Welcome to Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down the show in more detail than we can normally do in a live recap.  Feel free to weigh in with your questions and comments!

Yes, this is Wednesday.  Had a little tech issue with my intertubes last night which wouldn't let me post this 'til today.  My apologies!

Exploitation?

I’m not sure how I feel right now about the feud between CM Punk and Undertaker.  When this match hype kicked off, I was (as were many fans) excited to see what they would do with it.  Right now, I’m not so sure how I feel about the build, even though I am still looking forward to this match.

Last week, with the tribute to Paul Bearer taking so much of the show it made sense to have Punk stick his nose in that situation.  More so, I thought they would contain the urn and Paul Bearer being a part of this story to last week’s show.  Now, I can’t help but feel they’re capitalizing or perhaps exploiting Bearer’s passing for the sake of this story.   The urn has moved to the center of this story

I don’t think that Punk delivered his best work last night, but it was good.  Also, after having one of the longest title runs in a long time, they’ve resorted to Punk being able to take the cheap win scenario of disqualification or count-out.  It all seems clumsy and almost like an afterthought in some regards to make the longest running WWE Champion of the past decade (?) become a pest.

We can yet have good drama here but it seems Punk should be positioned as the man who can legitimately end Taker’s Streak by pinfall or submission instead.  There’s money in seeing the ‘pest’ get his ass beat, but I have been hoping for more than it seems we’re going to get here.

 

Goliath vs. Goliath…

Usually the WrestleMania “big man” match fails to get off the ground and no one seems to care about the story.  This story between Mark Henry and Ryback feels different and I’m looking forward to what they do with it.  They got there rather clumsily with the whole six-man tag with the Shield situation but we’re there. 

It really should have been Ryback demanding to get his hands on Mark Henry rather than Vickie making the match the way she did.

Both men are legitimate threats to the other, so it presents some sense of mystery how WWE will book this.  My guess is that Henry will be the one to do the job here and let Ryback go over.  Can you imagine the reaction on the grandest stage if Ryback can successfully pull off Shellshock on the World’s Strongest Man?  That would be a huge moment.

Ryback has been developing and I have started to enjoy the character a bit more than I did initially.  It seems like they’re positioning him to be in the main event/World Heavyweight Championship picture soon after his foray into the WWE Championship scene as Cena’s replacement while Cena’s elbow healed.  As it relates to Henry, though, WrestleMania should not be the end of this feud, in my mind.  Let it go on a little longer – say to Summerslam – in order to really propel Ryback into that WHC position down the road.

It Takes Time…

Until we waded through the security guard beatdown, Triple H beating up Paul Heyman, and a few other things, we got the payoff on Brock Lesnar’s stipulations for their match.  And it was a good segment once it got there.

Since his return, Heyman has consistently shined in his given part, whether with Punk or Lesnar.  He did a great job last night.  He even channeled a little Paul E. Dangerously toward the end with the look in his eye, the torn shirt and the hair loose.   And Brock did exactly what he needed to – smirk, play facial reactions as if he has the upper hand, and just stalk Trips.

I’m good with the retirement stipulation and don’t feel it gives too much away.  It’s a strong add to the match now since it raises the stakes a little bit more.  Some will groan and say “oh, gee, Trips won’t lose this one…” but one has to remember he is assuming more of the business roles now backstage.  He may want to focus on that, so it’s not a slam dunk that he goes over.  I feel he might, but it’s not a guarantee.

And don’t forget – this is pro wrestling and if needed, they could write him back in at any point in time if they chose.

Quick Hits:

  • Big Show joining Randy Orton and Sheamus was to be expected, and his joining the pair after their match when the Shield came out was an effective way of getting there. 
  • The Shield backing away from that confrontation was a nice touch as it makes them look intimidated.  They’ve gone after the other “all-star” teams before right away.
  • What the hell was going on with that opening?  Rufus?  Really?  That was terrible.
  • Cena’s promo to open the show was nothing more than really a reminder that “oh yeah, I have a match with The Rock…”  Nothing special.
  • The theme of the night was “walk out” apparently.  Sandow walked out on Truth, Fandango on Khali.
  • They really need to turn the page with Fandango and get him to actually work a match.  Hopefully Jericho can do that as it seems that’s where they’re heading with him.  Jericho resurrecting his “names” bit that he’s used before with Fandango in the backstage segment was fun.
  • The triple threat match for the Intercontinental title was good, but man, I just can’t care about the title change when all it means is that the mid-card champion will get fed to main event talent that doesn’t have an interest in the title.
  • Ricardo screams like a girl.  That is all.
  • I still don’t care that much about Swagger and Del Rio.  The feud seems like it’s going nowhere.

That’s all for this week.  Join us next Monday as we take one more step closer to the Meadowlands and WrestleMania 29 right here on Ring-Rap.com.