TV Recap: Monday Night RAW – February 24, 2014

So, hey, how goes it? Just a couple things happened on RAW tonight. Hulk Hogan returned, brother. John Cena blew out his knee. Randy Orton and Batista bored the world. The Muta Lock came back to Raw. Oh and The Undertaker returned and STABBED BROCK LESNAR.

Like I said, couple of thing.

First, let’s pre-game RAW with my favorite piece of Monday night pre-gaming…Colt Cabana’s Worst Promo Ever. Thankssssssss.

Hulk Hogan Returns: Hulk Hogan is like the mafia. You try and leave him behind, but once you hear those sweet riffs from Rick Derringer and see that leathern man with the fu manchu decked out in absurdly large red and yellow boas…he’s sucked you back in. Hulk Hogan anywhere but WWE doesn’t mean as much. Yeah, he was just on TNA not too long ago, but it didn’t mean anything. When he’s The Real American, when he embraces the original Hulkamania, when he is back “home” — it’s special. It’s a moment. It sends chills up your spine and unless you’re the most jaded wrestling fan ever…you mark the hell out. I did and I own it. But onto the promo. If you listen to what Hogan is saying, he’s not going to wrestle (or if he does it’ll be like one or two matches), he’s in the “next phase” of his career. He’s going to be a figurehead, a special guest, a goodwill ambassador. He’s back in WWE to make his final bucks in the wrestling business and he’s going to do it with the least amount of physical exertion possible. As for him being the “host” of Wrestlmania XXX — no problem with that. He is one of the reasons there’s been 30 ‘Manias, so he has every right to be there. As a host, his presence will hopefully be innocuous — not embarrassing, but not amazing. It’ll be goofy and cheesy and I have a feeling someone’s going to feel a big leg drop by the end of the night. 3MB I’m looking at you.

The WWE Network: A good friend of mine said this, “More people signed up for the WWE Network in the first hour than they did Obamacare.” Wise decision America. #RealTalk

Match #1: Alberto Del Rio vs. Batista in a “We Hate You Batista, Oh Yes We Do” Match: Here’s my problem with Batista. Dude leaves for five years, nearly gets his ass handed to him by a morbidly obese MMA fighter, makes one good movie (Man with The Iron Fists) and then waltzes back into the main event at Wrestlemania? Nope, not how it goes. Why? It’s not a pecking order. It’s not “who deserves it.” It’s a practical thing called ring rust. The guy is out of practice and is not in ring shape at all. Sure he’s ripped to holy hell, but he doesn’t have the ring stamina or rhythm he needs to main event. His feud with Alberto del Rio needed to go into Wrestlemania. This way he can look strong against a good worker. But no, let’s rush Mr. Muscle Tear back into the ring so he can look as green as he did when he was collecting money for Reverend D-Von. Burn. The match itself sucked, but the crowd made it worthwhile boo-ing the shit out of Drax the Destroyer.

The Promo to End Promos Forever: I liked the beginning of the Randall Keith Orton’s promo. His music helped cost Batista the loss. Huzzah! Then he opened his mouth. Boo. Jokes aside, Orton’s promo wasn’t terrible at all. In fact it was a little bit of a shoot. Vince Russo would’ve been proud. Batista’s promo…walked through a pit of danger. F*ck me in the face, but this guy is an actor and he can’t even put sentences together. And for the love of God why does he have the worst tattoos ever? If they don’t turn Batista heel and add Daniel Bryan to the main event or worse, they do a double turn and have Orton go face, this WM main event is going to be epically terrible.

Match #2: Cesaro vs. Big E in a Battle of the Newly Abbreviated Names: The Cliffs Notes version of this match — These two just beat the piss out of each other. Big E was a little rough in the ring, but to be expected, he’s not “there” just yet. Cesaro was definitely off. His match from the night before was definitely taking its toll. Yet, it was still a solid ass match. Cesaro did an amazing dead lift tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Sadly, his flying uppercut and Neutralizer spots got botched. Big E has a lot of fire, which is great and I think a Mania program between these two will be a nice match for the biggest show of them all.

