3/23 RAW: Decent go home for WrestleMania

Mike Tedesco’s RAW Review
March 24, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

Last night, WWE produced the go home show for their biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 31. There is no denying that the build for the show has been more than suspect. Advertised for this show was a face-to-face meeting in the ring between the two competitors in the main event, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, which would be the first time they were ever in the ring together for this build. How did it go? Let’s find out.

Sting kicks off the show with a hot segment

The show kicked off with Sting making his way to the ring to make his first televised promo in his WWE career. The one on the WWE App last week shouldn’t really count. Sting got a really great reception from the crowd coming down to the ring. The crowd really made this show so much better. Los Angeles was alive the entire night for this show, even for the not so great stuff. Sting cut a short, but decent promo and was totally amped up. The little things he was doing to get the crowd going were great. I liked how he said he was specifically here to take down Triple H and that he wasn’t fighting for WCW’s honor.

Stephanie McMahon interrupted him shortly after he got going and cut him down a bit, but he came right back at her by calling her a spoiled brat. While I didn’t like her cutting down Big Show and Kane a few weeks back (or any of the superstars she’s cut down over the last year), I didn’t have a problem with this because at least Sting had an answer back for her. She went to slap Sting, but he blocked it and held her arm. Triple H’s music then hit, and he made his way to the ring looking for a fight. Stephanie handed him a sledgehammer, but Sting produced a baseball bat from his jacket. They had a standoff before Triple H and Stephanie slowly retreated. It was just enough to make me want to see them come to blows this Sunday. This was a very well done segment. I have to say I’m wondering if Triple H is going to come up the winner in this one because Triple H has not taken down Sting convincingly in this entire feud once. Triple H got him off his feet at Fastlane, but Sting came right back and held a baseball bat to his throat. Could they have brought Sting in to lose to Triple H at WrestleMania?

Intercontinental Championship Final Build

The build for the feud over the Intercontinental Championship was pretty much set a few weeks back, so they’ve just been keeping it in everyone’s minds through the use of meaningless tag matches like this. Luckily most of the matches, while meaningless, have been really good, particularly that gauntlet match that was on Smackdown this past Thursday. The tag match with Dean Ambrose and R-Truth defeating Stardust and Luke Harper was fine. It was your usual tag team match, but the crowd was definitely hot for it. They even gave the ice cold Stardust a “Cody” chant to interact with him.

Later in the night, we got to check out another Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler match, which we saw on this past Smackdown. I thought they had a very good match. I was expecting Bryan to go over here since Ziggler beat him clean on Smackdown, but it was another clean victory for Ziggler. Dean Ambrose was the guest referee of the match, as voted on by the WWE Universe. I liked Ambrose in this role a lot. He seemed to be having fun with it. After that, there was a big brawl with all of the participants in the match, and it ended with everyone down. No one was left standing. That was a good final image of this match to head into Sunday.

Bill Simmons wasn’t as bad as I thought

When I heard Bill Simmons was going to be a guest star on the show, I wasn’t really feeling it at all. I figured he’d be another guy coming in who is more interested in getting in his plugs than helping the product. Simmons called the ten-man tag (the match itself was just background noise) and did a decent job of reminiscing about the days of wrestling past. It turns out he was a fan of the product.

Also, since Titus O’Neil was in this match, why is it I have to hear from outside sources like Bill Simmons and Jon Gruden that O’Neil sacked Peyton Manning as a college player? I should have known that from the commentators that are supposed to be putting over the talent. I don’t care if it’s college – a guy on your roster owns a sack on one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Shouldn’t that be worth a mention on the show at least at some point?

Weak build for Randy Orton/Seth Rollins

I’m sure they’re going to have a tremendous match on Sunday, but I just don’t feel all that excited about this match. To me, Orton already exacted his revenge with that long, overdone beating of Rollins a few weeks back. It’s unclear to me why he wants to have a match against Rollins since there’s really nothing on the line here. I could see if the Money in the Bank briefcase was on the line, then there would be something to fight over. However, Orton got his revenge already. It’s not like this is a no disqualification match or something where he can destroy him more.

The WWE Universe got to vote for Randy Orton’s opponents, and Seth Rollins and J&J Security easily won that one. Rollins and Orton never really directly got involved. It was Orton destroying J&J Security before Rollins ran off. Nothing else was done with them for the rest of the night, so that’s the build for this match. It was not good.

Another very good Divas Championship match

The women, particularly this combination of women, have been on fire in my eyes since they’ve been allotted more time to actually do their jobs. The Bella Twins’ idea was to let AJ and Paige decide which of them would face Nikki in a title match that night in an effort to create dissension between them heading into WrestleMania. Paige wound up getting the match (how they decided amongst themselves I’m not really sure; probably a WWE App thing unless I missed something), and it was a very good one. It’s a given that if Paige has someone good to work with, she can have a very good match. I must say Nikki Bella has vastly improved. Both Bella Twins have actually. AJ accidentally hit Paige to cost her the match, which led to a very good brawl between the two of them. I hope this tag team match is given some time on WrestleMania. I also hope it isn’t bogged down by the ridiculous “CM Punk” chants that people seem to think is a cute idea to still chant.

Hulkamania will always trump Axelmania

This was probably the best thing to happen all night. I was thinking to myself this probably should have just been done at WrestleMania to give Hulk Hogan something to do, but the spent it here on RAW. I’m not complaining. This was a lot of fun. Snoop Dogg was out dressed in… I couldn’t even tell you what the hell that was. Snoop talked about WrestleMania before being interrupted by Curtis Axel, who did all of his Hulk Hogan impressions. That brought out Hulk Hogan as a huge surprise, which seemed to blow the roof off the arena. People were genuinely psyched to see the old man. Hogan was hilarious in this, particularly with the “What are you smoking, brother?” line. This was just great fun and what the Axel character should have been building toward. Like I said, I’m surprised they didn’t do this at WrestleMania. I guess we have to give time to one of those always spectacular live performances they like to have at the show every year. That’s sarcasm, people.

