4/1 Powell's WWE Raw Live Coverage: Final hype for WrestleMania 29 with The Rock, John Cena, Undertaker, C.M. Punk, Brock Lesnar, and Triple H
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members will be listening to my audio review of WWE Raw later tonight They are already listening to a two-hour interview with pro wrestling legend Les Thatcher, and will be listening to an interview with former WWE creative team member Court Bauer on Tuesday, and the WrestleMania 29 audio review on Sunday night with former WWE creative team member Seth Mates (Twitter.com/SethMates). Join us on the ad-free version of the website (and get exclusive access to the members' portion of our iPhone and Android apps) by signing up for membership now via Dot Net Members' Signup Page. You are also encouraged to download our free iPhone, Android, and Kindle Fire apps.
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Washington, D.C. at Verizon Center
[Q1] The show opened with a recap and hyped that Shawn Michaels would appear on the show and questioned what impact he would have. The recap focussed on the big three WrestleMania 29 matches... Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler checked in on commentary and stated that 16,733 fans were in attendance...
John Cena made his entrance to more boos than cheers. Once in the ring, Cena stopped to soak up the crowd reaction and then stated: "I stand in the middle of a house divided, ironically enough here in Washington, D.C." Cena said all eyes are focussed on WrestleMania.
Cena said it's no secret that he and Rock don't like each other, but he respects Rock. He said last year he would have made a rude over the line comment about Rock and questioned his passion and allegiance to WWE. He said Rock would have come out and made jokes about his mom and references to his personal life.
"Those childish games are over, because we all know that this is much, much bigger." Cena said. He noted that Rock is the WWE Champion and has done everything he said he would do. "You name it, The Rock has conquered it," he said. Cena said he would not waste his breath talking about Dwayne Johnson.
Cena said he steps in the ring on Sunday with the man he believes is the greatest WWE Champion of all time. "That paints a victory for John Cena at WrestleMania impossible, right?" Cena compared it to winning the Royal Rumble and then C.M. Punk to earn the match and said The Great One will fall. "The Rock's time is up, my time is now," Cena stated emphatically.
Cena paused as the "Cena sucks" chants grew louder. Cena said the WWE Universe may get a moment they never thought possible in their lifetime. He said The Rock said he can cope with failure, but it will not be like his previous failure. Cena said he had to deal with the WrestleMania loss for a full year.
Cena said he had to sit behind the curtain and watch Rock debut a new WWE Championship that was designed for him and defines his legacy. He recalled Rock saying he will be WWE Champion for as long as he damn well pleases. He said Rock stuck his foot in his mouth because "I, we will get absolute redemption." Cena said definitely that Rock will lose the WWE Championship on Sunday.
"The People's Era will remain," Cena said. "The WWE Universe will remain. But the mighty Rock will experience failure." He said Rock will have to wake up and talk to the millions and millions of fans and deal with the failure of knowing that the WWE Championship that was intended for him is being defended by Cena.
Cena said has no intention of replacing the WWE Championship belt. He said he will hold it as a symbol. A loud "boring" chant started and Cena stopped to let the chant fade. Cena said that he will hold that belt as a symbol that he is not only equal, but better than The Rock. The crowd boos. Cena said he will shock the world. "You will not believe your eyes, jack," said Cena. He said Sunday even Rock will known that "the champ is here"...
The announcers spoke at ringside. Jerry Lawler recorded a Tout video at ringside and predicted that The Rock will win... A shot aired of Randy Orton, Big Show, and Sheamus walking backstage. JBL said they would team up after the break...
Powell's POV: The crowd was tough on Cena, but I think that has more to do with a combination of boredom with his character and Rock fans than it does with it being a bad promo. There were several lines in the promo that will lead to the growing speculation of a potential heel turn for Cena on Sunday. His words were carefully chosen so that either we will be able to look back and know that he was hinting at something or simply to leave people wondering going into the match.
[Q2] [C] 1. Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show vs. 3MB. 3MB got some early offense on Sheamus, but it didn't last long. Show destroyed all three members and knocked out Mahal and pinned him.
Randy Orton, Big Show, and Shemaus defeated 3MB in 3:10.
After the match, The Shield's music played and they headed through the crowd. The trio stopped on the stairs and delivered a promo. Dean Ambrose congratulated them on their win and told them to do their little song and dance and celebration now because they won't have anything to celebrate on Sunday.
Seth Rollins told the babyface trio that justice never lies and they know the truth. Roman Reigns said the truth is that Orton, Sheamus, and Show are not a team. "You three on the same page?" he asked. "Come on." Another boring chant broke out briefly just before Reigns delivered the "Believe in the Shield" line...
