WWE Monday Night Raw: Biggest Hits and Misses from March 11 Edition
As with every three-hour episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, the latest episode had a lot of filler. However, there were many segments that will be landmarks on the Road to WrestleMania.
We saw the beginning of some WrestleMania rivalries and the progression of others, though one in particular was strangely absent.
We got two quality television matches, but others were ill thought-out or simply a waste of time.
We heard some excellent promos and one flagrantly bad one.
The following are the biggest hits and misses from March 11's Monday Night Raw.
Hit: CM Punk Interrupts the Undetaker's Paul Bearer Tribute
Monday night's Raw opened with The Undertaker entering the arena and kneeling before Paul Bearer's urn in a tribute to his former manager.
It was a nice homage to the recently deceased Bearer, though the scene was quickly interrupted by CM Punk.
Punk said the silver lining of the situation is that to Bearer, Undertaker will always be 20-0, though he’ll be 20-1 to everyone else after WrestleMania.
This is the second time in recent memory that Punk has been in a segment that may be labeled as distasteful.
He and Heyman were both criticized by some who said their mocking of Jerry Lawler’s heart attack was tasteless.
Some may be offended or claim that WWE went too far, but you’ll note that Punk didn’t really say anything about Paul Bearer.
Punk's selfish and careless act was classic-era heel, and is guaranteed to get him some major heat.
Miss: Big Show vs. Seth Rollins
This was the first time that a segment involving The Shield could be described as a waste of time.
Show's match with Rollins was quickly derailed by interference by Reigns and Ambrose, and the trio triple-powerbombed the giant soon thereafter.
The match was essentially a setup for a re-enactment of what happened after last week’s Raw, in case you didn’t see it.
The problem with that is it’s impossible for us to have not seen it.
The video of The Shield's original attack on Big Show was put on WWE.com, played on SmackDown and replayed on last night's Raw before the match.
As a result, the whole segment felt like filler.
Hit: Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler Be Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler's opponent for the night was Daniel Bryan.
That sentence will be music to the ears of many hardcore wrestling fans, and the match did not disappoint.
The two uber-talented superstars have had many matches over the years, and though not as good as their Bragging Rights 2010 encounter, it was still a great television match.
This marks the fourth pay-per-view-quality match we've seen on Raw in the last month or so*.
Ziggler scored his first win in weeks, pinning Bryan after distraction and interference from AJ and Big E Langston.
Hopefully this won't be an anomaly and The Show Off can get some more big wins, because he's been losing far too often as of late.
Langston laid Bryan out after the match, and it looks like Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No for the tag titles at WrestleMania is a real possibility.
Solid match and interesting buildup to what could be a fun feud; this segment was a big winner.
*PPV quality matches on Raw that preceded this were: CM Punk vs. Jericho, Jericho vs. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk vs. Cena.
Hit: Brock Lesnar's Super Strength and Paul Heyman's Microphone Magic
This segment started with a match between The New Age Outlaws and Team Rhodes Scholars.
It ended with Brock Lesnar massacring the Outlaws and Paul Heyman cutting an outstanding promo.
A high point was also Damien Sandow and Cody Rhode's rendition of The New Age Outlaw's theme song before the match started.
Brock Lesnar interrupted after about a minute of action and swiftly dealt devastation to Triple H's DX comrades.
Everyone knows how valuable Heyman is on the microphone and he was absolutely on his game here, breathing life into this six-month-old program with his incisive rhetoric.
Heyman announced that Brock will only take on Triple H if they are allowed to choose the stipulation.
Let's hope WWE are smart with their booking and don't try to build everything around Triple H overcoming some seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
Hit: Mark Henry and Ryback Murder Drew McIntyre
This may be the greatest segment in the history of Monday Night Raw.
Okay, it wasn't that good, and I'm sure WWE wanted this to get Henry and Ryback over as monsters, but it was unintentionally hilarious.
Ryback took on Heath Slater in a match that panned out exactly how you'd expect it to, but the fun began after the three count.
Drew McIntyre attacked Big Hungry and was quickly hit with Shell Shocked. Mark Henry then entered the ring and hit Drew with the World's Strongest Slam.
Ryback and Henry both hit him with their finishers one more time.
