The RAW View (30/01/2012): Triple H Changes His Tune On ‘The Streak’

Triple H and Undertaker staring down, but unlike last year, Taker is the instigator

My subtitles are supposed to be official-sounding representations of the segments I am reviewing, but seriously, it’s the Funkasaurus, and no matter what, I’ll always love what he does. Ok, so he’s done basically the same schtik every week, twice a week, for four weeks or so now, but it’s fun! I still almost cackle with excitement. And he keeps on adding funk elements in nonchalantly; this week, using his raptor claws as a mid-match taunt, and of course, the actual disco ball! The problem is, I figured the jobbing jobbers out would only be an introduction leading up to a big Royal Rumble performance. But he wasn’t in the Rumble, and now that it’s behind us, nothing’s changed; and while I love Funkasaurus, it’s getting to be a problem, and it has to change. I wont post this every week, but as soon as possible, he needs a storyline. Simple as that.

World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan def. WWE Champion CM Punk in a Champion vs Champion Match
Well, it’s safe to say that most people watching loved the idea of this match happening, and that most people thought this match was excellent. Building up to this match, Punk and Bryan had traded passive-aggressive jibes about their respective alternative lifestyles (21st Century trash-talkin’, yo) in a slightly weird but entertaining back and forth; though it would possibly have been better if Punk would’ve said ‘Hey Daniel, why have you become a douche since the last time you were here? You’re a joke to that championship etc’. Starting with the Code of Honor, the match started slow in the way that the best wrestlers are confident enough to do while attempting to complete a great match. I’m hesitant to list this match play by play because quality matches like this deserve to be seen in more than words. With that in mind:

I will mention a couple of things though: Bryan playing off Ziggler’s working of Punk’s arm with a horrible-looking move as he bent back the fingers of Punk’s right hand, pushed his hand flat on the mat, then stomped on the back of Punk’s elbow. There were numerous great progressions regarding slow-developing submissions, and importantly, ones that the fans liked, showing that this stuff have a place in ‘Sports Entertainment’. The final thing i’ll mention that I liked during the match was the other constant thread through it, with each man (who has at one time or another been called the ‘Best in the World’ by peers/themselves) entering into a game of oneupsmanship in the match; something which reached it’s height when Punk shouted Best in the World in Bryan’s face before hitting a Frankensteiner. Though Punk marginally had the upper hand, this match was very good for Bryan as it gave him stronger booking than he has understandably been allowed against giants like The Big Show and Mark Henry. Basically, Bryan has never looked stronger, and this was the time and marquee to achieve that most effectively for his career. Or was it? After all, it did come at the top of the hour. Its a high-profile slot, but not the main event. I understand the argument that HHH/Taker should have gone out last, but I don’t agree; I don’t see why doing it at the top of hour one would be so bad. If anything, it would have highlighted Triple H’s nausea at the prospect of Taker is Johnny Ace would have hung around and managed RAW despite nearly getting fired. Also, I don’t think it showed disrespect in any way to those involved, but it did waste them. My problem isn’t that it was given away for free because, after all, it didn’t have a clean finish, my problem is that a champion vs champion match was treated as a less important afterthought. I would have rather Laurinaitis announce the Champion vs Champion match as the MAIN EVENT of next week’s RAW (so he can keep up the conceit of being an exciting GM before his appraisal) and make a big deal out of it … because it’s a big deal. It seems like a minor point, but Idon’t think it is – it’s important to position your champions as important. The other problem was that the Jericho interruption seemed like a bit of an afterthought; whereas if it was last, Jericho’s action would necessarily have more gravitas.

Speaking of Jericho, part of the nous behind having Punk and Bryan spend their night argue over who the best in the world is, is that when Jericho makes his appearance to attack Punk, it is instantly clear what he’s doing and why. A bonus which came from the run-in was that, because Bryan was in Jericho’s way to get to Punk, he was shoved out of the way, causing him to win by DQ; and watching Bryan’s face change to a smile when he realised was fantastic. There is something so perfect about Bryan’s characterisation here that after a fantastic wrestling match, he will be happy to celebrate the cheapest of victories like that. Excellent all round.

Triple H Tried to Fire John Laurinaitis, Was Interrupted By the Undertaker Challenging Him for WrestleMania
I don’t have much to say about HHH and Johnny Ace because it’s not really the important part of the segment. HHH was at his best here, funny and effortless rather than tiresome. Just as he was about to deliver the infamous words , the iconic toll of the bell sounded. Ace slipped away in to the ether as Taker made his way to the ring to his old pre-WrestleMania XXVII gothic theme. In the ring, it was consciously like deja vu from this time last year when HHH interrupted Undertaker’s big return. This time of course, it was Undertaker doing the chasing, and this seems to me like the main talking point here. After all, why is Undertaker interested in facing HHH? Maybe he’s realised that HHH is the best prospect after all, like an ex-partner coming crawling back. It depends on how it’s sold: if it’s sold like Undertaker has unfinished business with Triple H, it’ll be bad – after all, he did win, and that was the second time he beat him at WrestleMania; but if it’s sold like the Hunter (literally, ha) becoming the hunted, and Taker hand-picking his opponents, it’ll be better and add even more to The Phenom’s presence. Still, i’m simply not interested in seeing Taker-HHH again. I want a new, fresh challenge for Taker, especially given the natural suspicions that his 20th WrestleMania appearance will be his last; either HHH goes down to The Streak again or HHH is the one to break The Streak, which would be totally unacceptable. The next interesting difference was HHH apparently turning Taker down. The talking point isn’t whether or not Triple H will be his opponent as he surely will be with these seeds sown, but I suppose his reaction to the challenge is of interest for the same reason that Undertaker doing the challenging is interesting. If this wants to interest me, the answer to these questions will have to be intriguing. Saying all that, I said the same stuff when it transpired that Shawn Michaels would challenge Taker for a second year running, and that match at WrestleMania XXVI turned out to be my favourite of the two between them.


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