bill bodkin gets raw…
This week’s RAW Recap is going to be a little different. Instead of breaking down the matches in terms of what happened, we’re going to be looking at the long-term, Wrestlemania impact each match and segment had. With WWE preparing for ‘Mania, which’ll be in one month, each piece of RAW should be leading towards the grand daddy of them all.
Opening Segment: The Paul Bearer Tribute with The Undertaker…and CM Punk?
Comedian and friend of Pop-Break, Ryan Maher put it best last night on his Facebook page…
“CM Punk is battling The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29. If I were the head of WWE Creative, I’d have CM Punk’s music hit right in the middle of Paul Bearer’s 10 bell salute this Monday night, and have him and Heyman interrupt it! That’s heel heat! That’s old school, and Paul Bearer himself would love it!”
And it’s true. Bearer was memorialized wonderfully throughout the week on WWE TV and social media and even on RAW his tribute lasted quite some time, long enough for a warm ovation from the crowd. So Punk’s interruption wasn’t blatantly disrespectful but instead played perfectly into his persona as the arrogant heel.
Punk’s line about Paul Bearer remembering The Undertaker as ‘perfect’ at Wrestlemania was a great line and when he apologized … for ending Taker’s streak at Mania … also perfect. Punk may be the best heel of the modern era and I’m talking about the past 13 plus years, not just today. The guy is so damn good on the mic and in the ring.
Kudos to whomever remembered that Kane was, in the world of the WWE, Paul Bearer’s son. And it would only make sense to have him try and destroy Punk, the man who’s ruined his father’s memorial. Brilliant!
Seth Rollins vs. The Big Show
Someone took their logic pills today. The Big Show tosses Rollins over the top onto the rest of The Shield. So what does The Shield do? They get in the ring and beat the living hell out of Big Show. It made sense and everyone looked strong here. It took three guys to beat up Big Show and The Shield still looked like the savage, fanatical unit that they are.
Also, not being aligned with CM Punk and instituting the ‘Believe in the Shield’ mantra, has really made them more than an n.W.o. style faction, but something more gritty, raw and radical.
Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler
Again…logic! The Dazzler looked super strong in the match and it was smart for the announce team to mention and push DB’s feud with Oakland A’s outfielder Josh Reddick. Also, Daniel Bryan was able to use this match to re-establish himself as a singles wrestler, something many may have forgotten since he’s been defending the tag titles with Kane. The dude is super crisp in the ring and once he and Kane drop the belts, he’ll be back in singles title contention in no time.
Dolph Ziggler has looked like a complete push over recently. He’s lost to everyone and man did he ever need the win tonight. The one thing that wasn’t good for Dolph’s future was when Michael Cole mentioned Dolph had till July to cash his Money in the Bank contract in. So, where does that leave The Show Off for Mania? Good question.
Ziggler gets the win here with The Zig Zag. Yes, he got help from AJ Lee and Big E. Langston, but that was only a mere distraction and Ziggler was still able to look strong by hitting his finisher via a counter, not someone coming in and hitting DB or something cheap.
Fandango vs. Tensai
Well, here’s where we kinda went off the rails. Tensai’s going back to his ‘hip-hop hippo’ gimmick he had when he teamed with Scotty 2 Hotty back in the day. But honestly, I never got the Lord Tensai gimmick anyways.
Fandango…he has Wrestlecrap written all over him. It’s such an absurd gimmick…but if the former Johnny Curtis can somehow make this gimmick work like Rick Martel did when he was “The Model” then we might have something here.
Outside of a comedy match I don’t see Tensai, his pal Brodus Clay or Fandango on ‘Mania.
Team Rhodes Scholars vs. The New Age Outlaws
Wow, Sandow and Rhodes really, really killed it here mocking The Outlaws intro. I think the WWE needs to really let these two guys run with the ball. They’re both good wrestlers and they have such excellent chemistry.
