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- Then. Now. Forever. WWE is zombies. Confirmed.
- We start things out with The Immortal Hulk Hogan. The place goes bananas. I'm kind of marking out a little bit too. Someone is Woo-ing within ear shot of the house mic, or something. It's annoying.
- "Let me tell you something, Mephis Hulkamaniacs." He cuts a promo about being back home with WWE. He puts over the WWE Network and some of Hogan's greatest matches - Warrior, Savage, Andre. He talks about pressing Andre during Wrestlemania III. He gets goosebumps. He says he came up with a historic idea thinking about the matches, and he can't wait to tell everyone about it. So, in celebrating 30 years of Wrestlemania, and in honor of one of the greatest superstars of all time, they're going to have a 30 Man Over the Top Rope "Andre the Giant Memorial" Battle Royal. The Winner gets an Andre the Giant trophy.
- I actually like this idea. Not crazy it replaces Money in the Bank, but I like it.
- "Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania and the memory of Andre the Giant runs wild on you?"
- Well, John Cena is going to come out to the ring, that's what. He says he likes being in the ring because of the energy. Cena says he's in the ring to tell Hogan it's good to have him home. He says Hogan is back where he belongs. Cena puts over Hogan slamming Andre. Cena does a Hogan impression and gets booed. Cena says he wants to be the first to register his name into the Battle Royale.
- Here come The Wyatts. Bray sits in his chair, flanked by Rowan and Harper. Bray Wyatt cuts a promo, says Hogan claims to be immortal, talks about taking vitamins, then goes into mocking Cena. He calls them both liars. Wyatt says they fill people up with hope, but hope is dead, as will be their legacy. He says if Cena looks him square in the eye, he will see a god. Wyatt stretches his arms out.
- Cena asks if he listens to the weird stuff he says, calls him out on his "god complex" and starts singing Margaritaville. I'm not going to transpose the rest of this cause Cena gets kind of dumb. He challenges Wyatt tonight. Wyatt says it's always fun and games with him, until he's the one caught in the spider's web.
- The Wyatts approach the ring. Hogan and Cena stand in the middle. We go to break.
- Cena's promo weaved in and out of great and dumb. Mostly dumb. Wyatt is really coming into his own on the microphone these past few weeks.
Before the Bell: All of the above, plus a commercial break. We come back to Cena vs. Rowan
John Cena vs. Erick Rowan
The Match: Rowan has the advantage most of the match and even catches Cena off guard a number of times. Rowan swings Cena around like a rag doll. Out of nowhere, Cena gets a rollup victory
Winner: John Cena.
After the Bell: Bray is not pleased. Hogan comes back in and Cena is ready for a fight. Harper and Rowan hop up on the apron. Hogan and Cena stand tall. The heels stand down. Hogan's music plays. Hogan does the ear thing and soaks it all up with Cena. They play off each other. Hogan tries to get a reaction for Cena. It's mixed. Funny though.
What Worked: Bray barking orders from ringside was a nice touch.
What Didn’t: Watching Hogan try to cheer Cena on from ringside.
The Summary: Short match to put some heat on the heels but wasn't long enough to do much. Cena posing with Hogan at the end HAS to have been a childhood dream and was pretty awesome.
- Ringside, the announcers expect us to use the app to vote for the stipulations for Sheamus vs. Christian. I wouldn't mind a 2-out-of-3 falls match.
- Later, Daniel Bryan & The Big Show square off against Randy Orton and Batista. Also, The Undertaker returns. They refer to Taker as one of the greatest "performers" in Wrestlemania history. Um...
- Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are heading to the ring as we break.
