xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Chair Shots: Cena-Lesnar, Tensai, WWE Draft, 'Yes!' Lock and other miscellaneous stuff

Despite the match being announced three weeks ago, WWE will make it official tonight with the contract signing for Sunday's battle between John Cena and Brock Lesnar at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Right now, that's all we know about tonight's three-hour edition of WWE Raw.

I didn't write about Raw or Smackdown last week, or really anything wrestling related. I had a lot going on at work and home and, honestly, am feeling a little burnt out WWE-wise after WrestleMania. I kind of understand the whole idea of a "WrestleMania hangover" that demanding fans always put on WWE Creative. To the contrary, I think WWE this year has done a brilliant job of keeping things interesting following what might've been the most-watched WrestleMania ever.

Honestly, I really loved Raw, and wrote about half a review before I got caught up in other things and never finished it. Smackdown this week felt like a bit of a chore to watch.

A lot of my love for Raw has to do with the Lesnar-Cena storyline, which has been, in the words of Bret Hart, excellently executed. Be it Lesnar's UFC style video promo last week or Cena's Raw main event loss to the rising Lord Tensai, I thought a lot was accomplished for not having both men involved in the top storyline in the same building.

Lesnar's video promo was perfect and WWE needs to use that format a lot for him going forward. His contract is set up so he doesn't have to make live appearances on every show. That's fine. In fact, I think that's one of the things that hurts some of today's top stars is that they are cutting 15-minute promos and wrestling 5- to 10-minute matches each week. Figure about a quarter of every Raw, once you get rid of commercials and add replays and video packages, is dedicated to John Cena. No wonder fans thing it's too much.

But I digress. With Lesnar not there in person every week, that doesn't mean he can't have a pressence on the show. It might force WWE's writers to think out any angles involving him a bit more than usual, in order to get video packages done for every other week he isn't there, but that strikes me as a positive thing.

Beyond that, the pre-taped, sit-down style interview masks Lesnar's weaknesses in the microphone in front of a live crowd. Cutting in-ring promos and thinking on his feet isn't one of Brock's strengths. As he said in last week's promos, he's an ***-kicker, not a Superstar. But he'll look a lot more like a Superstar if he doesn't stumble over his words in front of the live crowd each week.

Now, he just needs to get in the ring and show how much of an ***-kicker his is. While I think WWE is going to keep him out of the ring until Sunday, if I were booking things, I'd put him in a squash match during this episode of Raw, to give people a taste of what to expect Sunday. Let him do his thing against someone like Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder or R-Truth in about 60 to 120 seconds, then let the beat down continue post-match. Lesnar needs to show he can dominate the WWE competition.

As for Cena, I love the story that is being told with him right now of the top Superstar who is in a bit of a slump. I loved everything about the Cena-Lord Tensai match on Raw last week (well, the in-ring work was a little clunky at times, but otherwise ...). I'm curious to see what kind of reaction Tensai gets now that he's beaten the "face" of the WWE. He's mostly been met with silence and a few "Albert" chants from the smart marks. He has to be considered a serious player now. Some people took issue that he needed a David Otunga run-in and mist to the face to beat Cena, but I don't think it's a big deal. It was an extreme rules match, so the booking made sense.

I'm looking forward to the contract signing segment tonight, although I hope it isn't the cliched brawl that typically ensues at the end of these. I think it should start the 9 p.m. hour (as the first hour of a 3-hour Raw usually draws poorly) with both Lesnar and Cena put into action, and the show ending with a pull-apart brawl between the two. ...

On Tensai; he shouldn't go back to beating jobbers now. He should have some semi-competitive match-ups the mid-card babyface field over the next few weeks and get positioned to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship at some point in the not-so-distant future (Over the Limit?).

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho has kind of lost me. They went to the alcoholic angle way too soon, in my opinion, during the build to WrestleMania. However, I do think their match on Sunday will be a good one. I have no idea what makes a "Chicago" street fight different than a regular street fight or Extreme Rules match. To differentiate from the others, I think it should be falls count anywhere and they should actually spend a chunk of the match in the streets of Chicago brawling.

While the segment was fine, I'm sick of seeing Jericho do backstage stuff. Jericho's best attributes are in the ring. He needs to wrestle more, talk less. In fact, I tend to think that's how Jericho should've been built up to WrestleMania. He should've been beating all the mid-card faces and gotten really over in the ring, with only the occassional promo. That would've played up the Best in the World stuff. Then throw in the first alcoholism promo right before WrestleMania to really enrage Punk. They could've continued that the last few weeks, and it would've felt fresh, as opposed to just feeling like they are harping on the same old stuff week after week.

Punk's title defense against Henry was really good, but I'm not clamoring for more from these two. Again, maybe to break up Jericho-Punk, I would've went with Henry-Punk at Extreme Rules, then had Jericho continue to antagonise Punk into a rematch at Over the Limit. Of course, then it's not in Chicago. ...

Why isn't tonight's 3-hour Raw the annual WWE Draft? Probably because they aren't going to have one this year. For all intents and purposes, the brand extension started a slow death last year with the Raw SuperShow concept. Another nail was put in the coffin when John Laurinaitis became the general manager of both brands at WrestleMania. With the exception of the top stars like Cena, Punk, Randy Orton and Sheamus, the heels seem able to appear on either brand week to week. In fact, the only purpose for the brand extension seems to be for live events, but even that seems relative. On the recent European tour, for example, Kane started on the Raw tour, then moved to the Smackdown one.

Alberto Del Rio is the latest member of the roster to switch brands. While he's been appearing on Smackdown the past few weeks (of course, he was on Raw last week too, and I'm sure he will be again tonight) his profile was officially moved over and Michael Cole made note that Laurinaitis "signed him to the Smackdown brand" on Friday's show. Seems kind of silly for the GM of both shows to be signing talent away from one for the other, but whatever. "Assigned" would probably have been a better verb choice, and more realistic. Pretend wrestling is real for a second. If you're John Laurinaitis, and you've got Brock Lesnar as your new "face" on Raw, wouldn't you go to one of your other favorites like Del Rio and say, "Hey, you're going to have more opportunities on the other show. Want to move over?" And even if he says no, you're the boss, do what you want.

Speaking of Laurinaitis' favorites, what's happened to the Miz? After picking up the winning fall for Team Laurinaitis at WrestleMania, he's barely been seen the past two weeks. In fact, last we saw him, "Big Johnny" was saying he's got big plans for him. He was nowhere to be seen on WWE TV last week. I wouldn't mind seeing him get "assigned" to Smackdown as well. I think he's done just about all he can with the guys on Raw. I could also see a babyface turn for the Miz coming out of this, although I personally think he makes such a good villian, it would be a waste to do so.

Related to heel-face turns, I really think WWE has to give some consideration to turning Daniel Bryan. The "Yes!" chants, despite WWE's apparent attempt to mute them in post-production, or silence the fans by racheting up Bryan's heelishness by telling AJ he "wishes she was never born," are here to stay. It's funny that WWE is trying to mute the reaction from the fans, yet had Bryan change the name of his finisher to the "Yes!" Lock. Bryan has kind of become the anti-Cena. The older, "smarter" fans are going to cheer him no matter what he does on screen, much as they'll boo Cena no matter what. WWE is seemingly just going to embrace this and continue to force the issue with Bryan as a heel.

I'd love to see Cena vs. Bryan in the future (SummerSlam?) and perhaps they could play this up.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement