Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: Paul Bearer tribute, Brock Lesnar attacks the New Age Outlaws, Ryback and Mark Henry, Vote for Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan, Damien Sandow continues to shine
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Paul Bearer tribute: I was initially uncomfortable when C.M. Punk interrupted Undertaker and there was no telling whether that was going to be the end of the tribute. Punk never insulted Bearer, and the most important aspect is that Bill Moody's sons were reportedly backstage at Raw. If they and their father's closest WWE friends were okay with the segment, then I'm cool with it. More than anything, I was pleased to see WWE dedicate a good portion of the show to Moody. I also enjoyed the final shot of Punk mocking Taker, who responded with the throat slash gesture, which was a strong "it's on now" moment.
Brock Lesnar attacks New Age Outlaws: We should have seen this one coming given the DX connection to Triple H. Few fans saw it coming, yet it made perfect sense the moment Lesnar's music hit. Paul Heyman's promo was excellent and I like the tease that Hunter has to blindly agree to a stipulation of Lesnar's choosing. I just hope the stipulation relates to a type of match rather than something that will give away the finish.
Damien Sandow: Sandow followed up his strong night on Smackdown with another good night on Raw. I'm not trying to slight Cody Rhodes because I really enjoy their tag team and I hope there is tag team gold in their future, but Sandow is really on a roll and has become one of the strongest mid-card acts.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan: It was good to see Ziggler get a win while A.J. Lee also felt more relevant than she has in weeks. The match was entertaining and I would love to see these two have a lengthy program when/if Ziggler wins the World Hvt. Championship.
Mark Henry and Ryback: I didn't care for watching them hit their finishers repeatedly on Drew McIntyre because we've seen it before, but there was a spark when Henry headed to the ring as the fans were left anticipating a possible showdown moment between the two. Plus, I like the idea of no physical contact between the two until WrestleMania 29. This made it all the more baffling when Michael Cole announced that Henry will face Ryback on Friday's Smackdown. Of course, I assume this will be more of an angle than a match since their match should take place on the big stage.
The Shield attack Big Show: The next logical step toward setting up The Shield vs. Big Show, Ryback, and Sheamus at WrestleMania. It would have been too soon for Orton and Sheamus to save heel Big Show, and it gave The Shield another week to get the better of all three men.
Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Rhodes Scholars: The star power of Orton and Sheamus woke up the live crowd a couple hours into the show.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: Yawn. This was a long, draining episode. Here's hoping this is the worst show of the WrestleMania season. They put heat on Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk, and Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman replied to Triple H's challenge from last week. Aside from those segments, there wasn't much to Raw that felt important. It left me happy that WWE didn't start the WrestleMania hype right after Elimination Chamber or there would have been more shows like this one. Too many movie trailers and not enough mystery regarding the outcomes of most of the matches since all of the mid-card wrestlers are being fed to the top guys heading into WrestleMania. There show had its share of Hits and there weren't a slew of big misses, yet at the end of the night the show felt overly long and too uneventful for WrestleMania season.
Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, and Zeb Colter: The smiling "born in Mexico, made in America" line left me feeling line he was running for office. Worse yet, the fake smile left me feeling like he would be a candidate I would vote against. Del Rio feels like he's playing a character rather than an extension of his true personality. His lines seem forced and the big smile is just too much. It's as if he's the long lost Hispanic Rougeau brother. Meanwhile, Colter delivered a fairly effective promo that went way longer than it should have, as evidenced by the boring chants that started once it overstayed its welcome. I don't know what the original plan was, but WWE creative has to be giving serious consideration to having Dolph Ziggler cash in his Money in the Bank contract successfully at WrestleMania so this Del Rio vs. Swagger feud can take it's rightful place in the middle of the card.
The Highlight Reel: This was awful. The bad movie clips, Jericho saying Miz's movie looks awesome, Brad Maddox getting lost on the mic, Miz being Miz, and Barrett suddenly shifting into a new character. I was annoyed by the last part. Barrett needed to boast about having a bigger role in the movie before Sheamus laid into him about it, but it's too little too late. The way he's playing it is also too over the top for his character. The no nonsense Barrett is excellent. This was just Barrett being a cliche heel and it was not his forte.
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