The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw 3/31/14

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2014

The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw 3/31/14

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    The final Raw before WrestleMania XXX this Sunday night was every bit as wild and chaotic as one would expect.

    Daniel Bryan returned and attacked Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton before standing in the center of 14,000 fans, all of them chanting "Yes!" along with the man they hope leaves New Orleans as the new WWE world heavyweight champion.

    John Cena sent a loud message to Bray Wyatt by outsmarting him and leaving the leader of the Wyatt Family rattled heading into the biggest match of his young career.

    Brock Lesnar left Undertaker on the mat, The Shield looked dominant heading into their six-man tag match against Kane, and the New Age Outlaws and the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal competitors clashed just days before they will compete in honor and memory of one of WWE's greatest.

    What worked best heading into the 30th Showcase of the Immortals? What left an indelible mark on the members of the WWE Universe before Sunday's spectacular?

    Find out now.

The Good

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    Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

    The final hype for Sunday's massive 30-man Battle Royal came in the form of a special Piper's Pit. Piper put over Andre early and then found himself interrupted by The Miz. Eventually, the Superstars involved in the Battle Royal hit the ring, and a huge brawl ensued.

    Rey Mysterio returned to WWE television and engaged in a nice exchange with Dolph Ziggler and then was joined by Big Show, who once again established his dominance by clearing the ring and standing tall.

    The fact that the World's Largest Athlete has been booked so strongly heading into WrestleMania indicates that he will not actually win the match. Whether the vcitor will be one of the already announced competitors or a special surprise entrant, the company has done a very good job of booking what is essentially a way to get every Superstar on the card without actually having to create any captivating storylines for them.

    Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Christian and The Miz are all dark horses to leave the event with the Andre Memorial trophy.

The Great

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    The Build to The Shield vs. Kane and the New Age Outlaws

    If Dean Ambrose calling Kane and the New Age Outlaws "kids" was not enough for you, the match between Roman Reigns and the Director of Operations and the post-match staredown should have been. While it would be great to see The Shield involved in something more important come Sunday night, their program with Kane and the Outlaws has a great old-school feel to it.

    There is no overly complicated story: six Superstars who have issues with one another will solve them at WrestleMania. Considering the major angles that unfolded between Cena and the Wyatts and Bryan and the Authority, it was refreshing to see a no-frills approach to one of WrestleMania's programs.


    Brock Lesnar Sends a Message

    The Beast Incarnate got a measure of revenge after last week, where he was once again upstaged and physically assaulted by Undertaker. Monday night, he capitalized on a distraction from Paul Heyman and attacked the Dead Man, planting him with an F5 and standing tall in what was his last opportunity to make a statement before Sunday's event.

    The segment, which kicked off Monday's broadcast, was simple and to the point. Lesnar established himself as a very real threat to the streak, while Undertaker looks vulnerable for the first time this year.

    The hype for Undertaker vs. Lesnar may not have been as grand or as exciting as most would have preferred, but it has been effective, making the Dead Man's latest challenge one of the most anticipated matches on the card. 

The Awesome

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    Bryan's Revenge

    The main event between Batista and Randy Orton failed to captivate the audience, but the surprise appearance by Daniel Bryan and his beatdown of those two Superstars and Triple H popped the crowd and made for a truly lasting image heading into WrestleMania.

    Bryan finally showed that edge, aggressiveness and anger that he has been missing over the last eight months as he heads into what should be the biggest night of his career.

    Triple H, to his credit, did an outstanding job of selling the beating and really put Bryan over as a force of nature that the King of Kings may have underestimated.

    Batista and Orton are largely irrelevant, even if the former has finally gotten back in his comfort zone as of late. They will be happy to collect the paycheck that comes with being in the WrestleMania main event, but it will be Bryan or Triple H who steals Sunday's show.


    Cena Outsmarts Wyatt

    John Cena's outsmarting of Bray Wyatt Monday night provided the feud with a hot segment to lead it into WrestleMania. So good was it that the fans in Washington erupted for the unmasking of Cena...then reverted back to their typical chorus of boos when they remembered that, no matter how cool it was, they are supposed to hate Cena or risk losing their coolness factor.

    Wyatt curling up on the ramp afterward showed that he was clearly rattled, which left many to wonder what he may be capable of now that he has been backed into a corner. Will he strike back or falter under the pressure?

    Cena's promo later in the evening was everything it needed to be, and the last line really emphasized the seriousness and intensity with which he approached the feud.


    Eight-Man Tag Team Match

    Perhaps their disappointment over being bumped to the pre-show had something to do with it, but Los Matadores, The Usos, The Real Americans and RybAxel appeared motivated to steal the show from an in-ring standpoint on Monday night. They did just that, delivering a quality eight-man tag match that saw Diego score the win for his team when he pinned Jack Swagger.

    The match was an excellent way to hype the kickoff show, even if the performances of all involved indicate that they belong on the main show.