with Daniel Bryan. Kofi ends up tapping out to the newly named yes-lock. Bryan applies the finisher again after he wins the match. AJ is shown watching backstage on a monitor and smiling when Bryan wins the match. Sheamus runs down after the match and tries to brogue kick Bryan. Bryan dodges it and runs away while shouting “yes.”

^This match might have saved this edition of Monday Night Raw. The WWE Championship match was a solid match, but this match was a step or so above it. This is what I’ve been wanting to see more of from Daniel Bryan as of late; the guy can wrestle top level matches when given the appropriate time. For how little this has actually happened as of late, I’m figuring it must be a very difficult concept for the creative team to grasp when they write the shows every week.

Brodus Clay goes one on one with Dolph Ziggler. Brodus hits the throwing suplex and goes for the big splash but Swagger pulls Ziggler out of harm’s way. Swagger comes into the ring and attempts to strike Clay, prompting the ref to call for a DQ finish. Clay takes them both out. The dancers force Vickie into the ring and they knock her down.

^I know WWE wants Brodus to have this push and be dominant, but this is just ridiculous for Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler has been the stand up company guy that has done everything asked of him, and this is how he gets repaid. Ziggler is far too talented to be squashed in such a way. Furthermore, his performance as the US Champion along with his WWE Title shot against CM Punk and his impressive showing at the Elimination Chamber to put his body on the line are three very big reasons that this rivalry is a huge step down for the direction of his character. Do something more with him! Even if you aren’t going to have him go after the WWE Title right now, what’s wrong with Dolph and Santino wrestling a best of seven series or something that would legitimize Santino, legitimize the US Title, and show the fans what Dolph can do in the ring?

Backstage segment with Eve, JL, and David Otunga. They all go into his office for a conversation.

^I’m sure this will play out over the next couple of shows.

Backstage segment with R-Truth and Teddy Long. He tells Teddy that he is very qualified to be the GM of Smackdown and should pursue the job. Long is annoyed.

^Teddy Long will have his job back before the summer is over. Why else would they keep him on TV if Laurinaitis having all the control is a permanent change?

Big Show and the Great Khali squash the World Tag Team Champions, Primo and Epico, in a tag team match. Show and Khali win the match using the chokeslam and punjabi plunge, respectively.

^Anybody seen Cody Rhodes? This one made little sense for me. Primo and Epico are a good tag team and should be wrestling legitimate matches. Show has a rivalry with Cody and should at least be showing dominance in a singles match. How about actually defending the title one of these weeks and making us believe that someone else might have the chance of taking the belt off him before the rematch with Rhodes?

John Cena faces Lord Tensai in an extreme rules match. Cena gets beaten down for more than half the match. He finally hits his moves of doom and then David Otunga interferes. Otunga ends up on the receiving end of an AA and Tensai spits green mist in Cena’s face before hitting the sitdown spinebuster for the three count. Tensai celebrates after the match while Cena begs for water from the crew at ringside.

^All I can see from Cena being destroyed over and over is the potential heel turn. People have been begging for it for ages now, and the time should really be coming soon. I’m not sure what WWE will do with Tensai, but I wouldn’t rule out the consideration of a possible feud with CM Punk once he’s finished with Chris Jericho. This wasn’t necessarily a good match here, but it served it’s purpose of making Cena more angry as we get closer to Extreme Rules.

This Raw was on par with what we’ve been given as of late, but earns higher marks from me for having a decent US Title match and a good match between Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan. I’m also impressed that Cena was booked to lose in the main event. I give the show roughly a 6 or 7 out of 10 if I was to do it on that scale. I’ll be back with more columns this week. Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck! – add me