WWE Monday Night Raw - April 2, 2012
-From Miami, FL. Our hosts are heel Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. This is the famous post-WM28 Raw where the crowd hijacks the show with YES! chants.
-The entire WWF locker-room is gathered for a meeting backstage with John Laurinaitis and David Otunga. “Big Johnny” is riding high after his team won at Wrestlemania 28 to make him GM of both Raw and Smackdown. He wastes no time abusing his power when WWE Champion CM Punk speaks up, calling him a “giant toolbox.” They can’t all be pipe bombs, I guess. That earns him a WWE title defense against Mark Henry. Big Johnny welcomes us to the “People Power” era.
-The Rock makes his way to the ring, riding high on having defeated John Cena the previous night. The fans like chanting stuff, so it takes Rock a while to start talking. He puts Cena over, which earns some boos, but some polite applause (since it was a great match and all). Rock thanks the fans for their support and tells a story about how he used to suck so much that he was cut from the Canadian Football League. Rock says this isn’t the end, but the beginning (which sparks the first YES chant of the night) and announces his intention to become WWE Champion again. Somewhere, World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus must be offended. Nothing like a top form Rock promo to start the show off on a hot note.
-Footage of John Cena saying a loss to The Rock would cause him to lose everything. Cena is going to have to explain himself later.
United States Championship:
The crowd chants “Let’s go, Ziggler” as Dolph and Swagger gang up on poor Santino. They cut to a commercial break quickly. After the break, Santino outmaneuvers both opponents, hitting the saluting head butt on Swagger. Dolph prevents the Cobra, allowing Swagger to hold Santino in place for a Fame-asser. Inevitably, Swagger and Ziggler cannot decide who should pin Marella and start fighting. Santino uses the dissension to his advantage and pins Swagger with the Cobra at 3:16 (shown). Everyone involved is so badly miscast, it hurts.
Winner and still United States Champion: Santino Marella
Santino Marella © vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger (with Vickie Guerrero)
-Ziggler and Swagger attempt a beat down, but Santino power walks into the safety of Brodus Clay on the stage. Ziggler runs into a Clay head butt and goes down hard. Swagger backs off, giving Santino and Brodus the opportunity to bust out some funky moves with Naomi and Cameron.
Lord Tensai (with Sakamoto) vs. Alex Riley
For about 3 weeks in 2012, it looked like they wanted Tensai to be a new main event threat (getting the same sort of push that Curtis Axel would get in 2013). In less than two years, both Tensai and Riley would retire into announcer roles. The fans try to prove how smart they are by chanting “Albert” so apparently they have no appreciation (or knowledge) of the run this guy had in New Japan. Tensai looks ridiculous, with Japanese writing on his face and bright red tights, he looks like a No Mercy create-a-wrestler come to life. He bats Riley around while the crowd chants for Daniel Bryan. Tensai delivers a sit-out power bomb and wins by KO at 2:49. Tensai is DOA.
Winner: Lord Tensai
-Winning isn’t enough, so Tensai puts Riley down again with a claw to the head.
-Stills from Wrestlemania 28 are shown and the crowd boos the image of Sheamus holding the World title. He’s in for a long night.
Punk is sporting an injured back after being tossed to the floor by Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania. Punk is still game, connecting with a series of strikes, but Henry repeatedly knocks him off his feet. Henry takes control and sets a deliberate pace. Punk fights back with kicks and counters a Bear Hug with a DDT. Punk scores a running knee to the head but still cannot get the pinfall. Henry nearly decapitates Punk with a big boot but misses a Vader Bomb. Henry counters the springboard clothesline to send us to commercial. After the break, Punk flies into another big boot, firmly putting Henry back in control. The crowd chants for Daniel Bryan during the slow parts, but they do occasionally chant for Punk as well. Punk hits a string of attacks that knock Henry off his feet and delivers the Macho Man flying elbow. Sadly, Henry counters a bulldog by throwing Punk over the ropes. Punk is unable to return to the ring and loses via count-out at 10:02 (shown). They had a nice groove going until that abrupt finish, **½.
