June 11, 2012
Raw: Vince McMahon stops by for a John Laurinaitis performance review
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
Could the era of People Power be over already? Vince McMahon is coming to Raw tonight to deal with rogue General Manager John Laurinaitis. Or at least it appears that way. We'll find out in moments as tonight's three-hour show goes live on USA from the XL Center in Hartford.
Big Johnny barely has to wait before Mr. McMahon appears. Vince doesn't want to shake hands, because he's here to deliver a job performance evaluation. McMahon asks for a reason why he shouldn't simply fire Laurinaitis now, and Johnny replies in the obvious way: People Power. He insists that the people love the job he's been doing, though the fans seem to be indicating otherwise. They argue for a bit after Laurinaitis tries to make the case that he's a visionary just like McMahon. Just as they get into it over Johnny's rehiring of Big Show, World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus decides to throw in his two cents. The Great White says that Laurinaitis is a friend – the kind of friend who would fine you just for kicks or hold a grudge if you accidentally bump into him. Vince mentions that #firejohnny is trending. No surprise there. Sheamus agrees with the masses that Laurinaitis should get the heave ho. An angry Laurinaitis says he's going to get an opponent for Sheamus, but McMahon warns him that it better be a good one. If not, Johnny Ace is going to hear these two words later on: You're fired! McMahon emphasizes his point by taking Johnny's mobility chair and throwing it off the stage. Alright then. After some advertisements, Laurinaitis announces that he has figured out who Sheamus will wrestle. Also, said opponent is not in a good mood.
Match 1 – Sheamus vs. Tensai
My apologies, as I lost cable during most of this one. What was apparently a pretty even match ends with a Brogue Kick and a win for the champ.
It doesn't look good for Laurinaitis after that match. Backstage, McMahon tells him that was strike one. He now needs to come up with someone for Sheamus to wrestle on Sunday, and Vickie Guerrero conveniently pops in to mention that she has two former champions in her stable who would make good candidates. Vince suggests that Johnny Ace consider them, but the GM makes a rare move by asking Teddy Long for some advice. Long reminds everyone that Great Khali and Christian have also held the World Heavyweight Championship, so perhaps having a Fatal Four-Way would be a smart move. Johnny claims that idea as his own and sends Teddy for some coffee. No fist bump from Vince though.
In the latest edition of Monday Night's Most Memorable Moments, we flash back to July 13, 2009 when Seth Green was the guest host. I like Seth just fine, but is this really one of the most notable episodes in the long history of the show? #youbethejudge
For some reason, Tensai blames his loss on Sakamoto. At least the way he is beating him around the ringside area implies that he does. Elsewhere, R-Truth gets interviewed by Matt Striker and says he's just fine. It was Little Jimmy who was traumatized. But he likes hearing the truth, and in this case, the truth is that Big Show is going to lose to John Cena on Sunday. Show takes exception to that, or at least his right hand does. Truth ends up laying face down on the pavement.
Not sure if you heard that Raw is going to three hours on July 23. They haven't mentioned it much. But hey, that's why I'm here for you.
Match 2 – Santino Marella and Layla vs. Ricardo Rodriguez and Beth Phoenix
Ricardo looks like a reluctant participant in this one. He doesn't have to do too much, as Phoenix is able to put away Layla fairly quickly. Rodriguez does decide to taunt Marella after the match, and his dress shirt gets ripped off to reveal a Justin Bieber shirt underneath it.
David Otunga gives Vince his pitch backstage. He thinks Laurinaitis is doing a great job, but if Johnny does get fired, he can't think of anyone better than a Harvard-educated man with a physique like Mr. McMahon's to take his place. Sadly, Vince says he doesn't like backstabbers or lawyers. Kofi Kingston bursts in to demand justice for his fallen tag team partner. Laurinaitis says if he wants some payback against Show, he can get it... in a steel cage. McMahon seems to like that idea.
