Monday Night Raw Warm Up for April 8th, 2013

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The Undertaker extended his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 21-0 against his latest challenger C.M. Punk. At the age of 48, the “dead man” was part of the match of the night at WrestleMania 29.

Last night was not the best WrestleMania is history, but not the worst. The ultimately felt unsatisfying. There’s no one thing that was missing, but this definitely wasn’t an event that felt like the culmination of the past year’s stories. Sure, Triple HHH and Brock Lesnar’s feud goes back to last Summer, and the Rock versus Cena goes all the way back to WrestleMania 27, but those were two lackluster matches on a four-hour card. The show did leave us with a lot to talk about, so in that regard it was a success.

THE JASON: I’m beginning to feel like Wrestlemanias follow the old even/odd rule of Star Trek movies where only the even ones are really good. It takes a complete re-set like 2009’s Star Trek to break the cycle. WWE needs that reinvigoration, but if that doesn’t happen at the very least we should be in for a good show next year at Wrestlemania 30, going by-the-book. There were no surprises with this show, the match quality was fair at best and some of the results were questionable. Nevertheless, I will give credit where credit is due. The WWE had certain storylines that they wanted to tell and they refused to divert from their endgame no matter how lackluster the outcomes were.

PTB: C.M. Punk versus the Undertaker was hands down the match of the night for both of us, but rather than dive right into that I want to know what took the number two spot for you last night.

WM29_Photo_036THE JASON: That is a tough call, because after Taker and Punk there is a huge dropoff for me. I’d have to go with Miz vs. Barrett since it was on the pre-show and I didn’t have to watch it. Then I went and friended this person on Facebook. Number two was probably the opening 6-man with The Shield vs. Big Show/Orton/Sheamus and I’m not saying that because I loved seeing Sheamus and Orton both getting punched in the face post-match although that was an added bonus. I think that there was some important story development to be had. Big Show could have won the match and vaniquished the unbeatable Sheild had Orton not tagged himself in and needed to fall back on being such a glory hog. Orton went through his signature stuff concluding with Rollins taking the RKO coming off the top rope, but ultimately he fell victim to a spear from Reigns. Big Show just stood on the apron and let the pinfall happen because Orton couldn’t just let him be a giant and win the match for his team. I know the story at the most distinct level may be that Big Show is the bad guy, and Sheamus and Orton shouldn’t have trusted him since this would be the obvious ending from your most well-known fables, but I think that there is something far more subtle where Orton is really the guy at fault. Pride goeth before a fall and all. I still think we’re getting an Orton heel turn at some point. The Sheild also came out of this still looking strong, and I was entertained by a lot of the stuff in this match.

PTB: For me it was Chris Jericho versus Fandango (with honorable mention to Team Hell No versus Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston). I thought this might be a match to watch and I really enjoyed it. Fandango getting the win was a big surprise and I have to credit Jericho for putting over young talent. I didn’t like seeing him lose at two consecutive WrestleManias, but it was a fun and solid outing.

WM29_Photo_095THE JASON: I thought Fandango held up his end of things and I was happy to see Jericho kick out of the first Leg drop. I thought the “knee tweak” at the end came out of nowhere though. It would have more more sense had they built that up in the match more. The Team Hell No vs. Ziggler and Big E was far too short, but I like that Bryan got the pin and they gave a nod to last year’s 18 second match with Ziggler and AJ re-enacting her and Bryan’s scene from Wrestlemania 28.

PTB: The outcome of Punk/Undertaker was never in question, but they both made it look great including a brutal elbow drop onto the Spanish announcer’s table that didn’t break. I fully believe the Undertaker’s streak should never be broken. I’m a huge Punk fan and I was happy to see him in the match of the night. I don’t know where he goes next, but this was better than having him tied up with the Rock. I still would like to see Punk and Cena at WrestleMania though.

THE JASON: Here’s the thing with Undertaker/Punk – I had no doubt in my mind that Undertaker was winning but it was the only match on the card where I was lost in the action and it wasn’t so much that Punk was going to lose, but how great a match they could put together until that 3 count came. Every year there are rumors about how Undertaker’s body is falling apart, how he can barely walk, how he can’t do another match – and then he comes in and at 48 years old has the best match on the show. This match had it all and then some including a kick-ass performance from LIVING COLOUR and a sweet new Punk T-shirt.