Winner via count-out: Mark Henry
CM Punk © vs. Mark Henry
-Henry remembers that titles don’t change on count-outs and puts Punk down with a World’s Strongest Slam on the floor. John Laurinaitis and David Otunga come to the stage to gloat. Big Johnny announces that under his watch, the WWE title will be defended more often, so Punk has dark days ahead of him. Chris Jericho enters through the crowd to mock Punk’s loss. Jericho wants to celebrate Punk’s performance with a drink and grabs a glass bottle of beer. Jericho promises to be the reason Punk becomes an alcoholic (just like his father) and pours the beer all over him. The crowd chuckles when Jericho slips on the wet floor, but he no-sells it like a pro. Jericho tries to break another bottle over Punk’s head, but it amusingly shatters in his hand. Not the best night to be Chris Jericho, eh? A strategic video replay covers the amusing botch well.
-New World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus comes to the ring with a big, stupid grin on his face, seemingly obvious to the heel heat he’s getting from the smarky crowd. Before he can talk, Alberto Del Rio’s music hits and he makes his big return after missing time with an injury. Sheamus and Del Rio try to kick-start a fresh World title program, but the fans don’t play along, chanting for Daniel Bryan and ironic “Si!” chants. Del Rio’s mic stops working and the distraction allows Sheamus to hit the Brogue Kick. Sheamus continues his run as the least-likable baby face of all time.
-The fans explode as Daniel Bryan and AJ are shown backstage watching on a monitor. Josh Mathews asks Bryan about the 18 second loss at ‘Mania, but he’s too angry to talk.
Cody Rhodes vs. Kofi Kingston
Cody takes out his frustrations over losing the IC title on Kofi, but his anger makes him an easy target for a springboard cross body. Cody surprises with the Disaster Kick. Cody is contemplating his rest hold options when new Intercontinental Champion Big Show interrupts on the stage. Show introduces a parody of the embarrassing videos Cody had made about him leading into Wrestlemania, which serves as a distraction for Kofi to hit Trouble in Paradise for the win at 1:46. Nothing match, but a fun angle.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
-Mark Henry is throwing stuff around the dressing room when he’s approached by Abraham Washington, who tries to offer his managerial services. A.W. leaves his business card and takes off. Here’s an angle that went nowhere fast.
-Eve Torres comes to the stage for a promo. The crowd gives her a hard time for costing Team Theodore Long the match against Team Laurinaitis at Wrestlemania. Eve brags about how easy it was to manipulate Zack Ryder. In fact, all men are easy to manipulate, except for Mr. Laurinaitis, of course. This went about as long as it should, considering Eve’s talking abilities.
The Miz vs. Zack Ryder
This was back when Ryder still had something resembling a push. Ryder is looking for revenge and clocks Miz in the face. Ryder is aggressive but gets caught with a Miz boot to the face. Cue the Miz chinlock! Ryder escapes and builds some momentum, complete with the Broski Boot. Miz comes back with the Skull Crushing Finale for the win at 2:54. About as good as 3 minute matches can be. Miz would go on to lose about a dozen matches to Brodus Clay in the following months.
Winner: The Miz
-As advertised all evening, John Cena comes to the ring to call out The Rock. Cena cuts a long-winded promo and does his best to be a good sport about losing to Rock. He addresses the possibility of “lashing out at the WWE Universe” and gets a YES chant. The highlight here is the quick “Goddamn you people” look in Cena’s eyes when the fans chant “We want Lesnar.” Cena says The Rock has earned his respect and wants him to come back to the ring so he can kiss his ass more in person. Instead of Rock, Cena is joined by none other than BROCK LESNAR, making his first WWE appearance since Wrestlemania XX. The building completely explodes, giving Lesnar a hero’s welcome the likes we haven’t seen since the big star reactions of the late 90’s. Lesnar soaks up the moment and makes his way to the ring. Cena stupidly offers a handshake and eats an F-5 to massive crowd approval. Lesnar stands tall to end a memorable edition of Raw.
Final Thoughts: This is an important Raw in that it kick-started what would go on to be the “YES Movement” and reintroduced Brock Lesnar. Unlike some previous years, there would be no post-Wrestlemania hangover, as the product continued to be interesting heading into the summer. One of the best Raws I can ever remember as far as getting me excited to be a fan goes. Thumbs up.
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