This is a five day late edition of the Raw Deal. I don't usually write this column so late in the week, but I was at WrestleMania 30 on Sunday, then Raw on Monday and when I got back home on Tuesday night I had no time to write this due to other work commitments. What I'll do is write about Raw the same way I do every week while also adding in some live notes. I will post a formal review of WrestleMania 30 (which I also attended) likely on Sunday evening. I did post a quickie live thoughts version after the show. That's enough rambling from me. Let's get to it.
Live from New Orleans, Louisiana this is the Raw Deal for episode #1089. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
We were sitting in section 313, which is the upper deck. The good thing about those seats is that we could see the ring easily and were across from the video wall too. Just being a part of that crowd was a blast no matter where we sat.
It opened with the video package about Daniel Bryan that they aired at WrestleMania 30 too. It was outstanding as usual. The song is "Monster" by Imagine Dragons. Bryan's my favorite performer in WWE. This video did a great job of summarizing his journey to the top although it left out the fact that the "yes" chant started out as a heel taunt to annoy fans. It's still great, though.
The NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan entered the arena to thunderous "yes" chants. The crowd was very happy for him. We were going nuts for him. It didn't stop for a few minutes. Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield welcomed us to the show.
Bryan was greeted with loud "Daniel Bryan" chants once his music stopped. It lasted about two minutes. Bryan wondered if they would get tired. The fans chanted "no" at him. He mentioned doing the "yes" sign with two titles. He had the World Title around his waist and the WWE Title on his shoulder. More "yes" chants. Bryan mentioned it was over two years ago when he started doing the "yes" and everybody was united saying it now. One of my favorite chants was next as the crowd said "you deserve it" at Bryan in the ring and he said the fans deserve it. Bryan spoke about how "yes" was about the power that each of us have to make change. Right now he stands in the ring as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. More "yes" chants.
The music of Triple H started up as the WWE COO walked out with his wife Stephanie McMahon, who was limping to sell her fall at WrestleMania.
An "asshole" chant started up as Triple H stood on the apron with his wife. Hunter didn't want to step in the ring to do something to Bryan. Bryan said if that's the case he wanted to do something. He stood in front of Hunter with both titles and led the crowd in more "yes" chants. Hunter told him to enjoy it because it's not going to last. He booked himself in a WWE WHC match against Bryan later in the show. Huge boos for that. Hunter said he's going to put an end to Bryan, shut up the crowd and shut up the world. The reality is that it's his show and there's not a damn thing Bryan can do about it. They left.
Bryan led the crowd with more "yes" chants as the segment came to a close.
Analysis: That was a really smart way to start the show. Fans wanted Bryan to open the show and that's what we got. We were really loud for him. That "you deserve it" chant was especially great. Bryan looked humbled by it. That's why he's so likable, though. He's not a cocky guy. He appreciates everything he has because he's worked so hard for it. Good job by Hunter coming out angrily to set up a huge match later in the show. That was the right way to get people to stay tuned in for the rest of the show. Really good opening segment.
They showed pictures from WrestleMania.
Backstage in the office, Triple H was talking to Stephanie. Batista showed up to complain about things. They both questioned each other about their matches at WrestleMania. Randy Orton showed up to say he had a rematch clause in his contract. Hunter said he could run things the way he sees fit. They both get rematches, but tonight he takes care of the problem. Stephanie said they'll settle things after Raw. She booked Orton and Batista in a tag title match against The Usos. They said they didn't care about the tag titles. Triple H told them that historically when they're all on the same page, nobody can stop them.
Analysis: I liked the placement of the segment. Makes sense for Orton and Batista to make their complaints early in the show. Hunter's final point about the three of them working together was very true as well. A sign of things to come.
There was a huge reaction to Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family all weekend long. We swayed to their song during the entrance. You could hear the clapping too. It was a lot of fun to be there live. They went to break before the match began.
