WWE Raw Flashback: A look back at the first show after WrestleMania 27 - The Rock and John Cena set the stage for WrestleMania 27, Rock and Cena attacked by a heel faction
The following is Jason Powell's review of the April 4, 2011 WWE Raw television show. Stop back tonight for Jason Powell's live coverage of WWE Raw. Dot Net Members can look forward to an exclusive audio review of Raw tonight, and they are already listening to a two-hour post-WrestleMania 28 review featuring former WWE creative team member Seth Mates. Join us on the ad-free membership site by signing up via Prowrestling.net/amember/signup.php. Once you are there, enter the coupon code: sale2012a to take advantage of the $5 for one month special, or the code sale2012b to lock yourself in at $5 rate for a full year ($60 annual price).
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Atlanta, Ga.
[Q1] The opening video aired... Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler checked in on commentary to hype the show. Ross said it was good to be there...
Triple H's music played and head headed to the ring dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and shades. He received a great ovation and stopped once in the ring to take it all in. The cheers died down and a "You tapped out chant" actually started amongst some of the fans. Really?
Hunter admitted that this was the most tired and beat up he's been in his life. He spoke about facing Undertaker in front of 71,000 fans at WrestleMania 27. He said he's never been nervous, emotional, or rattled, but when the gong hit and Taker walked to the ring, "I almost hyperventilated," Hunter said.
Triple H noted that he's wrestled Undertaker before. "Hell, I've wrestled him at WrestleMania before, but never like this," he said. Hunter said The Streak is everything to Undertaker. He said he's never hit anyone as hard as he hit Undertaker. "He just kept getting up and he kept coming."
Hunter said they both left everything they had in the ring last night. Hunter said his effort wasn't good enough. "Ain't no man alive every walked through my stuff like that," Hunter said. He guessed that it's just will power. He said that when he watched Taker carried out of the ring on a stretcher, he saw a man. "A man that is willing to destroy himself to keep that streak."
Triple H said a lot of people are saying that's it for Undertaker and he'll never be back. "I'm not buying it," Hunter said. He said just in case, he wanted to say one thing. Hunter removed his shades and looked into the camera. "I just want to say thank you, Dead Man, thank you. You gave me the fight of my life. Thank you.
"Here's the thing, I don't believe you won't be back. Not after what I felt last night. Not after that magic. You'll be back. And when you're back, I'll be waiting." Hunter dropped the mic to to end the promo and then his music played. Ross said Hunter was getting a well earned ovation from over 15,000 fans in Atlanta. Lawler put the match over.
The announcers spoke at ringside. Ross said the rumor is that Michael Cole is going to challenge Lawler to a match. Lawler said it's just a rumor, but pointed out that he had his gear on just in case... [C]
Powell's POV: A very good promo. Hunter had cuts and bandages on his nose. Those cuts, his words about the match, and the live crowd's reaction have to have anyone who didn't see the show seriously considering the idea of ordering the replay. I love the tease for more from Hunter and Taker. As for Cole, he jumped the shark with me last night. He's a good enough talker than he can probably get me interested again, but I was really hoping that he would disappear for a while.
[Q2] Ross and Lawler hyped the premiere of WWE Tough Enough as coming up after the show. The announcers were still talking when Michael Cole interrupted by asking for attention over the house mic. Cole walked onto the stage wearing the same gear he wore at WrestleMania.
Cole said that despite biased referee, Team Cole was victorious. Cole was really over the top as he spoke about overcoming obstacles to beat Lawler. He said the world wasn't talking about The Rock or Undertaker's streak, the world was talking about Michael Cole. He laid claim to being Mr. WrestleMania. Funny.
Lawler stood up and asked for Cole's attention. He said "a stupid computer beat me." He said Cole tapped out and was crying like a little girl. Another "you tapped out" chant broke out in the crowd. Lawler said Cole may go down in the record books as the winner, but he will forever be known as a worthless jackass. Cole said Lawler couldn't beat him even with Steve Austin as the referee.
Cole issued a challenge to Lawler for a rematch. "Why don't you prove to the world that you're still The King," Cole said. Lawler accepted the match and said he wanted to do it immediately. Cole walked down the ramp and said, "Oh, Jerry, Jerry, I forgot one thing." He said he wasn't talking about a WrestleMania rematch. Rather, he was talking about a rematch from Raw of Lawler's match with Jack Swagger.
1. Jerry Lawler beat Jack Swagger (w/Michael Cole) by reverse decision DQ in 3:50. Swagger dominated Lawler until he missed the Swagger Bomb. Lawler hit Swagger with a series of punches and followed up with a dropkick. Lawler went to the second rope and lowered the strap. Cole distracted him on the apron.
