WWE

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Feb. 24

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterFebruary 25, 2014

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Feb. 24

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania XXX took shape early as the Feb. 24 WWE Raw saw Brock Lesnar, Hulk Hogan and Undertaker step onto center stage.

    Bray Wyatt left John Cena unable to stand, Daniel Bryan challenged Triple H and Undertaker's match at "The Show of Shows" was signed with a chokeslam. Hogan, the host of this year's WrestleMania, returned to WWE. Undertaker eventually followed him.

    Fans of the "WWE title match or bust" mentality for Bryan had reason to curse at the TV.

    WWE is clearly going in a non-championship direction for him and is seemingly unsure how to sell Batista vs. Randy Orton to an audience pushing back against the idea. Were one able to get past that situation, Monday's Raw offered some violent matches to savor and clear indications of where the road to WrestleMania is heading.

    Those bouts, segments and booking choices are recapped on the following slides, letter grades assigned to all of them.

Hulk Hogan Returns

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    The Green Bay fans welcomed Hulk Hogan back with chants, screams and fists pumping in the air.

    "The Hulkster" stumbled through his first lines about the launch of the WWE Network before hyping WrestleMania XXX. He told fans that he'd be hosting the event then exited the ring.

    Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John "Bradshaw" Layfield talked up the network and tried to show fans how to use it. 

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I am officially home."—Hogan

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    When "Real American" plays, it's hard not to be transported back to the '80s. The heavy-handed promotion for the WWE Network tempered the fun of Hogan's return, though.

    Look for Hogan's promo to pop on Botchamania in the near future. He did well to recover from announcing "the launch of the WWE Universe," but his speech came off like a radio ad where the hosts try to slip into talking about a product during the broadcast.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Batista

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    Before the rematch from Elimination Chamber began, Batista mocked the crowd, scoffing at a "Bootista" sign.

    "The Animal" controlled the match early, but Alberto Del Rio caught him coming back into the ring. He soon swept Batista out from under his feet and then hurled him into the ring steps.

    They traded right hands before Del Rio kicked Batista in the gut. A powerslam from Batista shifted the advantage back his way.

    Even with his arm banged up, Batista overpowered Del Rio. He hit a spinebuster right before Randy Orton came out. Distracted, he fell victim to a schoolboy pin, losing to Del Rio.

    Orton mocked him, noting that the fans haven't responded well to his return.

    Boos echoing around him, Batista shouted that he loved the business and promised to beat Orton at WrestleMania. 

     

    Result

    Del Rio wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Del Rio misses the superkick and Batista still sells it.

    "They've been booing the hell out of you, Dave."—Orton

    "Deal with it!"—Batista

     

    Grade

    C-

     

    Analysis

    WWE seems to be testing a Batista heel turn out rather than just going with it. He exhibited the kind of aggression and bad attitude one associates with villains, but does that make Orton the face, or will this picture make more sense with Bryan's addition?

    The company gets points for acknowledging fans booing Batista.

    On the negative side, Batista doesn't look ready for a marquee match. His bout against Del Rio was awkward, and for such a short contest, it featured a lot of lying on the mat to catch his breath.

    Orton and Batista's segment lacked tension. The first steps in the journey to their WrestleMania weren't impressive in the least.

Big E vs. Cesaro

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    Big E looked to follow his win over Jack Swagger at Elimination Chamber by knocking off the other Real American, Cesaro.

    Uppercuts and knees to the chest began the match. A pair of belly-to-belly suplexes had Big E on top for a moment, but Cesaro countered with a boot to the face.

    Each wrestler traded the advantage, Big E dropping Cesaro to the mat only to crash into the ring post a few moves later. Cesaro rattled Big E with numerous European uppercuts before squeezing out his breath with a reverse chinlock.

    Neither Big E's running splash nor Cesaro's midair uppercut was enough for a three-count.

    As Cesaro celebrated hitting the Cesaro Swing, Swagger ran in and put the ankle lock on Big E, costing Cesaro the match. The Real Americans squabbled in the ring, Swagger saying that he was sorry. 

     

    Result

    Big E wins via disqualification.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You guys are all fire bad, water good."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield to the announce team

    Cesaro catches Big E in midair and hits a backbreaker.

    Cesaro hits a running European uppercut in the corner.

    Big E slams a running Cesaro on the back of his head.

     

    Grade

    A-

     

    Analysis

    Cesaro's feats of strength made this a touch better than the Swagger vs. Big E match from Elimination Chamber. Cesaro served as a better ring general, and that led to a well-paced bout that saw a number of momentum swings.

