Here we are again, ladies and gents, less than two weeks out from WWE’s biggest show of the year. With just two Raw’s to go before Wrestlemania, we could expect lots of hype for the existing matches, and the final pieces to be added to the new ones. I’ll get right to it. We open with a Steph/Orton/Batista promo that was only tolerable because of the Brooklyn faithful. The New York crowd rained down chants of “boring” and “CM Punk”. In the end of the segment than seemingly dragged longer than my last dentist appointment, Batista insulted Steph, Steph slapped Batista, and Batista speared Orton. Bryan isn’t here tonight (storyline injury), so that’s the best they could give us.
The first match was a very solid one, as Christian, Del Rio, Sheamus, and Ziggler (nope, that’s not a typo) had a four way dance, in which the winner would face Big E for the IC belt tomorrow on Main Event. Why that match is on Main Event and not Wrestlemania…is beyond me. Anyway, what started a bit out of synch really clicked in the end, as Ziggler was on fire, and the crowd was very much behind him. A cool barrage at the end culminates with Christian stealing the pin on Ziggler. Then Bray Wyatt cuts another short, cryptic promo on Cena about truth.
What follows the awesome opener is about 5 segments straight of very lackluster, unmotivated booking, that has zero effect on anything. Sin Cara comes out with Scooby Doo and beats Damien Sandow in one minute (surprised they didn’t have Scooby Doo pin Sandow instead), then Los Matadores beat Ryback/Axel in another minute. The Shield comes out and kills Ryback/Axel after. It makes no sense since they are top contenders for the tag titles, but at least the Shield broke up the boredom. Then HHH/Cole have an in-ring interview, in which HHH does a decent job as a heel, saying he’s tired of everyone complaining and he wants to start the “Reality Era”. Not his best work, but just ok. Fandango and Cody Rhodes have another very short match in which Rhodes wins as Goldust dances. Both men in this match have improved incredibly in the last year and deserve a lot better.
Next up, Hulk Hogan comes out with special guests Joe Manganiello and Arnold Schwarzenegger to talk about…well, nothing. Miz comes out to get beat up, and the celebs toss him around. Pointless, painful segment, but I will say, the Werewolf from True Blood throws a better punch than half the roster. Titus O’Neil gets beat pretty quickly by Big Show, in a match that you could hear a pin drop during. So much for that Titus push, eh? Hour three finally raises up from the abyss, as Cena and Luke Harper have a GREAT TV match. This was Harpers best (and possibly breakout) performance to me. The crowd was very much on his side here as well. Inspired effort by Cena here too, as he’s really stepped his game up this year. The match inexplicably ends as the Wyatts emerge from a blackout over a fallen Cena with the sheep mask on. The angle that they are scaring Cena and getting inside his head is really, really cool.
AJ Lee versus pirate Naomi ends with a quick AJ count-out, and Vickie Guerrero comes out to announce a Divas invitational at Mania, involving about 10 of them. I guess AJ will drop the belt here, sadly. I’m glad Emma is involved, I just wish she and AJ were given a good solo match instead. Razor Ramon (aka Scott Hall) is announced for the Hall of Fame, which I couldn’t be happier about. He’s such a deserving, underrated worker and I hope he can stay clean. Congrats, Mr. Hall! Rollins/Ambrose vs. The Real Americans is next, and it’s my second best match of the night (behind Cena/Harper). Incredible work by all four here, and the crowd was in love with both Rollins and Cesaro. Cesaro REALLY needs that solo push here. The Shield gets the win in a barn-burner.
Lesnar/Heyman are out to close the show, and Brock says he came to fight. Cue the dark lights, scary druids, and creepy music that we’ve all come to know and love once a year. They carry out a casket which is empty, but then it reopened as Taker sits up in smoke, and he runs Lesnar off. Basic, overdone, but cool moment which the crowd liked. I’m not too pumped for this match, but all the hype has been very well done.
Overall a majority of this show REALLY dragged, but we had three very good matches that were worth seeking out, plus the usual good mic work from the usual suspects (Bray, Heyman, HHH). Not nearly as zoned in as the show should have been with only two weeks away and a TON of throw away filler segments, but the crowd was great when the show got going. Until the next opening bell, valued readers…