This go-home episode of WWE Monday Night Raw before WrestleMania XXIX opened with the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship, John Cena. He stated that the time for joking was over and that The Rock was the greatest WWE champion in history. The Great One would fall, and he then went into losing last year to end the segment.
I thought that the segment started out strong. Cena was great on the mic and was delivering a great promo. As soon as he got into losing at WrestleMania last year, the segment started to drag. The Washington, D.C. crowd seemed to think so as well with chants of “boring.”
Then again, this sounded like a really anti-Cena crowd. On television, the boos were the loudest I’ve heard in a while.
If he ended it with his line of the “Great One will fall,” it would have been perfect. Instead, he repeated the same old “My life sucked after the loss and I have to redeem it” thing we’ve heard since the match was made official. I liked the beginning, but I was very bored with the ending.
Randy Orton, Sheamus and The Big Show vs. 3MB
After 3MB got in a bit of offense on Sheamus, The Big Show cleaned house before all three hit their finishers on the members of 3MB. I couldn’t really get into this match, but storyline-wise, it was good.
It showed Orton, Sheamus and Big Show working as a cohesive unit, which is something I didn’t really expect. While they are looking good now, I do feel that something is going to happen during the match itself.
Post-match, The Shield made their way out but stopped halfway down the stairs. They wanted them to enjoy the victory because come WrestleMania, The Shield will be walking out victorious. They may have the fans fooled, but they know that Orton, Sheamus and Big Show aren’t on the same page.
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns delivered a pretty good promo here. Ambrose and Rollins were strong on the mic while Reigns is definitely getting better. I once dreaded Shield promos due to Reigns, but I’m starting to come around when it comes to his mic work.
I am very interested to see what’s going to happen during their WrestleMania match. I think the group’s leader will finally be revealed.
We the People
Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter then appeared outside. Swagger knew how to fix America, and that the country was in the state that it’s in due to people not standing up and saying “no more.” Change will begin at WrestleMania, and if anyone didn’t like it, then they didn’t deserve to be real Americans.
This was different then their other videos, but the best part was seeing Swagger do most of the talking. This whole storyline mostly saw Colter talk and talk with Swagger getting a line or two. This time around, Swagger got to cut the promo.
It was a strong promo, too. Swagger delivered in this video and really helped build the feud with Alberto Del Rio.
Backstage after the video, Del Rio responded with questioning Colter’s decision to challenge him to a match. He called him a “big fat pinata with a mustache” before walking away.
Colter in a match with the World champion? I have to wonder, when was the last time Colter even wrestled a match? The last time I ever remember seeing him in the ring was the mid-1990s as Uncle Zeb. This should be interesting.
Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler picked up the victory here with the dreaded Rollup of Doom. These two Superstars had quite the good match. They delivered solid back-and-forth action throughout and showed to have some good chemistry with one another.
The match also built up the Tag Team Championship match at WrestleMania pretty well. Not only did Ziggler get another victory over one of the champions, Big E Langston took out both Bryan and Kane post-match.
Like most of the undercard for WrestleMania, this storyline appeared out of nowhere. Ziggler went from continuing his feud with Chris Jericho to defeating the tag champions in singles matches. I’m liking the feud, though. Ziggler is actually winning matches, and this also gets Langston into the ring.
He’s wrestled many times on NXT, especially now since he’s champion, but he has yet to make his in-ring debut on the main roster. WWE is putting a lot of pressure on him making his in-ring debut being the biggest show of the year, but with great talent like Bryan, Kane and his partner Ziggler working with him, I think he’ll do just fine.
Mr. WrestleMania Returns in Time for WrestleMania
Shawn Michaels then made his return to talk about the Triple H/Brock Lesnar match. He was concerned over the stipulation, which brought out Triple H. Michaels told him that their situations were not similar since he and The Undertaker respected each other, which is something the Game and Lesnar don’t have.
