WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (April 8, 2013) from East Rutherford featuring the fallout show from the WrestleMania 29 pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza set to go down this Sunday night in New Jersey.
And hol-ee shit did it deliver.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- We can stop talking about John Cena turning heel now. He's already a heel. He's trying too hard to play the cool guy while he knows everyone will react negatively to it. That's a heel move. Playing up that The Rock wouldn't be there and trying to take the fans side when he knows they don't want him to, especially that crowd last night, is what a heel would do. And you know what? Just embrace it. It's great when you let it be great. He knows you smarks hate the goofy schtick and he knows the kids love it and he knows if he does it, everyone gets to hate it and love it at once, which is all we really want to do anyway, right? This is one of those times where you just have to stop and allow yourself to be entertained.
- Plus, Mark Henry is the guy who gets to step in and attempt to end him. And dear god, don't you just salivate at the thought of Henry spending 15 minutes on pay-per-view just beating Cena senseless? That's why it works.
- That said, god, I fucking hate the way they dole out title matches. If Mark Henry can beat the champion, he gets a shot at the champion's belt. That is the dumbest thing in the history of of time. The Baltimore Ravens aren't Super Bowl champions right now under this logic. It's beyond stupid.
- I've got an entire post I'm going to do tying John Cena's latest title reign into Daniel Bryan and WWE refusing to ever take a chance on anything ever and last night helped highlight my point for me. Did you hear that pop for D-Bry's music? The dude is still ridiculously over and he's spent like 8 months in a comedy tag team toiling on the mid-card. The right booking could make him the next star to break the glass ceiling. Naturally, he jobbed to Big E. Langston.
- "The Big Ending"? That's Langston's finishing move? You know who WWE should commission to name finishers for people? Whoever came up with the Limit Break names in Final Fantasy 7.
- "I just saw a flying goat." Real proud of yourself, weren't you, JBL?
- Giving Wade Barrett a jobber entrance is always a good thing because if there's one thing as bland and mediocre as Barrett, it's his theme song. Although, I think the smark filled crowd at the IZOD was chanting for him at one point and that's just unforgivable. Let's go, Barrett? Let's go what? You wanting to see his big comeback consisting of a power slam, a boot, and that ridiculous forearm finisher? Unless, of course, they weren't necessarily chanting for Barrett but against his opponent, The Miz, in which case I'm ccompletely fine with it.
- Actually, of all the feuds over the Intercontinental title in the history of that belt, Barrett vs. Miz has to rank near or at the bottom, right? Jeff Jarrett vs. Chyna was more interesting.
- One thing this match showed us was that crowd reaction should not ever be used to determine how good a match is or is not. They were hot as hell for this one and it wasn't worthy of the heat they were giving it. There were weird spots -- Barrett paying tribute to Mick Foley with the elbow drop on the outside -- bad botches -- when Barrett messed up the Reality Check -- and two workers who are, as stated previously, bland. Whatever, I guess they got a nice pop for it.
- I like Sheamus and Randy Orton playing Booker T and Vickie Guerrero against each other if only because the power structure backstage has become far too convoluted.
- As expected, the only heat Jack Swagger or Alberto Del Rio got was when fans woke up long enough to chant "WE WANT ZIGGLER." Yes, we do want Ziggler, and we want him as soon as possible. But WWE is steadfast in its quest to get one of these guys over, even though neither of them have the credibility at this point to help get the other where they need to go. It's the damnedest thing.
- Michael Cole trying to tell me the fans were in Del Rio's corner while they were chanting for Ziggler is the reason we so often bag on Cole. Not long after, a "U-S-A" chant broke out, which made him look even sillier, though that was the one chant up to this point that the crowd deserves to be chided for. It's silly that you can get a chant like that going anywhere in America at any time for absolutely no reason. Seriously, just walk into your local grocery store and start shouting "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" The chances of everyone joining in with you are greater than your getting removed for disturbing the peace.
- Anyway, the match sucked.
- What did not suck was Ziggler finally cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase. The pop from this crowd was incredible and more than made up for the shit from last night and earlier in this evening. The tease that he wouldn't win with the short match they had and then his actually doing so was awesome. He earned that belt. Scripted matches or not, he worked his ass off for a very long time for this and he deserves every single second of it.
- For that matter, thank you, Dolph, for turning me into a 10-year-old kid again, screaming and jumping for joy when you won the title. That doesn't happen often anymore.
- Undertaker wasn't given a prime slot for his promo but it was wonderful seeing him one more time, especially after what happened at WrestleMania last night. We won't get much more time with him and it's nice whenever he's arou.... oh my fucking god, that's The Shield's music. And they're coming to the ring and holy shit, Dean Ambrose is in the same ring as Undertaker. I can't even. I just can't. I can't.
