Hello everyone and welcome back to “The Teach’s Classroom” here on The Fight Network! Tonight’s episode will celebrate a new year in the life of “The Great One” – but will Rock be the one giving or receiving birthday bashes? Will newly-crowned WWE champion John Cena – Rock’s Wrestlemania 28 opponent – be amongst the party guests? Find out as the Rock FINALLY… comes back…to the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida!
The Show Opens…
…with a sobering look at the attacks on America on September 11, 2001. We even get a reference to the September 13, 2001 Smackdown! in Houston Texas – the ‘first public assembly of such size’ following the attacks. Impressive views of how much things have changed – Booker as an active wrestler, a thinner Big Show, Debra and Stone Cold still together, and a pre-JBL APA John Bradshaw Layfield.
The video ends and we go to the ring, where Lillian Garcia is making a special guest appearance to sing the US National Anthem. A good number of American flags in the crowd, combined with red, white and blue lighting. My thought? People in the audience, take your hats off for the anthem!
A nice performance by Garcia followed by very loud USA chants.
We now get the RAW show intro with changes made reflecting the draft (Rey added in, for example).
We are told by the announcers at ringside – Michael Cole, Jerry “The King Lawler” and Josh Matthews – that this will be an historic celebration, not only of American patriotism, but also of the Rock’s birthday.
IF YOU SMELLLLLLL…What the ROCK…is COOKIN’. The People’s Champ comes out to a very loud crowd reaction – one befitting a hometown hero. Rock stands on the stage for a while, drinking in the crowd response. He then storms to the ring in true ‘Great One’ fashion.
In the ring, Rock smiles as he gets very loud “ROCKY” chants. “Finally…the ROCK has come BACK…home…before we get started, I’ve got one thing to say: we GOT ‘EM!” The Osama bin Laden death reference gets loud U-S-A chants as the Rock goes on to thank the service people who fight for American freedom.
Rock follows up with the Pledge of Allegiance, echoed by the crowd.
Rock talks about when ‘the baby Rock was born, bursting from the womb’ – and how the doctors said his name was certainly ‘Johnson’. He says he may have had a geeky high school face, but he devoured more pie in one night than King Kong Bundy at a Polish bakery. Rock ends his speech with “enough with the yakkin’, I’m done with the speech, the Rock is going to party all over South Beach”.
GM BEEP. Cole gleefully interrupts Rock, and Rock is infuriated. He criticizes Cole for interrupting him on his birthday. He says Rock should leave the Cole Mine and read the message in the ring to the Rock’s face.
Rock says that while he knows Cole may be scared, Cole did win his Mania and Extreme Rules matches…so he must be a tough guy. Rock says that Cole should quit sitting in the glass box like a drunk hobbit ‘jackbag’ b****. Cole says he doesn’t have to worry about what Rock says because he is associated with winners – and Cole shows off a Celtics jersey to a HUGE amount of boos.
Cole gets in the ring and says that Rock must apologize to the RAW general manager for insulting he/she/it at WM. Cole says he personally wants an apology, or Rock’s little birthday celebration will be over.
Rock acknowledges that he has indeed insulted both Cole and the GM, and he apologizes. He extends his hand – and says Cole should accept the apology in front of the millions (AND MILLIONS!) of the fans. Cole shakes Rock’s hand (fatal error) and Rock says – while he has Cole locked in a tight grasp – “Michael Cole, thank you… and… Go Heat, b*tch”. Rock gives the Rock Bottom to Cole much to the crowd’s delight and then delivers a brutal People’s Elbow.
Rock’s music starts and seems about ready to take us to the break – but Rock interrupts and says that this is the 305 and welcomes Pitbull (singer) who comes out looking like a cross between Konan and Santino Marella. He sings his song while the Miami Heat cheerleaders dance around him.
Video of Lebron James and another Heat player (Dawayne?) wishing Rock a happy birthday.
Back from the break, we get a video package reminding us of R-Truth turning heel on the crowd last week, followed with John Morrison’s attack.
Now that Cole is gone we have Jim Ross out to announce with Jerry and Josh.
