Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - It's time to get super serious and watch some music videos at WrestleMania hype continues, Triple H gets himself that old school heel heat on Daniel Bryan, and more!
By Will Pruett
When you're done reading this, make sure to check out part three of my Ten Years of John Cena series leading into WrestleMania. New blogs will be posted every Monday until the Monday before 'Mania.
The signs of WrestleMania season are upon us. It's taken a little while and we've seen glimmers of hope for WrestleMania since the Royal Rumble, but this show was super serious and even had the classic 'Mania music videos. We are in the home stretch and WWE is doing all they can to excite people.
The dynamic between Daniel Bryan, Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton took a major step forward this week with Triple H announcing a definite triple threat at WrestleMania. This works on every level. It allows the Triple H conspiracy theorists (who WWE is targeting this story to as much as anyone else) to believe he will put the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on himself. It gives people a little bit of doubt going into WrestleMania. It takes the responsibility for building the main event off of Batista and Randy Orton. Essentially, Triple H gave himself a goal and managed to create a little doubt about the happy ending for Daniel Bryan. This is good storytelling.
Speaking of Daniel Bryan, he was involved in a very good closing segment in which Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vindictively abused him. Remember a couple months ago when we were all wishing Triple H would embrace his heel mannerisms? He has. Bryan plays the babyface in peril perfectly. This segment gave Bryan a goal again. It gave him a cause for needing revenge. It showed Triple H finally stepping into a lead in-ring heel role. It was WrestleMania-level serious.
John Cena and Bray Wyatt also brought the serious to their feud. Cena didn't joke around about Jimmy Buffet and he did admit fear. This is a major step forward for the Cena character, who never really admits being afraid. It's also a step forward for his fan base. In a way, John Cena as a supernatural force above fear is compelling, but showing and standing up to fear makes him a far more compelling hero. More than their segment together, the music video constructed around them (set to Eminem's "Legacy") was really well done. It added some much-needed emotion to the program. Wyatt and Cena started a little rocky, but is getting on track nicely.
Finally, we have Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, which was not really advanced well on this show. It hasn't been advanced well at all, really. Sure, Heyman discussed the issues Triple H and Shawn Michaels had going after The Streak and how Lesnar manhandled them, but it didn't ring true. Something is missing from this year's feud for Undertaker's Streak and it's a little depressing. Last year had the awkward Paul Bearer-based build, but this year almost lacks a build. The match is built on names and not story. Characters matter, but story does as well. Usually The Streak combines both. Hopefully, in the next two weeks, they will find a way.
I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. WrestleMania is all around us and it's time to get serious.
And now for some random thoughts:
- The opening segment of Raw was quite Daniel Bryan-centric, especially for a segment not involving Bryan. One of the refreshing aspects of this WrestleMania build is seeing the central characters in the build not be John Cena and The Rock. I have no issues those guys, but after three straight years of Cena vs. Rock segments, it's nice to have Bryan in the spotlight.
- Triple H's angry almost worked-shoot was pretty fun. Apparently it was worked-shoot night on Raw. Work them shoots, boys. Work them hard.
- Was anyone surprised by the goodness of The Uso's vs. Cesaro and Jack Swagger? I wasn't. Hopefully we get a rematch of this effort (or containing these guys as more) at WrestleMania.
- It was sudden make up night for the feuding factions and tag teams. The Real Americans showed no signs of dissension. The Shield was back on the same page and decided to be babyfaces. I'm happy with both decisions if it means the groups can stay together. There's more mileage in both acts.
- I was absolutely fine with Hornswoggle spreading some St. Patrick's Day cheer, but why were his prizes so cheap? WWE couldn't give those kids some action figures? Come on, guys. Sheamus action figures for everyone!
- What exactly is Titus O'Neal's purpose right now?
- Christian was pretty fun on commentary discussing the battle royal and Sheamus. He is really doing some nice work this year, even though his character isn't being well used.
- Next week on Raw: Scooby Doo vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- John Cena and Bray Wyatt are getting some good promo chemistry going. I could see this feud carrying over beyond the WrestleMania match.
- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton was their standard street fight style match from last fall, only with Batista thrown in. I didn't mind it for what it was, although I get being tired of seeing these guys together. They didn't top the great match had a month(ish) ago, but it worked.
- The Streak is disappointing me in its buildup this year. It did last year too. Hopefully the match will redeem it like last year.
- Stephanie McMahon is doing the best heel work of her career right now. Were she Paul Heyman, the internet would be unanimously praising her. Instead, many people are saying how "mannish" she is. Not only is this sexist (and it's definitely that), but it's wrong. Stephanie is awesome right now.
- Goldust vs. Fandango happened. Look at that.
- Undertaker on the live WWE Network broadcast of Main Event is a pretty big deal. Good for WWE.
- The Shield's apparent babyface turn with Kane was much better than the live crowd gave it credit for. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns will be great babyfaces. Dean Ambrose May have issues fitting into the role, but it will prep him to become a very vicious heel when he does turn.
- Babyface Shield could actually be super badass in the coming months.
- It was good to see Naomi after her eye was crushed.
- A.J. Lee and Tamina must have really enjoyed Impact last week, since they performed a tribute to the Gail Kim and Lei'D Tapa angle on this show.
- Good for Mr. T.
- The eight man tag hyping the battle royal happened. Who knew?
- I've heard Joe Manganiello on the Nerdist Podcast before and he is a HUGE wrestling fan. It'll be cool to see him host with Arnold next week. He's going to be great.
- Really though, the Wyatt and Cena video ruled.
- Bray Wyatt getting to show off his move set in a upper-mid-card squash with Kofi Kingston works for me. They're doing so much right with Wyatt right now.
- The end of Raw was some great, violent, rage-inducing, heat. Triple H, Stephanie, and Bryan were all pitch perfect.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at email@example.com or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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