WWE Monday Night Raw: Biggest Hits and Misses from April 1 Edition
April 1's Monday Night Raw was the last before WWE's biggest event of the year, WrestleMania XXIX.
The job of the "go home" show is to excite the fans for the upcoming pay-per-view, and at this the show was successful, but not resoundingly so.
Some programs feel overdone and others underdeveloped, but most angles on Raw were well done and increased anticipation for this Sunday's PPV.
As usual, Punk vs. Undertaker was the star program of the night. Conversely, it'd be hard to describe the buildup to Rock vs. Cena II as anything other than disappointing. Every other rivalry fell somewhere in between.
The following are the biggest hits and misses of the April 1 edition of WWE Monday Night Raw.
Miss: Generic Cena Promo Opens the Show
Nothing to see here. Source: WWE.com
Raw opened to John Cena cutting a totally forgettable promo to sell his match with Rock at 'Mania.
There's not much to say about it because not much was said in it. Cena espoused how he needs to win, how his loss has followed him for a year and so on. Same stuff we've been hearing for a few weeks now.
A heel turn was teased last week, and while Cena was a little less squeaky clean than usual, the heel vibes were dialed back a little.
This was a weak opening for Raw and did very little to raise interest for his rematch with Rocky on Sunday.
Miss: Shield vs. Team Babyface Stagnates
Is this how you sell a WrestleMania match? Source: WWE.com
When Orton, Sheamus and Big Show finally became a cohesive unit on last week's SmackDown, it seemed like their buildup would reach an apex on Raw.
That was not the case.
How many times have we seen some combination of Orton, Sheamus and Show take on some combination of 3MB? Too many times, that's how many. This was essentially the same segment we saw on SmackDown except that after the match, The Shield cut a promo instead of starting a brawl.
Their match at WrestleMania should be fun, but this was a lackluster way to lead into it.
Hit: Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler Never Gets Old
They really could do this every week. Source: WWE.com
Many of us, myself included, complain when WWE runs the same matches over and over again.
The exception to this is Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan.
These two had a bout on Raw three weeks ago and a mixed tag match on last week's SmackDown, plus several physical interactions in between. Still, watching them go one on one doesn't feel like seeing recycled content, as they put on easily the best match of the night. Ziggler got the win after a distraction from Big E Langston. The big man then laid out both Kane and Daniel Bryan to end the segment.
This was the first segment on Raw that was entertaining and provided solid buildup to a WrestleMania match.
Hit: Paul Heyman Brings Life to Brock vs. Triple H
This combination simply works. Source: WWE.com
The star of this segment was surely meant to be Shawn Michaels, but without a doubt it ended up being Paul Heyman.
The segment saw Shawn Michaels admit that he wanted Triple H to beat down Lesnar on Sunday and that he'll be at ringside to watch it happen.They were interrupted by Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, who cut an outstanding promo and really sold the match.
If you want Brock to win, you listened to Heyman and hoped that everything he said would happen.
If you want Triple H to win, you listened to Heyman and surely can't wait for him to be proven wrong.
WWE should actually consider having Paul manage every heel, because everything he touches is turning to gold.
Miss: Alberto vs. Swagger Has Uninspiring Buildup
Crutches, Del Rio's arch enemy. Source: WWE.com
To be fair, there's nothing really wrong with the buildup to the World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. But now that we've seen all we'll see before their faceoff, it doesn't feel as big as it should.
There was a lot of buzz around the work Zeb Colter and Swagger were doing when they began, but that's slowly died off. It also feels like they've done the same thing over and over again for the past few weeks.
Their buildup has mainly consisted of interrupted matches and ringside brawls.
Nothing terrible here, but also nothing particularly exciting, which is a bad analysis for a world championship feud one week out from WrestleMania.
Miss: Rock Does Better Than Cena, but Still Underwhelms
Oh, we smell what you're cookin' alright. Source: WWE.com
The Rock's response to Cena was okay, but like Swagger vs. Del Rio, okay really isn't good enough.
The Brahma Bull talked about the connection he felt with the audience, and to his credit, it wasn't as hokey as that sounds. Rock did a good job at making it feel like Cena wasn't only facing him, but the army of "The People," which may also be a precursor to a Cena heel turn.
His promo wasn't bad, as Rock is entertaining even at the worst of times.
However, for the final buildup to a WrestleMania main event, this was very disappointing.
Hit/Miss: Jericho vs. Cesaro Hits, Cesaro's Lack of Direction Is a Miss
Don't know how to feel. Source: WWE.com
There are mixed feelings about this segment.
The match that Jericho worked with Cesaro was a solid TV bout, but it's hard not to be concerned with Cesaro's lack of direction. He's got no match at WrestleMania and even got the "no entrance" treatment prior to his match with Y2J.
The match was interrupted by Fandango, who scored Jericho on each of his big moves.
Fandango attacked his 'Mania opponent after the match, but no matter how vicious he tries to be, it's hard to take a man in glittery gold tights seriously.
Regardless, we got a good match to enjoy, so the complaints with this segment are mainly nitpicking.
Hit: CM Punk Is a True Heel
So wrong but so right. Source: WWE.com
Some may feel that CM Punk and the WWE took it too far by pouring Paul Bearer's ashes on The Undertaker, and maybe they did.
Those fans surely can't wait to see him get his comeuppance on Sunday, so hey, the system works. Every other program is telling wrestling stories that we've heard before. Some are doing so effectively, some are not.
Still, it's refreshing to see something we haven't seen before. As a result, the buildup to CM Punk's match with Undertaker is by far the best of any match on the card.
This was the perfect way to finish their pre-match backstory. It was the program that closed Raw and if WWE is smart, it'll be the match to close WrestleMania XXIX.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @dvanboom