John Cena Shoots, The Wyatts May Have Killed Wrestlemania: John Cena says the future of the business runs through him. Wow, veiled comment much? Was Vince Russo writing the promos tonight? Like for reals? The Wyatts come out and big Erick Rowan folds Cena the wrong way and John Boy hyperextends/dislocates his knee. Dear Erick, if you want to get future endeavored — injure John Cena seriously before the biggest show of the year on the day they launch the WWE Network. If Cena is legit hurt, this could really effect his spot on the show. While I could sit around and crap on Cena all day, this guy deserves to be on the top of the Wrestlemania card. He’s a workhorse and the amount of goodwill and happiness he brings to people…it’s admirable. He deserves good things…and he has them…like tons of cash and a Bella twin. But to not be on Wrestlemania because of a sloppy spot, a damn shame.

Match #3: Sheamus vs. Christian: I can’t even think of anything witty here. Sheamus is a solid wrestler and he’s fun to watch. Christian, alas his time has come. I don’t see him as a top guy anymore and I’m not alone. Let’s stop forcing him down our throats then. I think he’d be perfect as a heel manager who also wrestles on special occasions. He has the gift of gab and putting young, vanilla guys with him (I’m looking at you Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Brodus Clay, Mason Ryan and probably 27 of you in NXT) and he would undoubtedly get them over. This guy has so much to offer, but I think they’re exploiting the wrong talent.

Match #4: Corporate Casual Kane vs. Daniel Bryan in a The Rights to the name Team Hell No Match: Kane’s outfit was very Right to Censor meets John Zandig. These guys are always fun in the ring, especially against each other. This is probably the blow-off to their feud and I think they did a good job of having a fun brawl. This wasn’t a blow away match, but a fun one nonetheless.

The Challenge: So, we’re going through with the Daniel Bryan/Triple-H match at Wrestlemania. Ugh. This does noting for me. What I’m hoping is that there’s a stipulation where if Bryan wins he gets into the main event and if Bryan loses he’ll never challenge again or shave his beard or team up with Yoshi Tatsu as “Team Yes-atsu.” Bryan wins, but is so decimated (keeping HHH strong for no reason at all), that the odds look overwhelmingly insurmountable, but in the end he wins. Yes! Yes! Yes! in the Superdome. Great visual for The Network.

Match #5: Emma vs. Summer Rae: I belong to a message board on Facebook and someone made this perfect statement, “Look at that, they just let Emma wrestle and she was able to get the crowd behind her.” Truer words never spoken. Emma wins with a MUTA LOCK. The rest of this match was the drizzling poops.

Match #6: The Usos vs. The New Age Outlaws in a 90 Second Challenge Match: Seriously, match was done in 90 seconds. Kind of meaningless way for The Usos to “get back in contention for the titles. Their rematch at WM30 will be good for sure.

Main Event: Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt in a You’ll Be Seeing a Lot More of this Match in Two Years Match: This, to me, is a preview of what could be a main event program in two years kinda like when Triple-H and The Rock feuded over the IC belt back in the 90s. Crowd wasn’t into this match and these two didn’t start clicking till the end. I thought Bray came off a little weak, and like Cesaro earlier, I think his PPV match wore him out. Reigns, meanwhile, is a machine. He too looked tired, but he fought through it and by the end of the match he mounted a main event caliber comeback. Then came the interference, which normally would be lame, but the Wyatt/Shield feud is anything but. Seth Rollins hit one of the most insane Tope Con Helo’s I’ve ever seen. He just soared and took Harper and Rowan out. It was almost Sabu-like in its insanity and violent execution. Then Ambrose comes out and starts brawling with the world. I was totally OK with the finish as I want this feud to keep going.

And finally…Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman come out. Heyman does a masterful job of cutting a promo putting over Brock as a killer, crapping on The Authority’s decision to pass over Lesnar for Orton vs. Batista and also get in a nice CM Punk reference (“They give you everything, but the one thing you want.) Then The Undertaker’s music anticlimactically hits and he walks down the aisle. Have to say, not one of the most creative or chilling Taker entrances.

Then it all changed. Instead of cowering and playing the chicken shit heel, Brock went toe-to-toe with Taker and gladly signed his “open contract” for ‘Mania and challenged Taker to sign. I thought to myself, “Man he should stab Brock in the head with that pen.” Then…OH MY GOD HE JUST STABBED BROCK WITH THE PEN (in the hand mind you). In the PG world of WWE, you never saw that coming. Taker then delivers a vicious chokeslam through the table on Brock and we go off the air. Now THAT is how you end a show.

It’s also how you take a stale idea — Brock/Taker — and turn it into something dynamic. You now want to see how this unfolds. And it’ll undoubtedly be awesome.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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