WWE Monday Night RAW was live from Indianapolis tonight, and it was an interesting program. The WWE is building towards Wrestlemania 29, so this is typically the best of RAW season. We opened with The Undertaker paying homage to late WWE performer William Moody who was known as Paul Bearer in his WWE stint. CM Punk interrupted the segment which sent Kane into a rage. It was a night of great tribute videos in Paul Bearer’s honor, as he passed away this last week. The show didn’t have HHH, The Rock, or John Cena on hand, but still, it was a fun evening of WWE action and some great performances carried the show. The Shield didn’t make the list tonight, but they continue to impress and would make awesome Tag Team Champions, defending utilizing the old Freebirds style, where any two could defend on any given night. The Shield has definitely graduated, and they are ready for a larger assignment. CM Punk, Kane, The Undertaker, and Alberto Del Rio all shined tonight, as did Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler in an incredible match. There were some low points as well, and you’ll read about those in the lower mid card level segments, and one abomination, in the Curtain Jerking category.
Main Event Status – Bryan vs. Ziggler
This was a tremendous back and forth match between two of the best workers on the roster. I believe these two to be among the five best pure wrestlers in the WWE. Ziggler was finally highlighted in a match, and Daniel Bryan works like a champion match in and match out, making whoever he wrestles better. Kane and Bryan will soon be back to singles wrestlers, and the plan is for Ziggler and Big E Langston to go their separate ways as well, so you can expect more instant classics with Ziggler and Bryan both on the singles roster. Great match, good pace, tremendous spots and a good finish.
This match is a perfect example of what these two wrestlers are capable of when stripped of silly gimmicks and just let out to perform. Two of the best in the world.
Main Event Status – Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman has never ever suffered from not being comfortable on the mic. He’s a gifted speaker, is very dramatic and is in cahoots with The Shield, Lesnar and CM Punk. It’s a murderer’s row of talent and when he came out to address the HHH challenge to Lesnar, he meant business. Lesnar dropped by and destroyed The New Age Outlaws, HHH’s close friends and former Degeneration X mates.
Heyman used the mic to tell HHH that Lesnar accepts the challenge if he gets to name the type of match, but won’t name it until after HHH accepts. HHH’s pride won’t let him back away from this, so it was an ideal way for Heyman to stack the deck and just outsmart the competition. Great in-ring segment and Lesnar always carries with him instant big fight atmosphere.
Main Event Status – Alberto Del Rio
First he had a can’t miss match, when he faced Antonio Cesaro. Both are tremendous workers currently at the top of their game. This was a technical match-up, and both guys carried each other very well. Cesaro held the advantage throughout much of the match, until Del Rio countered an attempted suplex with his very nice armbar submission.
He then played Swagger in a spoof video of Swagger and Jeb Colter’s YouTube videos. It was truly very funny and refreshing to see Del Rio get a chance to flex his funny bone in the video.
Last he came out to save Sin Cara from Jack Swagger who was holding his submission hold for too long and hit his awesome armbar finisher again. That armbar comes out of anywhere and the transitions make it one of the slickest finishers in the WWE. He had an awesome night, and he continues to impress.
Main Event Status – Kane and CM Punk
So nice to see Kane working a physical, non-comedic style match. He and Daniel Bryan have been great, but Kane has chops still, and this was a perfect way to bring him back into the single ranks and show him work with attitude again. CM Punk is one of the best in ring performers there is, and he had a great match with Kane. In the end Kane got the pin, he and the Taker were paying tribute to Paul Bearer when Punk stole the urn and took Kane out with it. Punk hit Kane over and over with a vengence, until Taker arrived. CM Punk went up the ramp and posed with the urn while an irate Taker stared him down. Great moment to end RAW. Punk/Taker has got to be the most anticipated match at Wrestlemania this year.
Lower Mid Card Status – Fandango and Tensai
The worst tag team gimmick in WWE works a segment with worst singles gimmick in WWE. Only outcome is awful. For the second consecutive week, Fandango came out, only to not compete, and for the second consecutive week, the fans couldn’t care less. This is a dead gimmick and Fandango has yet to step into the ring.
Giving Tensai a mic is never a good way to start a segment, and he proved to be verbal Nyquil again tonight. B. Clay can be entertaining in small doses, but add the hefty dead weight of Albert/Tensai/Disco Duck and it’s a no win situation.
Lower Mid Card Status – Ryback and Mark Henry
So, in order to hype us up for a match at Wrestlemania between Henry and Ryback, we’re subjected to the two of them going dueling banjos on poor Drew McIntyre each hitting their finisher on him twice. It was an odd way to promote the match between two of the largest and most dangerous men on the roster.
I just don’t buy Henry as some machine type tough guy, but Ryback fits that mold. I just think this is a weak Wrestlemania match, and a poor build towards it. Ryback has gone from major heat, to some heat, to a little chilly to Buffalo in January. Not a good trend.
It was announced later that the duo will face off this Friday on Smackdown, so the three dozen Smackdown viewers will enjoy that.
Lower Mid Card Status – Mix and Match Booking
There’s nothing wrong with the matchup between The Rhodes Scholars and Sheamus/Orton. It was a good match as all four wrestlers are good at what they do. However, this patchwork mix and match booking is not good this close to Wrestlemania. I can only believe they are going to turn Orton heel and set up a match with Sheamus, but there’s better ways to make the turn.
Also, if the point of this match was to have the post-match stuff with The Shield, let’s just book that match, have it go sideways and then get the antics. It just seemed to serve no purpose on the card. All four guys, as well as The Shield deserve better than this.
Lower Mid Card Status – Not seeing stars in Indy
After last week’s one on one in ring segment the two stars were MIA this week. I’m sure that The Rock and the new WWE Championship belt were on the road making a movie, hyping a movie, or watching a movie, but they damn sure weren’t in Indy. Cena got a week off, which is almost unheard of going into Wrestlemania.
If you live in Indy, and it is WM season, you buy a ticket and don’t get The Rock, don’t get Cena, don’t get HHH to confront Lesnar I think you have to feel a little burned. First Manning leaves, now this? Someone punch those fans in the head so they can see some stars.
Jerkin the Curtain/What the hell? – Miz, Jericho and Barrett. Really?
So let’s say you’re going to have Chris Jericho, The Miz, and Wade Barrett in an in-ring segment. Should be pretty sweet right? WRONG. Worst segment of the night, far and away.
The three of them couldn’t generate any buzz, at all, and then when Brad Maddox came out and got involved, it just got unwatchable. I don’t know if they were just told, go out there and vamp for ten minutes, but it was the worst in ring segment in recent memory.
Keep Maddox off of TV, he’s just brutal.