Mike Tedesco’s RAW Review
March 17, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
The second to last RAW before WrestleMania 31 has come and gone. WWE had a lot of work to do to drum up some interest in their biggest show of the year? How did they do? You’ll soon find out.
I’m going to start this just a touch out of order. A lot happened on the show, but call me crazy, the most important build should always be on the main event of WrestleMania. That’s where I’ll start talking and then go back to reviewing the show in order.
Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns verbally spar
Just when you think Paul Heyman can’t get any better, he comes out with a microphone in his hand and proves you wrong. Heyman was on point playing to both the “smart” sections of the audience and the casual. Heyman talked about the possibility of Lesnar breaking the rules and being disqualified in the match, which plays to the casual. On the other hand, he insinuated a possibility of Lesnar “not doing what he was supposed to do” i.e. not laying down for the pinfall for the smarter crowd. Heyman has single-handedly kept this WrestleMania main event somewhat compelling.
Roman Reigns then came out to a very light reaction. It’s just stunning to me how ice cold this guy is heading into the main event of WrestleMania in about a week and a half. People just don’t care. Some booed, some cheered, but it was all light. No one cares enough about him to have a reaction on either side. The promo he cut was probably the best one he’s cut in a while, but his emotions and gesticulations just don’t fit with whatever his character is supposed to be.
Then there’s the fact that he is literally just a retread of what John Cena was over the past ten years. “I Can. I Will” is very similar to “Never Give Up.” I said it a few weeks ago in my Smackdown review and I’ll say it again here to a far bigger audience: there has always been a huge difference between one top guy and the next. The top guy traditionally always brings something different to the table that the last one didn’t whether it be attitude, work rate, promos, etc. There was a difference between Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart. There was a huge marked difference between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. There was a huge difference between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. There was a huge difference between Steve Austin and The Rock. Hell, there’s a huge difference between The Rock and John Cena. John Cena and Roman Reigns? I’m sorry but they’re the same guy. In most areas, Reigns is lacking what Cena brought to the table. The only thing he’s bringing is some sort of look. This is yet another example of WWE playing it safe and losing their edge. It’s all about the shareholders and keeping the status quo. It’s sad to watch.
Now it seems like I’m dogging on Roman Reigns. I honestly don’t mean to. I think the guy is tremendously talented, but he’s being utilized all wrong. The guy actually has a tremendous personality, as evidenced by some of the interviews he’s given on radio stations around the country. Why not let him showcase who he really is? Aren’t the best characters just magnified versions of their real life selves? You’re telling me John Cena isn’t actually John Cena when the red light on the camera is off? They are writing Roman Reigns as a character the real man is not familiar with. How can he ever be successful with something he doesn’t really believe in? By SummerSlam, he’ll be so ice cold and dead that they’ll have to have Cena beat him. Then they’ll have to find another guy to press the reset button with. Whatever happens with Reigns and Lesnar in the ring next week better be good, but it’s probably too late to save him for the WrestleMania match. It’s the next few months of booking they need to concentrate on and worry about.
Another long promo opens up the show
Would it kill them to open the show with a match once in a while? Honest to god this formula of opening the show with a long boring promo to “set the tone” is so dated. What could have been accomplished in six or seven minutes before the Randy Orton interruption turned into ten or twelve minutes – minutes, I might add, that felt much longer. About the only thing I liked was how Rollins controlled his hometown crowd and kept the heat on himself. I liked how he talked about what a psycho Orton is… and then it went on and on with nothing new being added. Then you had to have Big Show, Kane, and J&J Security do some talking as well. It was too much. Rollins eventually accepted a match at WrestleMania against Orton, but under one condition. Orton would have to face him in the main event of the evening. Orton came out to accept the condition knowing full well he’d get his butt handed to him. Is there a stipulation for their match at WrestleMania that would prevent Orton from being destroyed anyway? They didn’t announce that The Authority was banned from ringside or anything.
The Divas impress in a good match
I believe this is what the people who started the #GiveDivasAChance movement had in mind. Two women who can actually wrestle being given a decent amount of time to actually build a match. I thought AJ Lee and Nikki Bella, who has greatly improved over the past few months, put on a hell of an effort. I was happy for them. They were given a two-segment match that kept the crowd’s interest. There weren’t any “CM Punk” chants just for the hell of it because it’s a Divas match and the crowd has been conditioned to not care. They were respectful and responded to it well in kind. My hat is off to both ladies. The keyword is “ladies.” I really dislike the negative connotations that the term “diva” has. They changed them to divas around the time I started on Wrestleview, and it still makes me shake my head. However, this is corporate WWE and everything has to be branded. They’re not women anymore I suppose.
The good and bad of the US Title Contract Signing
I’m going to start off with the good here. I thought John Cena was fantastic with his patriotic promo. It may have gone a little over the top with the “Declaration of Independence” line, but I appreciate what he was trying to do. Going for this title could be looked at as a step down from where Cena has been, but he’s doing his damnedest to make this match really mean something, and I think it’s working. If Cena picks up the win at WrestleMania (I think he will) and if the winner of the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match is who I think it is, the mid-card titles will get the shot in the arm they’ve desperately needed for the past TEN YEARS. If Cena and the Intercontinental Champion are fighting champions, that’ll make it all the better. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the WWE Champion-less winter, it’s that these shows need a prize for the performers to fight for on television each week that people care about.
Now onto the bad. It’s obvious that WWE thought they were getting a legitimate actor to portray an evil Russian lawyer only to get a complete and total schmuck who could barely do a Russian accent. That guy’s accent was so bad that the commentators were ripping on him throughout the whole segment. That was most likely at the behest of Vince McMahon, who we all know produces whatever they say. Now having admitted that this guy had a horrible accent and deserved a crack or two, the announcers actually took it too far and it took the segment off the tracks after a strong start. If this were an angle for WWE Payback, then who cares? However this is a WrestleMania angle. Yes, go ahead and make light of the fact that this guy does suck as an actor. Then let it go and let the story continue to unfold. After such terrible builds for most of the matches on WrestleMania, don’t give the audience another reason to not care about a match.
