Okay, again this week, just a general run down of the show with some of my humble opinions.

First up, match results

CHRIS JERICHO DEF. DOLPH ZIGGLER W/AJ LEE & BIG E. – This match-up was booked as a card-change, as Fandango made his way to the ring for what was supposed to be his fifth or sixth “debut” but got beat-down/ran-off by an angry Jericho.  Ziggler made his way out with his entourage as the announcers (Michael Cole/Jerry Lawler) told us this match was scheduled for later tonight.  Jericho gets the win by submission with the walls of Jericho, but gets beat down by Big E. Langston.  Fandango comes back out with his dance partner (the first girl to get a call-back) and picks the bones of Big E’s kill, landing a flying leg drop on Jericho’s neck.

MARK HENRY DEF. THE USOS – The Usos actually got in enough offense with their double-teaming to get a splash off the top rope for a two-count on Henry, but the match ends with Henry scoring a World’s Strongest Slam and getting the three-count.  After the match, Henry brutalizes both brothers, making it clear he did not appreciate getting splashed.

U.S. CHAMPION ANTONIO CESARO DEF. WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION ALBERTO DEL RIO (COUNT OUT) – Ricardo Rodriguez hobbles out on his crutches to introduce Del Rio.  The intro falls flat, although I think it was on purpose to help sell what bad shape he’s in.  The match is just a formality as both men go through the motions for about five minutes before Zeb Coulter comes out.  Ricardo tries to move away, but from out of nowhere Jack Swagger grabs him, and drags him by the bad ankle over to the guard rail.  Del Rio abandons his match to fight off Swagger and Cesaro gets the win by count-out.  Del Rio takes his anger out on Cesaro with the cross-arm breaker.

WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS TEAM HELL NO (KANE/DANEL BRYAN) DEF. THE PRIME TIME PLAYERS (TITUS O’NEAL/DARREN YOUNG)- “Pancake” Patterson is given one mention and then quietly swept under the rug.  Match is just a warm-up for the champions.  Ziggler and crew show up on the stage to distract the champs and give the PTP’s an opening, but the match ends with Kane choke-slamming Young for the three count.

THE MIZ DEF. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL WADE BARRETT – Before the match, Triple H came out to do cut a promo about his Wrestlemania match with Brock Lesnar.  When Barrett comes out, he blocks Triple H’s way, and demands he step aside.  Trips responds with a kick to the crotch.  Miz comes out while Barrett is still recuperating.  During the match, Barrett’s crotch briefly becomes the focal point of the match.  Barrett crotches himself on the top rope with a missed kick and Miz gets the win with the figure-four submission.

THE SHIELD DEF. KHALI, RYDER, GABRIEL – To my knowledge, this is only the third actual match the Shield have officially wrestled in.  The Shield wins this with a flying knee-drop to Justin Gabriel, trapped in a “Bow and arrow” hold.  After the match, Khali takes a “Shield-Bomb.” Orton comes to the ring with Sheamus, and the Big Show comes up from behind, trapping the Shield.  We get a brief fight before the Shield retreat.

TEAM RHODES SCHOLARS DEF BRODUS/TENSAI – Do you honestly care?  This match is barley more than a pretense for a cat-fight between the Funkadactyls and the Bella Twins.  Team Rhodes Scholars get the win by three-count during the confusion.

RYBACK DEF. 3MB – This was Ryback’s effort to show-up Henry that almost back-fired.  The Three Man Band actually take control of the match using their numbers advantage, but it ends with Ryback getting two men up for the “Shell-Shock” and a three-count.

