3/18 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Triple H responds to Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman's WrestleMania 29 challenge
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Pittsburgh, Pa. at Consol Energy Center
[Q1] Raw opened with a recap that focussed on Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, and Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk... Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were on commentary...
John Cena's music played and he headed to the ring. Cole said there were 15,464 fans in the building. Once the music stopped, Cena received more boos than cheers. He said he sensed there may be some Rock fans in the building, which received a mixed reaction. Cena said there were folks riding with he or Rock.
"You've got 20 days left to pick a side," Cena said while decked out in a new yellow shirt. He spoke about fans who haven't given up on him (the theme of his new shirt) said he wouldn't predict a victory like he did last year, but he said he is focussed and ready for WrestleMania 29.
The Primetime Players music interrupted Cena. Titus O'Neil came out wearing coveralls with an afro wig and glasses while Darren Young was dressed in his regular gear. O'Neil said he is actually Rufus "Pancake" Patterson and that he's the uncle of Titus. He said he's known as Pancake because he flattens dudes.
Cena ran through the local sports teams to get some easy crowd reaction and then said Pittsburgh also has good doctors who work with split personalities. The crowd wasn't into the Players routine, but they claimed the fans want to see them more. Titus said his "nephew" should be on the cover of Cocoa Pebbles. He said he would go after Cena himself, but his gout is acting up and he's three days away from collecting a social security check.
Titus said Young would face him. Young backed it up. Cena told Young to step in the ring with him and he would show him what it means to main event WrestleMania...
1. John Cena vs. Darren Young (w/Rufus "Pancake" Patterson). Cena dominated the opening seconds, but Patterson pulled Young to ringside heading into the break. [C]
Powell's POV: Let me guess, Vince saw Titus clowning around and thought it was hilarious? It is one of those situations where you don't know where it's going and therefore it's hard to turn the channel, though that doesn't mean it won't be easy to turn the channel once the segment ends and the bit bombs.
[Q2] After the break, Cena hoisted up Young, pointed at the WrestleMania 29 sign, and then hit the Attitude Adjustment for the win...
John Cena defeated Darren Young in 4:15.
Powell's POV: Was that it for Pancake Patterson? If so, that was a really corny bit. Obviously, the reason the match was more commercial than match is because they wanted Cena fans to stick around through a commercial break.
At ringside, the announcers previewed the rest of Raw and then shifted their focus to the Mark Henry vs. Ryback match from Smackdown that featured The Shield interfering and Henry roughing up Ryback after they left... A shot aired of Ryback walking backstage... [C]
2. Ryback vs. David Otunga. Ryback used his Meathook Clothesline and Shellshocked to get the win...
Ryback defeated David Otunga in 1:35.
Powell's POV: Now is that any way to treat the star of The Call? The first couple matches did nothing for me, but at least they're not feeding the secondary champions to top guys. Of course, I assume they are just saving this for later.
After the match, Ryback said he, Randy Orton, and Sheamus would tear The Shield apart at WrestleMania. Ryback said he and Henry's paths would cross again on the way to WrestleMania and it will be feeding time. Henry's music played and he walked onto the stage. However, Teddy Long and Vickie Guerrero came out and stopped him.
Vickie said she took Ryback out of the six-man tag match at WrestleMania. She said that if he wants to be at WrestleMania then he will go one-on-one with Mark Henry. A "Feed Me More" chant broke out as Henry and Ryback had a long distance staredown. Ryback picked up Otunga and gave him Shellshocked again...
[Q3] Lawler hyped the Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar contract signing for later in the show. Cole explained the circumstances of Hunter being forced to sign the contract without knowing the stipulation... A Fandango vignette was shown...
Powell's POV: The highly predictable switch to Ryback vs. Henry is official. I'm not sure why they took the awkward path they did. It was also odd to have Vickie act like she was forcing Ryback into the match rather than have Ryback demand it after what occurred on Smackdown. This opens the door for Big Show to enter the six-man tag match.
Fandango and his lady danced their way to the ring. A hanging Fandango logo lit up above the ring as the couple entered the ring and danced. She went to ringside and Great Khali made his entrance with Natalya. Highlights aired of Fandango leading Great Khali in pronouncing his name on Smackdown.
Back live, Fandango said Khali couldn't pronounce it, so they should give the beautiful, sensual, slice of Canadian heaven, Natalya, to give it a try. She teased saying it, then told Khali to get him now. Fandango fled the ring. Fandango said tonight was almost the night you got to see the debut of Fandango. He was serenaded with "You Can't Wrestle" chants...
The announcers hyped Wade Barrett vs. Chris Jericho vs. The Miz in a Triple Threat match for the Intercontinental Title... [C]
Powell's POV: Those chants were for Fandango, not Great Khali? Really? Anyway, this version of the act is in the usual repeat mode that WWE introduces characters with. I'm ready to turn the page. I'm also bored as hell by the first 45 minutes of the show. Did creative sit around daydreaming about tonight's debut of "Bates Motel"?
