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WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 31

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterApril 1, 2014

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 31

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The March 31 edition of WWE Raw saw the company both stride and stumble on the road to WrestleMania XXX.

    Some of the rivalries heading into the event got increasingly intense, new moments added to an already overflowing collection. That was true for the Daniel Bryan story and the Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena feud.

    Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar and the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational didn't get the same kind of boost.

    Monday's Raw featured Undertaker's final message to Lesnar, The Authority saying goodbye to the Yes Movement and less standout bouts than fans have come to expect from the show. WWE has an incentive to hold back the action for now, saving the climaxes for WrestleMania.

    The following is a look at how well WWE and Superstars told their stories and how well the company hyped WrestleMania, complete with letter grades and highlights.

Undertaker's Final Message

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    Stabbing his finger toward the WrestleMania XXX sign, Undertaker promised to keep his WrestleMania streak alive. He reminded Brock Lesnar that none of his foes at the event have been able to hang with him.

    Just as Undertaker was telling Lesnar that he would rest in peace, "The Beast" interrupted.

    Paul Heyman spoke for Lesnar, saying "The Deadman" losing would be the most historic moment since Hulk Hogan beat Andre the Giant. As manager and client were about to leave, Lesnar decided to saunter toward Undertaker.

    He hesitated to get in the ring, though.

    After prowling around the ring, seemingly afraid of Undertaker, Lesnar used a distraction from Heyman to ambush him. He hit an F-5 and slipped away.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Twenty-one men have stepped up and 21 have been set down."—Undertaker.

    "There are many more who believe in three things, three things that can't be beat: death, taxes and the streak."—Undertaker.

    "All it takes is one moment. All it takes is one F-5."—Heyman to Undertaker.

     

    Grade

    C-

     

    Analysis

    WWE needed to give Lesnar a big moment here after the story of this feud so far has been a case of Undertaker pushing him around. This was not enough.

    One F-5 doesn't counteract Undertaker slamming Lesnar through a table and throwing him onto a casket.

    Lesnar looked more cowardly than capable of destruction. He wasn't portrayed as a shark circling a bleeding fish, but a hyena waiting for his foe's back to turn.

    Heyman's performance bumps up the grade some, but he can't make up for the imbalance of this feud.

Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio

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    Alberto Del Rio and Big E's match began with an accelerated pace. Each man charged at the other until Del Rio slowed things down by zeroing in on Big E's arm.

    He smashed it into the ring post and clamped on a cross armbreaker in the ropes. 

    The powerhouse caught Del Rio in midair and delivered a backbreaker that gave him the advantage. Big E tossed Del Rio onto the mat, but his bad arm made it difficult for him to make the cover.

    Del Rio tried for the cross armbreaker again. Big E broke free from it with a powerbomb that nearly got him the win.

    The former world champ survived and soon superkicked Big E, a blow that kept the big man down.

     

    Result

    Del Rio wins by pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Big E catches Del Rio in midair.

    Del Rio jumps from the top rope and stomps on Big E's chest.

    The crowd begins to chant for Del Rio.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    Del Rio, the winner of the 2011 Royal Rumble, grabbed some significant momentum heading into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The opposite is true for Big E.

    This would have been a good time for a draw or a no-contest thanks to a brawl outside the ring to keep both men looking good heading into the Battle Royal and add intensity to their impending meeting at WrestleMania.

    Their well-worked match featured a handful of eye-catching moments, but not enough to be great. 

Summer Rae vs. Natalya

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    Furious about Summer Rae slapping her on Total Divas, Natalya went at her opponent right away. She threw wild punches and flew at Summer with a front dropkick.

    The two Divas then traded slaps.

    Summer escaped a Sharpshooter attempt by kicking Natalya. She then hit another kick, this one enough for a three-count.

     

    Result

    Summer wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    John "Bradshaw" Layfield flirts with Vickie Guerrero at the announce table.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    A slightly better Divas match than fans usually see on Raw was still hurt by its brevity and the fact that Summer beat Natalya with a non-finishing move.

    WWE clearly thinks highly of Summer, adding her to the reality show, featuring her more in singles action and now giving her a big win against one of the top women in the division. She enters the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational as one of the women fans should bet on to beat AJ Lee.

The Authority Says Goodbye to the Yes Movement

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    Triple H mocked the audience, calling them lazy and noncommittal with Stephanie McMahon nodding beside him. He said that they didn't care about Daniel Bryan, that they just wanted to be a part of something.

    McMahon grinned as she made fun of Bryan's fanbase.

    Triple H talked about being dominant and Bryan being just a "flavor of the week." The Authority showed clips of Booker T, Goldberg, Jeff Hardy and others, saying how easy it was to win the crowd over. McMahon narrated as she broke down how all of WWE's heroes fall to "The Game."

    Batista stepped in soon afterward to remind Triple H that he's never beaten him.

    Randy Orton then came out to suck up to The Authority. He asked Triple H to step down from the WrestleMania title match. The COO said Orton should focus on becoming "The Viper" again.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You're right, Hunter, even I could get them to start chanting 'Yes!'"—McMahon.