Now Listen! John Morrison comes out but is attacked from behind by R-Truth. Truth throws Morrison into the crowd barricade, then punches him in the face twice. Next, Truth hits his finisher on JoMo on the outside. The match doesn’t even start. John Morrison sells a potential neck injury while refs come down to help him up the ramp. JoMo gets up to the top of the ramp with the help of the zebras, only to be again assaulted by Truth (who hits his finisher once more). Lawler, JR and Matthews really emphasize how ‘mentally deranged’ Truth looks while attacking his foe.
Jimmy Kimmel is next in a video package, wishing Rock a happy Birthday. A few good lines from the talk show host – he says that Rock’ll be spending his birthday the same way he does (with men in their underwear) and then shows that he is indeed a candy-ass (holding up a bag full of candy).
FIRST MATCH: Kelly Kelly versus Maryse
JR has the best opening line – “I bet a blonde wins this one”. The match is barely underway when Kharma (known in TNA as Awesome Kong) interrupts the bout. Kharma walks to the ring with confidence as Kelly Kelly seems petrified in the ring. Apparently Kharma has Medusa-like qualities. The announcers seem to really be focusing on the fact that Kelly Kelly isn’t smart enough to leave the ring. Maryse, meanwhile, is the chosen victim, receiving the Implant Buster. Kelly Kelly cowers in the corner, promoting a smile and cackle from Kharma.
Winner: NO CONTEST
We go backstage, where Miz is looking ticked off due to A-Ri being late – and more specifically due to the loss of his title last night at Extreme Rules. Miz reminds A-Ri of his duties as hired help and underlines the importance of getting back the title in tonight’s rematch bout for the WWE championship.
We get a Paul Walker video package wishing Rock a Happy Birthday. Walker (Rock’s co-star, alongside Vin Diesel in Furious Five) says to ‘tell Fruity Pebbles’ that ‘even though you’re a year older, you can still see fine’.
Samuel L. Jackson is next up to wish Rock a happy Birthday. I cannot understand half of the things he’s saying, but did like the line “I would run through a lion’s den with steak drawers on for you”.
In the back, Rock is talking to the Divas about putting his moves on Michelle Obama and receiving a People’s Eyebrow from Obama. Rock meets Teddy Long, Kozlov and Santino. Santino is dressed as Rock’s character in Fast Five. Randomly Hornswoggle comes running out dressed as the Scorpion King; he complains of a toothache, which leads to Khali coming out dressed as a tooth fairy. Ron Simmons comes in and says DAMN as only he can while looking at the assembled comedy characters.
Steve Carell does a funny video saying that he is being forced against his will and against his better judgment to wish Dwayne Johnson a Happy Birthday.
SECOND MATCH: WWE Champion John Cena versus The Miz
Miz is out first, accompanied by A-Ri. Cena comes out to a pretty good reaction at first. He holds the WWE Championship over his head, the “W” now righted in its proper spot.
Justin Roberts does the official introduction for both competitors. Miz gets booed, but so too does Cena (although much more mixed in nature).
The bell rings and the two circle one another, looking for an advantage. They lock up in the center, leading to a side headlock on Cena by Miz. Cena powers out of it, leapfrogs over Miz and hits a dropkick. Quick pin attempt and only 1.5. Cena telegraphs a back body drop and gets kicked in the head. Miz gets clotheslined down, yet A-Ri is able to distract Cena long enough for Miz to clothesline Cena. Cena gets whipped into the steel steps on the outside of the ring. Miz rolls Cena back into the ring and goes for a pin but only gets 2. Duelling “Let’s go Cena” and “Cena Sucks” chants. Miz measures Cena and hits his jumping clothesline through the second ropes in the corner. He hits a double axhandle on Cena from the turnbuckle, goes for the pin and gets only 2, taking us to commercial.
Back from break and Miz is still in control, laying into Cena with punches and kicks in the corner. Cena turns it around, setting Miz up for – and connecting with – the Five Knuckle shuffle. He tries to get the Attitude Adjustment, but Miz slithers out and hits a kick square to the jaw of the Champ. When Miz goes for another kick, Cena capitalizes by locking in an STF. Miz is too close to the ropes, though, and gets the hold broken. He nails Cena with a DDT and gets a 2-count.