He wasn’t going to talk him out of the match, but he did say he’d be in his corner. Lesnar then came out with Paul Heyman. Lesnar was going to beat Triple H into retirement, and since he didn’t just walk away, he won’t be walking at all come the end of the match.
This was an overall good segment that built up the match very well. Both Michaels and Triple H were good on the mic, though at times it seemed like HBK was losing his voice. The star of this segment was without a doubt Heyman.
Every time that man talks, I can’t help but listen. The tone of his voice and his facial expressions sell every word that he’s saying. Heyman is very good at what he does. WWE could really benefit from having him teach promo skills in NXT.
Seeing Michaels in Triple H’s corner is a nice touch. Heyman will no doubt try to get involved in some way, so now the Game has someone to make sure it stays one-on-one. Plus it’ll just be great to see Mr. WrestleMania at the big event.
Wade Barrett vs. Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder would get in a few moves, including a baseball slide and his signature Broski Boot, but Wade Barrett ultimately destroyed him. The match really wasn’t much, but with The Miz on commentary, it did advance the Intercontinental Championship storyline for WrestleMania.
I was disappointed to find out that their match has been demoted to the pre-show, though. Being for the Intercontinental Championship, I would have hoped that it actually made the main card. Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls vs. Rhodes Scholars and Bella Twins should really be on YouTube inside.
What’s done is done, but I suppose I now have a reason to watch the pre-show. If the eight-person tag match was on YouTube, I probably wouldn’t bother to watch. So when I think about it, I suppose it is a good idea to put a title match on there since it will give people more of a reason to watch. Should be a good match, too.
Mark Henry vs. Santino Marella
Before the match, Santino Marella played an April Fool’s joke on Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox. He got them to think that Vince McMahon was angrily making his way to them, but his joke backfired in a big way.
Guerrero and Maddox are starting to develop a good chemistry. They are quite entertaining together. I’m actually excited to see where Team Brickie is going to lead.
As for the match, Mark Henry completely squashed Marella. The match was no longer than a minute, but what happened afterward helped build WrestleMania.
Ryback came out post-match, and after Henry reminded him that they weren’t allowed to touch each other before the event, Ryback picked up Marella and hit Henry with him. Ryback technically didn’t touch Henry. That was an entertaining way to get around the stipulation.
I am quite intrigued by their match since both guys are huge in their own right. Will Ryback lose his first WrestleMania match, or will he be able to get Henry up for Shell Shock? I can’t wait to see what happens!
A Bad Omen
Backstage, CM Punk declared that he was trying to get into the head of The Undertaker. Paul Bearer’s death was a bad omen for the streak, and Punk would do anything it took to end it. Punk delivered a good promo here. He’s usually strong on the mic, and this was no different.
I have to wonder what the storyline would be if Bearer didn’t pass away. The entire angle has been built around his death, so how would they have gone about a Punk/Undertaker feud if he was still alive?
No matter what they would have done, Punk continues the role he’s been on since January. Win or lose, Punk will shine.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Zeb Colter
Del Rio got the victory by disqualification after Colter hit him with one of Ricardo Rodriguez’s crutches. This wasn’t really a match since all that happened was Del Rio teasing Colter and Swagger attacking Rodriguez.
This did have some excellent build for WrestleMania, though. After the match, Colter and Swagger beat Del Rio with the crutches. When they left, fans saw some nasty looking welts on Del Rio’s back.
Really hitting him with those crutches and leaving those marks gives the storyline some realism. It shows that they really believe that someone like Del Rio is destroying America and that beating him would bring change. This whole storyline has been very interesting since Colter made his debut alongside Swagger.
He has breathed much-needed new life into Swagger and has made him interesting for the first time in years. Their match at WrestleMania is going to be a war, and I can’t wait to see it!
