As predictable and safe as the results were WrestleMania was still pretty good. But now that its over its time to give one more day to talking about it and move on to what’s next. The part timers are basically gone and the full time crew can get back to business. Hell, Antonio Cesaro might even wrestle again (and win!). more importantly, big news always drops on the Raw after ‘Mania, and Ziggler still has the MITB Briefcase. See where I’m going here?
Of course new WWE Champion John Cena kicks off the show. He’s sporting a new “the champ is here” shirt (which was available immediately after he beat the Rock), but the thing I noticed was the belt itself. In place of the Rock’s logos on the belt, there are now John Cena logos. So the wearer of the belt will indeed have his logos on the sides of the belt instead of a nameplate like before. Not a fan. The belt should be fairly generic, fitting of whoever wears it. There doesn’t need to be a custom design for every champion (although I do see the profit potential with people wanting specific versions of the belt for their favorite superstars). Anyway Cena is bragging about winning, the crowd hates him, and he plays it off like they are just upset that WrestleMania is behind us. After some bad dancing and worse jokes he finally gets to the point in saying that he is going to be a fighting champion and wants to defend the title tonight. After saying he doesn’t know and doesn’t care who the number one contender is, Mark Henry comes out (somebody gonna get their ass kicked)!
Henry talks about how he beat Ryback (in the worst match of the night). Cena looks like he wet his pants while the crowd chants “sexual chocolate.” Cena makes a joke about how the crowd wants to have “sex with chocolate” and Henry isn’t amused. He says that after beating Ryback he deserves a title shot, while Cena hears a “feed me more” chant and says the crowd now wants to eat more chocolate. John tells Henry he has the “breath of a thousand asses” before granting him a title shot tonight. Booker T immediately comes out to say he can’t just make matches (why not? everyone else does). Booker says the Rock is the number one contender but since he injured himself last night he can’t compete, so he will give Mark Henry the chance to earn a title shot if he can beat Cena tonight. Wait what? So to get a shot against the champ, he has to beat the champ? Then he has to beat him again to win it? Come on now. Make him beat Ryback again or something. Anyway so that’s gonna happen.
The first match of the night has Big E Langston in singles action (with Dolph and AJ in his corner) against Daniel Brian (with Kane). Essentially we’re going to see prologues for all of the feuds that ended at WrestleMania. Langston must not have music yet because he came out to Dolph’s music. On the way down the ramp AJ got a little too close to Big E while he was pumping his arms and got hit square in the middle of her chest. She played it off like nothing and even kept her sexy smirk (bump of the night?) Bryan jumps on the offensive immediately with kicks but Langston powers him back and then delivers a one handed power slam before taking over the match. He does a lot of stalking around the ring, but all of his moves look very powerful. Bryan starts to fight back and goes to the top rope, but AJ distracts the ref so that Ziggler can knock Bryan down. Kane then grabs Dolph by the throat so Langston throws Daniel into Kane to make the save. Ziggler then throws Bryan back into the ring, where Big E delivers the Big Ending (hey his move has a name now!) to get the win. Better showcase of Langston’s ability than WrestleMania. I thought it was interesting how he took some bumps in his first singles match. Strong debut. Note that Ziggler does not have a match tonight (it’s gonna happen!).
