WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (March 4, 2013) from Buffalo, New York, featuring the return of Undertaker to once again set up yet another match at WrestleMania.
And he'll be taking on CM Punk. Also, Raw went "Old School!"
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions:
- Undertaker's return was beautifully done. Having him speak is almost always a mistake because he's never been a good promo guy and really, what more is there for him to say at this point? It would have been especially wrong here because they only brought him out to confirm he'll be at WrestleMania with the awesome camera shot showing him in front of the Titantron with the WrestleMania 29 logo behind him. Whoever had that idea deserves plenty of props.
- I also think it was a genius idea to trot out CM Punk right after to set up the match between the two. The storyline we were given was that Punk is pissed at the fans for playing a part in taking his WWE championship away from him so he's going to rip something away from them that they hold dear -- Undertaker's WrestleMania streak. This was beautiful in its simplicity. I loved it.
- I also loved the next sequence with Randy Orton, Big Show, and Sheamus all coming out to say they wanted their shot at Undertaker. WWE certainly doesn't need to do so anymore but "The Deadman's" streak has become even more important than any title within the promotion right now, probably combined. Wrestlers SHOULD be campaigning hard to get the match to become the guy to beat the streak and cement their name in history. It was also a nice and easy way to get a Fatal Four-Way match with a huge stipulation added to pop a good rating later in the show that would create genuine curiosity while putting Undertaker and his streak over in a big way. It also fits perfectly with Punk's character that he wasn't just given a shot, he had to earn it, just like he has to earn everything.
- Ryback wrestling Antonio Cesaro is all wrong at a glance because holy shit, how many times do we have to see this match? Then again, they work well together and the finish -- Cesaro hitting the European Uppercut as a counter to the meathook clothesline and attempting the Neutralizer but getting reversed into the Shell Shock for the pin -- was awesome. Cesaro's lack of thigh tape or knee pads was bothersome, though. I don't know why. Don't ask me. Just don't do it.
- Mark Henry vs. Ryback tease? HOSS FIGHT, PLEASE. Also, Mark Henry killing Zack Ryder? Yes, please. It's not that I have anything against Ryder necessarily, his whining is just utterly ridiculous and beyond annoying at this point.
- Old school Raw with Twitter bullshit running across the bottom? Come on now. They couldn't take a night off? Just one?
- The Miz called Ric Flair his "mentor" and that's scary because it means Flair agreed to go along with such a thing and WWE still thinks it's a good idea to go along with such a thing. The two have ZERO chemistry together. When Flair was running with Triple H in Evolution, it just fit. Hell, it somehow fit when he was teaming with Randy Orton or Batista, of all people. But Flair and Miz just don't mix. At all. And we may get flack for being a bunch of big old bad Miz haters around here but there's only one wrestler on the roster who deserves to be associated with Flair less than Miz and Mark Henry killed him dead. Watching Miz try to emulate Flair right after Flair himself was doing his signature spots was just sad and pathetic.
- Ziggler has got to stop selling so big for everyone he faces. You're wrestling The Miz, not Undertaker. Be more selfish.
- Big E. Langston no selling Flair's chops and punches was beautiful. That look. "The fuck are you thinking hitting me? You're like 900 years old, grandpa, sit down before you fall down." Love it.
- John Cena feels worthless because he lost to The Rock at WrestleMania last year? Like the entire last year of his career didn't happen? You know, when WWE booked him about as strong as ever despite the fact that someone else was holding the WWE title? This storyline doesn't work at all because Cena didn't have the identity crisis he needed to have for us to buy this bullshit about how he "collapsed." He didn't collapse at all. He prospered. This storyline could have been one of the best ever if WWE had the guts to commit to it but they never did and we certainly aren't going to let them get away with trying to slip it in now.
- All that said, Cena's delivery on his promo was good even if the content was crap. Then he tried and failed to use Mike Tyson to get a quote over, failing harder trying to make a joke on it, and Rock came through with the SmackDown by returning fire with a Lance Armstrong quote about heart just to call out Cena for being full of shit. This was Rock at his best since he came back.
- Having Jack Swagger beat the shit out of Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan is genius. Best way to use all three old-timers.
- The Million Dollar Man still has the greatest gimmick that has ever been used on WWE television and he's still the guy who played his character best. He's also still really good at playing it and last night was no exception. But he was just a set up guy for Daniel Bryan, who will absolutely take $100 out of your mouth when no one is looking.
- I would have rather seenthe return ofthe Honk-A-Meter than the Honky Tonk Man.
- What the hell is this Fandango schtick? Is this a play on the copyright issues they probably faced by using the name? Like they had to change the pronunciation of it to avoid copyright problems andnow they've woven it into the storyline, even though absolutely no one gives a shit about it.
- Triple H's promo was fine. Wasn't overly impressed with it, didn't think it was terrible. His talking like he's in the best shape of his life seems odd because he looks thicker than I've ever seen him. The storyline works fine but what's with this new thing where he calls himself "The Asskicker"? Also, I couldn't help but crack up at how impressed with himself he was for that final line about Brock Lesnar sitting around and bleeding-ah.
- OH YOU DIDN'T KNOW? YOU BETTER CUT YOUR HAIR, BILLY GUNNNNNN!
- Seriously, Billy, Road Dogg at least had the good sense to chop the mop, now cut that rug if you're going to be on WWE television in the future. You look ridiculous.
- Punk interrupting the birthday song for Mae Young was great, mostly because no one gives a shit that Mae Young is 600-years-old. WWE keeps trotting her out and one of these days she's going to drop dead on TV and no one needs to see that. The best part of Punk interrupting, outside of his asking what she wanted to do about it, is they weren't just using jobbers for this part. Mark Henry and John Cena were out there. Had Punk knocked the birthday cake over, I would have agreed with him calling himself god, at least for this week.
- The Fatal-Four Way was a solid match, evenly paced with a good enough finish, the tried and true big run where each guy gets his in and the last guy standing wins. Punk was always going to be the last guy. It works.
This was a throwaway show outside of Undertaker's return and the Punk set up, Triple H's promo, and The Rock and John Cena having their back-and-forth. A mixed bag.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on last night's show. What grade did you give it?