By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live from Washington, D.C. at Verizon Center
[Q1] Michael Cole welcomed viewers to the final Raw before WrestleMania. He was joined on commentary by JBL and Jerry Lawler. Undertaker made his entrance. Video footage was shown of last week's angle involving Taker and Lesnar. The fans chanted "Undertaker."
Taker said 21 men have stepped up and 21 beings men have been set down. He said he doesn't claim to be better than his victims, but he said he will go further than anyone else "at the showcase of the immortals" and that's why The Streak stays alive. Taker said he's sure Lesnar is thinking how he'll break The Streak. Taker said Lesnar should be asking what will happen when he takes him out in the deep water and his feet can no longer touch the bottom.
"What are you going to do, Brock?" Taker asked. He asked if Lesnar would try to take him down with him or swim back to shore. Taker said every opponent of his has faced the same decision. He said they all tried to swim back to shore and not one of them has made it yet.
Powell's POV: I guess that means Michael Phelps is the most likely candidate to break The Streak.
Taker said there are many who feel that his time will come and that it's inevitable that The Streak will be broken. Taker said there are three things that can't be beat - death, taxes, and The Streak. "Brock Lesnar, this Sunday at WrestleMania, you will rest in peace."
Brock Lesnar's music played and he walked onto the stage with Paul Heyman. "I don't mean any disrespect," Heyman started. "My client means disrespect, but I, sir, do not mean any disrespect." Heyman said that this is not a match that Lesnar has to win, it's a match that Undertaker must not lose.
Heyman said the most historic WrestleMania moment since Hulk Hogan beat Andre the Giant will be presented on Sunday when Lesnar beats Taker's Streak. "Now that's not a prediction, that's a spoiler," Heyman said before dropping the mic. Lesnar and Heyman started to walk backstage, but then Lesnar stopped and looked back at Taker.
Lesnar and Heyman walked halfway down the aisle and stopped. Lesnar pointed at the WrestleMania 30 sign and then smiled at Taker. Heyman smiled at Lesnar, who then walked to ringside. Lesnar stopped, then smiled again and backed away. Lesnar once again started to go forward and he and Heyman circled opposite sides of the ring until they met by the announcers table.
Heyman stayed in front of the announcers' table and slid a chair inside the ring. Taker turned to the chair and then Lesnar entered the ring. Lesnar clotheslined Taker and then performed the F5 on him. As Taker writhed on the mat, the broadcast team played up that Lesnar is just a three count away from breaking The Streak. As Lesnar left the ring, Taker seethed and shot Taker a death stare from the ground. Lesnar walked back to ringside and shook the bottom rope Ultimate Warrior style
Powell's POV: A good segment. I was actually wondering whether they would avoid contact with the goal of making viewers want to see them lock up. It was nice to see Lesnar finally get the better of Taker. This in no way erases the damage of the awkward buildup for the match, but I do believe they sold some pay-per-views or network subscriptions.
[Q2] [C] A WWE Network commercial aired and focussed on all of the WreslteMania related content... The broadcast team recapped the previous segment and JBL continued to stress that Lesnar is a three count away from ending The Streak...
1. Intercontinental Champion Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match. Langston performed an early press slam on Del Rio for a two count. [C] Del Rio was in control until he jumped off the second rope and was caught by E, who performed a backbreaker. E followed up with a belly-to-belly, then ran the ropes and went for a splash, but Del Rio put his knees up.
[Q3] Del Rio missed a superkick attempt. E then caught him coming off the ropes, threw him up in the air, and let Del Rio land on the mat. Del Rio came back with a backstabber. E came back and hit the splash and got a two count. E took the strap down, but Del Rio put him in the Cross Arm Breaker. E powered out and slammed Del Rio down to break the hold.
Del Rio got E on the ropes and then jumped off the second rope and drove his foot into E's face on the way down. Del Rio followed up with his superkick and scored the clean pin...
Alberto Del Rio defeated Big E in a non-title match in 10:30.
Powell's POV: Well, knock me over with a feather, a secondary champion lost a non-title match. There were were some big spots in the match that would have drawn a better reaction if the live crowd had been given any reason to care about these two over the las month or at WrestleMania.
