The WWE Raw Deal for 03/28/11 (Rock-Cena-Miz)
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter @johnreport

Live from Chicago, Illinois this is the Raw Deal…

We start the show off with CM Punk sitting down in a darkened ring, soaking in the ovation from the hometown Chicago crowd. He said he’d miss this at WrestleMania where he won’t get as warm of a reception (you never know!) in Atlanta. He recapped last week when he attacked Orton by his “Superstar Bus” with the vintage wrench to the knee. In case you’re wondering Orton really does travel in a bus, but it wasn’t that one. And that wasn’t his wife either although she travels a lot with him along with their young daughter. Punk said he’d get revenge on Orton for punting him a few years ago and for punting the Nexus guys too. He was about to leave when Orton showed up…selling the knee! Yes, Orton showing vulnerability. That’s rare to see. He hit the DDT on Punk and then he went for the punt, but the knee gave out and he collapsed! That was lovely. Punk bailed, then looked at the screen, saw Orton was down and attacked like a vulture. He took out the knee while Orton tried to fight him off. Punk ended it with the Go To Sleep. Most people were still cheering him although Orton wasn’t booed. Hot crowd.

I thought it was a very effective way to use the opening ten minutes. Punk was made to look like a fool for a month while the Nexus guys got taken out by Orton one by one. In the last two weeks Punk looked a lot stronger. Now that Orton’s got the knee injury he’s vulnerable and Punk walks into the match as the favorite. It’s also a great thing for Orton to have to overcome the knee injury to win the match because as a babyface we haven’t had much sympathy for him. Now we do. Both guys played their part perfectly. I hope this feud continues post-WrestleMania as well.

In that first segment you could see a sign that said “The John Report” on it. Thanks to my friend Greig (the I is not a spelling error) for bringing that. I didn’t ask for it. He only told me an hour or so before the show. He was in row three and on camera the whole night. Click HERE to a view a pic of the sign, click HERE to view that archive of TJR related pics. That’s the 6th time it’s happened at a WWE show in the last year. Hopefully we see some at WrestleMania too!

Backstage, Christian knocked on Edge’s locker room door and they headed out for a match. They said on Smackdown, Teddy Long said Edge can’t touch Del Rio. It’s allowed on Raw thanks to the Raw GM. Edge said he always liked him, aside from the annoying sound. Is that a clue to who it is? I don’t think so. They mentioned that it’s the first time E&C have teamed on Raw in 6 years. That’s an accurate statement.

Edge & Christian d. Alberto Del Rio & Brodus Clay (**)
They showed the graphic for the WrestleMania match with Christian in the background. I assume that means he’s in Edge’s corner for the match while Brodus Clay is in Del Rio’s corner. It would have been nice to see Christian in a WrestleMania match. At least he’s in a high profile position, though. Through the years most of the times E&C tagged they were heels, but in this instance they’re babyfaces. It was your standard, 8 minute TV tag match. They followed the basic tag formula with the heels working over Christian, he got the hot tag and Edge cleaned house. Edge put down Clay, went for the Spear, Del Rio blocked it, Christian took him out, Clay missed a charge and Edge pinned him after a Spear. Post match, Del Rio put the Cross Armbreaker on Christian while Edge was in the ring. He chased Del Rio up the ramp, then he turned his back and Del Rio attacked him. He put Edge in the Cross Armbreaker too.

If you’re keeping track, Del Rio has lost two weeks in a row to Christian on Smackdown and in this tag. He’s still booked strong, though, because after the losses he gets his heat back. This would indicate that he’s winning the title. Is Christian going to turn on Edge? I think it might happen a bit down the road, but not on Sunday night. I think we’ll see a triple threat at Extreme Rules because they can point out Chrisitan’s wins over Del Rio prior to WrestleMania. As much as I like Christian it’s better that the Mania match is one on one. I’m very interested in the match. That’s for sure. Maybe I’ll wear a scarf to WrestleMania? Or not.

The announcers plugged what we were going to see later, including an interview from a bar with Trish & Snooki. Michael Cole was in his own announcer booth like usual, known as the Cole Mine, while Mathews & Lawler were at the main desk.

They aired another Sin Cara video package. We found out yesterday that his TV debut is on next week’s Raw. Let’s hope that plan doesn’t change. It’s the perfect time.

Backstage, The Miz and Alex Riley were hanging out taking pictures with the WWE Title belt that is an M rather than a W now. The person in WWE that found out an upside down W is actually an M got a box of Fruity Pebbles as a bonus this week. Don’t quote me on that!