Powell's POV: The crowd is hot, but they sure are quick to chant "boring." If they wanted a lot of in-ring action then they bought tickets to the wrong show. I am left more bored by the in-ring action than the promos in March. We know who is going to win 99 percent of the television matches heading into WrestleMania, so I enjoy the verbal hype for the actual WrestleMania matches a lot more than some in the crowd apparently do.
Cole hyped the appearance of Shawn Michaels and questioned how he feels about Triple H putting his career on the line. Lawler said we would hear from Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter on the streets of Washington, D.C. after the break... [C]
[Q3] A Did You Know graphic touted that there will be fans from 50 states and 34 countries in attendance at WrestleMania 29...
Lawler hyped that Colter would be in a match against Alberto Del Rio later tonight... Footage aired of Colter and Swagger standing on the street in Washington. They delivered their usual spiel. Swagger said he will break Del Rio's ankle and the spirit of those who abduct the American dream. He said anyone who doesn't like that does not deserve to be a real American...
Matt Striker interviewed Alberto Del Rio on the backstage interview set. Del Rio responded to Swagger's bit and said he doesn't know why Colter challenged him to a match, but he sees him as a fat pinata with a mustache... The announcers hyped Daniel Bryan for after the break... [C]
The announcers hyped that Vince McMahon is on Twitter and hyped a "big reveal" for Friday night...
Powell's POV: Would anyone complain if this year's World Hvt. Championship match lasts 18 seconds? Vince won't be the only one with a big Twitter reveal on Friday. Follow me at Twitter.com/prowrestlingnet by Friday for more details.
2. Daniel Bryan (w/Kane) vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E Langston, AJ Lee). Bryan stood at ringside and had a staredown with Langston. Once Bryan rolled back inside the ring, Ziggler caught him with the Fameasser for a two count. [C]
[Q4] After the break, Bryan caught Ziggler with a series of kicks, but then missed the big finale kick. However, Ziggler pushed Bryan off the ropes and then Bryan caught him with the big kick. Bryan went for a top rope headbutt, but Ziggler rolled out of the way. Later, both men went for cross body blocks and crashed together.
A.J. skipped around Kane. Langston used the distraction to take a shot at Kane. Bryan kicked Langston through the ropes. Dolph rolled up Bryan and pinned him.
After the match, Langston hit the ring and destroyed Daniel Bryan with the Big Ending. Kane recovered and threw punches at Ziggler and Langston. Kane went for the chokeslam on Langston, but Langston used his hand to pull free of Kane's kung fu death grip. Langston performed his Big Ending finisher on Kane...
Dolph Ziggler beat Daniel Bryan in 11:00.
Powell's POV: A good match. It was nice to see something other than a predictable squash match, though you had to assume Dolph was going over since he and Langston are challenging at the pay-per-view. Thus, the outcome was logical, and Langston looked like a major league bad ass via the post match drama with Kane.
Cole hyped Undertaker "eviscerates" C.M. Punk later in the show. Lawler hyped HBK for after the break... [C]
Shawn Michaels made his entrance to a big ovation. Highlights aired of Brock Lesnar snapping Triple H's arm last year and then doing the same at SummerSlam. "Now, you didn't think we could WreslteMania without Mr. WrestleMania, did you?" Michaels asked. "I love this time of year."
HBK ran through some of the WrestleMania 29 matches and said fans know that's why he is there. He said there is one match he is particularly interested in and that's the match between Brock Lesnar and his best friend Triple H. Shawn said there's a ton of history between Brock and Hunter, and his own arm is part of that history.
[Q5] Shawn said he really became concerned when Triple H put his career on the line and now he has very serious doubts and questions. Triple H's music interrupted HBK. Cole said this could be the last time viewers see Triple H on Raw "in this capacity" and stressed the retirement possibility. Once in the ring, Triple H hugged Michaels. Hunter told Shawn that he knows what he's doing and it's the same situation Shawn was in.
HBK said Hunter believes their situations are the same but they are different. He said that when his career was on the line, he looked across the ring and saw a man he had the utmost respect for, and that opponent had the utmost respect for him. He said his opponent never came out and bragged about ending his career because he has that much respect for him.
HBK said Brock Lesnar isn't the same way because he respects no one. Shawn said Brock does what he does for money, to hurt people, and because he enjoys creating havoc. Shawn spoke about how much Triple H lives for the business. Triple H said Shawn couldn't talk him out of the match.
