One night after TNA put on one of their worst shows ever, WWE followed up with one of the best "Raw" shows in months. WWE is peaking at the right time heading toward their biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 27.
Like last week's show, this week's best segment was the continuation of the Jerry Lawler-Michael Cole storyline. Michael Cole promised to bring out a figure from Lawler's past to embarrass the King. Lawler's son, Brian Lawler (aka Brian Christopher, aka Grand Master Sexay) came out, and although it was clear that very few people in the crowd remembered or knew who he was, he still cut a decent promo.
Brian said that Lawler was never there for him as a child, and bragged about making it to WrestleMania before his father. He challenged King to a fight, and tried to provoke his father by hitting him in the head several times, but the King didn't give in.
It made for an awkward and seemingly personal scene -- I liked it.
But just when you thought the segment was over, Jim Ross came out (to one of the biggest pops of the night) to defend his friend and put Cole in his place. The crowd was hanging on his every word, and wanted to see J.R. and Cole go at it.
By the end of the segment, though, Jack Swagger had put both Lawler and J.R. in anklelocks ... and even Cole put an ankelock on J.R. for good measure.
Michael Cole is the biggest heel in the company. And the fans can't wait for Lawler to punch him out at WrestleMania.
Other thoughts on the show:
- The Miz might have more heat than ever before after Monday's show ... although that might not be saying much. First of all, he fooled the fans into thinking he was The Rock (and some fans were still fooled even as Miz was standing in the ring). And secondly, he laid a beating on Cena up the entrance ramp, culminating with a Skull Crushing Finale on the WWE logo. It was an impressive way to end the show. At least they're trying to put some heat on Miz. But ...
- There's still a major, unresolved issue for WrestleMania. I just don't think there's enough heat in the two main events. For Miz-Cena, no one believes Miz has a chance of winning, and everyone will be waiting for the inevitable Cena-Rock confrontation. My guess is that the crowd will be dead for the WWE Championship match.
Undertaker vs. Triple H has a similar problem. I don't think there's a chance in hell that Triple H will defeat Taker to end his streak, and I imagine most fans feel the same way. I really think Shawn Michaels' involvement in this match -- perhaps teasing hitting Taker with the Sweet Chin Music -- would at least cast some doubt in people's minds. But because Austin and Rock are involved in the other 2 big matches on the show, I can see why they decided (or Shawn decided) to keep HBK's involvement limited to video packages.
- I liked the video packages, though. HBK did a good job selling the seriousness of the match and Undertaker's streak. Still, something has to be done in the next few weeks (Triple H laying out Taker, HBK promising to be at Mania ... something) to cast doubt in people's minds about the outcome of the co-main event of WrestleMania.
- Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus was a nice little match. The crowd didn't seem to be into it at the start, but by the end, they were popping for the false finishes, and were invested in the match. With one match, they've built back up some of the credibility that Sheamus lost after becoming "King Sheamus".
- It certainly helped that they were in Randy Orton's hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, but the CM Punk-Orton program is working. They've done a nice job setting up a simple story of Randy Orton having to go through the 3 other members of the New Nexus before getting Punk at Mania.
- Snooki's involvement was good for what it was -- a way to get one of the biggest stars on cable TV involved with the WWE product. It's a no-brainer to have her involved at WrestleMania ... and so too was having her interact with Vickie Guerrero.
It sucks that Trish Stratus' return wasn't given enough attention. However, WWE will receive a lot of press from this segment and for Snooki's involvement at WrestleMania, so it made sense to put the focus on the Jersey Shore star.
- The one issue I had with the show was the main event. I felt WWE gave too much away by having Cena vs. Albert Del Rio, for the first time ever, on free TV. To me, that's a potential main event at next year's Mania, or another big PPV down the road. But I suppose it's not a big deal. By the time they do that program, I'm sure most fans will have forgotten about this match.
- I should also mention that Brodius Clay does not fit in AT ALL with Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez. I get that they were teamed together on NXT, but no one watches that show.
Del Rio doesn't need the help. He's got Ricardo to get involved if needed - to distract his opponents, whatever. But he doesn't need a 300-pound behemoth doing his dirty work. It doesn't fit.