Wade Barrett now gets a chance to reclaim the Intercontinental Championship he lost on Sunday to the Miz during the pre show. I’m still surprised that despite making the pre show 30 minutes longer they didn’t add a second match to it. There were certainly enough people off the card. The crowd is extremely pro Barrett. Miz is the first one to gain extended momentum with a series of punches from in the corner and a knee to the head. Barrett changes the tide quickly though with a big punch that takes down Miz. Miz then tosses Wade out of the ring, hits a baseball slide and a double axe handle on the floor. Getting back in the ring, Barrett catches Miz leaning through the ropes and hits him with a neck breaker falling onto the apron. Devastating looking move that I’ve never seen before. First big reaction in what has so far been another average match from these two. Back from break, Barrett hits the winds of change (that’s the swinging side slam apparently) and is in full control. Miz powers out of a chin lock with a back drop and the boos rain in from the crowd. Miz gets his signature moves going and attempts the backbreaker into the neckbreaker but Barrett falls before Miz get drop with the neckbreaker and we have the botch of the night. It was a lot like Lesnar dropping too early on Triple H’s pedigree at ‘Mania. Miz recovers by going for a pin and Cole makes the excuse that they banged heads. Miz goes for the figure four but Barrett fights out, only to be hits with a DDT and have blood start coming from his mouth. Wade then goes for Wasteland but Miz counters and applies the figure four. Barrett looked like he was going to tap but finally makes it to the ropes and the crowd goes nuts. Miz runs in on Barrett but when gets a boot up to drive him back. Barrett goes to the top rope but Miz goes up to get him and attempt a superplex. Barrett fights him off this time and drives Miz’s face into the ring post. Wade hits Miz with a huge Bullhammer Elbow to make the crowd explode as he wins the Intercontinental Championship again! Very long match but it was definitely entertaining. The crowd definitely helped get it over. However what was the point of Miz winning if he was just going to lose it the next night? Now where does Barrett go? I thought that losing the belt would open the window for bigger things.
Backstage, Sheamus is pissed about the Big Show turning his back on him and Orton, so he has Vickie Guerrero book him in a match against Show. After the commercial, Randy Orton is asking Booker T to do the same thing and put him in a match against Big Show to get revenge. Orton says that he’s the one that talked Sheamus into trusting show and wants to fix his mistake. Orton tells Booker that he’s an actual GM and should be able to overrule Vickie. Booker buys what Randy is selling and books the match.
Okay, so World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio is going into a handicapped match against Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter. This HAS to be good news for Ziggler right? Colter says that Swagger’s loss at ‘Mania put the country on the verge of tyranny, and asks the crowd to chant “U-S-A” in their support. Of course the crowd isn’t going to refuse a USA chant under any means, so now Lawler and Cole think the crowd is brainwashed. Colter stays in his corner for the most part so it’s basically a one on one match. Del Rio throws Swagger out of the ring and then dives into him through the ropes, driving Jack into the announce table. Alberto then hits a cross body splash for a two count. Zeb then distracts Alberto long enough to take out Del Rio’s leg and gain some momentum. Del Rio then goes for an enziguri but his ankle is too injured for him to push off and hit it (uh oh!). Swagger keeps working the ankle as he applies the Patriot Lock. Alberto is able to wiggle out but the story they’re telling is pretty clear. Alberto applies an armlock over the top rope but after he breaks the hold Swagger knocks him off the apron into the barrier. Back from break Swagger is still in control as Del Rio severely injured his ankle landing wrong. This is exactly what I thought would happen at Mania. Del Rio might be in trouble after the match if say, DOLPH ZIGGLER CAME OUT. Alberto starts to fight back but injures himself further when he lands the tilt-a-wirl back breaker. Del Rio then calls for the arm breaker but Jack reverses it into a power slam and applies the Patriot Lock. Del Rio reaches the rope and Jack let’s go after one more big twist. By the way, during the entire match the crowd is chanting “WE WANT ZIGGLER.” Swagger again applies the ankle lock but this time Del Rio reaches up and reverses it into the cross arm breaker, getting Swagger to tap out. Del Rio celebrates for about five seconds before hitting the ground and the medical staff runs in to check on him. The chants for Ziggler get louder and louder the longer Del Rio is being looked at.
