The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal for 05/02/11 (Rock BDay)

The WWE Raw Deal for 05/02/11 (Rock BDay)
By John Canton
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Welcome to the Raw Deal. Make sure you read all the way until after my score of the show because I’ve got some words on The Rock. Live from Miami, Florida this is the Raw Deal…

The show started with a video package about September 11th because of the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden. They showed clips of George Bush after the attacks and also the Smackdown that aired two days later. It ended with the US flag. Live in the arena, they showed former ring announcer Lilian Garcia. She sang the United States National Anthem. She did well as she always does. That was a powerful moment. I’m Canadian, but we’re brothers with America (they are like our big brother) and we are with you. Trust me on that. Good to see her again.

The announcers were Michael Cole, Josh Mathews and Jerry Lawler. I guess this means Cole & Mathews get to announce on both shows every week. I’m okay with it. The Rock got the introduction for his birthday party in his hometown in Miami. They kept calling it “the biggest birthday bash in television history.” The pop was enormous. You could see he was getting emotional right away. He did the “U” sign with his hands while he posed on the ropes, which is the symbol of his college The University of Miami also known as “The U.”

The opening segment with Rock in the ring took about 20 minutes. He said “finally The Rock has come back…home.” Without saying Bin Laden’s name he said “we got him” to big applause. He led the crowd in saying the Pledge of Allegiance also. Then he recounted his life, talking about going to school in Miami and they even showed his high school photo with a bad mustache. He talked about winning the national championship playing football at The U. He talked about wanting to party and the GM buzzed in. Then it became a verbal sparring match with Rock & Cole. Cole was going to read the message, but Rock interrupted and told him to do it in the ring. The best line was when he called Cole a “drunk hobbit jack bag bitch.” That’s a new one. At first Cole declined, but then he unveiled a Kevin Garnett Boston Celtics jersey to huge heel heat. He also called Rock “Dwayne” a few times. Miami’s up 1-0 in the series and I pick them to win that one, so it was the right choice of jersey. He got in the ring to tell Rock the message: He had to apologize to the GM for his actions at WrestleMania. Cole also wanted an apology. Rock extended his hand, Cole was reluctant to shake it, but Rock told him to do it because they were in front of the millions (and millions) of fans. Then Rock said “go Heat, bitch” and gave Cole the Rock Bottom to earn automatic star of the night honors because if you attack Cole you get that honor.

The Rock’s music started to play, but he told them to stop. Rock announced the rapper Pitbull, who is also from Miami, to come out. I guess if you say the area code of where you are from it makes you even cooler. Works for Rey Mysterio. He sang on the stage. The Miami Heat dancers came on the stage to dance as well. He wrapped it up by saying Happy Birthday to Rock. The first commercial happened at the 29 minute mark. How many TV shows can get away with that?

I had no problem with any of this. The Rock was on fire like usual. It’s his night and they let him roll with it. His interaction with Cole was pretty good because Cole’s heel act is solid as long as we don’t have to watch him in a match. It was a little long, but once again I don’t care too much. Rock’s not going to be on every week, so you might as well get all you can out of him while he’s there.

They had a video package from Miami Heat players LeBron James & Dwyane Wade (he spells Dwayne different) wishing Rock a Happy Birthday. Before the playoffs I had it as Bulls-Lakers. Now I think it will be Heat-Lakers. Miami is rolling.

Jim Ross came out to the announce desk to call the rest of the show with Josh & Lawler. Fine by me. He should be on every week.

John Morrison came out for his match against R-Truth. As Morrison was walking down the ramp, Truth attacked him and the match never happened. He hit the Paydirt move that Shelton Benjamin used to use. The result is Morrison goes face first into the ground although Truth also takes a back bump while doing it. His attack was vicious while also targeting Morrison’s head & neck. When Morrison made it to the top of the ramp with the help of refs, Truth did the move again on the steel ramp to put him down. Truth was great here without even talking. He’s got the crazy eyes going. I like heel Truth way more than I liked face Truth. They may have really found something with him. This feud is getting good.

Jimmy Kimmel sent Rock a Happy Birthday message with a candy ass joke because he had candy that he showed he was sitting on. I expected better.

