If you watched Monday Night Raw last night you pretty much saw the same show you did last week with one exception. Blood! If you haven’t seen it already, you can pretty much skip watching the entire show except for the first ten minutes. Brock Lesnar came out as the “new face of the WWE” according to Johnny Ace, and before he could get to saying anything (which is for the best) John Cena came out and smacked him in the face, starting an all out brawl. For some reason the entire WWE roster felt they needed to break this up, so Cena and Brock are put into opposing corners by 20 men each and next thing you know, Cena’s mouth is all kinds of busted! Intentionally or not (and I have to guess it was since how the hell do you get busted open in a fake brawl), it was pretty cool to see blood get back into ring twice in two weeks (if you count WrestleMania).
With all that said, Extreme Rules will feature another Cena vs “Insert Legend Here” match, now against Lesnar. That’s all fine, I’m just curious why he can’t start a feud with anyone on the current roster. I don’t even really count Kane since he’s just around to deliver a key chokeslam occasionally. I’m not complaining about him being booked with other brutes so the more talented wrestlers can face each other instead, I’m just getting a little bored of seeing John Cena jumped by old men in jump suits that’s all.
Like a said before, with few other exceptions this was a rehash of last weeks Raw. Punk lost to Mark Henry by DQ instead of count out this time so he still retains the title despite getting whooped, and Jericho again poured alcohol (this time beer) on an injured Punk. Henry now gets a third match for the title next week, with no count outs or disqualifications. I had thought this would end up on the PPV card but if they are doing it next week, for the third week in a row, I don’t know if they will do it again. Perhaps as a rematch if Punk loses but I don’t know. They are also pushing the Jericho feud so it can go either way. At this point I’m still thinking Henry/Punk with a Punk/Jericho rematch at the next PPV.
To wrap up the rest of the last week, we could also be heading toward a Big Show/Rhodes rematch. Sheamus vs Del Rio is all but official. Daniel Bryan dumped AJ putting him in the weird position of complete heel that everyone loves. Dolph Ziggler (my guy) could sell a dead tree, and it turns out Brodus Clay too. The fans refuse to forget that Lord Tensai is really Prince Albert no matter how little body hair he has, and the WWE Universe hates the new Three Stooges movie as much as I do. We’ll see how full of crap I am next week when everything I said is proved wrong with a Punk/Sheamus title for title match.
Coming off of WrestleMania 28, nothing too ridiculous is generally expecting on the next day’s Monday Night Raw.
Boy was I wrong.
The rumor mill proved to be just one day off, as Brock Lesnar finally made his return to the WWE, and his target is John Cena. Lesnar wasted little time delivering an F-5 to last night’s loser, and I can only guess that this feud will go on for a few months. If they can promote Rock/Cena for a year, I don’t see why they can’t sell this until Summerslam. It’s been reported all over he place that Lesnar has a one year deal with the WWE, and I think a Cena feud makes all the sense in the world for the bulk of that contract. Cena has spent a lot of time going against guys that are just better wrestlers than him, so that even when he wins he is still getting somewhat outperformed. Lesnar however is every bit the physical freak Cena is. The two of them could spend 20 minutes heaving each other across the ring and it would make a hell of a show. I also find it really interesting that they are keeping Cena as far away from a title as possible. The WWE seems to have found a sweet spot for booking, where they satisfy the hardcore fans by having Punk as the champion and making him defend against more polished wrestlers like Jericho and Ziggler, while still having Cena main event the shows by putting him against whatever legend or big name they choose. It’s almost brilliant.
There was so much more to this Raw Supershow though. First off the crowd was absolutely electric. Perhaps even more than they were on Sunday for ‘Mania. The best part was that they were all chanting for Daniel Bryan. The Punk/Henry match reached a fever pitch, chanting “YES!” for every Punk strike. Bryan’s name was chanted literally the whole night, and they went berserk when he briefly appeared backstage. He didn’t even say a word and had the place buzzing. Pretty good for a heel who lost his title in 18 seconds. Somehow Bryan got a huge push by getting knocked out at WrestleMania. The chants started before ‘Mania even went live, got stronger after he lost, and Monday night it was out of control. It’s as if the fans feel it’s their responsibility to keep in the spotlight, and if Zack Ryder and Santino taught us anything, it’s that that tactic works.
The show opened with the Rock thanking the fans and blah blah blah. Then he not only promised that he was not done in the ring, but that he would become WWE Champion! Next WrestleMania perhaps? It would make for an interesting Royal Rumble if he were to win it to get his title shot. I’m more curious at who will be champion if/when he gets a title shot. CM Punk would be interesting but it doesn’t exactly wow me. Cena rematch? Jericho? Triple H? Undertaker? All seem kind of unlikely. I can be talked into a Randy Orton match but what do I know?
