WWE RAW and Wrestlemania 25 Thoughts
My name is Ray and I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling for 12 years. I feel, probably like most of you, that wrestling has almost as many great concepts and ideas as they have poor executions of those very ideas involving matches, storylines, angles, etc.
With Wrestlemania 25 coming up, I feel like I want to share some of my thoughts with a forum of people who may actually care instead of just venting about the direction of wrestling nowadays to my 16-year old brother.
This article will contain some thoughts that I had concerning Monday Night Raw from Mar. 2, 2009 (last night as of this writing) as well as my thoughts about Wrestlemania, where I think it’s heading/should head.
I won’t be providing play-by-play of matches; just results and my opinions on the matches, where they could be leading, etc.
Someone once told me that opinions are like a**holes: everyone’s got one, but most of them stink. I’ll let you all be the judge of that as feedback is appreciated.
On to Monday Night RAW
1) To go with the already scheduled matches up to that point (Money in the Bank qualifier and HBK vs. Koslov, as well as Orton’s Wrestlemania decision), Jerry Lawler starts the show by announcing that John Cena will be officially granted his rematch against Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship.
a. Why is it that all of the projected Wrestlemania matches are happening BEFORE Wrestlemania? I’ll have more to say on that particular subject later, but if they have Edge vs Cena planned for ‘Mania, I hope this isn’t a clean victory either way, like Christian vs Swagger was on the last ECW, and that they leave room for a rematch.
Still, this is an unexpected treat as I always look forward to seeing Edge and Cena square off because even though they’ve fought each other numerous times, they always tear down the house and haven’t had a one-on-one title match in quite some time. I’m curious to see where this leads.
2) Got excited when the Piper’s Pit set was shown, but since the NEW legend killer Chris Jericho already laid Piper to waste a few weeks ago, I wasn’t surprised to see that Jericho would instead host Piper’s Pit. Almost immediately, I knew who the guest would be as it had been reported that WWE Hall of Famer, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, was backstage (thank you 411mania.com for that little tidbit) and would most likely be Jericho’s next victim…all of which was accurate.
a. First Flair, then Piper, then Steamboat, and now the Superfly. Edge may have said last week that it’s too bad that John Cena exists in the same era as him, but I think the real shame is that Jericho exists in the same era as Randy Orton.
If Orton wasn’t proving week in and week out that he’s the best heel in the WWE bar none, that honor would easily go to Jericho as his promo work has been off the charts, he’s drawn ridiculous amounts of heat from the fans, and has drawn great shoot-like promos from the legends he has antagonized.
You’d expect good shoot-like promos from Flair and Piper, but Steamboat’s was surprisingly awesome and arguably the best of the three, which is amazing considering he was never a great promo guy during his career and nowhere NEAR the level that Flair and Piper were at in their prime.
That being said, I was wondering how they would pull something off with Snuka to that effect because Snuka’s never been a talker…just a crazy SOB. As it turns out, he didn’t need to talk as Jericho did all the talking and that’s all that was needed. I’m very curious to see where this angle leads and have two possible ideas for a payoff.
b. The obvious payoff to this angle would be to see “Stone Cold” Steve Austin come out one week, challenge Jericho to a match at Wrestlemania to defend his fellow legends as the head of this year’s Hall of Fame class, and shut him up for good. Every week, I’m waiting to hear that symbolic glass shatter.
But it’s not a lock and there could be a question as to how much he trusts Jericho in the ring because Jericho’s always had a bad reputation for inadvertently injuring opponents in the ring, which Austincan’t afford with his neck problems.
I don’t think they’d bring back Flair (especially after last years Wrestlemania and the fact that he’s signed on to appear for ROH for the near future) or any of the legends Jericho’s beaten down already…which leads me to my dark horse sleeper candidate for Jericho’s Wrestlemania opponent...
c. A few weeks back, Michael Cole asked Jerry Lawler during a match (I forget between who) if he could even imagine beign 16-0 at Wrestlemania to which King replied almost under his breath: “I can’t even imagine being IN a Wrestlemania.”
The King has been doing color commentary for Wrestlemania for years, but in close to 37 years as a professional wrestler, has never wrestled AT Wrestlemania. You can see every week that he takes Jericho’s attacks on the WWE legends personally.
So, wouldn’t it be something to see Lawler stand up for his fellow Hall of Famers and challenge Jerichoto a match on the biggest show in WWE history?
It would be well-deserved for the King, a possible exclamation point to a storied career win or lose, and a more than suitable second choice in the event that Austin doesn’t agree to face Y2J...just ANYONE but Hulk Hogan, who was apparently in talks with the Vin Man about doing a match at Wrestlemania...uh-oh.