The GM buzzed in, Lawler went to read it at the podium, but Cole told him it’s not necessary because he would read it off of his IPad. He said the GM wants to see if Lawler’s ready for WrestleMania. It’s Lawler vs. Jack Swagger later in the show. Lawler was happy with that because of all of Swagger’s attacks.

There was a really nice Undertaker-Triple H video package. If you’re wondering the song is called “In Time” by Mark Collie and it was in the movie The Punisher. It was really well done. They showed clips of each guy at WrestleMania although no sign of their match ten years ago. Triple H’s WrestleMania record? 7-7. He’s had a lot of good matches there and also put over some talent in a big way.

Santino d. Justin Gabriel (1/2*)
They announced that Santino & Kozlov would join Kane & Big Show against all four members of The Corre at WrestleMania. All of them were at ringside. The match got about two minutes with some fighting on the floor, which led to Santino “striking” with The Cobra for the win. I’d expect The Corre to go over at WrestleMania. There’s no reason for the babyface team to win. The best part of this segment was the post match celebration with Big Show joining in the Santino trombone celebration. Then Santino bumped into Kane. He didn’t want to do it, but then he shrugged his shoulders and started to do it too. Hilarious moment. A legitimate LOL from me. Yes, a few months ago he buried his brother The Undertaker alive, but if Taker can forgive and forget then I guess we should all do the trumpet too!

Backstage, Hunter Hearst Helmsley McMahon (I added that last one) walked to the ring.

They announced that Keri Hilson will be singing America the Beautiful at WrestleMania. Maybe I’ll sing her song “Pretty Girl Rock” at WrestleMania? Could happen! I won’t be sober much!

The Undertaker-Triple H confrontation with Shawn Michaels
It’s going to be hard to put into words how great this was. The Undertaker showed up to the Johnny Cash song “Ain’t No Grave” as he’s done for the past two months and as soon as that ended Triple H came out. When he went to do the water spit, the lights went out. That’s “vintage” Undertaker with the head games. They stared…and then the music of Shawn Michaels started up. Legit marking out from me! I didn’t expect him to be there. I don’t think many people did. Huge pop for HBK. Michaels spoke first, saying there was no way he was missing this. He went over the accolades of each man, delivering his speech perfectly. He spoke about Undertaker first and then Triple H, saying he was his best friend. He asked Hunter what made him think he could beat him when Michaels couldn’t. Triple H said Michaels got soft and that he didn’t always care about winning because he wanted to be Mr. WrestleMania by having the best match. Crowd reacted perfectly to all of that. Hunter said he has to win and that he will win. Then Hunter put over Undertaker right to his face, talking about seeing him in the locker room 16 years ago (when Hunter started in WWE) and how Undertaker worked through so many injuries through the years. There really are some legendary stories about Undertaker’s toughness. He’s been beat up, yet he always seems to fight through it. He spoke about how he respects Undertaker as much as anybody, but there’s one guy he respects more: Michaels.

Hunter spoke about how he and Michaels made a pact several years ago that if either of them was slipping the other would tell them to stop wrestling. I’m not sure if it ever got to that point with Michaels, who was still amazing in his last match, but I think that was a Michaels decision. Anyway, Hunter looked at Undertaker and said respectfully that it was his time to step down. Hunter said he’d be the one as in 18-1. That was an excellent line. He said with all due respect you and your streak will rest in peace. Undertaker said he respects Triple H too, but that he’ll decide when it’s his time and it’s not yet. His streak, much like him, will still be alive. Undertaker said Michaels gave him the two best WrestleMania matches of his career (I agree), but he didn’t beat him even though he came very close. He said he humbled Michaels and that Michaels would go into the Hall of Fame full of regrets. Michaels was awesome during all of this, selling the emotional pain of the losses. I really miss watching HBK every week. Michaels went for the superkick, Undertaker blocked it, went for a chokeslam and Hunter broke them up. Hunter told Michaels to tell Undertaker why he (HHH) is going to win at WrestleMania. Michaels walked away saying “I’m sorry,” which is his way of saying he thinks Undertaker is going to win. I really like how they ended it.

