Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Raw Review: Isn't It WrestleMania Season?

When the Raw Preview went up on Monday I was hopeful that WWE was going to get things straightened out as we are just under three weeks out from The Showcase of the Immortals.  It's something I feel I have been forced to say too often this Mania season, but this Raw was another misfire.  I am going to start by covering the five points mentioned in the Raw Preview on Monday.  Here's Jason Powell's WWE Raw Hit List for another opinion on the show as well.
  • What about Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns being in the same building?--Well, Paul Heyman delivered a classic promo that has gotten some mainstream pub due to the suggestion that Brock Lesnar was going to work to unify the WWE and UFC titles.  That was a clever way for Paul to play on the controversy swirling around Brock Lesnar.  He put Roman Reigns over strong again as well, but as great as the promo was it still didn't feel like it served the purpose of making you want to see Reigns vs Lesnar.  The fact that they were in the building together and never crossed paths seemed like a missed opportunity.  In theory I understand that decision.  In this case I think you would be better served by getting Lesnar and Reigns in the same place because as of right now this isn't a hot enough feud to justify keeping them separated.  Treating Roman Reigns like an afterthought in the main event didn't help either.  What I will say though about these Heyman promos is they will make for one heck of a great video package if they do decided to align Heyman with Reigns in some sort of double-turn at Mania.  As a fan of Roman Reigns I think that I should honestly be rooting for him to turn at this point.  He doesn't have enough momentum as a face yet to become a top guy that way, title or not, but as a heel aligned with Paul Heyman? That could be money.
  • Bray Wyatt summons The Undertaker--I thought this was really solid and Bray Wyatt showed that he can be a money player.  His facial expressions during The Undertaker's response were spot on as were the mind games each guy played.  Yeah, Taker's shtick is a bit corny, but it works for that guy.  Bray Wyatt seems poised to take over that type of over-the-top gimmick as The New Face of Fear as well.
  • Rusev and Curtis Axel as well as "Hacksaw" John Cena--Combining points three and four because much like everyone anticipated these two issues did end up crossing paths.  Axel is hilarious and entertaining with his "I'm still in the Rumble" and "Axelmania" gimmick, but Rusev squashing him didn't bother me at all so long as the delusional Curtis Axel is still around and featured.  He's a comedy gimmick who shouldn't lose any heat whatsoever and Rusev is too big a deal to have him not destroy Curtis Axel.  I called him "Hacksaw" John Cena because of his patriotic promo.  That was terrible.  He viciously attacked Rusev and coerced Lana into giving him his match at WrestleMania.  Now I am not one to complain when faces have an edge to them, but this was a bit much and seemed out of character for John Cena.  Should be a good match at Mania though which this card desperately needs. 
  • Triple H exerting his power--Unless I missed something he didn't which is really odd.  The Sting/Triple H video was really cool especially the part where Sting admits he failed to save WCW.  The voice change was an odd decision which is made odder if the reason for it is true.  Other than that Triple H was oddly absent which is more troubling when you have The Undertaker off screen still and Reigns and Lesnar not even crossing paths, etc.  If nothing else they could have done a training montage for Trips to show he's put aside Authority business while he focuses on in-ring business or whatever. 
The big deal ended up being Randy Orton exact vengeance on Seth Rollins.  I feel they mishandled this from the jump and this didn't help.  Sometimes less and more and the extended beating that Orton gave Rollins was thorough, but not nearly as satisfying it could have been.  The opening segment with The Authority was awkward as well.  IC Title shenanigans were plenty of fun and I feel like I'm in the minority in that I enjoy them.  I don't mind at all that so many talented guys are being "wasted" in the ladder match because this type of spectacle match works well at WrestleMania in my opinion.  Non-title loss by champion though?  Weak.  Kane and Show teased further dissension which is good and bad.  Good because hopefully one or both will be gone from The Authority, bad because no one wants to see them wrestle each other at this point.  You had the tag champs lose a non-title as well and this was especially bad as the loss was to The New Day which is a gimmick that was DOA.  I like all three guys from The New Day, but that thing doesn't work for me at all.  Los Matadores get a win too as it looks like we could get some sort of four-team tag team match at Mania.  I would much prefer to have a two-team WWE Tag Title match, but whatever.  Two completely forgettable Divas matches doesn't really feel like Giving Divas a Chance either nor does the Flintstones nonsense with The Bellas.  OH, and for the love of all good things please stop booking musical acts on wrestling shows.  That rarely ever goes over well.

Another speed bump on the Road to WrestleMania and even I am starting to get concerned about the build to the big show this year.  I have gone on record as saying I think Mania might be "sneaky good" due to the low expectations, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm being unrealistically optimistic on that point.  I hope I'm not and I hope that WWE gets this thing turned around over the next couple of weeks, but right now it ain't looking good folks.