WWE Raw: The WrestleMania Go-Home
March 24, 2015 10:07 AM - Season 23, Episode 30 - Subscribe

The card is set. The stars are aligned. The Granddaddy Of Them All is just a few days away, and WWE has managed to put together a fairly compelling WrestleMania card almost despite themselves.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. Roman Reigns. We've seen it coming for months, and now it's time for one of the ultimate monster heels to face the super-pushed up-and-comer. It's one day before Lesnar's WWE contract runs out, and rumors are flying every direction about whether he'll go back to UFC or stick around as some kind of monster babyface. Can Reigns take the strap and carry the company as its standard-bearer?

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Bad News Barrett (champion) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Stardust vs. Dolph Ziggler. The writers are trying to make the Intercontinental title relevant after a long span champions losing non-title match after non-title match and boring plotlines. The first great ladder match in WWE/F history was at WMX for the Intercontinental belt (Razor Ramon over Shawn Michaels), and odds are this one will put a roof on the Levi's Stadium just to tear it off.

United States Championship: Rusev (champion) vs. John Cena. Cena seeks to return the US title to America and be the first to defeat Rusev in the ring. Is this the start of the downward slope of the face of the WWE, or will LOLCENAWINS be the order of the day?

The Second Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Last year's winner, Cesaro, is only barely on the card, defending the Tag Team Championship on the pre-show. Will this year's winner get a push bigger than the trophy? Possible storylines include the long-teased Miz-Dow split; the return of Sheamus; Big Show and Kane running rampant again; an NXT tournament winner getting to participate; and AXELMANIA.

The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt. We haven't seen hide nor hair of the Dead Man since Lesnar broke the streak at last year's WrestleMania. Will this be a passing of the torch to the creepy backwoods preacher? Can the 50-years-old-today (Happy Birthday Taker!) icon still go?

Sting vs. Triple H. What started as THEVIGILANTESTING defending Righteousness at Survivor Series has evolved into an old-school WWE vs. WCW showdown -- "old-school" in its truest sense, as these two guys are more than a century old between them and have a combined 25 months of ring rust to shake off.

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins. A straight-up match between two guys who just don't like each other. Orton hasn't been on a PPV since Hell in a Cell (not counting his doling out some RKOs at Fastlane), and Rollins is still hanging on to the Money in the Bank briefcase (which is not on the line). Rollins essentially took over the Viper's spot as the top entitled whiny Authority heel, and Orton will be looking to impress in his return.

The Bella Twins vs. A.J. Lee and Paige. Another one with just pride on the line, as "frenemies" Lee and Paige doubtless tease a split and/or heel turn as they take on the much-improved Bella Twins.
posted by Etrigan (31 comments total)
That last image of Brock and Roman slap fighting over the belt was like watching two men fighting over the last loaf of bread at the 7-11 before a snowstorm. Meh.
posted by inturnaround at 12:23 PM on March 24, 2015

No men's tag match? Maybe during the preshow?

I'm most looking forward to the IC match, and it's because of the guys involved, not the ladder gimmick.

Something mentioned on the last Cheap Heat podcast was that Taker and Wyatt's intros should be interested in full daylight.
posted by jermsplan at 2:11 PM on March 24, 2015

No men's tag match? Maybe during the preshow?

Yeah, the Fatal Four-Way Tag Titles match is on the preshow. Cesaro/Kidd vs. Matadores vs. Usos vs. New Day. I suspect it will be exactly as good as they allow Cesaro to be, with some El Torito bullshit (no pun intended), and maaaybe a New Day heel turn?
posted by Etrigan at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2015

My only real hope for Wrestlemania is for Curtis Axel to lose the Andre the Giant Battle Royale without being eliminated so that he can get two clocks running simultaneously. He's already the longest-lasting participant in the Royal Rumble, so it would be nice if he could also set the record for longest lasting participant in an Andre Royale.

It bothers me that half the belts aren't being defended on the card on the grandest stage of them all. It's almost like WWE (note: can we get a mod to change the company name on the thread?) doesn't care about the Divas or Tag Team championships. Almost.

They had better pull something amazing out of their hat for Taker vs. Wyatt. I'm not sure why this match exists. If Wyatt goes over, it devalues all the mystique that the WWE built with the streak. "One of the two in twenty-one and two" doesn't have nearly the same ring to it as "the one in twenty-one and one". If Taker goes over, it doesn't do his legacy or the company any good, and it does so at the expense of one of their up-and-comers. I'm hoping that this ends up being smarter than it looks.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:07 PM on March 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

My only real hope for Wrestlemania is for Curtis Axel to lose the Andre the Giant Battle Royale without being eliminated so that he can get two clocks running simultaneously.