[Q4] Cole plugged Brock Lesnar as appearing on the cover of this month's Muscle & Fitness magazine...
Powell's POV: What a coincidence. I am actually on the cover of this month's Ass & Couches magazine this month.
3. R-Truth vs. Damien Sandow. Sandow cut a pre-match promo on his way to the ring. Truth responded with a poem of his own that ended with "You gonna get got." Truth has white pants. The crowd didn't care about the match early on. They were responsive when Sandow walked out and was counted out...
R-Truth defeated Damien Sandow by countout in 3:40.
Powell's POV: This show blows so far. Wait for me, Sandow!
Backstage, The Bellas were hanging all over Cody Rhodes. Kaitlyn showed up and said they could have the mustache and he could have them... [C]
Powell's POV: What's Kaitlyn all pissy about? She liked Cody for his mustache, not for the man he is. What a chauvinistic witch.
Highlights aired from last week of C.M. Punk and Undertaker at the end of Raw... Undertaker's music played and he made his entrance. Once in the ring, Taker said Punk sealed his fate when he decided to make it personal. "There's no escaping what's going to happen to you at WrestleMania," he said. "I'm going to hurt you, and I'm going to hurt you bad." Taker said Punk had once chance to save his soul. "I want that urn back," said Taker. A faux Paul Bearer voice could be heard.
[Q5] C.M. Punk appeared on the big screen. He was mouthing the Bearer impersonation and moving the top of the urn as if it was a mouth. He apologized for not being able to hit the high notes. While juggling the urn, Punk said a DQ or a count out still count as a loss for Taker.
Punk said he doesn't answer to a higher power because he is a higher power. He said he's willing to walk through hell and endure whatever pain Taker sees fit to inflict on him. "I will beat The Streak," Punk said. "I am the one that is going to end your undefeated streak at WrestleMania. I am the one in 20-1." Punk continued to juggle the urn and dropped it. He had to be censored. He picked up and said the top nearly came off. "Again, no disrespect intended," Punk said...
Powell's POV: I wish they would have gone with whatever the plan was before Bill Moody died. They've already resorted to Punk saying Taker's streak will end even if he loses by DQ or count out. It seems like they've given up on selling the average viewer on Punk being a true threat to pin Taker. Now it's all about paying to see Taker get his hands on Punk. I think they may have ultimately had to go there and they can use the DQ and count out threat to their advantage during the match, but it does take away some of the big match feel.
Cole spoke as a graphic showed the five WWE Hall of Famers... A replay of Punk dropping the urn was shown...
4. WWE Tag Champions Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Primo and Epico (w/Rosa Mendes) in a non-title match. Bryan sold for Primo and Epico early on. The live crowd was quiet, though there was a mild pop when Kane took the hot tag. Kane got the better of the action briefly.
[Q6] AJ Lee's music played and she skipped around the ring. Kane still chokeslammed Epico for the win...
Kane and Daniel Bryan defeated Primo and Epico in a non-title match in 6:10.
Powell's POV: Cole said AJ has been upset ever since she was splattered with water and argued with Bryan backstage recently. It looks like they're setting up Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston, as has been rumored.
Backstage, Josh Mathews interviewed Chris Jericho, who boasted that he's held the Intercontinental Title nine times. He spoke about holding the title heading into WrestleMania. Fandango appeared on the interview set and Jericho stopped talking. Fandango said his name. Jericho mocked his name with a bunch of comical names. Fandango said "Christopher" will learn to pronounce his name properly. Jericho told him not to leave because he didn't get his movie tickets yet...
The announcers hyped Sheamus and Randy Orton vs. 3MB, and Cody Rhodes vs. Alberto Del Rio...
Powell's POV: It looks like another rumored WrestleMania undercard match involving Jericho and Fandango is coming together. Jericho was spirited and fun there, which is more than I can say for the rest of this show. I'm waiting for the "Bring Back Eric Pankowski" online petition.
A video recapped Alicia Fox and Natalya visiting Rwanda...
5. World Hvt. Champion Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Cody Rhodes. Cody got a lot of offense early, but Del Rio came back and dropkicked him to the knee and knocked him off the apron heading into the break.
[Q7] [C] In the end, Del Rio applied the Cross Arm Breaker for the win...
Alberto Del Rio defeated Cody Rhodes in a non-title match in 12:35.
After the match, Jack Swagger hit the ring and attacked Del Rio from behind. Ricardo climbed on Swagger's back to stop him, but Swagger quickly disposed of him. Del Rio recovered and traded punches with Swagger. They tumbled to ringside, where Del Rio threw him into the barricade.
