Chair Shots: Big Show rules WWE Raw

After last week's debacle, WWE's creative team seemed to use the holiday weekend to refresh their batteries and tried something a little different on last night's show. And it worked perfectly.

Not only did John Cena not occupy both the start and finish of the program, but he was nowhere to be seen on the live broadcast, save a Memorial Day video package in which he was featured (he did wrestle the post-taping dark match, so fans weren't robbed of seeing him live). That's not to say Cena's presence wasn't there. It clearly was, as Raw instead revolved around his opponent at No Way Out, the Big Show. (A match, it was announced, that will be held inside a steel cage.) And boy, did get it right this week.

While I still believe a more compelling storyline would have been to have Big Show an unwilling subordinate of John Laurinaitis, if he must be turned heel, at least they got it right on the third try. Show's promo on Monday was leaps and bounds ahead of the one he cut last week immediately following Over the Limit, or the one on Friday's Smackdown.

It worked, because he gave specific examples of why he felt disrespected by WWE and the fans. He specifically pointed to the mood shifting so quickly from somber to jovial, when Brodus Clay wrestled immediately after Show was seen sobbing in the ring. He pointed to two people he thought were his friends, the WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, celebrating with Clay. Then he talked about John Cena cracking wise in his show-closing promo, the now infamous Jim Carrey-esque "Loser" stuff, instead of condemning Laurinaitis for firing and embarrassing Big Show an hour earlier.

And he was so right. It was the stuff that we, as fans, complained about, and few things are more satisfying then when those things are actually addressed in some manner. Big Show has legitimate justification for being ticked off at the WWE roster -- Cena in particular -- and the WWE Universe. Of course, I wonder if this was the plan all along and why those things were done two weeks ago, or if everything just fell into place coincidentally. I'm hoping its the former, but I wonder if I'm giving the WWE writing team too much credit.

The promo also served to set up an intriguing main event pitting the giant against the aforementioned Funkasaurus. While the match itself never happened, I found myself looking forward to a Brodus Clay match for the first time, really ever. You knew that Show wasn't going to lose -- not if he is going to be in the main event of the next PPV -- but Clay was "22-0" according to Michael Cole (that actually seems more accurate than say, Goldberg's record during his big push in WCW) so something had to give. The nonmatch beating Show put on Clay was a bit of a letdown, but effective nonetheless. When Kofi and Truth tried to help, they got laid out for their troubles too, and Show came across as the dominant, reckless monster he is portraying.

Despite the crowd chanting loudly for Cena, he never showed, which should make for some interesting TV next week. Obviously, he was there since he wrestled the dark match (although WWE is selective as to when they address what happens after the cameras stop rolling). And the announcers never gave a storyline reason for his absence, unless I missed it. Was he scared of the giant? It certainly seems like a plausible case could be made. Will Kofi, Truth and Clay be upset that Cena didn't even attempt to make the save?

Some other thoughts on Raw, plus a little from Friday's Smackdown:

The CM Punk-Daniel Bryan-Kane-AJ storyline continues to play itself out on both shows, and tonight's Smackdown tapings will feature a WWE Championship match between Punk and Kane. The Big Red Monster is a tertiary figure in all of this, yet he definitely adds another dynamic to everything. This 'tweener character that doesn't care if he's facing a heel or a babyface might be his best role -- it's fitting for Kane to just want to be destructive. After Bryan cost him a World Championship opportunity on Smackdown (a triple threat also featuring Randy Orton and a victorious Alberto Del Rio) Kane attack Bryan after Bryan defeated Punk in a nontitle match on Raw. Follow all that?

Bryan won Monday after AJ inadvertently distracted the referee and allowed him to remove a turnbuckle pad, then sent Punk into the exposed steel for the 1-2-3. This apparently earned Bryan a future WWE Championship opportunity, although I'm not sure it was really needed from a storyline perspective (his controversial loss at Over the Limit should've been enough for Laurinaitis to grant him another match, right?). AJ, who was clad in a CM Punk shirt, aided the champion by giving him a steel chair to fight off Kane when it seemed the Devil's Favorite Demon was ready to attack.

The Punk-Bryan match was very enjoyable, although not as good as their Over the Limit match. I'm not going to complain about great wrestling matches on free TV, but I did thing this one was unnecessary and hope it doesn't water down the idea of seeing these two face each other.

AJ has to be playing Punk in an effort to get back in Bryan's good graces, right? ...

Prior to the match, there was a bit where John Laurinaitis announced he'd be on the cover of WWE '13, which Punk interrupted to reveal he'd really be on the cover of the new video game. It was about as good a segment as you can ask for the shameless shilling of a video game, but also subtly continued the Punk-Laurinaitis feud, which I think will boil over this summer, when we finally get a one-on-one match between these two. When? Maybe the 1000th episode of Raw? ...

