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Raw began with a custom highlight package looking at the Road to WrestleMania 29 including clips of the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view from the night before.
Cameras then opened Live inside the CajunDome in Lafayette, LA. and Michael Cole opened the show. Fresh off a loss to The Shield twenty-four hours prior, John Cena came out to address the fans and stake his claim now that the WM29 main event picture is a little more clear. Or so we thought. CM Punk ultimately comes out to end Cena’s diatribe about facing The Rock, and in true CM Punk fashion, brought the show to where it needed to be for a moment. Another great promo by Punk as he continued to make his case about why he should still be champion…and now why he should go on Mania to face Rock again. Pretty good stuff denouncing the way Cena won the Royal Rumble and not deserving his #1 contendership. He is brutal on the mic, and did a good job taking this story to the next level and helping to make the title and the main event at Mania more important. Pulling Cena’s card forced an immediate response from Cena, and it shocked many to see him offer Punk a 1-on-1 match right there and then to determine who would go on to face The Rock. Some are confused and some are saying the revelation of the dreaded “Triple Threat compromise” is being drug out. Who knows? I understand the angle however since this is classic Cena; wanting to do the upstanding and honorable thing. It would be quite funny to see it blow up in his face, but that’s highly unlikely of course. I like how things have been laid out for the most part so far and we’ll get into this more later on. Nothing has been for certain so far, and a lot of things remain uncertain…like this situation here, and I think that’s a good thing.
After seeing photos from the 6-Man Tag at Elimination Chamber, cameras cut back on at the interview set with Matt Striker and Sheamus. Sheamus talks about losing to The Shield and letting everyone down. Ryback was pacing like a caged animal ready to explode and Sheamus attempted to get things back on track, but his methods were a bit questionable. Asking Ryback if he was a machine or just a mindless neanderthal was hilarious. I’d love to see them on opposite sides of the ring, so it was fun to see a tease between them as Ryback snatched Sheamus up and it looked like they were going to go. Just as some stories are still uncertain, tension is building from several things, and the rise of The Shield is one of them. Chris Jericho saved the day for some and played the role of spoiler for others as he rushed in to clear the air and get Sheamus and Ryback back on the same page. Although I would love to see Y2J in the main event picture and preferably with a title, I don’t have a problem with him doing the “vet” thing…and I understand someone has to fill the void for Cena in the program. Jericho said he was going to request a 6-Man Tag against The Shield, and we would find out later how good of an idea that was. Jericho has proved how good he is at making others better, and he did so again here by comparing The Shield to the nWo and Nexus and saying they had to be stopped.
Mark Henry def. Sin Cara
What can be said about this one. It was clear what was going down from the moment Henry’s music hit, especially after the way he brutally exited the Chamber Sunday night. I will say Sin Cara’s gear last night was sick. But the couple offensive shots he got in before the “Silverback” took over and destroyed him equals to a squash. Then, just like at the PPV, Henry attempted to inflict personal harm to Cara..but the masked luchadore had a guardian angel looking over him in the form of The Great Khali. Having seen this before, it wouldn’t have been my pick of big man to stand up against Mark Henry, and I hope this doesn’t lead to the two facing off at WrestleMania. Henry bailed as Khali entered the ring, then offered some funny insults on his way to the back.
The clips for Fandango continued. I really don’t know what to say about this one. I will wait to see his in-ring work, and even mic skills…but I know it will be hard to watch. These vignettes tell me that. I get it. It’s wrestling and I think we always need that over-the-top annoying antagonist whose mere presence equals the experience of hearing fingernails on a chalkboard, but how many do we need at one time? We already have Damien Sandow. You’re welcome!
The Miz def. Antonio Cesaro (No DQ)
I know a lot of people want to see this feud come to an end, and I’m one of them mainly because the inner fan in me also finds it hard to believe The Miz in his current role. Many young fans only know him for his endeavors in WWE, but for those of us who know Miz from MTV, playing the cocky, arrogant heel is right where he needs to be. That being said, I still think Antonio Cesaro can go with anybody and he’s shown that…or at least that he’ll try. The title match on Sunday was very physical, as suggested it would be by Cesaro’s memorable attack last week on Raw, and it told a great story in the ring. It was good enough for me to end there, but who could have foreseen that ending coming. This non-title re-match was just as physical, telling a similar story. Cesaro’s pick-you-apart style again targeted Miz’s injured shoulder, and again Miz found a way to even the score by causing injury to Cesaro’s leg. This opened the door for the Figure Four and a rather quick tap out from Cesaro.