As for The Outlaws…getting them in small doses will work wonders.
And Then There Was Brock
Wow, this is a classic ‘Mania build-up angle — having longtime friends/family of a wrestler get attacked by their opponent. Remember Undertaker and David Flair? A million HBK opponents and Marty Janetty?
Having Brock destroy The Outlaws then have Paul Heyman cut a blistering promo was the heat the HHH/Brock feuds needs. And after their debacle at Summerslam, they need it.
Mark Henry vs. Kofi Kingston
Wow, Kofi’s really fallen off. He might not even make ‘Mania this year, unless there’s some crazy gimmick match.
As for Mark Henry, the WWE has finally made this dude look like the beast he is. The ‘Hall of Pain’ gimmick is great and before he hangs it up, Henry should get one more run with a title.
Ryback vs. Heath Slater
Ryback is Goldberg, we get it. Heath Slater is the new version of Barry Horowitz, we get it.
Am I looking forward to Ryback vs. Henry? Ehhh. This won’t be a plodding match like a Khali/Batista match, but it’s still not exactly inspiring anything for me.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Antonio Cesaro
It’s kinda nuts how ADR has become a convincing good guy so quickly. Who would’ve thought that when he and The Miz turned face at the same time, that ADR would be the one people got behind and would be more believable. The face turn has also allowed me to see just how good The Mexican Aristocrat really is. I never enjoyed the gimmick when he was a heel and I felt he was pushed to fast when he first came in … but man this guy is super fluid in the ring. His flying, twisting, cross armbreaker is a seriously dope move and it makes sense that with the amount of torque he puts on his opponent’s arm that someone would tap ASAP.
As for Cesaro, it sucks he was used a stepping stone here. However, he was made to look strong and being the US Champ, he definitely should. The guy has also been great in the ring and I hope he doesn’t drop the belt and end up becoming a faceless jobber. As for his Wrestlemania appearance…he’s another one on the bubble to not be on the show or just end up in a match thrown together at the last second.
RKO and Sheamus vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
This is a stale match. Good work, sure, but we knew the result before anyone stepped into the ring. RKO is just boring to watch these days. Well, I’ve never enjoyed him, so I’m biased. Sheamus is a horse and works his ass off, so it’s never boring to watch him.
Team Rhodes Scholars need the belts and a lengthy run with them. Let them beat Kane and Daniel Bryan at Mania and let them run wild.
As expected, post match RKO and Sheamus brawl with The Shield. So it’ll be Big Show, Sheamus and RKO vs. The Shield. If the WWE is smart, The Shield goes over strong.
The Miz vs. Chris Jericho
This could lead to Y2J vs. The Miz vs. Wade Barrett at Mania. If this happens, this is going to be a match could really liven up a somewhat ‘meh’ midcard for the show.
Jack Swagger vs. Sin Cara
I think Swagger’s introduction as the anti-immigration heel happened too early. It’s already getting old and redundant. We get it, you don’t like immigrants! ADR comes out to defend his Mexican brethern, we get a brawl and Swagger bails.
They need to do some here with this feud. ADR is part of famed Mexican wrestling tradition, why not have Swagger burn the mask of his legendary father Dos Caras or maybe have him assault some famed luchadors … or any non-American wrestler involved in WWE? Why not do something to disrespect lucha culture? Imagine him just appearing on any show — NXT, Main Event, etc. and destroy guys? Why not lay out Ricardo Rodriguez and injure him? Something, anything but these damn promos.
CM Punk vs. Kane
Great match all-around. Kane wins when Taker’s music distracts Punk. Kane looks strong here and his “father’s” name is avenged. Undertaker shows Punk he can play some mental chess as well. But in the end, Punk ends up stealing the famed urn, bashing Kane in the dome with it and then mocking The Undertaker, regaining all his heat.
I think Undertaker/Punk is not only going to steal this year’s Mania but will be one of the best matches in both men’s careers.