John Cena is Facing the Millions
The Rock then made his way out to have some words about the match with John Cena. WrestleMania wasn’t about Cena’s redemption, it was about the people. Cena’s time will not come since he’s not only facing The Rock but also the millions. Cena can’t deny the people, and he can’t defeat The Rock.
The Rock gave a good a promo in this segment. He was strong on the mic and was just straight to the point. He did talk about becoming President Rock, but he got right back onto topic and finished off strong.
This segment didn’t drag like Cena’s, and it was also much shorter. I always enjoy The Rock’s mic work when he’s serious. I do like the jokes every once in a while, but when he’s serious, The Rock can sometimes be untouchable.
For me, the match at WrestleMania is unpredictable. Cena could win and get his redemption, but at the same time, I can see all of this build for redemption to come crashing down hard with a Cena loss. I truly think it’s anyone’s match.
Chris Jericho vs. Antonio Cesaro
With Fandango scoring his moves, Chris Jericho defeated the United States champion with the Walls of Jericho. He and Antonio Cesaro had a solid match with some good overall action. They have some pretty good chemistry with each other, and I would love to see more from them in the future.
Jericho seems to get better every time he comes back. It doesn’t matter how long the hiatus is, Y2J always returns at the top of his game.
It’s a shame that Cesaro doesn’t have a spot on WrestleMania. He’s worked quite hard over the past year. He has proven to be a great in-ring talent and has had many good matches with WWE’s top stars; it’s really disappointing to see him left out.
Perhaps there will be the traditional dark match Battle Royal. That way he’ll at least get to perform in front of the crowd.
Post-match, Fandango attacked Jericho once again and delivered two top rope leg drops. I haven’t seen him wrestle with this character, but I was impressed with him as Johnny Curtis. Add in some dancing, and I’m assuming he’ll still be quite good. Put him in the ring with someone like Jericho and he could really shine.
The Funkadactyls vs. The Bella Twins
The Bella Twins got the win after one of them reversed a Cameron cross body. This wasn’t too bad. Naomi impressed with her short time in the ring, and Cameron looks to be improving quite a bit.
Last time I remember seeing her wrestle I was cringing. I suppose her training is going well, which is good to see.
It’s great to see Nikki and Brie Bella back. The Divas division has really been lacking since a good chunk of the roster left. While the Bella’s are no masters in the ring, they can get the job done and they play the heel role extremely well.
With AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka and Rosa Mendes barely wrestling, and Alicia Fox’s alliance always changing, the division has been lacking good heels. Welcome back, Bella Twins!
Ashes to Ashes
The Undertaker then appeared to end the show. While CM Punk’s WWE Championship lasted over 400 days, his pain would last an eternity. Beating him was no longer good enough; he would pay the ultimate price for his disrespect.
The druids then mysteriously appeared with Paul Heyman dressed as Paul Bearer. The Undertaker soon started attacking the druids, but he didn’t find Punk until he was attacked from behind. After beating The Deadman with the urn, he poured the ashes onto him and rubbed them on himself to end the show.
That was quite the powerful ending. The Undertaker delivered a good short promo, but this was all about the ending. Pouring the ashes that represent Paul Bearer onto The Undertaker is symbolic.
Punk is telling him that it’s over. It’s very rare to see The Undertaker in this state before WrestleMania. Punk is not only in his head, but he has already gotten the better of him physically. The tactics may have been dirty, but The Undertaker was down and out as Raw faded to black.
The streak is definitely in jeopardy. I always felt that the streak was destined to make it to 20-0 and that anything after that was completely up in the air. The Undertaker very well could lose at WrestleMania.
Overall, I thought this go-home episode of WWE Monday Night Raw was a good one. While only two matches were really any good, storylines for WrestleMania got some great build. The four main matches got the most attention, but the undercard was built up nicely as well.
I am quite excited for this year’s WrestleMania. There are some matches that are a bit predictable, but there are others that I can see going either way. WrestleMania XXIX is looking to be huge. Sunday can’t get here fast enough!
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