The babyfaces made their entrances as the show returned from the break. The highlight was singing "John Cena suuuuuuucks" during his song. I've never been a part of anything like that before. It was hilarious and off key at the same time.
Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan vs. John Cena, Sheamus & Big E
They brawled early on and then the fans chanted for Wyatt as he worked over Cena. Sheamus got the tag in and hit a shoulderblock on Wyatt. Rowan tagged in to brawl with Sheamus, which was a battle won by Sheamus. Big E tagged in and he hit three impressive backbreakers on Rowan in a row. Huge ovation for that. Fans initially booed him, but cheered that impressive feat of strength. Harper got the tag in for his team while Cena also tagged in for his with a spinning suplex followed by the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Harper came back with a face first slam. They went to break without anybody on the floor. Crazy show!
Back from break, Harper was working over Cena. Lawler was saying Wyatt has everybody in the arena under his spell. It's like they forget that people root against Cena everywhere. Time for the crowd to sing "he's got the whole world in his hands" for Wyatt. That was so fun. Never experienced that before this weekend. Cena nailed Wyatt with a clothesline. Back to the "John Cena suuuuucks" chant from the crowd. The traditional "Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks" chant was next. Sheamus received the hot tag from Cena and he cleaned house with a rolling senton on Harper onto Rowan, who was down on the mat. Shoulder tackle by Sheamus on Harper and Rowan. After some distractions, Rowan destroyed Sheamus with a clothesline. Big E tagged in for his team as did Wyatt. Big E hit a belly to belly suplex and then a big splash. Harper saved Wyatt with a kick to the jaw of Big E. Rowan decked Cena with a shoulderblock. Harper hit a dive between the top/middle ropes to take out Sheamus. Huge ovation for the Wyatt Family. Bray did his upside down corner pose followed by the crab walk. "Bray's gonna kill you" chant for that. Sister Abigail neckbreaker by Wyatt on Big E is enough for the pinfall after 14 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Wyatt Family
Post match, Cena had this look of shock on his face as he retreated up the aisle.
Analysis: *** The booking was predictable because it's typical of WWE to give somebody their win back if they lost the night before. Since Wyatt is going to continue to get a push, they wanted to keep him strong by booking him to win the match. Watching it live, my first reaction was that I don't think Cena should have been out of the picture as much as he was. I understand not pinning him. Just saying he should have been hurting a bit more. That was the longest match on the show by far.
They plugged the main event as well as Slam City.
There was a Bo Dallas video with him saying that "Impossible" really says "I'm Possible" and that we should be a Boliever. We'll see him soon.
Fandango entered with Summer Rae. Most of the crowd chanted along with his song just like last year. What was weird is that they had the Fandango silhouette above the ring, but they didn't use it when they entered the ring.
Fandango & Summer Rae vs. Santino & Emma
Santino hit the arm drag, so Fandango tagged out meaning the girls had to go at it. Tarantula by Emma that is called the Dilemma. Running corner body splash by Emma. Then the Emma Lock submission on Summer was enough to end it after about 90 seconds.
Analysis: * I assume this is the end of this boring feud. Fandango dumped Summer on Twitter and on Smackdown he had Layla with him instead. I have no problem with that. Most likely it will lead to Summer Rae in a babyface role or simply a solo act that they want to push.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman up next.
More pictures from WrestleMania.
Promo Time With Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar entered the arena with his advocate Paul Heyman. Cole called Lesnar the most despised man in sports entertainment today. Lesnar was sporting a black eye around his left eye. Lesnar had on the "EAT SLEEP BREAK THE STREAK" shirt that I wish I bought while I was in New Orleans. I'm a Lesnar/Heyman Guy.
Heyman introduced the beast incarnate Brock Lesnar by calling him "the conqueror of The Undertaker's streak." Fans were chanting "bullshit" as Heyman continued by saying "we told you so." I didn't believe it. Heyman went over the shirt as Lesnar smiled. Heyman said Lesnar isn't there to put smiles on people's faces. He's there to shock the WWE Universe and put tears in the eyes of children. Adult males cheered that. Heyman said it was time to "shoot from the hip" a little bit.