This whole thing lasted 17 minutes. A little long? No. It was perfect. They likely swayed some fans into buying WrestleMania for this match because of what Michaels might do there. Is he going to interfere? Is he going to even be at ringside? I have no idea, honestly. I always thought it was going to be a straight up one on one match with no appearance from Michaels. Now? I’m not sure. I love that I’m not sure. I am sure that The Undertaker is winning, but the events surrounding the match have changed a bit too. This is how you do it, kids. Three of the best wrestlers in WWE history doing their thing in promoting a match featuring two guys who haven’t wrestled on television in 10 months and 6 months respectively. They probably drew you in, though, didn’t they? That’s how you sell big matches. This worked. I’m guessing Triple H and Undertaker booked a lot of this feud themselves. Considering who they are and what they’ve done they have earned that right. I look forward to the match. This was a clinic on how to build up to a match. The best part? They haven’t even thrown a punch yet. That’s a proper build. I’m loving it.

You know what else I liked? The announcers didn’t speak during the entire segment. The same thing happened during the first Undertaker-Hunter face to face in February. Let the picture tell the story. I care a lot more about this match then I did two weeks ago. That’s because of the incredible video package last week with other wrestlers talking and because of how well this segment was done. I have a huge amount of respect for both guys. Here’s my career column on The Undertaker from March 3rd and here’s my career column on Triple H from March 2010. I might as well mention my favorite article I’ve ever written, which was about Shawn Michaels’ career last April. I got all three of these guys covered! While I don’t think the match will be as good as the last two Undertaker WrestleMania matches I do think it will have a special feel to it.

Jack Swagger d. Jerry Lawler via DQ (DUD)
They only went about a minute with Lawler hitting him in the back with a chair to cause the DQ. He went after Cole with the chair, but MC hid in his Cole Mine and the security guards kept them apart. Cole talked trash to end the segment. This was a step back from their other great segments in the build to this match. That’s okay, though. The money angle was the week when Jim Ross was there. It will be a lot of fun to see Cole get his ass kicked on Sunday. He’s done some great work in building it up. Heel Michael Cole is a lot better than announcer Michael Cole.

Before the next match, Vickie Guerrero came out using John Morrison’s slow motion entrance. It was very funny. She cut a promo about how she pinned Morrison last week and she warned Snooki too.

Sheamus & Dolph Ziggler d. John Morrison & Daniel Bryan (*3/4)
If this match was given a lot of time it would be really good considering the talent in the match. No Gail Kim with Bryan. Has that been dropped already? No idea. His shirt still says Submission Wrestling. I guess “wrestling” can be on the shirt and in the company name, but don’t say it on TV! They got about 8 minutes with a commercial break early on. They must have mistimed the K-Mart plugged because it happened right when Daniel Bryan got the tag from Morrison to lead to the finish of the match. Oops. Bryan went for the LeBell Lock on Ziggler, but couldn’t do it. He went for it on Sheamus, but that failed too. Sheamus hit the High Cross (Razor’s Edge) for the win. Normally I say lose on TV, win on PPV, but I think Sheamus is going to win at Mania too. Also, Morrison’s team is going over at Mania as well.

They recapped Orton getting KO’d earlier. He did an interview sitting upright while on a table, selling the knee injury. Orton said he had serious management issues and that he ruined careers of people through the years because he could. He says he has never despised somebody as much as he does CM Punk, so we shouldn’t question if he can make it to Mania, but rather will CM Punk make it out? I really liked this promo. It reminded me of Jake Roberts in a lot of ways. His delivery was perfect for the situation.

They plugged Tough Enough a lot. It starts on USA Network next week and we’ll have recaps every week at with my buddy Eric Keith handling the duties. It’s not being broadcast in Canada at all. Lame.

The Road Warriors (or Legion Doom) with Paul Ellering were announced as the next members of the Hall of Fame. They deserve it. Why did it take them so long to get in? Animal’s brother is John Laurinaitis, who has been WWE’s head of talent relations for nearly a decade and his son is James Laurinaitis, middle linebacker of my beloved St. Louis Rams. His tag team partner Hawk has passed away. If you don’t know much about them I think they have a legitimate claim as one of the five best tag teams ever. Their matches weren’t great, but they were very popular with the fans and they accomplished a lot in many different promotions through the years.

They did the interview with Trish & Snooki in the bar. Some dude kept hitting on them. They told him to screw off. Then Michelle & Layla showed up to brawl with them in the bar. This was taped a couple of weeks ago after Snooki was on the live Raw. When Snooki says Trish’s name it sounds like “Swish Shwatus” due to her Jersey accent.

Next Monday night has Tough Enough, Raw (with Rock advertised to be there) and the hour long Hall of Fame broadcast. I’ll be at the HOF ceremony. That should be interesting. You can listen for me chanting for HBK at random times. I told you I won’t be sober much.

