WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 25, 2013) from Dallas, Texas, featuring the return of Triple H to reignite his feud with Brock Lesnar on the "Road to WrestleMania."
Oh and John Cena and CM Punk put on what was quite possibly the greatest match in the history of the show. No big deal.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions:
- I adore Vince McMahon, mostly because he has so few fucks to give that he's willing to try the swagger walk while he's on crutches. He's also insane, willing to get physical just weeks after legitimate hip surgery. He actually trusted Paul Heyman of all people to execute a double leg takedown on him without hurting him worse.
- I absolutely loved the Triple H-Brock Lesnar brawl. The set up for it was so far beyond obvious it's barely worth mentioning but I love that WWE didn't give a shit about that and went ahead with their plan anyway. I don't know if Lesnar meant to bleed hardway but he got a ton of color off the ringpost and looked legitimately pissed about it right after. That F-5 on the table looked especially vicious. I'm sure that was all part of the plan but he's so damn good at being a monster of a man who kills everything, he had me believing it. Triple H may have also hit the prettiest spinebuster in his history when Brock jumped him with the chair in the ring and "The Game" caught him in mid-air. The crowd was nuts for the entire thing, too. All told, it was a great set up for their pending match at WrestleMania and a good way to reignite their feud, even if we don't really want it.
- Triple H sans hair is going to take some getting used to.
- I would watch Ryback vs. Dolph Ziggler every week just to see Ziggler trying to one-up himself every week on how he goes flying when Ryback kicks out of a pinfall attempt. A month in and he would be doing full flips and somersaults, maybe making coffee mid-air, before finally hitting the mat.
- Can we get Ryback vs. Big E. Langston soon? The only reason it hasn't been booked yet, one presumes, is because WWE is worried that that much HOSS FIGHT would break the ring.
- We need a GIF of #DevastatedAJ when Ryback was hitting the Shell Shock on Dolph.
- Intense CM Punk is outstanding and I loved his promo early in the night but I loved it even more after seeing the comedy it spawned on social media. When he called himself god, there were immediate gems like this one from @KeepItFiveStar: "So when Mr. McMahon hired God back in 06, it was CM Punk the whole time? McMahon sent God to Developmental?" I love it.
- I would really rather Mark Henry not have to work with guys like Great Khali but if he's going to, give us more of "The World's Strongest Man" showcasing that by walking around the ring holding up Khali's gigantic body before hitting the World's Strongest Slam. At first, I didn't even like seeing Henry selling for him but doing so only helps him once he hits the finish the way he did. Now let this be the end of this, please.
- So WWE did punish Jack Swagger. They made him appear on MizTV. Far worse than the fine he's facing in Mississippi.
- Alberto Del Rio is outstanding in this role, no different than Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger. Really, why would anyone have ever thought WWE would drop this over a DUI? They've struck gold here and while I didn't think I would ever get interested in the world heavyweight championship program for WrestleMania just based on how stacked the rest of the card is, these two have me greatly looking forward to what they do in the weeks to come. That's an effective angle. Yeah, it makes me a little uncomfortable at times but that's okay.
- Actually, I'm shocked at how well WWE has handled this entire angle.
- Last point on Swagger: Not a fan of having him look so weak against The Miz. He should be as strong as possible going into WrestleMania, not struggling greatly to take care of business against Miz, who hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire. In fact, he's been so bad, WWE scrapped a plan to give him Ric freaking Flair as a torchbearer. He tapped in the end, so I suppose all's well that ends well.
- I'm not the only one tired of Randy Orton vs. Antonio Cesaro, am I? Love the RKO while Cesaro was coming off the ropes for a shoulder block, though.
- Officially became a Brad Maddox fan last night. He's oddly charming, what with the walking around and stealing all of Vickie Guerrero's thunder. Maybe that's it. "Excuse me too ... as well." Yeah, that's probably it.
- Sometimes when WWE tries to be timely it's awful. Most times, even. But Sheamus lambasting Wade Barrett for his tiny role in "Dead Man Down" while spoofing the Oscars wasn't the worst thing in the world. It wasn't all that great and it probably should have been done the other way around but it gives Sheamus something to do outside the main event scene.
- I guess that means Bo Dallas is back to being a nobody?
- When they revealed Daniel Bryan would be blindfolded for his Team Hell No match against the Prime Time Players, I forgot that meant he would have a paper bag on over his head the entire match. A little creepy, especially considering his tag partner is Kane. Maybe that's just me. He's still better than most of the roster, blindfolded or not. Anyway, I thought the match was pointless and the program feels like it's past its expiration date.
- Hey, I thought Darren Young had a busted knee?
- Love The Shield, who can do no wrong in my book. But I really liked the way Sheamus provided a distraction for Randy Orton to slip in, RKO Seth Rollins -- who sold it beautifully -- before bailing out to the crowd and celebrating his hit-and-run with the people while Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns acted livid in the ring. Well put together little segment.
- I know WWE and Sonic have a partnership that dictates the former promoting the latter's products on Raw like they did last night but using Jerry Lawler? Probably not the best idea.
- John Cena promos still make me cringe and I don't really understand why. Last night's interview had the right content, but the delivery was off. He always seems to be hamming it up too much, overacting like he's Jim Carrey in a comedy film playing the biggest goof on Earth. That's fine for the kiddos, I suppose.
- Despite Raw having been a three hour show since July 23 of last year, how many times has the long match on the show been in the mai event? Punk and Cena went on with 20 minutes until the top of the hour, not including the overrun. WWE did a great job of making this feel like a legitimately big match. This was a pay-per-view main event quality affair. That's for every PPV outside of WrestleMania.
- The match itself delivered too, with both guys working hard and pulling out all the stops with big spots and near finishes all over the place. Punk reversing the STF into the Anaconda Vice only for Cena to reverse into a crossface was outstanding. Cena using a power bomb as a legitimately high impact move worked really well too because he never actually uses it. It felt like a big deal. John Cena made a simple sitout power bomb a big deal, folks. Not to be outdone, Punk did the same with a piledriver that looked equally as destructive. The commentary team was even on point, doing their job to make all of these moves as high impact as possible. Cena even hit a fucking hurricanrana that wasn't really a hurricanrana but bodies were flying all over the place and it was fitting for the finish. Amazing.
- By the time these two were done, I didn't even care that Undertaker didn't return. That's how good these two were. That was as close to a five-star match on Raw as we're going to get. There are only two matches in the history of Raw that I would put up against it for debate as best in the history of the show: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels in 2003 and Cena vs. Michaels in 2007. Just awesome.
- Final note: I'm really glad WWE was in such a rush to break out the new WWE championship title design so The Rock could not show up with it the very next week.
This was an outstanding show, punctuated by the end that left me feeling even better about everything WWE managed to accomplish. No major complaints here.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on the show. Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Or do we have any Negative Nancys in our midst?