Tuesday, April 2, 2013

WWE Monday Night Raw - April 1, 2013

Apologies for my lateness with the WrestleMania list, I was out of town all weekend, things will get back on track after I talk about last night's Raw.

John Cena's opening promo was solid, best from Cena in a long time considering his devolution over the last couple years, but it did go on a bit long. The "boring" chants were uncool though, wrestling fans can be dickheads. I liked Cena's bit about not replacing The Rock's WWE Title, instead using it as a symbol that he's the better man. Still lots of heel turn seeds being planted but I sincerely doubt WWE will pull the trigger.

3MB vs. Big Show, Randy Orton & Sheamus was as useless as any 3MB match is. If Ryback can beat these guys by himself without breaking a sweat, why do I care when they're in the ring with three former World Champions? And why was it more of a struggle for them? Obviously some wrestling logic involved here, but just do the bit with The Shield and cut out the middleman.

What do you think about this match at Mania though? Something's gotta give, right? The Shield can't just keep beating Orton, Sheamus and random third guy, but they can't really lose either, can they? The Shield loses, okay, so what? They still have no real motivation other than annoying Orton & Sheamus, so my guess is Orton turns and keeps their momentum going, but I hope they don't saddle the group with his dead weight either.

Jack Swagger & Zeb Colter saying our crime rate has "exploded," continues to be an accurate portrayal of the Tea Party: wrong. Crime is down in the US for the fifth year in a row. Yeah! Statistics, bitch!

Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler is not exactly a rare match these days, but I'm not gonna complain. Hey, if you're gonna overdo it, at least overdo it well. And hey, did Bryan bust out the Tarantula in this match? Awesome, I miss that move... and Tajiri for that matter. Match was great, got plenty of time, both guys looked awesome as always, but fell victim to the ol' "Ring Around the Big Red Machine" trick. Bryan totally kicked out of that pin though.

Big E kicking after the match was cool though, the hot DC crowd's "OOOHHH!" when he simply ripped Kane's hand from his throat totally sold it and gave this Mania match some much-needed hype.

"The Undertaker eviscerates CM Punk" was advertised for later in the show... I know Punk has worked hurt before, but that might have an effect on their match Sunday.

If you wear a camouflage vest indoors, you might be a Heartbreak Kid... welcome back, Shawn Michaels! Shawn was here to do his annual "here's what I think about this match that's going to happen at WrestleMania" shtick, but he could come out and dance like an idiot for 10 minutes and I'd still watch, I miss HBK. Shawn started expressing some doubts about HHH's chances, which naturally brought out The Game. Hopefully Triple H gave Shawn some haircut advice while they were hanging out too.

I did like Shawn's point that his career-threatening match with The Undertaker wasn't the same as Triple H's match with Lesnar because Brock doesn't respect HHH, it just keeps up the idea that Lesnar is far too dangerous to allow in a wrestling ring. But Shawn did say he'd be in HHH's corner at Mania, but Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar give no fuck. Heyman verbally annihilated HHH here, mocking the whole "tough guy" act while reminding everyone that his client gets paid to fight. "You should've walked away like Shawn Michaels... but now you won't be able to."

Best mic worker in the industry, bar none.

Wade Barrett vs. Zack Ryder was a match that happened.

As was Mark Henry vs. Santino Marella, Henry flattened Santino, because that's what he do. Ryback stormed the ring after the match, seeking revenge for Henry dropping a weight on his throat on Smackdown, so he picked up Santino and threw him at the World's Strongest Man, Fastball Special style. Hey, there is a no contact rule.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Zeb Colter continued the right-wing accuracy: a lot of big, contentious talking, then using a weapon as a big penis extension. Colter and Swagger beat on Del Rio a bit with Ricardo's crutches after a disqualification, and damn his back was gross. So, much like the American left-wing, Del Rio fell for the right's really obvious trap.

The Rock was out next to respond to Cena's comments from two hours earlier and do his usual Rocky thing, joking about President Barack and President The Rock (they were in DC). Please, like Americans are going to vote for a half black guy. Cena definitely won this week's war of words though, Rock totally went through the motions... for the final show before WrestleMania, no less.

Great as the hype for the Fandango match has been, Antonio Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho should've been the WrestleMania match. Easy story to tell too, Jericho's a 9-time IC Champion, but he's never been US Champion, writes itself.

Naturally, Fandango interrupted the match, but I didn't expect him to be scoring Jericho's moves, Dancing with the Stars style. Quite funny. Cesaro absolutely dominated Jericho through most of the match, but Y2J managed to turn the tides and win with the Liontamer.

More brawling with Fandango after the match, and again, as simple as it is, I love this feud... even if Jericho is at the Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown stage of his career.

The Bellas vs. The Funkadactyls was also a match that happened. And it was longer than every Divas match on Raw this year combined. It was also your main event match, by the way.

But luckily, the night ended with THE GODDAMN UNDERTAKER! "The Streak may come to an end on Sunday, but you won't live to talk about it." You will never be this badass.

Paul Heyman dressed as Paul Bearer caused Taker to lower his guard though, allowing Punk (disguised as a druid) to pounce. The trash talk here was great too, "c'mon hocus pocus, sit up for me!" Then he dumped the contents of the urn on The Phenom. It was a bit crass, supposedly Bearer's sons weren't thrilled with it (though I think they're playing along), but it will make Taker's victory on Sunday much sweeter. I love Punk and even I want to see him get his ass kicked.

All in all, not a bad final show before Mania. I think the problem people have with the "lack of build" is that this particular card doesn't really need a build. You don't need to do much to sell Punk vs. Taker, HHH vs. Lesnar or Rock vs. Cena and stories like racist vs. oppressed minority and young upstart vs. legendary veteran write themselves. I'm not saying this will necessarily translate to a great show, but the last few WrestleManias have had excellent cards and build-up, but didn't quite deliver on the hype. Maybe (hopefully) this year, the opposite will be true.

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