Monday Night Raw Warm Up for March 18th, 2013

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C.M. Punk’s disrespect of the Undertaker reached new depths last Monday as their confrontation at WrestleMania 29 draws nearer.

The Road to WrestleMania gets another week shorter tonight in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The path for the top of the card for this year’s big dance is clear (including Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, C.M. Punk vs. The Undertaker, and of course John Cena vs. The Rock), but there are still a number of names that don’t have a place just yet. We have our favorites on both ends of the spectrum and as the show approaches we’ll be right here with our reactions to what’s in store.

PTB: As we know, The Undertaker will put his undefeated streak at WrestleMania on the line again this year against C.M. Punk. I’ve made no secret that I’m a Punk fan and this is THE match for me on this year’s card. Punk is clearly going in as the villain and last week he had the line of the night in driving this new feud forward. The passing of Undertaker’s longtime manager William Moody (WWE’s Paul Bearer) fueled a lot of last week’s show and if Punk interrupting the dead man’s tribute weren’t bad enough, saying he was sorry for the Undertaker’s loss… at WrestleMania was epic heel behavior.

THE JASON: While the way that they arrived at making this match certainly was not optimal, I suppose that the ends justify the means. Ultimately, we are getting Punk and Taker this year and that’s what matters, but guys shouldn’t be having matches to determine who faces The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. At some point Taker is going to call it a day and then no one will care about what should be perceived as your main events: the championship matches.

PTB: Punk went on to face the Undertaker’s on-screen brother, and Bearer’s on-screen son, in the main event last Monday. It was a fun match (even if Kane’s righteous indignation was muddied by a silly pre-taped bit with Halle Berry) with a fitting finish. Facing Kane seems to be a part of any feud with the Undertaker, but I loved Punk leaving with the Urn to close the show. If this is any indication of what we can expect between Punk and Undertaker at WrestleMania it will steal the show. Of course, it should be noted that Kane is working a full schedule and the Undertaker hasn’t had a high profile match since last year’s WrestleMania.

THE JASON: I also loved the show closing theft whether Bearer’s ashes were in the urn or not, or if Undertaker still derives a mystical power from the thing. I thought it was so classically old-school. Punk will still have his fans at Mania, but with this show I think he convinced a lot of people to pay to see him destroyed.

PTB: Is there any question about the outcome of Punk versus Undertaker? The streak will not be broken. Punk had a legendary title run over the last two years, no way is he getting another accolade like breaking the streak.

THE JASON: If Triple H couldn’t do it, I don’t think Punk has got a chance! With that being said, I think Punk can put together a far better match with him without the multitude of weapons shots and shortcuts.

PTB: Speaking of “the Game,” Triple H and Brock Lesnar is official and just waiting for a stipulation. What a way to make it official though! I thought the New Age Outlaws’ return two weeks ago might be a legit effort to run them as a regular feature, but they’re much better served as fuel to the fire between the Game and the Beast.

THE JASON: You know (insert a Nash here!) I never liked Billy Gunn, so watching Brock beat the hair extensions off of him was almost as enjoyable as seeing Brock lay waste to The Miz. There are only so many “Old Age Outlaw” jokes we can really make. I’m not sure they’ll provide us, or Sandow and Rhodes enough material to merit hanging around.

PTB: Team Rhodes Scholars were brilliant in their return as a team with their prematch “taste and dignity” infused ring introduction and they actually worked twice in the night (and brought the Bellas back). I don’t understand why they broke these two up with no plan in place (and yes, I wasn’t totally into their initial pairing as I wanted to see Sandow get a push) but I think it’s likely we’ll be seeing them as a team at WrestleMania.

THE JASON: These guys are gold together, and I liked Sandow bringing the Bellas back while shooing away Kaitlyn. It does take their Ambiguously Gay Duo score down a few points, but anything that keeps these guys a team and revitalizes the Divas division is a good thing. It seems they want to bring some of the girls back who have left recently. I hope that also leads to an influx of a few new faces which is desperately needed.

PTB: We’ve been speculating a bit on the WrestleMania undercard and Mark Henry versus Ryback was back on the table again last week. I’m not sure this is a match I want to see, but I can’t imagine it’s not a huge effort to put Ryback over even more without feeding him someone higher up on the food chain. Henry can afford a loss at WrestleMania as they rebuild him as a monster.