The Rock, John Cena and The Miz have a confrontation
Much like the Hunter-Michaels-Undertaker segment it’s hard to put into words how great this was. They got 20 minutes and they covered a lot. They showed Rock by the curtain before he made his entrance. When his music hit The Rock came out first to a MASSIVE ovation. He really soaked it in and you could tell how energized he was. I thought it was sweat at first, but he doused himself with water during the segment, so I assume he just dumped water on himself before too. What the hell am I talking about? Anyway, Rock thanked the Chicago crowd, mentioning that he brought it to his first WrestleMania in Chicago. He’s referring to the Rocky Maivia/Sultan (Rikishi) match from WrestleMania 13 that is a match that’s so bad I’d give it negative stars. He improved a lot within the next year. He mentioned his “Team Bring It” philosophy that he always talks about these days. The best line of this early part was when he called John Cena a homeless power ranger (as shown in the banner at the op of this column). Rock said he decided to bring it to Chicago for something: to call out John Cena.

There was a mixed reaction for Cena with loud “Cena Sucks” chants, but also the younger crowd cheering loudly for him. It was finally time for that Rock-Cena showdown, which was sponsored by The John Report? Haha not exactly, but it’s cool to see that sign during this huge moment. They really milked the moment by pacing around the ring and never getting too close. Cena said this is what he wanted: The Rock in a WWE ring. He kissed his ass saying that nobody electrifies a building like The Rock and to listen to the crowd…so they chanted “Rocky! Rocky!” right on cue. The crowd chanted “Cena Sucks” soon after and Cena wondered why Rock didn’t like him. His colors? His love of rap music? His target audience being kids? He admits that it his target audience and he’s proud of it. Rock filmed many movies for Disney, which targets kids, but they don’t want to point that out. Cena talked about how hard he worked, how much dedication he had to the business and really stood up for himself the way he should have. I enjoyed his promo. He sounded confident and was made to look strong, which is how it should be. “Who in the hell are you to judge me?” was a great line. It was disrespecting Rock, but you can sympathize with Cena for it because he brings up a good point. Rock got the microphone back to say that he’s not going to judge Cena and that only the Good Lord can do that. But the Good Lord can’t stop him from whipping Cena’s ass over Chicago. Cena said he brought it to him like a man, so if he wants a fight…then he dropped the microphone and they teased the fight.

That was the cue for the music of the WWE Champion The Miz. He came out with his VP of lame gimmicks Alex Riley with World Miz Entertainment Title on his shoulder. I just named it that. Miz said he would not be upstaged by the O-brothers, overhyped (Rock) and overrated (Cena). He said Cena will fight at Mania and he will lose, but at least he’ll fight. He questioned Rock’s desire to fight by pointing out that Rock’s movies have grossed $1.2 billion and that Rock’s not going to risk being beat up or embarrassed. He said he didn’t think Rock would do anything because The Miz guaran-damn-tees that he would beat him so bad. Rock told Miz it doesn’t matter what he thinks.

The verbal situation turned into a physical one as Riley hit Rock while Cena stood out on the floor. Rock took care of both guys, hitting his signature punches. It felt damn good to see those again. He sent Riley over the top with the spit punch. He dropped Miz with the vintage Rock DDT, slipped up a bit on the kip up and then hit the People’s Elbow on Miz to a HUGE ovation. That was a great moment. He threw Miz over to the top to the floor. As he did this, Cena snuck back in the ring, put Rock on his shoulders and delivered the Attitude Adjustment to heel heat from about 70% of the crowd I would guess. He did his “U Can’t See Me” hand wave at the fallen Rock and marched up the ramp. The show ended with The Rock seething in the ring staring at Cena, who pointed at the WrestleMania graphic at the top of the ramp. It was really well done with Rock staying on his back to sell the move.

I absolutely loved this segment. Much like the Undertaker-Triple H segment, it leaves you wondering what might happen at WrestleMania. Will Rock interfere in the match? Will he cost Cena the match? Will Cena win clean and then get attacked by The Rock? Will Cena turn heel? Is Miz going to end up getting that respect if he keeps the belt? There are a lot of tough questions that need to be answered. My thinking has always been that this match goes on last, Cena wins the belt and Rock raises his hand to put him over as a sign of respect. Now? I don’t know. I still think Cena will win. I just don’t know how the show is going to end. Like I said earlier, I love not knowing. I really do.