Perhaps the second-most interesting thing to happen on Raw was Dolph Ziggler's apparent desire to go back to singles competition, effectively ending his less-than-successful tag team with Jack Swagger. Lots of fans have been clamoring for Ziggler to break away from Swagger and Vickie Guerrero, but after a backstage vignette with him pointing to Randy Orton and complaining to Vickie "that's what I want to be" (I assume a franchise player, since they keep calling Orton that) it seems he hasn't broken away from his manager, nor will he be turning face.

Ziggler, I think, is going to replace the suspended Chris Jericho in a feud with Randy Orton. For those who missed it, Jericho was suspended 30 days for a "flag incident" during the recent Brazilian tour. Personally, I think it's much ado about nothing, and too harsh a suspension, but whatever. I've got no problems with Orton-Ziggler feuding. More on Jericho later this week.

I guess this is fine. I really wanted to see Swagger and Ziggler get a run with the tag team titles because I thought they could do great things with the belts and it would help them from floundering in the mid-card as a sometimes tag team, but it was not to be, as they lost to Kingston and Truth on Raw in a rematch from Over the Limit.

The break-up does leave Swagger out in the cold, however. I wonder if he'll still be associated with Vickie, just not with Ziggler, or if Ziggler will demand she choose one or the other. Either way, Swagger seems destined to be left behind here. This despite the fact he had an excellent match with World Champion Sheamus on Smackdown. ...

By the way, I'm basing Ziggler-Orton on nothing other than the fact Jericho is suspended and Ziggler specifically pointed out Orton on Raw. The Viper made his lone appearance on Raw to RKO the Miz, who was complaining about how he's been treated since getting the winning fall for Team Johnny at WrestleMania. Miz lost to Intercontinental Champion Christian in a nontitle match in the previous segment.

Miz will be taking some time off to film the Marine 3 in the future, and I wonder if he isn't preparing for a babyface turn (he hinted he's not happy with Laurinaitis in his post-match promo). He's so good at being a heel, but I also think he has potential to be a top tier babyface with all this catchphrases and natural charisma. Oh, I'd book Orton vs. Miz for Smackdown this week or Raw for next week, as a result of this segment. ...

Christian just keeps on rolling as the IC champ. Cody Rhodes did commentary for the match, and it appeared he might actually distract Christian to allow Miz to win, but it backfired. Hard to believe Christian and Miz were world champions last year, and now they are mid-card filler on Raw.

One thing I dont like is Christian using the frog splash as his new finisher. I've never thought the frog splash was that interesting of a move, except when Rob Van Dam did it. He was able to travel more than halfway across the ring and got really high (insert marijuana joke here) when he dove off the rope. Christian's version just isn't that impressive, meanwhile the Killswitch, which he has been using as a set-up move, looks different from anything anyone else is doing. Why can't that remain his finisher?

Maybe Christian could cut a promo explaining why he's using the frog splash -- is it a tribute to Eddie Guerrero? And for that matter, maybe Christian can explain why he's a babyface now. He can certainly handle himself on the stick, why hasn't he gotten promo time? Oh, that's right, he's a mid-card babyface, and mid-card babyfaces don't get promo time anymore. ...

Sheamus vs. David Otunga went a little longer than I thought, but was still a squash for the World Champion. I think Sheamus has been booked in a bit of a unique way in that his feuds and matches aren't very storyline heavy. It's very simplistic and it's enjoyable. We've seen that since last summer, leading up to his Royal Rumble victory and even his feud with Daniel Bryan didn't have a lot of backstory, it was just that Bryan was the champion and Sheamus wanted to be. We're getting that now too with him just beating mid-carders, then toppling title challengers at PPVs. He does have a budding feud with the Laurinaitis administration though, and I'll be interested to see where that goes. ...

Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus' next challenger, also had a squash victory, this one against United States Champion Santino Marella. It was actually a bit embarrassing how quickly Santino lost, and I think WWE should get the U.S. title off of him immediately. I realize it was a bit of a reward for his performance at the Elimination Chamber PPV, but the title has been irrelevant since. Give it to Otunga, back to Swagger or some other heel who might be able to get it over. Heck, put it on a foreign guy like Tensai. If nothing else, the anti-patriotism heel schtick could make the title mean something. ...

Speaking of Tensai, it's clear to me that it was never intended for Big Show to be the guy to face Cena as Laurinaitis' surrogate, but at some point, WWE pulled the plug on Tensai as the man that could carry this out believably, and get people to care. While Show is playing his role perfectly, it seems those matches that saw Tensai defeat Cena and Punk were for naught, as he's now languishing on WWE Superstars. Can we do something with Tensai, please? It would be a shame to let that early push be for nothing.