3/6 Barnett's WWE Raw is Blog: How well did Raw sell WrestleMania 28?
By Jake Barnett
WWE Raw is Blog: How did this week’s show do at selling WrestleMania?
WrestleMania is really beginning to come into focus, and I must say I’m still very excited about the card. As someone who watches and talks about Wrestling more than anyone should, it’s easy to get hyperanalytical and set expectations that are unlikely to be met. So, to be clear, every match announced on the WrestleMania card will likely be very good. Some have the potential to be career defining WrestleMania moments. So, I’m confident that the steak served on April 1st will be tremendous. But what about the sizzle? Is WWE effectively reaching outside of its own demographics with great stories and compelling TV?
Smackdown last week was pretty lackluster in terms of WrestleMania hype, so I was hoping for something a little more substantive this week in terms of story development. Aside from this show having a bit too much talking, it was much more focused on WrestleMania than Smackdown was. There are successes and failures on every show, so I’ll break down what I thought worked and what didn’t, and whether or not each moment succeeded in increasing my interest in WrestleMania.
1.) Triple H and Shawn Michaels had a great verbal segment. I especially enjoyed Shawn Michaels showing a little bit of the edge that made him one of the best heels in Pro Wrestling prior to his hiatus for back problems. I doubt this was all pre-planned out 5 years ago when they first booked the great finish to the 2007 Royal Rumble with HBK and The Undertaker, but it really has been a pretty masterful long term story to set up another meaningful match for the streak at WrestleMania 28. They haven’t even mentioned 20-0 yet, and we have a confrontation between Michaels and The Undertaker next week, so this feud is progressing nicely.
2.) Despite the General Managers overshadowing the match, I thought the Santino vs. Jack Swagger match was entertaining and made the best of what was a very busy match at ringside. I’m assuming we are going to get a WrestleMania match out of this with just about everybody involved, and the title change got a massive reaction from the Boston crowd, so in the end I think it moved this story along nicely. The US Title has entropied to just about absolute zero at this point in terms of prestige, so it’s little more than a prop to further this storyline.
3.) Off the bat, I’d like to say that I didn’t really enjoy both World Champions being in a tag match with their opponents this close to WrestleMania, but if we look past that for a moment, this was a great tag match that was the only prolonged period of ring action on a show LOADED with talking segments. I appreciate the effort and the storytelling in the ring, and I thought the conclusion makes sense as the heels really needed the heat at this point.
4.) John Cena and The Rock were both good in their individual segments. John Cena gave a very serious interview in an empty arena (Who was he talking to?), and it felt like he was taking his opponent, the match, and it’s consequences very seriously in terms of his career. This is when John Cena is at his best, and I think they need to find a way for that John Cena to appear more than whoever the guy was clowning The Rock at the end of the show. The Rock was definitely at his best in his individual segments as well. He was able to showcase his charisma and energy, which was mostly tossed aside in his confontation with Cena.
Least Favorite Moments:
1.) The closing segment with Cena and The Rock was bizarre. Throughout the show we had three “history lessons” from The Rock that were delivered crisply and were peppered with humor and insults in the way only Rock seems able to pull off. Cena gave his very serious empty arena promo as well, and then someone flipped the script for the final segment. The Rock dove into a very serious mood, and Cena seemed to revert back into clowning around instead of the reverent tone he had set in his earlier segment. What gives? Where are my sensibilities supposed to lie in this feud? I hope WWE clears up some of this ambiguity over the next few weeks. Miami is going to go ape for The Rock, so it’s time to embrace it and unleash a more defiant John Cena character, even if it’s only for this feud.
2.) Randy Orton is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in WWE right now. Kane is coming off of a lackluster but high profile feud with John Cena where he portrayed as close as WWE can get to a horror movie monster. Kane attacked Randy Orton on Smackdown last week following a tough match with Daniel Bryan and left him lying. He even got down on the mat and welcomed Randy back from injury in order to mock him. That part, whether you like it or not, makes sense. But what happened last night didn’t make any sense at all. Orton was able to hit an RKO and get his revenge literally the show following the attack. Why should anyone pay to see these guys fight now?
3.) The Miz continues to get jobbed out every week, and this week it was Big Show’s turn to make him look like a total non factor. This week seemed more egregious than normal to me. Why couldn’t Ted Dibiase or Alex Riley stand there and take a punch while Cody Rhodes embarrassed Big Show? Or literally anybody that wasn’t a long reigning WWE Champion and in the main event of WrestleMania last year.
1.) This show had about 20 minutes of wrestling and 60 minutes of talking. I expect very talk heavy shows heading into WrestleMania, but long talking segments interspersed with short wrestling matches makes for a very low energy broadcast at times. It's often times made worse due to WWE not having the chemistry in the broadcast booth to do smooth transitions between segments.
2.) WWE is really relying on Triple H, HBK, The Undertaker, The Rock and John Cena to sell WrestleMania. I understand the reasoning, but I’m not sure it’s necessary to place the entire show on their shoulders. The World Title matches have a chance to be spectacular, and I hope they leverage the amazing amount of talent in those matches to their advantage. Both of the Main Events will likely be highly entertaining spectacles, but I expect the Monday after WrestleMania we’ll be arguing about which Title match stole the show, especially among traditional Pro Wrestling fans.
3.) I won’t say I’m concerned about The Undertaker and Triple H match with HBK in it, but I do wonder if they’ll be able to pull off the same type of suspense with him as referee. A lot of the drama in the previous matches with HBK and last year’s match with HHH was created with pacing and near falls, and I just don’t know if HBK can deliver that from the referee side of things. I expect to find out my speculation is unfounded, but it did cross my mind.
Do you have questions, comments, or concerns about this article? Drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @barnettjake.
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