If they do this, I promise to buy an Axelmania shirt at whatever price WWE wants to sell them for.
posted by Etrigan at 5:14 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had a thought at the gym earlier about how I'd book Mania. I dismissed it because it just seemed too improbable, but now that Brock is staying (assuming that Brock saying he's staying isn't just a work to get people more invested in the main event) it might make more sense...

Orton beats Rollins clean. It just makes sense, narrative wise.

Ambrose takes the Intercontinental Championship, possibly in a way that gets his major heat with Dolph or D-Bry.

Cena and Rusev beat the living Hell out of each other until they're both pulp. The win could go either way, depending on how they want the future storyline to develop. Either way, Seth Rollins cashes in Money in the Bank and curbstomps his way to the United States Title.

Brock and Roman get ready to go, when suddenly: SIERRA HOTEL INDIA ECHO LIMA DELTA. Rollins and Ambrose come down to the ring. Roman picks up the win off the distraction by the Shield, and afterwards the three of them go to town on Brock. The Shield leaves Mania with all three of the titles that were up for grabs that night.

Totally changes the landscape of the company in one night. Sets Brock up as a righteously pissed off face, and gives the rest of the faces incentive to stable up. I'm not saying that it'll happen, but I think it would be smart booking.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:33 PM on March 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

That would possibly be the greatest booking in wrestling history, PU. I have only one edit: Brock and Roman get ready to go, when suddenly Stephanie McMahon comes to ringside and says, "Brock, you've been treating my family like garbage. Sierra! Hotel! India! Echo! Lima! Delta!"

Because the only way a reunited Shield isn't still face (maybe not baby-, but definitely over in the way of the NWO at its height) is if they're just tools of the Authority.
posted by Etrigan at 5:12 AM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not editing to add: That way, you have Lesnar as monster face and Cena gets to have another underdog run (if you take out the LOLCENAWINS aspect and actually have him lose a few tune-up matches and look vulnerable, the "CENA SUCKS" chants will shrink). Add in Ziggler and Bryan, with the four of them not trusting each other and getting picked apart because of it. Then you have Bray as a wild card, maybe collecting more disciples as necessary.

Oh, and Kane and Show have to get fired from the Authority at some point in the process, too. Kane can gracefully retire, and Show can just go back to being top-level enhancement talent.
posted by Etrigan at 5:17 AM on March 25, 2015

Brock and Roman get ready to go, when suddenly: SIERRA HOTEL INDIA ECHO LIMA DELTA. Rollins and Ambrose come down to the ring. Roman picks up the win off the distraction by the Shield, and afterwards the three of them go to town on Brock. The Shield leaves Mania with all three of the titles that were up for grabs that night.

Basically every fantasy I have about the title match being good boils down to the Shield getting back together somehow or other. The one I'd go with is Rollins cashing in his briefcase during the fight to help Roman out, which is allowed to work because, again, they're Authority now.

Taker vs. Wyatt is just lazy, lazy storytelling. There are so many different reasons for that match to happen but it's like they didn't feel the need to actually pick one of them, and are content to just let it happen because we all knew it was going to happen.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:21 AM on March 25, 2015

Taker vs. Wyatt is just lazy, lazy storytelling. There are so many different reasons for that match to happen but it's like they didn't feel the need to actually pick one of them, and are content to just let it happen because we all knew it was going to happen.

It's definitely lazy, but that's been Taker's career for the last several years: show up at WrestleMania, fight someone who's over enough to be a legitimate threat to The Streak, disappear for most of the rest of the year. Even the Taker-Michaels feud was explicitly, on camera, said to be because they'd never been in a program against each other and Michaels wanted to be the one to end The Streak. It's only in hindsight that even Taker-Lesnar was anything but another "Let's find someone who's a legitimate threat to The Streak and let them go."
posted by Etrigan at 11:34 AM on March 25, 2015

Fair enough, but I think we gave them a (partial) pass on that because “be the man who broke The Streak” made a good enough in-universe motivation for random guys to pick a fight with him, and now that's gone. Meanwhile Wyatt should have a good setup for actual conflict with Undertaker thanks to their gimmicks – how long has there been speculation about a match to determine who the One True Demon is? – but somehow that hasn't carried over to what's actually happening.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:55 AM on March 25, 2015