Kelly vs. Maryse ended in a KHARMA SMASH!
I just made up the Kharma smash. Kelly & Maryse were trying to have a five star classic when 20 seconds in Kharma’s music came on. She debuted at Extreme Rules. It’s Awesome Kong. She went right after Maryse, dropping her with the Implant Buster that needs a name. I really like how they present her. The music works and all the laughing probably scares the hell out of the little kids. She just stared at Kelly and left. If you ask why the girls don’t just leave to avoid getting attacked then you are asking too many questions. I will simply enjoy Kharma crushing divas. So far she’s attacked Michelle & Maryse while sparing Kelly. Is she a babyface? Not sure.

Backstage, The Miz was upset about Riley not being there at Extreme Rules to help him retain the belt. Riley said it was because he was on Smackdown now due to the draft. Miz basically said the draft didn’t matter (shoot comment!) and that his personal services deal is more important. My head hurts. Anyway, Miz said he gets his rematch later and nobody will talk about Rock. They will talk about him as WWE Champion.

Paul Walker gave Rock a Happy Birthday message. This was the worst one.

Back from break, Samuel L. Jackson gave Rock a birthday message. He didn’t swear. That disappointed me.

Backstage, we got to see The Rock’s birthday party where he was talking to the divas about singing to Mrs. Obama or something like that. I was looking at my favorite diva Natalya, who was looking great as always. They all look like that in Canada. That’s how we deal with the cold. True story. Maybe. Anyway, Rock walked away from the girls and we could see some Superstars talent in the background including Zack Ryder, which led to many people posting on my FB wall about how Ryder was on Raw. I guess it counts. They did a comedy bit with Kozlov who had a movie script for him, Santino (dressed like Rock’s character in Fast Five), Hornswoggle (as the Scorpion King) and finally The Great Khali as the Tooth Fairy. Rock said he had the perfect person for this: Ron Simmons. He stood there in the “DAMN” shirt and delivered the line to a thunderous applause. It wasn’t great comedy, but it was pretty good.

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There was a birthday message from Steve Carrell. This was the funniest of them all. The man is a comedic genius.

WWE Title: John Cena d. The Miz via DQ (***)
A very solid twelve minute TV match by these two with a lot of energy shown. They had better chemistry here than they did at WrestleMania. They went to a commercial a few minutes in, but they had a lot of great action after the break. Jim Ross made it better too. When Miz got the nearfall with his Reality Check move Ross sold it like that was the end even though the fans knew better. The crowd was hot for it, though. They popped for a lot of the nearfalls. They did a ref bump, which led to Cena putting him in the STF and Miz tapped. No ref to see it. Shortly after that Cena got hit with the briefcase and Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a great nearfall. Miz was frustrated. Cena came back with the Attitude Adjustment. I thought that was it. Nope. Miz kicked out. That’s surprising to see on a Raw match. Riley slid the belt to Miz, he distracted the ref and Miz hit Cena with the belt. He covered Cena while laying on top of the title. Referee Mike Chioda came over to count the pinfall win for Miz. After Miz won, he got up and the belt was still there. Chioda saw it, realized Miz used it to cheat and reversed the call. It’s what is known in the business as the Dusty Finish because when Dusty Rhodes was a booker he would do that finish a lot where the ref reverses it. The match went 12 minutes.

Post match, Miz freaked out and was yelling at Riley about screwing up. Cena popped up a moment later as if nothing had hurt him and gave Attitude Adjustments to Riley & Miz. He did his Incredible Hulk like yell to show that he was just fine.

I liked the match. They showed a lot of fire, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands with the nearfalls and the finish makes you think that a rematch is coming at the Over The Limit PPV. I thought Cena would win here clean leading to a feud with Del Rio. I guess they are holding off on that. Good effort by both guys. Even Riley managed to not screw something up, which is rare for him.

Before the break, Ellen Degeneres gave a message to Rock for his birthday. She came up with some awful catchphrases that were pretty funny. Am I alone in thinking she looks like Wayne Gretzky?

Poll time. I really like writing career retrospective columns and I know they are well received too. As a thank you I’m going to let you pick who the next one is about. You have five choices and you get one vote each. All of them are among my favorite wrestlers ever. You have a week to vote. I’ll aim for the end of May to write the column with the idea being that I’ll write one of these per month, usually in the last week of the month.

I have no idea who is going to win. I was going to put Mark Henry in there as a joke choice, but I actually want to write one of these columns and had a fear that he was a THREAT TO WIN…just like at the Rumble.

Back from break, Tyler Perry gave Rock a birthday message. I have nothing else to add.

They showed footage from after Extreme Rules when John Cena told the live crowd that Osama Bin Laden was dead although he didn’t use those words. I read online that he was told of the news by a WWE staffer as he was going back up the ramp at the end of the match and they sent him back town to tell the audience.

