5 Stars From Last Night’s #RAW & The Unnecessary Hole The WWE Has Dug Themselves For The Main Event of WrestleMania
The final Raw before WrestleMania aired last night from Los Angeles, and for the most part was a pretty solid show. Every WrestleMania match has been made, so Raw served as a platform to tie up any loose ends and get the final fight/promo out of the way before WWE’s biggest show of the year. Just like last week, all hands were on deck, including Sting and Brock Lesnar, and one of them was utilized correctly while the other one still has me puzzled. I’m going to make this a joint article with the regular five star setup followed by what happened to close Raw.
1. This IS Sting
Sting opened up Monday Night Raw last night and it was a breath of fresh air. I can’t remember the last time someone other than a member of The Authority started Raw, so not only was Sting a sight for sore eyes, but he had a lot of energy and finally explained why he was in the WWE. Stephanie McMahon is so evil and played her role pitch perfectly, including the damsel in distress after her slap backfired. It’s clear by it’s use both as Fast Lane and last night’s Raw that the sledgehammer and the baseball bat will come into play for Sting and HHH’s match at Mania, but how that will happen is anyone’s guess at this point. Not only is Sting in great shape, but he really seems to be enjoying himself. He’s at the stage in his career where he’s going to get a huge pop no matter what arena he walks into, and I fully expect Levi’s Stadium in San Fran to blow the imaginary roof off the stadium on Sunday. If he can, I’d love for Sting to stick around for one more year and finish his career off in Dallas for next year’s Mania, but for now I’m going to enjoy him Stinger Splashing HHH on Sunday.
2. Have Yourselves A Match Nikki & Paige
Raise your hand if heading into Raw you thought Nikki Bella and Paige would have the match of the night. Raise your hand if halfway through Raw you thought Nikki Bella and Paige would have the match of the night on the same show that included Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler. I’m assuming no one has their hands raised. This isn’t a knock on Nikki or Paige or any of the Divas, but the WWE hasn’t exactly inspired us with confidence when it comes to the Divas division. Nikki and Paige were given enough time to tell a story and have a solid match, and look what happened: they told a story and had a solid match! I’m hoping this will lead to a Fatal Four Way or Triple Threat match for the Diva’s title at Mania, because not having the championship defended at your biggest show isn’t right. If the match stays as is, they should have enough time to at least have a good match (it is a 4 hour show), and I expect Paige and AJ to feud shortly after Mania.
Besides the Diva’s match, my other personal highlight was Rusev killing Jack Swagger and John Cena. Props to Michael Cole for pointing out that Lana is usually the one who stops Rusev from going too far post match, but since she’s not here, he’s basically a monster without a leash. I fully expected Cena to come down to the ring and toss Rusev around and leave him running up the ramp, but NOPE. Rusev just forearmed him in the face, threw him into the barricade and camel clutched him until he passed out. My only complaint was that he didn’t drape the Russian flag over Cena’s lifeless body afterwards. The pessimist in wrestling fans came out last night when people started tweeting that now Cena is definitely going to win at Mania. How about we enjoy the show guys? Maybe Cena wins, maybe he doesn’t. The key to Rusev will be how he responds to his match at Mania, and while a loss will definitely hurt him, if he comes back strong he’ll be fine in the long run. I really hope he is fine in the long run, because he is far and away my favorite character on the show right now.
4. Bray Wyatt
Welp, there’s a new face of fear. This was SO GOOD. SO GOOD CAPTIAL LETTERS EXCLAMATION POINT. When the thunder and lightning effects kicked in I thought we’d get another Undertaker voice over, but it looks like Wyatt has literally usurped The Undertaker as the WWE’s resident poltergeist. He now has The Undertaker’s powers, and as good as Heyman has been hyping up Lesnar/Reigns, Wyatt has been even better. Heyman at least has someone beside him in Lesnar and someone to play off of in Reigns. Bray Wyatt has stood in the middle of that ring and single handedly sold us on a WrestleMania match with The Undertaker. The most mythical and holy match in the history of wrestling, and Wyatt’s done it on his own. If you still doubt Wyatt after that promo, you’re an idiot and don’t under pro wrestling.
5. Paul Heyman
Heyman started off his promo saying there’s nothing more he can say to sell us on the WrestleMania main event, then he went ahead and did it anyway. Without Heyman, this main event build would have been terrible, but I’m assuming the WWE knows that, and wouldn’t have set this match up without Heyman in the picture to begin with. He is wrestling’s best hype man, and his client is wrestling’s greatest beast. I don’t think Lesnar is going to lose at Mania, and I don’t think he should lose at Mania, which brings me to my next point…
What the hell was that ending? The WWE has done a great job lately in rallying the fans together to have the same opinion on a segment or a match, and that is the farthest thing from a compliment. At the Royal Rumble, the WWE booked the Rumble match so foolishly they screwed up their own coronation ceremony of Roman Reigns. I have no beef with Reigns winning the Rumble, or him main-eventing Mania, but what did you expect the crowd to do when Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt were all dumped out of the ring by KANE AND THE BIG SHOW? You had the show in Philly! One of the smarkiest crowds in wrestling, and you end a show like that. The fans lashed out, rightfully so, and now the WWE was forced to promote the main event on their biggest show of the year from deep within a hole they dug themselves. They trotted Roman Reigns out to the middle of a ring with a microphone, his main weakness, and sat there baffled when people shit all over it. Paul Heyman became their saving grace, but come bell time Sunday night, Paul Heyman won’t be in that ring. It will be up to Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns to put on a match that is worthy of the main event spot of a WrestleMania. The preview we got for that match last night was mind blowingly bad. You have the most dominant champion of this century and his equally as alpha male opponent tussle over the belt? I understand you don’t want a large scale brawl, but they needed to do something more than that. Unless WrestleMania opens up with Lesnar and Reigns still in the middle of the ring in LA fighting over the belt, I’m not satisfied, and once again, neither is the entire WWE Universe. The excuse of “it’s three hours of TV and it’s hard to get everything right” does not apply here. This what the WWE does: they put on shows that the audience pays for and we expect to be entertained. Maybe our favorite guy isn’t in the main event, maybe their best wrestlers don’t get enough ring time, but the audience puts blind faith in Vince, HHH and the writers and we are continually disappointed. I’m going to watch and enjoy WrestleMania and I expect most of the card to be great, but it won’t be because of anything that happened in the final minutes of last night’s Raw. The WWE will once again operating out of a hole they dug themselves in, and depending how Mania ends on Sunday, they might not be able to dig themselves out.
If you’ve never seen it, Plizzanet Earth is a segment on Jimmy Kimmel live where a dangerously high Snoop Dogg watches videos of animals and tries to figure out what’s going on. In this particular episode, Snoop Dogg mistakes a hawk for a pigeon, because there are just thousands of pigeons out in the wild chasing other animals. Before he identifies any animal on the screen he starts off his thought “what is that a…” which most likely means he has no idea what any animal looks like. I picture him inviting friends over his house to see his cows and alligators and when everyone gets there he just has a cat and a fish. Classic Snoop-a-loop.