Then there was the Rusev “prepared statement” portion. Rusev was fine on the delivery, but the content was more than questionable. I really find it cheap that WWE would use United States Veterans as a way to get a heel heat. They do such great work for the armed services so there is no need for that. Oh, and who is the genius that booked Lana to be off filming a straight-to-DVD WWE film right in the heart of what should be the biggest moment for her and Rusev? Overall, the first half of this segment was fantastic. The second half… not so much.
Brock Lesnar’s sit-down interview
Good golly, Miss Molly, this was fantastic. One thing you’ve got to admit about Brock Lesnar is when he’s on TV it’s a different feel. When I watch him perform and do these sit-down interviews, it feels like he’s on another level from everyone else. It seems like at times he truly hates WWE, he enjoys pissing people off, and truly only cares about his bottom line. That visual of him almost cracking up over the people who were stunned at the streak ending was brilliant. His comments on how he was going to f-up Roman Reigns at WrestleMania was on point. I truly hope he stays because he’s just such a breath of fresh air from the usual suspects who all sound the same because that’s how they’re scripted.
Memorial Battle Royal Blunder
Can someone explain to me how watching Kane and Mark Henry eliminate most of the competitors in the André The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31 in about 20 seconds is supposed to get me excited to see the match? This is just another ridiculous misstep on the build for a WrestleMania match this year. Why should I care about this match when they made half the playing field look like complete chumps? Granted, most of the playing field is made up of chumps, but if you’re going to do the same thing in a less than two weeks at WrestleMania, why give it away for free on RAW? Honestly, the build for WrestleMania is shocking this year on every level of build except for Bray Wyatt/Undertaker and Triple H/Sting (if you forget about the promo last week that wasn’t Sting’s voice).
– I did not care for the tag team match with Kidd and Cesaro taking on The New Day at all. With Jimmy and Jey Uso seemingly out of the WrestleMania picture now due to injury (Seriously, how many times could they do the over-the-top-rope plancha in every meaningless match before it caught up with them?), the Tag Title match at WrestleMania (most likely on the pre-show) is looking more and more pathetic. The New Day and Los Matadores as legitimate challengers? Give me a break. Watch, they’ll add in The Ascension to send this thing straight to hell.
– Ryback beat The Miz in a rematch from Smackdown that was just as exciting as it was last Thursday. That was sarcasm, people. Miz gave Mizdow a Skull Crushing Finale after the match. I hope that wasn’t the official breakup for them because that would be pretty damn lame. The building tension between The Miz and Damien Mizdow has been one of the hidden gems on the program over the last two months.
– Big Show annihilated Erick Rowan in an exact rehashing of what he did to Rowan a week or so ago on Smackdown. Rowan desperately needs new music.
– The six-man tag with almost all of the participants in the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match (which was another rematch from Smackdown) was pretty decent. Bad News Barrett finally got his hands on his title again, and they dropped the lame “turd” comment from Smackdown.
– I really liked the Bray Wyatt promo where he had his own urn and dumped out the ashes of Abigail’s rocking chair. I can’t wait to see his match against The Undertaker even though I am worried about Undertaker’s overall condition heading into it.
Exciting conclusion to the show
For the entire night, they built up that Seth Rollins was alienating every member of The Authority and would have to face Randy Orton alone in the main event. That, of course, was a ruse that probably everyone saw coming. It seems like in the last two episodes of RAW now that they’re building Orton up to be some sort of sage who knows exactly what’s going to happen before it happens. Last week, Orton told Rollins exactly what he would do to him at the end of that episode. This week, Orton knew going into this main event that it would be 5-on-1, and he was right. They tried to pull the wool over his eyes and make him think it wasn’t going to be, but he was right all along. So the question is why even try to fake him out if exactly what he thought would happen happened?
It actually doesn’t matter because it led to one of the more exciting conclusions of RAW since… well probably since the last time Sting appeared at the end of RAW. The Authority surrounded Orton in the ring, and then the lights went out. When they came back on, Sting was in the ring with his baseball bat, and the crowd went nuts. That was a really cool moment. Sting and Orton beat the holy hell out of The Authority and cleared them from the ring. Sting looked to be in tremendous shape for a guy in his mid-50s. He did all of his trademark spots except for the Scorpion Deathlock. It was a great conclusion to RAW.
After RAW ended, they had an exclusive interview with Sting on the WWE Network. I kind of wished they had put that on the broadcast because it’s kind of a big deal. It was Sting’s first time speaking in WWE (last week doesn’t count). Wouldn’t you want the most eyes on that? A fraction of the people watching are going to go out of their way to find that quick promo. Still, that was a great angle to close out the show. His match against Triple H will be way better than most people are expecting.
This was a much better show than last week’s offering. There are still obvious problems with certain storylines, but they ended on a high note. I still think this WrestleMania is going to be one of the all-time weakest offerings particularly when it comes to the so-called main event, but a few segments on this episode showcased that not every match is going to be a total “close your eyes and hope for the best” type deal from the company. Next week they have to have a really strong show to close out this rather lackluster WrestleMania season. Hopefully then I’ll truly believe the show is right around the corner. I still can’t believe WrestleMania is twelve days away as of this writing. Wow.
Bump of the Night: Big Show dropping a second rope elbow on Rowan!
Match of the Night: The six-man tag team match ** 1/4
Final Rating: ***
Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Be sure to check out my Smackdown recap this Thursday!
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.