If you are a regular reader here at the Cell, you know full well I have been critical of the build-up to this year’s WrestleMania. There has been too much fluff added to the matches. The guys have been talking far too much without saying anything new or particularly important. And, it simply hasn’t felt like Wrestlemania…
In a smart move by WWE, the focus was far more balanced this week between the wrestling, promos, and video packages. Let’s face it. The core WWE audience is interested in watching wrestling. Sure, promos are important. Even though there is too much fluff added to the Punk/Jericho storyline, they have both done an excellent job with what they were given. I don’t think it’s important that Punk was born out of wedlock. Nor do I think it’s important that his father was an alcoholic. What should have been important was who is better, and settling that score in the ring. But, as wrestling has evolved, so have the increasingly more soap opera like stories.
RAW tonight was about one thing. And, that was to sell WrestleMania. On that front, WWE did a great job.
First, the matches and their results:
- Kane & World Champion Daniel Bryan defeated Sheamus & Randy Orton when Bryan pinned Sheamus in 11:34
- U.S. Champion Santino pinned David Otunga in 1:29 (Cobra)
- Kelly Kelly pinned Eve in 2:26
- WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Christian ended in a no contest.
- Brodus Clay defeated Curt Hawkins in 1:05
- Big Show pinned Primo in :47 (Chokeslam)
- Mark Henry defeated Great Khali in :48 (World’s Strongest Slam)
Okay, so, maybe the focus wasn’t on the matches. Still, WWE was effective in making all the matches at least feel important. The opening tag match (which was a welcome relief) was solid, and focused on both stories being told. Sadly, Bryan winning here almost guarantees his loss on Sunday. More on that on a later blog.
The CM Punk spectacle moved along the story. Now, Punk is legally a bastard when probably these days 50% or more children are born outside of marriage. I’m not sure what that does, or why Punk would care. It’s not that damning of an accusation. But, what it did accomplish was lighting a fire under Punk and he seems intent on not just beating Jericho, but destroying him. On a side note, I’m not sure why WWE removed Christian from the six man match as part of this angle. Christian will be in Miami inducting Edge into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, so maybe there are still plans for him. It’s undetermined at this point.
Cody Rhodes is still poking the Big Show with a stick. He’s really developing well in his cokcy heel persona. Rhodes seems the closest at this point to being pushed to the next level. I don’t see Big Show winning on Sunday, but his destruction of Primo, who is a champion, made a loud statement.
The rest of the matches pushed along matches nearly no one cares about. Booker T is now a member of Team Teddy, and Miz joins Team Johnny. With the exception of Evolution vs. The Rock N’ Sock Connection at WrestleMania XX, multi-tag matches (more than a standard 2 on 2) have always been lackluster. I do not see this trend changing despite the talent involved in the match.
On the promo front, there was really only one promo that mattered and that was Rock and Cena. It was a brilliant! It was the first time they were shown as equal doing promos. Both guys did a terrific job of selling the match. They made it seem important after a year of trying. Cena needs to win. Rock needs to win. Even though I could care less about either guy really, they made me want to see this match. In my opinion, it will be an excellent match. I’m sure of that. The Rock consistently delivered when he was a full timer. He didn’t come back to phone it in. With the right opponents, Cena has had great matches. The match should deliver and should be a memorable one.
It’s WrestleMania week here on the Cell. Here’s a special schedule:
- WrestleMania Preview (Tuesday)
- Looking Back at the “Gay” stereotype Through the History of Pro Wrestling (Wednesday/Thurday)
- Top 20 WrestleMania Matches of All-Time (Thursday/Friday)
- WrestleMania Recap
Also, my good friend, Dan Law, and I will be doing two very special editions of “The Tony Layne Show”.
- Thursday at 10pm – Dan and I will recap the go home editions of RAW and Smackdown and also have a very special guest, indie sensation and Super 8 participant, Bandido, Jr. Join us as Bandido discusses his career and the Road to the Super 8.
- Sunday night at midnight – Dan and I will recap that night’s WrestleMania.
On a personal level, Dan and I have done the show alone on a few occasions, and I enjoyed each one.
Back to RAW.
What I liked:
- The opening tag match was surprisingly good, and it was nice to see a match open RAW rather than a promo.
- Brodus Clay back on RAW. Someone call my Mama!
- The Triple H/Undertaker video package did more for their WrestleMania match than any of their promos have done. The WWE Production department is top notch when they do these packages, and this was no different.
- Booker T getting involved and stopping Mark Henry from attacking Teddy Long. All too often former wrestlers (Lawler included) just sit by and allow horrible things to happen to people. Although it was just to forward an angle, and I doubt Booker T would get involved otherwise, it was still nice to see.
What I hated (and wouldn’t have done):
- There wasn’t too much wrong with this episode. Sure, the matches were short like most weeks, but they moved along the story instead of just being filler. WWE did a great job this week.
Last Week: 4.5
This Week: 7.0
Three Week Average: 5.5
RAW did a solid job of creating a memorable RAW as they head to Mania. It certainly peaked my interest in a few matches, and sold me on Rock and Cena. It was good to see Cena with so much intensity. It seems he wants to silence his critics. Rock also looked really good. WrestleMania finally looks like something you don’t want to miss. Is it too little, too late? Sound off in the comments below!