Earlier today, I took an in-depth look at the final segment of last night's Raw, these are my thoughts on the rest of the show.
It's hard to complain when a show begins with the promise of Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk, but makes you wait while we take a detour to CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho on the microphone. I wasn't completely sold on the beef these two had since it originally amounted to:
Chris Jericho: I came back because you ripped me off.
CM Punk: I didn't rip you off, here's a list of ways I didn't rip you off, and by the way, you're too busy being a dancing star and a rock star to still call yourself 'best wrestler in the world.'
Chris Jericho: You ripped me off.
But once the intention to have the best WrestleMania match ever became clear, I got on board. I'm sure these two have been instructed to keep the shooty-shooty stuff to a minimum since that's Rock and Cena's thing and yes, I'm going to continue calling it "shooty-shooty," but I'm sure they'll continue to ramp it up on the mic in the coming weeks. They have the added benefit of being able to talk face to face every show, Rock and Cena do not.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan was not as fun as it was last week, but that's to be expected when run on Raw instead of Smackdown. I'm not understanding why they're shoehorning the Teddy Long/John Laurinaitis story here though, it worked last week, but felt forced last night, especially with the addition of Santino and Otunga. I don't really have a problem with Ace vs. T-Lo, it seems like something that could wait until after WrestleMania, but WWE's trying way too hard with it. I'm sure it's building to the big multi-man match at Mania, but it fell short of being an organic weaving of stories and just became a giant clusterfuck.
Liontamer on top of the stage was cool though.
I was about a half hour behind for most of Raw last night, which luckily allowed me to fast-forward through Kelly Kelly vs. Bella Twin.
John Cena vs. The Miz was annoying. I don't know who Miz pissed off or why, but like a pro, he's taking it like a champ with his head held high. At least they're giving him mic time before every match, unfortunately it's always a match where he's easily defeated. I don't mind Cena beating him or even making him tap out, but couldn't we come up with something a little more creative than "Miz dominates early, Cena goes through the Signature Move Rolodex, match over?"
I really liked Epico & Primo vs. Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger though. The match made sense, Truth and Kofi beat the champs on Raw, Ziggler & Swaggs beat Truth & Kofi on Smackdown, so everyone gets a title shot. Perfectly logical steps to take, I really like triple threat tag matches, and I thought everyone brought their A-game to the match. Epico & Primo looked impressive for the first time ever and got a decisive win, it could be their chance to breakout... if WWE cared about the tag division.
The Kane stuff after the match was stupid though. The boot to the face outside the ring was NASTY, but it's Kane, this is how it always goes - cool return, all downhill from there. I do think the inevitable showdown with Zack Ryder at WrestleMania could be a great giant killer story, so long as Ryder's momentum hasn't been completely destroyed.
Kudos to Eve for trying to salvage something from that train wreck last week, but she doesn't have the chops to pull it off. It's not her fault, WWE's never bothered to give her anything resembling a personality before and she wasn't expected to have one, so it didn't really work here. Again, I don't think there's anything wrong with Eve as a seductive Siren, but it doesn't really work when you're explaining your evil plan directly to the world, you're not a James Bond villain. I'll honestly be surprised if Eve survives the next big round of cuts, that's not a slam against her, that's just the way it goes in WWE and she's nearing her Diva Expiration Date anyway.
The over-hyped "Board of Directors announcement" turned out to be Teddy Long taking over Raw for a week and John Laurinaitis taking over Smackdown. I wish my employer tackled disputes this way, "do his job for a week and he'll do yours, problem solved!"
Cody Rhodes & Mark Henry vs. Big Show & Sheamus did give us Another Great Big Show WrestleMania Moment, but there wasn't much of a match here. I assume Henry's still working through injury, so it was really just an excuse for Cody & Show to do their thing and give Sheamus someone to hit with the Brogue Kick.
Shawn Michaels returns to Raw next week, expect a lot of snark over the word "returns," even though he was on two weeks ago... because you know, Shawn Michaels showing up is such a frequent occurrence. #RiseAboveCynicism
I covered The Rock's dismal promo last night in the promo linked to at the start of this review, but just a couple additional thoughts on the situation after wading through the commentariat thing morning.
I've seen a lot of folks saying Rock stumbling at the end was all part of the story to make it look like Cena can rattle him after all. I doubt that's the case, I don't think they would've given The Rock the last word if the point was to give Cena the win this week. Regardless, since the whole story is shooty-shooty, from here on out, I'm just going to talk about it like it's being presented. I have more fun commenting on wrestling stories like I would a movie or TV show anyway, it's only when WWE does something so ridiculous that takes me out of the story that I have to break things down from the IWC lens.
It's rare we're going to get something like this, so why not let yourself get wrapped up in it? The Rock looks like a bigger phony than Cena ever has and "Kung Pao Bitch" is one of the dumbest things ever, so I'm officially Team Cena at this point. I know the crowd won't boo The Rock and they'll boo anything Cena does because he's Cena, but everything about John Cena vs. The Rock has made The Rock completely unlikable. His "get out of my ring" at Survivor Series when he hadn't wrestled in almost eight damn years, pitting the crowd against the locker room last night, being filmed in his fancy limo... The Rock is a carpetbagger.