10 Thoughts: WWE Raw 3.25.13 (The Rock, John Cena, Triple H, The Undertaker, CM Punk)
1. The opening promo (and ESPECIALLY The Undertaker‘s attack) was played out perfectly. No one sees CM Punk as a threat to The Streak and why should they? Shawn Michaels and Triple H couldn’t do it on 5 different occasions and no one’s been able to in over 20 years. With the legendary status of Undertaker already cemented, there’s no reason to believe that he will lose at WrestleMania. BUT this segment showed that The Undertaker feels threatened by Punk. When was the last time we saw The Undertaker ditch all of the mind games and just jumped his opponent from behind? Finally we get a WrestleMania/Undertaker match where the main focus isn’t about respect but it’s personal. I still don’t think they’ve convinced anyone that The Streak is in jeopardy but they’re trying pretty damn hard which is awesome to see.
2. First the Philadelphia crowd pops HUGE for the Chris Jericho/Fandango brawl but then, when the crowd chants “You Can’t Wrestle!”, Fandango shuts them up with a pitch perfect top rope leg drop. Some people are saying that Fandango vs Chris Jericho could steal the show at WrestleMania. I don’t know if I can go that far but I think expectations are being set way too low by most people.
3. I’m torn on how to feel about Triple H’s segment. On one hand, it was short, intense and to the point. But again, it was short & not as effective as anything done last week. Now the sub-segment with Wade Barrett. At first I loved the fact that Wade Barrett’s music interrupted Triple H’s exit. It sincerely looked like they were trying to show just how much bigger Barrett is than Triple H. And then right before the low blow, I remembered how Triple H buried Sheamus a few years ago in a similar segment. But then I go back again and like the fact that Triple H just low-blowed Barrett and then walked off. It pushed forward the “No Holds Barred” stipulation and that Triple H will do whatever he needs to do to defeat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. So yes, this point was pointless… I don’t know if the burial of Barrett was worth it but also did Barrett really lose that much since it was a cheap shot and it was from a future Hall Of Famer?
5. First a burial by the 43-year-old Triple H and then a tap-out loss to The Miz. Definitely a VERY bad night for Wade Barrett. AND he’s the Intercontinental Champion! Miz and Barrett have surprisingly good chemistry though considering their two different styles. Miz has all but mastered the “WWE-Main Event” style while Barrett has a nice combination of brawling and power moves/strikes.
6. Wow, check out the WWE dipping into some continuity as well as promoting a Diva’s title match at WrestleMania! It makes perfect sense to put Kaitlyn in a title defense against the most over woman on the roster, AJ Lee. They even continued the storyline later on in the night! I really am shocked at all of the thought that went into the Divas this week & that we’ll probably see a Diva’s Championship match at WrestleMania. Why do I feel that AJ is going to be the only member of Team Ziggler to walk away from ‘Mania with a championship?
7. Interesting conclusion to The Shield’s match. The babyfaces just got their revenge, two weeks before their official match against The Shield. Does that mean we’ll be looking a Shield upset at WrestleMania? God I hope so, they are INCREDIBLE together.
8. How many superstars in history have actually had their in-ring debut at WrestleMania? I don’t know if this speaks VOLUMES for what the WWE higher-ups think of Fandango (Johnny Curtis) or if they are that desperate to get another match on the card and needed someone for Jericho. I just don’t feel as if it’s the second because there’s plenty of other seasoned roster members to go with if that were the only case. If nothing else, it should be an entertaining under-card match. And yes, Big E Langston is debuting as well but he’s in a tag team match (granted a title match) but it’s with the selling machine Dolph Ziggler so I have a feeling there’s a little less pressure on Langston than there will be on Fandango to pull off a great match. Either way, seeing these two young stars and The Shield all debuting on WrestleMania this year should give us all a little more hope for the WWE’s immediate future.
9. This “Legend’s Roundtable/Debate” intrigues me. They’ve never done something like this on Raw and while I don’t think it packs the punch or prestige to help this WrestleMania “main event”, it is something different so my curiosity is definitely piqued. I’m guessing Booker T is Ric Flair’s replacement on this Legend’s panel. I don’t know what it is about Booker T but I still don’t think of him as the same level of guys like Mick Foley, Flair, Dusty Rhodes or Bret Hart. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t look at day over 35 compared to Bret Hart who looks 80. At least with Booker, WWE doesn’t have to be worried about Ric Flair pulling a TNA “Gut Check” moment.
10. I have to say, a lot more was said in that awkward segment than I thought possible. It started off EXTREMELY slowly and yes, for the most part they only restated things they’ve said over and over again. But there was a snarky, sarcastic tone to John Cena’s voice that we haven’t heard in years. Combine that with his heelish smirk while doing the “You Can’t See Me” hand sign and now all of a sudden a John Cena heel turn doesn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibility. I mentioned it on the Pulsecast this past week that this buildup reminds me of the WrestleMania X-Seven build where The Rock defended the WWE Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin. They had a VERY similar sit-down interview segment with Jim Ross on Raw where Austin stated “I NEED to win, Rock. I NEED to take that title off of your shoulder.” John Cena said a ton of the same things in this segment. The point of Austin’s words were to justify his heel turn against The Rock and alignment with the evil Vince McMahon. Are we seeing the same story with The Rock and John Cena? They sure as hell teased it tonight. The WWE has always said they wouldn’t turn John Cena because he does so much for the company & there was never another top babyface at his level. Now, there is a TON of babyfaces on the roster and while they may lose “John Cena, the spokesman”, it seems as if they’ve been grooming guys like The Miz and Sheamus to take over some of that workload anyway. Although Cena himself has said he NEVER wants to turn heel, maybe even he has become bored with his character and wants to try something new. If nothing else, a John Cena heel turn at WrestleMania is a discussion point again. Add that to the developments in the CM Punk/Undertaker match and the outcomes of WrestleMania have suddenly become very interesting.