At least with Austin or Lawler, you could see Jericho potentially winning. If it’s Hogan, then forget it. You think for one second that Hogan OR Vince would let Jerichogo over against the guy who put Wrestlemania and the WWE on the map AT the biggest Wrestlemania of all time? Didn’t think so.
But either way, I’m curious to see where this all leads to in the end.
3) Money In the Bank Qualifying Match – Kane d. Rey Mysterio and Mike Knox - It’s now two weeks in a row that the wrong man won this match…and with tonight’s battle between Mark Henry and Santino to determine the third of the 8 spots, this is shaping up to be the worst Money in the Bank match of the bunch on paper.
I can only hope that Evan Bourne returns tonight on ECW, inserts himself into that match, and qualifies himself because I have no reason to believe either Santino or Henry will be a threat…or Kane for that matter…and I don’t see CM Punk repeating…especially because he’s the I.C. champ...but I digress.
a. Why are two of the WWE’s best athletes, Mysterio and Morrison, left off of the card’s most exciting match? I was thinking Mysterio was in line for a push after it came down to him and Edge for the World Heavyweight Title in the Chamber at No Way Out and, although it was clear that Edge would win, Rey put up a scintillating performance that actually had me thinking at points that he would pull it off.
I would’ve accepted Kane winning this one if Morrison had won last week and we were then treated to our first I.C. title match at Wrestlemania in seven years: a potentially show-stealing match between Punk and Rey.
And although there’s still five spots left after ECW and a lot of time until Wrestlemania, I was thinking they’d give Rey the nod over the two big guys who, while they both were in the title match in the Chamber at No Way Out, aren’t legit title threats.
Maybe Rey will sneak into the match and win it to solidify the push that seemed to start at No Way Out (actually at the Rumble being that he was the first entrant and lasted up until about #23 I believe) because who else are they going to put into that match that will be a legit threat to win it?
b. A lot of potential Wrestlemania matches are taking away a lot of potential Money in the Bank competitors that could be legit threats to win the thing: If we see another match between the Carlitos and MNM 2.0, that takes away Morrison (who I’m calling right now will win MITB at Wrestlemania 26...you heard it here first), Hardy vs. Hardy takes away BOTH Hardys, an ECW title rematch between Swagger and Christian would take away Christian...which I don’t feel will happen since they gave that match to us for free already: a 20-minute classic that is easily the free TV match of the year right now that saw Swagger beat Christian cleanly.
So maybe Christian enters and wins MITB (since he was supposed to be coming back to play a major part in the Hardy vs. Hardy storyline anyway) and Evan Bourne returns and faces Swagger for ECW gold at Wrestlemania in a match between two members of the “New Superstar Initiative” (hey, if they can build Christian into the No. 1 contender in two weeks, they can do it with Bourne in five...providing he returns soon).
Also, a potential U.S. title match between Chavo, MVP, and Shelton takes away Shelton (one of the originals of this match who always puts on a show) and MVP (who was in it last year)…Chavo just sucks.
c. So to sum up this lengthy MITB discussion: here’s what MITB will probably look like if I know the WWE as well as I think I do and they take away everyone that I mentioned just a minute ago: CM Punk vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. Koslov, JBL, or Knox vs. Rey Mysterio (who finds his way into the match somehow…plus, who else is he gonna fact at ‘Mania? Knox again?) vs. R-Truth (a former NWA champ and amazing athlete…but a nobody thus far in the WWE…unless they put him in the U.S. title picture).
If I’m missing anyone, please let me know but even though this match would see the two previous winners in Punk and Kennedy, this would be probably the worst of the MITB matches on paper with Rey, Punk, or Kennedy likely winning it.
d. And here’s my dream match for MITB which won’t happen, but would make more sense and be a much better match on paper: CM Punk vs. Kane vs. Evan Bourne vs. Christian vs. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Rey Mysterio vs. John Morrison (alternate – Kofi Kingston…to give him a chance to make up for not being able to compete in the Elimination Chamber at Now Way Out...which I was sorely looking forward to by the way).
How can I make sense of it all? Well, since I don’t see a Swagger-Christian rematch happening (at least one that would be as good as their last match), let’s have Tommy Dreamer be the guy to face Swagger at ‘Mania (Swagger would probably win unless they can build Dreamer up more…because he needs more than a Boogeyman-assisted win over Paul Burchill to make me feel he’d even have a shot).
If Bourne returns, his style would suit this match perfectly.
Since Jeff doesn’t want to fight Matt, they can settle their differences in this match because the last PPV match between them was a stinker (Vengeance 2001…granted, they’ve both improved as singles wrestlers since then…but the Hardys NOT in a ladder match at Wrestlemania?