    "One man who has taken all of your false idols and turn them into rubble."—McMahon about Triple H.

    "You're the brains of this operation. Your wife's the brawn."—Batista to Triple H.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    Daniel Bryan, the most electric part of this story, was absent. That left this segment to be one that dragged at times.

    Those fans who claim that Triple H buries other Superstars will have plenty of ammunition after tonight. He dismissed Fandango and Bryan as fads and painted everyone from Goldberg to Hardy as unfit to dethrone him.

    He does have being grating down, though. He and McMahon make it hard not to punch the TV screen, a sign they are doing something right.

    Orton remains the least interesting element of this feud, asked to play the limp suck-up who few want to root for or against.  

The Usos and Los Matadores vs. Curtis Axel, Ryback and the Real Americans

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    Ryback had trouble landing strikes on Jimmy Uso, who buzzed around him and knocked him off balance with high-flying offense. Curtis Axel didn't have any better luck, suffering chops and dropkicks from The Usos and Los Matadores.

    Cesaro used his trademark uppercuts to halt the fan favorites' momentum.

    He and Jack Swagger pounded the tag team champions, but their advantage didn't last long. The Usos began to dive at their foes and increase the pace.

    Cesaro once again slowed things down, allowing Swagger and Ryback to take turns smashing on Jey.

    The action quickened again, superkicks and suicide dives the weapons of choice. Swagger caught one of the bullfighters in the air and nearly beat him with an ankle lock.

    Los Matadores pulled twin magic a la The Bella Twins, leading to an inside cradle for a three-count.

     

    Result

    Los Matadores and The Usos win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    The D.C. fans chant, "We the people!"

    Cesaro catches Jey Uso in the air and hits a nasty backbreaker on him.

    Swagger turns a midair catch into the ankle lock.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    A fun, fast-paced match gave a preview of what to expect in Fatal 4-Way tag team match at WrestleMania. The Usos carried the load for the good guys, and The Real Americans did the majority of the damage for the other side.

    Expect those teams to be the two favorites and the most heavily featured in that bout.

    This offering from Monday was solid, with Cesaro and Swagger delivering most of the standout moments. It's hard to take Los Matadores seriously, which will make them an odd fit for the championship match.

Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Damien Sandow and Fandango

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    Cody Rhodes began the bout against his former tag partner, Damien Sandow. Sandow slipped away from a moonsault attempt. 

    He and Fandango took control, whipping Rhodes into the corner and slamming him to the mat. 

    Rhodes eventually crawled over to the make a tag. Goldust then went on a run that including him nailing both foes with a double crossbody.

    As his brother leaped out to Fandango, Goldust hit Final Cut for the win.

     

    Result

    The Rhodes brothers win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Fandango dances on the ring apron while Sandow wrestles.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    WWE has inexplicably decided to have the Rhodes boys battle Fandango in some form every week. Their work against him was solid on Monday, but it's not an interesting enough pairing to keep coming back to.

    This was a short, standard match that is at least superior to Fandango and Goldust's awkward match from March 17.

    The company is going to have find a better way to use both Goldust and Rhodes after WrestleMania. The once red-hot team is now tepid.

Bray Wyatt vs. R-Truth

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    Backstage, Bray Wyatt spoke of destroying John Cena. He said he would force everyone to watch him do that and that the fans would cry for Cena before forgetting him. 

    He then steamrolled over R-Truth. 

    R-Truth's offense only angered "The Eater of Worlds." Wyatt charged at him with his elbow out. He barked at him, shouting Cena's name before choking him on the ring rope and stepping on his back.

    Sister Abigail's Kiss soon followed, ending the bout.

    Erick Rowan and Luke Harper then attacked Xavier Woods before Wyatt kneeled in the ring, his arms outstretched. A fourth man appeared behind them wearing a sheep mask. Cena pulled off his mask and brawled with The Wyatt Family, sending them scurrying away.

    Renee Young later interviewed Cena, who admitted fear, but had some angry words for Wyatt.

     

    Result

    Wyatt wins by pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I would be the one to teach them the difference between diamonds and dust."—Wyatt.

    "That's not a move. That's simply launching your own body into another human being."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

    "You have to change the way you walk because I'm gonna stuff my foot in your ass."—Cena to Wyatt.

     

    Grade

    A-

     

    Analysis

    Wyatt showed off his capacity for destruction once more. He destroyed R-Truth with glee, setting himself up well for Cena at WrestleMania.

    As one-sided as this was, Wyatt managed to make the action compelling. 

    It will be the post-match activity, though, that will earn the most chatter in the coming days.

    The Wyatt vs. Cena feud gets another striking image with Cena unmasking. Cena gets a small slice of payback against Wyatt and things fall far more evenly with this rivalry than Brock Lesnar and Undertaker.

AJ Lee vs. Naomi (Lumber Jill Match)

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    Naomi dropkicked AJ Lee out of the ring early, and a handful of women tossed the Divas champ back in. When Naomi fell outside the ring, the Divas left her alone.