Heyman mentioned that five seconds after he got though the curtain, The Undertaker collapsed. He pointed out that Vince McMahon left WrestleMania and rode to the hospital with The Undertaker. That's a true story. Heyman pointed out that Undertaker had a severe concussion and was very close to a broken neck as well as a cracked skull. Heyman said Lesnar wasn't going to be done beating up Undertaker until The Streak was dead. He commented on how JBL and "the two other things that call themselves announcers" gave Undertaker a standing ovation. He made sure to say Superdome and ripped on Hogan for saying Silverdome. Poor Hogan. He didn't understand why they would cheer a loser like Undertaker. "The winner was Brock Lesnar!" Yes he was.
Heyman said that the fans are like everybody in the back because we're all a bunch of wannabes. He pointed out that Lesnar doesn't respect anybody and barely tolerates Heyman. A lot of people try to fight in an octagon like Lesnar, but Brock is "the one" that did it. He mentioned Brock as a NCAA Champ, UFC Champ and WWE Champ while guys like Rock, Austin and Hogan couldn't do that. He pointed out that Orton, Michaels and Triple H didn't break the streak because they're wannabes. "Brock Lesnar is the one in twenty one and one." Fans were chanting "what" at him, so he said it slowly. "Brock....Lesnar...is...the...one...in...twenty...one...and...one." That was terrific. There are WWE Hall of Famers, legends and WWE superstars and the key to that is they're all plural. They're all lumped together while there's only one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. There's only one...Brock Lesnar.
Analysis: Brilliant promo. Absolutely. One of the best promos that Heyman has ever done and that's saying a lot because he's an all time great talker. There were points where the fans were ready to cheer the guy, but he shut them up. It's a shame that Lesnar isn't a full timer because they could have really capitalized on this, but instead he's going to go away until probably SummerSlam time. A Bryan/Lesnar feud would do huge business right now. A shame they can't do it right away.
Tag titles up next.
Adam Rose and his Exotic Express bus are coming soon. It's a fun gimmick in NXT that really isn't that old, but it was a nice change from his Leo Kruger character.
Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. Randy Orton & Batista
Batista and Orton were aggressive early on. Jey got some punches in on Orton, but the heels were able to overpower the Usos in their corner. Plenty of quick tags. Both Usos entered the ring as the match broke down. One Uso was thrown into the ring post while the other was sent outside the ring. The match broke down from there so the ref rang the bell and called for the double countout. The "match" went about two minutes.
Match Result: Double Countout (Usos still tag champs)
Orton hit his DDT off the barricade sending the head of one of the Usos into the mat outside the ring. Batista took off the top steel step and gave a Powerbomb onto the bottom steps. Batista and Orton raised their arms in the ring. They were proud of their work.
Analysis: It was an angle, not really a match. It was all about pushing the idea that Batista and Orton were angry about what happened at WrestleMania 30. A shame that the tag champs were sacrificed, but it was against two main eventers so it's okay.
Hogan presents the battle royal trophy to Cesaro later.
More photos from WrestleMania.
Rob Van Dam vs. Damien Sandow
This is the return of RVD after being away since last fall. Loud "RVD" chants. Kick sent Sandow to the floor and then he hit a spinning leg drop off the apron onto Sandow outside the ring. "You still got it" chant for RVD. Back in ring, RVD hit another kick and then Rolling Thunder. RVD went up top, hit the Five Star Frog Splash and won the match via pinfall after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rob Van Dam
Analysis: * Just a short match to put over RVD as he did all of his signature spots. Sandow needs a bigger role, but that's something I've been writing for the past four months or so. As for RVD, there was nothing new here although the fans still care about him a lot, so that's why WWE keeps bringing him back.
Main event is Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H.