I mean come on), and since Morrison tore it up in last year’s contest and is one the verge of breaking out, I’d love to see him in it again because we’ve seen too many matches between MNM 2.0 and the Carlitos end cleanly to make me want to see another…although there needs to be a rubber match…fine, settle it within the next five weeks.
Do you REALLY want to see the Carlitos fight at Wrestlemania? Oh you do?
Ok then let them drop their belts to Legacy and have Miz replace Bourne in MITB just in case Bourne’s not ready to come back before Apr. 5. That takes care of MNM 2.0, the Carlitos, AND it makes Legacy more than just Randy’s cronies. As far Shelton and MVP…let them drag out their feud and settle it at ‘Mania for the U.S.gold. Even though Shelton’s an MITB original, and MVP and Carlito were in this match last year, this would be my dream MITB scenario with Kane and Morrison really the only ones I couldn’t see winning.
4) HBK Interview - Interesting point about this being the building where HBK had what was supposed to be the last match of his career at Wrestlemania 14 against Austin. Here’s to hoping that the uncoordinated Russian doesn’t end his career and HBK can pull a watchable match out of him.
And here’s to hoping the WWE doesn’t ruin everyone’s dream matchup by making this HBK and Taker vs. Koslov and JBL at Wrestlemania. JBL did say on his WWE Universe blog that we would see his plan for his new “Wrestlemania destiny” unfold tonight. But another great promo by Michaels.
5) Bathroom break Divas tag match – Mickie James and Kelly Kelly d. Jillian Hall and Beth Phoenix – At least TNA has a viable women’s division. All this seemed to do was set up a potential unification match at Wrestlemania between Maryse and Melina. Women’s Title vs.
Divas title that nobody gives a s*** about and that I forgot existed until I saw both lady champs doing commentary for this match.
6) Orton chooses – After showing the same video that started off RAW, Orton makes his way to the ring with Legacy and his legal team and while he didn’t swerve the crowd and challenge Jack Swagger for the ECW title like I had hoped, he did try to dodge HHH by challenging the winner of Cena-Edge.
Brilliant work on both sides here as Orton continues to shine as the best heel in the WWE and HHH continues his excellent promo work as the cold, dark cerebral assassin instead of the joke-cracking wise-a** which is doing wonders for this angle and making this story one of the most compelling leading up to Houston.
a. Just a thought here. I can’t see both titles changing hands at Wrestlemania...which means both heels would win...but I just can’t see Orton losing with the roll he’s been on. It’s not like HHH needs a win at Wrestlemania.
He hasn’t NEEDED a win at this event since 2002 when he won the Undisputed Title from Jericho.
Sure he hasn’t won at ‘Mania since 2003 (the wrong decision by the way. Booker should’ve won that match), but he hasn’t needed to. The careers of Orton, Cena, Batista, and Chris “He who shall not be named” Benoit benefited more from beating HHH at Wrestlemania than HHH’s would have from winning those matches.
Plus, if H wants to reach his goal of breaking Ric Flair’s record of 16 World Titles, he does have to lose it a few more times. I feel that Orton needs this win to solidify his status as the company’s top heel but they’re not making him look too strong outside of his promos...from almost losing to Shane McMahon at No Way Out to that whole Tom and Jerry chase scene that ended RAW last week.
They still have time and what they’re doing now with the whole “no physical contact” angle is brilliant and should help both men out big time in establishing this feud as both are masters of mind games, manipulation, and selling both from the other.
The facial expressions we’re going to see as these two try to get into each other’s heads and make the other one snap could make this the feud of the year.
Although if we see a backstage segment between Rated RKO at Wrestlemania, we know that one of them is losing...and I don’t see it being Orton...especially because I see a small chance of Vinnie Mac pulling a finish out of the past and helping Orton win the title and screwing his family over in the process (circa Rock-Austin from 2001...a Wrestlemania that ALSO took place in Texas...hmmm...) because it’s the biggest show in WWE history and Vinnie Mac can’t possible resist the temptation to stay out of the spotlight.
7) HBK d. Koslov – The match wasn’t terrible and the fact that Koslov beat ‘Taker cleanly on the last Smackdown on Feb. 26 basically told us all that HBK was going to wind up winning this one and setting up the dream match between the two home-state boys at ‘Mania.
Last time these guys fought one-on-one on PPV, Taker set the strings in motion that almost ended HBK’s career with a backdrop onto a casket at the 1998 Royal Rumble. They were the last two men in the 2007 Royal Rumble that saw a fantastic finish and started it off in 2008.