WM29_Photo_151PTB: I loved that Paul Heyman’s catch phrase from his commentary days “One Second Away” made it’s way into the UT Punk match.

THE JASON: How great was Paul Heyman last night? Honestly, his performance was one of the highlights for me.

PTB: Heyman being on the show has been one of the highlights of the past year.

Regardless of the loss, think about where this puts Punk in the grand scheme of things. UT has only faced HBK and HHH in the last five years and now Punk.

THE JASON: And Edge and Batista before that. Pretty elite company to be in. I do agree on next year being the time to do the match up with Cena. I think after Wrestlemania 30, it may be time for Undertaker to get his Hall of Fame ring and call it a day.

PTB: Speaking of Cena, his match with the Rock lacked a lot of steam. The two turned in a great effort last year and it just didn’t seem to be there this time around. It seemed like Cena might have been injured or delirious at a few points. Regardless, it should have ended on the “People’s Fakeout.” It was a brilliant call back to last year’s match and the final exchanges were messy by comparison.

WM29_Photo_204THE JASON: I thought that this match was simply interminable. Again, there was a story the of each guy wanting to finish the other with their big move. Unfortunately I just felt it was a long series of chinlocks followed by rock bottoms and attitude adjustments with no flow. A half hour of it. This did not live up to last year’s encounter. The crowd hated the ending and I can’t blame them. No one wanted to see Rock and Cena playing grab ass after the bell. “Hey thanks for the match.” “No, thank you.” “No, thank you!” “Aww, let’s go grab a taco.” If ever there was a time to turn Cena heel, this was the time to do it. This was like the reverse of Wrestlemania 17 – they wanted to turn Austin heel and the crowd did not want to play along. Last night, WWE KNEW that the crowd would hate Cena and never buy into the Rock congratulating him, but they stuck to their plan. I kept hoping Cena would lay Rock out with the belt post-match. I can’t imagine that the reception will be friendly tonight.

PTB: So with Cena as the Champ does he continue to move in a more self centered direction tonight? It’s easy to think more and more of the crowd is turning on him, but the ringside crowd reaction last night appeared to be pretty strongly in his favor.

THE JASON: WHAT? It was NY/NJ. The same crowd that chanted “Break his arm” while Brock had Triple H in the kimura. I’m not going to deny that Cena definitely has a ton of kids that love him, but the majority of the 80,000 in that crowd hated him. To me, Cena today is like Green Day in 2013. Overexposed and becoming irrelevant. You hit your peak about 10 years ago, but you are trying to push that triple album opus on us well after the point where people care. Cena just needs to have a Broadway show called “The Champ is Here!” to bring this to its logical conclusion.

PTB: The reaction seemed even bigger in the replay than the live reaction, but it wasn’t a matter of fake crowd noise or any shenanigans as people visibly leapt to their feet. There’s a lot of talk about Cena turning heel. I’ve certainly thought it might be the most interesting path for him in the past, but as of right now it seems like there are too many people (children in particular) that need him as a hero and I have no problem with him being there for them.

THE JASON: I don’t doubt that his introduction got people up, and I’m sure that the people moving around was just to stay warm considering it was COLD in an open air stadium last night.

PTB: It was crazy seeing people wearing coats in the crowd. All I could think of were all the miserable Opening Night Phillies games I’ve shivered through in early April.

THE JASON: I definitely get wrapped up in the excitement of wanting to go, but then I realized that I can barely see anything in a coliseum, much less an outdoor stadium. From there I began to cozy up to the benefits of a big screen TV and Chinese food being delivered to my house.

PTB: Triple H gets to stay in the game with his big win over Brock Lesnar, but it’s difficult to understand what the point is here.

THE JASON: Again, it’s the story. The way this match was built, you would have to assume that the good guy gets his revenge in the end which is exactly what happened. But Wrestling is not a B-Movie (and hell, WWE knows B-Movies since their studios have been churning them out far too liberally. ) While the result makes sense in the short term, the long range has Triple H going back to sit in his office and drink tea while Brock has to be rebuilt (again) as a monster. I thought that Triple H applying the kimura was fine, but even if the old corporate guy used to be the cerebral assassin, he shouldn’t have kept getting it locked on the guy they are selling as the monstrous, legitimate sports bad-ass. I get that it took a DDT and a pedigree on the Steel Steps to put Brock away, but there really was no necessity for Triple H to win. I think that WWE was in fear that Hunter would lose and the crowd would mock him again.