They brought out Alberto Del Rio to sit at the announce desk for the next match. It would feature talent that got drafted to Raw.

Rey Mysterio & Kofi Kingston d. Jack Swagger & Drew McInytre (*3/4)
They had a commercial early. They came back to show about five minutes of action in this eight minute match. Kofi got beat up for most of it; Rey got the hot tag and cleaned house. McIntyre took a Trouble in Paradise, 619 and top rope splash before getting pinned. Rey also delivered a dropkick on Del Rio during all of this. They are strongly hinting at another Del Rio vs. Mysterio feud even though they had their “last match” on Smackdown a month or two ago. My guess is they want to build Del Rio back up after losing to Edge & Christian, so they want Rey to make him look good before he goes after Cena. The other guys in the match weren’t promoted very much although I like how Ross said McIntyre was like a top NFL draft pick that had Pro Bowl potential. In other words, they are waiting on him to become a major star. Maybe you shouldn’t book him like a jobber, Vince. How about that? They actually goofed at the end here by showing a shot of Washington DC for the next video package a little bit too early.

They aired a video about anti-bullying with some celebrities at a function in Washington DC. Triple H was there. Other celebs were David Arquette and Jeremy Piven among others. They put over the “That’s What I Am” movie with Randy Orton as being a good film that presents the anti-bullying message.

Ludacris gave Rock a birthday message. He didn’t have the giant hands that were in his Get Back video.

Back from break, Dan Marino gave Rock a birthday message. He looks like he’s been in the sun too long.

More backstage party stuff for Rock. More shots of my favorite Natalya were very good. The new World Champion Christian showed up. It feels so good being able to call him the World Champion! He shook hands with Rock as Rock congratulated him. I really liked that moment especially because Rock had some great interaction with Christian during his last heel run in WWE. Rock even shook Evan Bourne’s hand, so that’s something positive for Evan for once. Vickie & Dolph had a big cake for Rock. It was Mae Young. They laughed at him. Rock ended up kissing Mae on the lips and told Dolph that he gets more pie than him in a day than Dolph gets in a lifetime. Pie in this case does not mean actual pie, in case you didn’t know. John Cena showed up giving him the gift that only he could: the WWE Championship. He said he’d bring the belt to WM28. Rock said “just bring it” very slowly. Cena said “Happy birthday” and they had a staredown to end it. They had to have some kind of Rock-Cena confrontation. It was less than I thought they’d do, but it was still good.

Another birthday message, this time from George Lopez. He painted on a People’s Eyebrow. Clever.

Kane d. Mason Ryan via DQ (DUD)
Not much of a match. Less than two minutes in, CM Punk interfered to cause the DQ. Kane was going to chokeslam Mason Ryan, but he powered out, took Kane’s hand off his throat and gave him a uranage that needs a name. Big Show came out, took out the Nexus jobbers and Ryan gave him a Batista-like Spear. Ryan left alone, proud of himself. Punk called out to him, but he left. The deal is that Punk’s contract is expiring soon and he might not re-sign with the company. Instead of giving him any kind of push he’s being put into the background so they can push Ryan as a monster heel. It’s understandable that Ryan is getting a push. He has the body type that Vince loves. I just hope Punk re-signs with WWE because they need him. This was an effective segment in terms of getting Ryan’s power over.

Regis & Kelly wished Rock a happy birthday with Regis throwing out a mock challenge to him.

The last birthday message came from Craig Ferguson, who was also very funny. I like his show.

The Rock came out after the last break to end the show. He came out at about 11:05pmET so they were running extra long. Rock asked the fans if they were having a good time. Rock thanked them for coming, thanked his family for coming at ringside (they showed his mom), thanked the WWE and then promised that next year’s Mania in Miami is going to be the best ever. He said that about this year’s, which was a blatant lie. It’s okay. I had fun. I’ll be there next year too.

Vince McMahon came out for his birthday wish to The Rock. The camera showed a crane instead of his face! Fire that crane operator and director! Vince was not in character here. He thanked Rock for allowing them to celebrate his birthday. He also thanked him for pulling him aside many years ago and asked him for the chance to grab the brass ring to take WWE to heights they had never seen. You could say Austin did that too without even asking. He referenced all the “What?” chants for some reason (that’s an Austin thing) and then he thanked him for being The Rock. Then he threw it to a video package on Rock’s career. It’s excellent. The WWE video team is fantastic and they never let us down with these videos. It covered Rock’s entire life and his return to WWE. I’ll post it below.