- Hey, Kane and Daniel Bryan make the save and The Shield run off. Okay, that's fine, because I just watched Daniel Bryan make a save for Undertaker in the year 2013. I don't even know what to do right now. I just don't even know what to do. Undertaker and Bryan are sharing a ring right now just moments after Undertaker and Ambrose shared a ring.
- Mark overload, system shutdown.
- System reboot.
- System back online.
- I loved my colleague Hulk Holland on Twitter after this: "They should have charged us for Raw and aired WrestleMania 29 free." Emotion getting the best of us, no doubt, but that sequence was far too much to handle.
- Oh, great, a cool down match with Zack Ryder, R-Truth and Santino Marella teaming up to take on 3MB. Perfect, let's get the system firing on all cylinders again. Our Funny Guy getting the pin was nice.
- If you're hoping to get cheers for Sheamus, you probably shouldn't have him asking a crowd of smarky fans if they want to see him in a match against Big Show. For starters, we've already seen what that looks like just a few months ago and everyone in the building knows the real feud is with Sheamus and Randy Orton. The way they got there was fine but was really hard to buy into knowing that's where they were going and good god, let's just get there already.
- I'm not sure what the point is in having a poll on social media to get your fans involved only to take a gigantic dump on the results of that poll literally seconds after the winner of said poll is announced. That's a quick and easy way to get your fans to never participate again, or at least those who have any respect for themselves.
- There are a number of fans, and I would usually include myself in this group, who absolutely hate it when fans at wrestling shows spend the entire show just trying to get themselves over. Sometimes, though, when it's done right, it can be fun. Such was the case with the crowd during the Sheamus-Orton match. They went from chanting "ole" to "Chioda" to "RVD" to "JBL" to "Jerry Lawler" to "Michael Cole" within a span of about two minutes. WWE even played into it by putting the camera on a beaming JBL -- who called the crowd "smarks" and said "they're great" -- while completely ignoring the match going on in the ring. Later, they chanted for Randy Savage, which you can never be mad at. Ever. It got so good, I was kind of hoping WWE would just leave Orton and Sheamus out there until the show end to see how nuts the chants would get. For this night, done this way, it was awesome.
- It's also hard to blame the crowd for going into business for itself during a three hour show. Gotta keep yourself entertained somehow, even if that means doing the wave like a bunch of idiots during a long match. Again, props to WWE for actually panning the crowd when they were doing it because, why not?
- Loved Orton's sell job on the WMD. That might have been the best part about that entire series of events: The match wasn't actually all that bad and Show was good with the late run-in.
- Fandango was, of course, insanely over with this crowd and because they were going full blown mark and getting over however they wanted, they even hummed along to his music and danced ... AFTER his music had stopped playing and while the match was supposed to have started. Chris Jericho interrupted the match, naturally, to get payback for what happened at WrestleMania and he was, of course, even more over.
- I liked how Fandango still got to do his schtick and left with his music playing. Well done all around.
- After all that, Paul Heyman was next and you can imagine how the crowd was for this. But he didn't pander to them at all. Not one bit. He could have done just like them and gone into business for himself and played it all up, but he heeled how he needed to and did his job in a brief interview.
- Good for Tons of Funk, the Funkadactyls, the Rhodes Scholars, and the Bella Twins to get their WrestleMania match on this episode of Raw. Really, they should look at it as a blessing because you could argue this Raw has been better than WrestleMania.
- Oh, Cena dancing around the ring jocking Fandango's style just as he's getting hot? Remember when he pulled this same shit with Bryan last year just after WrestleMania when the "YES" chant got over and everyone was making Bryan a big star? Yeah, this is why we hate Cena. This is why it was great to see Henry beating on him while screaming at him. EAT HIS FACE, MARK!
- Countout finishes suck, but they had to keep Henry as strong as they could considering the circumstances. He lost but he didn't have to take a pinfall or submit and he got to smash Cena after and hold up the WWE championship. Ryback coming out to complicate matters was more annoyance than anything else. If they go triple threat at Extreme Rules, don't be surprised. They had teased this already anyway, and remember, Cena is the one who eliminated Ryback to win the Royal Rumble.
- I think the idea was to turn Ryback heel last night, but the crowd kind of screwed that up. Really, that kind of shit shouldn't matter to us anyway. Ryback absolutely should want to beat the shit out of Cena, both because he cost him the Rumble and because he's the WWE champion.
No Antonio Cesaro on this show was a crime. Take the U.S. title and throw it in the trash. Take every title other than the two big ones and throw them in the trash, actually. To hell with all of them.
Other than that, this was a damn good show, about as good as it could possibly be knowing that The Rock had to bail due to injury and that meant no big angle with Brock Lesnar. Actually, it may have been better without that.
They brought it, folks.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on the show in the comments section below. What did you think?