From top to bottom, this week’s ‘Monday Night Raw’ was a pretty fun, impressive affair. Sure, you could find things to nitpick about, like the fact that Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes is nothing new, or, naturally, the obligatory Divas Match, but all-in-all, it was a fun show with some great wrestling, interesting developments and even a SHOCKING RETURN.

To find out what it was, and what you might have missed from this week’s ‘Raw,’ keep reading below. Once you’re done, make sure to share the article on Facebook, Twitter, your office bulletin board and anywhere else you think is appropriate. Then follow me on Twitter. My fiancé is going out of town, so you can pretty much count on some irresponsible, ill-advised tweeting, and who would want to miss that?


Johnny’s aces

I love John Laurinaitis, but that wasn’t always the case. At first I was frustrated by his inability to get through a promo without bumbling it all to hell, and I found his scratchy voice absolutely insufferable. But since first coming into WWE storylines during Punk’s awesome storyline last Summer, the guy has turned into a first-class villain, a type of heel authority figure that is totally different from Mr. McMahon, but no less effective. Instead of a sneering, irredeemable monster, Laurinaitis is a buzzword-spouting corporate shill, ineffective and largely clueless, but no less infuriating.

This week’s ‘Raw’ opened with the once and future Johnny Ace at his best, botching lines (“Brock Cena”), rambling in front of booing crowds and making totally bogus proclamations. Among the highlights of his show opening promo were references to the legendary Dr. Death Steve Williams and photos of his time spent in Japan, with which Laurinaitis put himself over as “The Hulk Hogan of Japan,” which is sublimely ridiculous. Big Johnny’s promo was eventually interrupted by CM Punk, who proceeded to spit fire this week, reminding everyone how much we still desperately want to see him square off against the Executive Vice President of Talent Relationship.


Fantastic four

Coming in a close second as the Shitterson Match of the Night this week was Sheamus & Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio & Chris Jericho. It was a fantastic match, especially considering that it was a tag team affair featuring guys who don’t ever wrestle as tag teams. As a committed Jericoholic (seriously, I’ve purchased Fozzy albums), I’m probably a little biased, but I feel comfortable chalking up a large portion of this match’s success to Y2J himself. Though he emerged to a pretty sizable pop from the North Carolina audience, Jericho established himself as a reviled heel through his ringwork alone, injecting the match with a much-needed dose of storytelling and psychology.

The match ended with Jericho picking up the win over Sheamus after the Great White accidentally Brogue Kicked the bejeezus out of Randy Orton, which was a great way to reestablish Jericho as a threat after his back-to-back pay-per-view losses to CM Punk while also firmly inserting him into the World Heavyweight Title picture. After the match, Orton got up and RKOed Sheamus as revenge for the errant kick, which not only put him in contention for the Title as well, but also reminded audiences that the Viper can be a vicious dangerous guy. Given how defanged most of WWE’s faces are these days, it’s great to see Orton portrayed in this fashion.

Shortly after the contest, the upcoming World Heavyweight Title Match at ‘Over the Limit’ was changed to a Fatal Four-Way, with Jericho and Orton joining Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio in the match. If this week’s outing is any indication, we’ve got a hell of a fight to look forward to at the next pay-per-view.


A rival for the Funkasaurus? Awesome.

Typically, Brodus Clay comes out, dances, beats the hell out of a denizen of WWE’s lowest of cards, and dances again – that’s pretty much it. This week, however, saw his match prefaced with a promo from the Miz, in which the Awesome One regained much of the quivering anger that made him such an effective villain during his 2010-2011 WWE Title run.

The match itself was even pretty entertaining, as Miz’s skillset seemed to match up pretty well against that of the Funkasaurus. The Miz isn’t what you’d call a “technical” wrestler, but I like the fact that he fights like a guy who doesn’t really know a whole lot of moves. Yes, it’s a lot of kicks to the head and restholds, but what else is he supposed to do against a monster like Clay? I found it believable and more importantly, entertaining. I would have preferred to see Miz steal a victory to build a feud between the two, but having Miz angrily chase the Funkasaurus for a win could be almost as effective.

Incidentally, I also loved the following: Calling fans “Funkateers,” calling Clay’s dancers “the Funkadactyls” and of course, Clay’s urging folks at home to remember to call their mama on Mother’s Day this weekend.


Paul E. Dangerously is back!

One of my favorite things about WWE the company is that all the bad blood, old history and hurt feelings in the world don’t amount to much of anything if there’s money to be made. The internet is chockablock of stories about Paul Heyman’s (reportedly acrimonious) exit from the company, but when WWE needed a guy to come back and speak for the ECW mastermind’s former charge, Brock Lesnar, they went ahead and brought the former Paul E. Dangerously back in.

Though the North Carolina crowd was nowhere near as excited as I was, and CM Punk had already spoiled the surprise on Twitter, I was still delighted to see Heyman on WWE television. It’s well-documented what a uniquely talented guy Heyman is, and while I’d prefer to have Heyman-the-booker, I’ll happily take what I can get, as Heyman-the-talker is a pretty good consolation prize. This week saw him come out to a limited amount of excitement, and quickly turn it all into vicious heat, as he used his most irritating, nasally voice to outline Brock Lesnar’s disgust with WWE and its fans, and the star’s intentions to quit the company altogether. I loved the segment, but sincerely hope that neither Heyman nor Lesnar will be away from WWE television for too long.


The Shitterson Match of the Night

As soon as the night’s main event was announced as CM Punk vs. Lord Tensai, I knew it was a frontrunner for the Shitterson Match of the Night. Just last week I had been discussing with a friend how great it would be to see Punk square off against the man formerly known as Prince Albert, as the two both have unique, aggressive styles and I’m a sucker for a “Big guy vs. a smaller guy” match. So, imagine my excitement when the contest was changed to a handicap match, pitting Punk against not only my favorite faux Japanese wrestler, but also my favorite wrestler sans qualifier: Daniel Bryan.

The match didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t a technical clinic, but that’s not the only type of wrestling match I enjoy – I also dig watching two mean, calculating, vicious heels pick apart a heroic face. Is it sadistic schadenfreude? Maybe, but it’s also hell of effective storytelling. Everything about the match worked from me, from the frequent tags between the two villains, to Tensai’s unique offensive onslaught, to Bryan’s more conniving approach. And if you know anything about me, you know that I’ll pretty much always pop for some well-executed Asian Mist. Tensai & Bryan are pretty damn close to my new favorite tag team, I just wish Bryan wouldn’t do the Diving Headbutt – nobody needs to run around asking for concussions.

Click here to read more from Aubrey Sitterson.

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