So the stage is set for a huge Monday Night Raw with Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker returning to celebrate the launch of the WWE Network. I have high expectations, so they better not let me down…again.
-Speaking of the Network (Where’s Cyrus?), I think it’s awesome but I’m kinda bummed out that it won’t work on the Xbox 360 yet. I was all pumped to sit on my couch for hours watching the 1989 Bash, but I was unable to do so. If it gets fixed by tomorrow, all is forgiven, though.
-LIVE from Green Bay, Wis.
Hulk Hogan Returns
They start things off right by bringing out Hogan to a thunderous ovation from the live crowd, and he proclaims that he has come home. He plugs the WWE Network and name-drops a few guys (with the Rock getting a very lukewarm reaction) before announcing himself as the host of WrestleMania XXX. Is that it?
-JBL, Cole, and King do the hard sell on the Network and yes, again, it is very awesome. It would be the greatest thing ever if it would actually run on my Xbox, though.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Batista
Yeah, screw you if you paid for the pay-per-view to see this match! Don’t worry though…no one did.
Batista looks less than impressed with the crowd as he makes his entrance and receives a less-than-positive reaction. Batista attacks and the crowd starts with a “you can’t wrestle”/”boo-tista” dueling chant. Del Rio catches him coming back in the ring, earning a face pop, but Big Dave shakes it off and clotheslines Alberto to the floor. Del Rio sends him into the ring steps and we take a break.
We return with Del Rio working the arm, but he whiffs on a charge against the ropes and hits the floor. Alberto tries to head up top but gets stopped and Batista brings him down with a superplex for a double KO spot. A slugfest leads to the crowd cheering Del Rio, but Batista makes a comeback anyway and hits a slam for two. Del Rio hits Divorce Court out of nowhere and they totally screw up a kick to the face, making both guys look like idiots. Batista hits a spinebuster, but Randy Orton’s music distracts Dave long enough for Del Rio to roll him up for the win.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
-Good God, that was terrible. Orton cuts a promo where he mocks Batista for getting booed and the crowd starts chanting for CM Punk. Big Dave cuts a lame promo where he does the John Cena-trademarked, “It’s great that this crowd has a voice no matter what they say” and promises to win the title. Well, nothing says “WrestleMania main event” like segments two and three in the first hour of Raw. I give the whole thing one star, and that’s being generous.
-So is Batista’s new gimmick going to be John Cena Version 2.0?
Big E vs. Cesaro
The winner of this match gets to keep “Antonio” and “Langston.” The crowd chants for Cesaro, but Langston hits a shoulder block. Cesaro regroups and tries some amateur stuff, but Big E catches him with an overhead belly-to-belly. He adds another and a spear in the corner gets two. Both guys no sell a double clothesline in a weird spot so Cesaro hits a big boot. Cesaro tries something from the second rope but Big E catches him and hits a trifecta of backbreakers for two. In an unreal spot, Big E tries a leapfrog, but Cesaro catches him and turns it into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. That was ridiculous. We take a break because that’s what WWE does.
We return to a slugfest and Big E hits a gorilla press. He misses a blind charge to the corner though and Cesaro gets two. A double stomp gets another near fall and a hard elbow gets another two. Cesaro hits a powerslam and then shows off his strength again with a gutwrench for two. Another slugfest leads to a sleeper hold by Cesaro, but Big E rolls out of it. Langston makes the comeback with a belly-to-belly and the Warrior splash gets two. Big E looks to finish, but Cesaro wiggles out and hits the Very European Uppercut for two. Cesaro tries for the Big Swing, but Langston powers out and slams him stiffly for two. Swagger tries to attack and buy his partner time but gets laid out. The distraction works as Cesaro gets a huge pop for hitting the Big Swing. For whatever reason, Swagger attacks Big E and earns a DQ for Cesaro.
Winner by DQ: Big E
-Big E tries for revenge after the match, but Cesaro lays him out with a Neutralizer. Swagger still doesn’t look happy, but I am because Cesaro might finally drop the dead weight of Jack Swagger. These two have some good chemistry, and this was a pretty good power match. I'll rate it two-and-a-half stars.
