The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw 3/10/14
The most eventful episode of Raw in a very long time saw the announcement of two huge WrestleMania matches (with the potential for a third) and showcased some of the bright young stars on the roster just weeks away from the biggest show of the year.
Daniel Bryan had one of the biggest moments of his career and will now meet Triple H at WrestleMania XXX for the right to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later in the evening. His victory over Randy Orton in a tag team main event only served to cap off the monumental evening for Aberdeen's greatest export.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt is official after the leader of the Wyatt Family interrupted Cena and Hulk Hogan to kick off the evening. With Wyatt's promises to bring down the machine, there is no better Superstar to start with than the leader of the Cenation.
Sheamus and Christian settled their rivalry in a Memphis Street Fight, a match chosen by the WWE Universe.
The Shield proved their value to The Authority as they took on Goldust and Cody Rhodes in tag team action, and The Undertaker made his Raw return to address his match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
What worked on this week's newsworthy show?
Find out now.
This is the Good, the Great and the Awesome from the March 10 episode of Monday Night Raw.
The "Yes Movement"
"The Good, the Great and the Awesome" is and will continue to be an article that looks at the positives of WWE programming rather than the negatives.
With that said, however, I feel the need to address the Daniel Bryan-"Yes Movement" segment from Monday's Raw and may do so in a manner that is less than positive.
First things first: The segment lands in the "good" section of this week's article because it did accomplish what it was meant to. It finally made the match between Bryan and Triple H official, and it planted the seeds for a Triple Threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight title if and when Bryan defeats The Game on April 6.
With that said, there was something completely inorganic about the entire segment.
The chants of the fans who joined Bryan in and around the ring felt completely manufactured and forced. In fact, if one goes back and re-watches the segment, it is almost as if the fans in the audience have the life sucked out of them by those involved in the segment. Sure, there are patches of the audience chanting along with the men and women in the ring, but they are disenchanted by the fact that the company is seemingly trying to get them to chant along.
The second issue with the segment is the fact that Bryan simply is not as strong a talker as one would expect from someone leading an important segment such as this one. Throughout WWE history, Superstars such as Steve Austin, Mick Foley and The Rock have staged strikes in the center of the ring and have done so with great success because the audience connected with them emotionally. They felt the anger, fury and frustration of those Superstars.
Bryan, rather than coming across as sick and tired of being sick and tired, came across as a petulant child who did not get what he wanted so he threw a grand temper tantrum.
By the time Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their way to the ramp, this writer was hoping Hunter would have the "fans" arrested or would shut the show down just to spite the rest of the audience. Instead, he delivered tremendous mic work that showed great intensity and rage. While the audience had been sitting on its hands during the staged "Yes Movement," Triple H was able to deliver a promo that reinvigorated the Memphis audience and got them invested back into the story being told.
Again, the segment accomplished what it was meant to do, but it proved that the audience does not want to be told when to chant or cheer. Trying to manufacture something that worked so well because of its organic nature will only wear the audience out and create reluctance to deliver the desired reaction.
It also proved that Bryan is not strong enough on the microphone to carry the promo work on his own, nor is he good enough at naturally conveying his emotions to connect with an audience in that manner.
It proved that Triple H can still be a big-game player when it comes to convincing audiences to buy into a segment or match. He was truly great and rescued a segment that did not quite click as well as it should have.
And kudos to Stephanie McMahon for continuing to cut the best heel promos in all of wrestling. She clearly learned well from a master of the art form, her father Vince.
Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, John Cena and the Wyatts
Hulk Hogan's announcement of the 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which will take place at WrestleMania, was a great way to kick off the evening's broadcast.
The match gives Superstars without anything else to do an opportunity to make it onto the 'Mania card and receive the big payday that results from it. That the announcement was made by Hogan, who is a well-documented friend of the giant, was fitting and adds to the importance of the match.
John Cena making his way to the ring to officially announce his entry into the match only heightened that importance. While that would be short-lived, it definitely made what is essentially a "nothing better to do with these guys" match feel significantly more special than it otherwise would have.
Speaking of Cena, there was something almost epic about seeing the biggest star of this generation sharing the same ring with an icon the likes of Hogan. The two leaders of eras standing side by side as the Wyatt Family made their way to the ring was almost indescribable to a fan like this writer, who was lucky enough to see both at their peak of performance in WWE.