Did anyone else notice that Brodus Clay hit someone significant? Yes it was one move against Ziggler who could sell ice to an eskimo but still. If he ends up in a tag match with Santino against Swagger and Ziggler, it could actually give the Funkasaurus some direction and get him in some real matches. I’d really just love to see him take one bump. I feel like you can’t judge a guy until he takes a real hit. We even got the debut of Lord Tensai (formerly A-Train) and my immediate reaction is that he’s the anti-Clay. All show and size, but not too much to go on after seeing him pummel a jobber. Suddenly the WWE has gained a lot of size.
In the short term picture it looks like Mark Henry will get a push after man handling CM Punk. Henry winning via count out has all signs pointing to Henry/Punk for the belt at Extreme Rules. The one thing I can’t figure out is where Jericho fits in all this. They are still beating us over the head (literally and figuratively) with the drinking angle but where do the go now that Jericho has tapped out.
We also finally got the return of a much needed Alberto Del Rio. He’ll head to Smackdown where he’ll get the first crack at taking the World Heavyweight Championship of Sheamus’ hands. He’ll replace the injured Wade Barrett and Christian(?) as lead heel on Friday nights, and should do fine in that role. I really want to know where Bryan fits in all this though. After the reaction he’s gotten the last two days I doubt they’ll leave him out of the picture. If Del Rio is next in line though Bryan might have to wait his turn.
Seven-hundred words later I still have no idea what is up WWE creative’s sleeve. I do know however that they have me completely interested after the best Monday Night Raw in months.
WrestleMania 28 is over and it paid off in almost every aspect but one. However that one was bigger than Andre the Giant and the Big Show combined.
In the opening match of wrestling’s biggest event, Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Think about that for a minutes before continuing.
First off, could this title be held in any lower regard by the WWE? It has opened 2 of the last 3 PPV’s and now the title has changed hands in 18 seconds? It might be better to be the US Champ right now. Then there is the rumor that this match was not supposed to lead off until the last-minute. If so then what was the opener, and was this the original plan for the match? If you want to look at it optimistically for Bryan, losing the way he did keeps him in the title picture and gives an angle to fully become a heel. Possibly even getting his rematch at Extreme Rules in April. However, while I’ve never been a big fan of his, Bryan is supposed to be one of the best in-ring performers in the business and he never got to show it on the biggest stage possible. Yes it was shocking and memorable, but couldn’t Big Show have done that to Cody Rhodes instead?
Speaking of that match, it’s good for the Big Show that he finally got his WrestleMania moment, but what is he going to do with the Intercontinental Title? I always imagined that and the US Title to be for younger wrestlers on the way up. Big Show is about as established as you could possibly be. The match was fine, and I’m fine with the result. I just don’t think this is a championship Big Show needs to hold. One guy that jumps out at me for it is Brodus Clay. If they are really serious about him in the WWE, beating Big Show clean and giving him the Intercontinental Title is a quick way to do that. Unfortunately after seeing him do nothing more than dance with his mamma tonight, I’m afraid the WWE doesn’t feel the same way. If they are going to push him, give him a win that matters. Otherwise, send him back to Ohio Valley Wrestling to give him a new gimmick.
Kane vs Orton was a better match than I thought it would be. I’m really just glad so much of it was in the ring. Perhaps Kane is finally shaking the rust off during those dopey Cena matches because he stepped it up a notched. It was also a win he sorely needed since he can’t lose every real match and still pick up heat. I have no idea what’s in store for Orton as he could probably use some time off after all the injuries he rushed back from. I can also see him get back into a title picture to start the new round of PPV’s.
The Divas match and the 12 man tag both went pretty much as expected. Team Johnny had to win and having the Miz make the cover gives him a good push coming out of ‘Mania. Also, things are just so much more fun when there is a heel GM. Johnny Ace is already causing hell for CM Punk and now that he is in full control we can expect a lot more of that on both brands. Hell, Daniel Bryan might even get his rematch this Friday. A lot of people are complaining about Maria Menounos pinning Beth Phoenix again, but losing in a gimmicky way like that is better for her than losing clean to Kelly Kelly right? I don’t even know why I’m bothering with them anyway. They can’t even come of the ropes right. Both matches had their moments and were about as enjoyable as they could be.
