On the final pit stop before WrestleMania XXIX in New Jersey, the go-home edition of Monday Night Raw did an effective job of hyping each and every match on Sunday's card.
With only mere days remaining until WWE's biggest show of the year, I personally believe that this episode of Raw convinced me that this year's spring spectacle has the potential to be better than expected.
Here I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of predictions and wishful thinking about what I hope to see in the coming weeks.
John Cena vowed to defeat WWE Champion The Rock at WrestleMania XXIX
Good promo from John Cena to kick off the show. Similar to last week, he kept the comedy to a minimum and cut somewhat of an edgy promo, which was great to see.
Despite the undeniable chants, I don't think the live crowd was legitimately "bored" by what he was saying. Rather, I believe they were simply tired of Cena rehashing the same promo he's been cutting for weeks now.
Nonetheless, this was another nice indicator of a potential heel turn for Cena on Sunday, although I, for one, do not see that happening anytime soon.
Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus def. 3MB
Throwaway match with Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus defeating 3MB. We've been seeing the same match for weeks now, so it was nothing out of the ordinary.
It served its purpose in showing that the face team is united going into WrestleMania and allowing everyone to hit their signature spots. The Shield's subsequent promo was well done and hyped the six-man tag team match at 'Mania nicely.
Dolph Ziggler w/AJ Lee and Big E Langston vs. WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan w/Kane
Great match between Dolph Ziggler and WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan. It's no secret that these two work very well together, as seen by their awesome chemistry in the squared circle.
It involved exciting action and received a substantial amount of time, and the right person went over. Big E Langston's post-match attack on Kane was incredibly impressive, and it was a smart move to make the heel team look dominant going into WrestleMania.
Shawn Michaels confirmed he'll be in Triple H's corner at WrestleMania XXIX
Strong segment featuring Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Michaels on Raw was a pleasant surprise and actually makes quite a bit of sense.
While it may seem that Michaels is involved in every HHH feud, I'm completely content with his managerial role at WrestleMania. He'll only be enhancing the contest, so what's the harm in featuring him in it?
Everyone involved in this segment did an excellent job of selling The Game's potential retirement stipulation, as well as the 'Mania match itself. Lesnar looked intimidating as always and didn't even need to say a word.
As I've said numerous times in recent weeks, the rekindling of this feud has been much better than originally expected since January, and I look forward to the No Holds Barred bout on Sunday.
Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett def. Zack Ryder (non-title)
Fine match, with Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett defeating Zack Ryder. The crowd wasn't very responsive towards this match, and I can't say I blame them.
Fans haven't been given a reason to care about Barrett or the title in recent months, but it was nice to see him pick up a much-needed non-title victory. Furthermore, The Miz was great on commentary and made his upcoming title match against Barrett at 'Mania feel important.
Mark Henry def. Santino Marella
Basic squash match, with Mark Henry decimating Santino Marella. Honestly, I couldn't have cared less that Marella returned, but at least he was tolerable in his backstage segment with Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox.
The decisive victory gave Henry a nice momentum boost going into Sunday, and his confrontation with Ryback was also well done. Henry's promo left a lot to be desired, but it didn't harm this feud in the slightest.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio def. Zeb Colter w/Jack Swagger by Disqualification
Brief match, with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio defeating Zeb Colter by disqualification. Obviously, the match didn't last long at all, but it was short and sweet in the sense that no actual wrestling ever occurred.
We've seen Colter and Jack Swagger attack Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez quite a bit in recent weeks, but this ambush seemed to pack more of a punch than the previous beatings.
Colter's promos have grown stagnant by this point, so it was smart to have him and Swagger looking absolutely aggressive heading into the World Heavyweight title match at WrestleMania.
WWE Champion The Rock responded to John Cena
Nice promo from WWE Champion The Rock. Of course, his delivery wasn't as strong as it was last week, but he touched upon why he needed to win on Sunday and how important it was to him to emerge victorious over Cena once again.
The climax of the buildup to this feud came last week, so this promo in particular didn't need to be anything special. I was shocked not to see this close the show, but ending each Raw with a different feud has been a refreshing change of pace.
Chris Jericho def. United States Champion Antonio Cesaro (non-title)
Solid match between United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and Chris Jericho. Aside from a few missed spots, the match as a whole was well-wrestled and kept a consistent pace throughout.
I have no problem with Jericho scoring the victory here, but why it did it have to come at the expense of Cesaro? That being said, I would like to see more from these two down the road, as they certainly proved they can work well together if given enough time to shine.
Fandango's post-match attack on Jericho was effective in furthering his feud with Y2J going into the spring spectacle.
The Bella Twins w/Team Rhodes Scholars def. The Funkadactlys w/Tons of Funk
Exceptional match, with Brie and Nikki Bella defeating Cameron and Naomi. Sure, it wasn't an instant classic or anything, but it was a vast improvement over their train wreck of a match on WWE Main Event last week.
This is probably the least anticipated match on the WrestleMania card, but at least they made an effort to try and hype it. I can't be the only one who found it insanely awkward when Team Rhodes Scholars entered to the Bella Twins' theme music, right?
CM Punk ambushed The Undertaker
Strange segment featuring Undertaker and CM Punk to close the show. Undertaker's promo was only getting started before he was interrupted by the druid's music, so that could have gone on a bit longer than it did.
I didn't find CM Punk's actions to be crazily brilliant, but I didn't find them incredibly insulting, either. If anything, I feel indifferent towards the segment, as it felt like a step backward from what they executed last week.
I'm glad it put a ton of heat on Punk going into 'Mania, but there are plenty of other ways to achieve that than what they did here. I'm excited for the phenomenal match they'll surely produce at the show of shows, but the build has been a bit disappointing, to say the least.
Overall, a solid show that did a great deal in getting this particular viewer excited for WrestleMania XXIX. While the in-ring action obviously wasn't the main focus of this show, it was a nice touch, as all the matches we received seemed to be well-wrestled.
The strong segments were what sold Sunday's card the most for me, as they gave me some hope that this can definitely deliver if booked correctly. There were some things they could have done differently on this show, but I felt satisfied with what we got once it concluded.