Shawn said Hunter is mistaken. "I came here to tell you that at WrestleMania, you better kick Brock Lesnar's ass," Michaels said. HBK announced that unlike SummerSlam, he would be in Triple H's corner to watch him do it. "And if you're not down with that, I've got two words..."
Brock Lesnar's music interrupted HBK. Lesnar and Paul Heyman marched onto the stage. JBL referred to Heyman as the greatest manager that ever lived. Lesnar headed toward the ring. Heyman tried to talk him out of it. Heyman took the mic and said that for the record, his client has two words for them, but he doesn't think it's the two words they are looking for.
Heyman said Lesnar is going to beat Triple H into retirement on Sunday at WrestleMania. He said Hunter will have to learn to live with the disappointment. He said Triple H will disappoint Vince McMahon because he won't be able to fight his battles for them. He said Hunter will disappoint the board of directors because he won't be able to fulfill his duties as COO anymore.
"You're going to disappoint your wife, but you're probably used to that anyway," Heyman said. "You're going to disappoint your best friend Shawn Michaels." Heyman said he's a good negotiator and his client gets paid to fight. He asked Shawn if he really wants to be so close to Triple H when Lesnar destroys Triple H again and possibly breaks HBK's arm again.
Heyman said Hunter and Shawn fight from emotion, which is why HBK had to retire from WrestleMania. Heyman said Triple H should have just walked away from the fight. "But now I assure you that you won't be able to walk away," he said. "When Brock Lesnar is done with you, you're going to crawl away with your tail between your legs a beaten, battered, emasculated retiree that has disappointed the entire WWE Universe."
Heyman said Triple H was never man enough to beat Lesnar, who has forced Triple H to commit professional suicide. Lesnar's music played. Cole asked whether Heyman is correct. Hunter gave them a chop from the ring for a minor pop. Cole noted that it's a No Holds Barred match, which is right up Lesnar's alley. Lawler was there to ruin whatever impact that may have had by saying it's not up anyone's alley but it will be a good fight... [C]
Powell's POV: Broken record time. Great mic work from Heyman. I like the late edition of HBK to the show. I was prepared for Mania without HBK, but the late addition adds a little more to the match and the overall show. It's a nice last minute surprise that would have felt predictable had it taken place earlier in the hype. I still wish Triple H would have spent more time talking about the threat of retirement at some point during the build. Last week would have been the week to sell viewers on that, but we got the short "ass kicker" promo instead.
[Q6] Highlights aired from Cena's promo that opened the show. Lawler touted that Rock was in the building. Additional highlights aired of The Shield promo... The Miz sat in on commentary. It was announced that the Wade Barrett vs. The Miz match would air on the one-hour free pre-show. Miz tried to say the first match and the last match are the most important...
3. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett vs. Zack Ryder in a non-title match. The Miz remained on commentary for the match. Barrett controlled the match until he became distracted by Miz momentarily. Ryder had a run of offense, but Barrett put him away with the Bull Hammer...
Wade Barrett defeated Zack Ryder in a non-title match in 3:45.
Powell's POV: The worst type of pre-WrestleMania match in that everyone knew who was going over and no one cared about either guy. I still can't get over the way they buried the secondary champions.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox were talking when Santino Marella entered the room and told them that Vince McMahon was in the building and was angry with both of them. April Fools!!! Vickie said she knew for a fact that Vince wasn't there. She whispered into Maddox's ear. Vickie told Santino he was in a match. Maddox said they would find out who the biggest fool is, then he said it's Santino... [C]
Powell's POV: Is anyone else worried that Vince McMahon's big Twitter reveal is going to be pictures of his junk? I promise that my own Twitter reveal on Friday won't be Favre-like.
[Q7] 4. Santino Marella vs. Mark Henry. Highlights aired of Mark Henry pushing the weight bar onto Ryback's throat on Smackdown. Santino kicked Henry twice. He tried to take out the Cobra glove, but Henry stopped him and hit the World's Strongest Slam for the win...
Mark Henry pinned Santino Marella in 0:55.
Ryback's music played and he headed to the ring. Henry told him to hold on. He said he knows Ryback because he didn't break his bench press record, but that doesn't give him the right to come out and threaten him. Henry reminded Ryback they have a no contact clause until WrestleMania.
Henry said he wants to get his hands on Ryback. "And I know you want to put yours on me," Henry said. Um... Anyway, Henry said the only thing that would happen tonight is his smile. Henry started to leave the ring. Ryback picked up Santino and rammed him into Henry, then pressed Ryback over his head and threw him onto Henry on the floor...
