Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Raw Review: Raw Bounced Back

After last week's disaster, Raw was in serious need of a bounce back episode.  It wasn't a grand slam, but it was pretty solid.  I was cautiously optimistic that Raw would be decent last night and not another groan-inducing affair like last week's.

Let's take a look at some of the high points of a much better edition of Raw.
  • Roman Reigns Preparing for Brock Lesnar--Reigns' mic work was fine.  The dismissive smirk towards Rollins fit the context and the punch he threw to knock down Rollins looked devastating.  The crowd didn't care for him at all, but he has received better reactions in other parts of the country.  Unless something drastically changes this does not bode well for his reaction in Levi's Stadium at WrestleMania, but it is what it is.  I didn't mind him losing the main event in the face of impossible odds.  I didn't mind him getting hs heat back either as he really needs it right now.  That dive was impressive and the mid-air Spear looked BRUTAL in a good way.  I'm a Roman Reigns mark, but I thought he did well last night.  The scary thing is that it doesn't seem to matter to some crowds..
  • Paul Heyman on the Mic--The beginning of this promo was excellent.  Heyman talking about how Lesnar will do what he wants, when he wants and that he will be at Mania were perfect ways to deal with last week's controversy when Lesnar walked out on the show.  I am not one of those guys who continually or blindly praises Heyman, but he was absolutely on point last night.  Good work out of him.
  • Triple H and Booker T--Hated to see them remove Booker from commentary and was glad they undid it.  Booker's glance at the camera on the way back to the booth was spot-on perfect by the way.  This promo accomplished its purpose I suppose, but it wasn't a great moment or anything.  It will be interesting to see what they have in store for Triple H and Sting as we inch closer to the big show.
  • Cena and Rusev featuring Stephanie and AXELMANIA--It's to the point where I have a hard time objectively reviewing anything John Cena is involved in because I just flat don't like the guy.  This wasn't terrible.  Stephanie's banter with Cena was OK as was Cena claiming he'd be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.  I mean there's no reason to believe for even a split second that Cena would end up in that match, but whatever.  Rusev and Lana continue to excel.  I am very interested in what the segment looks like where Cena finally gets his shot at the US Title.  Curtis Axel is a guilty pleasure and he's really running with this AXELMANIA nonsense.  Good for him.  I despised John Cena's warning to him and the way he was so easily crushed.  Good thing for Axel is it may not matter.  Keep trotting him out there and have him make ludicrous claims.  The crowd seems to dig it.
  • Jon Stewart and Seth Rollins--There was some "pre-complaining" about a "comedian" coming in and the idea that there was no legitimate way to "pay the thing off."  Well, my point was let's have the thing play out before we start killing it.  I'm glad I said that because Jon Stewart was tremendous.  He worked some humor in there, but he treated the whole thing with the appropriate amount of seriousness.  I could have done without the low blow, but it made sense and I didn't mind seeing Stewart get away like that.  Randy Orton playing a role made sense with him obviously playing the long con. 
  • Randy Orton--What they are doing with Orton makes sense, but I still would have sent him after The Authority and Rollins full force out of the gate.  I was surprised to see him help screw Reigns out of the main event victory like that though.  Him talking sense into Rollins after the Stewart/Rollins segment was funny.  Seems like they've cooled him off considerably and immediately, but I'm guessing that won't matter once he punks Seth Rollins.  I'm guessing that's what WWE is banking on as well. 
  • Intercontinental Title Picture--I must say again that I am ALL IN on R-Truth right now.  Dude has been immensely entertaining these last couple of weeks.  While I'm not sure that Bad News Barrett constantly hunting his belt is the best use of that talented gentleman, he does a great job with it.  Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and especially Luke Harper all help this work a lot better too.  Truth is the straw that stirs the drink on this one though and his commentary was hilarious especially when he realized Luke Harper was behind him.  The fact that he keeps referring to them as "title changes" every time the IC Title belt is passed around amuses me greatly.
  • Bray Wyatt Makes a Statement--Great culmination of the promos we have seen so far.  Bray bringing out the casket he built and setting it ablaze was a really cool visual.  Still no reply from The Undertaker.  I have said all along they need to get Taker out there sooner rather than later.  There are rumors that it may still be a while before we see him.  WWE's taking a risk, but I hope it pays off. 
  • AJ Lee Returns--Fantastic pop for AJ Lee's return.  I still don't care for fans chanting "CM PUNK!" at her when she's out there, but the initial pop was awesome.  Bonus points for WWE acknowledging Paige and AJ's contentious history together as the two join forces against The Bellas.
  • Everything Else--The Usos and Kidd/Cesaro are on the hamster wheel now.  Good matches, but hard to care too much about them.  Hated to see that awesome Uso dive over the top treated like a chinlock.  Production missed it and Cole mentioned it with the excitement you'd expect from a plain old clothesline.  Big Show and Kane still need to go away.  Congrats to new WWE Hall of Famer, Alundra Blayze.  I never thought she'd get in, but here she is.  Unless I'm forgetting something major not much else needs mention.
Decent show that was a massive improvement over last week's episode.  Unfortunately that's mainly a function of how awful last week's Raw was more than anything, but still.  While I am giving this show a thumbs up, I must admit that WWE needs to do better as we get closer to The Showcase of the Immortals.  These middling Raws aren't going to cut it.