Monday Night Raw Warm Up for March 25th, 2013

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Hustle, loyalty, respect, and perfect attendance are just a few of the qualities that make John Cena a top contender. WWE Champion, the Rock, will also be in attendance on tonight's Raw.

Hustle, loyalty, respect, and perfect attendance are just a few of the qualities that make John Cena a top contender. WWE Champion, the Rock, will also be in attendance on tonight’s Raw.

Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanates from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, just two weeks from WrestleMania 29. With the biggest show of the year right around the corner, WWE only advanced two of the three big matches on the card last week and the rest of the show seemed to be on autopilot. Things may change tonight with the Rock in attendance, but I think most fans would agree that Raw should always strive to be something worth watching and the WWE Champion’s appearance should be a given from week to week, not a special occasion.

THE JASON: Can I say it? Maybe it would be better if I didn’t say it… No, I have to. Last week’s show was dreadful. I’m going to attempt to look at things in a positive light, but whether it is the lackluster build to this year’s WrestleMania, or the haphazard nature of how everything but the top 2 matches has been booked, I don’t feel as excited about the show as I did this time last year. So THE JASON will be brought to you today by sunshine, marshmallow fluff and rainbows, because I’m going to try to make some lemonade after last week’s debacle.

PTB: We’ve gone on record with our dislike of tag teams getting buried to needlessly put a top name over (much like the midcard title holders which we’ll get into later). John Cena rolling over Darren Young last week after some less-than-stellar mic work was just the latest example. I’m not saying Young should be in any position to win here, but what does a total squash do for either guy, or for the “biggest match in history” between the Rock and Cena? One of my favorite Saturday Night’s Main Event matches as a kid was Bret Hart (then an almost exclusive tag team attraction with the Hart Foundation) versus Macho Man Savage (just months before his first reign as WWF Champion) at the height of his feud with Honky Tonk Man. Bret took the expected loss, but they worked like the match mattered.

RAW_1034_Photo_006_Prime_Time_PlayersTHE JASON: That opening segment made no sense whatsoever. We are a few weeks away from the biggest show of the year, and the biggest match is Rock vs. Cena, and Cena is clowning around with The Prime Time Players. The upside was Titus O’Neal. And the afro. POINTS FOR THE AFRO! I don’t know what any of it was supposed to mean, and despite King and Michael Cole burying it on commentary it seemed like the crowd responded to Titus. Darren Young is along for the ride with this team.

PTB: I’d say the PTP hasn’t been the same since Abraham Washington was let go, but this could be exactly where they would have wound up. The segment was there just to keep Cena on the air, but I have a honest question, does the Rock showing up tonight make any difference to you? I can’t imagine his exchanges with Cena are going to be anything we haven’t seen before.

THE JASON: I don’t think they’ve peaked with the buildup yet. Although having that promo where Rock says he’ll beat him again pretty much signals some finality. Points for WWE using Civil Twilight’s “Letters from the Sky” as the music in that piece. It lends a certain gravity to it that something like Machine Gun Kelly doesn’t offer. If they are going to have a music act waste time during the show this year, I would enjoy their performance far more than some crap like Kid Rock.

PTB: This feud should be giving us more than a video package and a comedy segment this close to WrestleMania.

PTB: Triple H and Brock Lesnar signed their contract making a WrestleMania rematch official. A big deal was made about the stipulations for their meeting, and although the build up gave Heyman a lot of talking time, I don’t know that putting Triple H’s career on the line makes the outcome any less predictable. I just don’t see Triple H losing this match.

THE JASON: No, neither do I… but he should. Why should we care about Triple H’s career being on the line? He’s had 5 matches in the past 2 years. His career IS over. I would like to see the match somewhat even at the beginning until Brock takes over, destroys Triple H and Stephanie has to come out and throw in the towel. I think that would serve to legitimize Brock as a world beater and convince everyone that the loss to Cena last year was a fluke. Cena/Brock part 2 could be really good, and they are going to need to follow his Rock feud with something.

PTB: Having Triple H end his career with Stephanie McMahon in the ring as you describe and Heyman and Lesnar as the men responsible could be an outstanding finish here. Is this the match you’re most looking forward to this year?

THE JASON: No. I have no desire to see this match. I had no desire for HHH/Undertaker last year either, but I wound up being very surprised and enjoyed their match much more than the Wrestlemania 27 encounter. So here’s hoping for magic. Points for HHH from last year! Minus 20 points for his new haircut though.

PTB: It’s probably clear if you read this column, but Punk v.Undertaker is the match to watch for me.. Not to split hairs, but there’s no “exscaping” that Undertaker said “exscaping” during his promo last Monday. Even mrsptb pointed out that it sucks when the ones you want to like make a mistake like that.

THE JASON: Booker T would probably disagree. As would his brother, the excellence of eloquence Stevie Ray! “Tony, Tony… let me axe you a question!”

PTB: It was an edgy but shakily executed exchange between the two but it did produce a line they can build all the promos for this match around, Punk is the one in 20 and 1.

THE JASON: I don’t think it was either of their best work. Punk needs to stress that he is the future of this business and make more of Undertaker being old and broken down. I don’t think it damages Taker’s mystique to draw attention to the fact that the guy is aging. I feel that was an different dynamic that was brought up last year and it worked. The streak is all Undertaker has, and he is desperate to hold on to it. In any case, I’m with you that this will be the one to watch.

PTB: The triple threat Intercontinental title match featuring Wade Barrett against the Miz and Chris Jericho was kind of great last week.

THE JASON: It was, and I feel that it was all due to Jericho.