Daniel Bryan comes to the ring to talk all things CM Punk and Kane, particularly the running subplot that includes his ex-girlfriend A.J. He insists that A.J. is still in love with him. After all, once you go Bryan, there's no point in tryin'! Still, Daniel is more interested in the title than the girl, and he plans on emerging with that belt this Sunday. This outburst can't go unanswered by Punk, so he hits the stage to a strong reaction from the crowd. The champ says A.J. is kind of crazy, but he digs crazy chicks. Punk says he'll either beat Bryan or Kane, but either way, he's walking out with his belt. Bryan retorts that he used to respect Punk until he changed from the “voice of the voiceless” to a panderer. They trade barbs about who's sold out more, with Punk insisting that he hasn't changed, and that he's achieved success completely on his own terms. Punk goes on to say that Bryan has become a self-absorbed, insecure, obnoxious, goat-faced moron. That's a little wordy for a t-shirt, but whatever. The pleasantries are interrupted by the arrival of Kane, who probably won't be joining in on the witty repartee. Oh wait, he is. Kane talks about his great Raw moments, including setting fire to J.R., electrocuting Shane McMahon's testicles and giving a Tombstone to a priest. His pipe bombs are actual pipe bombs, which is why he'll be winning the title. A.J. has something to say too. She thinks Kane has a heart deep down inside. That inspires Punk to get the fans to start a “crazy chicks” chant. She says that on Sunday, the best man will win. Laurinaitis appears on the big screen to announce a tag team match pitting Bryan and Kane against Punk and A.J. Only Bryan looks real pleased with that turn of events.
Match 3 – Christian vs. The Great Khali vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger – World Heavyweight Championship Number One Contender's Match
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler argue over whose idea this match was (#freeteddylong). Christian comes off the top rope with a frog splash, and (possibly former) buddies Ziggler and Swagger help ensure the big man is sent to the back before the commercial break. Adding to the drama between Ziggler and Swagger, Dolph takes advantage of the Killswitch that Christian hits on his partner by covering Jack and eliminating him. Well, it is every man for himself. Ziggler and Christian trade near falls until Dolph is able to get a sleeper applied. Christian battles out before catapulting Ziggler into the turnbuckle and nailing him with a spear. That's still good for only a two count. He thinks Killswitch, but Ziggler escapes to connect with the Namedropper. That's not enough, nor is Christian's next move. Christian thinks top rope again, but he's foiled by his injured ankle. Ziggler hits the Zig Zag and this time he gets the pin.
Natalya asks Vince about getting the whole Hart family back in the fold. He rolls his eyes while walking away, where he's approached by Brodus Clay's dancers. McMahon won't reverse Clay's ban from the show, but he does get funky with the girls. Zack Ryder is speechless. I'm very close to being there too.
Match 4 – Ryback vs. Willard Fillmore and Rutherford Hayes
Awesome, send the smallest guys you've got in there against Ryback. Is that a “Goldberg” chant I hear? Anyway, he pins both of the ex-presidents to get the win.
Hornswoggle and Vince share some laughs backstage, and McMahon gives the wee man some tips on how to do a better J.R. Impression. Cena stops in for a visit, saying that the sooner Laurinaitis is gone, the better. McMahon doesn't want to accept management advice from someone who lost to The Rock at WrestleMania. Cena points out that Vince hasn't done too well at the biggest show in wrestling himself. McMahon doesn't want to talk about that any further, telling Cena he should worry about his steel cage match on Sunday and warning him not to save Kingston tonight. Before he leaves, Cena tells McMahon that Donald Trump stole the “You're fired!” catchphrase from him and he should take it back by using it tonight. Otunga tries to get in one more attempt at kissing up, but Vince brushes him off by saying that no one has any respect for anyone who would pucker up and kiss another man's ass. No offense to William Regal, who just happens to be sitting on a couch behind them.
Just announced, Brodus Clay and Otunga will face off before No Way Out this Sunday on YouTube. So... yeah.