They plugged the Journey to WrestleMania feature about Daniel Bryan that was on WWE Network. I haven't seen it yet, but I will on Sunday probably. Heard great things. Looking forward to it.
Wade Barrett vs. Rey Mysterio
Don't be confused by the cheers for Barrett. There are a lot of British fans that come over for WrestleMania, so they were the ones that were really vocal for him. He's still a heel. Mysterio hit a splash outside the ring. Winds of Change slam by Barrett for two. Mysterio fought back with a seated senton off the top followed by a spinning DDT in the ring for two. Mysterio hit the 619 although Barrett got both of his hands up so it was sort of countered. Barrett tripped him up when Mysterio was on the top rope and the Bull Hammer elbow finished it after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Wade Barrett
Analysis: *1/2 It's nice to see Barrett back in the ring having a match since they haven't booked him in television matches for months now. They were busy trying to get his "Bad News" gimmick over. For this crowd it worked. At Smackdown he didn't get a reaction close to this. As for Mysterio, he's near the end of his career and this is what he'll likely be doing until he retires.
Alexander Rusev's in-ring debut is next.
There was another "Exotic Express" video for Adam Rose, who is coming soon.
The "ravishing Russian" Lana introduced Alexander Rusev. I think I've mentioned it before, but she's really from Florida and just does a really good job with the accent. What does her name spell backwards? I'll let you figure it out.
Alexander Rusev w/Lana vs. Zack Ryder
Ryder actually got in a kick at one point, but Rusev destroyed him with a superkick. Fallaway slam by Rusev. Some in the crowd were chanting "USA" at him. Don't chant that when the best you can do is Zack Ryder. Another slam by Rusev. The Camel Clutch finishes it off in under two minutes.
Winner by submission: Alexander Rusev
Analysis: Best parts of the match were when they showed Lana. More please. More of her, I should say. Rusev has potential, but it all depends on how far they push him and what he can do in a competitive match.
They aired a video about the WWE Hall of Fame. I didn't go that. I was watching college basketball and then went out on Bourbon Street that night. I did watch it online. Some great speeches there as usual.
Ultimate Warrior up next.
The Ultimate Warrior Addressed The Audience
The Ultimate Warrior made his entrance to the ring.
I'm not sure what to write about Ultimate Warrior's speech knowing that he died the next day when he returned home to Arizona. What I can say is that as soon as we heard his music we went wild for him. It was so cool to see him in a WWE ring again although looking back on it now I wish he wasn't there because maybe the stress of being out there affected his health. We know now that it was a heart attack that killed him. There's no telling if he was going to be fine if he didn't do the Hall of Fame and everything else, but it makes you wonder.
"Speak to me Warriors." That's what he said. We cheered. Then we chanted "Warrior" at him. It was so cool to be there and so surreal to watch this four days after his death. When he put on the Warrior mask we cheered. This was his full speech.
"No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat, his lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper than something that is larger than life, then his essence, his spirit will be immortalized. By the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make what that man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you are the legend-makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back, I see many potential legends - some of them with Warrior spirits and you will do the same for them. You will decide if they live for the passion and intensity so much so that you will tell their stories and you will make them legends as well.
"I am Ultimate Warrior, you are the Ultimate Warrior fans, and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever!"
Analysis: It was tough watching that again, but I also feel privileged that I was in the arena for it. Thank you for so many amazing moments, Ultimate Warrior. May you rest in peace.
Divas Champion AJ Lee was shown walking to the ring.
They aired the "thank you" video for the fans. Pretty cool like all WWE videos are. I liked how they showed Bryan's entrance in an empty arena and how different it would be if fans weren't there.
AJ Lee, the Divas Champion, entered the ring along with her buddy Tamina Snuka. She was sporting an engagement ring on her finger again. AJ mentioned that she's been Divas Champion for 295 days. The longest reign of all time, which is nearly six years. So it's not that impressive. AJ said she's been overcoming the odds her entire life. "I've gone from being a poor girl in New Jersey to being the best diva in the world." We chanted "CM Punk" for that "best in the world" line. She said she's our savior and that she is the divas division.
