Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: The go-home show for WrestleMania featuring The Rock and John Cena's final words, Paul Heyman promising an end to Triple H's career, and Undertaker and CM Punk covered in ashes
By Ryan Kester
The Rock and John Cena
WWE took an interesting approach last night. Both John Cena and The Rock had solid promos during the show, but it was odd to see them kept so separate. WWE elected to have their hottest exchange take place weeks ago, and the angle has been chasing that high point ever since. Still, even if it wasn't the most ideal final hype for the biggest match on the card, Rock and Cena performed well.
Cena's promo in particular was interesting. WWE certainly planted seeds for Cena's character to evolve in an interesting manner at WrestleMania. It's difficult not to be cynical and dismiss those seeds as a red herring, but it's nice to see that WWE is still aware enough of its older male audience members that they would continue to plant the seeds to keep them interested. One can only hope one of these days those seeds will up and sprout.
Undertaker and CM Punk
WWE crossed the line last night. There's simply no better way to put it. A certain leeway for telling a story is one thing, but when a company brings aspects of an event that happens in the real world in order to enhance a fake storyline, they need to do so with tact and respect. Personally speaking, I don't care one bit if Moody's family approved last night's angle with Punk pouring ashes out of the urn and onto Taker and himself; it was enough to make me lose all investment in the moment. It immediately killed any immersion and suspension of disbelief that is required for enjoying a professional wrestling program.
The main concern with an angle like this, even getting beyond a guy reaction of offense that something like this can create, is whether or not it will create a desired effect. Obviously, WWE would want Punk's acts last night to generate heat for his character in order to get people to purchase WrestleMania. Unfortunately, this is one of those moments that may produce more heat and ire for the company producing this angle than it will for Punk's character.
Once again, the eventual showdown between these two men will be worth the price of admission. That has never been in question. However, it is disappointing to see a feud built around two of the best storytelling characters WWE has at its disposal and see the build for their big match focus on an angle that requires such little creativity and caters to a guttural reaction that draws more attention to whether WWE is doing the right thing rather than building anticipation for what should prove to be a great WrestleMania match.
Triple H and Brock Lesnar
Shawn Michaels is an enjoyable act, but it's strange to see WWE go right back to the "Michaels as Triple H's cheerleader" trick for the third year in a row. I understand wanting to get the man on WrestleMania for a payday and to give the match a bit of an added spice, but adding Michaels this late in the game distracted from the match more than it added for this viewer.
Paul Heyman continues to impress with his mic work. He didn't say a lot after he and Lesnar interrupted Michaels and Triple H, but what he said was effective at creating some excitement for Lesnar vs. Triple H.
Last night's show was solid. There were plenty of entertaining segments and almost every segment added a little something to their WrestleMania build. Had this show occurred a few weeks ago it would have been enough, however, last night was the go home show for WrestleMania. WWE simply deliver the caliber of show that one has to expect from trying to sell their biggest show of the year, and a large part of that has to be attributed to the burnout from three-hour Raws. WWE never figured out the formula to keep a weekly three-hour Raw from getting stale and it was to their detriment in hyping WrestleMania. Personally speaking, I am still excited for the show, but it's important to note that that stems from the history the show has more than the work WWE put into it this year.
If you have any questions or comments or just wish to chat with a fellow wrestling fan about whatever, then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter.
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