    WWE is hinting strongly at a breakup between Swagger and Cesaro, which is coming at just the right time. Fans are cheering more and more for Cesaro, and breaking away from the group allows him the space for a strong push up the rankings.

    A Cesaro vs. Swagger match could be on the WrestleMania card instead of a Goldust vs. Cody Rhodes bouts which would be a major surprise.

John Cena Promo

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    After a quick shoutout to Hulk Hogan, John Cena did his own hyping of the WWE Network. He delivered the same line he's been saying over the past few weeks, discussing how the future of the company would have to come through him.

    He brought up Bray Wyatt costing him the Elimination Chamber match and then challenged him to come at him in the ring.

    Wyatt and his family obliged, walking to the ring by torchlight. Wyatt ranted about hollow heroes, calling Cena a liar. Cena beckoned the clan to take him on. The three brutes burst under the ropes from three different sides and stomped on the former world champ.

    Cena kept fighting, but he had trouble lifting himself on his left leg. Wyatt knocked him down and hovered over him.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You stand for these illusions. I stand for everything that is real."—Wyatt to Cena

    "We are the reapers who bring death to this era of lies."—Wyatt to Cena

    "You're starting something you may not be able to finish."—Cena to Wyatt

     

    Grade

    A-

     

    Analysis

    The Cena-Wyatt segments are only going to get better once Cena begins to take Wyatt more seriously. He goofed around in the early part of his speech, not yet matching Wyatt's intensity.

    Still, Wyatt delivered in the heat of the spotlight. He was captivating and seemed to believe his rhetoric.

    Cena brought up his mic game as the segment went on, but he's capable of more. He relied too much on familiar phrases. The tension was plentiful regardless.

    This feud and match has the capacity to steal the show at WrestleMania.

Christian vs. Sheamus

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    Both men still winced from their battle inside the Elimination Chamber.

    Christian smacked Sheamus in the mouth which only served to enrage the powerhouse. Christian tried to smash Sheamus' leg into the ring post, but the Irishman instead cracked Christian's face into the metal.

    "Captain Charisma" stomped, struck and headbutted his enemy, powered by a new intensity. 

    He controlled the match until an errant crossbody had him wobbly. Sheamus pounded his knee into Christian's chin before delivering his trademark forearms to the chest. He clamped on the cloverleaf too close to the ropes and couldn't hit White Noise.

    When it seemed as if both wrestlers were too drained to even stand, Christian went for one last flying move, and Sheamus greeted him with his boot.

     

    Result

    Sheamus wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "So you're the Winnie the Pooh aficionado? That figures."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield to Jerry Lawler

    JBL rambles on about Christian's bruised skin, referring to it as being of an "indescribable color."

    Sheamus delivers a back body drop to Christian from the ring apron.

    Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick to Christian in mid-flight.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    Christian and Sheamus carried the intensity of the Chamber match into this one, each Superstar giving an effort one would expect on a pay-per-view.

    Christian's heel turn has not equaled many wins, but it sure has led to some thrilling bouts. This one is his best work in a long while, and Sheamus' Brogue Kick ranks among the best of his career.

    WWE can feel confident about pitting these two against each other in the future. 

Daniel Bryan vs. Kane

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    Corporate Kane
    Corporate KaneCredit: WWE.com

    Kane went after Bryan's bandaged shoulder, but his injured foe proved to be the predator.

    Bryan roared as he kicked Kane and wrenched his left leg. The Director of Operations went back to Bryan's weak point, cracking his arm against the ring post and into the steel steps.

    A pair of corner dropkicks got Bryan back into the match, but he reached for his arm after hitting every high-impact move.

    Kane caught him going for the diving headbutt and rattled the ring with a chokeslam. Bryan kicked out, but he failed to get the Yes! Lock. He didn't need to, though, as a knee to the face was enough for the win.

    He shouted to the audience that Triple H was a coward for not accepting his challenge for a WrestleMania match. Urging the crowd to chant, Bryan said that the COO couldn't ignore the fans' voice.

     

    Result

    Bryan wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Bryan hits a flying knee to Kane on the outside.

    Kane is shocked after Bryan kicks out of the chokeslam.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    Fans hoping for Bryan to find his way into the WWE title match are going to be disappointed. Triple H has yet to accept, but he is on course to collide with Bryan at WrestleMania.

    That's the story WWE has been leading up to since SummerSlam. It has the potential to be an instant classic. The trouble is, it's going to leave Randy Orton and Batista to suffer a flood of boos once their bout begins.

    Seeing Bryan triumph and exhibit some extra aggression against Kane was fun even if it wasn't the most thrilling on his resume.