AJ LEE DEF. WWE DIVAS CHAMPION KAITLYN – This match was set up during a backstage segment, where Bryan and Kane were arguing over which of them was still hung up on AJ.  Kaitlyn interjected, trying to get them both to let it go, while running off a list of nasty things to say about AJ, who just happened to be eavesdropping on them.  Now here’s the interesting thing.  AJ sends Kaitlyn head-first into a drinking fountain, or so it seemed.  Kaitlyn sold it as making contact but their was NO sound effect to indicate Kaitlyn hit the fountain.  Kaitlyn comes out to the ring holding her head, and when the bell rings, Kaitlyn goes to town on AJ, dominating the match and getting in all of the offence.  AJ rolls out of the ring, and Kaitlyn goes after her.  Kaitlyn tries a spear, but AJ side-steps her into the guard-rail, head first.  AJ gets a count-out victory, and maybe a title shot at Mania.  Kaitlyn gets a possible head-trauma gimmick.

So let’s look at the rest of the show.

C.M. Punk opens the show with a game of toss with the urn, and a promo that starts off by dumping on the Undertaker and his legacy.  He even goes so far as to imply the streak is only important to him as something to break.  He tries to mock the Takers classic pose, but the lights go out and when they come back, Taker is wailing on Punk.  Punk and Heyman run off with the urn.  Seemed a bit odd to me as the first half of Punk’s promo seemed to be Punk trying to convince us that this match wasn’t as important as we might feel it was.

Sheamus gets jumped by the Shield, during an interview about whether or not he and Orton can get along with Big Show, during their Mania six-man.  Orton comes after them with a chair, but he gets overwhelmed by numbers.  Big Show makes the save and runs off the Shield.

Now here, I gotta go into weird territory.  If you’re a long time wrestling fan, you’l probably have some idea of what I’m saying here.  Booking Show to come to the rescue seems a little heavy-handed to me.  It’s like WWE is trying too hard to sell us on Show’s face-turn, which is par for the course with pro wrestling in general.  Even if you’re among the youngest fans, you still can’t help but notice how it’s always Show that turns the tide when Orton/Sheamus gets jumped by the Shield.  So I have to ask myself, is this just the same sloppy TV writing wrestling has always suffered from?  Or is WWE trying to swerve me?  I’m thinking maybe they want me to watch for a double-cross by Big Show so that they can swerve me with one by Orton…or Sheamus.  I know Orton’s more likely, what with him reportedly wanting a heel-turn, but you know how wrestling-sorry “sports entertainment” likes illogical swerves.

Triple H cuts a promo on Brock Lesnar, about how if you don’t expect him to end your career, you’ve already lost.  He makes it clear that he is coming to kick Lesnar’s ass.

Very generic promo, giving no sense that Trips was seriously concerned that his career was over.  That might’ve been the plan, so that we’re actually surprised if he loses. (Which, if he does, we will be, just not for THAT reason.) And why did he have to bitch-out Wade Barrett on his way out?  (See above.)

The show ended with an elaborate Q&A with John Cena and WWE champion The Rock, featuring WWE Hall Of Fame members Booker T, Brett Hart, Dusty Rhodes and Mick Foley.  The panel lobs softball questions and both men give big, impassioned speeches about how/why they will win at Mania.  Cena compares himself to Donavon McNabb, the Rock tells the story of how he had to get his first mattress out of a dumpster behind a motel.  Cena blames his loss to Rock last year, on his letting Rock into his head.  Cena tried to finish off Rock in Rock’s home-town, with his own version of “the peoples elbow.” Allowing Rock to catch him in a rock-bottom and getting the three.  Rock borrows a quote from Ric Flair, “To be the man-woo-you must beat the man,” and between the two of them, Cena will never be “the man.”

I’m sorry to say this but I was underwhelmed.  No new ground covered here, except for maybe when Cena “revealed” why he lost last year.  I’m not a fan of “sports entertainment” trying to go into “deep, psychological,” story-lines, and I’m not moved by Cena’s need for redemption.

Overall, a pretty “meh” RAW.  It did what it was supposed to do, advance the angles going into Wrestlemania, but it still felt like an auto-pilot show.  That’s not always bad, but not the speed you want going into the biggest PPV of the year.



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