WWE Week in Review, March 29: The Shield Reign Supreme, Luke Harper Impresses
The road to WrestleMania 30 heated up this past week as several new matches were added to the already stacked card for this year's Show of Shows. With one week to go until the premiere pay-per-view, which wrestlers will look to cement their legacies on The Grandest Stage of Them All?
Coming off the heels of an apparent face turn, the members of The Shield decimated everyone that stepped inside the ring with them this week, both on Raw and SmackDown. With a match against Kane and The New Age Outlaws now set for WrestleMania, will The Shield be able to knock off its latest set of challengers?
John Cena and Luke Harper stole the show this week on Raw with a barn burner of a matchup that ended with Cena looking up at the lights. Will Bray Wyatt ride this wave of momentum to victory against the leader of the Cenation at WrestleMania?
At the conclusion of Raw, The Undertaker was the last person left standing in the middle in the ring after Brock Lesnar scurried off up the ramp. Have 'Taker's mind games with Lesnar already won him the war?
I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing all of WWE's weekly programs and occasional pay-per-views, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, I will give an award to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: John Cena vs. Luke Harper (Raw, March 24)
When rumors first ran rampant of John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt possibly happening at WrestleMania 30, I had no desire to see them face off. It was far too early for Wyatt to be facing a star of Cena's caliber on The Grandest Stage of Them All and it would have felt like a step down for Cena after headlining the last two 'Manias against The Rock.
However, I have never been happier to have been proven wrong. Since the Royal Rumble, Cena and Wyatt have been having some of the best matches, promos and segments on WWE TV, and that streak continued this past week with Cena taking on Luke Harper in one-on-one action.
Harper has proven himself in the ring against top-tier talent such as CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in the past, but he truly solidified himself as a force to be reckoned with on Monday night after an incredibly impressive performance. While it may not have warranted the "This is awesome" chants it received, Cena wearing the sheep mask was a cool visual, too.
Superstar of the Week: The Shield
I, for one, am a major advocate of turning The Shield face at this point in time. The live crowds absolutely love all three guys, and that positive reception should only continue to grow for the trio.
Sure, The Shield vs. Kane and The New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania 30 may not be the most exciting match, but it makes sense within the context of the storyline. The Shield proved to Kane and company this past week that it's ready for WrestleMania with three separate wins.
First, the Hounds of Justice had a heck of a match against The Real Americans on Raw, where they emerged victories. On SmackDown, they decimated 3MB before beating the duo of Curtis Axel and Ryback shortly thereafter.
With momentum on its side, could The Shield go 2-0 at The Show of Shows next week in New Orleans?
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw, March 24
It's no secret that as WrestleMania inches closer, the only WWE program to really pay attention to is Raw. This has always been the case and always will be the case, as none of the other weekly shows have much to offer.
WWE Main Event has been a fun hour of wrestling for the last month, but it doesn't further any major storylines. SmackDown has been boring for quite a while now and hasn't featured anything of note as of late.
Even NXT hasn't been the same since its move to the WWE Network, though this week's episode was pretty good. For the fifth consecutive week, Raw was entertaining and furthered my interest in WrestleMania.
Granted, there were a handful of squash matches on this week's show, but the all the awesome matches (John Cena vs. Luke Harper, The Real Americans vs. The Shield, the Fatal 4-Way, etc.) made up for them. With only one week left until the biggest event of the year, it'll be crucial for WWE to do a strong sell for the 'Mania card this coming Monday night.
This Week's Highlights
The Shield vs. The Real Americans
In this first ever clash between the two tandems, The Shield and The Real Americans set the bar for tag team wrestling by having a great, great match. The action was electric from start to finish, and everyone involved managed to shine at one point or another. It was another awesome win for The Shield and proof that the trio will succeed as babyfaces going forward.
The Intercontinental Championship picture
There were several great matches on Raw and Main Event this week with Intercontinental title implications, so I thought it'd be better to just group them all into one category. First off, the Fatal 4-Way No. 1 contender's match on Raw was fantastic and easily one of the most entertaining matches I've seen in recent months. The Triple Threat match the next night featuring Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler on Main Event was much of the same. Ziggler vs. Big E for the strap later on in the show was decent at best, but it was a nice, successful title defense for Big E. Could the belt be on the verge of meaning something again?
Bray Wyatt vs. Big Show
This may not have been a technical masterpiece, but both competitors put forth a good effort and delivered a solid main event on SmackDown. Wyatt got in much more offense than I expected him to, and I was very pleased to see him score the victory via pinfall. Props to Show for taking the loss, and I wouldn't mind seeing these two feud with one another at some point down the road.
Adrian Neville vs. Bo Dallas
These two are simply incapable of having a bad match together, and their latest encounter over the NXT Championship was proof of that. I feared it wouldn't live up to their excellent Ladder match from last month, but they proved me wrong. They definitely delivered down the stretch, and the reverse 450 splash from Neville had to be one of the coolest-looking maneuvers I've seen in quite some time. Who's next in line to contend for the title?
Natalya vs. Charlotte
I thought I'd never see the day I put a Charlotte match in the "Highlights" section, but color me surprised. Natalya carried her to a decent match on NXT in what was Charlotte's best in-ring showing to date. Bret Hart being at ringside was also a nice touch.
Emma vs. Summer Rae
If you are just as tired as I am of seeing Emma in terrible backstage skits with Santino Marella, then you probably want to see her do what she does best: wrestle. Well, look no further than this week's WWE Superstars. She and Summer had an above-average women's match that only they are capable of having. The only issue? It happened on a show that hardly anyone watches.
This Week's Low Points
Brock Lensar and The Undertaker
Of all the main event matches at WrestleMania, I'm looking forward to this one the least. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a huge fan of both individuals and bet that the match will still be excellent, but the build thus far has been a major disappointment. This segment didn't help matters, as the long, dragged-out entrance of 'Taker resulted in nothing after Lesnar escaped the beating. Lesnar has very little heat on him right now, and saving that for the go-home show might be too little, too late.
Cody Rhodes vs. Fandango
I can rant for days on why Cody and Goldust deserve to be in the WWE Tag Team Championship match at WrestleMania 30 over Los Matadores, but I'll reserve judgement until I see what happens in the Battle Royal between them. As far as this match goes, it was pointless. The same can be said for Fandango's match with Goldust on SmackDown. The Rhodes brothers deserve much better than this trash.
Sin Cara vs. Damien Sandow
What's worse than Sandow losing to Cara in under a minute? Doing it twice in one week! I didn't even mind the Scooby Doo appearance on Raw (I am a Scooby Doo fan, after all), but this match killed any hope I possibly had for Sandow. The win did little to nothing to benefit Cara, and Sandow is now perceived as an enhancement talent, as if he hasn't been one for the last few months. What a shame.
Big Show vs. Titus O'Neil
This was the same exact match we saw on WWE Main Event last week, and it wasn't any better this time around. If anything, it was worse. It was a complete squash for Show that didn't do anything for him whatsoever. Can someone please remind me what the whole point was of breaking The Prime Time Players up in the first place?
Los Matadores vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback
The match didn't last a mere minute before it ended after interference from The Shield at ringside. Apparently, this win over Axel and Ryback, along with their countless other wins over 3MB, earned Los Matadores a Tag title match at 'Mania. I still think the only reason they're in the match is because their uncle/father is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year, but that doesn't make this match any less of a joke.
Mark Henry vs. The Miz
The silence during this match was mind-blowing. Fans couldn't care less about either guy right now, and their participation in the Battle Royal at WrestleMania means very little. Both Henry and Miz will be in need of some major direction and character development post-'Mania.
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Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.