These guys have history and I have a hard time believing this won’t be the match of the night/year even though they have a LOT of hype to live up to…but if anyone can do it, it would be these two guys.
a. Now I know there’s no chance for HBK to be the one to end “The Streak.” He doesn’t need it and Undertaker’s streak shouldn’t end at the hands of someone whose career it wouldn’t benefit from it…which is why I’m still shocked that Orton wasn’t the one to do it in 2005 or that Edge didn’t do it last year.
HBK has nothing left to prove as his reputation as a future Hall of Famer and Mr. Wrestlemania are already established. He put the ladder match on the map, wrestled 60-plus minutes, wrestled with basically a broken back, and has stolen the show almost every time he’s performed at ‘Mania. He ended Ric Flair’s WWE career last year.
Undertaker doesn’t need to prove anything anymore either…but “the streak” is also synonymous with Wrestlemania and I can’t see it ever being broken by someone who didn’t need to break it. But that still won’t stop me from cheering my a** off for HBK, my favorite wrestler of all time since I started watching wrestling 12 years ago, to break the streak.
If he puts his career on the line, THEN I can see him ending the streak…but, like most WWE-realted good ideas, it won’t happen. But still, this match alone for me will be worth the price of admission and I can’t wait to see how they build on this story in the next few weeks.
b. What’s next for JBL and Koslov on the Road to Wrestlemania? Unfortunately, their likely destination will probably be Money in the Bank. Because God knows if they faced each other, everyone in Reliant Stadium would puke on themselves and riot.
8) Cowboy Bill Watts to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame – solid choice to continue the most solid draft class all-around I’ve seen in a while
9) Edge interview – Great point made by the Ultimate Opportunist waiting for RAW to come to Boston so he could accept Cena’s challenge and beat him in front of his home town. The character is so smart which is why I love it.
10) World Heavyweight Title – Cena d. Edge by DQ – Edge retains title – Another great match given the limited time frame they had to work with. Just when I think I’ve seen it all from the Rated R Superstar, he pulls another brilliant finish out of his hat when he grabs the belt from the ref FROM the FU (Attitude Adjustment) position as he’s walking by and cracks Cena with it to lose by DQ and keep the belt. Great way to prolong the feud and set up the eventual rematch at Wrestlemania…with one small…er…BIG problem.
a. Look, I know he’s beaten Cena, Taker, and HHH all recently and sacrificed an embarrassing Wrestlemania loss to Floyd “Money” Mayweather last year and is still in the title hunt. PLEASE, don’t make this a Triple Threat match even though it seems like the logical thing to do.
Even though we’ve seen Edge-Cena countless times for the title, we haven’t seen it at Wrestlemania. And it looked like it would have happened at Wrestlemania three years ago after Edge won his FIRST title from Cena at New Year’s Revolution 2006.
These guys can not only potentially steal the show at ‘Mania, but on the foregone conclusion that Orton’s winning the WWE belt at Wrestlemania, this match is up in the air with there being room for either both titles to change hands (the likely scenario although Edge deserves a Wrestlemania win after his classic with Taker last year and being put through a ladder the year before to unofficially end his ‘Mania streak) or for Edge to retain, which would be a victory I feel he needs more than Cena does.
Edge has never had a particularly long title reign and they might be saving that for the day when he actually legitimately wins a title on his own, but I feel he would benefit more from the win even if it meant both heels would leave Houston with their titles.
b. And while this is a logical scenario for Show to work his way into, considering his teasing of a feud with Edge, his recent win over Cena, and his presence in the title picture, combined with the fact that there’s no one else he could presumably face (maybe Koslov in a squash).
But I feel it would take away from the Edge-Cena part of the rivalry especially because there’s no way I could see Show walking out of Houstonwith the belt. He’d just be filler.
Keep it at Edge vs. Cena and let’s have Big Show win Money in the Bank...just for the hell of it. Hey, it’s believable and would make sense while preserving what could potentially be a classic match in the latest chapter of the Edge-Cena rivalry (because unlike Christian-Swagger, they didn’t waste all of the effort on one match).
-The Bottom Line – I’m a wrestling fan and Vince McMahon, using his magical powers, will make me somehow wholeheartedly enjoy any card he puts together for Wrestlemania 25. Hell, Funaki and Festus could main event the show and Vinnie Mac’s voodoo powers would make me enjoy it.
It’s just that time of year. But if I had my way, this card would make more sense and be more enjoyable for us all. Unfortunately, like all good ideas related to the WWE, they won’t happen the way I, or any of us, would like. But such is life.
And we know we’ll all be crawling back for more thanks to Vince McMahon and his voodoo power vice grip over all of us.
-This was lengthier than I thought but I had a lot to say and hopefully more to say in the next few weeks. Until the next time (probably tomorrow with an ECW update), this is Ray-Ray’s rant. Peace.