Now on to the main events. The Hell in a Cell match was solid for me, but it did show me just how little the Undertaker and Triple H have left. They both went all out for the full match and had plenty of big spots with big bumps that they both took well. The pace of the match just seemed off to me. I recently watched all of the previous Undertaker ‘Mania matches with Michaels and Triple H, and the one thing I’m noticing is how each one is more and more about drama and less about the match. Asking the opponent to stay down, wanting to go out the right way, it has all gotten laid out thicker and thicker each time, with tonight being the worst culprit. I know I’m nitpicking but I expected a little more out of two of the best performers in WWE history. I did really like how they used Shawn Michaels as the guest referee, but he overplayed it so badly that it was distracting. He looked like he was getting attacked by bees every time someone kicked out of a finisher. The rest of the time he was wincing on every chair shot or acting like a psycho in the corner. Almost took me out of the match. On the other hand I can’t discount the fact that this match completely delivered in taking us back to the “attitude” era matches. The chair shots they took were vicious. Look at the Undertaker’s back at the end and you can see how hard they were. Also, planned or not, we saw some legit blood in a match that we all knew needed. The way it all ended with the three-way man hug was a touching, I admit, even if it was a little too much. Overall it was a nice way to end this four-year old story.
CM Punk and Chris Jericho put on exactly the kind of show I was hoping they would. It was one of the best technical matches I have seen in a long time. The only thing they had to do was get the whole talking about your family/Punk can lose on a DQ angle out of the way and from that point it was great. It just makes me wonder why they did it in the first place if it was all out of the equation five minutes in, but I guess whatever they need to draw attention they will do. Anyway, what a well executed match! Reversals and springboards and submission moves. Reversals of finishers and long chain grapples. Jericho proved he can definitely still run with the big dogs and for Punk to win via submission the way he did was just perfect. It also means that one man has held the WWE Championship for four months (to be five by the next PPV), which is something I’ve been hoping for for a while now. Whenever Punk does lose that belt, it will be a really big deal.
Finally the main main event. After all this hype the match that was a year in the making was…good. The Rock showed a little more rust that I thought he would show, and he was definitely helped by the direction of the match. Two spots that contained lengthy submission holds to go along with the usual amount of time a wrestler just lies on the ground, and that the Rock still seemed winded at times says something about his conditioning. He made all the moves he had to though and Cena held up his end as well. There were a numbers of moments where either man could have won which is one of the main things you look for in a good match. I’m extremely surprised that the Rock won. Cena hasn’t really had a big win in a while and now he just lost to a guy who has barely wrestled for years. It’ll look even worse if Cena talks about how lucky he was to even be part of that main event, as I’m predicting.
One thing the match put in my head is the hope for a Cena heel turn. It’s been long overdue and Cena looked to take to it during the match, specifically at the finish when he attempted to finish the Rock with a failed People’s Elbow. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m hoping that losing how he did could push him over that line. The other thing I took from it were the similarities to the Hogan/Rock match at WrestleMania 18. Right from the beginning where they both panned the crowd, to the test of strength, to pretty much everything but the finish reminded me of that match, and that’s a good thing.
One glaring thing that did come out of tonight was that the old guard needs to pass the torch now. Two of the three main events were won by guys that wrestle once a year, and one of your best talents lost one of the main titles in 18 seconds. The WWE is relying way too heavily on the same people, and it just can’t go on forever.
Starting Monday we get brand new storylines and rivalries. We’ll also probably get the first match to be confirmed for WrestleMania 29 in New Jersey. (It was cold and pouring rain all night in New York by the way. Hoping for greener pastures a year from now). There were no guest run-ins at WrestleMania (sorry Batista, Lesnar fans) but there is always hope for the next show!
What did you think of ‘Mania? Think it was crap? Think Bryan got screwed? Sound off in the comments below!
Is it just me, or could WrestleMania have been 2 weeks ago and it would have been perfectly paced? All of the matches were in set, all of the story lines were in place, and all of the participants had their time to talk trash and hype of professional wrestling’s biggest showcase.
Yet here we are, 37 days since the Elimination Chamber, and we are still five days away from WrestleMania XXVIII. It may sound a little weird to complain about over hyping in an industry that is built on just that, but this year it just seems to be a bit much.
Maybe part of it has to do that we have basically been hyping WrestleMania 28 since the day after WrestleMania 29, when The Rock and John Cena told us that they would square off in the main event. Way to build the suspense fellas. So since they couldn’t wait to announce the match until later, avoiding months of Cena trying to get Rock into a match so that when he finally accepted (likely the week before tickets went on sale) it would be a huge moment, we had to get an entire year of John Cena hyping up a match against a guy that only appeared in one match during that same time. It also meant that we had to be subjected to four months of Cena being in pointless feuds that ended up going nowhere. A love triangle with Eve and Ryder intersecting with back to back crap matches with a washed up Kane? Not the way to keep your main attraction in the spotlight (I love CM Punk as much as the next guy but let’s face it, there is a reason he is in the main event). They had to do it to keep him out of the title picture, but that’s only because we already knew who he’d be facing.