Lawler and Cole then talked about Jack Swagger winning the Elimination Chamber and advancing to WrestleMania, then introduced this amateur-style YouTube video from Zeb Colter’s personal channel. Swagger’s standing there looking as brainwashed as some of the people this angle thumbs its nose at, and Uncle Zeb cuts another controversial, hard-hitting promo about some of the very real issues that have been going on in the country for quite some time now. We’ll break this down a little more on their segment later on. Funny line at the end here though when Zeb says for everybody that wants a hand-out, he and Swagger have one for them…a ticket back to wherever they came from! OMG is all I could say. I admit I’m as shocked as a lot of you out there. I’m VERY intrigued by this just to see how far they’ll go with it. It’s a hot button issue and definite envelope-pusher. Especially in today’s America.
The unstable circus that is #TeamHellNo continued to have their problems following their encounter inside the Chamber on Sunday. Daniel Bryan tells Kane he doesn’t feel comfortable teaming with him, got himself a singles match against Swagger, and doesn’t want Kane out there. Kane says he’s going to get his own match and doesn’t want D-Bry out there either. The childish arguing led to Randy Orton appearing when Kane makes a comment about snakes. Kane getting in his face and Orton’s response set up their match for later. Hilarious, and very true statement made by Orton when he told Kane that his intimidation tactics are not as effective as they once were…when Kane was actually the “Big Red Machine”. Saying Kane was more like Barney was funny, and true in the eyes of so many. I love a lot of Kane’s comedy work, but would much rather see him be the psychopath he was intended to be.
Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler
I must admit when I first saw this match going on I was stuck trying to figure out why it was happening. Forget that it was obviously non-title, just considering the position of both Superstars. If Ziggler has the MITB briefcase why is he concerned with non-title matches? This was my original thought, then I thought back to Sunday night. I was looking for Ziggler to cash in at Elimination Chamber since he wasn’t originally booked for the event. Even though it didn’t happen then, it makes sense for us to start seeing it now. Time is quickly running out for Ziggler to cash his contract in, so you can definitely expect to see more attempts in the weeks to come. To be honest, I’d like to see this drug out all the way until Mania. It will instantly add another element as it will be Ziggler’s absolute last night. History has already been made twice with the holders of last year’s MITB contracts. Cena of course went on to become the first to unsuccessfully cash his in, and now Ziggler is in the midst of carrying his briefcase for the full year. I wonder how many people have looked at it like that? Nice match here, but the story comes after when Big E. rushed the ring to lay ADR out…basically softening him up for Ziggler to cash in. It would have definitely been over for ADR had it not been for Ricardo Rodriguez snatching the briefcase and taking off. Funny moment. Big E. gave chase and Ricardo dropped the contract on the ramp…allowing Big E. to return it to the ring, but ADR had time to recover and delivered that step-up enziguri…putting an end to the plot on his title. He better start looking over his shoulder a lot more on his Road to WrestleMania. Jack Swagger may be the #1 contender, but he is not Del Rio’s only concern.
All I’m gonna say about the Wade Barrett movie promo and Sheamus’ burial of it right after…is you gotta love Live TV! Lol
Tensai/Brodus/Naomi def. Epico/Primo/Rosa
Anybody who knows me knows I haven’t been much of a fan of the whole Brodus Clay thing since it started. In-ring work is crazy though, which is why I’d like to see him in a serious role, and the same definitely goes for Tensai. The Too Cool 2013 thing was doing it for me, and I’ve always looked at the Funkadactiles as new versions of Flash Funk’s “Funkettes”. That all changed recently when WWE lifted the veil on Naomi and Cameron and showed the world they were much more than cheerleaders. They are legit wrestlers….Divas. They won it over for me and the work they’ve shown thus far has been impressive. Who would’ve known they were one of the best kept secrets in WWE? Quick match but Naomi’s worth shined through again as she maximized her minutes. Mixing it up with both Epico and Primo reminded me of the way we were introduced to Lita at the dawn of the Attitude Era. I see loads of potential here, but still would like the see the big guys in serious roles. Either of them could be viable opponents for Mark Henry right now and/or at WrestleMania. Just saying.