- After break, we get a recap of the events of last week, with Triple H hitting Daniel Bryan with a Pedigree. He and Steph come out to the ramp. Steph says Bryan viciously attacked Triple H, then suffered the consequences. His actions are grounds for immediate termination, but they'll lead by example. She offers a sincere apology instead. She says there's value in the Daniel Bryan "brand." They say not as much as Batista's brand, etc, but there's a "niche" following for him. As long as he returns the apology, they'll apologize to him. She says he's not man enough to face Triple H. She makes fun of his size. As long as he can apologize, they'll move forward, otherwise there will be "severe consequences."
- The New Age Outlaws come out to the ring, greeting the two on their way down. They're not dressed to compete. They're going on commentary, next!
Steph is hitting her stride as an obnoxious bitch. Good stuff, actually.
Ryback & Curtis Axel vs. The Usos
Before the Bell: Ryback gives an inset promo and puts himself in that Battle Royale match. The Usos dance on stage. Curtis Axel just stands there.
The Match: Ryback has an arm bandaged up more than usual. Early tag to Axel, who eats a fist to the face. Axel launches Jimmy Uso face first into one of the ropes. Never saw that before. I like it. Hot tag to Jey Uso. He's on fire. Flying tag/dive thing and we have a winner.
Winner: The Usos
After the Bell: They celebrate. Road Dogg says he can't tell them apart and wasn't sure who was legal last week.
What Worked: Short match highlighting their offense.
What Didn’t: I'm not crazy about seeing Ryback or Axel in this spot, but WWE doesn't use jobbers anymore.
The Summary: Basically, a squash.
- Backstage, Kane chews The Shield out for losing and not being unified. He wants The Shield to be a valuable asset, like they have been in the past. Kane puts Reigns and Rollins in a tag match against The Rhodes Brothers. Rollins wants to know if this is about them, or the fact that Kane got pinned by Daniel Bryan twice in a week. Ambrose says they'll step up and exorcise the demon. Reigns tells him to "Believe That" and "Believe in the Shield." That may have been the most mic time Rollins has had since his debut.
Big E. Langston vs. Jack Swagger
Before the Bell: I think Big E has new music, but I'm not sure. His entrance is nearly complete when we come in from break.
The Match: The bell rings and Swagger attacks. Big E gets some offense but Swagger counters. Michael Cole introduces Big E as "being honored " to enter the Andre the Giant Battle Royale. Then Big E cuts a promo about "being honored." It was funny. You had to be there. Big E gets some offense. Swagger cuts out the knees. Colter tries to get Cesaro to interfere in the match, and Big E manages to get a surprise roll-up. Cesaro didn't even get involved.
Winner: Big E Langston
After the Bell: Swagger is pissed that Cesaro did exactly what he asked him to. Swagger gets in his face. They argue. Colter flips out and tells them both they're pissing them off. He takes his jacket off and tells them to shake hands. Don't mess with Dirty Dutch... They shake, but Cesaro clamps down tight and won't let go. Nice segment furthering their expected match at Wrestlemania.
What Worked: Swagger's offense was crisp, but the match was backdrop for this festering feud.
What Didn’t: Good for what it was. It's a short match night, apparently.
The Summary: Swagger and Cesaro are gonna go at it. Colter is going to have an aneurysm. Big E is lost in the shuffle.
- We're back from break and it's the top of the 9pm hour. The Undertaker comes out. He stands in the middle of the ring, but before he could speak, Paul Heyman interrupts sheepishly. He apologizes if his presence interrupts Taker's "train of thought." He says he's her to advocate the greatest streak "in sports, in entertainment, in sports entertainment." Heyman really puts over the streak and talks about how many people couldn't manage consecutive victories in a row. HBK got two, Triple H - three, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin had four, but never five. He says that's when a man becomes a myth, a myth becomes a legend, etc. He asks The Undertaker not to step into the ring against Brock Lesnar. He says everyone worships him and The Streak, but Brock Lesnar is the "reality that comes crashing around the fantasy of 22-0." He says Lesnar is stepping into an unknown, but it's an unknown Taker needs to fear, because if he steps into the ring with his client, the streak will be conquered by Brock Lesnar.