WM29_Photo_038PTB: Wow. Mark Henry gets the win over the heavily pushed Ryback. Henry was great last year, but he’s been there for twelve all told and he was gone for most of 2012.

THE JASON: Ryback’s loss was also a decision that made no sense. Mark Henry didn’t win convincingly and while seeing Ryback shellshock him after the match was cool, I wouldn’t call that a “Wrestlemania moment.” I’d call it being a sore loser. No one came out of this looking good. And really, did we see a 5 minute bearhug match? In 2013?

PTB: We sure did. Complete with a Rick Rude/Ultimate Warrior posedown.

In our WrestleMania Warm Up, we wondering if Kofi Kingston might make it onto the show. He only made it as far as the NFL style pre show panel (which I love by the way) with Jim Ross and Dusty Rhodes. I can’t believe that “preshow” was free on my phone, but on my TV I had two nobodies and video packages. At least the preshow feed was solid this year (last year was a debacle) and I have the WWE App to thank.

THE JASON: I have never been able to understand why they don’t put the pre-show matches on the PPV pre-show. Not only that – but with an ENTIRE hour they couldn’t find time to squeeze a couple of the guys on to (literally) warm up the crowd?

The Swagger/Del Rio video package was great. It was better than the match!

PTB: WWE has always had a real talent for editing highlights to make things look epic. They’ll make anyone that didn’t see the match think they missed something.

THE JASON: The most epic thing about the match was Zeb Colter’s tie and hunting vest ensemble.

You know what a 4 hour pay-per-view needs? More commercials!

PTB: Or a full set from Sean Combs. His entrance and the WrestleMania history package was admittedly really cool, but I don’t need the medley on my wrestling show.

THE JASON: P. Diddy elicited the only response he possibly could from me. I went to the bathroom while he was on. Thanks for the pee break, Puffy. But honestly, where does P. Diddle Diddle rate on the scale of useless Wrestlemania performances? Equal or lower to Kid Rock, Flo Rida, The White Rapper from last year or Drowning Pool. Man, I never thought Limp Bisket could be the most tolerable for anything, but hey.. here we are!

PTB: So they induct Trish Stratus into the WWE Hall of Fame and rightly cite her as perhaps the greatest Women’s Champion of all time. Then, there’s not a single female on the card at WrestleMania.

We would have at least seen the Bellas and Funkadactyls, but Tons of Funk versus the Rhodes Scholars was bumped from the card. Did a Bella break a nose last Monday and could that have been the justification?

THE JASON: Maybe. Or maybe the Bellas needed to get back in symmetry, so to speak. Or maybe they thought that Brodus Clay couldn’t top that performance from last year so why try? Or maybe WWE just thought no one would notice? I’d guess we get that match tonight.

The post-WrestleMania Raw usually sees a lot of interesting development due to the “new season” beginning and a super-hot crowd. Last year we saw Brock return, the initially positive introduction of Tensai and a crowd desperate to see Daniel Bryan. Two years ago we got the setup for Rock/Cena 1 and Triple H/Undertaker 3, as well as the debut of Sin Cara. Ten years ago it was the debut of Goldberg. Any idea what we get tonight?

PTB: I have no idea, but I’m expecting big things from The Shield at the very least. We saw DX debut with Triple H, X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws on a post-WrestleMania Raw years ago and I could see The Shield taking a similar turn. 

Below are the full results from last night’s WrestleMania 29:

  • John Cena defeated The Rock for the WWE Championship
  • Triple H defeated Brock Lesnar
  • The Undertaker defeated CM Punk
  • Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger to retain the World Championship
  • Team Hell No defeated Dolph Ziggler/Big E. Langston to retain the World Tag Team Championship
  • Fandango defeated Chris Jericho
  • Mark Henry defeated Ryback
  • The Shield defeated The Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus
  • The Miz defeated Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship (WWE Active pre-show)

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:
April 7th, 2013 WrestleMania Warm Up / April 15th, 2013 edition (coming tomorrow)

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