Jack Swagger’s State of the Union Address
As I said earlier, this is a very touchy subject that already has tons of people up in arms and talking about it. #ZebColter was legit trending worldwide last night due to Twitter with hundreds of tweets coming in per minute during this segment. Due to interactions via my official Facebook fan page (The Elite Pro Wrestling Forum), I keep an eye on different trends during shows in order to have a sense of my finger on the pulse of the fans and get your opinions on what goes on. This was definitely one of those cases last night. As I said, I’m very intrigued to see how far WWE pushes the envelope with this. The feel coming out of last night’s address is that Uncle Zeb and Jack Swagger are racists. That alone makes this a touchy subject, but as long as people are talking is all that matters. If people pay their money and come to see Swagger get his comeuppance for this angle, then WWE accomplished their mission. It’s wrestling people! Lighten up. They’re using the immigration angle now because it’s a hot button issue in the news and is an easy target with Del Rio being the champion. What will the next angle in the story be rather they dethrone ADR or not? Believe me folks, there are a ton of issues WWE could implement into this storyline and I for one hope they don’t hold back. When Zeb said on his return promo that he “looked around and saw an America he didn’t recognize”, I knew we were off to the races at that moment. If people are upset about this angle, I’d hate to see WWE go after some of the undercover issues going on that would make Swagger and Zeb look like “ex-Patriots” in the eyes of many. I say go for it. Funny moment when Zeb said the match at Mania is more of a “battle for the heart and soul of America” rather than a championship match…and that Swagger was going to win the title and “reclaim America”. I wonder if they’ve noticed Antonio Cesaro parading around? Again, just saying.
Jack Swagger def. Daniel Bryan
Of course this was a good match from two solid wrestlers. Great action in and out of the ring as Bryan fought through injured ribs suffered in the Chamber. The King made a funny comment during this match that stuck out to me following Bryan’s suicide dive to the outside. To further enhance the Goat gimmick D-Bry has, Lawler said he looks like a charging goat when they ram heads battling for dominance. The instant replay confirmed King’s theory. Poor Daniel. Turning point came when D-Bry missed his corner dropkick, allowing Swagger to go after the leg…setting up the Patriot Lock for the submission victory.
In an earlier segment, Vicky Guerrero informed Paul Heyman that she had a surprise for him that would change his personal and professional life forever. However, when they got to the ring, Vicky informed the Universe that she’s appointed a new assistant and that person is Brad Maddox. So Maddox now finds himself in the same position as Teddy and Eve on SmackDown. There may be trouble in paradise already with this situation as Maddox doesn’t seem to know his proper job title and Vicky is determined to keep him in check and make sure he does. Heyman was clearly upset, having told Vicky earlier that he hated surprises. He then found out he had merely been lured to the ring by Vicky, so Mr. McMahon could address him publicly via satellite. The boss let him know that the Maddox announcement wasn’t the surprise he’d been warned about and was waiting for. He then reminded Heyman of the favor he did by honoring Punk’s stipulation at Elimination Chamber, and basically said it’s time for Heyman to pay his debt to McMahon. Vince says he could fire Heyman now, but that’s too easy, so he’s coming to Raw next week on crutches to fight Heyman in the middle of the ring. As King aptly put it…a true Handicap Match!!!
The Shield def. Y2J, Sheamus & Ryback
When I made my predictions for #WWEChamber, I didn’t give The Shield much of a chance looking at things from a political standpoint. Given the face’s positions in the company…mainly Cena who at the time was locked in to go to the Mania main event. At the same time, I’m a big fan of The Shield and wanted to see them win deep down inside. Dean Ambrose is from my area and made a lot of his bones in CZW here in Philadelphia and was appearing for Combat Zone regularly as Jon Moxley when WWE grabbed him. I’m glad to see him in this role, and glad to see the group get solidified as a legit threat at the PPV. Who could have saw them going over big the very next night in their Raw in-ring wrestling debut? The Shield is here and now we will see them actually jumping into the competition and most likely, targeting the championships. This was another entertaining match that I felt Jericho added an interesting aspect to that wasn’t there before. Seeing him mix it up with The Shield while trying to keep his team together was compelling TV and The Shield’s triumph was well-delivered. It’s back to the drawing board for Y2J and the troops. They’re going to come up with a different plan of attack as The Shield’s star skyrockets. Hats off to WWE for doing good with a 3-man group, which usually become train wrecks, with the exception of the Triple Threat in the 90s and the Fabulous Freebirds before them. Fasten your seat belts folks. This could be a good year for The Shield.
Kofi Kingston vs. Damien Sandow (NO CONTEST)
This one was over before it ever got started as Damien Sandow exploded out of a speech about President’s Day and jumped Kofi out of nowhere. This was one of those quick “holy sh*t” moments and the beat-down was on from there. Kingston tried to fight back, but Sandow was like a man possessed and easily maintained the advantage. Then, as has been happening quite a bit over the past few weeks, a surprise return came out of nowhere when R-Truth’s music hit. The crowd seemed to love it as it was one of the only times they really let themselves be heard the entire night. Truth hit the ring at 100 mph and thwarted Sandow’s attack with his signature strikes. It’s good to see Truth back after suffering that nasty injury back in December.