- Taker sends Lesnar back with a message - "The fear of death is far greater than the death itself, but the fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all." Taker tells Lesnar if he shows up in New Orleans, he will Rest in Peace. Heyman ponders the situation, then backs away.
To quote The Matrix: Reloaded... listening to Paul Heyman speak is like "wiping your ass with silk." It's amazing. Good promo. Taker kept it short and sweet.
- WWE Main Event goes live on the WWE Network tomorrow. Dean Ambrose defends the US Title against Mark Henry, plus AJ defends the Divas Title against Natalya. I'll have that coverage starting at 8pm!
Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. The Shield (Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns)
Before the Bell: The Brothers come out first, The Shield second. Dean Ambrose accompanies The Shield.
The Match: Seth Rollins attacks Cody Rhodes immediately. Goldust tags in and the momentum changes. Rollins hits a nice move sending Cody head first into the turnbuckle. Tag to Reigns. The Shield starts hitting their stride. Reigns misses a dive in the corner and Cody gets the tag. Goldust is on fire. The crowd is kind of dead. Goludst sends both brothers flying outside the ring. The Rhodes go flying after them in stereo. Dean Ambrose comes over to up the odds as we go to break.
Back from break, and the audience seems awake. Reigns has control of Goldust. For some reason, a CM Punk chant breaks out. Ok. Reigns hits that damn impressive jump kick from the apron. Ambrose says something to Reigns. Reigns gets cocky, and Goldust nearly gets himself free. Reigns cuts him off. Tag to Rollins. It's mostly Shield, but Goldust gets a sneaky powerslam. He barely makes the hot tag to Cody. Nice roll-up. Near fall. Disaster Kick to Reigns. Cody hits a moonsault onto Rollins. Ambrose outside pacing back and forth. Cody sets Rollins up for a Muscle Buster. Two count. It's crazy. Reigns spears Goldust out of nowhere, but the distraction is enough for Rollins to powerbomb Cody into the corner, then hit his finisher for the win.
Winner: The Shield
After the Bell: They celebrate in unity. <3
What Worked: Good match with a good build. The way Rollins was featured here, I'm starting to think WWE is seriously looking at all three as future main eventers.
What Didn’t: The crowd sucked in the beginning.
The Summary: Good match. Not revolutionary, but good.
- Back from break, there's a highlight of AJ Lee tapping out to the Sharpshooter, courtesy of Natalya. In the ring, AJ kisses her belt. She's teaming up with Tamina.
AJ Lee & Tamina vs. The Bella Twins (Nikki & Bella)
Before the Bell: AJ kisses her belt. The Bellas are already in the ring.
The Match: Tamina and Nikki start it out. Tamina powers the Twins and beats the crap out of them. AJ tags in and works Brie over. Hot tag to Nikki Bella. Tamina breaks up a near pin. Brie dives on her outside the ring, but AJ kicks Brie in the head. AJ tries for a Black Widow on Nikki, but Nikki hits a back breaker for the win.
Winner: The Bella Twins
After the Bell: The Bellas celebrate in the ring. Nikki holds up the Divas' Title like she just won it. Natalya is not amused.
What Worked: Well, it was short.
What Didn’t: Stereotypical divas match.
The Summary: This seemed to be more about Total Divas than anything.
- Renee Young interviews LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell, stars of some show I've already forgotten about. LL Cool J might be high. I'm not sure. We go to break.
- Back for some clips about how great the WWE Network is. Recap of Bray Wyatt.
- 9:52pm and Daniel Bryan comes out to the ring. I thought it was for his match, but he grabs a mic. He asks the audience if he thought Steph and Trips were sincere. He says Triple H can't have it both ways - if he wants to be corporate, that's fine, but if he wants to lay his hands on Bryan, Bryan is going to fight. He says "don't got two words for ya, I've got one." No! It ends tonight. He says tonight the Yes Movement will make it impossible to ignore. Tonight, they Occupy Raw. He threatens not to leave the ring. He says he spoke to some members of the Yes movement the other day, and he wants them to come down to the ring now. A bunch of random people in Daniel Bryan shirts come out to the ring, roll around, and make fools of themselves as we go to break.