A shot aired of Colter and Swagger talking backstage... [C]
Powell's POV: The live crowd was deader than Lindsay Lohan's career while Henry spoke, but they lived up a bit once Ryback used Santino to get around the no contact rule. Rough mic work from Henry.
The announcers spoke at ringside about Vince McMahon's Twitter page and how he will send out dick pics on Friday. Okay, I made up that dick pic part. They said Vince had 53,000 followers in 90 minutes...
Backstage, Matt Striker asked C.M. Punk if he feels he is disrespecting the memory of Paul Bearer. "I think a better question is do I give a damn if I am disrespecting the memory of Paul Bearer," Punk replied. Punk said he's trying to get inside Undertaker's head to end his streak.
Punk talked about the possibility of Taker getting angry and getting himself disqualified or counted out. Punk said that whenever someone thinks about WrestleMania, they are going to think about C.M. Punk...
Powell's POV: If you're trying to get in a guy's head, it's probably not a good idea to tell him you're just trying to get in his head.
[Q8] Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger made their entrance. The announcers hyped Colter's match for after the break... [C]
5. World Hvt. Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Zeb Colter (w/Jack Swagger) in a non-title match. Ricardo Rodriguez introduced Del Rio from the stage while on crutches. Del Rio wanted Ricardo to go backstage, but he went to ringside instead. Swagger slowly stalked Ricardo.
Colter reached over the ropes and took Ricardo's crutch. Swagger took Ricardo down for the Patriot Lock, but Del Rio kicked Swagger into the barricade. Colter struck Del Rio with the crutch for the DQ.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Zeb Colter by DQ in 0:45.
After the match, Colter struck Del Rio with the crutch again, but Del Rio recovered. Swagger attacked Del Rio with the crutch. Swagger and Colter took turns striking Del Rio with the crutch...
Highlights aired of Cena's promo from the opening segment. Cole hyped that The Rock was up next... [C]
Powell's POV: Del Rio's back was covered in red marks. No, not communist pro wrestling fans, red marks from the crutches. Geez, pay attention, people.
The Rock's music hit and he made his entrance heading into the top of the hour.
Powell's POV: Great move by WWE having Rock appear heading into the overrun of the show. April Fools! There's another hour to go! The three-hour format is a joke on all of us WWE Raw viewers.
[Q9] Rock was greeted with loud "Rocky" chants. "Connection," Rock started. He said the connection between him and The People is the only reason he's standing in the middle of the ring. Rock addressed Cena by saying that Sunday isn't about redemption, it's about the will of The People. "And this Sunday, the will of the people isn't for John Cena to find his redemption," he said before adding that it is about stomping Cena's monkey ass all over WrestleMania.
Rock said that if The People will it, "we can change the world." Rock said maybe, just maybe instead of Rock visiting this town, "The Rock will have to live in this town." Rock said that if The People will it, The Rock would live in a big house right up the road, "a big white house." Rock said maybe, just maybe we go from President Barrack to President The Rock.
Rock asked the fans if he count count on their vote. He got a good applause. Then he urged for a better reaction and got one. Rock delivered the "Finally" line. He recalled putting Cena down with a Rock Bottom last week and said Cena's time won't be now on Sunday. "Your time is never," he said.
Rock said it's not about redemption "and it's damn sure not about passing the torch." Rock said the only way it would be a torch is if he set the belt on fire and stuck it straight up Cena's candy ass. Rock said Cena isn't just facing The Rock, he's facing a connection that he doesn't realize how big it is.
"You cannot deny the will of The People, and you cannot beat The Rock," he said. Rock closed with the "If You Smell" line. Cole said it was like the tale of two different superstars. He said Rock was extremely confident, whereas Cena seemed to believe it's his last chance...
A shot aired of Chris Jericho walking backstage... [C]
Powell's POV: The best line of the segment came from Cole as he emphasized the differences between the Rock and Cena characters going into the match. Rock was fine, but not WrestleMania go-home great by his standards Here's hoping there's more to come from Rock and Cena tonight.
[Q10] 6. U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. Chris Jericho in a non-title match. JBL said Jericho was the only WWE personality to appear on Dancing With the Stars who didn't date George Clooney. Funny. Jericho was in control of the match when Fandango's music interrupted the match. Fandango and his dancer performed their pre-match, er, pre-non-match entrance. [C]
Cesaro performed a sit-out slam and then followed up with a yodel and an uppercut. Jericho came back with a double axe-handle off the top rope. Meanwhile, Fandango held up numbers 1-10 to grade Jericho's moves (he was like a Romanian judge when U.S. athletes are competing).
