Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's broadcast in more detail than we can in a live recap. Hit us with your questions, comments, and thoughts on Twitter (@RingRap or @Bill_SoonerFan) and flag them with the #AskRingRap tag so we can talk about them on RingRap Audio this week.
1. The Buzzards Circle...
Luke Harper looked really good in his match with John Cena last night. Harper is really starting to develop and shine in the ring and he is starting to show some personality with the mic time they give him. I thought it was strange that the fans chanted "this is awesome" when the lights came back up and Cena was tied into the ropes and wearing the sheep mask. They did protect Harper this way, so I'm good with that. I just don't know where the "Cena isn't the same" talk has come from though during this match. The story they're trying to tell here is just being rushed.
2. An Interview that Answered Nothing.
The Cole/Hunter interview segment was really uneventful. There was an energy in the building that seemed to think that Daniel Bryan would appear, but the air went out of the building when he didn't appear in this segment. I think Triple H could have come out and cut a standard heel promo rather than doing this interview segment. And to tie in something else, when Vince returns to television, bank on him bringing up that "Triple H is the most powerful man in WWE" line in Stephanie's opening segment.
3. What is Going On Here?
AJ and Naomi had a count-out finish that was just lousy, and they played that into an awkward "gauntlet" match for Wrestlemania. I suppose this is the "get every Diva of importance on the show" match, so, whatever. Vickie had no heat like she normally does and the fans didn't care at all about her coming out. And they did no justice to the Mania match by explaining how the match is going to work. This was a mess.
4. Four Way Fun...
The opening four way match to decide the #1 Contender to the Intercontinental Championship was fun. All four guys worked hard and really turned on the energy down the stretch. This really made it feel like the title is important again. Christian won the match and was slated to go at it on Main Event, but it seems concussion symptoms flared up for him and that match was scratched.
5. Believe in The Shield Staying Together.
Seth Rollins is really showing up right now on the mic and in the ring. I didn't care much for him playing to the fans and would rather see him keep the cool factor going for The Shield. I guess this means the Shield is staying together, at least through Wrestlemania. It also looks like The Real Americans might be sticking together, at least for right now.
6. Celebrity Crash...
I admit that we have seen much, much worse from celebrities on Raw. The segment featuring Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Joe Manganiello was just bad. Hogan and Arnie couldn't even get Joe's last name right. I'll let Hogan slide a bit since he's likely not making the media tour with Arnold and Joe for the new movie Sabotage. Thank God that Miz didn't decide to take a bow like he did when he and Titus O'Neil were involved with Michael Strahan several months ago.
7. Panic in the Restroom
John Cena was really laying it on thick with the feigned panic attack. This is the proof that WWE is really rushing this story along. Cena just two weeks ago was cracking on Wyatt by singing Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" in the ring, then last week he said he fears Bray. Now this week he's having this panic attack before he faces Luke Harper, who he beat on Smackdown just a couple days ago. This was a bit of a miss for me.
8. Fallen Way off the Radar
I continue to complain every week about the Rhodes Brothers not being more prominently used after how good of a tag run they had. Goldust is a great story of redemption with how he beat his demons and got in shape. The Shield and the Rhodes boys single handedly brought life back into the tag team division. So, how does WWE say "thank you"? With Summer Rae badly faking a twisted ankle to cause a distraction so Rhodes could hit the Disaster Kick. Blah.
9. In Any Other Situation...
Big Show vs. Titus O'Neil was a throw away, but on any other show that wasn't so filler-heavy I wouldn't object too much to it. Show hasn't bounced back from getting beaten by a thousand chairs by Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble. The post-match angle points to them not having any creative plan for Show going forward past Wrestlemania. I guess they had to get one of the Battle Royale favorites on the show.
10. Filler Specials...
Sin Cara came to the ring with Scooby Doo? And Sandow lost to him in 70 seconds? Zoinks! Sandow has fallen so far and there's no idea why. Maybe he upset someone backstage?
Also, could they have put a wetter blanket on the already down crowd (a crowd that started out hot, mind you) with Ryback and Axel vs. Los Matadores ending in a roll-up finish like it did? It got to the end game of the Shield attacking Rybaxel (a team involved in beating them down on Smackdown) but the live crowd didn't much care it seemed.
The overall show really didn't get me more hyped up for Wrestlemania 30. Hopefully, next week's show is hotter as it will be the go-home show for Wrestlemania. We'll be right here to bring you coverage of Raw, and predictions and previews throughout the week. Be sure to join us for RingRap Audio later this week as well.