- Back from break... HOLY CRAP THAT'S A LOT OF PEOPLE. The ring and surrounding area is PACKED. It's an amazing sight. Triple H and Stephanie come out. The audience chants No! Triple H puts Daniel Bryan down for getting his own Occupy Raw movement. He calls them hippies and trolls. He tells them they have about 30 seconds to get out of the ring, or they get arrested. They chant No! He threatens for security. Bryan says everyone in the arena could walk out right now, and they could have their own ring. How would Hunter like Raw to a bunch of empty chairs. Hunter sends down "two" security guards, who turn around and walk away. Stephanie says everyone is being manipulated by Daniel Bryan. She says they're wrapped up in a power trip, and power can go to their heads. She says Daniel Bryan isn't worth backing.
- Bryan says they underestimate the power of the people. He says Steph told them she owned the ring, the people, everything. Bryan says they own the ring, not them. Triple H says this ends now, and cues up Damien Sandow's music. The Movement is still in the ring. Sandow makes it half-way down, then stops. Bryan encourages him to join them. Damien Sandow has brief words with Triple H. Steph goes crazy and says this all became hers when she was born. She says she owns them and she shreiks at them. "GET OUT." Bryan says they're not leaving until they get the match at Wrestlemania 30. Bryan lays out an ultimatum - no show until they get what they want.
- Triple H says he actually likes him and saw something in him. He says he tried to protect him from everything that would happen when he was successful. He says he protected him at Summerslam, and ever since them. He says when they fight at Wrestlemania, he won't stop until he ends him. "Be careful what you wish for - you're on!" He tells them to shut up and get the hell out of his ring.
- Bryan says he mispoke earlier - that's not all that he wants. He says they really want to see him fighting for the World Heavyweight Championship. So... if he beats Triple H at Wrestlemania 30, he gets added to the World Heavyweight Championship match, making it Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan.
- Triple H tears off his jacket and security stops him. Triple H says he's got all of it! The movement chants Yes!
I legitimately cannot believe WWE has actually pulled the trigger here. It's all but cast in stone that Daniel Bryan will be in that main event match at this point. WWE fans are getting exactly what they want. I hope it's not a disappointment.
As far as the segment itself? Holy crap, what a sight. And really, it was pretty amazing overall too.
- After the break, Jerry Lawler introduces the stipulation for Sheamus vs. Christian. It's a Memphis Street Fight.
Sheamus vs. Christian in a Memphis Street Fight
Before the Bell: Sheamus first, Christian second. A stage hand starts setting up instruments. I guess they're to be used as weapons. This kind of stuff pisses me off.
The Match: Pretty intense start, but it spills outside quickly. Sheamus tosses Christian into the announcer's table. Christian gets the advantage and tosses Sheamus into the guitars. Christian goes tumbling over the steel steps. He grinds Christian's head into the steps, but when Christian runs off, Sheamus follows him. Both men are laid out on the floor. We go to break.
We're back and the match continues. Christian destroys a kendo stick on Sheamus. These guys are having a pretty physical match. Christian with another stick, but Sheamus catches him. He unloads and hits a nice sequence. Both men are covered in welts. They fight over a kendo stick, but Sheamus gets the best of it and hits White Noise. Christian barely kicks out. Sheamus hits about 17 clubbling blows to the chest. He sets up for the Brogue Kick, but Christian ducks out. Sheamus gets the best of him and follows him outside. He hits the Irish Curse Backbreaker off of the steps. Nasty looking spot. Sheamus tosses in chairs, then goes for the kick drum. Christian counters with the chairs, then goes up for a frogsplash onto the chairs. He nails it. Sheamus barely kicks out. Christian now has the drum. Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick through the drum to get the victory.