-John Cena hits the ring and sucks up by putting over Hulk Hogan and gets a cheap pop by mentioning Green Bay (“Hurray! That’s where we live!”). He calls out the Wyatts for obvious reasons, and Bray cuts a promo on the ramp. The Wyatts eventually attack and beat down Cena while the crowd chants for CM Punk. There was some weird selling from Cena here, and the segment went way too long for what it was.
-Cena does a stretcher job, and I’m sure we are all concerned if Cena is going to be able to Rise Against Wyatts.
Sheamus vs. Christian
OK, question time: What do you people see in Sheamus? Seriously, I want to know. Please tell me what is so entertaining about this guy. He does absolutely nothing for me.
Sheamus overpowers Christian to start, and Captain Charisma makes the mistake of slapping him. A beatdown commences and a clothesline puts Christian on the floor. Christian tries to crotch Sheamus on the ring post, but Sheamus yanks him forward and Christian hits the post.
Do you know how annoying it is to type a recap when both guys only have one name? Christian hits a missile dropkick for two, but Sheamus backdrops him over the top and to the floor. Sheamus follows with a shoulder block from the apron, and we take a break because WWE hates me.
We return with Sheamus hitting the floor, and Christian introduces him to the ring steps. Christian commences his offense, and the crowd is so thrilled by this match they chant for the Green Bay Packers. Seriously, this is supposed to be a huge Raw and they just trot out the same boring crap from every other week?
Christian works an abdominal stretch but whiffs on a cross body, triggering a Sheamus comeback. Clubbing forearms stun Christian, and a shoulder tackle gets two. Sheamus hooks an Irish Cloverleaf but Christian fights to the ropes, which involved him moving all of about two feet. Christian tries the Killswitch, but it’s countered, and Christian has to settle for a roll-up for two.
Sheamus hits a powerslam out of nowhere for two while the crowd reacts to nothing, and Sheamus tries for a Brogue Kick. Christian ducks and comes off the second rope, but Sheamus annihilates him with a stiff Brogue Kick for the win. Yeah, that’s a concussion.
-The announcers go nuts for this match like it was something great, but I was bored senseless and Sheamus stiffed the hell out of Christian on the finish. A sloppy, boring match does not do much for me, so it gets one-and-a-half stars.
-Earlier today, we see Daniel Bryan flipping out on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Bryan challenges Hunter to a match at WrestleMania, and, of course, Triple H talks down to him because that’s all he does. The almighty Stephanie books Bryan against Kane tonight because no one is allowed to get the last word against precious Steph.
-Meanwhile, the Shield argue and Dean Ambrose walks off. Bray Wyatt walks in to gloat and Roman Reigns challenges him for tonight.
-Ric Flair is seriously starting to look like he’s made of Play-Doh.
Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
Is Daniel Bryan the only guy left on the roster who is getting the reaction that WWE wants? The crowds cheer the Shield, boo Batista, cheer Cesaro, boo Cena, chant for CM Punk, and boo Big E Langston. It’s like this promotion is almost trying to do the exact opposite of what the people want at all times.
Bryan attacks, but Kane goes to the injured shoulder and rams Daniel into the turnbuckle. Bryan comes back with kicks and dropkicks Kane’s knee. Bryan works the leg while I ponder why Kane’s new ring gear looks like he’s half-dressed for work. Kane counters and takes over the offense, boring the crowd and stomping quite a bit. Bryan catches Kane on the floor and tries a dive through the ropes, but Kane stops him and chucks Bryan into the ring steps to take us to commercial. Where’s Dr. Shelby when you need him?
We return with Kane still in control and working the shoulder. Bryan flips out of a whip to the corner and launches into the Yes Kicks. Kane catches him with a side slam for two and heads up top, but Bryan puts a stop to that. A Hurricanrana brings Kane down for two, and Bryan adds a dropkick in the corner. A second one is countered by an uppercut from Kane, but Bryan low-bridges him and Kane hits the floor. Back inside, Bryan hits a missile dropkick and kips up before adding a kick to the head for two.
