WWE Raw Thoughts, February 24th 2014

With the WWE Network launching today, there were many theories floating around that the WWE would go all out to bring attention to tonight’s show. The theory being that they would try and get casual people to tune in that might not normally tune in, so they could at the very least find out about the WWE Network launch.

Would a major swerve happen on the show? Would big names make an appearance? Would Daniel Bryan be inserted into the title picture? Would Daniel Bryan WIN the title??

Well, they brought some big names back, but that was about it.

Before we get to the Raw, though, let’s back track to December, when it was first rumored about what the top matches at the Wrestlemania card were going to end up being. The rumored matches were:

Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker

CM Punk vs HHH

John Cena vs Bray Wyatt

Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus

Randy Borton vs Bootista

Obviously the Bryan vs Sheamus match stands out as a pile of shit because it would mean Bryan’s Wrestlemania moment would be…. facing a guy who beat him in 18 seconds two years ago. Not even for the title. Just for the sake of having him on the card.

This seemed like an insult to the top face in the company. A man who had gained such popularity that he was getting the loudest reactions at shows across the country. It would also fly in the face of the “slow burn” story line idea that Bryan being held down and screwed over repeatedly for half of the year was going to ultimately lead to his ultimate Wrestlemania moment. Jim Ross and Steve Austin recently chided fans for being upset about Bryan’s handling, saying it was indeed a “slow burn” story, and that fans just weren’t used to that kind of long range story telling.

The problem is, there is clearly no evidence that the WWE is doing anything close to a slow burn on this one. It feels like the WWE is doing the exact opposite of what the majority of fans want, and pass off any anger as “good heat”. You hate the story line or what you’re seeing on TV and boo? Well the WWE views that as a good thing, and that just shows how good they are at getting people to boo. It doesn’t matter that there is a huge difference between booing a dastardly heel (think Damien Sandow) vs booing a product that makes you feel like you wasted your money, all that matters is that the WWE is getting some sort of reaction, because they will then spin that as the desired outcome all along. Calling John Cena “the most controversial figure in WWE history” just shows you the kind of disingenuous spin job they like to pull off nowadays.

Case in point, let’s look at the rumored Wrestlemania card as it stands after today’s Raw.

John Cena vs Bray Wyatt

Randy Borton vs Bootista

Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker

Daniel Bryan vs HHH

Sheamus vs Christian?

So the question that stands out is, if CM Punk doesn’t quit the company, is Daniel Bryan still stuck fighting Sheamus? It seems like the long term plan they had several months ago is still the general idea they want to go with, which is having Orton vs Batista main event WM30.

Again, this can all change, we know how the WWE works. But as I said yesterday, even if Bryan does fight his way into the title scene and manage to win the title at Wrestlemania 30, this story line has been handled so poorly, the push managed so badly, that there is no way anyone in the WWE can possibly try and say it was a slow burn and that it played out just how they wanted it to, while keeping a straight face. There is simply no way to explain away 5-6 PPV’s thrown away for an inconsistent storyline about how Bryan gets screwed over all the time.

Anyways, as for the Raw itself, what happened?

– Hulk Hogan came back and basically did an infomercial for the WWE Network. He screwed up his lines at one point, but recovered nicely. It was so obviously a plug for the WWE Network, that it again fell flat as a segment.

Look, I get it that the WWE likes to make money for its shareholders, but my god, find a more subtle way of plugging your wares. What they do each week is the equivalent of standing in your face screaming “DID YOU DOWNLOAD THE AP YET??” over and over again. There is a subtle art to good advertising. Right now the WWE is kicking you in the junk and demanding you buy their shit. It’s god awful and annoying. I don’t need you to tell me to download the ap nor eat a Sonic burger at the commentary desk, just shut up and put on a good product instead of wasting my time watching Santino play with Lego.

– Alberto Del Rio faced Batista, and beat him when Randy Orton came out and distracted him. By standing on the stage.

I don’t like PPV’s having the same match the next night on Raw. It makes the PPV match feel less important, and it usually leads to the guy “giving back the win” to the guy he just lost to. I hate this recent trend of “giving back the win” to the guy who pinned you, on the next show. It’s right up there with title holders losing a bunch of non title matches. It just makes everyone look like a bunch of shitty wrestlers and doesn’t really push anyone as a strong wrestler.

On top of that, nobody wanted to see ADR vs Batista again. ADR only gets tepid reactions, unless it’s a PPV and people want to see him beat Batista. Batista can barely wrestle at this point as he has the stamina of an 90 year old man. Seriously, his matches currently consist of kicking a guy in the gut a couple of times, a couple of punches, then a sloppy spear, sprinkle in some no selling of offense, then he grabs the ropes and stomps the ground and hits his finisher. He is basically wrestling like Hulk Hogan.

His in ring crappiness was highlighted by Del Rio trying to do a head kick and Batista just ignored it and the announcers had to try and play it up as if ADR had JUST missed his head. It was a really really bad and sloppy spot. (To be fair, the Rock sweated more than Patrick Ewing at an NBA game his first match back, it’s a different stamina to have a match vs working out, so Batista could round more into form. It’s just right now, he looks done.)

