WWE Raw Hitlist: The live crowd stages a takeover, Ryback attacks John Cena, Dolph Ziggler cashes in successfully, Chris Jericho gets some revenge of Fandango, maybe we haven't seen the last of Undertaker in 2013
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to my 53-minute audio review of Monday's WWE Raw television show. They are also listening to the two-hour audio review of WrestleMania 29 that featured former WWE creative team member Seth Mates joining Chris Shore and I to discuss the biggest show of the year, and new interviews with former WWE creative team member Court Bauer, Matt Hardy, Justin Credible, and Les Thatcher. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE Raw Hits
Live Crowd: The Raw after WrestleMania 29 was highjacked by the diehard fans who travelled to WrestleMania weekend and stuck around for Raw. The fans weren't entertained by the thought of a Randy Orton vs. Sheamus match, so they took matters into their hands with countless chants and the Fandango theme song chorus. It was an absolute riot watching the diehard "smarks" take over, as it made for a really long Raw moment. I wouldn't want to see this become the norm at Raw and I felt bad for Orton and Sheamus, but it really made for a special live television broadcast. WWE should be at least a bit concerned that the Fandango song will become something of a new version of the "What?" phenomenon, but aside from that it was harmless fun. Many of the chants stemmed from a group of UK fans who were in attendance, which might be why Michael Cole stated that many of the chants they hear in London. WWE will be taping Raw in the O2 Arena on April 22, so it will be fun to see whether the typically rowdy London fans try to pick up where this crowd left off.
John Cena: I always appreciate the way Cena reacts when he knows a crowd is going to be definitively against him. Most top babyfaces have shown frustration when this occurs over the years, but Cena seems enjoys it and embraces it. I wasn't a fan of some of the comedy while badass Mark Henry was in the ring with him, but I enjoyed the rest of the promo and the way he played to the crowd. He did the heel turn bit in an interview over the weekend, but it was still good for a laugh the second time through. Cena did the unthinkable when he was able to turn the crowd in his favor at the end of the night after Raw went off the air by praising the fans and even lying the belt down in the ring in a tribute to him. His babyface routine might be played out and tired, but you have to appreciate that the top main roster star of the company truly gets it.
Ryback attacks John Cena: A good angle to close the important post WrestleMania show. Michael Cole sold it like Ryback had done the unthinkable and therefore is a heel, yet at the same time Ryback was leading the fans in chanting Feed Me More. My guess is that they are building toward a Triple Threat match with Cena defending against Ryback and Mark Henry at Extreme Rules. At least for now, I wouldn't be surprised if they let the fans choose rather than making Ryback an all out heel. The angle helped explain why Ryback lost on Sunday and set this up nicely.
Dolph Ziggler wins the World Hvt. Championship: Finally. Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger were not clicking as a Smackdown main event program. When Wrestlemania 29 came and went without a cash-in, I was worried creative would dig their heels in because the Zeb Colter character got so much attention early in his run and try to keep that program on top of the card. They finally pulled the trigger and the live crowd absolutely loved it. This could have breathed some life into WrestleMania and I don't think it would have been overshadowed since it wasn't a very newsworthy night. In fact, the live crowd that loved Ziggler may have overshadowed his title win more than anything that happened at WrestleMania would have. Even so, Ziggler finally has a title he's worked so hard for and the World Hvt. Championship matches are about to get a lot more entertaining.
Undertaker: The entrance and the simple dedication of his match to Paul Bearer were great. The Shield surrounding the ring while he was in it was a cool moment. It's just a shame that they didn't show the footage of Undertaker, Kane, and Daniel Bryan striking The Brothers of Destruction pose on the stage together. I was ready to write this off as just a throwaway segment, but they showed the highlights later and one of the announcers was openly clamoring for a six-man tag. It left me thinking we will see that match at some point. Taker is scheduled for one of the London shows. It could be there or perhaps he will return for Extreme Rules.
Chris Jericho attacks Fandango: Jericho is now in the tormenter role if you've been paying attention to his WWE online interviews. He has praised Fandango for pulling off the big upset at WrestleMania, but then asking him what he will do to follow it up. The crowd loved Jericho and the only thing they may have loved more was the Fandango theme song.
Wade Barrett vs. The Miz: A better match than they had the night before at WrestleMania. If they hadn't buried the Intercontinental Title then I would say that the right guy has the title. Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot of rebuilding to make people care about the title belt again after the way the champion was abused heading into WrestleMania.
WWE Raw Misses
None: This was far from the perfect show and it's not like I enjoyed every match or character on the show. The show still drags because of the three-hour format and other regular problems were still prevalent (and John Cena's new t-shirt is quite possibly the worst WWE t-shirt ever). However, the live crowd made the show. If you hated the chants or found it disrespectful then you probably despised this show. To each his own. Again, I wouldn't want to see this become a regular occurrence in WWE, but for one night the live crowd became the stars of the show and it was a lot of fun.
WWE made smart calls in giving C.M. Punk and Triple H the night off. It would have been fun to watch Punk attempt to turn this crowd against him, but it may have been impossible. He should sell the effect of being in the ring with Taker by taking a night off, and it gives WWE fans something to look forward to next week. Meanwhile, I can't even imagine what this crowd would have chanted at Triple H, who was wisely saved for tonight's Smackdown taping in Boston (yes, we are still looking for additional correspondents - email me at email@example.com)
Finally, I forgot to mention in the Hitlist yesterday how impressed I was by WWE's production work throughout WrestleMania. They really shined and deserve an assist for the quality of the big three matches. They truly shined during the main event. Whenever The Rock or Cena would hit a big move and then stay on the mat to sell it, the production team was there with a replay, which really drove home the impact of the move and filled kept things flowing nicely while the wrestlers were lying on the mat.
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