RAW_1033_Photo_116_Rybcak_HenryTHE JASON: If last week’s Smackdown is any indication, we are getting a Henry and Ryback match. I would have preferred Big Show in Henry’s spot, but regardless I think the event needs that traditional “power man” match. It adds some diversity to the card. Mark’s feuds with Big Show and Sheamus while he was champ yeilded some fun matches so I’m interested to see what he can do with the Hungry Hungry Hippo.

PTB: The MIZery was in full force last week and it’s probably going to slog right into a WrestleMania spot for the guy. Chris Jericho and Wade Barrett were pulled into the mess and there’s no way this should be happening. Even no-business-bashing-anything-Michael Cole said it might be the worst segment in the history of Raw.

THE JASON: Cole didn’t exactly help that whole scene. Let’s face it, any segment where Jericho has to heap praise on The Marine 3, and furthermore THE MIZ, is on my list of things that I would like a coupon to Lacuna, Inc. so I can have it wiped from my mind as ever existing.

PTB: Unfortunately, the pain continues tonight with a triple threat involving these three. I don’t know what happened to Jericho/ZIggler, but I’d rather see Jericho/Barrett at WrestleMania than Miz taking the IC title home from Jericho as I fear will be the booking.

RAW_1033_Photo_159_Miz_Jericho_BarrettTHE JASON: I can’t see Barrett dropping the title so close to Mania, but the likelihood of the guy winning a match seems even less possible. Either option seems like such a waste of Jericho. At least if he wins the belt we may have someone who won’t lose every weekly non-title match they put him in.

PTB: It’s just like what we’re seeing with Antonio Cesaro. He took another needless loss to Alberto Del Rio last week (by submission no less). Then Del Rio went on to be part of a weak video segment with Ricardo spoofing Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter’s “We the People” bits.

THE JASON: Did we need to job Cesaro out again? Was Drew MacIntyre’s evening already booked to capacity? When an angle veers from a controversial political departure point to jokes about Mexican food I think we can admit this is has fallen off a cliff. What an unmitigated disaster. The start point was offensive because the intent was to push buttons and generate heel heat for Swagger and Colter. However now we’re just doing lowest common denominator comedy which is even more offensive than what we started with since it makes the right-wing political propaganda unnecessary if we were going to end up with Burrito jokes. It’s ridiculous that the secondary title is wrapped up in this. What I think would save this is if they take Colter and Swagger even deeper into the web of conspiracy theorists. They could be like the wrestling equivalent of the old Art Bell Show. Bring in Teddy Hart, Brian Kendrick, turn R-Truth heel again and just give these guys a live mic every week. That’s how you do a train wreck properly. My life will not be complete until someone mentions aliens at Mt. Shasta and Big Foot on Raw. And look, I just gave them a perfect way to bring back The Yeti. No thanks are needed WWE, just send checks to THE JASON @ MLD.

RAW_1033_Photo_182_Colter_SwaggerPTB: I can’t make that point any better and it really is a shame that the World Championship match has to be booked for attempts at comedy. A lot of air time was dedicated to pre-recorded material last week and I hate seeing that with so many unknowns for WrestleMania. I’m all for showing the best of Paul Bearer, but previews for PsycheThe Call (complete with the Halle Berry bit that took a lot of heat out of the Kane/Punk set up), The Marine 3Dead Man Down, and a Cena/Rock retrospective all add up to a lot of minutes. More relevant stuff seemed to be happening on the exclusive WWE App footage than live on the air, including setting up the Shield vs. Sheamus, Orton, and Big Show.

THE JASON: I know it’s their show, but do we need to have additional commercials for these movies during the program? It’s advertising they don’t have to pay for… but they are paying for advertising during the commercial breaks too. We get it! That’s infuriating. You know what’s great about DVR? I don’t even know what Halle Berry bit you are talking about. I’m certain a good deal of the audience is with me.

RAW_1033_Photo_061_FandangoWe didn’t touch on the biggest question everyone has going into tonight’s Raw… Is Fandango going to wrestle? This guy reminds me of the ballroom dance version of the Dynamic Dudes. I’m not sure what is supposed to be interesting about a wrestler who is supposed to be a ballroom dancer who doesn’t dance with a stupid name who doesn’t want wrestle a match but… I probably just spent too much time on this one, haven’t I?

PTB: Unfortunately, I think WWE has spent too much time on it as well.

All photos courtesy of WWE.com. Read more about World Wrestling Entertainment on MyLatestDistraction.

Keep up with all of our weekly Monday Night Raw Warm Ups:
March 11th, 2012 edition / March 25th, 2013 edition 

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