The music of NXT diva Paige started up as she made her way down to the ring. There was a good reaction for her. Cole immediately pointed out who she was, so that's nice. Sometimes they don't provide the audience with enough info.
Paige said she was there to congratulate AJ on her WrestleMania win. AJ said she didn't need congratulations and she told Paige to go back to NXT. Paige just said she was there to congratulate her. AJ suggested that she should just beat Paige like she did the other divas at WrestleMania. Paige said she's not ready even though she was in her ring gear. AJ slapped her and then asked if she was ready now. AJ said she would put the title on the line right now too. AJ said whether she's ready or not it's her house and she'll tell her when she's ready.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee w/Tamina vs. Paige
AJ attacked Paige aggressively as soon as the bell rang. AJ went for the Black Widow submission. Paige managed to fight out of it. She hit the Paige Turner although it didn't look perfect. She still covered and that was enough for the Divas Title after about 90 seconds of action.
Winner by pinfall and New Divas Champion: Paige
There was a big reaction for her win. Paige did an awesome job of having a shocked look on her face too.
Analysis: Good angle to debut Paige and put the Divas Title on her. Only thing I didn't like was Paige saying she wasn't ready. She was in her ring gear. If she was in her street clothes then that's a line she should say, but with the way she looked she was clearly ready to go. It's a good sign that they put the gold on her so quickly. Even though she's only 21 years old (22 in August), she's already better in the ring than most of the girls on the main roster at this point.
Hulk Hogan up next to present the battle royal trophy.
There was another Bolieve video for Bo Dallas. Heavy dose of NXT talent on this show. Love seeing that.
Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal trophy
The Andre the Giant memorial trophy was in the ring as Hulk Hogan made his entrance. Big ovation for Hogan as usual. A lot of us were singing his theme song although it didn't carry across on TV as well as we thought.
Hogan got a big pop when he correctly mentioned the Superdome after his gaffe at WrestleMania 30 when he called it the Silverdome. Hogan said his favorite WrestleMania moment was the battle royal. A "Cesaro" chant started up. Hogan said the big man upstairs (Andre) was looking down with a smile on his face because of the moment at the end of the battle royal when Cesaro slammed Andre over the top rope. He also mentioned that the battle royal will take place at every WrestleMania. Hogan pointed out that there were 31 guys in the battle royal and this guy won it all. He introduced Cesaro.
Cesaro got a nice ovation for his entrance. We also hummed his theme song on his way to the ring. That's something my buddy Nick and I were doing all weekend long. Not saying people got it from us, but we were definitely doing it the entire weekend. I'm glad it carried in the arena. Cesaro shook Hogan's hand as Hulk congratulated him. Hulk just left. Zeb Colter grabbed the microphone from Cesaro. Colter talked about how he brought Cesaro into the fold as a Real American and he made him a Zeb Colter Guy. Cesaro grabbed the microphone from him: "I'm not a Zeb Colter Guy. I'm a Paul Heyman Guy!"
Paul Heyman walked out to a big ovation as the fans chanted for the same guy that they booed about 90 minutes earlier. Heyman said that he's the advocate for the "King of Swing" Cesaro. Colter was pissed off about it. Heyman tried to calm "grandpa" Colter down. Heyman called him the "King of Swing" again so the fans chanted "King of Swing" for Cesaro.
Jack Swagger entered the ring and knocked Cesaro to the floor. He destroyed the Andre trophy. It's wrestling. Trophies never survive. Cesaro gave Swagger a clothesline over the top to the floor. The show went to break there. They did have Raw GM Brad Maddox announce the match, which continued after the break.