Parasite, your fantasy booking of the Shield reunion and leaving with all the gold is amazing, but here's the twist I'd put on it: I think Rollins cashing in early in the night would be confusing and underwhelming (as it happened, obviously less underwhelming later). What if he comes down mid-main event flashing the briefcase, fueling speculation he's cashing in no matter who wins, but then he clocks Brock with the briefcase while the ref is down, leading to a Reigns win. So end of WM, Shield has 2/3 titles and the Briefcase, which Rollins makes use of on Monday night to take out a still-weakened whoeverisUSchamp.
posted by jermsplan at 7:44 AM on March 26, 2015

Strategically and on a narrative level, I think your plan makes more sense. On a "WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT" level, though, closing the show with the image of the three of them holding their respective belts overhead is too big for me to give up.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:22 AM on March 26, 2015

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has been moved to the pre-show, so we're down to seven matches in four hours. Thank the gods that they'll manage to squeeze in another overblown HHH entrance (this one will be Terminator-inspired and feature clips from the next movie!).
posted by Etrigan at 2:27 PM on March 27, 2015

Yeah, I don't get why on Earth you would spend weeks building up Axelmania (which seems to have some solid fan support behind it as a gimmick) and then bump the match that he's in to the pre-show.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:02 PM on March 27, 2015

Because Axel isn't over, duh. Oh, it might look like he's over, what with the people cheering him and seeming to be engaged in his storyline and all, but clearly he's not over now, because he wasn't over two years ago.
posted by Etrigan at 2:51 AM on March 28, 2015

No matter how Mania goes down, I will remember this as the week that (after months and months of teasing) WWE finally let Hideo Itami hit the GTS. POINT MULTIPLIER TIMES 1,000,000 for giving it to "not in the face" Tyler Breeze.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:13 AM on March 28, 2015

Well, that was definitely a show.

Tag Title Match: Sloppy as shit, with multiple spots looking like absolute crap (and whoever came up with the double suplex powerbomb thing needs to be smacked). No one comes out of this looking good.

AtGMBR: When they turfed Axelmania immediately and unceremoniously, I had a feeling I would not be happy. Once JBL started pointing out that the Big Show has never won a battle royal, I knew I would hate the end. The Miz/'Dow split almost saved it, but we get one storyline out of a battle royal? That was it? I swear, whoever used to book Rumbles and battle royals must have been fired, because they haven't had a good one in a looong while.

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Had some good spots, and Bryan was a worthy victor, but... it didn't blow the roof off. Maybe there just aren't any huge spots left to thrill us.

Orton-Rollins: Pretty good, used J&J well, got Orton over as the Viper. Did its job.

Triple H-Sting: I was so stoked when DX and the NWO came out. I wanted more of a schmozz than they gave us. And the end? Seriously? Sting gets hit with a fucking sledgehammer, and then he's all "Yeah, we're cool. Good match, bro."?

AJ/Paige-Bellas: Half the time of the second-shortest match on the main card, but it's something. Well booked, and well performed. But it could have been so much more.

Cena-Rusev: Bleah. Never got me out of my chair. LOLCENAWINS.

Taker-Wyatt: The Dead Man can still go, but I wasn't ever really convinced that it would be anything but a 22-1 finish.

Lesnar-Reigns(-Rollins): YES YES YES. This was the best possible non-Parasite-Unseen's-fantasy-booking ending. Rollins proves that he's the smartest man in wrestling with a perfect cash-in.

But what is to be done with Lesnar? Word on the street is that his new contract didn't add that many dates to his schedule, so will he be the monster anti-Authority face, fighting to reclaim what's his from the weaselly Rollins (a la Luger/Sting vs. Flair and the Horsemen)? Will he be the secondary heel, defending Rollins by standing athwart the #1 contendership and beating down all challengers? Will he be the Undertaker/Big Show, providing a convenient feud opportunity for someone who's too big not to be on a PPV card?

All in all, I'd say about a 3.5-star WrestleMania (out of 5). Little that was actively odious (if we discount the pre-show), but not much in the way of high spots that we'll remember for decades to come.
posted by Etrigan at 11:59 AM on March 30, 2015

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? CURB STOMP TO RKO!!!!!! That was like the greatest moment of all time. It was FLAWLESS. How could you give that a meh???

Ok sorry - just got worked up a little. Each to his or her own, IMHO and all that jazz...
posted by goneill at 2:10 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I didn't mean to meh that match at all. It was a perfectly good -- hell, I'd say 4-star -- match. But it just didn't grab me like those guys are capable of.
posted by Etrigan at 2:38 PM on April 1, 2015

Is all good - each to his own... you can meh the greatest second in professional wrestling history if you want ;-). I for one loved it, but like I get hyped really easily so I'd be a terrible analyst! I loved, loved, loved, and had a hope I haven't really ever had, during the first 2 hours of RAW where it seemed like ANYTHING could happen.

