WWE RAW Recap: A Jolly Olde Tyme in London

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Cheerio from London! Isn’t London great? We hope you enjoy watching our show from London.

I wrote in my RAW preview I assumed they’d decorate the stage with an old-timey red phonebooth and Judi Dench. I was going to also say something about a double-decker bus and and one of those black cabs, but I didn’t want to lay the joke on too thick and I didn’t know what those cabs were called (“hackney carriages”–oh, never change, English people).

So RAW comes on and the usual fireworks start the show and there’s the stage and to my wholehearted delight: Old-timey red phone booth, double-decker bus, hackney carriage; check, check, check. AND there was a giant video Union Jack behind the titantron. Brilliant.

Tragically I was wrong about Dame Judi, but for the sake of credit where it’s due I should give credit to everyone last night for being really well-behaved last night when it came to lame bad teeth and other stereotype jokes. Pats on the back, WWE Creative. I probably won’t be as good about it.

Charmed Third Time for Mark Henry and CM Punk

I approve heartily of WWE bringing back special in-ring intros for championship matches, which I had figured to officially be a thing of the past after their conspicuous absence during Wrestlemania. I disapprove just as much of the fact that they made us sit through the fireworks and that crappy Nickelback song but kept Henry’s entrance off TV. Not only did I have to turn elsewhere for my weekly Three 6 Mafia fix, but it made Henry come off as just another Tom, Dick, or Trent Baretta right before a well-promoted title match.

The match itself was solid though, as the Punk/Henry series over the last few weeks generally has been despite all the wacky finishes. They’re really a good match for each other: Henry gets to toss around a particularly beloved hero like a hacky sack–the highlight tonight was by Punk being picked up and launched a couple feet with a thud into the outside barrier in a dramatic pre-commercial break sequence. Punk’s offense is legitimized because it really does seem like the only way to knock Mark Henry down would be to Thai kick at his knees nonstop, in contrast to all the geniuses who try to hit him in the head as though that is supposed to do something. Punk’s chair-plus-Macho Man elbow drop win gives him a convincing win without making Henry look like a pushover, while providing proof that wrestlers can use weapons creatively and effectively without necessarily braining each other with sheet metal.

YES YES YES ooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOH YES

The London crowd was blazing hot last night and should be congratulated for helping put on a good show–well, certain incidents notwithstanding. I hope the rising ooooooOOOOOOOH chant highlighting big spots makes its way across the Atlantic.

Recalling these blokes and the recent crowds in Miami got me all the more excited for Chris Jericho’s announcement that he’ll have a rematch against Punk in a Chicago Street Fight at this month’s Extreme Rules, in honor of the PPV taking place in Punk’s famed hometown of Lewiston, Idaho.

Jericho Doesn’t Really Have Much Dirt On Punk, Does He?

After the initial shock of revealing Punk’s father as a one-time alcoholic in the weeks before Wrestlemania, Jericho’s inside scoops on Punk’s life have gotten less and less dramatic. This week the news delivered via satellite was that Punk may have been within 50 feet of liquor when he had lunch at a pub, which are often the only places to eat over there anyway if you’re not in the mood for curry or Subway.

R-Truth and the Mystery of God Knows What

R-Truth did a Sherlock Holmes comedy thing throughout the night that I suppose I should acknowledge, piecing together the Case of Let’s Get Hornswoggle On TV.

Santunga

As I said, the blatant pandering to the London crowd was much easier to watch Monday than it has been in the past. Santino Marella’s prematch soccer jersey switch routine was better than sending the Bella Twins out to pose in cut-off versions of the wrong uniform and get booed.

His match against David Otunga was a perfectly fine sort of crowd-pleasing match culminating in a Cobra strike. I find Otunga’s current Oily Flexing Coffee-Drinking Lawyer persona pretty funny, but the sequence where–oops–he forgot which side to pin Marella from after hitting his finisher demonstrates that he probably shouldn’t yet be the ring more than a few minutes at a time.

But during the match, Otunga did kick Marella in the face when he did a random split, which is exactly what you should do when some idiot does a split in front of you during a fight. So my hopes are high.

Oh Good: Brock is Being Brock

To put it delicately, there may be no one in the world I have less in common with than Brock Lesnar, which is why I feel more supportive of John Cena than I have in a long time.

Three weeks in and the Cena-Lesnar is clicking better than Cena-Rock did in the endless months preceding Wrestlemania. The Rock and Cena spent their year of promotion Tweeting insults at each other, playing to their own fans, and dueling via parallel promos, eventually performing in their own respective concert segments one time. In style they were and are, in other words, far more alike than they are different.

Lesnar is, and by most accounts legitimately seems to be, the jerk that Cena tells kids not to emulate in the Be A Star ads (not that Cena is exactly an anti-bully role model himself, just ask Ricardo Rodriguez, or Vickie Guerrero, or Lita–but that’s another essay entirely.) He doesn’t thank the fans or visit sick kids or delight in saluting veterans. He is nothing more or less than the asskicker he claims to be, and at a moment where Cena’s character needs all the sympathy the audience will give him, Lesnar, who I want to see defeated because I think that he is JUST SO MEAN, is the right opponent. Against him, Cena can try to bring back fans who may find him to be a bit of a repetitive goober sometimes but who don’t vocally detest him.

In a related note, Lesnar’s chest tattoo made its first WWE appearance during the interview video package, and WWE made the bold choice not to blur it out for obscenity. Bold move for PG TV.

When I Am King, John Laurenaitis’s Music Will Play Every Time I Enter a Room

I called it.

Laurenaitis’s awkward but smug heel GM character is such a breath of fresh air after so many years of comically over-the-top villain authority figures. It’s a literal breath of fresh air in a way, considering that the authority in question was most often Vince “SHUT UP GODDAMNIT” McMahon, who regularly pushed people’s faces into his ass.

Zack Ryder Sure Gets Chokeslammed A Lot

The 2011 Rise of Ryder was pretty fun but he’s gotta find something to do other than fist pump and lashing out at women who reject him, or that dude’s just going to keep getting chokeslammed by life.

The Kane-Randy Orton isn’t interesting me much so that’s about all as I can think of to say about them. This feud feels like it should’ve happened in 2006.

That’s it for the first part of my RAW Review. Check back in later today for the headlining highlights!

PHOTO CREDIT – WWE


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