WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Mar. 10, 2014) from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, featuring a good show filled with big news on the WrestleMania 30 pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza scheduled for April 6 in New Orleans.
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.
- I think they start the show with Hulk Hogan because he's asleep by the time they get to the third hour, right? Old folks are in the sack by like five, aren't they?
- Hey, at least Hogan got through all his lines without botching anything, though his various names for fans in Memphis got increasingly bizarre. I don't know what a "Memphonite" is, and I don't know that I want to.
- John Cena's comedy in contrast to Bray Wyatt's haunting lectures isn't nearly as fun as I thought it would be. Actually, it took me right back to being incredibly annoyed at Cena's stunning ability to take anything good and turn it into a special kind of suck via his silly "just for kids" promo style that grates on anyone with a fully developed brain. When he takes things serious, he's phenomenal. When he makes everything a joke, he's the most unbearable character on WWE TV, and that includes The Miz and Curtis Axel.
- Hulk Hogan as a cheerleader for John Cena. There are no words for this happening. Actually, when Cena beat Erick Rowan and the Wyatt clan teased coming into the ring and taking on both Hogan and Cena, there was a part of me that hoped Hogan would turn heel and lay Cena out, showing himself to be the devil making Bray do it for all this time. But that storyline has apparently been sent into the void, which is where I wish Cena and Hogan spending five minutes posing would be sent.
- I'm far too big a fan of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's relationship. I feel like they probably sleep with a divider and only talk about business over meals.
- Did Stephanie actually infer that Triple H has a bigger dick than Daniel Bryan during her promo? I'm pretty sure that's what she did.
- THE BIG GUY entering the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30 makes it a must watch match.
- Having The Usos win a series of squash matches isn't really a bad idea. Let them get over by winning and being better than other teams. That's a crazy thought, right?
- I don't really understand the idea behind Kane trying to help fix the issues apparent within The Shield. He's taking it upon himself to see if they're worth keeping together as a team because they've been valuable that way in the past? Did they not already establish their independence from The Authority months ago? This made no sense to me. They stood united here, and that's one thing they accomplish with this, but the angle seems out of place with the wrong guy carrying it out.
- Putting Big E into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal reveals a stunning lack of care for both the mid-card and its top two titles, the Intercontinental and U.S. belts. We can't care because they don't care.
- There isn't much to say about the Cesaro split from Jack Swagger so far other than it's enjoyable if only because Cesaro is clearly being positioned as the Joe Cool of the two. How delighted were Swagger haters when Cesaro shook his hand too hard and old Jack was screaming to be let go? This was awesome.
- Paul Heyman's promo putting over the streak was outstanding. We have all become so familiar with it that it has almost lost all meaning. It really is a huge deal and by providing some actual statistical context to back that up, Heyman made it feel like the most important thing in WWE history. When you hear that Hulk Hogan has never won more than four matches in a row at WrestleMania but Undertaker has won 21 straight, you can't help but feel amazed. It paints Undertaker as one of the top stars ever.
- That said, this story is really thin. Why these two? Why does Undertaker want to fight Brock Lesnar? Three weeks of TV with no answer to basic questions integral to making a story work. There are only three episodes of Raw left until WrestleMania 30. How about giving us a reason for this match, WWE?
- Dean Ambrose needs to be angry far more often. There is no more entertaining version of Ambrose then when he's batshit insane with anger and rage.
- The Shield vs. Rhodes Bros. was a highly enjoyable tag team match. Was there ever any doubt it would be? Of course not, but the more newsworthy item here is that there was no more continuing tease of dissension, so it's possible they might have changed their minds on doing that and are going to hold off until after WrestleMania or perhaps have it happen at WrestleMania. Either option is fine with me.
- Feels a little like AJ Lee is beign deemphasized, doesn't it? Not going to speculate if that has to do with CM Punk because 1) I doubt it and 2) it doesn't matter, but the Divas division is less interesting when she's not prominently featured in an actual storyline. For that matter, when is the Divas division going to get an actual storyline? Even with Total Divas success, they haven't done much with them. One of the Bellas could win a Senate seat and WWE still wouldn't give them more than two minutes on TV. Actually, they would probably be buried for doing something Linda McMahon couldn't in two attempts.
- Less interviews with random celebrities in the crowd who clearly don't know much of anything about pro wrestling, please. I don't care who "That dude who played Robin in the worst of the Batman movies" thinks should be on NCIS with him. Also not interested in how interested LL Cool J is in the Bella twins.
- Renee Young, though.
- It took WWE a little too long to do the Occupy angle because, well, they're always a little late with stuff like this. Outside of that, I thought it was a cool visual and Bryan's trolling smile made it mostly fun once Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out all pissed off. Then it became perfect because WWE was so clearly manipulating its audience into making us think we wanted this thing they were about to give us but that we never really wanted. Then they gave it to us and we were happy, kind of, but we weren't really getting what we wanted so it still felt off. Then, Bryan revealed he wanted more, and that if he beat Triple H, he would get a main event match against Batista and Randy Orton, which is exactly the thing we wanted. We were worked over a million times here, and it was awesome the whole way.
- CM Punk is now a hero for leaving, right? None of this would be possible if he stayed. Yeah, maybe Bryan still ends up in the title match and wins and they go off the air with the YES chants while he's holding up the title amidst a sea of confetti, but the rest wouldn't haveh happened. So, thank you, Punk, for leaving and staying gone.
- Those welts on Sheamus' back. Nasty.
- Sheamus and Christian, though terribly boring characters I can't find a good reason to care about, have had a good series of matches. Wasn't the biggest fan of their work last week in Chicago, but this Memphis Street Fight was fun. They made it work with the silly gimmick, and the Brogue Kick through the bass drum finish was fun.
- Batista is the most over heel on the roster right now, and you should be eating it up and having fun with it. To think: before he came back and WWE pulled the trigger on actually turning him, how many guys on the roster did we have that it's actually fun to hate on? He's perfect. This is the best role for him.
- Meanwhile, Randy Orton is in No Man's Land right now, and we should feel somewhat sad about that. The man has been doing outstadning work for some time now and he was never quite able to parlay it into anything more than a transitional period no one will remember. He was always playing second fiddle to The Authority, then the YES Movement, then Batista's return, now the second YES Movement.
- Enjoyed the main event for what it was, mostly because it made sure to showcase Bryan above all others and Big Show stayed out of the way. Bryan can pin the champion clean in a match like this three weeks out from the show without thinking it will affect entirely too much of the booking at the big show.
This show was filled with big news, and Bryan looks like he's going to get his big moment in the sun at WrestleMania after this. The first hour was a huge drag, though.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?