WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Mar. 31, 2014) from the Washington D.C., featuring the go home show to the WrestleMania 30 pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza scheduled for this Sunday night 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 was hoping we would get something different during Undertaker's typical entrance to kick off the show, something like Brock Lesnar running out and jumping him from behind. Really, though, if you're Lesnar and you're in the building, why the hell would you let 'Taker slowly walk to the ring like that? To make up for it, "The Phenom" almost tripped while he was walking up the steps to get in the ring. That damn coat.
- I never liked Undertaker saying "21 men have stepped up and 21 men have been set down". That's not true. There were two Kane matches, three Triple H matches, and three Shawn Michaels matches. That's eight of the 21 matches among three guys. Nitpicking, sure, but WWE does a lot of this kind of silly bullshit, like callingWrestleMania 30 the "30th anniversary of WrestleMania".
- I like the sentiment behind the message -- only three things in life can't be beaten: death, taxes, and the streak -- but I don't like hearing Undertaker, a living deadman, acknowledge he does taxes. So, what, the demon from Death Valley is hanging out in Parts Unknown with a 1099 form, some number two pencils, and a calculator? This felt like if he went in there and brought up something trending on Twitter. "Lesnar, you will rest in peace, and that will trend worldwide." I would quit pro wrestling. I need SOME respect for kayfabe.
- Is it just me or does Big E look like a gigantic running cartoon when he does that spot where he splashes a guy coming off the ropes. Every movement looks animated. I should say this is not a bad thing in any way.
- The Cross Armbreaker submission has its problems, namely for anyone who watches MMA in addition to pro wrestling, but the counter to it, lifting Alberto Del Rio up into a powerbomb, will ALWAYS look impressive. It doesn't matter how many times it's done or who it is doing it, it's always going to look good.
- I still enjoy Bray Wyatt's promos. He might be treading water just a little bit here in the home stretch toWrestleMania but we're close to the match and the promos were going to lose something at some point. I'm looking forward to seeing where this Sister Abigail stuff is going, if they ever bother to go somewhere with it. Jerry Lawler's comment blew my mind: "These guys are so creepy, they defy logic".
- Vickie Guerrero came to the commentary desk during a Divas match with great news, everybody! She was there to make an announcement! The Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational at WrestleMania 30 will be a single fall match. All 14 Divas will be in the ring at once and the first fall wins. So, basically, she came with an announcement of something that was already announced. Awesome!
- As far as booking the Divas division goes, it doesn't get much easier than capitalizing on the strong ratings the E! channel got for an episode of Total Divas built around Summer Rae slapping Natalya. You put the two in a match the next night on Raw, the go home show to WrestleMania, which is destined to get strong ratings as well. Everything that came after sucked, though. There were no less than three botches in the actual match, the work was terrible, Natalya was off her game and is rapidly losing her reputation as one of the stronger workers in the Divas division, the commentary was awful with a botch or two from Michael Cole, and the aforementioned Vickie Guerrero nonsense. If there was a worse way to follow up on Total Divas I don't know what it would be.
- Stephanie McMahon and Triple H are the best pro wrestling couple.
- I loved The Authority promo. Love, love, loved it. I loved that video package even more. Triple H and Steph are right in a lot of what they say -- fans at shows will definitely chant for wrestlers and it's absolutely not an ironclad indication that a wrestler is a big money draw -- but they're also fucking awesome at getting over as mega heels you want to see the guy you're chanting for kick the shit out of. Did you not watch that video and think of how badly you want Bryan to kick him in the chest and in the head for like 20 minutes straight at WrestleMania? I know that's how I feel. That's how they made me feel. That's why they're really good at their job. They created that feeling within me. All this time off screen for Bryan has done nothing to curb my enthusiasm for his victory (if it happens, and dear god it better after that hype package).
- It really sucks that it's still an insult to say Stephanie McMahon is the brawn of The Authority with Triple H the brain, and everyone buys into it as that. Why is it a bad thing that she's the brawn? I'm far more terrified of her than I am of Triple H. Why is that a reason to knock "The Game"? And why is it an insult to Stephanie? Oh, that's right, because it's WWE and she couldn't possibly be as powerful as the men around her. Horseshit.
- The Usos have a certain charisma about them and if you watch Total Divas -- I was recently turned on to it and it's a gloriously insane show, if overproduced to the max -- you'll appreciate them that much more. They really come off well as two brothers who run well together as a team that you would love to spend a day grilling out by a pool with. One of them would throw you in and before you could pop your head up and get mad, the other would splash you while everyone laughs. You couldn't be mad once you recovered because everyone had too good a time. This all comes across while they're wrestling guys like Jack Swagger and Curtis Axel, mind you.
- I'm having a really hard time reconciling my want for the tag team division to remain strong with viable teams competing for the titles with my want for Cesaro to break away and win the Intercontinental title from Big E in a series of matches that would undoubtedly blow us away en route to bigger and better things down the line. Every time I see Cesaro I just think VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER. Impatient because time is shorter.