PTB: I really did not expect that nor did I expect Barrett to retain the title. With a Jericho vs. Fandango Dancing with the the Stars match likely making its way to the WrestleMania card, I’m still seeing Miz get an unfortunate victory over Barrett at this point. We’re both pretty down on the Miz but if they’d given him matches and victories like the one he got on Smackdown last week we’d probably be enjoying him a lot more. Of course Antonio Cesaro was on the short end of that exchange taking another loss with no opponent on deck for the biggest show of the year. I really hope he doesn’t get thrown into a match with Barrett and Miz to unify the United States and Intercontinental titles.

THE JASON: I don’t think Cesaro is making it to the main card. I think he’ll be in a pre-show Youtube match. I’d say he gets a win over Zack Ryder – if Zack is even allowed in the building. They may all be on the pre-show actually. If it gets on the main card, it has to be a multi-man match to accomodate spots for so many guys who would be left off of the show. I’d love to be able to put a positive spin on a Jericho vs. Fandango match, but I can’t. Fandango hasn’t even had one match and THIS is what they give Jericho to work with? It’s funny, in between my wife calling Fandango “Fandouchebag” and making fun of the fact that the chicks he comes out with do not dance terribly well, I did think that his mic work was incredibly evocative of Jericho. It’s like his candence and delivery were all lifted from Jericho’s recent heel work. Maybe someone else must have thought that too and realized “Wait, Jericho was on Dancing with the Stars! This is great! INSTA-FEUD!!!” How did we get teased with Ziggler/Jericho a few months ago and wind up here?

PTB: I love seeing Damien Sandow get air/mic time, but I don’t get the booking from week to week. He lands in a match with R-Truth while Cody Rhodes finds himself in a great match with Alberto Del Rio. There has been a lot of mixing of prominent teams like Hell No, Rhodes Scholars, Kofi/Truth and Dolph Ziggler of all people (along with AJ and Big E. Langston). We’d talked about the prospects of a tag team gauntlet match for the titles at WrestleMania and the last few weeks were pointing that way, but now we have what is essentially the WrestleMania culmination of Kane and Daniel Bryan’s feud with AJ.

THE JASON: Smackdown last week almost made it seem like there was a tag division with Ziggler/Big E, Kofi/Truth, Rhode Scholars, 3MB, Tensai/Clay and the Shield all being represented. I think they needed to fit Ziggler and Bryan in somewhere and NO ONE wants to see Bryan and Kane feud again. With Ziggler/Big E against Team Hell No, you get two of the best workers in the company in one match so we may get a great tag match at the show.

PTB: Let’s hope. On the other side of the equation, I think you suggested a few weeks ago that we’d see Team Rhodes Scholars versus Truth and Kofi Kingston at WrestleMania and that’s the kind of uninspired matchmaking that fits here. It’s just a shame Truth was out with a knee injury when he was, the King’s joke that Little Jimmy was hanging out with Manti Te’o would have played much better back in January.

THE JASON: I must have missed Lawler’s attempt at comedy there. One thing I didn’t miss was whatever upgrades the Bellas have made while they were away. Something seems… enhanced. I can’t quite put my finger(s) on it. I think I just channeled my own inner-Jerry Lawler.

PTB: Mark Henry got some good boom mic work in last week, but why are they feeding Ryback Heath Slater and David Otunga on Raw and using him and Henry with the Shield on Smackdown?

THE JASON: The Ryback is hungry. They have to feed him someone. But he’s got to watch his figure. He can handle Slater and Otunga, but Mark Henry may be too much of a meal.

PTB: The Shield’s WrestleMania match is all but set against Big Show, Orton and Sheamus as we discussed the night Undertaker returned. I just don’t get how you can support the babyface team here.

THE JASON: I think this match is being set up for two things: The Shield will win and look strong doing so and Randy Orton is turning on Sheamus. Orton has been so nondescript lately that I feel like it is being done to lull us in to a false sense of security that we won’t expect it when he RKO’s Sheamus after the match. Big Show is in the match as a red herring.

PTB: The 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class added another member last week. Donald Trump, Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino, Mick Foley, and Trish Stratus are joined by Booker T.

THE JASON: Glad to see Booker go in this year, but what is the right number of inductees a year? I think that with Sammartino, Foley, Trish and Backlund you already had a pretty strong list. I don’t like how they’ve forced the honored group to give quick speeches the past few years since the whole interest of their inductions was what they would say. Sure, Flair’s speech went on for 40 minutes or something but were you not entertained? I just think when you pack in too much then everyone gets shafted.

That probably goes for the Main Card of WrestleMania as well. We want guys like Cesaro, Barrett, Kofi, Primo and Epico, The PTP, hell even The Miz who have worked hard all year to have their “Wrestlemania Moment” but sometimes there just isn’t the room on the show. I don’t want to see any 18 second matches this year.

With three weeks to go until WrestleMania XXIX, here’s the card we’ve seen announced so far:

  • John Cena vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship
  • Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, No Holds Barred with Triple H’s Career on the Line
  • The Undertaker vs. CM Punk
  • Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the World Championship
  • Ryback vs. Mark Henry
  • The Shield vs. The Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus
  • Dolph Ziggler/Big E. Langston vs. Team Hell No for the World Tag Team Championship
  • Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
  • 8 Man Divas Tag Match

2012 Hall of Fame inductees announced to date:

  • Donald Trump
  • Bob Backlund
  • Bruno Sammartino
  • Mick Foley
  • Trish Stratus
  • Booker T

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 18th, 2012 edition / April 1st, 2013 edition

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