From a performance standpoint I think everybody involved deserves a lot of praise. The Rock’s energy was special, Cena’s promo was exactly what he needed to do and was the kind of promo that makes you like the guy because he was speaking from the heart when he talked about how hard he works. The Miz did seem like an afterthought again, but it wasn’t done in a way that really hurt him. He stood up to The Rock and talked trash right in his face like he said he would do. All of them did an amazing job of promoting the match at WrestleMania.

The last thing we saw on Raw was Cena laying out Rock with the Attitude Adjustment. So what’s next for those two? How about a poll?

I voted for WrestleMania 28 in Miami, Rock’s hometown. Maybe he goes into the Hall of Fame the night before. It would be amazing. I could see it at Summerslam in Los Angeles too. It could boost PPV buyrate numbers big time.

Three Stars of the Show
1. The Rock – He really is the most electrifying performer there is.
2. Shawn Michaels – Loved the way he put over the Taker-HHH match.
3. Triple H – Money promo. That’s how you do it.

Others worth mentioning for great performances are Cena, Undertaker and CM Punk. I’d throw Orton in there too because he did a good job of selling the knee.

9.1 out of 10
Last week: 7
2011 High Score: 9.1 (March 28)
2011 Low Score: 4 (Jan. 10)
2011 Average: 6.28

I usually don’t go into the decimal points unless it’s a .50 or something like that, but this week I am because I wanted to differentiate this show from the January 3 and February 14 shows that each got a 9. This was a better show, but it wasn’t 9.5 worthy. I usually don’t explain the score. It’s not scientific. And it’s nothing to get too upset about if you disagree. There are no rules. It has no direction. Kind of like TNA! Since I’m expecting high scores, I’ll throw in 7.5, 8.5 and 9.5 as options this week. Let’s see if you, the reader, liked Raw as much as I did.

That was a long show. It ended at 11:20pmET. It felt like a three hour Raw with all the talking! Not saying it’s a bad thing. It makes the writing that much longer to do.

When you watched this show you have to ask yourself: Did this week’s Raw do a good job in making me want to watch WrestleMania? For me that answer is a resounding yes. It accomplished everything they wanted to and more. They had two legendary promo segments with HHH-Taker-HBK and then with Rock-Cena-Miz as well as a very good exchange with Punk-Orton. Match wise was it a great show? Not really, but it didn’t have to be. There’ll be plenty of wrestling on Sunday night.

You know what was lost in all of the great promos that built up WrestleMania? Kane doing the trombone celebration. Classic! I like dark and demented Kane, but it’s okay to be silly once in a while too especially as a babyface.

Congrats to the Chicago crowd. You were amazing as usual. Like I always say New York, Chicago and Toronto are the best WWE crowds. I know there are a lot of others, but those are my top three. Chicago’s a great city to visit too.

I can officially, 100% confirm that I’m going to WrestleMania after a lot of planning. It’s happening. I’ll be at a lot of the Axxess events, the Hall of Fame ceremony and at the WrestleMania event itself. I didn’t plan on going to all of the events, but some friends were able to help me out with some tickets. What this means for you, the reader, is a lot of writing from me. I’d suggest you follow me on Twitter at @johnreport and friend me on Facebook ( because I’ll be writing a lot about my ride down there (12 hours), my experiences in ATL and of course my meetings with so many people there. I’ll also keep a running diary up at that I plan to update several times throughout the day. I’m not sure how often I’ll update, but I know I’ll want to write about it and share the experience with you, my fellow wrestling fan. It’s my first WrestleMania. I feel like I did when I was 7 years old going to my first live show. I’m excited.

If you’re going to WrestleMania and you want to meet up let me know. All my info is at the bottom of this column, so just contact me and I’d have no problem talking wrestling with you, no matter who you are. We’re wrestling fans. This is the biggest event of the year. Let’s have some fun.

Tonight’s Raw made me happy and proud to be a wrestling fan. Or a sports entertainment fan. Or a global entertainment fan. Whatever you call it doesn’t matter to me. It’s not always about in ring. It’s about telling a story. It’s about saying the right thing at the right time. For the performers it’s about having fun doing your job while for us fans it’s about having fun or marking out as we like to say. I did a whole lot of that tonight.

I asked my Twitter followers to send me tweets with their thoughts on Raw. I’ll post them on early on Wednesday as well as some other things I have in mind. I think I’ll be back on Wednesday night with a WrestleMania preview. It’s going to be such a busy few days (I leave for ATL on Thursday) that I don’t know if I’ll have time to do a thorough preview. I’ll do what I can.

In any event, enjoy WrestleMania, stick with TJR as best you can and I’ll do my best to share the experience with you. It should be a memorable week.

John Canton –
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