Anyways, after Batista lost, Orton cut a shitty Orton promo about how Batista sucks, and how Orton is awesome. The crowd bood….well, they just bood everyone. Batista then got the mic and cut a SUPER awkward promo (he’s never been strong on the mic, but this was awful even for his standards) where he spent most of the time trying to catch his breath, while at the same time spitting all over the mic and drooling on occasion. Batista basically said he’s an honest guy and that if the crowd cheers him he cheers them and if they boo him he boos them, and that like it or not, he’s going to be WWE champion. I assume he then stopped in order to get access to an oxygen tank.

After this was done, the crowd bood some more. All I can say is if they keep this as the main event of Wrestlemania…..holy shit. Good luck with that one. If I’m Orton I am BEGGING HHH to find a way to get Bryan into that match to make it a triple threat, otherwise the fans are going to absolutely HATE that match. Seriously, the fans are bored of Orton and they HATE Batista. I have never seen a Wrestlemania main event for the title between two heels before, but that’s where we are. Crazy.

Funny part of the Orton promo was him calling out Batista on his return being a flop, I found that to be a solid part of the promo. It caused Batista to spit and drool in response.

– Big E defeated Cesaro due to Swagger DQ-ing Cesaro when he locked on the Patriot Lock on Big E.

Are they teasing a Real American break up so they can push Cesaro? Or are they just randomly doing things? I lean towards randomly doing things, because if there is one thing the current WWE likes to do, it’s do fuck all about what the crowd wants.

I will say this, Cesaro got the biggest face reactions during the match. His Cesaro swing absolutely kills, and during the match when he teased going for it, the crowd went bonkers. When he finally did the Cesaro Swing on Big E, Big E let his arms float, instead of putting them behind his head….it looked like he felt so free, flying in a circle…

But I digress. Cesaro continues to impress me with his brute strength spots (which the announcers play up, to their credit). His ability to toss Big E around was fun to watch and just showcases his potential as a main eventer.

Will they break up the Real Americans? Like I said, god knows, but it will be interesting to see if they can make Cesaro a viable face, or if they’ll Miz it up and screw his face turn up terribly. Or maybe they keep him in the Real Americans and sit back and watch the crowd chant “We the People?” (which they did, tonight. Again, a racist tag team is getting face reactions. Well done WWE.)

– John Cena came out and cut a promo on the Wyatt family. The Wyatt family came out and Bray rambled a bit then they beat up Cena, and later the WWE claimed Cena hurt his knee when later in the show they had Cena being taken away in an ambulance. Cena usually doesn’t sell injuries too well, and he was limping heavily on the knee, and it would be odd for him to play up a knee injury on a move that didn’t even look like it targeted the knee (it happened during the usual three man beat down of punches and kicks). It would be odd if Cena missed Mania with an injury, but this is Cena, he could lose both arms and he would still fight through his Mania match.

That being said, while the match itself does hold some intrigue (will the WWE actually allow Bray Wyatt to go over Cena?), I do have to say I am tired of Bray Wyatt’s promos. I fully admit he has a presence and he is a unique characters right now. And his delivery of his promos? Top notch!

But the content of his promos? Good lord, it’s like manager speak. If he started talking about leveraging his synergies in order to promote healthy outputs on the TPS reports, I wouldn’t even blink an eye. Tonight, for example, he said a line along the lines of “You’re hollow John Cena, you’re full of empty lies”….It sounds pretty, but to me all I’m thinking is “If he’s hollow, he shouldn’t be full of anything….”

He just says a lot of shit and has no purpose. It’s like he saw half a horror movie on TBS once and is just going off of that.

Seriously, what is Bray Wyatt’s purpose? God knows. He just comes out and accuses people of not being like him, in a roundabout way, and that’s that. Some people might love his promos, but I find them very empty. I would be excited if his promos had a purpose, as again, he has great delivery, but his content….blah. IRS had better content to his promos, I knew where IRS stood. You didn’t pay your taxes, well IRS was coming to get you. Bray Wyatt? I have no idea why he would come after me, except maybe to tell me my fortunes are flawed and that I am standing on a table made of shattered dreams that will only be fixed once I reap what the butcher sows….. Yay for random words!

– Sheamus beat up Christian

Yay? Christian didn’t look as yellow as he normally does tonight?

– Daniel Bryan was shown in a video demanding HHH fight him in a match, HHH called him a B level player then joked about possibly “finding him a spot on the Wrestelmania card”.

Yay. Bryan vs HHH. That would be awesome if HHH beat him clean.

Sigh.

– Booker T and Ric Flair were on a panel but I skipped it. I hate Booker T with the passion of a thousand suns (Spinarooni! Who wants to see a Spinarooni! Fuck off, not me.) and Ric Flair is a heart attack waiting to happen, it makes me uncomfortable to watch his face turn all red as he screams and woos.

– Daniel Bryan defeated Kane.

Typical Bryan match, with Kane slowly beating him up for most of the match, only for Bryan to dig down and win the match. I still don’t know how I feel about his knee finisher. A lot of the times it looks weak. It looks really strong when he actually hits people with it for real, like he did to Cena at Summerslam.

