Pruett's Pause: WWE Old School Raw - John Cena and The Rock face-to-face again, C.M. Punk vs. The Undertaker becomes official, Triple H challenges Brock Lesnar, old school is cool, and more!
By Will Pruett
- I really admire the way WWE goes all out with the old school theme. It's a fun flashback to see the giant letters, the old guardrails, the red, white, and blue ropes, and more. These shows are a visual feast from a production standpoint.
- On the last Old School Raw, they simply played an old opening to the show with the word "Federation" blurred. I enjoyed it. There was nothing wrong with the old school "Then, now, forever" package, but I didn't love it.
- It was slightly confusing for The Undertaker (in all his Super Shedder glory), to enter, call fire up from the depths of hell, show a WrestleMania logo, then leave. The moment worked, but it was odd. We have plenty of time for a WrestleMania promo from Undertaker, so we didn't need it on this show.
- C.M. Punk's logic for going after The Undertaker's Streak was a little suspect, but the delivery of the promo worked. Punk on a mission to end The Streak will make for entertaining television over the next four weeks. This was just the tip of the iceberg.
- I was happy to see Paul Heyman back with C.M. Punk for both of his appearances on this show. Heyman adds to Punk's act and makes his segments more entertaining with the smallest details. I was disappointed in the lack of a Paul E. Dangerously cell phone in Heyman's hand.
- Punk added being straight edge into his promo for the first time in a while. This surprised me and seemed mildly notable. I'm not sure why.
- Randy Orton debuted in WWE in 2002, but was still a rookie in 2005. Who knew it worked that way?
- Big Show did actually lose to Undertaker because he was missing a hand at WrestleMania XIX.
- Sheamus vs. Undertaker was my pick for Undertaker's WrestleMania match before the two Triple H matches took shape. I still believe it would be a fun story to watch. I doubt we'll see it, but Sheamus would be a quality Undertaker opponent.
- Ryback vs. Antonio Cesaro was right about what I expected it to be. Cesaro was able to get a little more offense in than I expected. Ryback still looked good. What killed this match was the crowd, which seemed dead at this point.
- I liked the way Ryback hit Shellshock without the intricate setup. It makes the move much more frightening to take away the marching.
- I'm pretty fine with Mark Henry vs. Ryback getting setup, if that's the plan. WrestleMania would be enhanced by the big man showdown. I feel like the plan must be for Ryback to hit Henry with his finisher, which will be a spectacle.
- Mark Henry actually looks legitimately frightening when he yells "that's what I do" after his matches.
- It was fun to see Ric Flair again on Raw. He actually did kind of help The Miz get over with the crowd. Maybe Miz could use The Nature Boy in his corner full time.
- Dolph Ziggler lost another very competitive match. This obviously isn't his time. Perhaps coming out of WrestleMania the focus will return to Ziggler. There's only so much focus to go around before 'Mania. As much as I'd love to see Ziggler get a strong push, it's not in the cards right now.
- The Rock and John Cena put together a segment about ten times better than anything they did during their build last year. It seems like mutual respect will be the name of the game and the win will be the ultimate focus. Rock and Cena are both exceptionally good at hyping matches when they want to be.
- There was something very tense about Rock and Cena's exchange. It was like each man was choosing his words as carefully as possible.
- The Rock's quote of Lance Armstrong and response to it was great. This was Rock comedy like we would have seen 12 years ago (when Rock was at his best).
- After just one week, I feel better about the build to Rock vs. Cena II. It's up to WWE to now capture and not over play the emotion in their segment.
- Jack Swagger beating up legends was a nice way to get heat on Swagger instead of Zeb Colter. People have to be passionately against Swagger as well as his mustachioed advisor.
- Alberto Del Rio has trouble yelling passionate coherent sentences. This was on display in his backstage brawl with Swagger. I would have rather seen the two fight in front of the live crowd, which hopefully would have gotten more of a reaction.
- Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Primetime Players should be over after this match. It's sad that the players weren't built into real contenders for Kane and Bryan. I don't feel like Team Friendship has really hurt the tag division as much as the division has crumbled around them. The act would still work if a variety of opponents were to be built up.
- It was like a dream come true to see Brodus Clay, Sweet T, and 3MB all in one easily skipped segment. Kudos to the Honkey Tonk Man for rocking the gut and jumpsuit combination perfectly.
- Fandango is weird, but that's the point. His act might be fun for a little while. I know I liked this moment for a Raw debut, although it is a little too similar to what they did with Damien Sandow prior to his true first match.
- Triple H cut a really good promo setting the stage for Brock Lesnar. This was some very nice work from Hunter. It told us where we had been and where we were going. It allowed fans to go on a ride with him. It also allowed fans to get behind him and cheer. It was an important segment.
- I believe Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar will need a little something at WrestleMania as far as stipulations go. I'd love to see a Street Fight or No Holds Barred tag line tacked onto the match in the next two weeks.
- Which Shield member is editing their videos. That looks time consuming.
- In all seriousness, I liked the video from The Shield and I don't feel like they were overexposed here. It's tough to keep an act that only wrestles in six man tags as hot as WWE has kept The Shield. I'm also enjoying their discussion of being undefeated. I believe we'll see the three of them against Sheamus, Big Show, and Orton at WrestleMania and I'm perfectly fine with it.
- I want to criticize Alberto Del Rio for not getting the crowd going on this show, but I have to criticize the crowd itself. They were completely dead for a fair portion of this very good and fun episode of Raw that moved nicely from segment to segment.
- I'm glad we didn't get another segment with Wade Barrett pretending to be a movie star and Sheamus cutting him down. Those two should be saved for a serious feud another time.
- The New Age Outlaws are a dated act, but their also probably just as capable as they were 13 years ago. I'd be totally fine with the New Age Outlaws having a match at WrestleMania for the sake of nostalgia. I was hoping to see them against Rhodes Scholars there, but it looks like we'll be seeing that match next week.
- If I ever have children and their Touts are shown on Raw, I will know I have failed as a parent.
- C.M. Punk played the perfect old school villain by interrupting the Mae Young birthday celebration. If only someone's face would have ended up in the cake.
- The four way match was not a Raw classic or anything I'll watch over again, but it was a pretty good TV main event. I liked what Orton, Sheamus, Big Show, and Punk put together. The match never felt cluttered and only slightly deviated from the traditional four-way formula.
- Giving C.M. Punk a clean win with the GTS was probably the most important thing WWE could do for him. Punk wasn't damaged by the losses to Cena and Rock, but he also wasn't helped by them. This was a nice affirmation of Punk's position.
- The stare-down between Undertaker and Punk was a nice visual. I'm interested to see what these two put together. Undertaker wants to have another WrestleMania classic and I'm sure Punk would like to have one too. They had okay, but not amazing matches during their 2009 run when Undertaker was healthier, but booking also inhibited that run from taking off.
- The story of Punk winning a match to challenge The Streak is very much like what Shawn Michaels did when he had to beat Vladimir Kozlov in 2009 to challenge Undertaker. This is the first time since 2009 that Undertaker hasn't been involved in the Michaels and Triple H story, so it made sense to go to the match.
Overall, this was a very fun episode of Raw. From the old school introduction and graphics package, to the appearance of the arena, to a few fun legends popping up, I was into it. WWE does a great job with theme shows. This show also moved at a brisk pace and kept me entertained. It provided the crystallization of the three biggest WrestleMania matches and solid hype for the show under five weeks away.
At this point, I honestly can't wait for next week's Raw. This is a great time of year.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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