Zeb Colter was shouting encouragement to the fallen Swagger, when Del Rio looked up at Colter. Del Rio grabbed Colter by the collar. Swagger recovered and hit Del Rio from behind before he could strike Colter. "Get him, Jack, he put his hands on me," Colter said.
Swagger ran Del Rio into the ring post and then threw him over the announcers' table. Swagger and Colter were leaving when Colter stopped and pointed at Ricardo, who was just getting to his feet. Swagger performed a running clothesline on Ricardo and then applied the Patriot Lock. "Break it," Colter ordered. Swagger wrenched on the ankle and then Ricardo sold it by crying out in agony... [C]
Powell's POV: The best work in that segment belonged to Ricardo, who sold the effects of the Patriot Lock as if he had been strapped to The Governor's torture chair.
[Q8] The announcers recapped the previous segment...
Powell's POV: It was good to see the announcers stop and talk about the injury after the break rather than just moving on to the next segment.
The announcers set up a video that introduced Booker T as the sixth member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013...
Powell's POV: A deserving honoree. The video showed a lot of WCW footage and chronicled his various major title wins. G.I. Bro was included, but the great slip during a promo on Hulk Hogan was not. Will we actually see a Stevie Ray appearance as the inductor?
Randy Orton's entrance for the handicap tag match took place... [C]
Powell's POV: I take it back. They did include the setup for Booker's legendary slip up. Funny.
[Q9] 6. Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and Drew McIntyre in a handicap match. Sheamus sold for 3MB early. Of course it didn't last. Sheamus performed Brogue Kicks on Mahal and McIntyre, and Orton hit the RKO on Slater for the win.
Randy Orton and Sheamus defeated 3MB in 3:45.
After the match, The Shield entered through the crowd and surrounded the ring. Big Show's music played and he jogged to the ring and joined Sheamus and Orton in looking down at the heel trio. The Shield backed off and left the ringside area together. Show looked at Orton and Sheamus and then pointed at the WrestleMania 29 sign. Show left the ring, but not before giving them a look that said, "Well?"...
The announcers set up a GI Joe: Retaliation trailer "just for you, the WWE Universe." Aren't we lucky?... The announcer teased the Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar contract signing... [C]
Powell's POV: A simple and effective setup for Show joining forces with Orton and Sheamus. I like the touch of The Shield showing that they're a little intimidated by the babyface trio. It also helps make the three of them teaming feel more important.
The WrestleMania video aired. We're 20 days away...
[Q10] 7. Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ Lee, Big E Langston) vs. Kofi Kingston. Cole reminded viewers that Ziggler has until the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July to cash in his MITB contract. Kingston was on a run and went for a move off the ring apron, but AJ distracted the referee and Langston tripped Kingston in mid-air. In the end, Ziggler hit his finisher for the win.
Dolph Ziggler beat Kofi Kingston in 4:40.
After the match, Daniel Bryan and Kane walked onto the stage. Bryan congratulated Ziggler for his victory and for being the only person who could get the two of them on the same page. Kane said everyone has seen what Langston can do outside the ring, but he wants to see what he can do inside the ring.
Kane challenged Ziggler and Langston to a match against Team Hell No. AJ Lee took the mic and said they accept the match only if they put the tag titles on the line at WrestleMania. "Let me think about that," Bryan said. He paused and then did the Yes! routine...
The announcers spoke at ringside and then hyped that a video for "the main event of WrestleMania - The Rock vs. John Cena" would be coming up after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: This has been a rough show, but the undercard for WrestleMania is coming together.
A graphic touted the success of the WrestleMania Reading Challenge... The announcers sat at ringside. Cole said it's been an emotional ride for all of us, but perhaps not quote as much as the Undertaker. What?!? How has this been an emotional ride for viewers? Anyway, they set up a replace of the Taker and Punk angle from earlier in the show...
[Q11] The announcers set up the Rock vs. Cena video... The Miz made his entrance for the Triple Threat match... [C] A video package recapped last week's setup for the Triple Threat match. Wade Barrett was already in the ring. Chris Jericho made his entrance...
8. Wade Barrett vs. Chris Jericho vs. The Miz in a Triple Threat match for the Intercontinental Championship. At 3:00, Barrett was setting up Miz for a superplex when Jericho snuck underneath him for the tower of doom superplex spot heading into the break. [C]
[Q12] There were a series of good near falls after the break. Jericho showed some frustration when he was unable to put Miz away. Miz came back with a DDT at 10:50 and went for a cover. Cole ruined whatever chance it had of being a good near fall by telling viewers that Miz was going to be the new Intercontinental Champion right before he kicked out.
Barrett continued to sell on the floor as Miz and Jericho traded chops. Jericho caught Miz in a rollup for a two count. Miz came back with the Skull Crushing Finale. However, Barrett entered the ring and rolled up Miz to win the match...