Further adding to the frustration is the protecting of both Cena and The Rock leading into ‘Mania. Perhaps it has something to do with the recent trend of in ring injuries (real ones, I mean), but it was rare to see either of these guys not in street clothes for the last five weeks. I haven’t looked back on this but I think Cena has been in one actual match since Elimination Chamber. Remember when feuds used to get heat with outside interference and backstage attacks? These guys have barely done more than stare at each other this whole time. I know they have to save it for Sunday but at least make think there is the chance of something happening. By the way, I hate to say it but I don’t see any way Cena loses this match. Rock has nothing to gain and Cena will still be around long after the bell rings. His whole mystique takes an unnecessary hit if he loses. Just wouldn’t be smart
The Undertaker/Triple H with Shawn Michaels as a guest referee Hell in a Cell End of an Era Match for the Streak is another one that has just been talked to death for the last month with nothing really to say. I think the WWE even got the hint with this one since none of the participants bothered to appear on Raw. Actually, these guys barely appeared anywhere this year. This will be the Undertaker’s first match since last WrestleMania, and Triple H pretty much only wrestles in PPV’s now. Makes me worry about the quality of the match, especially after watching Kane struggle through street fight matches because he is too out of shape to really wrestle anymore (poor Randy Orton drew the short straw to carry him at ‘Mania). It makes me worry more when I consider that the shape of the competitors is the reason that they made it a Hell in a Cell match to begin with (don’t need to be in great condition to grate someone’s face against a fence). The one thing this match does have going for it is unpredictability. I really don’t have a clue who will win. Ending the streak would give Triple H a pointless push considering he doesn’t have many years left in him, but on the other hand this could be it for the Undertaker and no one leaves the WWE on a winning note (just ask Bret Hart). Then there is also the Shawn Michaels factor. I can see him quick counting an Undertaker pin, but I can also see him stopping on two and a half because he can’t deal with not being the one to end the streak. It’s a shame that this couldn’t just be a clean match. I didn’t think this one needed tampering.
The streak is bigger than anything else the WWE has going on right now. Titles get changed all the time but the streak has gone on for 19 years. If it gets to 20 it could stop there and live forever as a the bar that every wrestler has to live up to. However it it doesn’t happen it has to be done right because 19-1 doesn’t have anywhere near the same vibe. A loss is a loss no matter how many times you win before it (just ask the 2007 Patriots). This could possibly be the last time any of the three people involved get in the ring, so if nothing else I expect something big. Also, for the record, Undertaker has beaten both Michaels and Triple H twice at WrestleMania. Some new blood wouldn’t hurt
In case you forgot, there are a couple of titles on the line. I’m most excited for Punk/Jericho for the WWE Championship, but I think they went overboard with Jericho’s verbal attacks on Punk’s family. I was pretty much sold when they billed it as Best in the World vs. Best in the World. Adding the whole CM Drunk angle adds nothing for me, and could it have gone out with more of a whimper Monday on Raw? They went from calling Punk’s dad a drunk, then to his sister being a drug addict, and the big finale is Punk was born before his parents were married making him a bastard? That’s what drives him over the edge? “You’re a bastard!” Oooooooooooooooooooooooh. Gimme a break. For the record I think Punk wins for the same reason I think Cena wins. I also think Daniel Bryan beats Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Title, but I don’t really care about that match and apparently neither does the WWE, since barely a word has been spoken about it.
I do find it a bit weird though that those are the only titles on the line. The US champion, and Women’s champion are in filler matches, while the tag team champs don’t even appear on the card. The one bout that did use up the entire six weeks to develop was the 12-man tag match for control of both Raw and Smackdown. I will honestly be shocked if Team Johnny doesn’t pull out the win (specifically will last entrant, The Miz making the pin). Plots are always easier to come out when the GM is a little sinister. I just hope it leads to a true union of the brands since there just isn’t nearly enough depth to carry two shows now. They already cross promote all the time and having two champions is just silly.
The addition of Booker T to that match also adds further evidence to the complete lack of current stars in WWE. The three major matches each involve a wrestler that started his career at least 15 years ago, and now we’re adding Booker T, who participates in PPV’s specifically because there isn’t anyone else that the people know. No wonder Brodus Clay keeps getting jammed down our throats. There is no one else left to push.
I also think Cody Rhodes will lose via DQ to keep his title, but there isn’t enough going on there to merit more than a mention here.
Disagree with anything I said? Be heard in the comments below!