Match 5 – Kofi Kingston vs. The Big Show – Steel Cage Match
Kofi tries to take the initiative by jumping Show as soon as the bell rings. Something about discretion being the better part of valor floats through my mind. A stream of boos comes from the stands as Show takes over the match and repeatedly introduces Kingston to the steel. Of course, you can win this kind of match by escaping the cage, so Kofi gives that a few tries. Show manages to keep him inside, dropping him with a right hand in the middle of the ring.
Match 6 – Sin Cara vs. Curt Hawkins
This match gets Cole to utter the phrase “corkscrew plancha,” which is worth the price of admission on its own. Under the mood lighting, Sin Cara executes a record number of springboard moves before finally pinning Hawkins with the move formerly known as La Mistica.
Backstage Fallout on YouTube looks horribly dumb. That's just one man's opinion. I do think the WWE using YouTube is a good idea, but you can't just throw anything up there.
McMahon drops in on Bryan as he prepares for his match. Daniel is surprised that Vince would wish him luck, so the Chairman explains that he's trying to figure out how a guy who most people would not figure as a WWE superstar just by looking at him has become so successful. Bryan claims that they are similar: Both men are self-made success stories. Vince comes back with the burn by saying that unlike Bryan's last title match, he's never finished anything in just 18 seconds. McMahon lets him think about that as he walks away.
Ziggler picks a much better Monday Night's Most Memorable Moment by discussing the very first episode of Raw. Love those clips of Bobby Heenan trying to sneak in.
Match 7 – Heath Slater vs. Vader
The fans are loving this. Vader looks pretty much the same way he always has. That's just a bulky dude. The Vader Bomb neatly finishes off Slater, much to the delight of the crowd. I want a Vader match. Got to look at Highspots.com... #cheapplug
Backstage, Punk tries to reassure A.J. by saying that it will be a “glorified handicap match.” He tells her to stay on the apron and not do anything crazy, advice she repays by giving him a kiss on the cheek.
Main Event – Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk and A.J.
Everything seems fine until A.J. is tagged in accidentally to face Kane. She smiles at the Big Red Monster and skips around him in circles. Naturally, this leads to to the two of them making out. It actually works, at least getting Kane not to attack her. He tags in Bryan and looks like he is heading for the back. Punk is tagged back in, dropping the big elbow off the top to end this quickly. Kane has a confused expression on the stage while A.J. smiles and sits in the center of the ring. Punk looks like he doesn't know what to think.
It's time for Laurinaitis to face the music. McMahon enters the ring flanked by a half dozen security guards. Vince talks up the Hartford area and asks for Laurinaitis to come down. Johnny Ace limps his way down, looking longingly at his scooter laying beside the ramp. Laurinaitis doesn't like what happened to his scooter and says McMahon doesn't need the security guards. They aren't for Vince, though, they're for walking someone right out of the business. Johnny makes his final plea, saying the WWE and the fans need him, especially when the show goes to three hours for good. McMahon is about to drop his most famous two words on Laurinaitis, but Big Show's music hits, and the giant makes his way down to the squared circle. Show admits that Johnny has made a few mistakes, but the ironclad contract he was given allows him to say and do whatever he wants. McMahon could fire Show, but then he'd be owed millions of dollars for years to do nothing. It's not Laurinaitis' fault. Show blames everything on McMahon, all the humiliation he suffered while being an “entertainer” for the last 14 years. Now, Show says he no longer has to be part of the dog and pony show. He thinks McMahon should be worried about Cena's health than firing Laurinaitis. Of course, Cena gets a chance to join this scene too. He wants to get to the bottom of all of this, especially Show blaming just about everyone for his plight. Cena points out that the deck is finally stacked in Show's favor for once, but what happens if he loses? If the giant loses on Sunday, he has no more excuses to make and no one left to blame. McMahon pipes up, saying he's going to be sitting ringside on Sunday, ready to fire Johnny if Show loses. Chaos erupts as Show and Cena try to get at each other, and a right hand from Show takes out McMahon. Vince is out cold as Raw goes off the air for another week. See you in seven!
Nick Tylwalk wishes some entrance music would hit and a random wrestler would come down to interrupt his next job performance review. Volunteer your services by contacting him on Twitter, on Google+ or by email.