Analysis: It was definitely a surprise to see Heyman managing Cesaro, but I love it. Last year when they put Heyman with Curtis Axel I was disappointed by it. I thought Cesaro would have been the better choice. At least they got it right now. While it would appear as though Cesaro is in the face role because the fans love him, my feeling is that they put Heyman with him because they want him to stay as a heel simply because there are too many faces right now. I'm not sure what is in Cesaro's future, but I'm glad he's with Heyman because it will make him a bigger star.
Also, how amazing is Heyman that he can get booed heavily in one segment after insulting the fans and then draw such a huge ovation less than two hours later? Best manager ever. The fans know it. That's why they reacted so loudly for him.
Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
Cesaro hit a backbreaker early on. Heyman was holding the Andre statute at ringside as Swagger hit an arm drag off the top rope for two. Big hip toss by Swagger and an overhead suplex for two. Crowd was chanting for Cesaro as he countered the Swagger Bomb with boots to the face. With Cesaro standing on the middle ropes and Swagger on the apron, Cesaro suplexed him back into the ring. That's always an impressive looking spot. Cesaro hit a series of running uppercut shots to the chest and then a final one to the back. He signaled for the swing, but Swagger got out of the ring. He walked away for the countout loss after 5 minutes.
Winner by countout: Cesaro
Analysis: *1/2 My most hated finish in WWE. The heel walking out on the match is annoying, but in this instance it's not that bad because it makes sense for them not to do a finish. They need to do a match like this at Extreme Rules. They teamed for a long time. They deserve a PPV (or Special Event) match out of it. This was a nice tease of what they can do, but when they have a real match that gets 10-15 minutes it will be awesome.
Bryan vs. HHH still to come.
They kept talking about Lesnar's win over Undertaker as they showed clips of websites that covered the loss.
There was a replay of Bryan's celebration earlier in the show as well as Triple H setting up their match.
Back in the office, Stephanie told The Shield and Kane that she didn't care what happened between them at WrestleMania. All that matters is that Triple H becomes the WWE Champion. Rollins asked Kane about the Outlaws. Kane told The Shield they're on thin ice. Triple H sees them as nameless, faceless, expendable pawns. He mentioned that Triple H told Kane to attack The Shield on Smackdown a few weeks ago. Stephanie said the "Yes Movement" is an injustice, so that's why The Shield needs to be on the same page as them. She asked Kane if she makes herself clear. Kane said yeah. Reigns said "crystal" and they walked away.
Analysis: Apparently she's a dumb heel that doesn't realize The Shield became faces. Still a good segment that telegraphed what was about to happen.
Bryan vs. HHH up after the break.
That "Celebrate" song by Kid Rock is pretty good, but I heard it far too many times during WrestleMania weekend.
Daniel Bryan entered first. The champion should always be last. That should be the standard thing. I don't like seeing the champion first. I understand why they did it that way, but it should be the champion entering last for matches all the time.
Randy Orton and Batista walked down to ringside without any music playing. They got into the ring. They attacked Bryan. Lawler wondered what this is because he reacts to things as if he has never watched wrestling before. Their assault continued as Bryan hit the RKO and then Batista hit the Batista Bomb. Bryan was out in the ring. Kane showed up. He looked like he was there to tell them to stop, but he ended up giving Bryan a Chokeslam.
Triple H made his entrance with Stephanie. He left leg was taped up around his hamstring. No water spit on the apron. Hunter told referee Mike Chioda to ring the bell, which he did.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
The match never began. Just as Triple H was about to pick up Bryan, The Shield made their way down to the ring. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns had masks on to cover their mouths.
There was a big "Hounds of Justice" chant as they faced off on one side of the ring while Kane, Orton and Batista stood on the apron on the other side. Triple H was still in the ring with a fallen Bryan. Fans chanted "this is awesome" as Hunter said it wasn't the time to do this. Hunter got in the face of all three members of The Shield as Kane, Orton and Batista also entered the ring. Hunter told them it's not happening.