Cole hyped a poll that lets viewers determine which member of The Shield will face Kane. They hyped other Raw events, and said The Wyatt Family would be up after the break... [C]
A graphic hyped that Raw was once again the number one show on cable last Monday. Cole thanked the fans and said they have held that distinction for seven straight weeks... Highlights aired of last week's John Cena and The Wyatt Family angle...
The Wyatt Family delivered a promo backstage. Luke Harper whispered, Erick Rowan stood with his sheep mask on, and Bray Wyatt did the talking. "Do I have your attention now, kids?" Wyatt asked at one point during the promo. Wyatt said they will not understand initially, but they will forget Cena. "He's got the whole world in his hands," Wyatt sang... Cole, JBL, and Lawler spoke about the segment. JBL said Wyatt has gotten into Cena's head...
Cole set up a Total Divas recap that focussed on the drama between Natalya and Summer Rae. The show and the video concluded with Summer slapping Natalya across the face... Summer made her entrance. Cole hyped Summer vs. Natalya for after the break...
[Q4] [C] 2. Natalya vs. Summer Rae. Vickie Guerrero sat in on commentary. Natalya controlled the offense and then Summer slapped her. Natalya responded with a slap of her own. She went for a double leg takedown and fell on her butt. She went for the Sharpshooter, but Summer slipped away. Natalya reached through the ropes and tried to pull her back inside the ring, but Summer kicked her in the head and pinned her...
Summer Rae pinned Natalya in 2:20.
A shot aired of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon walking arm-in-arm. Lawler said they were going to give a proper goodbye to the Yes Movement... [C]
Powell's POV: It took a Total Divas storyline to get someone other than A.J. Lee and her challenger of the month a title match. The crossover makes sense and I'm surprised we didn't see more of these in season one. Vickie is suddenly very mellow. I don't know what they're trying to do with her, but I found myself zoning her out as if she was Cole, JBL, or Lawler.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance. Cole hyped the WWE Network and suggested that fans order immediately because of the WrestleMania related content that starts tomorrow with the press conference. Stephanie said they are benevolent and would give fans a chance to say goodbye to the Yes Movement before Triple H destroys Daniel Bryan.
Hunter said this generation may not care because they just want to get behind something. He said last year it was Fandango. He said "that kid" is a B-plus or maybe even an A player, but the fans don't care, they just move on. Stephanie pumped up the live crowd about seeing Daniel Bryan.
[Q5] Stephanie announced that Bryan would not appear. She said it was in his best interest to go to New Orleans early and rest up. Hunter said no matter how many times the fans chant something, it doesn't make it true. He said it's like the fans who feel like all of his success is because he married well. Hunter said he married spectacularly, but the reason he has the power is because of his dominance in the ring.
The fans chanted boring as Hunter set up a video package on various wrestlers that Triple H beat. The footage included Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Mick Foley, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner, and others. The video was narrated by Stephanie, who said Hunter can't be stopped and that he will put an end to "your next sacrificial slam, your chosen voice, your chosen one." She said that in the end, there is only one Triple H.
The fans were booing after the video package aired. Stephanie told Hunter that she loves watching him in the ring. Hunter said it's not that the wrestlers in the video weren't great. He said they are Hall of Famers, but they were just playing the game, and he is The Game. Hunter said not only will he beat Bryan at WrestleMania, he will win the Triple Threat and show the world that he is the most powerful man in WWE.
Powell's POV: They really seem to be setting up Vince's return with the repeated lines about Hunter being the most powerful man in WWE.
Batista's music played and he walked to the ring wearing a Patrick Ewing Georgetown basketball jersey. Batista said he couldn't help but notice that he wasn't in the video. "That's because you've never beaten me," he said. Hunter mocked Batista's jersey and asked if he got it in the gift shop where he bought his new glasses last week. Batista said Hunter is the brains of the operation, and his wife is the brawn.
Randy Orton's music played. He made his usual plea to keep Triple H out of the Triple Threat match. Hunter told him his ass kissing won't work and that his title reign is ending unless he can find it within himself to be The Viper again. Hunter said that if Orton is The Viper, "I don't even know if I can beat that guy." Hunter said Orton better find The Viper soon because his match with Batista will be no disqualification...
