Powell's WWE Raw Hitlist: The Rock and John Cena take questions from WWE legends, Triple H doesn't seem bothered by the retirement stipulation, Chris Jericho and Fandango, Undertaker and C.M. Punk
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to my 50-minute audio review of Monday's WWE Raw television show. Join us on the ad-free version of the website (and access the members' section of our free iPhone and Android apps) by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE Raw Hits
The Rock and John Cena: A very good piece of business. Rock is confident after beating Cena last year and then he goaded Cena into the moment of frustration when he said that Rock did not beat him at WrestleMania 28 because he beat himself. Cena showed good fire and come off more heelish than he has been in years. The build for this match continues to be better than anything they did last year. It also left me feeling like the door is open for a Cena heel turn based on his actions and that line about how the face of WWE will change whether he wins or loses. Even if that's not in the cards, it would be wise of Cena and the company to leave that door open as it could create more interest in seeing how this match plays out. The addition of the legends to the segment was a nice touch.
Triple H promo: I have mixed feelings about this one. It was refreshing to have Hunter cut to the chase and take the simple and effective "I'm going to kick your ass" approach. At the same time, Raw could have used some prolonged star power at this point in the show. More importantly, Triple H didn't sell the retirement stipulation in an effective manner. He didn't make viewers think there was a chance he would be retiring beyond telling them that being forced into retirement is always a possibility when you're in the ring with Lesnar. Here's hoping he does a better job of selling that stipulation on the go-home show next week.
C.M. Punk, Undertaker, and Paul Heyman: I'm officially numb to the use of the urn so I actually chuckled when Punk and Heyman tossed it around. I got a big laugh out of Heyman carrying it like a football as he ran up the stage. I was surprised to see Taker get physically involved before WrestleMania. It was a cool moment and hopefully it whet the appetites of the fans for seeing this match at WrestleMania. The key to this segment was Punk doing his best to establish that he believes he can beat Undertaker at WrestleMania. They found a better balance between that and making viewers pay to see Taker get his hands on Punk.
Chris Jericho and Fandango: I'm digging this more than most people seem to be. Jericho was clearly calling the shots in the ring as the cameras picked up last night. WWE obviously has high hopes for Fandango, and Jericho is a veteran who can help get the character off the ground. There's no guarantee that it will work, but I'm keeping an open mind at this point.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: This was better than the last two week and they did a good job of continuing to build up the top matches. Every segment seemed geared toward pushing something at WrestleMania, yet the three-hour format still led to a lot of slow segments and a plodding show. The show missed the mark when it came to making WrestleMania feel special aside. It doesn't feel like WrestleMania is only 12 days away. The main event is the only match that has been established as "must see" and the rest of the card feels like, well, the rest of the card. That's not meant to suggest that WrestleMania is doomed to be a poor show. It just means that WWE hasn't done a good job of creating the big WrestleMania vibe this year. They really seemed like they were on their way four weeks ago and then the last three episodes of Raw happened. With only the go-home edition of Raw to go, I really have my doubts that they can regain the lost momentum.
The Shield vs. The Great Khali, Zack Ryder, and Justin Gabriel: WWE has done such a good job of making The Shield matches stand out. Their six-man encounters usually feel like all out chaos, whereas this was quick, yet didn't pack much of a punch until the post match Triple Powerbomb on Khali.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Antonio Cesaro: Good work and all, but Del Rio just hasn't clicked as the Hispanic babyface. I normally enjoy Ricardo Rodriguez yet I found myself sadistically hoping that Cesaro was destroy him. The good news is that means I was able to suspend my disbelief. The bad news is that I disliked the babyface and probably need to call a therapist.
Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Prime Time Players: There was nothing wrong with the actual match aside from feeling like predictable filler since we've watched Team Hell No destroy The Players repeatedly. See the three-hour format.
Brodus Clay and Sweet T vs. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow: The highlight of this match was finding out that you can buy Sandow's bathrobe on the WWE website. You're welcome. They appear to be setting up a big mixed tag match for WrestleMania with the Bellas, Cameron, and Naomi getting involved. It might be decent undercard comedy, but I am beyond bored by the repetitive Clay and T act.
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