'Monday Night Raw' recap: John Cena embraces the hate
This week's episode of "Monday Night Raw" came to us from the Honda Center in Anaheim, and as a bonus, I was there taking my youngest daughter to her first-ever live WWE event (special thanks to Kevin Hennessy for helping make sure she had a good time).
The good: If you haven't been to a live WWE event, you should go. The atmosphere is electric, the pyro is loud, and the fun is everywhere. During the show, John Cena took another step toward a heel turn. Earlier in the show, U.S. champion Zack Ryder, still banged up from last week's destruction by Kane, had to defend his title against the All-American American, Jack Swagger. An injured Ryder was no match for Swagger, and lost the title. Then, interim Raw general manager John Laurinaitis discovered that Ryder was not medically cleared to wrestle. It was too late to do anything about it, however, so he let the decision stand. An irate Cena yelled at Laurinaitis for not doing his job properly, then went out and destroyed Swagger with a beatdown worthy of any heel. He was getting ready to bash Swagger's head in when Kane appeared and congratulated Cena for embracing the hate. Will Cena continue down this path? I'm guessing not. There is too much to lose financially for the company with a heel turn by Cena. There were hundreds of kids in the audience dressed in Cena shirts. Kids who ask their parents to buy them Cena souvenirs and take them to the show. Kids who won't ask for that if Cena breaks their hearts.
The bad: If you watched closely, in the audience you could see a 44-year-old man dressed in a Jericho shirt and wearing a faux-WWE title belt. It was really sort of sad to see. I mean, really, what kind of life must this guy have to be that age and dressed like that. I felt so bad for his family. But don't worry. I've promised my wife I will never do it again.
Everything else: It was a strong episode of "Raw," mixing in (along with Cena-Ryder-Swagger) the in-ring return of Mick Foley, strong mic work from CM Punk, and the continuing saga of Chris Jericho, which advanced just enough this week to keep things interesting.
All in all, a great night. A good show. Only one thing though: When do they come back to town?
-- Houston Mitchell
Photo: Jack Swagger celebrates after winning the U.S. championship. Credit: WWE