Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - The Rock reveals a new WWE Championship, John Cena and C.M. Punk schedule their next match with high stakes, The Shield make their Raw in-ring debut, and more!
By Will Pruett
- I have gotten used to post pay-per-view episodes of Raw including JBL on the commentary team. I was sad to see him not get used on this show. He really elevates the work of Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole when he is around.
- John Cena's opening promo with an eye on WrestleMania was good. He's been criticized for not mentioning his loss on Sunday night, but The Shield is no longer his focus. No one would be mentioning him blowing off this loss if he hadn't blown off every loss for years.
- C.M. Punk's interaction with John Cena was really good and it was one of the few times putting the Royal Rumble title shot on the line actually made sense. Cena is all about honor. He knew Punk had a pinfall over The Rock at Elimination Chamber. He knew what the honorable thing to do was.
- I have to give a big high five to WWE for promoting John Cena vs. C.M. Punk for a chance to face The Rock at WrestleMania one week out as well. This is still the biggest match WWE has when they don't use part time wrestlers. This will be a major Raw match.
- Hopefully Punk vs. Cena next week is better than it was on Raw 1,000.
- At this point a three way main event at WrestleMania seems very possible. I actually believe Punk would help John Cena and The Rock overcome many of the problems they had building up to last year's big match. I have to wonder whether WWE would want to split the New York crowd three ways. Cena, Rock, and Punk will all have major contingents in MetLife Stadium.
- The friction between Sheamus and Ryback is interesting. Their reaction to the loss to The Shield was really good. I was curious when Chris Jericho stepped into the story, simply because he hasn't had any interactions with The Shield yet. The setup for the big six man tag was really well done.
- Sin Cara had the beating from Mark Henry. Why was he wearing green zebra print? No, really. Why?
- Mark Henry continues to look strong, even after losing at the Elimination Chamber. Where does he fit into the WrestleMania picture? WWE has quite a few strong heels going into this major show. It'll be fun to see the card come together.
- I truly hope the plan for Henry isn't Great Khali. Khali needs to gracefully retire soon. Watching him walk to the ring is actually painful.
- I almost missed Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz. I actually believe they could have a really fun No Disqualification match, but this was not the match it could have been. Maybe WWE was trying to save some time, but the No Disqualification stipulation was wasted here.
- The YouTube video of Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger was really well done. WWE is dancing on a fine line with these characters, but it is actually nice bit of societal satire at the moment. Colter and Swagger, if allowed to evolve a little for a while, could be a long lasting act. Does their promotion into the main event scene so quickly spell doom for the act long term?
- Kane and Daniel Bryan's continuing problems have the tag division in a mysterious place. WWE has some great teams on the undercard, but this is the dominant team. I still believe we see them regroup to defend the Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania.
- What if Randy Orton just started walking around discussing everyone's character inconsistencies? I'd be okay with that act.
- The cash in tease after the match between Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio was pretty ineffective. These are turning into jokes with a little too many things going on around them. I am still confident Ziggler will have a big moment when he does cash in, but these odd attempts are becoming a little too silly.
- Sheamus was in a segment with Ryback teasing a feud, then in a segment with Wade Barrett teasing a feud. This was odd. Sheamus and Barrett's segment also wasn't good.
- Brodus Clay and Tensai are a fine undercard comedy tag team, but the shelf life on them won't be long. They're like the chubby version of Too Cool. Maybe they'll get a skinny guy in a thong to dance with them.
- WWE is embarrassing themselves with their ads for Smackdown airing during Raw. Who was left standing at the end of the Royal Rumble?
- Zeb and Swagger had a pretty good in-ring segment. The "Don't tread on me" flag might be my favorite wrestling accessory today.
- Michael Cole stating that the World Championship match at WrestleMania is for the heart and soul of the WWE Universe and/or the fabric of America is a little much. Broad statements like this kind of hurt the legitimacy of some feuds.
- Jack Swagger has inconsistently impressed me in the ring. He's occasionally had moments of brilliance, but has often underperformed. His match against Daniel Bryan was a great example of what Swagger is capable of.
- Brad Maddox's introduction as Vickie Guerrero's new assistant made me quite happy. Maddox is a great character and his presence on Raw could really enhance the authority figure scene.
- I'm very curious about how the fight between Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon. I liked the way they promoted it for next week and I think Heyman and McMahon will have a very fun segment together.
- The Shield vs. Ryback, Sheamus, and Chris Jericho was another strong effort from The Shield. WWE is doing an amazing job introducing this group and their first match on Raw really showed what the group is capable of.
- The kick from Seth Rollins on Chris Jericho that ended the match was spectacular. I'd be chill seeing Rollins hit the springboard kick fairly often.
- I honestly think Chris Jericho is using his returns now to prove that it's possible to stay over, even in loss.
- I can't say I'm excited to see R-Truth and his circa 2001 offense return.
- Damien Sandow looks to be getting a little more of an edge to him. Meanwhile, Kofi Kingston is dropping pretty far down the totem pole pretty quickly.
- Randy Orton and Kane's match was more about establishing the story of Daniel Bryan and Kane. Randy Orton's win really didn't help him or anyone else.
- I got a kick out of the marching band, especially when the percussion section continued to play for The Rock's theme music. This small touch made the segment seem like a bigger deal than it would have otherwise.
- The Rock introducing a new WWE Championship is sure to please many fans. I actually think its a pretty good looking belt. The side plates on it appear to be just for The Rock. The replica version WWE is selling only has generic WWE plates. I'm more than okay with a belt that doesn't spin.
- I've seen the new title compared to a Super Bowl ring and I can see how it looks like one.
- The last act of the WWE Championship spinner edition was knocking out its creator. WWE's sense of poetic justice made me smile.
- The Rock was stating a preference between Punk and Cena, but he never got a chance. This ending definitely made it seem like WWE is setting up for a three-way match at WrestleMania. I'd be fine with this possibility, although I'd probably rather see Cena vs. Rock and Undertaker vs. Punk.
This show was definitely focussed on WrestleMania, but it wasn't the full-card revealing kick off many expected. I'm fine with not knowing everything that will be happening on the WrestleMania card right now. The build for next week's Raw was compelling. The build for WrestleMania was good. WWE paced themselves and told some quality stories on this show.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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