After the video, Rock was nearly in tears. That was cool to see. You could tell how much it meant to him. They brought out the signer Mya to sing Happy Birthday to Rock. She did a good job obviously.

The Rock thanked everybody for the birthday party and ended it by saying “if you smell what The Rock is cooking!” They had balloons, streamers and confetti come down from the rafters to complete the birthday party atmosphere. Then it ended with some fireworks as The Rock’s music continued to play. The show ended at 11:18pmET, so it went about 13 minutes more than the usual 11:05pmET ending.

Here’s the Rock tribute video that was aired. Comment and tell them The John Report sent ya!

Three Stars of the Show
1. The Rock – He carried the show and he attacked Michael Cole. Easy win.
2. The Miz – He really worked his ass off in the match with Cena. Great facial expressions too.
3. John Cena – He certainly had the working boots…errr…sneakers on this week. Nice job.

7 out of 10
Last week: 5
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10)
2011 Average: 6.09

I liked the show. The Rock was great as usual, they had a solid WWE Title match that leaves us wanting more and the continuation of the Truth-Morrison story was good. I’m also enjoying how they book Kharma. A 7 is a very good score and as you can see it’s above the yearly average.

I wrote enough about the show. Let’s end it by talking about The Rock this week.

I’ve had people on Facebook, Twitter and the TJR comment section gripe about how this show was basically two plus hours of WWE sucking up to The Rock. Guess what? He deserves it. They got over one million buys at WrestleMania 27 even though on paper the card was not as good as what we got the last couple of years. The last two years did not reach that mark. They asked Rock to come back. They probably paid him millions of dollars to do it. The business of WWE has been hurting in the last year. Now, because of the one million plus buys for WrestleMania they can point to the business being healthy.

If you fail to realize all that The Rock has done for the wrestling business then that’s on you. Learn your history. Go watch DVDs, youtube clips or tapes (what are those?) that show him putting over the likes of Angle, Jericho & Lesnar before any other top name really did. The guy lost more matches than he won even as a top guy. None of his WWE Title reigns were that long. People like myself are frustrated by how superman like guys like Cena and Orton are booked. You know why? Because Rock was booked in a completely different way, yet he remained super over and is a bigger star than both of those guys. I’m not knocking them. I’m against Vince’s idea that booking supermen is a positive thing. I don’t think it works. You need to book babyfaces that can draw sympathy from the fans. The Rock whipped that candy ass all over the world, but he also took a lot of beatings and made people look good by beating him. That’s what wrestling is. That’s why the guy is beloved by his peers and admired by the younger wrestlers.

To the people that think Rock’s not a WWE guy because he was away for seven years guess what? He did all he could in the wrestling business. He won multiple titles, he main evented several WrestleManias and he became a huge crossover star while doing it. It’s a tough business. There’s a lot of travel and while the money is good, he makes way more money filming movies. He’s also got a much bigger profile being a movie star. If Vince McMahon felt he was a detriment to his company he would not have brought him back. That tribute video that aired to end Raw? That’s because he’s a part of the WWE family. He represents the business. Rock doesn’t need to come back. He’s there because he truly loves being in front of the live crowd. You could see it in his face. You could see the emotion. That video was WWE’s way of saying thanks for coming back to the WWE ring.

With all of that said, could they have done a better job of having him “put over” talent while he’s been on WWE TV in the last month or so? Yes, they probably could have. I can understand people that say that. It’s not like it’s his call, though. It’s a Vince decision. He wants to put over The Rock’s star power. You know Vince loved all those celebrities wishing Rock a happy birthday. That’s what he wants his company to be. He wants to be more than just the “wrasslin’ business” and a guy like Rock helps him do that. His association with WWE is a good thing for the business.

Do I have a problem with WWE basically dedicating a show to The Rock? No. I do not. He deserves it. If you think otherwise that’s your prerogative. Me? I can smell what The Rock is cooking. It’s a mix of talent, loyalty and the will to succeed. I’m glad I was able to witness the prime of his wrestling career and I’m enjoying this comeback, no matter brief it may be, because there are very few people in the business like him. He’s a special talent. The next two weeks are going to have to feature heavy promotion for the Over the Limit PPV in May, which to this point has nothing announced, but this show was about Dwayne The Rock Johnson and it did a great job of paying tribute to him. Happy birthday Rock.

Thank you to The Rock for all that you have done for the wrestling business. You will always have a fan in me.

John Canton – john@thejohnreport.net
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