Bryan heads to the top and tries the headbutt, but Kane catches him by the neck and hits a chokeslam…for two. That’s a great near fall right there. Bradshaw is getting more and more annoying each week as the heel commentator. Go watch some Jesse Ventura tapes and learn something, big guy. Bryan tries the Yes Lock and Kane powers out, but Bryan charges across the ring and nails Kane with the running knee to score the victory.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
-Daniel Bryan brought his working boots tonight and really turned this match into something good. That was totally the right finish, and it also had a great false finish…that’s all I ask so this match gets three stars.
-Bryan calls Triple H a coward and calls upon the people to keep chanting for him.
-Meanwhile, Summer Rae is hot.
Summer Rae vs. Emma
Emma was super over on NXT, but she’s already dead in the water on Raw. For example, why am I supposed to cheer her? Because she does a goofy dance? Summer Rae attacks as Michael Cole blows my mind by announcing she’s going to be in The Marine 4. There are four Marine movies?!? Summer Rae floors Emma with a spinning heel kick and chokes her out on the ropes. Summer works a headlock and tries a spinning kick, but Emma catches her foot and applies a sloppy Muta Lock (now known as the Emma Lock of course) and gets the submission.
-Eh, this was nothing special, so it gets one star.
New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos
The Usos attack during Road Dogg’s intro (earning a heel reaction) and pin him after a splash from the top.
Winners: The Usos
-Well, there you have it. DUD.
-Michael Cole lies to me and says I can watch WWE Network on my Xbox 360. Why, you dirty son of a…
-Whatever happened to Tout? Didn’t they spend like $2 million on that or something?
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt
They start slow, but Reigns floors Bray with a shoulder tackle for two then clubs him to the floor. Bray returns and slugs away, hitting a clothesline and working a chinlock. A hard shoulder tackle puts Reigns down, but he recovers and tosses Bray to the floor where Reigns levels Wyatt with a stiff clothesline. Do we seriously need a commercial break during every single match? I should pull up old WCW Nitro episodes so I can switch over during commercial breaks on Raw.
We return with Wyatt hitting a senton off the ropes for two and he hammers away. A suplex gets two and Reigns fights off the mat, but Wyatt launches himself into Roman with a stiff cross body. Wyatt misses a charge to the corner and Reigns makes the comeback with a flying clothesline and shots in the corner. Why isn’t the crowd reacting to this stuff? Reigns hits his dropkick from the floor to the apron and gets two off of a slam.
Reigns looks to finish, but the Wyatts' entrance video plays so Harper and Rowan can appear at ringside. Seth Rollins runs out of the crowd though and takes out both Wyatts with a flip over the top rope. He gets beat down at ringside until Dean Ambrose returns and evens the odds. A Superman punch puts Bray down, but Ambrose attacks Bray and the referee calls for the bell.
-This started slow but really started picked up near the end until the interference and the non-finish. We were actually promised that no interference would occur, but since when does WWE care about what their storylines say? Anyways, these guys are going to be big stars and their first one-on-one meeting was decent, but I’m sure they are capable of much better: Two-and-a-half stars.
Main Event Interview
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman make their way into the ring, and Heyman states it’s obvious that Brock should be headlining WrestleMania. Apparently, Triple H and Stephanie gave Brock an open contract for WrestleMania but they refuse to give him the main event. Heyman refuses to choose Brock’s opponent and demands that WWE give him history to conquer. Those are some famous last words.
The Undertaker returns to WWE and has thankfully dyed his beard. Even I have to admit he still has the best entrance in wrestling, though. After a staredown, Brock immediately signs the open contract and sticks the pen stiffly in Undertaker’s chest. Taker sticks the pen in Brock’s hand and chokeslams him through the table set up in the ring. I would take that as a yes, Brock. You see, sometimes the simplest segments are the most effective.
Well, in between Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker was a whole lot of usual Raw stuff. Nothing was absolutely terrible or anything, but there were many dry and/or boring spots that result simply from the show being three hours long. The show wasn’t awful, but as far as being “history making,” it simply wasn’t. I loved seeing Hulk Hogan and Undertaker return, but that 10 minutes was hardly enough to justify three hours of usual WWE TV. If you like Raw usually, you probably thought this was a good show, and, if you hate Raw, you probably hated this. It was an average show, nothing more and nothing less.
-Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@MikeShannon22) for even more Mike Shannon goodness.