Then they killed my dreams.
posted by goneill at 11:14 AM on April 2, 2015

Apparently, Rollins cashing in was so secret that he didn't even know about it until after his match with Orton.
posted by Etrigan at 6:48 AM on April 3, 2015

the greatest second in professional wrestling history

Foley off the Cell. No question.
posted by Etrigan at 6:49 AM on April 3, 2015

Oh I had forgotten about that - but didn't that take more than a second??
posted by goneill at 3:15 PM on April 3, 2015

and now we are back to crappy RAWs until the end of time. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat!!!
posted by goneill at 12:53 PM on April 7, 2015

Some day the writers will realize that the Shield was not over because of the six-man tag format. We're in for a lot of crappy combinations featuring Ryback*, Kane, and the Big Show until then.

* -- iOS autocorrects that to "setback," which is just way too good.
posted by Etrigan at 3:57 PM on April 7, 2015

Gotta remain hopeful that WWE won't bury too much of what momentum they have under the weight of some old timers. The end of Kane in the Authority seems like it's being foreshadowed pretty hard, and maybe that can mean the end of Kane (of whom I will have many MANY fond memories, but the dude is over the hill and has lost his mystique pretty hard at this point). Big show is inevitably going to be pushed a bit here now that he's carrying that trophy, but it sure didn't last long for Cesaro last year, so maybe Show will fade before too much longer as well, and perhaps winning his first battle royal was the one last hill he wanted to climb before he heads off into the sunset. They have Sheamus back in the roll of big man super heel now, so he can fill their spot. Not sure how he figures into the Authority, but maybe they'll finally untangle that mess for a while...I mean we're like 1 J&J screwup nearly costing Rollins the title away from that, right? The crowd chanting "Same Old Shit" during that 6 man action was pretty spot on and pretty damning.

As I think back over WrestleMania the one thing that continues to stand out to me is what an amazing match Brock put on. Terrific booking, and his previous year as streak-ending, unstoppable, Cena squashing powerhouse did a lot to setup the WM match, but he was absolutely terrific in it. Dominance and arrogance, transitioning into frustration, transitioning into getting hit by the hardest move his opponent has but not going down. Toss in the fact that he bleeds really easily for some reason so he looks like he's been in a hell of a fight, and he just blew me away with his part in that match. And by keeping him off TV for a while, he can step right back into the roll when they want: someone who competes every week can't pull that off, they have to lose or look week or stop no-selling at some point. But not him, and I love what WWE is doing with him.
posted by jermsplan at 12:42 PM on April 9, 2015

That was such an awesome Wrestlemania (I disagree with Etrigan's mehs on just about every point) and now here we are back to watching (or not) shitty Raws week after week.

I feel like they kinda teased a Show retirement last night, perhaps caused by Reigns, which would certainly give Reigns points with the smark crowd. And, by the way, either Roman is getting promo pointers from his cousin or WWE finally figured out he does better ad-libbing a bit than being force fed scripts. Because aside from my issue with the WWE thinking "BITCH" is the ultimate insult, while also using it all the fucking time & making it lose any impact it could have, I thought Reigns did a better than passable job on the mic last night.

The Adrian Neville-Ziggler match was pretty good. I'm down with a Naomi "I'm a good wrestler and tired of my niceness being seen as weakness" heel turn.

Unfortunately the Authority/Rollins/Kane/whoever angles are all stale and boring. I had to just go read a recap to even remember what else happened on the show. Ugh.

At least I got to see Shimmer this weekend.
posted by misskaz at 7:25 AM on April 14, 2015

I was going to make a new post for the King of the Ring episode, but can't figure out what method Etrigan has been using to determine episode #, and since that's super important (/s) I wimped out.

Extreme rules was somewhat underwhelming, but there was big news this week, a big Raw, and then the first ever spontaneous mini PPV on a Tuesday which might be exactly what WWE needs to get more buy in for the Network. Do we want to talk about that? Here? Should I just count the Mondays between the RAW gohome and Monday to figure out Episode number? Why am I so lazy?
posted by jermsplan at 9:15 AM on April 29, 2015

Should I just count the Mondays between the RAW gohome and Monday to figure out Episode number?

This is literally exactly how I do it.

New post is up.
posted by Etrigan at 9:32 AM on April 29, 2015

haha, thanks. Sorry for being so lazy
posted by jermsplan at 9:34 AM on April 29, 2015

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