Powell's Blog: What needs to happen on the go-home edition of WWE Raw heading into WrestleMania 27
Monday, March 28 – 3:35 P.M. (CT)
Here's a list of what I want to see from tonight's go-home edition of WWE Raw heading into WrestleMania 27.
Rock, John Cena, and The Miz: This is the match the sells the show for most of the all-important casual fans. Don't try to make Undertaker vs. Triple H seem more important regardless of which match is going on last on Sunday. It's important to establish what Rock's role is going to be. They need to let viewers know whether he'll be at ringside, working as a ringside enforcer, or hanging backstage.
The idea I've put out there repeatedly is for Rock to announce that, as the host, he will present the belt to the winner of the match. If Rock isn't going to be at ringside, they need to have him establish that he won't get involved until the match is finished. The last thing the company should want is for the WrestleMania live crowd to be watching the entrance for Rock more than the WWE Championship match between Miz and Cena.
I would also use The Rock to sell fans on the entire WrestleMania show, not just the WWE Championship match. He's the host of the show, and the best talker the company has regardless of what Randy Orton may have claimed in that ESPN interview. As the host, Rock should deliver a sales pitch for all of the top matches and establish the significance of WrestleMania. If The Rock can't sell a fan on the fence on WrestleMania 27, then no one can.
Undertaker and Triple H: The hype has been solid, not spectacular. It's only reached the spectacular level twice - during their initial silent confrontation, and again via the awesome video package. Unfortunately, Taker and Hunter have been repeating their initial promos ever since. This match needs some extra juice via tonight's go-home show. It doesn't need more stipulations or even a special referee, it just needs to feel like a collision between two icons.
Hunter and Taker need to make the match feel personal while going easy on the "end The Streak or die trying" talk. It's been established, so a quick reminder is all that we need. Besides, what is it that they want us to take from that? If Hunter loses, his career is over? If Hunter wins, Taker's career ends along with The Streak? I think the average fan is savvy enough to know that neither will happen without a retirement stipulation in place.
Rather than deliver vague teases for things that won't happen, make it seem personal while building these two up as icons who are still relevant. End the talk about how there's nothing left for either man other than this showdown. Those comments have backfired with this viewer, as it feels like these two are on their own island away from the rest of WWE. In some ways, it feels like an old timer's showdown rather than two relevant modern stars. I am looking forward to the match and all, but it doesn't feel nearly as historic as they've tried to make it out to be.
Make the WWE Hall of Fame feel prestigious: WWE has dropped the ball on the Hall of Fame this year. The induction of Shawn Michaels should feel like one of the biggest moments of the weekend, but the entire Hall of Fame ceremony hasn't received nearly enough attention. Where are the awesome video packages to set the tone for Shawn's induction? WWE has hurt the prestige of their own Hall of Fame this year by making it seem like such an afterthought.
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole: We've heard plenty from Cole and I'm sure we'll get more tonight. They've done a great job of building up Cole as someone the fans want to see get the ass kicking he deserves. Now it's time to let the old master of the mic deliver the final sales pitch. Jerry Lawler needs mic time to establish what working his first WrestleMania match means to him, and sell viewers on how great it's going to be when he finally gets his hands on Cole. Oh, and a reminder that some guy named Steve Austin is the special referee would also be nice since he hasn't been given much attention lately.
C.M. Punk vs. Randy Orton: Heat, heat, and more heat on Punk. We got weeks of Orton plowing through the New Nexus members, and then one strange angle with Punk attacking Orton outside his newly beloved tour bus while Mrs. Orton watched. I think the idea is that we're supposed to be excited about seeing Orton get his hands on Punk without the threat of Nexus interfering, but the problem is that Punk lost a lot of heat along the way. The kick to the head last week was a start, but forget the silly angles. It's as easy as handing the mic to Punk and letting him remind the viewers why they wanted to see Orton get his hands on him in the first place.
Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Hvt. Championship: Sure, it's a Smackdown brand match, but this is a World Hvt. Championship match. WWE has done a nice job of showcasing Del Rio on Raw in the past. This match may not make or break the buy rate, but I would like to see the company sell the Raw audience on the importance of a World Title match.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan for the United States Championship: Sheamus just won a title that Bryan successfully defended a thousand times against Ted DiBiase. It's too late to make the belt feel important, but the match needs something to make it feel relevant. A great announcer such as Jim Ross could get across his genuine enthusiasm about the physicality of such a match, whereas Cole would likely spend whatever time he's given calling Bryan a nerd. Sadly, I think the best we can do is just sit back and hope that these two are given a good chunk of time on Sunday to tear it up in the ring.
Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes: Hey, Raw viewers, did you know these two have a match at WrestleMania? It's too little too late to sell this match to Raw viewers.
John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler and LayCool: Get ready for the bar angle that was filmed last week. The match seems to be more about Snooki and Vickie Guerrero than anything. How about a reminder of why we're supposed to be excited about Trish? WWE has dropped the ball on her return. Where are the video packages to remind older viewers and introduce newer viewers to her greatness?
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