michael dworkis looks at the throwback edition of RAW…
We get a nice old school promo, and the camera pans into the building … the light go out and we get the tolling bells of THE UNDERTAKER! He makes his way down the aisle, raised his arms and the Titan Tron lights up with the WrestleMania 29 logo! We the cut to the old school early 90’s opening, and we get right into it … with CM PUNK!
CM Punk delivers a superb tirade of how he is not in the main event at WrestleMania, he is not the one defending the WWE Championship. In this case, he proclaims that there is no point to him being at WrestleMania 29. He thinks it over… and then says the since it was the fault of the WWE Universe that he lost the title, he is going to take something from them…
… The STREAK. Yes, Punk proclaims he will challenge The Undertaker at WrestleMania and end the streak. Punk says that after WrestleMania, the days of his championship reign will still be important, but so will some new numbers… 20 and 1. He is interrupted by Randy Orton who says he wants to face Undertaker. The Big Show enters and makes the same proclamation. Everyone is interrupted by Sheamus. Well, Vickie Guerrero interrupts everyone and says the challenger will be decided in a fatal-four way bout. Punk vs. Orton vs. Show vs. Sheamus.
Ryback vs. Antonio Cesaro
Ryback mauls the United States Champ from the opening bell. Cesaro tries some offense, but gets nowhere. Action spills to the floor, and Cesaro runs around, evading the hungry hippo. On the ring apron, Cesaro runs through Ryback with a boot. Later on, Cesaro has a sleeper on Ryback, but the beast powers out and starts throwing Cesaro everywhere. Ryback goes for the Meathook, but Cesaro counters with an incredible uppercut! He goes for the Neutralizer, but Ryback powers, counters, and scores with the Shell Shock.
Winner by All You Can Eat Buffet: Ryback
Mark Henry defeats Zack Ryder in less than a minute
Earning the “Why Was This A Match” award for tonight, Henry goes from staring down Ryback to destroying Zack Ryder.
Up next, Dolph Ziggler goes one-on-one with The Miz and a promo for Fan … Dan … Go. ZZZzzzzZZZZzzzzzzz…
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggles has AJ and Big E. in tow, but before the match begins, Miz brings out someone in his corner… RIC FLAIR! The Nature Boy struts down to ringside and the match is underway. Back and forth from both men, a fairly even match-up. Miz gains a measure of control, until Ziggler is able to fire back. Ziggler takes the fight back to the Miz, flooring him with a slam and a dropkick. Miz struggles and fights back with punches, but Ziggler manages to maintain control. Ziggler goes for a corner charge, but Miz evades and Mr. Money in the Bank crashes into the corner. Miz scores with a clothesline in the corner and sets up for the Skull Crushing Finale, but AJ distracts the ref, allowing Ryblac… I mean, Langston to strike Miz from behind. Flair gets involved, throwing his suit jacket at Langston and throwing a barrage of chops and punches, having no effect. Flair backs off, and the Miz nails Langston with a sliding dropkick through the ropes, Ziggler tries to shakedown the Miz, but Miz catches the flying Ziggler, locks on the figure four and believe it or not, Ziggler TAPS OUT.
Winner by Surprising Submission: The Miz
Wow. Ziggler taps out. Why is Mr. Money in the Bank on a losing streak? Great match, fantastic finish, but still… Ziggler is coming up loser these days. I wonder if cashing in is coming soon. Post-match, Flair and Miz drop elbows on the mat.
The Rock and John Cena cut promos on each other. I could not follow The Rock and his rhyming whining routine, it made no sense. Cena blathers and whines about losing to The Rock last year and this year is his time for redemption and The Rock promises he will walk out of WrestleMania still as WWE Champion. You know what, it’s a load of garbage. This was the worst promo-match I have ever seen. The Rock was not funny, and hell, half his rhyming bits didn’t make a lick of sense at all.
Well, we are an hour in, and this has not been much of an old school night, aside from the red, white, and blue ring and the logos.
Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter in the ring … and out comes … oh crap, I spoke too soon. Out comes Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, and Dusty Rhodes. Match goes nowhere as Swagger grabs the 2×4 which Hacksaw brought to the ring and beast up all the old-timers. Waste. Waste. Waste. It was Swagger vs. a Parade of People I Don’t Want to See Wrestle Anymore.
Winner: This was a great segment, said no one, ever.
Trailer for Marine 3 starring The Miz. Stick to wrestling.
Backstage: Josh “I’m a Tool” Matthews attempts to ask Swagger why he beat up members of the old-age club, but Alberto del Rio attacks.
Team Hell No vs. The Prime Time Players w/The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase
Apparently, exclusive to the WWE App, The Players requested Mr. Moneybags to be in their corner. Bryan starts off by educating Darren Young on what it means to be in the wrestling ring. Young tags out and Titus O’Neil start mauling Bryan. Bigtime clothesline, and Young comes back in. Why. Why? Young hits some falling fist-drops in honor of The Million Dollar Man. Match slows down as a “We Want Virgil” chant starts. Bryan hot tags to Kane who cleans house. Bryan sends Titus to the floor and Kane chokeslams Darren Young for the win.