Miz exposes one of the turnbuckles but it doesn’t yet come into play. Miz prepares for the Skull-Crushing Finale but Cena backs out, dropping the ref. Cena gets the STF and Miz taps, but there is no one to take the submission. A-Ri comes in with the briefcase and in the ensuing action Miz nails Cena with the briefcase, followed by the SCF. He goes for the pin and the ref is awakened by A-RI, but gets a 2.75 count. Cena hits Miz with the AA and goes for what looks like a sure pin, but Miz kicks out! A-Ri distracts the ref yet again; this time, Miz hits Cena with the belt. He goes for the pin and gets the three count. Miz wins the belt! And yet…
…the ref overturns the decision based on the interference. Cena retains.
Winner and STILL WWE Champion: John Cena
Post-match, Miz gets in A-Ri’s face, allowing Cena to capitalize on the situation by taking both men out. Cena climbs the turnbuckle and celebrates while Miz looks absolutely distraught on the outside.
Ellen DeGeneres is the next celeb to wish Rock a happy birthday.
Tyler Perry, from the Madea film, sends Rock his best.
We go to the crowd reaction at last night’s Extreme Rules when John Cena announced that the USA ‘caught and compromised to a permanent end’ Osama Bin Laden.
In the ring we have Ricardo Rodriguez, who announces the arrival – alongside the honking of the Phantom Rolls’ Royce horn – of Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio is looking in better shape than he was last evening after the very rough and painful ladder match against Christian. Del Rio is going to be ringside to observe the upcoming match.
THIRD MATCH: Rey Mysterio and US Champion Kofi Kingston versus Drew McIntyre and The All-American American Jack Swagger
Rey and Kofi use quick tags (befitting their individual speed) in the early going to lay into Jack Swagger. Drew McIntyre slows the pace down, however, by interfering and clotheslining Kofi down from the apron.
McIntyre is attacking, via clubbing blows, the prone Kofi Kingston. Meanwhile Alberto Del Rio, seated at ringside, runs down Rey Mysterio as a ‘Chihuahua’ who followed him to RAW.
Kofi briefly fights back against McIntyre following a pinning predicament, but Swagger sneaks into the ring off of the tag to slow the pace once more. McIntyre comes back into the ring and is unable to prevent Kofi from making the hot tag to Rey, who comes into the ring and delivers a hurricanrana to the Scottish Chosen one. Swagger intervenes to stop a pinfall attempt and is himself foiled by Kofi. Rey knocks McIntyre ‘into our living room’ (quite close to the camera at ringside!); the Scottish stretcher is hit with the Trouble in Paradise and then the 619. Three seconds later and Rey has pinned McIntyre.
Winners via Pinfall: Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio
Post-match, Del Rio tries to intervene and sneak-attack Rey but is dropkicked to the outside for his troubles.
We get a video package of WWE’s recent campaigning against bullying. As a teacher who witnesses such victimization from time to time, I applaud the WWE for focusing on such an important issue.
Next we see our latest celeb – rapper/actor Ludacris – who wishes Rock well on his big day.
Dan Marino is the next guy to wish Rock a happy birthday.
In the back Rock congratulates Christian on his winning of the World Heavyweight Championship. Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero produce ‘pie’ for the Rock – Mae Young, wearing a sash that says “Happy B-Day Rock”. Rock says that Guerrero will never be as attractive as Mae Young and plants a kiss on Young.
Rock turns around and the jokes turn to serious stares. Cena says that he brought a gift that Rock can only get from him – the WWE Title. Rock can get it at Wrestlemania, but he’ll have to go through Cena. Rock says “Just Bring it.”
Kane stomps through the back of the arena and is on his way to the ring to take on Mason Ryan.
George Lopez not only wishes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson a happy birthday, but he also offers him a birthday present of a back massage…then paints an eyebrow over his right eye.
FOURTH MATCH: Mason Ryan versus Kane
Ryan is accompanied down to the ring by CM Punk who, alongside Orton, put on one of the better matches at last night’s Extreme Rules.
Tag champ Kane comes down to the ring with his belt on his shoulder.
The two lock up and Ryan overpowers Kane, knocking him down and out of the ring. Ryan follows up with a big clothesline and a powerful slam on the Big Red Machine. A big whip into the corner and Kane is really selling the pain being dished out by this Welsh Warrior. CM Punk intervenes the moment that Kane starts to get momentum in the match and the bell is rung.