    That angered AJ, who took out that rage on her opponent, kicking her in the ribs and trying to down her with a guillotine choke.

    The next time the lumberjills tried to manhandle AJ, Tamina was there to protect her. A lopsided brawl broke out before Naomi hit Rear View for a three-count.

     

    Result

    Naomi wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Naomi hits a stellar front dropkick

     

    Grade

    C-

     

    Analysis

    This match provided glimpses of two scenarios fans should expect to see at WrestleMania: several Divas brawling and AJ losing.

    WWE is certainly painting the upcoming 14-Diva bout as an impossible situation for AJ to escape from. Naomi's win hints at her possibly winning the championship. 

    That match promises to be a cluttered mess. This one offered few highlights and little drama, even with all of the vengeance-seeking women at ringside.

Roman Reigns vs. Kane

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    Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns addressed their WrestleMania opponents backstage. They each had anger to spew at Kane and The New Age Outlaws.

    WWE asked fans to decide which member of The Shield they wanted to see battle Kane. Reigns won with 80 percent of the vote.

    Reigns collided with Kane's boot once the match began. The director of operations clobbered him, going for the chokeslam early.

    Reigns broke Kane's grip and went on a flurry of his own. He dropped the big man to his knees with a number of strong right hands.

    As he set up for the Superman punch, The New Age Outlaws came down to ringside. Rollins and Ambrose took care of them and then made Kane their prey.

    Road Dogg and Billy Gunn pulled Kane away just as he was about to experience The Shield's triple powerbomb.

     

    Result

    Kane wins via disqualification.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "We're going to teach those kids a lesson in attitude."—Ambrose.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    WWE understandably wanted to give the audience a taste of this battle and pull away just as it got good. You have to save the real meal for WrestleMania.

    It's hard to imagine Kane, Gunn and Road Dogg being much of a threat to The Shield there, though. With the animosity level as high as it is, it should be an intriguing clash.

    Reigns and Kane alone didn't have great chemistry. One has to hope the two squads together won't have that problem.

Piper's Pit

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    Roddy Piper reminisced about the first WrestleMania. He reminded fans that he didn't get pinned that night before talking up the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

    Just as Piper was set to say who the favorite was going into that match, Miz entered, bragging all the way down to the ring.

    Sheamus, Titus O'Neil and Dolph Ziggler followed him in. They all claimed to be destined to win the Battle Royal. 

    A brawl broke out and most of the Battle Royal entrants rushed down to fight. Rey Mysterio hit the 619 on Sin Cara and Big Show cleared the ring.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Really?"—Piper to Miz.

    "You gotta love Piper's Pit. This never happens on Jimmy Fallon."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

    Big Show chokeslams Ziggler and Zack Ryder.

    Big Show throws Mysterio into a crowd of Superstars outside of the ring.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    This is not a case of the most creative booking the world has ever seen, but it was a fun segment that kept fans thinking about the Battle Royal.

    The attention the match has been getting suggests that it won't be some throwaway filler match. Perhaps we are seeing the start of a yearly tradition.

    It's starting to feel like winning the 30-man match is important, which means WWE has succeeded somewhere along the way.

Batista vs. Randy Orton (No-Disqualification Match)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Authority joined the announce team as Randy Orton and Batista locked up.

    Orton and Batista fought on the ringside, smashing each other into the security barricade. Triple H cheered on both men as they bashed each other with steel chairs.

    Batista slammed Orton into the announce table. Orton countered with a kendo stick.  

    "The Viper" slipped out of a Batista bomb attempt, cracking his knee against Batista's back. 

    Daniel Bryan, coming out of seemingly nowhere, leapt onto Triple H and began pounding him with punches. Orton pulled him off, but soon took a spear from Batista.

    Bryan flew at Triple H, cracking him with a kendo stick and chasing him around the ring. He celebrated as Triple H shouted, "You are done!"

     

    Result

    The match ends in a no-contest.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I also heard that the flyover at WrestleMania is going to be a punch of monkeys and pigs."—Triple H about Bryan possibly beating him.

    "I'll bet Batista wishes he was on a Hollywood set right now."—Triple H after Orton hit Batista with a chair.

    The crowd erupts as Bryan appears.

     

    Grade

    A+

     

    Analysis

    How fulfilling it was to see Triple H suffer this beating proves how much heat the COO has generated in the last few months. When the smug villain gets his nose bloodied, it should feel this fantastic.

    WWE risked losing viewers by keeping Bryan out of the picture until the very end, but it was well worth it. He has now been a part of the four most emotional and memorable moments on Raw in 2014, breaking away from The Wyatt Family, hijacking Raw, taking a beating while handcuffed and now this fiery fight.

    Orton and Batista will have plenty of animosity toward each other at WrestleMania. It will be Bryan, though, who will be the event's lightning rod.

    As Monday's Raw came to a close, we saw a sampling of the electricity to expect on April 6.

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