Emma vs. Summer Rae

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    Summer Rae loses dance-offs and matches apparently.
    Summer Rae loses dance-offs and matches apparently.Credit: WWE.com

    Summer Rae followed an initial frenzied attack with gloating. She knocked Emma on her back with a nasty spinning kick.

    She screamed at Santino Marella as she tortured the recent NXT call-up.

    Emma toppled Summer and put her in the Emma Lock. Summer couldn't help but tap out.

     

    Result

    Emma wins by submission.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Summer Rae's kick whips Emma's head back.

    "Isn't she cute, Santino?"—Summer to Santino

    Emma falls onto Santino trying to hug her.

     

    Grade

    C-

     

    Analysis

    Kudos to Summer's work as a heel. She made the bout a showcase for her wicked ways. 

    The disappointing element, though, is the match's brevity. How are fans supposed to get to know Emma if she only does one or two moves?

    Summer and Emma have put on excellent matches at NXT. Instead of continuing that on the main roster, WWE is giving them two-dimensional, hurried matches to work with.

The Usos vs. The New Age Outlaws

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The tag champs asked The Usos to leave the ring so they could give their usual introduction speech. They seemed to comply with the request, but a superkick hit Road Dogg in the face in mid-speech.

    The bell had already rung, so The Usos pinned The New Age Outlaws before they could say "I got two word for ya."

     

    Result

    The Usos win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "What's your hurry? Gentlemen, we know the outcome of this match already."—Road Dogg to The Usos

     

    Grade

    C

     

    Analysis

    The Usos bounced back to a degree with this fluky non-title win. Outsmarting the wily vets was a fun moment, but the lack of an actual match kept it from being truly entertaining.

    Jimmy and Jey seem destined to dethrone the Outlaws, and it's now only a question of whether it will happen during or before WrestleMania.

Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

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    Backstage, an irate Dean Ambrose barked at his teammates. He said that he was tired of explaining himself and The Shield not trusting him. He marched out saying, "I'm out of here."

    The Wyatt Family slid into frame, and Roman Reigns quickly challenged Bray Wyatt to a match.

    The bout happened later on in the show. Each man held to his word, coming to the ring alone.

    Reigns pounded on Wyatt, but "The Eater of Worlds" only seemed to enjoy it. Wyatt ended a Reigns flurry with a strike to the throat. He leaned on The Shield's powerhouse with a chinlock as Reigns looked to tear at his beard.

    After flinging Wyatt to the outside, Reigns hit a clothesline that smacked against his foe's flesh.

    They traded collisions that had the announcers oohing. Reigns waited for Wyatt to rise, readying himself to hit a spear, but Erick Rowan and Luke Harper appeared at ringside.

    Seth Rollins leaped at them. The action morphed into a brawl, and just as the announce team wondered where Dean Ambrose was, he barreled into the fray in a leather jacket.

    Ambrose attacked Wyatt, forcing the referee to end the match.

     

    Result

    Wyatt wins via disqualification. 

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You leave the family behind; I'll leave the hounds behind."—Reigns to Wyatt

    "You are an interesting creature."—Wyatt to Reigns

    "He may be smiling with fewer teeth."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield on Wyatt

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    Before Wyatt's impending showdown with Cena occurs, WWE is wisely milking the electricity between these two trios. Making a singles bout here allowed the audience a fresh experience and two rising studs to shine.

    The Shield are not quite ready to break up, but the group hasn't been any closer to doing so as it is now.

    When that moment finally happens, WWE has a chance to create something special. The company is building patiently toward it so far, and hopefully there is an ending planned, and this story isn't just wrapped up in hurried fashion.

Brock Lesnar Faces Off with Undertaker

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    Can Undertaker go 22-0 at WrestleMania?
    Can Undertaker go 22-0 at WrestleMania?Credit: WWE.com

    Brock Lesnar sauntered down to the ring with Paul Heyman at his side.

    Heyman explained that Lesnar was not in a good mood because he has yet to get a title shot. He claimed that Triple H told him he had an open contract for WrestleMania, meaning he could name his opponent for the event.

    After rattling off Lesnar's accomplishments, Heyman dismissed the idea of the open contract, demanding a title shot. 

    Just as Lesnar was about to leave, Undertaker's music hit. "The Deadman" entered the ring awash in blue light. He and Lesnar stared off.

    Lesnar signed the contract and urged Undertaker to do the same, pushing a pen into his chest. Undertaker used a chokeslam through the table as his signature.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "That's tantamount to a consolation prize."—Heyman on Lesnar getting the open contract

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    It didn't matter that fans saw it coming (some were chanting Undertaker's name before he came out), having Undertaker back was a stirring moment. The match many expected is on.

    The tension between these two gladiators is already magnetic. Expect it to get better in the coming weeks.

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