Lawler ran after Cole, who entered the ring. Lawler followed and caught him. Lawler punched Cole repeatedly. However, Swagger grabbed Lawler and put him in the ankle lock. Lawler tapped. Swagger wouldn't break the hold. Ross was great in calling out for Swagger to break the hold.
Swagger didn't release the hold, so the referee reversed the original decision and disqualified Swagger. Cole approached Ross at the announcers' table and yelled at him. Cole went inside the Cole Mine, which was covered in police tape (funny), and pulled out a bottle of JR's BBQ Sauce. Cole opened the bottle and shook the bottle on Ross, who was covered with his own sauce. Ross followed Cole up the ramp and to the backstage area... A commercial hyped WrestleMania 28 for Miami...
Powell's POV: If someone had told you before WrestleMania 1, WrestleMania 10, or even WrestleMania 20 that Jerry Lawler woudl be in the first Raw match after WrestleMania 27, would you have believed them? Me neither. BBQ sauce on Ross? Man, they just can't stop messing with that guy. This better not be the end of Ross on commentary.
[Q3] [C] A graphic touted WWE's "entertainment event" record attendance at the Georgia Dome... The good commentary didn't last long, as Cole was in the Cole Mine, and Josh Mathews and Booker T were behind the desk. Cole threw a fit and said that's what Ross deserved...
2. Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio defeated C.M. Punk and Cody Rhodes in 16:30. Rey spotted a special fan at ringside and took a moment with him and eventually gave him his t-shirt. Very cool. Orton was still wearing the knee wrap, and Cody was wearing the mask. Cody was at ringside when they cut to commercial. [C]
[Q4] At 8:15, Cody clipped a distracted Orton's bad knee from behind. Punk checked in and put the boots to Orton. Randy went for an RKO, but Punk avoided it and clipped the bad knee again. The match cut to yet another freaking commercial break. [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped nothing in particular.
Back live, Mysterio had Punk set up for a 619, but Rhodes cut off Mysterio with a knee. Punk covered Rey, who kicked out. Orton eventually took the hot tag and roughed up his former stable mate Cody. Orton hit the middle rope DDT and then struck the Viper's Pose. Orton spotted Punk doing something, and Punk jumped off the apron.
However, Punk came back in to break up Orton's pin attempt on Cody. Mysterio hit a 619 on Cody, who fell into the RKO. Orton pinned Rhodes to win the match for his team...
Powell's POV: I know this sounds petty, but I wish Cody's psychological issues included him finding his own knees ugly so that he would finally cover them with kneepads. A good tag match. Despite the two commercial breaks, we got to see a lot of in-ring action. I'm not sure why they felt the need to take whatever heat Cody gained last night away. For that matter, I thought they'd put some heat back on Punk tonight. Not the end of the world, but I am a bit surprised. Sadly, I probably shouldn't be.
The announcers hyped John Cena calling out The Rock... Backstage, Steve Austin bumped into Triple H. "I don't know if it's ever going to happen again, but if it does I'll be there," Austin said. "Hell of a match." Hunter thanked him and they shook hands... [C]
Powell's POV: It's interesting that Austin and Rock had the intense staredown at WrestleMania, and this one started the same way, yet Hunter and Austin ended up shaking hands.
A Sin Cara video aired... The announcers spoke briefly about WrestleMania 27...
Powell's POV: There was no "next week" or any indication of when we'll see Sin Cara wrestle. He was advertised on the WWE website for tonight's show. Maybe we'll still get it, but it has not been mentioned.
[Q5] Steve Austin's music played and he headed to the ring. Cole boasted on commentary that he might put his WrestleMania Streak on the line against Taker's next year. It was a lot funnier when The Miz said something similar about being 1-0. "Oh hell yeah," Austin said to open his promo. He introduced the Tough Enough cast and they headed to the ring while a crappy song played
Austin said he had 14 men and women there, and he was going to put them to the paces Stone Cold style. He mentioned Bill DeMott, Booker T, and Trish Stratus while pausing so a small part of the crowd could do the overplayed "what?" routine. Austin handed a mic to the first kid.
The Tough Enough contestants took turns introducing themselves. Austin said to keep it short and sweet because they're in his ring. Christina Crawford is the younger sister of Alicia Fox. Miss USA was positioned in the middle. Michelle Deighton is the wife of Jonny Fairplay. "I am definitely good looking enough to be a Diva," she said before blowing a kiss.
Austin called them a "fine looking bunch of human beings." A "Stun them all" chant broke out. Austin stopped and smiled and the chant grew louder. Funny. Austin kept talking until he was interrupted by The Miz's music. Cole cheered as Miz and Alex Riley walked onto the stage. "I wonder if he saw me," Cole asked. Funny.