Wade Barrett defeated The Miz and Chris Jericho in 12:20 to retain the Intercontinental Title.
Powell's POV: I appreciate the work of the wrestlers and the quality of the match, but I had a really hard time caring about a title match that was fought for a title that has been devalued so badly. Even if someone else wins the strap, I just assume they will end up losing to the top wrestlers in non-title matches.
The announcers set up a trailer of The Call along with clips from the premiere... The announcers aired Touts from fans regarding what the stipulation of the Triple H and Brock Lesnar match should be... A shot aired of Triple H walking backstage... [C] A commercial for Smackdown hyped Jack Swagger vs. Chris Jericho in a rematch...
[Overrun] Triple H made his entrance and headed to the ring, where as table and chairs were set up for the contract signing. Paul Heyman came to the ring with a few security guards. Hunter said he assumed Brock would want to see him face-to-face since he split his head open.
Heyman showed Triple H that Lesnar had already signed the contract for WrestleMania. Heyman reminded Hunter that he would only reveal the stipulation after Hunter signed it. Hunter said Heyman forgot to mention the last part about how he doesn't care what the stipulation is and how he's going to kick Lesnar's ass at WrestleMania.
Heyman said he and Lesnar have spent countless hours watching the footage of what happened three weeks ago. The footage played of Triple H running Lesnar into the ring post. It went reverse Wizard of Oz by going black and white for the rest of the footage. Back live, Heyman smiled and said this is as big as it gets. "How do you top that" Heyman asked.
Heyman said he knows how to top that and teased Lesnar vs. Triple H with Hunter blindfolded. "Nah," Heyman said before adding that Lesnar wants Hunter to look him in the eye when he beats him at WrestleMania. He also teased Hunter being handcuffed, but he said he doesn't want Hunter to have any excuses.
Heyman said Lesnar let him pick the stipulation. He said the winner of the match gets Stephanie McMahon. Then he leaned in and questioned whether the loser should get Stephanie. Hunter snapped and grabbed Heyman. Triple H beat up the security guards and cleared them from the ring.
Triple H grabbed Heyman and laid him on the table. He ripped Heyman's dress shirt open and slapped him on the chest (though it was covered by a Lesnar t-shirt). Heyman had a small cut on his forehead. Hunter said he was going to take his time and enjoy this. Heyman called out for Lesnar while Triple H continued to rough him up on the table.
Triple H ripped Heyman's shirts open and slapped his chest again. "I hate you," Heyman said. Triple H put the contract on Heyman's chest and signed it. He knocked Heyman off the table and told him to go call his monster. Triple H threw one of the chairs toward Heyman at ringside.
Brock Lesnar's music played. Lesnar walked onto the stage with a chair in hand and slammed it down a few times, let out a primal scream, and headed toward the ring. Triple H pulled out a sledgehammer, which stopped Lesnar in his tracks at ringside. Lesnar looked up at Hunter and smiled. Triple H motioned for Lesnar to bring it, but Lesnar and Heyman started backing away.
Lesnar headed back toward the ring despite Heyman begging him not to. "We won this round," Heyman said. "He signed his own destiny." Lesnar walked around the ring and then backed up the entrance ramp. The announcers questioned what the stipulation for the match is.
Once at the top of the stage, Heyman smiled. He said he's not a tough guy, Lesnar is the tough guy. Heyman said it was worth taking that beating so that he could announce that it will be Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar in a match with no count outs, no disqualifications, and no stopping the match for any reason because the match will be No Holds Barred. There was a minor pop.
Heyman said he nearly forgot and it might be due to the beating that he took. Heyman said the added stipulation is that Triple H's career is on the line. Lesnar patted the contract. "Game over," Heyman said. The show concluded with a shot of Triple H with a concerned look on his face...
Powell's POV: It took a long time to get there and I thought the segment was doomed before Lesnar arrived. However, Heyman's antics at the end with his hair down and his shirt ripped open were really good. The announcement that Triple H's career on the line will leave some fans feeling like they know for certain that he is going over, while others will question whether Triple H is stepping away from the ring to focus on running the business. I certainly lean toward Hunter winning, but I didn't come away feeling like WWE ruined the match by telegraphing the finish to the point that it was ruined for everyone, though a good portion of the hardcore fans will certainly insist that it does.
Overall, this show sucked. It was fairly newsworthy with the addition of all of the WrestleMania undercard matches, but the show itself was long, plodding, predictable for the most part, and downright boring way more often than not. I still have no freaking idea what we saw in that opening segment with the Primetime Players and that the entire first hour felt like a huge waste of time. Business better pick up next week with The Rock's return and because it will be the penultimate edition of Raw before WrestleMania 29. I will be back later tonight with a Dot Net Members' exclusive audio review of Raw, and on Tuesday with the WWE Raw Hitlist. Thanks for watching along with me tonight.
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