Randy Orton def. Kane
In all seriousness, if you’ve seen one of their matches you’ve seen them all…usually just with a different outcome. I fear a lot of these matches that we’ve seen at a given WrestleMania before because we have yet to see Raw’s “WrestleMania Rewind” night and I don’t want to see anymore rematches before the ones that are destined for this year’s Mania. The point in this match comes at the end when Kane countered Orton’s suspended second-rope DDT and went for the Chokeslam. Much to everyone’s surprise, Daniel Bryan came out to the ramp…distracting Kane. Remember that they agreed earlier in the night to stay out of each other’s matches, and Kane to his credit, stayed away during D-Bry’s match. Bryan wasn’t so noble, and the distraction allowed Orton to hit the RKO for the win. So #TeamHellNo’s problems continue and all I can wonder, is if they will make it to Mania with the tag titles in their possession. They owe Mysterio & Sin Cara a title shot BTW.
The Rock’s Championship Celebration
Nice touch at the beginning as the marching band of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette marched out, completely lining the ramp and stage on both sides. Playing along to the beat of Rock’s entrance theme was awesome and they finished well. I was entertained by that. For those not in support of The Rock’s WWE Championship reign in 2013, I ask you to pause for a moment and consider the old school aspect of what’s taken place here and the historical value in it all. I will speaking about this more in depth in another type of blog debuting soon. First of all, let’s not forget this all started between Rock and Punk at Raw 1000. The fact that Rock had to wait to get payback for how things ended that night added some depth to the conflict. Rock won the title as expected, and that’s where the old school feel began to surface. Instead of Rock going on to defending the WWE title in the Elimination Chamber match itself involving Punk, he faced Punk 1-on-1 in the guaranteed rematch. The rematch didn’t happen on Raw where he doesn’t mean as much, it was drug out until the next PPV. All the while, Punk went on ranting and raving about how he was still champion, and the controversy involved allowed him to do so. Back during the Attitude Era and at other times, programs involving titles have been told in all kinds of ways. One way is what we’ve seen over the last month. A dominant champion being dethroned by a conquering hero but something happens causing controversy…leaving doubt rather the new champion is the really the “new” champion or if he even deserves it. These types of angles always lead to a high-profile rematch because that’s the be-all-end-all match. If the “new” champ retains in this match, usually carried out the next month, but sometimes given at the very next show…then he is solidified as the legit champ and the challenger goes to the back of the line. That’s what we have here, and I like the old school aspect of it. Nevermind rather WWE kept Rock out of the Chamber to avoid injury before Mania. The same could be said for any or all of the top talent in the company right now.
As for the Celebration, it FINALLY brought about the death of John Cena’a spinner belt, as WWE unveiled the design that was leaked on the internet about a year ago. Of course, as is always the case with just about everything in pro wrestling…some like it and others hate it. Big surprise there. But from what I’m gathering through various fan interaction outlets, most are generally happy to see the spinner belt ride off into the sunset…only to be see again in John Cena’a trophy case somewhere. The title is blinged out to the max, which is fine with me. Ever since Flair’s belt I’ve been cool with belts being decked out in jewels, fitting of a champion. I thought it looked a little weird at first, but as other chips in the past, it’ll take some getting used to. Cena’s two spinner designs also took some getting used to. When I first saw it I hadn’t seen the general prototype yet, thinking this was just another personalized belt that would go away when Rock loses the title. After seeing the regular belt with WWE side plates, it was a little more comforting knowing the spinner belt might really be gone. We shouldn’t see it again in the case Cena wins at Mania. If it was up to me I would’ve brought back the 2002 era “Undisputed” Championship. Not only was it one of the best designs they’ve ever had IMO, but the belt didn’t have a long enough run if you ask me. It is what it is at the end of the day however, and like I said, I’m happy to finally have a new belt. I agree with Rock and many other respected veterans of this business that the WWE Championship is the crowned jewel of this entire business. Something like a Holy grail, and it should look as such at all times. The spinner belt WAS cool…when spinning rims were cool. How long ago was that people? Exactly. The story continued as Cena came out, not only interrupting the celebration, but cutting Rock off before he could tell us who he’d really rather face at #WM29. Punk almost immediately followed that up by attacking Cena from behind with the spinner belt that Rock had just sent off to the Hall of Fame. Symbolic angle as Punk dropped the spinner over Cena and on to the ramp; again signaling the death of it and declaring that he wanted Rock’s new title.
All in all, a solid enough show. Good fallout from Elimination Chamber in some ways, and successful in others at advancing stories forward on the Road to WrestleMania. Those coming down on WWE after these last two shows should hunker down and relax. The month of March is a long one and also one that lacks a WWE pay-per-view. The Road to WrestleMania is a race…not a sprint. Gotta pace yourselves. Thanks for reading Bell To Bell!!!