BEFORE GETTING INTO last night’s Raw, and Raw in general since the start of May, I need to mention that April’s Extreme Rules PPV ruled extremely. I can’t remember being that happy to throw money at a PPV in quite some time. Not that it was THE GREATEST PPV OF ALL THE TIMES or anything, but I can’t recall a recent WWE PPV that’s been so unexpectedly satisfying with such little expectations/fanfare. I’d say last year’s Punk/Cena Money in the Bank show probably qualifies, but unfortunately I didn’t order/watch that one live.
Among the highlights of Extreme Rules was, of course, the Brock/Cena dustup, as visceral an outing as anything you’re likely to see in contemporary, mainstream professional wrestling, a match I’d argue even came reasonably close to the still-fresh Ragnarok of Undertaker/Triple H II, though without the same amount of gravitas. And so, on the Monday following Extreme Rules, I tuned in to Raw knowing that I’d be disappointed by the follow up, but still eager to see what that follow up might be.
And now, two weeks later, Brock Lesnar’s gone (not a surprise seeing as he’s a part time attraction), Triple H has a broken arm (courtesy of a parting Brock), John Cena’s still here (despite the fact that the beating he took at Extreme Rules hinted at some much needed time away), the upcoming Over The Limit PPV will feature a headline match between Cena and a non-wrestler authority figure (John Laurinaitis), and everything else is an afterthought.
Oh, did I mention Paul Heyman’s back? You’ll get no complaints from me there. I enjoy Paul E. as an onscreen character, and I’m also a sucker for 90s nostalgia (I’m the guy that popped the last time Scott Steiner returned to TNA), but so far, without Brock actually standing by his side, he seems kind of lost in the mix.
Lost in the mix, like the build to a CM Punk/Daniel Bryan title matchup that in any alternate universe would be turning heads. Lost like Dolph Ziggler, tomorrow’s money making star today jobbing to the once promising, now stale intermission comedy character, Brodus Clay. Lost like poor Chris Jericho who really ought to have told us all who the little girl from his return vignettes was so that we might actually give a damn about what he’s doing now (though yes, that Punk feud was fun). And so on and so forth.
To be fair, I enjoyed Triple H’s rebuttal-to-Lesnar promo at the start of the show. Always a plus when Randy Savage, Bob Backlund, and Bruno Sammartino are mentioned on WWE programming in 2012. If WWE is going to exist in a vacuum when it comes to the world of pro wrestling on a whole, the least they can do is to keep their own history/continuity alive and tight. Sure you can pick nits pretty easily with Triple H, and it’s not like he’s my favorite wrestler of all time or anything, But I don’t mind seeing him on my screen in the limited and, mostly-effective way he’s been used of late. Then again, I’m the guy who popped when The Band got back together on Impact.
I also thought the CM Punk/Santino pairing was funny, in a semi-amusing way. Plus, it was nice to see Cody getting a chance to hang with the ‘big dawgs’ on Raw.
The Big Show firing/humiliation bit was memorable, if not borderline uncomfortable. Ok, fully over the line uncomfortable. Over The Limit, even. But hey, I guess we should be happy that what would normally remain between a man and his therapist got to play out on live cable television courtesy of Vince McMahon and/or his creative team? It was ok, though. Went on way too long, but Show was good in his role. And Laurinaitis has moved from wishy washy kinda-heel into Darth Vader territory now.
Everything else just blurred into the background for me this week, which isn’t that abnormal for Raw, but sort of abnormal considering I’d found the show more compelling than usual leading up to Wrestlemania and going all the way into Extreme Rules. I guess that’s over for now.
I’ve toyed with the idea of not bothering to watch the show again until Brock comes back or something else causes a buzz, but who am I kidding. Next Monday night I’ll be firing up the DVR and starting the ritual all over again. Remember, I’m the guy who popped when Dan Severn was revealed as Eddie Edwards’ trainer.