After the Bell: Sheamus raises his hand and celebrates.
What Worked: Clever finish. This was actually a pretty good hardcore match by WWE standards.
What Didn’t: I hate Hate HATE seeing instruments destroyed in wrestling matches, especially at this magnitude. Personal gripe.
The Summary: A good match even before the weapons, but the guys did a good job of making them seem part of the match, rather than THE match. I enjoyed it.
- Just in case you're not sure how to sign up for the WWE Network, here's a tutorial.
- Backstage, Brad Maddox gets to explain to Randy Orton and Batista what happened with Daniel Bryan. The Authority left the arena, told Maddox that he needed them to put their differences aside and "make it work" in order to stop Daniel Bryan. Orton agrees. Batista walks away.
- Back from break, Lana walks out and introduces Alexander Rusev in Bulgarian. She switches to English and tells America to rise. Rusev walks out, then steps onto his podium. Rusev cuts a promo in Bulgarian as well. He raises his hand. Lana is impressive on the mic. Easy on the eyes too.
- Recap of the events earlier tonight, with Hogan and Cena. In the middle of the recap, The Wyatt's interrupt. Luke Harper tells Cena he made a mistake. He says he fell into the hands of the reaper. Bray Wyatt says watching him with Hulk Hogan was almost like looking into his future. He says he accepts John Cena's challenge for Wrestlemania 30, and reminds him he's the one with everything to lose. Great promo.
The Big Show & Daniel Bryan vs. Batista & Randy Orton
Before the Bell: The Big Show comes out first, then we go to break. Afterwards, Daniel Bryan, then Batista, then Randy Orton. Champ goes last.
The Match: Orton and Bryan start it out. It's not long before Bryan hits the Ring of Honor spot on Orton, and we go to break early in the match. When we come back, Bryan is still in control. That changes quickly. Orton hits a nice powerslam for a near fall. Batista tags in and starts attacking Bryan outside the ring. Back in the ring, he clotheslines Bryan's head off. Bryan manages the hot tag to Big Show, who attacks Batista with slow, plodding moves. Orton hangs Show's neck on the ropes, then Batista tags Orton in. They get the big man off his feet. Rapid tags. Batista gives the thumbs up, then down. He teases a Batista Bomb, but Show flips him over. Both men tag in. Orton and Bryan. Bryan hits his rapid fire offense. Kicks to Orton, then to the head. 2-Count. Bryan goes up top and goes for the top rope headbutt, but misses. Orton goes for a roll-up, but Bryan reverses it into a Yes Lock. Batista breaks the count. Big Show kicks him. RKO to Show. Everyone is laid out.
Orton and Bryan stand up. He eyes Bryan up for the RKO but Batista hits a spear on Orton by accident. Running Knee to Batista. Orton gets to his feet and attacks Bryan. DDT on the ropes. Orton sets him up, but Bryan counters with the running knee and gets the pinfall victory.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
After the Bell: The audience chants along with Bryan as he celebrates in the middle of the ring. The announcers put over the chances that Bryan has to go on to the main event of Wrestlemania as we go to a close.
What Worked: Good action. Orton and Bryan have always had good chemistry together. Batista and Bryan could as well.
What Didn’t: Big Show served no purpose here. Early break cut the match short.
The Summary: Predictable main event, but solid.
Well, that about does it for this episode of Raw. I think we all kind of hoped it would happen, but hearing WWE say they were willing to add Bryan to the main event is kind of surreal. The thing is it's not official yet, and it's important to remember that. He still has to beat Triple H. While I'd like to believe Triple H will do what's "best for business" it's hard to say for sure.
This Raw had some ups and downs, but overall was pretty good. What did you think of the show? Leave a comment here, or hit us up on Twitter @RingRap! Thanks for reading!