Fandango finally made his way to ringside and continued the judging until Jericho caught him with a dropkick through the ropes for a pop. A short time later, Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho for the submission win. Fandango attacked Jericho after the bell and was greeted with a loud "You Can't Wrestle" chant.
Fandango performed the top rope leg drop on Jericho and left him lying. Then he went Michelle from American Pie on him by demanding that Jericho say his name, bitch. Fandango performed the top rope leg drop again. He took the mic and told Jericho what his name is...
Chris Jericho beat Antonio Cesaro in a non-title match in 12:50.
Powell's POV: As good as Jericho and Cesaro are, Jericho missed a dropkick on a seated Cesaro by a mile, and then Cesaro's double stomp around Jericho were both pretty hokey looking. It was a good match, but not as good as some of the Twitter comments I caught seemed to suggest.
[Q11] The announcers hyped that Undertaker will remove C.M. Punk's bowels (or something like that) later tonight... [C]
Cole announced that Stephanie McMahon accepted Trish Stratus's invitation to be her Hall of Fame inductor...
Virgin males and dateless women who thankfully have yet to meet and breed were shown delivering Tout predictions on The Rock vs. John Cena match... Brodus Clay and company made their entrance... [C]
Powell's POV: Yes, I know one of these weeks one of you will be featured in a Tout video on Raw. I will insult you during live coverage. You will get pissed. I will continue to cover Raw. You will send repeated death threats before you eventually look back and realize you looked like a jackass. I will share a humiliating detail of my life to make you feel better. We will make peace. I will still privately look down on you.
7. Cameron and Naomi (w/Brodus Clay, Sweet T) vs. The Bella Twins (w/Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow). Clay pounded on the mat with pompoms.
[Q12] Cameron took a not-so-hot tag and got the better of one of the twins. The twins came back and won on a roll through. No one cared more than the four wrestlers at ringside and they were acting...
The Bella Twins beat Cameron and Naomi in 4:45.
Powell's POV: It's as if WWE does not want people to order WrestleMania 29.
Cole hyped that Undertaker would eviscerate C.M. Punk after the break... [C]
Undertaker's music played and he made his entrance. Taker said Punk's WWE Championship reign lasted over 400 days, but the pain he will endure will last an eternity. Taker said Punk made it personal and now he will suffer. He said beating Punk at WrestleMania is no longer good enough.
"The disrespect you showed Paul Bearer will cause you to pay the ultimate price," Taker said. He conceded that The Streak may come to an end on Sunday due to his current state of mind, but Punk will never live to talk about it.
The Druids music played. The oversized Jawa's walked out and lined up on opposite sides of the entrance ramp. Lawler said he doesn't think this was something Undertaker had planned. Cole said this is very strange. Yeah, no shit. Oh, he's talking about the angle, not the last month of Raw leading into WrestleMania 29.
"Ohhhhh, yeeeeessssss," could be heard. Paul Heyman, dressed as Paul Bearer, walked onto the stage and held out the urn. The crowd groaned. Taker headed toward Bearer. He stopped and punched one of the druids, thinking it was Punk. However, Punk revealed himself as one of the other Druids and struck Taker from behind. The C.M. Punk chants started. There were Undertaker chants in response, but the Punk chants were louder.
Punk hit Taker with the urn repeatedly and yelled, "I did this to you." Punk continued to slam the urn down onto Taker. He unscrewed the top of the urn and poured ashes into his hand and then threw the ashes at Taker. The crowd groaned and booed. Punk rubbed some of the ashes on his face as the show ended...
Powell's POV: Really, that's how they closed out the hype for WrestleMania 29? Even if you don't find the angle tasteless and find it perfectly acceptable, you have to know that it's a big turnoff to a good portion of the audience. Those who are turned off by the angle aren't likely to view Punk as the bad guy as much as they will look at WWE as the bad guy. It was not shocking and I really don't think it made the masses want to see Punk get his ass kicked. Hell, listen to the mix of groans, boos, and Punk chants that followed. It left me wondering why Taker would want to be involved in that. They really chose the tackiest path to hyping a match that I was looking forward to on paper a lot more than I am after all the hype.
Overall, this was another long and plodding attempt to deliver big hype. Unfortunately, the hype peaked a month ago. They have had some moments here and there over the last four weeks that have been good, but the long, drawn out three-hour format has done them no favors. It's one of those years where I find myself happy that Mania season is over because I am ready to move on to some new programs. That doesn't mean I am not looking forward to Mania itself, but it does mean that the last four weeks of Raw have failed when it comes to getting me more excited about the biggest show of the year.
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