WWE presented a special 3 hour edition of Raw on April 23rd, 2012. This was the final episode of Raw before the big Extreme Rules pay per view on Sunday. Headlined by Brock Lesnar and John Cena, Extreme Rules is the WWE's second pay per view this month. Here are the WWE Raw results and hits and misses from the show.
Hit - Opening Segment
WWE Hall of Famer Edge returns in the opening segment. The massive ovation Edge received is proof that the much beloved star is still a draw for WWE audiences. Edge, looking a lot thinner and older than I remember him, addressed the stoic John Cena. The segment served its purpose, with Edge doing a grand job trying to convince John Cena that he needed to get more serious and tougher about his clash with Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules. On a side note, I love John Cena's green and white t-shirt, which is a nod to the Boston Celtics.
Hit - Jericho vs Kingston
Chris Jericho, heading into his bout against CM Punk for the WWE Championship this Sunday, was matched up opposite Kofi Kingston. Having seen this match live at a recent house show, I was excited this was being presented on Raw. A somewhat under whelming beginning eventually gave way to a very formidable television match. Jericho solidified himself as a threat heading into the pay per view and Kofi remains a very underutilized talent.
Hit - CM Punk Promo
CM Punk did a backstage promo with Josh Matthews. Although the promo was not great, CM Punk got the point across that he was going to beat the crap out of Jericho on Sunday. However, as a fan of old school wrestling, I was pleased to see the WWE conduct and interview in the locker room, rather than in front of the live crowd or even the usual Raw backdrop.
Miss - Lord Tensai vs R-Truth
Lord Tensai continues his winning streak this week. However, as with previous weeks, his matches have been boring and lacking. There is nothing moderately entertaining about him. The crowd, which started chanting "Albert" in the beginning of the match, seemed dead by the end. Not the kind of reaction you want for live television.
Miss - Kane Promo
The "Big Red Machine" does an in-ring promo to send up his match against Randy Orton at Extreme Rules. Orton manifests on the Titantron and is backstage with Kane's "father" Paul Bearer. Orton shoves Bearer into a freezer. It ends with a Orton/Kane brawl around ringside. Fun cameo appearance by the old school character, but a relatively flat segment.
Miss - Alberto Del Rio and Cody Rhodes vs Big Show and Great Khali
Cody Rhodes reminds me of Sean Astin from The Goonies. Given Khali's limitations, I did not expect much from this match. And I was not disappointed. We come back from a commercial break just in time to see Khali tag Big Show. Rhodes and Del Rio double team Big Show, working over his knee. The match was plodding, and only furthered Cody Rhodes as a jobber to the stars.
Miss - Lesnar Arrives
Brock Lesnar arrives at the arena and Josh Matthews tries to interview him. Lesnar beats up Josh Matthews, sending him to the hospital. I know they are trying to build Brock as a monster, but hurting a thin and fragile commentator doesn't make him look strong.
Miss - Nikki Bella vs Beth Phoenix
Pure eye candy, as all the WWE Divas are ordered to the ring for a Lumber Jill match. Despite the gimmick, the performance was what you would expect from the athletic Divas. Despite a title change, the match was a typical run of the mill Divas bout.
Hit - CM Punk Sobriety Test
A surprisingly entertaining segment that I thought would fall short. I think many long time fans could see the end coming, but for kids of the PG era, they may not have figured it out before it happened. I do not find in-ring allowances favorable, but this one delivered.
Hit - Sheamus vs Mark Henry
This match was officiated by former Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. The bout itself was average at best, but overall the segment was a hit, as it furthered the issues between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan. Bryan leaves Sheamus in the ring after a "Yes Lock."
Hit - Santino Morella and Zack Ryder vs Primo and Epico
Considering this was a short throw away TV bout, I thought it was very good. Primo and Epico are one of the few actual tag teams on the WWE roster. The two men are super athletic and have a lot of potential but will presumably remain lost in the land of giants. Enjoyable substance.
Hit - Funkasauras and Hornswaggle vs Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger
The eccentrically amusing Funkasauras and his midget counterpart Hornswaggle were up next, as they battled Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. The entrance for Funkasauras and Hornswaggle was an automatic hit, as it is a triumphant success and gets the entire crowd up and dancing. Vickie Guerrero persists as one of the foremost heel managers to come along in ages. That screeching voice is instant heat. A very short match that set up an inevitable rematch, possibly at Extreme Rules.
Miss - Brock Lesnar/ John Cena Contract Signing
John Laraunitis opens up the contract signing by introducing Brock Lesnar. Lesnar gets a lukewarm reception. Cena no-shows his introduction, prompting Lesnar to grab the microphone. The contract signing turns into a meeting between Laraunitis and Lesnar, who was demanding changes to his contract. I felt at this time, the segment was losing the crowd. Personally, I was a bit uninterested. The segment dragged too long and lost my excitement about the eventual match between Cena and Lesnar. Cena finally made his appearance after the grueling interaction between Lesnar and Laraunitis. The crowd was hot for Cena. Cena signed the contract eventually, and the two stared at each other just as the show ended.
Overall, the show was a tad bit uneventful and only a few segments got me excited for the upcoming event. I was expecting something better. WWE Raw will return to the USA Network next week for it's usual two hour television series. The episode will focus on the fall out from the Extreme Rules pay per view.
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