Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Triple H responds to Brock Lesnar, Undertaker speaks, C.M. Punk drops the urn, Fandango bombs, Big Show joins Sheamus and Randy Orton to confront The Shield
By Will Pruett
- John Cena's speech to open the show was a little too sing-songy for me. At the same time, he is telling the story of his down year and his comeback well. He's really doing a lot to sell his match with The Rock and I am getting excited for it.
- As well as John Cena is telling the story right now, I wish creative would have backed him up in 2012. John Cena's down year should have actually been a down year. Imagine how much more effective this comeback would have been.
- "Our time is now" is my favorite John Cena catchphrase.
- What in the world was Titus O'Neal doing? I'm entertained by The Primetime Players most of the time, but this segment just confused me.
- People have to be happy that the premise of John Cena vs. Darren Young was Young looking like Cena. This made me laugh.
- Ryback's squash of David Otunga was pretty standard. The odd part was it following another big squash match. Why not separate those two?
- I enjoyed the way WWE got to Ryback vs. Mark Henry at WrestleMania. The match is a major attraction for the show and it should be an interesting battle. Vickie Guerrero and Teddy Long played their frightened roles well. This was a good segment.
- Oh my gosh, could Fandango's entrance take longer? This was an obnoxious amount of time spent on pyro and lighting. His entrance is well produced, but I almost fell asleep watching it.
- Fandango doing his standard bit is getting repetitive. I'm not into the act.
- When did R-Truth break out the all white gear? Does he airbrush his jeans himself?
- A walkout loss for a heel doesn't make a boring show any better. I like Damien Sandow, but his match with Truth was uninspiring at best.
- Was there a different director for this episode of Raw? The camera cuts and angles seemed different than the norm.
- Undertaker's promo was decent, but nothing compared to his mic work during his feud with Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Perhaps this Punk match is an example of The Streak coming back to earth after the amazing efforts of the last four years.
- C.M. Punk's Paul Bearer impression was a little much for me. I wasn't offended or even upset, I just didn't think it was necessary. The image of the urn talking was slightly funny, but not great. Punks actual promo, cut while tossing the urn around Globetrotter style, was decent. Something about Punk and 'Taker at this moment isn't quite clicking.
- Punk is getting under the skin of Undertaker well, so we'll have to see if that's effective.
- Kane and Daniel Bryan in a match against almost any tag team produces a foregone conclusion. It's interesting to see the evolution of wrestling TV when big stars in predictable matches produce dread instead of excitement. We are a spoiled generation of wrestling fans.
- All of that said, this show was boring.
- Fandango and Chris Jericho's backstage segment kind of seemed like Jericho trying to recapture his 1999 persona. It was as odd as his 2007 comeback. There may not be room in a 2013 world for a persona from 14 years ago.
- Someone cranked the drums up in the mix in Del Rio's theme music. Am I supposed to like him more now?
- Alberto Del Rio and Cody Rhodes put together a fun match. I would love to see these two in a real feud when Rhodes eventually is elevated to the next level.
- Jack Swagger's attack on Ricardo Rodriguez was pretty effective. He needed to do something to get some heat, other than bring politics into the conversation. This worked just fine. Ricardo sold it well. Hopefully Swagger and Del Rio can get their program on track as WrestleMania approaches.
- I was surprised to see Booker T named as an inductee into the Hall of Fame. My surprise doesn't mean I don't believe Booker to be deserving. This class was already very stacked and Booker would be a great number two name on another year's Hall of Fame show. I can't complain about WWE loading this class.
- I'm kind of enjoying the way 3MB has become the buildup act for The Shield. It's great to see the two trios treated so differently.
- Sheamus and Randy Orton getting help from Big Show was an example of really good predictability. We all saw this coming weeks ago, but WWE took the time to tell the story. I'm curious to see if Show will be a full babyface, or only a momentary one. He's been so compelling as a heel this year that I'd hate to see him turn back.
- Does anyone have a prediction for what the next year without a Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler match will be? I'd guess 2015, but that may be too soon.
- The Tag Team Championship match at WrestleMania is a nice use of mid-card talent many were wondering about. Ziggler, Kane, A.J., and Bryan all deserved big spots on the show, and this may be a pretty big match. Who knows? Ziggler could follow in the footsteps of Hulk Hogan and lose a tag title match, but leave as World Champion (WrestleMania IX).
- As a fan of video packages, I liked The Rock and John Cena one. It will be nice to see Rock back on Raw for the next two weeks. His absence may have done more for the WrestleMania main event than his constant presence did last year. Less is more.
- The match, and especially the last five minutes of it, between Wade Barrett, The Miz, and Chris Jericho was pretty good. On any other show, it might have been enough to push it over the "good" line. This show was dragging so much that I actually just wanted it to end. Taken separately, it might stand the test of time, but as a part of this episode of Raw, it was hard to get into.
- What if this match had been earlier in the show? When Raw started to drag, it needed an athletic boost and this match was easily the most athletic of the night.
- Paul Heyman getting under the skin of Triple H was another great performance from a man trying to make his case as a top tier manager. Seeing Heyman in this role has been a revelation. I'm so glad he has taken the opportunity to come back and embrace greatness in the past year.
- The segment got pretty awkward when Triple H beat on Heyman for a little too long. I was waiting for the roar of Brock Lesnar's music long before it played.
- Was Brock making dinosaur noises when he first entered? I could swear an angry pterodactyl was flying over the arena as he pounded on the ground with a steel chair. What if his stipulation had involved dinosaur costumes? Would you still be a wrestling fan?
- For a moment, it seemed like this whole segment would be a waste. As Paul Heyman laid out the "No Holds Barred" stipulation, I was worried this would be all we got. Lesnar and Triple H have already had a match without barred holds, so it seemed repetitive.
- As Paul Heyman delivered the news of Triple H putting his career on the line, I was actually happy. I don't think they would have had a great Hell in a Cell or I Quit match, so just making it a career-threatening match worked.
- I don't believe threatening Triple H's career telegraphs the outcome of his match with Brock. What is Triple H doing these days anyways? He has one or two matches a year and losing a retirement match wouldn't kill him. I'm not saying he won't win, just that it isn't a forgone conclusion.
Overall, this show was pretty boring. WWE didn't put their best foot forward, despite the WrestleMania undercard taking shape. Perhaps this is a consequence of the slow-paced storytelling of the past few weeks, but I feel like WWE has slowed to a virtual halt. Throwing a little more athleticism and a little more fun into the show might have helped. This was not a compelling effort.
I do believe WWE has held back to bring us two big weeks of final WrestleMania build. Hopefully it will be just what the product needs.
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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