Bray Wyatt, who deserves Emmy consideration for his performances at this point, cut another phenomenal promo that convinced Cena to exit the Battle Royal and challenge him to a singles match at WrestleMania.
Could Cena have left the comedy elsewhere and improved the segment that much more? Of course. But it did not hurt the impact of the promo at all, and fans now have another match they can look forward to come April 6.
Daniel Bryan and Big Show vs. Batista and Randy Orton
The tag team main event pitted Daniel Bryan and Big Show against Randy Orton and Batista in a match where Raw general manager Brad Maddox reiterated to the villains how important it was for them to work together and put an end to Bryan.
They would prove unsuccessful in that task as Bryan escaped an RKO attempt from Orton and caught him with the newly titled Knee Plus for the pinfall victory.
The win caps off a very eventful night for Bryan, one that the former WWE and World Heavyweight champion will remember for years to come.
The Undertaker Returns to Raw
Even when The Deadman does not have much of significance to say, the aura that surrounds him makes for great television.
Paul Heyman interrupted him and cut a tremendous promo highlighting just how great a feat it is that Undertaker has won 21 straight WrestleMania matches when all-time greats such as Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin could only manage to compile single-digit win streaks at the show.
The Phenom responded by telling Heyman that the fear of the unknown is the worst fear possible, then told him to give Lesnar a message: Rest in peace.
It was a short and sweet promo that, while effective and great (thanks largely to Heyman), felt like a waste of an Undertaker appearance.
Bray Wyatt Accepts
John Cena's challenge for a match at WrestleMania was accepted later in the evening by Bray Wyatt. Wyatt's promo once again stood head and shoulders above any other interview cut by any other Superstar all night.
"Do you see yourself in him, John?" was a great line in reference to Cena sharing the ring with childhood hero Hogan. The delivery by Wyatt was so great (and the facial expression so well done) that it does not take a leap of faith to buy into the Wyatt character or anything he says.
He speaks with such great conviction and belief in what he says that it is easy to forget he is a performer portraying a character.
"Just remember, you have everything to lose. Your time is up. My time is forever. Ti-i-i-i-me is on my side" was a great way to wrap up the money promo from Wyatt, who may be the best overall performer in WWE today.
The Shield Meets with the Director of Operations
Kane called the members of The Shield into The Authority's office and questioned just how valuable an asset they are to Triple H, Stephanie and himself following the airing of their grievances on last week's SmackDown.
He ordered a tag match featuring Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns taking on Cody Rhodes and Goldust. Rollins, the architect of the group and always two steps ahead of everyone else, questioned whether Kane's dissatisfaction with The Shield was his way of deflecting heat from himself following two straight losses to Daniel Bryan.
Roman Reigns standing up to the Big Red Monster and promising to slay any demon in their way was a great line and teases tension between he and Kane, but the real MVP was the United States champion Dean Ambrose, who really said nothing of note but brought it in terms of the small things that set some performers apart from others.
Ambrose standing in the background with an arrogant smirk on his face as Reigns stood up to Kane was brilliant and really put him over as the cocky runt of the group who has no problem expressing himself when he knows his boys will be there to back him up.
How he handles the challenge of Mark Henry on Tuesday's live Main Event should be interesting to see play out.
The Rhodes Brothers vs. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins
Two of the best matches of 2013 featured Cody Rhodes and Goldust taking on The Shield's Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
They rekindled their rivalry Monday night when they met in a tag team match that would determine just how strong a unit The Shield still is and how valuable it can still be to The Authority.
The star of the match was Rollins, who continues to stand out amid rumors of singles pushes for Reigns and Dean Ambrose. His performance was stellar, and the strong win for him over Cody Rhodes only highlights the fact that the creative team may have seen something in Rollins that has won them over in recent weeks.
The Rhodes brothers are in a predicament heading into WrestleMania because they certainly deserve to have a place on the card. But with spots filling up rapidly, it appears as though their 'Mania moment will come in the form of entrances into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Sheamus vs. Christian
Though it felt like the 1,000th match between the competitors in the last month, Sheamus and Christian delivered a very physical, hard-hitting Memphis Street Fight that was won by Sheamus and, hopefully, puts an end to their feud.