A Smackdown rematch and a Burger King infomercial

Los Matadores and El Torito beat Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, and Natalya in a 6-Being Inter-Species rematch from Smackdown. If you thought the match on Smackdown was boring… oh boy. This was what it was. It was good to see Jimmy and Jey Uso on commentary. Jey’s left shoulder looked like it had a red mark on it. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with the shoulder injury he currently has. Apparently it’s not bad enough to keep him off the card. I’m sure they can work around having him do too much in this match since it’s a fatal four way. You can hide him in a match like this.

Later on, Tyson Kidd and Natalya did a commercial for Burger King’s chicken fries, which I thought was pretty decent. Natalya’s acting could probably be done more convincingly by a wooden puppet, but Kidd was spot on. Kidd was talking to himself, and Natalya thought he was talking to her. When she came around the corner, he gave her a stupid grin and said that chicken fries were back at Burger King. Natalya did something after that, but I stopped paying attention. Kidd was very good in this spot.

Rusev decimates John Cena before their WrestleMania match

Well I don’t think the outcome of their match is in any doubt this Sunday. No one takes a beating like John Cena did before a big show, let alone WrestleMania, and not come out victorious. After beating Jack Swagger for the 452,297th time, Rusev wouldn’t relinquish the hold. That brought out Cena to physically remove him from Swagger. They brawled, and Rusev got the better of him. That bump Cena took into the commentator’s chairs looked really nasty. He exploded JBL’s chair for sure, which was really neat. Rusev locked him in the Accolade on the table as referees begged him to stop. This was a tremendous angle to cap off their feud ahead of Sunday. This will be one of the better matches on WrestleMania no doubt. I just hope they have a game plan for Rusev after WrestleMania. I honestly wouldn’t have him lose another match until like Survivor Series or something. They can’t make the win streak seem like a fluke. Oh god if Swagger beats him after the streak ends… help me.

Bray Wyatt declares he will be the new face of fear

Bray Wyatt has single-handedly carried his feud with The Undertaker heading into WrestleMania. Aside from a few special effects, it’s been Wyatt doing all the work. The only other time I can remember something like this happening was in 2004 when Undertaker was returning to face Kane. Kane carried the entire build-up of that feud. Wyatt cut a fantastic promo about how he’s the one everyone will fear and how he is in control of the powers Undertaker used to possess. There were flashing lights and thunderclaps going on in the arena as he was cutting his promo, which really added to it big time. Kudos to Bray Wyatt on a great job. I hope they have a tremendous match on Sunday. I’m worried about Undertaker’s physical condition, but I have a feeling he’ll surprise me.

The Lesnar/Reigns face-to-face meeting was a dud

This show capped off the build-up of probably one of the weakest main events in WrestleMania history. Never before has a man as ice cold as Roman Reigns competed in a main event and been heavily favored to win. If people aren’t booing him, they’re not reacting at all. The biggest concern with him is the amount of people who just don’t seem to give a damn about him whatsoever. It’s shocking.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were the first ones in the ring. Heyman did all the talking and was superb as always. This is by far the best of the best work he’s done since his return to WWE. Heyman is hell-bent on getting people to care about this match. Unfortunately on Monday night, when Roman Reigns’ music hit and he came to the ring, I don’t think many did. Reigns ripped the belt out of Lesnar’s hand, and they had a tug of war. The show then came to an abrupt, awkward end. There were probably ten different ways this could have gone. This was probably the worst option of them all.

There was a lot of anger stemming from that finish last night because in many people’s minds, it’s a forgone conclusion that Reigns is winning. However, today we found out that Brock Lesnar has re-signed with WWE to a multi-year deal. All of a sudden, this match just got a whole lot more intriguing. That foregone conclusion is completely out the door now. There are now many different ways this match could go down. I have my ideas on how it will go, but I’ll save that for Sunday. Lesnar re-signed at that show, but it’s unclear if he did before or after it ended. If it was before, I really wish they could have announced that so this final segment could have had a little more life to it.

One interesting thing of note was Brock Lesnar’s expression as Paul Heyman talked about Reigns having to break down Lesnar’s front door and taking his wife and kids in order to beat him. Lesnar did not look happy whatsoever with that comment. Could that be the seedling of a face turn for Lesnar? Is Heyman going to turn on him Sunday? That was a really neat little interaction with them. By the end of the segment, Lesnar was back to being himself, but that definitely piqued my interest.

Overall impression

Aside from a largely disappointing final segment, this was a very good show. WWE really needed this before Sunday because this has been one of the worst WrestleMania builds ever, and I’m not exaggerating that. The builds for most of these matches have been a mess. It didn’t end on a positive note, but there was a lot to get excited about on this show, particularly Sting/Triple H, Wyatt/Undertaker, the IC Title Match, and the Cena/Rusev match. The news of today made the main event more interesting, but this episode of RAW did not. I still can’t believe WrestleMania is this Sunday, but it really is. I hope you all enjoy it.

Bump of the Night: Rusev’s beat down on John Cena
Match of the Night: Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler ** 1/4

Final Rating: *** 1/4

Well those are my thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of these two other options to get in contact with me.

E-Mail – MikeyT817@gmail.com
Twitter – @MikeTedescoWV

Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Be sure to check out my Smackdown recap this Thursday!

Finally, check out my predictions piece on WrestleMania 31, which will be up early on Sunday.

Thanks for reading!

Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.