Welcome to Raw Afterthoughts.  This is where we break down the show from last night in a bit more detail than we can do during a live show recap.  Feel free to ask questions and make comments below!

A Flat Tire...

Let's get this out of the way right up front.  Last night was just not a strong go-home show.  I think we've all become accustomed to that "edge of your seat" feeling that the hype leading to WrestleMania brings.  Usually you get moments that lead you to be excited over a match or moment.  That did not happen last night.

I point to the three-hour format as a problem in this area.  WWE ends up giving us a number of filler segments on a routine basis and it hurts the show.  Last night was no exception.  If they still worked a two-hour format, the filler material could be cut out and a show could be much hotter and the feeling would be much different.  I'm still excited for WrestleMania, but last night's show didn't make me any more excited.

Jaws Smells Blood...

In a podcast interview on ProWrestling.net, Court Bauer referred to Brock Lesnar as the "Jaws" of the WWE.  Brock brings an aura of danger when he appears.  His music gets people looking and his presence and how he carries himself makes him look like a badass.

I enjoyed the addition of Shawn Michaels to the match on Sunday.  If it were done a couple weeks ago, it probably doesn't carry the impact that it did last night.  Shawn is Mr. WrestleMania and I think fans would have expected something from him.

Shawn was a pleasant late surprise add, and Paul Heyman was gold on the mic again last night.  This is easily my No. 2 "must watch" match on the card now.  The SummerSlam match was a miss, but this build has been solid throughout.

A Strong Will to Win...

Cena's opening promo ended up being a pretty provocative moment.  The Washington, D.C., fans were absolutely all over Cena, though.  He keeps teasing a possible heel turn with the comments he was making.  Will he turn?  It's hard to say.  The silly plays on political-party names aside, Cena was edgy and showed a strong will to win.

Rock's promo was not "go-home" great.  That said, it was very sound.  Rock showed good intensity, he took things seriously and after turning the corner into the core of the matter he left most of the corny jokes out.  His political talk was a bit of pandering to the D.C. crowd and they seemed to like it, but it lost me a little.

A bit surprising was the fact that they did not have Rock and Cena go face to face one more time.  But with what they did do, even with Rock being out for two weeks, WWE did get me excited to see this main event.

So Close to the Lines...

I am still wondering what the original plan for Undertaker vs. CM Punk was prior to the passing of Paul Bearer.  And I'm hoping that it was better than what we've been getting.  This closing angle was simply a weak way to close this match's build to Wrestlemania.

I wasn't offended by the closing segment, personally, though I can imagine there are fans out there who are.  I guess the best way I can say how I feel about it is that the angle seems cheap and tacky.  In the time when kayfabe was much more enforced, what Punk did with the ashes would have drawn major heat.  Today, that focus is not on Punk but on WWE for using what might be called sleazy to promote WrestleMania.

The beatdown was okay, but it didn't make me run to the phone to call for the pay-per-view order.  Overall, the story has been weak and it just seems like the chemistry between Undertaker and Punk isn't there.  They had a run in 2009 that really didn't hit it off even with gimmicks of Hell in a Cell and a submission match.  This run just isn't clicking at all.

Quick Hits:

  • Paul Heyman looks odd with a mustache.
  • The Shield had an effective promo, but I just feel like they could have passed on passing the mic around.
  • The Zeb Colter/Jack Swagger pairing needs to move on to some new material.  Washington, D.C., was a good setting, but the material was just the same they've parroted over the past several weeks.
  • Wade Barrett beating Zack Ryder isn't all that special for the Intercontinental Champion.
  • "Push Me" on Ryder's trunks was a funny sight.
  • Mark Henry cut a very clunky promo, but the interaction between him and Ryback using Santino as a "weapon" was enjoyable.
  • Cameron and Naomi vs. The Bellas really brought the crowd down.  Mission accomplished.
  • The post-match angle with Big E Langston helped build him up and was effective in terms of his debut at Mania.

That's it for this week.  Be sure to join us Sunday night for WrestleMania coverage and next Monday for all the fallout on Raw.