The segment was designed to be a standoff where Ryback and Henry try to intimidate each other with their strength.
Instead it was Drew McIntyre getting murdered to the general indifference of the crowd and commentators. And it was awesome.
Miss: Antonio Cesaro Loses Again
Ziggler isn't the only person who's been losing a lot as of late.
Antonio Cesaro recently passed the 200-day mark as US champion, which puts his reign at fifth-longest in the title’s WWE history.
Unfortunately, that achievement is undermined by the fact that he loses a lot.
It seems that WWE thinks that having him job to established stars like Del Rio and Orton won't hurt him, which is true to some extent.
Having Cesaro lose to Randy Orton is certainly less damaging than having him lose to Justin Gabriel.
However, all he seems to do is suffer defeat, and it's been a while since he's gotten a real big win.
Hopefully Cesaro finds himself in a meaningful championship feud for WrestleMania and can get some solid W's under his belt.
Miss: Jericho, Miz, Barrett and the Intercontinental Train-Wreck
Chris Jericho is one of the best talkers in WWE history, but even the greatest talent can have a bad night.
Jericho hosted a prop-free edition of the Highlight Reel where his guest was The Miz.
Y2J's promo basically saw him shout pronouns until The Miz eventually made his entrance, and their party was quickly interrupted by Wade Barrett.
Jericho billed Miz as a huge movie star, which Barrett took issue to, claiming to be the bigger Hollywood powerhouse of the two.
The entire segment screamed "Hey, WWE stars cool and relevant!" and came off as very contrived and inorganic.
Brad Maddox announced that Jericho will face Miz, with the winner taking on Barrett next week for his Intercontinental Championship.
The match ended after Barrett got involved, leading to a Triple Threat match for next week's show.
Barrett, Miz and Jericho are three men who can work magic with a microphone, but the segment was a mess, and Maddox's quirky charm and Jericho's in-ring talent weren't enough to save it.
Hit: Kane Calls Halle Berry
While WWE's promoting of Miz and Barrett's movies felt forced, this clip was actually quite fun.
The video was promotion for Berry's upcoming film "The Call", co-distributed and produced by WWE studios and also starring David Otunga.
In the clip, Otunga tells Berry that one of his coworkers may have gotten her personal phone number.
She's then called by Kane, who gets an opportunity to flex his considerable comedic muscle.
Kane is The Big Red Machine, but Glenn Jacobs is also one of the more intelligent performers on the roster, and that obviously lends itself to his sharp sense of humor.
It was nothing groundbreaking or sidesplitting, but it's always nice to see WWE manage to pull off humor on purpose (Drew McIntyre's obliteration doesn't count).
Hit: CM Punk Assaults Kane with Paul Bearer's Urn
Kane attempted to punish CM Punk in the main event of the night for his disrespect to his father earlier in the night.
The match was no disqualification and surprisingly smooth; it was certainly one of Kane's better matches in recent memory.
CM Punk had the upper hand and looked to put Kane to sleep when Undertaker's theme music hit and distracted The Second City Saint.
Kane delivered a mighty Chokeslam to Punk and pinned him for the win.
It was a questionable decision to have Punk lose this close to ‘Mania, but it made sense given the circumstances of Paul Bearer’s death.
Regardless, Punk got his heat back after the match when he bludgeoned Kane in the back of the head with Bearer's urn.
Raw ended with Punk mocking Undertaker with The Deadman's own kneeling pose while holding the urn.
It was a strong finish that's guaranteed to get Punk some major heat, though WWE have a big job ahead of them if they’re hoping for a 100 percent negative reaction to him.
Miss: Rock and Cena Absent from Raw
The Rock and John Cena will be headlining WrestleMania in a match together for the second consecutive year.
Sadly, neither megastar was featured on Raw.
We got a nicely done video package on their feud, but it's unacceptable to have neither performer appear to progress their rivalry.
It was bittersweet in a sense because the program between Undertaker and CM Punk is so much more captivating.
Despite that, WWE needs to have both Rock and Cena on Raw from this point forward, because there are still a lot of fans who are looking for a reason to care about their WrestleMania rematch.
Follow Daniel on Twitter for more wrestling ramblings @dvanboom