FINALLY, ZIGGLER’S MUSIC HITS AND THE CROWD EXPLODES! He gives the case to the ref, the match is announced and no one is stopping him. it’s going to happen! Ziggler immediately attacks the leg, hits a fame-asser for a two and a half count. The crowd is totally jacked up. Del Rio move away from Ziggler in the corner and hits an enzigurI, but Del Rio takes too long to get over to Dolph and cover, so he only gets a two count. Alberto then pulls a cross armbreaker out of his ass and Dolph is down until he grabs Alberto by the bad ankles and twists him into breaking the hold. Ziggler then lines Alberto up, hits the Zig Zag and wins the World Heavyweight Championship! IT FINALLY HAPPENED! DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND! I’ll always remember where I was when Dolph Ziggler won his first major championship. On the lounge chair, with my five month old son in my arms watching a master in his field achieve greatness. Yes I’m exaggerating a bit but this was awesome. It’s like the indi band you discovered at a bar winning a grammy. I just hope he doesn’t become to big for me to claim as “my guy.” I’m sure Ziggler will face Alberto for the title at Extreme Rule on May 19th. If Ziggler loses, I will burn the Stanford office to the ground.
After such an epic moment, let’s kill the crowd a little with an appearance from the Undertaker (relax, I’m kidding). After getting in the ring and absorbing some well deserved “Undertaker” chants (really was memorable), he says he dedicated that match to the memory of Paul Bearer and the Shield immediately starts to come out. This could be awesome. They surround the ring, preparing to strike, but before then can attack Kane and Bryan run into the ring to join the Undertaker. So now we have the Brothers of Destruction, and Daniel Bryan together as one group. Of course the Shield backs off and retreats (after all, Daniel Bryan is in the ring!). So this looks like a match that could happen, but when? Tonight? Undertaker wouldn’t do a tag match at WrestleMania and that seems to be the only night he wrestles. Very curious where that will go.
Backstage, your new World Heavyweight Champion, Dolph Ziggler is talking to Josh Matthews. He says that he has been too damn good for too damn long and even though it’s the day after, this is his WrestleMania moment. He leaves saying that he is going to show off his new championship. Hell yeah he will.
Back in the ring 3MB is taking on team random faces, otherwise known as Santino, R-Truth and Zack Ryder. Santino comes in, gets punched once and tags in Ryder who gets kicked in the face by Drew McIntyre. Ryder avoids a suplex by landing on his feet and hitting a neckbreaker (impressive) in order to reach Santino on a hot tag. A cover on Slater is broken up by Mahal, who gets clotheslined out of the ring by Truth. Santino then goes to hit the cobra when McIntyre pulls his arm down. Santino’s arm springs off the rope however to knock out Slater and get the win for team low level faces. Now that’s how you kill a crowd.
Backstage, Orton and Sheamus are arguing about who should face Big Show. Sheamus finally tells Randy, “I got this” and storms off toward the ring. Sheamus gets in the ring, but Orton comes out next to continue the argument. So who faces the Big Show? Let’s have the fans decide! Orton wins with 77% of the vote but Vickie and Booker T come out anyway to tell them that they agreed to have Sheamus and Orton fight each other for the right to face Big Show. So what was the point of the voting? Anyway this is the feud that was predicted for these two after WrestleMania. They both seem reluctant to throw punches at each other, settling for holds instead. They eventually get into it and trade moves for a while. Neither man can keep any momentum for more than a couple of moves, and it starts to lose the crowd a little. The match is lacking any intensity. Finally Orton starts to do the stomp, and puts a little extra pressure on the ankle. Meanwhile, the crowd just can’t stop chanting for JBL. They show him on the screen and the crowd goes nuts. They then start chanting for Lawler as Sheamus goes off the top rope and Orton meets him with a drop kick. Of course this starts a Michael Cole chant. Back from break the crowd is screaming ECW. Anything is on the table for this crowd. Orton and Sheamus then start trading blows in the middle of the ring, with Sheamus hitting an Irish Curse back breaker as a wave breaks out. Sheamus goes into his signature move set, including the chest slaps. Orton escapes White Noise to hit a back breaker and a Randy Savage chant starts. Randy Orton hits his signature moves as an HBK chants erupts. Orton hits the second rope DDT but Sheamus escapes the RKO and hits White Noise. Orton ducks under the Brogue Kick and Big Show decides to come own the ramp. He throws Sheamus into the ring post and the crowd screams “THANK YOU BIG SHOW” as he hits Orton with a KO Punch. Match was kind of meh but the crowd made it totally memorable. Show pulls Orton out of the ring and throws him into the outside barricade, following it up with spear and throwing Orton over the announce table into the barrier. Big Show then tried to throw two of the chairs over the top rope, into the ring but both chairs hit the ropes and came back to the floor. Show left with the crowd chanting “one more chair.” Fantastic.