Before Miz spoke, a loud "Miz is awesome" chant broke out. Miz bragged about his WrestleMania 27 win and eventually headed to the ring. He called the big dude "Buckwheat" because of his hair and told him to move. Miz told the contestants that this is the closest they'd get to his WWE Championship belt.
Miz asked Austin if he wanted to hold the belt too. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking," Miz asked. "Do you think you have one more run? I'll bet you think you're tough enough." The fans chanted, "One more match." Miz said they shoudl clear the ring and find out if he could have one more match.
Austin smirked. "Clear the ring," Austin said. The Tough Enough students obliged. Miz and Austin went face-to-face. The Miz took a cheap shot at Austin with the mic. The Miz went to ringside, leaving Riley to rough up Austin briefly. Austin made his comeback and hit some of his signature offensive moves, including the Stunner to a huge pop.
The Tough Enough students clapped at ringside. It looked like it was time for a beer bath. However, Austin threw a beer to each of the students. The crowd was quiet and there were some boos. Austin toasted them and beer went flying over the contestants.
[Q6] Austin went to the ropes and did his usual beer bath. Austin went to ringside and looked at Cole. "Not in the Cole Mine," Cole pleaded. "There's a lot of equipment in here. There's electrical equipment. I'm going to get electrocuted." Austin dumped beer on Cole and then went to the stage to drink beer, and then the Tough Enough kids followed him to the back...
The announcers hyped John Cena calling out The Rock... [C]
Powell's POV: Either the Miz caught herpes over the weekend or he suffered a minor cut on his upper lip last night. I'm guessing it's the latter. The Tough Enough introduction bit was NXT bad. It's hard to get excited about contestants when they introduce themselves in a tough setting like Raw where the fans just want to see the stars. Things got a hell of a lot better once The Miz arrived. It was fun to see Austin do more than just a kick to the gut. If nothing else, the Tough Enough contestants can say they drank a beer during their first Raw appearance.
3. Alberto Del Rio (w/Brodus Clay, Ricardo Rodriguez) beat Evan Bourne in 2:40. Booker T said Del Rio looked like he lost his confidence in front of 70,000 people at WrestleMania. Del Rio's lip was cut when Bourne caught him with a kick. Del Rio roughed up Bourne, took him to ringside, and threw him into the guardrail.
A "Del Rio" chant broke out when they were back inside the ring. Bourne got his hope spots. He went to the ropes for his finisher, but Del Rio recovered and ran over to the ropes and caught him with a kick to the head. Del Rio applied the cross arm breaker and got the submission win...
Powell's POV: An effective borderline squash match designed to give Del Rio his heat back. Bourne took the beating like a pro by bumping all over the place to make Del Rio's offense look good. The running kick while Bourne was on the ropes was cool.
[Q7] The announcers hyped that 130,000 fans attended WWE events throughout WrestleMania week. A video of the WWE Axxess events was shown. Shawn Michaels was shown getting Triple H's autograph and they hammed it up. They showed highlights of various events including a WWE golf outing, a reading event, and WWE Night at the Gold Club...
Powell's POV: Yeah, I made up that last one.
Cole was babbling on when Vickie Guerrero came out with Dolph Ziggler. They both wore ring gear. "Hi, Vickie," Cole yelled. Vickie and Dolph bitched about the six-person match at WrestleMania. Dolph congratulated John Morrison on the win at WrestleMania, and then asked if he should be congratulating Snooki. He challenged Morrison and Trish Stratus to a match. The announcers said we'll find out after the break whether they will accept the challenge... [C]
Powell's POV: This would be a cool time for Awesome Kong to debut as Vickie's hired gun.
4. John Morrison and Trish Stratus beat Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero in 3:20. Cole said he's going to wear his gear everywhere now since he won his match. The announcers spoke about Snooki's performance. Booker also said he got overly excited and had no business being in the ring when he took the Stunner from Austin.
In a fun spot, Vickie teased doing the handspring elbow that Snooki used. It resulted in a half cartwheel and she played to the crowd. Funny. Trish chopped Vickie a few times and she quickly covered her chest when Trish went for the third one. In the end, Morrison hit Starship Pain and scored the pin... [C]
Powell's POV: This didn't feel very special even though it might be the last time we see Trish in the ring outside of the Tough Enough show. That's just a guess regarding her future. I hope I'm wrong. They've really dropped the ball when it comes to making her seem like a returning star. They've made her just another Diva. By the way, I was more excited about Tough Enough before they introduced themselves. I'm still looking forward to it, but I think that intro segment did more harm than good.
[Q8] 5. Sheamus beat Daniel Bryan to retain the United States Championship in 3:50. A cool graphic for the U.S. Title was shown before the match. Both guys debuted new ring gear that they presumably would have debuted on the WrestleMania pay-per-view had they not been bumped to the dark match.
