Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - The Rock and John Cena answer questions from Hall of Famers, The Undertaker gets physical with C.M. Punk, the penultimate Raw before WrestleMania
By Will Pruett
Dot Net Members are listening to Jason Powell's 50-minute audio review of Monday's WWE Raw television show. Join us on the ad-free version of the website (and access the members' section of our free iPhone and Android apps) by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
- C.M. Punk opened the show with a really well delivered promo driving home one point: he will beat The Undertaker. This is what people wanted to see from Punk. They wanted to see him be the cocky "Best in the World" he claims to be. Punk corrected many of the mistakes made in this feud with Undertaker in just one segment.
- Paul Heyman holding up the urn like he used to the WWE Championship was a classic touch.
- Punk is still the pesky heel getting under Undertaker's skin, rather than being the legendary threats Triple H and Shawn Michaels were. Punk isn't on the level of those two and isn't a babyface, so it isn't surprising to see him presented in this way.
- I was surprised to see Undertaker forego the big entrance and another promo to get physical with Punk, but I loved it. It added a much need touch of intensity to the segment and made the feud much more compelling. This story, while not the all time epic Undertaker has grown accustom to being a part of, is back on track.
- Fandango's entrance causes me to zone out. I can't help it.
- Chris Jericho's attack on Fandango was well done. I am actually enjoying the build to this match. It has quickly ceased to be all about pronunciation, and has actually become fun. Jericho could make a true star out of Fandango, which surprises me.
- Dolph Ziggler took a loss, but lost nothing in the process. Ziggler was able to look better with Big E. Langston by his side, which is the priority going into the Tag Team Championship match at WrestleMania.
- One of WWE's Twitter accounts mentioned Ziggler had 110 days left to cash in the Money in the Bank. The best story to tell with Ziggler after WrestleMania is about his time running out. This could even force a match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, where Ziggler could capture the title. This is a new and exciting story for the Money in the Bank concept that has grown a little stale.
- It seems like WWE is going full steam ahead with a Big Show babyface turn. I would have rather seen him play a heel reluctantly teaming with Sheamus and Randy Orton, but I understand the turn. We'll just have to wait another year before Big Show finds his inner monster again. Hopefully this time it won't lead to another series of sleepy matches with John Cena.
- I learned a lesson I will take with me to my grave: Never splash Mark Henry. Ever.
- It seemed like the fans wanted a Ryback run in while Mark Henry was pulverizing The Usos. I did as well.
- Alberto Del Rio and Antonio Cesaro had a fine, short match to set up the angle to end it. Cesaro is a guy really suffering from having no direction this WrestleMania season. Hopefully as April 7 comes and goes, he'll find himself in a few more interesting stories.
- Jack Swagger loves beating up Ricardo Rodriguez.
- WWE seems to be consistently confused about what makes people like another person. Alberto Del Rio attacking Cesaro after the match didn't make me like Del Rio more.
- Did The Rock get slimed at the Kid's Choice Awards?
- Kane and Daniel Bryan continued their WrestleMania holding pattern to defeat the Primetime Players. This is a consequence of long-term planning and it can be frustrating. I'd love to see Kane and Bryan do a little more, but in WrestleMania season, it just isn't the cards.
- Triple H may have cut the shortest promo of his career on this show. It was to the point and very effective. He didn't have to say much, but he wisely used what he did say to put over Brock Lesnar.
- Why did Triple H kick Wade Barrett in the balls? Why did both secondary champions get attacked by babyfaces outside of match situations?
- In the logic of the WWE world, are we supposed to believe wrestlers are backstage hitting play on their own music and video effects? This would be the only reason for Triple H to be mad at Barrett, so I'm assuming it is true. This is odd.
- Also odd was The Miz vs. Wade Barrett getting so much time, but doing nothing with it. This match was fairly boring and predictable. I would have been fine with it ending with Miz's first Figure Four attempt.
- Will The Miz vs. Wade Barrett be better at WrestleMania (if this is the plan)? I'm not sure. They both seem to be having issues getting over and connecting at this point.
- It was nice to see super crazy A.J. Lee back again. Her story with Kaitlyn could be a fun one to tell. I don't know if we'll see them in the ring at WrestleMania or in the corners of the tag match, but either would be fun.
- The Great Khali, Justin Gabriel, and Zack Ryder is about as large as a step down, opponent-wise, The Shield could have taken in the six weeks since they faced off against John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback. I know it was meant to be a squash, but that team was a little too weak.
- I did support The Shield giving their Powerbomb to Great Khali, even though I expected Khali to somehow get badly injured taking a bump that big.
- What is Team Rhodes Scholars doing at WrestleMania? This is a great concern for me, considering how great this tag team is.
- How did Drew McIntyre become John Morrison?
- This show was squash city, which was expected going into WrestleMania, but it also hurts the show. At this point in the evening, I was thoroughly bored.
- It was great to see Bret Hart, Dusty Rhodes, and Mick Foley on Raw. I'm fairly used to seeing Booker T, but it was also great to see him included with the Hall of Fame wrestlers that he is now a part of. This was an effective segment, even if it did get a little long.
- If WWE does this again, I would like to see a little more thought put into the questions for each wrestlers. These all seemed to play on one theme, instead of branching out. They asked the meaning of winning, but didn't mention the WWE Championship.
- John Cena, while seeming a little too downtrodden at times, is playing his role really well. The loss hurt him and shook his confidence. He is showing it. He is obsessed with getting the victory over The Rock he promised. It was great to hear him bring up the People's Elbow spot from last year. Cena was really good here.
- The Rock, when the segment seemed like it was starting to drag, really picked things up. Rock is excellent when showing supreme confidence. He was also able to use the format to work in historical references and some of his standard material.
- The intensity between The Rock and John Cena is there. This is the most important part of the equation. They've managed to bring the intensity the feud lacked last year.
- The final segment could have been ten minutes shorter with almost identical material. I don't know if Rock and Cena were just filling too much time with intense glaring or if it was scripted to go as long as it did. This was a very long segment.
- The Rock hitting Cena with the Rock Bottom worked for me. We've seen it for the last two years (Rock giving Cena the move on Raw), but it always works out to be effective.
This was an edition of Raw meant for the fast forward button. The major angles were great, but the rest all seemed to drag. The slow pace I applauded a few weeks ago has never left and it seemed WWE got stuck in a rut. Undertaker and Punk, Rock and Cena, and Triple H and Brock Lesnar all seem to have their climaxes coming up next week, so that should be fun.
In past years the penultimate edition of Raw has served as the climax for one of the major stories, leaving only a video package for the next week. WWE could have easily taken this approach and given us something to get excited about. Sadly, they didn't and the show suffered.
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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