- You know what's always fun in WWE these days? Tag team matches breaking down into utter chaos. No one does it better than The Shield when they get to running around and flying around the ring, but the Usos are strong. Absolutely loved Jack Swagger catching Fernando (or Diego?) coming off the top rope in the Patriot Act before a twin magic finish with Diego (or Fernando?) sliding in to get the roll up off a distraction. The producers for these tag team matches have consistently been awesome for a long time now.
- Win ... then dance. Or lose ... but dance anyway.
- Here's a fun thing to think about. Triple H went out and said Fandango was a bit hit around this time last year but since then, his name is nearly unrecognizable because fans just bailed on the poor guy. And hey, he's actually pretty good, maybe an "A" player, but no one gives a shit about him anymore. So what happens later on when Fandango comes out for a match? No one gave a shit about him. Everyone in the crowd proved Triple H right.
- Seth Rollins called the New Age Outlaws "geriatric side kicks". In related news, Seth Rollins is amazing.
- Bray Wyatt's flying crossbody launched off the ropes might be my favorite move any wrestler works right now.
- The Wyatt vs. R-Truth match wasn't much more than a showcase to put Wyatt over but I greatly enjoyed how Xavier Woods never once tried to help his friend during the match, he just tried to drag Truth's dead body out of the ring. The best part? He ended up getting killed anyway. This was great.
- I also greatly enjoyed the cheesy post-match angle with the Wyatt Family posing and John Cena appearing as if from nowhere wearing the jumpsuit Daniel Bryan ditched a couple months ago and a sheep mask. The reveal went over big with the crowd and it made for a good visual during the segment with the lights down. Campy fun, but this feud is as campy as it is serious, and that's just fine with me.
- You have to appreciate AJ Lee's attention to detail with her character. Hugging the Divas title, pulling on the "crazy" strings she's been saddled with, afraid to lose her prized precious at WrestleMania. It's nice. Not nice? Chanting CM Punk during Divas matches. You people are making me agree with Dave Bautista. Please don't make me agree with Dave Bautista.
- Naomi wasn't wearing the eye patch. And here I was looking forward to what she had planned for the WrestleManiago home show. What a disappointment. Almost as disappointing as the AJ vs. Naomi match. That said, this was the second match of the night featuring women, which might be the first time that's happened in a decade, or at least it feels that way.
- That interview with John Cena destroyed all the outstanding work WWE had been doing building to the match with Wyatt at WrestleMania. The ENTIRE POINT OF THE FEUD was to have Wyatt prove Cena a fraud by making him become a monster to win the match, therefore destroying his legacy. So what does Cena say on the go home episode of Raw? That he'll do EXACTLY THAT because doing so will PRESERVE HIS LEGACY. Nothing on this show was as awful as this. All the great work over the past couple weeks, flushed down the drain with one pointless promo.
- Roman Reigns won an App vote over Rollins and Dean Ambrose with 80-percent of the vote to take on Kane in a singles match. If we're to believe the App votes aren't worked, and that's been the word from day one, what does that say about both his popularity and WWE's thinking in regards to breaking the group up? Perhaps nothing, perhaps everything. We shall see.
- I can't be the only one thinking there will be a time when Reigns punches the mat setting up for his Superman punch spot and separates his shoulder a la Randy Orton that one time, right?
- This show really drove home how little heat there is for The Shield vs. Kane & New Age Outlaws, though. I sure hope they have something special planned for that match at WrestleMania because there is zero to be excited about for it right now.
- Roddy Piper is a certified legend in pro wrestling, for a lot of reasons. I absolutely think there should be continued respect for that, and part of the way to do that is to get him involved in WWE related dealings to keep that history somewhat fresh. Still, it's safe to wonder how many fans who consistently watch WWE programming today know anything about Piper.
- That said, this particular segment of Piper's Pit, while understandable for the purposes of what they were trying to do, sucked. It actually made the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal feel less like an important match and more like a goofy thrown together showcase for a lot of guys no one cares about. But hey, at least Rey Mysterio isn't getting booed at this battle royal, right?
- Triple H and Stephanie McMahon should be the new commentary team on Raw every week. When Michael Cole brought up Daniel Bryan beating Triple H, his response was to say "Yeah, and I heard the fly over at WrestleManiawill be pigs and dogs". That's great, especially considering they'll be in a dome. Stephanie just kept saying "wow" and talking about how fun everything was while periodically turning into Joe Rogan. I loved this, though that could be greatly assisted by the match in the ring being a steaming pile of garbage.
- Daniel Bryan arriving at the last minute was the perfect touch to what was quickly becoming one of the worst go home Raw shows to a WrestleMania event ever. Triple H sold like crazy for him, he got all his good stuff in, and it felt like a preview of the payoff we've been waiting so long for. Considering all the potential issues facingWrestleMania 30, the fact that Bryan could finally be getting his time to shine on the biggest stage of all is a huge selling point. Ripping it away one more time would kill him dead and seriously hurt the number of fans willing to tune in during the post-Mania lull period.
The ending was hot and that's what matters most, I guess, but it took forever to get there and there were a ton of problems with this show. Really wish they would have put a better final stamp headed to arguably the biggest show ever, but they can't all be winners.
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?