Sheamus got the win with the Brough Kick. He put the boots to Bryan after the match as Booker talked about how he made it look easy. When Sheamus didn't let up with the boots to Bryan, the ref reversed his decision to remain consistent. Wait, no, the ref just watched.
Sin Cara's music played. He walked onto the stage and received a decent reaction. Sin Cara ran to the ring and flipped his way over the top rope and into the ring. He knocked Sheamus to the floor and then performed a great cross body block on Sheamus onto the floor. Sheamus looked stunned as he looked up at Sin Cara, who played to the crowd on the stage... [C]
Powell's POV: Sheamus dominated the match, and with Sin Cara attacking Sheamus, it looks like Bryan is out of the U.S. Title picture. A good debut for Sin Cara. The live crowd wasn't particularly hot for his debut, but he got some serious air on the cross body block and made an impression in the process.
John Cena's music plays and the boos came through loud and clear. The cameras focussed on the cheering women. There were plenty of fans cheering for Cena, and they got louder as he made his way to the ring. "Some people love him, some people don't," Mathews said regarding Cena on commentary.
[Overrun] Cena, who was wearing his new red gear, said he didn't think "that certain someone" would decide the winner at WrestleMania. Cena said that if Rock didn't do what he did (by restarting the match), the final match at WrestleMania would have been a draw. "I'm not going to complain, I'm going to congratulate...The Miz," Cena said. What?!?
Cena said it doesn't matter how he did it. He said he knows how hard it is to walk into WrestleMania and leave as the champion. Cena said Miz is still the most annoying man on the face of the earth and hopes he never gets another chance to face him (his words, not a typo). Cena spoke about how Miz earned our respect.
Cena turned his attention to The Rock and said they have some unfinished business to settle right now. A "Rocky" chant broke out. There was a long delay and just when Cena started to show frustration, The Rock made his entrance to cheers and played to the fans while standing on the ropes.
There was a long staredown between Rock and Cena from across the ring and a loud "Fruity Pebbles" chant broke out. Rock said he was going to be direct with Cena. "What did you think was going to happen?" Rock asked. "You knew payback was coming." Rock said he has talked trash and that's what he does better than anyone.
Rock said Cena is wrong about one thing - respect. "You see, The Rock respects you." The crowd booed. Rock said he knows all about Cena and how he lives and breathes WWE. Rock said it's because of Cena's drive that he's become one of the greatest WWE Champions of all time.
"But it doesn't change the fact, flat out, that The Rock just doesn't like you," Rock said. "Look at us, Cena, we are completely different." Rock said they are also similar in that when they do something, they want to do it the absolute best. Rock took another jab at Cena's clothes and said he shops at Baby Gap.
Cena laughed at taking advice from the Tooth Fairy. He said the people don't want to see them talk, they want to see them have a match. Cena said the match that the fans want is John Cena vs. The Rock. "It's obvious that this is what we should do," Cena said. "So do you want to talk about it or do you want to bring it." Cena removed his hat and shirt.
Rock stared intently at Cena. "John Cena, you have no idea what you just asked for," Rock said. He said The Rock will bring it. He said they should do something that has never been done before. "WrestleMania 28, John Cena vs. The Rock," Rock said. There were plenty of boos from the crowd who didn't want to wait that long.
Cena surveyed the crowd. Rock said it's going to be The People's Champion and The People's WrestleMania. "If you smell what The Rock is cooking," Rock said. Rock stuck his hand out to Cena, who looked to the crowd before taking his hand. They pulled close to one another and glared into each other's eyes.
Cole chimed in on commentary and said never before has the main event of WrestleMania been set a year out. Suddenly, the jobbers who lost in 90 seconds, er, The Corre surrounded the ring. The Corre attacked attacked Rock and Cena. The crowd groaned.
Rock and Cena eventually fought off The Corre members. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle on Heath Slater while The Rock watched. The Rock motioned to Cena and eventually hit The People's Elbow on Wade Barrett. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Barrett. Cena's music started to play. It stopped when Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Barrett.
Rock and Cena returned to the middle of the ring for another staredown. "I'll see you at WrestleMania," The Rock said. They shook hands. Rock's music played and Cena left the ring... When Raw ended, they went right into WWE Tough Enough...
Powell's POV: The live crowd's reaction was expected because they want to see the match much sooner. It didn't make for a great atmosphere, but make no mistake about it, this is a huge announcement. I also wonder if part of the problem with the live crowd is that they don't actually believe it's going to happen because it's so far away. It's a bold move by WWE to announce it this far out.
Overall, this show was a roller coaster show with a lot of ups and downs. It was very entertaining at times, and very flat at other points. The match may not feel hot right now, but WrestleMania 28 should do a monster buyrate, particularly if we get the Undertaker vs. Triple H rematch along with Rock vs. Cena.
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