Cole hyped Roddy Piper in a special WrestleMania edition of Piper's Pit for later in the show. Lawler hyped Kane vs. a member of The Shield... [C]
Powell's POV: I am enjoying the over the top praise of Triple H. It's a logical approach and it continues to play on the all out paranoia of some fans who feel that Hunter is the anti-Christ of pro wrestling. Don't they know that's Vince Russo? Anyway, I'm not even excited about Orton vs. Batista as the main event of Raw. What the hell was Vince McMahon thinking? No Daniel Bryan? Tell me this week it's a swerve.
[Q6] Cole hyped the WrestleMania pre-show and once again noted that the second hour of the two-hour special will be shown exclusively on WWE Network...
3. The Uso Brothers and Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. Ryback, Curtis Axel, Jack Swagger, and Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter). The babyfaces controlled the bulk of the offense and Cole noted that the heel foursome didn't seem to be on the same page. Swagger threw one of the Uso Brothers to ringside near the heel corner heading into the break. [C]
[Q7] Late in the match, Swagger hit one of the Uso Brothers with a big boot and went for a cover, but one of Diego or Francisco or Nacho Libre broke it up. Cesaro went for the swing, but the other Matador broke it up and the fans booed. One of the Matadors jumped off the top rope at Swagger, who caught him in the ankle lock on the way down. Los Matadores switched places and the fresh Matador pinned Swagger...
The Uso Brothers and Los Matadores defeated The Real Americans, Ryback, and Curtis Axel in 14:10.
Powell's POV: El Matadore magic? Oh, f--- off. Did Swagger ask for the Dennis the Menace cut or is that just how it came out? Shocking WrestleMania Prediction: El Torito unmasks and reveals himself to be Pedro Morales. He tells the world on Raw that he underwent years of surgeries to reshape his body so that he could surprise the world by leading Los Matadores to the WWF Tag Team Championship.
That loser, er, talented kid Fandango's music was playing after the break...
4. Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow and Fandango (w/Summer Rae). The announcers humored themselves early on. Goldust tagged in and had a nice flurry of offense that included a power slam on Sandow. He went for a cover, but Fandango broke it up. Cody took out Fandango from the top rope, then Goldust hit the Final Cut on Sandow for the win...
Goldust and Cody Rhodes defeated Fandango and Damien Sandow in 4:10.
Cole hyped The Shield for after the break...
Powell's POV: Based on Lawler's reaction, I'm pretty sure he thinks that's the first time he's seen The Final Cut. Did that match make you more excited about the battle royal or leave you pissed that Cody and Goldust are not in the tag title match? Yeah, me too, it's bullshit.
[Q8] [C] A video package recapped Kane and The New Age Outlaws roughing up The Shield on Friday's Smackdown... Cole pimped the fan poll...
Backstage, The Shield cut a promo. Seth Rollins said he almost feels bad for Kane because Kane is screwed no matter who wins the vote. Dean Ambrose said Kane and The Outlaws disrespected them. Roman Reigns said to spread the word that The Shield is not to be messed with...
The Wyatt Family sounder that is custom to the city played. Cole said Wyatt would be in action after the break... [C]
Powell's POV: Here's hoping Wyatt and presumably John Cena can breathe a little life into this show. They really need a hot final hour. It's been lifeless more often than not.
5. Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper, Erick Rowan) vs. R-Truth (w/Xavier Woods). Truth got a brief moment of offense in, but Wyatt cut him off with his running body splash. Wyatt dominated Truth and then put him away with Sister Abigail. After the match, Woods came into cover Truth, but both men were tossed to ringside.
Bray Wyatt pinned R-Truth in 4:35.
The Wyatt Family struck their pose and an extra man wearing a sheep mask and coveralls joined them. They all looked at the man with bewildered looks on their faces. The man unmasked and and it was John Cena, who hit them with Attitude Adjustments... Cole hyped the remaining segments... [C]
Powell's POV: The angle came off better live because it didn't seem like the fans noticed there was an extra man in the ring. On television, the Wyatts looked a little clueless for being mystified so long, and then for not just heading back to the ring and using their three-to-one advantage. That said, I'm sure it worked for the younger Cena fans. Thanks to Ryan Cardinal for pointing out that Cena's left hand appeared to be swollen. It was nothing that happened during the angle, though, as it looked swollen before he got physical.