Winner via Disqualification: Kane
The New Nexus comes down to the ring but is dispatched by Kane. Mason Ryan powers out of Kane’s chokeslam and gives a sort of side-effect/Rock Bottom finisher to the Big Red Machine. Big Show comes down to the ring to destroy the New Nexus and is successful until Ryan spears him in the stomach. Ryan stomps up to the top of the ramp while the rest of the New Nexus – Punk included – look at him with new eyes, as a legitimate threat/force with which to be reckoned.
Video package from Regis and Kelly passing along their pleasantries to the Rock.
Scottish funnyman Craig Ferguson wishes Rock a bonnie birthday, saying that he smells like Peaches (a ‘stripper, not the fruit’) and could beat him up (Ferguson).
IF YOU SMELLLLL! Rock is back out to the ring with a mic in hand. He asks the crowd if they had a good time tonight and they say ‘yes’ in a resounding fashion. Everyone in the arena seems to have birthday hats on, including Rock’s family (in attendance). Rock says that next year’s Wrestlemania – the “People’s Wrestlemania” will be the greatest of all time…
NO CHANCE… The Chairman Vince McMahon struts out to the stage and wishes Rock well on his birthday. He thanks Rock for approaching him as an up-and-coming superstar and saying that he could take the brass ring and run with it if he got the chance, because he did. Vince has to thank Rock for coming home (and has tears in his eyes when he says it).
Video package: “I’m coming home…”. Highlights Rock’s moments in his career, from football to the world of wrestling.
Next out is Grammy winner and singer Maya, who leads the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to The Rock.
Rock gets on the mic and says, to the people of the WWE, to the fans in attendance, to all of the members of Team Bring It: ‘thank-you, I love you, if you smelllllllllll what the Rock is cooking.” Streamers fall from the arena ceiling like technicolour caterpillars while confetti explodes into the air like shredded Teletubbies. It’s an impressive sight to end the show.
The Teach’s Report Card:
The General RAW Overview
Wrestling-wise, the show gets a C+ from me. The standout of the evening was the Miz/Cena match, primarily because of the false finishes and the tease of the title change. Both men came across as aggressive and the hot crowd certainly helped make it seem even more important as a bout. On the whole, though, the other matches were either short or finished in a kerfuffle (Maryse/Kelly Kelly, Kane/Ryan, JoMo/Truth), making it a show lacking in overall wrestling quality.
Promo or story-line-wise the show was fair, and so receives a C. We had the continuance of feuds (R-Truth/Morrison, Del Rio and Rey) and the beginning of new ones (Kharma versus the Diva Division, Mason Ryan versus everyone…and perhaps even the Nexus). The biggest tease is the eventual John Cena and Rock showdown at next year’s Granddaddy of them All, Wrestlemania 28. The problem was that so much of the show was devoted to the Rock’s birthday segments that we really lost the potential for more relevant/developed storylines.
Now, for the specifics:
Top marks in the class – go to Cena and Miz for putting on a convincing title rematch, even if it saw a lot of interference (and ultimately Cena shrugging off a briefcase and belt shot).
Certificates of Achievement – The first one goes to Rock for giving Cole his finishers. If only we could get Jerry “The King” Lawler to do the same (Piledriver?) to Cole so that feud could end. The second goes to Kharma for making the Diva Division interesting to watch – hopefully this will lead to some impressive feuds between Kharma and female wrestlers like Gail Kim, Natalya and Beth Phoenix.
“A” for Effort – goes to the gents involved in the tag match for aiming to please the crowd in limited time.
Detention – goes to the never-ending celebrity shout-outs. I like the Rock in general and I think it’s nice that the WWE went to such trouble, but I was looking forward to watching wrestling on the show…
Phone Call Home – to The Miz. What does your future hold now that you seem out of the title hunt? Might you be better serving your career on Smackdown! feuding with Christian?
Your Homework: Check out Extreme Rules if you get a chance. It was a decent PPV, especially when considering the Orton/Punk, Cody/Rey and Christian/Del Rio matches. Also, tell me what you thought of the show. Was RAW too patriotic, or did it fit with the WWE’s military-supportive stance over the years? Is the WWE going down the wrong path by focusing on a wrestler like the Rock who, while legendary and a fantastic promo-man, doesn’t show up on a weekly basis? What would your grade be for this week’s RAW?
Thank-you for joining me in this week’s RAW recap. Until next week, this is your teacher, Ian “Full-Nelson” Anderson, saying: Class Dismissed!