When Hunter turned to face Reigns he was met with a Spear. Ambrose and Rollins managed to hit dives outside the ring to take down Orton and Batista. In the ring, Reigns hit Kane with a Superman Punch. The Shield surrounded Triple H in the ring as the crowd chanted "yes" at them. Bryan got back to his feet and hit the running knee to the face (are we calling it the Knee Plus?) to knock down Hunter.
Raw ended with The Shield standing side by side with Daniel Bryan in the ring while Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista, Kane and Stephanie McMahon were fallen at ringside wondering what went wrong. There were loud "yes" chants as Raw went off the air.
Analysis: Now that's what you call a really hot ending to Raw. The crowd was absolutely on fire as The Shield surrounded Triple H and Bryan nailed him with the running knee. After all these months of the heels dominating, it's nice to see some babyface revenge. The face turn of The Shield has been booked really well. It wasn't a quick turn. They told that story very slowly. Will they be faces for long? Probably not because Reigns will likely break off as a babyface while the other two will go back to being heels as a way to get that feud going. For now we should just enjoy it.
That final image set the stage for a lot of interesting rivalries too. They could do an eight man tag match with those guys that would be pretty huge. For Extreme Rules, what I think they should do is the Bryan/Triple H match for the WWE WHC (give them a stipulation like Last Man Standing) and then do The Shield vs. Kane, Orton and Batista. There are rumors out that Reigns may face off with Triple H at WrestleMania, so that's something they can build to as well. The potential is there to do a lot because with The Shield in the face role it opens up a lot of possibilities.
This show was about building to the future and in the main event slot that's exactly what they did as Daniel Bryan and The Shield faced off with four veterans. Perfect way to book it. No complaints at all.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Paul Heyman
2. Daniel Bryan
9 out of 10
Last week: NR
2014 Average: 6.77
2014 High: 9 (April 7)
2014 Low: 5 (February 3)
Last 5 Weeks: NR, 6, 7, 8, 7
Simply put, it was the most fun I have ever had at a wrestling show. When I went to WrestleMania 27 and 28 I didn't stay for Raw the next night. This year I made sure I did. I'm glad I was there because it was such an enjoyable experience.
This show gets a 9 out of 10, which is the highest Raw rating of the year. I rarely give the show a score as high as a 9, so you know I really enjoyed it. I don't think I'm being biased because I was there. It really was an awesome show with so many memorable moments and angles that will allow WWE to build for the future.
If there was a negative to the show it's only the fact that there wasn't that much in-ring action. By my rough count using the times I listed for the matches, there was about 34 minutes of actual matches in the three hour broadcast. That's very short, but for a show like this I didn't mind it because they did such a phenomenal job of telling stories.
I'll remember so many things about this show from Cesaro's alliance with Heyman to Heyman's speech with Lesnar, the debut of Paige, all the random crowd chants that were so fun to be a part of, The Shield aligning with Daniel Bryan and hearing the Ultimate Warrior speak in public for what would be the last time.
An episode of Raw needs to be fun. It's not about having three or four long matches that are great. It's about smart booking, a hot crowd and keeping fans interested to see what will happen next week. That's what this show did. That's why it was the best Raw of 2014 so far.
It was also very difficult to write about it because of the death of the Ultimate Warrior. It's been announced that Monday's Raw will be in tribute to him, which is a classy move on WWE's part. I'll be writing about it live on TJRWrestling this Monday night.
It's time to wrap this up. Here's a link to TJRWrestling Radio from Wednesday night with former WWE Referee Jimmy Korderas joining us. We talked for two hours about The Ultimate Warrior, WrestleMania, Raw and the good times I had in New Orleans. Follow that link to play the show online, download the MP3 file or get it on iTunes too.
The WrestleMania 30 formal review is coming likely on Sunday night. If I have time, I may write another column about my experiences in New Orleans as well.
Check out my column archive at WhatCulture.com as well as visiting that site daily for plenty of other wrestling and pop culture related content. Thanks for reading.
John Canton - email@example.com