Winners via pinfall: Team Hell No.
Kane and Daniel Bryan working on the same page again. Post match, Ted Dibiase stuffs 100-dollar bill down Young’s throat. Kane and Bryan accompany Dibiase to the back, Bryan, sheepishly sneaks back to the ring, and steals the hundred bucks out of the mouth of Darren Young.
Brodus Clay & Tensai defeat 3MB in less than a minute.
Honky Tonk Man joins them in the ring, but is quickly chased away by the trio of losers. McIntyre gets rolled up by Tensai. Post match, the babyfaces celebrate and when Heath Slater returns to ruin the party, Honky Tonk delivers the El-Kabong, cracking his guitar over his head.
Fandango does not debut tonight. Due to Justin Roberts botching the pronunciation of his name, Fan-dan-go refuses to compete. Kofi Kingston gets a paycheck for doing nothing. Much like The Great Khali.
It is 10pm, and that means it is time to play the game! TRIPLE H comes to the ring. It takes him eight minutes to challenge Brock Lesnar to a match. In those eight minutes he talks about their fight over and over and over again. How he made Lesnar bleed, busting his head open and causing him to get stitches, and talks about it over and over and over again.
Another talking segment. Lots of those tonight. Not so much old school so far. Flair flopped, Swagger beats up the shuffle-board team, and Honky Tonk swings his hips. It seems they are solidifying the big ‘Mania matches tonight.
Believe in The Shield promo: The trio threaten Orton, Sheamus, and even Big Show.
Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. World Heavyweight Champion Alberto del Rio
Now this ought to be a good match. Barrett starts with some heavy punches, and as Del Rio regroups, Swagger and Colter come out to the stage, and Barrett take control with a huge knee-lift to the gut. Barrett goes for the big brawling technique, hammering the World Champ down to the mat. Barrett misses a second-rope elbow and The Mexican Hero now makes a comeback, throwing Barrett down with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, followed by a running Yakuza Kick. Del Rio finally notices Swagger and Colter, but charges Barrett in the corner, misses and eats a big boot. Barrett goes for the pump-handle, but Del Rio counters, runs the ropes, Barrett goes for the swinging slam, but the World Titleholder reverses into the cross-armbreaker, and Barrett gives in.
Winner by Submission: Alberto del Rio
I feel like the Swagger/del Rio stuff is being somewhat downplayed, perhaps due in part to recent events surrounding Swagger. I wonder if Swagger is counting down the days, to the say after WrestleMania. That day we will truly see what, if any, future, Jack Swagger will have in WWE.
Primo and Epico vs. The New Age Outlaws
Yep, you read that right! Road Dogg and Billy Gunn are back and according to Michael Cole, this is the first tag team match they have had in 13 years. Damn. Road Dogg beats up Primo, but soon is double-teamed by the Colons. Epico slows down Dogg, then the two have a mid-ring collision, both men down. Roadie hot tags Gunn who unloads on both opponents. Gunn takes out Primo with a huge tilt-a-whirl slam. Primo and Gunn have a short reversal exchange, until Gunn kicks him low in the gut, and plants his opponent face-first with the Famouser.
Winners by Pinfall: The New Age Outlaws
Well, that was nice.
A group of WWE Superstars join Mean Gene Oakerlund to wish Mae Young a Happy 90th Birthday. Before anything happens, CM Punk interrupts and heads to the ring for his match. Mae, to her credit, I just think had no idea where she was.
CM Punk vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. The Big Show – Winner Faces Undertaker at WrestleMania
Well, I would have covered more of this match, but it seems all the good stuff happened during the commercial break. Before it, Sheamus and Orton had their way with Punk, until Big Show clobbered everyone. Back from commercial, Punk throws Orton over the top, but Sheamus grabs Punk and blasts him repeatedly in the chest. Show enters, and Punk goes after him, earning a KO-punch for his troubles. Before Show could pin, Sheamus gets in and takes Show down. Sheamus lift the giant and crushes him with the White Noise. He sets up for the Brough kick but Orton comes in with a powerslam! Orton goes to attack Show, but Show delivers a huge Chokeslam to Orton, and then to Sheamus. Show covers, but Sheamus kicks out. Show misses the KO punch, and Shemus blasts him with the Brough Kick! Show rolls to the floor, and Orton, from behind, plants Sheamus with the RKO! Orton goes to cover, but Punk runs in, kicks Orton upside the head, then strikes with the Go To Sleep! Punk covers, one… two… THREE!! Punk wins it clean!
Winner by Pinfall: CM PUNK
Before Punk can rejoice with Heyman, the lights go out, and the toll of the bells can be heard and The Undertaker comes down the entrance ramp. The deadman and his challenger have a staredown as Raw ends for the night.
Wow, a lot of build for Mania tonight. Not a whole lot in the way of matches, and a lot of promos, a lot of talking.
I am a bit speechless, because there are a lot of holes left to be filled right now. Ziggler? Barrett? Cesaro? What will these guys do at Mania??