6. WWE Divas Champion A.J. Lee vs. Naomi in a non-title lumberjill match. Cole said AJ has been champion for 288 days. Naomi ditched the pirate eye patch. AJ was tossed back inside the ring by the lumberjills early. She threw Naomi to the floor and no one touched her. Lee went to the floor and rolled her back inside the ring, then the lumberjills threw Lee back inside.
Vickie Guerrero stood on the stage and watched the match. Late in the match, Naomi set up for her split-leg moonsault, but Lee rolled to the floor. Tamina tried to help Lee, but the other Divas outnumbered them and threw Lee back inside the ring. Naomi slammed her ass into Lee and pinned her. Vickie smiled and applauded from the stage...
Naomi pinned A.J. Lee in 4:00 to win a non-title lumberjill match.
Powell's POV: It's all subjective, but Rosa looks great as a brunette and brutal as a blonde. I just had to get that off my chest. Anyway, I can't keep track of where things stand with Lee and Tamina. I thought the supposed appeal of the match was that A.J. was truly on her own against all the Divas. I guess not.
[Q10] Cole hyped the WrestleMania press conference... [C] Lawler thanked Kid Rock for the song "Celebrate" being the WrestleMania theme... Cole said there were 15,288 fans in the sold out Verizon Center...
Backstage, Renee Young interviewed John Cena, who said desperate times call for desperate measures. He said Wyatt is spreading propaganda by saying he will take everything away from him, show he's a liar, and turn him into a monster. He said Wyatt forced him to fight. "You will see fire, you will see hell, and you will see rage," Cena said. "And John Cena will be a monster."
Cena said being a monster for a day will secure a legacy for a lifetime. He said he'll be damned if his career ends on Sunday. Cena impersonated Wyatt saying he wants change. He said Wyatt will need to change the way he walks because he's gonna put a foot in his ass... The broadcast team said Cena is back, then turned it over to the panel...
Powell's POV: Good energy from Cena and a promo that his fans can rally behind. If you're keeping score at home, Cena mocked Wyatt with Jimmy Buffett jokes three weeks ago, admitted he was afraid of him two weeks ago, had a panic attack and may or may not have saw things that weren't there in a mirror last week, and now he's back this week.
Josh Mathews, Booker T, Wade Barrett, and Alex Riley spoke about John Cena... The regular broadcast team recapped the Lesnar and Taker segment from earlier in the show...
Lawler read the results of the Kane opponent poll. Roman Reigns won the app vote with 80 percent of the vote, Seth Rollins got 11 percent, and Dean Ambrose got nine percent... Reigns made his entrance from the concourse... [C]
Powell's POV: Please tell me the poll results are not a setup for Rollins and Ambrose turning on Reigns.
[Q11] Cole hyped the WrestleMania pre-show and the tag title match that will appear on the second hour of the show...
7. Kane vs. Roman Reigns. Kane went for an early chokeslam, but Reigns powered out of it. Reigns took over and performed some of his signature offense. He was setting up for his finisher when the New Age Outlaws walked out and distracted him. Rollins and Ambrose ran out and fought off the Outlaws, then Reigns performed a spear on Kane. The Shield put the boots to Kane for the DQ. They were setting up for the triple powerbomb, but the Outlaws pulled Kane to ringside...
Kane defeated Roman Reigns by an apparent DQ in 3:20.
Cole hyped Piper's Pit... [C]
Powell's POV: I still can't get over how underwhelming The Shield's WrestleMania match appears on paper. There was nothing really wrong with this segment aside from the fact that I don't get the feeling that the average fan is really into this matchup. How can a company have so many over acts, yet only be able to produce a four-match pay-per-view that requires one guy to work twice in order to make one of those matches feel worthy? What a mess.
Cole hyped Hulk Hogan for Friday's Smackdown television show...
