Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts. It's my chance to break the show down in more detail than I can during a live recap. Questions, comments, your own thoughts? Weigh in in the comment section!
Before I start, let me just say “thank you” to Drew Koscelek for filling the chair for me last night. I won my “Brake Line on a Pole” match and was able to at least catch the last two hours of Raw as it broadcast, and saw the first hour via DVR. So, we can still bring you “afterthoughts” tonight!
So Long, Old Friend…
I was pleased to see WWE spend a fair portion of the program tonight focusing on the career and life of William Moody, a.k.a. Paul Bearer. They showed a number of classic moments of his career that stood out. I’m sure it brought back a lot of good memories for fans as we say goodbye to one of the best managers ever in the business.
I know I got uneasy when Punk came out during the opening tribute moments. There was no telling what was coming next. The most important thing to note is that Punk never insulted Bearer. The interruption put heat on him, but Punk kept things to focusing on Taker’s WrestleMania Streak.
Punk’s closing taunt with the urn, and Taker’s throat slash gesture, really set up their match with a strong “it’s on” moment. In the moment, it was as well done as could be – and I’m sure Paul Bearer would have approved.
We The Boring…
I see a lot of issues right now with the Swagger/Del Rio feud. Really, this is a mid-card feud where Del Rio just happens to be holding the No. 2 championship in the company. Neither guy feels all that hot or over to me.
Del Rio’s “born in Mexico, made in America” line felt like something cheesy that a politician would come up with if he were campaigning. This does not feel like an extension of Del Rio’s personality at all. It all feels very forced and unnatural for him and the big cheesy grins are just too much.
I can’t criticize Colter’s promo before Swagger’s match with Sin Cara, but it just overstayed its welcome. It was effective but too long. The Indy crowd let him know it too with “boring” chants.
With Swagger’s legal issues and the lack of heat on this feud, one has to wonder if WWE is really going to pull the trigger on Dolph Ziggler cashing in at WrestleMania. That way this feud can slide to the middle of the card and the No. 2 championship can be in a better position.
Slowdown on the Road…
I only watched two hours live last night. It felt like three. And after going back to pick up the first hour, it felt like four. This was a long show last night.
There were a couple of big developments. They got heat on CM Punk vs. Undertaker, and they had Heyman and Lesnar respond to Triple H’s challenge. Outside of that, not much else happened that really mattered.
If WWE would have really started the hype for Mania immediately after Elimination Chamber, they would be in trouble. We would be getting more shows like this. We saw far too many movie trailers and lots of predictable finishes since the mid-card guys are being fed to top talent.
Don’t misunderstand me on this. There was not a lot of groan-inducing television last night, and there was some good stuff among the filler. I guess we just have come to expect better during WrestleMania season.
- For those wanting to rail on Punk interrupting Undertaker in the opening “out of reverence for Paul Bearer,” understand that Taker has been close to Paul Bearer for a lot of years. If something Bearer or his family would have found disrespectful was going to go down, Taker more than likely would have put the stop to it.
- Show looked like he was hanging on for dear life during that triple powerbomb from The Shield.
- Triple H has had great feuds through the years. My only issue is that it seems every moment becomes a video segment. Last night we got a video package about a video package promoting a promo that will eventually become its own video package – or so it seems.
- It was movie night on Raw again last night. They overdosed us on the trailers and preview segments.
- Rhodes Scholars’ impersonation of the New Age Outlaws was great. Drew a laugh out of me.
- I found Lesnar’s attack on the New Age Outlaws a bit predictable in the framework of setting up Triple H vs. Brock, but it was well executed. Cody Rhodes’ reaction to Lesnar’s entrance was spot on.
- Heyman’s promo that followed was strong, and having Triple H agree to a match without knowing the stipulation is a great tease.
- I suspect the Henry vs. Ryback match on Smackdown is an angle rather than a match. That’s the right call, too, as keeping these guys apart until WrestleMania will make this feel more important.
- The Highlight Reel segment last night was just awful. For as good as Jericho has been with those through the years, this was not a shining moment.
- In a case of “right segment, wrong time,” I think I would have saved the Kane/Halle Berry pre-tape for another night. Kane was so serious all night leading into the main event with Punk, and while entertaining, the segment was just not meant for this particular show.
That's all for this week. Join us again next Monday for more on the Road to WrestleMania right here on Ring-Rap.com.