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WWE ‘Monday Night Raw’ Recap – [3/26/12]

WWE

This week was the go-home show to ‘WrestleMania XXVIII,’ but with all the matches set and the stakes already escalated, ‘Monday Night Raw,’ felt mostly like bookkeeping and plate spinning. Still, with one of the best all-around Mania cards in recent memory, and stars from both ‘Raw’ and ‘SmackDown’ appearing on the show, this week’s installment of WWE’s flagship program was far from disappointing, boasting its fair share of memorable moments.

Catch up on what happened on the last ‘Raw’ before ‘WrestleMania XXVIII’ by reading this week’s rundown, then make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Finally, after sharing the article on every form of social media you’re currently enslaved to, follow me on Twitter, where I absolutely promise not to reveal deep, dark secrets about your family members.

Also, if you’re ready to get hyped up for four hours of wrestling, check our preview of ‘WrestleMania XXVIII.’

Raw opened with…A MATCH!?

Anyone possessing even a passing familiarity with WWE knows that, perhaps somewhat counter intuitively, the promotion rarely opens its wrestling shows with, you know, actual wrestling. Despite the fact that many fans tune into wrestling shows to watch, you know, actual wrestling, shows typically begin with a couple of guys standing in the ring yammering at one another clean through the first commercial break. So it was a real treat for this week’s ‘WrestleMania’ go-home edition of ‘Raw’ to open with a star-studded tag team match.

Granted, I would have preferred to see Randy Orton, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan and Kane involved in singles matches, but with only six days until the biggest pay-per-view of the year, I appreciate that WWE is trying to protect their talent. And really, the match went far better than I would have expected for a contest between a couple of thrown-together tag teams, with some solid ring psychology that managed to give everyone a chance to shine – though I’m still not sure how I feel about the unrepentantly evil, demonic monster Kane forming a tag team with anyone. The match was a solid one though, and easily takes home the coveted Shitterson Match of the Night Award.

WWE

So that’s what the Miz is doing

This week’s match between Santino Marella and David Otunga was short and unmemorable. The important stuff came after the match, however, when the Miz snuck into the ring and hit Santino with a Skullcrushing Finale, with his attack on the captain of Team Teddy causing John Laurianaitis to dub the Miz the final member of Team Johnny.

I’m glad that the Miz will be on the card for ‘WrestleMania XXVIII,’ but this seems like an exceedingly strange way to pay off his whole “Quit ignoring me and give me a match!” storyline. A few weeks ago, he made fun of King Kong Bundy for headlining ‘WrestleMania 2’ against Hulk Hogan, only to get bumped down the card the following year, competing in a match at ‘WrestleMania III’ with Hillybilly Jim, the Haiti Kid, Little Beaver, Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook. Yeah, the Miz is on the card and competing on the grandest stage of them all, but it’s not quite as much of an accomplishment when you consider that Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny is 2012’s version of a dwarf match.

WWE

The collective sigh of a nation of smarks

At the top of this week’s ‘Monday Night Raw,’ when it was announced that WWE Champion CM Punk would face Christian, every smart mark across the internet started getting excited. Both Punk and Christian are internet darlings and for good reason: Despite not boasting the gargantuan, Herculean physique most prized by WWE, both men have carved out impressive careers based on hard work and flawless in-ring storytelling. By their simple involvement, the match was all-but guaranteed to be a phenomenal one, and a shoe-in for Shitterson Match of the Night. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be…

Instead of the type of close, back-and-forth contest that would have put both men over in advance of their matches at ‘WrestleMania,’ we instead got to watch Punk beat the holy bejeezus out of Christian. Normally this would be fine – Punk is the WWE Champion after all – but days before Christian takes part in a match at the year’s biggest pay-per-view? It seemed like odd booking to say the least, especially with so many midcarders or pure jobbers who could have been the focal point of Punk’s rage following further TitanTron-based badgering from Chris Jericho.

It all started to make a little more sense later in the show, when the announce team revealed that Punk’s attack on Christian had reinjured the wrestler’s neck, rendering him unable to compete at ‘WrestleMania.’ The smart money is now on Alberto Del Rio rounding out Team Johnny, but I’m left wondering what the point of this whole bait and switch was in the first place, unless Christian has some type of legit injury or problem that this is simply covering for.

WWE

Big Show is better than the best tag team wrestlers in the world

I know I shouldn’t be upset when WWE dumps all over their nonexistent tag division – they’ve been doing it for years, so I’m definitely not surprised – but I can’t help getting riled up when something exceptionally dopey goes down. Tonight, in his “build me back up after having me get handcuffed to a ring and pummeled by a guy half my size” match, Big Show squared off against one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions, Primo. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to begin with, but it made even less sense when Big Show beat up not only Primo, but also his tag team partner Epico.

I’m not saying that Primo should have necessarily won – though it would have been easy to arrange courtesy of some kind of outside Cody Rhodes involvement – but rather that the match never should have been booked in the first place. Primo & Epico are the tag team champions, and if they can both get laid out by one guy, no matter how big he is, what does that say about the Tag Team Titles? It’s not just bad booking, it’s totally thoughtless booking that devalues not only two wrestlers, but the entire tag team division (such as it is) and a pair of belts that could easily be built into something meaningful if WWE gave a turkey about them.

WWE

Big dudes grabbing each other

I love a technical masterpiece of a match as much as any internet wrestling fan, but that’s not the only thing I like about professional wrestling: I also get a kick out of unbelievably huge guys picking one another up. It’s the freak-show carny aspect of the genre, and if you ask me, that crassness is an important part of wrestling’s appeal. And until Big Daddy V comes back (fingers crossed), you don’t get much more freak show than Mark Henry vs. Great Khali.

The match wasn’t a “good” one persay, but I’ll never not be impressed by a guy picking up the Great Khali as easily as Mark Henry did. Even with Khali helping him, that’s still 347 pounds of humongous Indian that Henry was heaving up into the air. Following the match, it devolved into the clusterf*ck that’s become pretty typical of matches even tangentially related to the Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny angle, but I got pulled right back in when Booker T ran to Teddy Long’s rescue. I’m a big Booker T fan, and I love that he stays in good enough shape to hit the ring and perform every once in a while, so I’m excited to hear that he’ll be competing on Team Teddy. But, like the Miz announcement earlier in the night, I find it a somewhat anticlimactic development for a slot that had been left open for so long and the subject of so much fan speculation.

What did you think about this week’s ‘Monday Night Raw?’ Was your favorite moment listed here? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Aubrey Sitterson is a professional writer and editor specializing in comics and professional wrestling. For GuySpeed, he writes weekly reviews of ‘Monday Night Raw’ and previews of ‘Friday Night Smackdown.’ Find him on Twitter and at aubreysitterson.com.

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