Justin Roberts introduced Roddy Piper, who stood in the ring and pointed out that he was not pinned at the original WrestleMania. He spoke about Andre the Giant playing a big role in the success of WrestleMania. The Miz interrupted Piper, then Sheamus interrupted Miz, then Titus interrupted Sheamus, then Dolph Ziggler's music played.
[Q12] Piper got flustered. Ziggler said his piece while wearing an Andre t-shirt. Piper poked Miz in the eyes. Miz stumbled into Sheamus. All four active wrestlers fought to the sound of crickets in the stands. Other battle royal entrants ran out and fought. Rey Mysterio got entrance music so that he could come out and join the fight.
Big Show's music played and he came out and roughed up everyone who got in his way, including performing a double chokeslam on Ziggler and Ryder. Mysterio begged off when Show looked his way. Show gave him mercy, but then Mysterio kicked him. Rey went up top and Show caught him diving toward him. Show tossed Mysterio onto a heap of wrestlers at ringside and they all fell down...
Powell's POV: Show threw little Mysterio onto a pile of wrestlers and they all fell down. They tried to make the match seem more important by adding some bigger names to it that they didn't have real WrestleMania matches for. Now some of those bigger names feel like nobodies compared to happy go lucky Big Show. Sure, I assume he loses on Sunday, but this did nothing to get me excited about the battle royal. Leave the undercard guys backstage and make the hype all about the bigger names. Don't remind me that the battle royal is filled with guys the fans don't care about.
Batista and Randy Orton made their entrance for the main event. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance and joined the broadcast team...
8. Randy Orton vs. Batista in a No DQ, non-title match. Stephanie laughed at the idea of Bryan becoming champion. Hunter said he heard the flyover at WrestleMania would be a bunch of pigs and monkeys.
[Overrun] Orton and Batista fought to ringside and Orton struck Batista with a chair to the back. Hunter said he's guessing Batista wishes he was on a Hollywood set. Back inside the ring, Batista knocked the chair away and clotheslined Orton to the floor. They fought back to the floor and Orton struck Batista with a kendo stick. Batista reversed an Orton whip and sent him into the ring steps.
Back inside the ring, Batista went for a Batista Bomb, but Orton slipped away and performed the sidewinder backbreaker. Orton performed the hanging DDT. Orton signaled for the RKO.
Suddenly, Daniel Bryan attacked Triple H at ringside. Orton went out and pulled Bryan off and threw him into the ring steps. Stephanie ran over to check on Hunter as Orton threw Bryan inside the ring. The fans came to life and cheered for Bryan. Orton entered the ring and Batista speared him.
Batista went to pick up Bryan, but he ended up taking running knee. Bryan dove onto Hunter at ringside. They traded punches with Bryan dominating the fight. Bryan picked up a kendo stick and beat Hunter with it repeatedly. Hunter entered the ring to avoid Bryan, who followed. Orton stood on the apron and Bryan kicked him off.
Stephanie tried to help Hunter get up as Bryan stood on the middle rope and led a big Yes! chant to close the show. Bryan pointed at the WrestleMania 30 sign. The announcers recapped the segment as highlights were shown. Once Hunter recovered, he threw a fit and Stephanie held him back. Hunter yelled, "You are done" at Bryan, who continued his celebration to close the show...
Randy Orton vs. Batista fought to a non-finish.
Powell's POV: A very good ending to a mostly flat go-home show. The D.C. crowd was really hot for Bryan. I think they bought into Steph claiming that Bryan would not be there. I heard a fan or two attempt to get a Bryan chant going before or early in the main event, but no one joined in. The crowd popped huge once he showed up, and all three former Evolution members sold big for him, particularly Hunter.
Fortunately, the final angle left viewers with a good taste in their mouth because so much of this show was flat. WrestleMania really is a four match show and there's only so much time you can dedicate to four matches (particularly when two are intertwined) during a three hour show. The weak WrestleMania undercard was really driven home tonight. Again, though, they went off the air hot and Bryan's story is the real hook of WrestleMania 30. Thanks for watching along with me. Join us for live coverage of WrestleMania 30 and the WWE Hall of Fame this weekend. Also, join us for Prowrestling.net Live just minutes from now.