Fandango ready for his second match ever against Kofi “I wore a suit at WrestleMania” Kingston. How far he has fallen since last year when he was walking around with the Tag Titles. Crowd is pretty favorable toward Fandango humming his entrance music and cheering him as he dances away from Kingston. A minute into the match Chris Jericho runs in and attacks Fandango throwing him over the top rope and throwing him into the barricade. Chris brings him toward the announce table, making JBL wonder where the spanish announce table is right now. Jericho gives JBL his cowboy hat that fell off the table before continuing the attack in the ring. Jericho applies the Walls, and needs two refs to force him to break the hold. Chris finally hits a code breaker before exiting the ring. After everyone leaves, Fandango grabs a mic, and corrects the announcer on the pronunciation of his name. His music hits and the fans continue to hum it. This is the best.
Backstage Paul Heyman is being interviewed about both of his guys losing at ‘Mania. He says that Lesnar took a beating but is still ready to fight tonight, while Triple H can’t use his left arm and Michaels was knocked out cold. However Brock won’t fight for free so he will not appear. He then announces that CM Punk will talk about how he feels about his match next week. Bummer.
Time for the match that got scratched from the WrestleMania card, as Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins take on Tons of Funk (ugh) and the Funkactyles (double ugh). The crowd still seems to be humming Fandango’s music as Naomi tosses Cody Rhodes with a hurricarana and Tensai does a tumble into him in the corner, celebrating with a shovel dance before missing on a back splash. Cody then hits him with a disaster kick, the Bella’s smash their asses into his face and Sandow hits the elbow of disdain. Tensai hits a backdrop and tags Clay who head butts Damien and has his cover broken up by the Bellas. The Funkadactyles take the ladies out of the ring, Tensai clotheslines Rhodes out and Sandow is alone with the two fat heels. They sandwich Damien and do simultaneous splashes on him, with Clay picking up the victory and a dance party starting after a very short match considering it had 8 people involved. Can’t say I wish I saw this at WrestleMania.
Main event time as Mark Henry takes on John Cena for WWE Championship title shot. The crowd still has Fandango on the brain and Cena responds by dancing around Henry. He tries chopping down Cena but Mark drops John down and goes on the attack. Fandango’s theme is going to be this year’s “YES” chant. Cena finally takes Henry down with a shoulder tackle but Mark escapes the ring before John can attempt a five knuckle shuffle. Outside the ring, Henry tries to put Cena through the announce table with a WSS, but Cena escapes. He tries an AA but can’t get Henry up. With the ref counting, Henry drives Cena into the ring post, then Cena drives Henry into the steel steps and gets back in the ring just before the ten count, giving Cena the cheapie win. Henry runs back in the ring and attacks Cena out of frustration, hitting Cena with the WSS and holding the belt over his head. Ryback then comes out to attack Henry, taking him down with a meathook clotheslines, and forcing him out with a spinebuster. Ryback extends his hand and pulls Cena up, then the two of them start competing for the crowd’s attention and Ryback clotheslines Cena and hits him with Shell Shocked, now holding the WWE Championship over his head to end the show. The last thing we need is a WWE Championship with Ryback logos on it.
This is basically how last year’s Raw after ‘Mania ended, only with Brock Lesnar laying out Cena. This entire show was just awesome. The crowd was on fire and the wrestlers seem to step up and respond more to them as the night went on. At the moment we seem to have a couple of three man feuds, with Cena Henry and Ryback as well as Big Show, Orton and Sheamus. There is the inevitable rematch between Ziggler and Del Rio, with everyone else pretty much staying put. With no CM Punk for a little while, it looks like they are going forward with Ziggler and Mark Henry as the top heels. I can go along with that.