Bryan then grabbed a mic and played up wanting a match against HHH. The kept mentioning the “Yes Movement” throughout the show, so for those at home, the WWE loves cashing in on Bryan’s popularity for money and recognition, but not to actually let him win the title.

– Summer Rae vs Emma

Ok so let’s get this out of the way, I FUCKING HATE EMMA. I can’t stand her. Emmalution? Emmataining? More like fucking stupid and get off my TV. Her music is annoying. Her fucking dance, my god, her fucking dance is stupid. The fact she does her god damn fucking dance as she’s applying her submission finisher? Fucking fuckity fuck, fuck off. The fact she uses her Emma name in every fucking thing she does? Fucking die. Fuck fuck fuck. I hate it. We had JUST gotten rid of Brodus Clay and his fucking dancing, yet here we are again, stuck right back at having another stupid fucking dancing character.

And the weird part is she’s totally over in NXT. The crowd loves her. I don’t know if they do drugs in NXT or pump marijuana smoke into the crowd during shows, but fuck, they enjoy her character. I don’t get it. She’s fucking awful. I hate it.

Anyways, she beat Summer Rae and continued her stupid fucking story line of having a crush on Santino. Fuck both of you.

– New Age Outlaws lost to the Usos in a non title match. See, this is the “give the win back after the PPV” mentality I hate. On top of that, it’s doubled down with “Lose a non title match” which again, just makes things look weak overall. Weird part of the match was Uso 1 super kicking Road Dogg during his intro speech. It’s odd because the crowd fucking loves singing along to that intro, so it’s odd to have the Uso’s interrupt it, which comes across heelish.

Of course, in a perfect world the NAO wouldn’t even be DOING that intro right now, because they are heels. They shouldn’t be getting the crowd to chant along with them, thus it would be ok if the Uso’s attacked them preemptively.

But again, that would mean the WWE respect the ideas of heels vs faces, which they don’t right now. WHICH IS SO CONFUSING AND SHODDY.

Anyways, the Usos won after Uso 2 hit a splash on Road Dogg.

– Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt

They showed a quick clip of the Shield asking Ambrose about what happened last night (during the PPV Ambrose and Bray fought into the crowd and Bray eventually made his way back to the ring, while Ambrose never returned) and Ambrose alluded to the fact they didn’t trust him, so he took off.

I didn’t like the match, because a big part of the magic of the Shield vs Wyatts is watching Reigns and Bray face off. It’s like watching the two leaders go at it, like back when The Rock in his Nation days would square off during a match with HHH in his DX days. Putting Reigns vs Wyatt just felt like a waste on the Raw show, but maybe that was done on purpose to be a big draw for the show?

Either way they fought until the rest of the Wyatt family ran in, then Rollins appeared to help out, then they waited a few moments to tease the “Ambrose let them down!” idea, but then Ambrose ran down and helped out his buddies. The  matched ended with Reigns getting ready to spear Bray Wyatt only to be thwarted by Ambrose running in and attacking Bray, thus DQ-ing the Shield.

It was fine, it was just annoying to see the EXACT same storyline played out earlier with Swagger and Cesaro. Like, exactly the same DQ finish.

If Cena is out with an injury long term, I would happily watch the Shield stay together and take on the Wyatt family again at Wrestlemania, as I think those two factions have a lot more to give.

– Brock Lesnar signs contract to fight Undertaker

Ugh. I know people dig Undertaker, and I respect the hell out of the guy. I also know wrestling is fake, much like movies are. But much like movies should always respect a certain believably in order for me to continually suspend disbelief, wrestling must do the same as well. Having 48 year old Undertaker taken on 36 year old freak athlete Brock Lesnar is just too much for me. Lesnar should kill Undertaker. Absolutely kill him. But the fact that UT will never in a million years lose his streak to Brock, means the match will be Brock beating the crap out of him, getting several near falls, only to be tombstoned and beaten (god help me if they make Brock tap to him, so help me god if that happens).

Again, I like Undertaker. But at this stage in his career, just pay Sting whatever you want and have those two face off. Sting vs Undertaker? That’s a neat match between two old men. Brock vs Undertaker? I just can’t get behind it.

It also just underlines how BADLY Lesnar has been used by the company. Instead of bringing in Lesnar and building him up as a monster, they make him lose matches to Cena and HHH, and don’t use him to put over the new talent. Instead of having him come in like an unstoppable beast and then having someone like Bryan beat him, or Roman Reigns beating him (imagine Reigns taking on Lesnar, after months of booking Lesnar like the ultimate beast. Imagine the fan reaction if they had Reigns doing power spots on Lesnar, over powering him and having Lesnar sell his moves? It would be insane) they wasted Lesnar on HHH (THREE FUCKING TIMES. NOBODY WANTED THAT ONCE LET ALONE THREE FUCKING TIMES) and the god damn Big Show. If there was one name you would put last to face Lesnar when he first came back, it would have been Big Show. Show me one person who saw Lesnar come out that night against Cena and thought to themselves “Oh man, I hope this ends up with Show vs Lesnar!” Even Big Show didn’t think that.

CM Punk vs Lesnar at Summerslam was one of the best matches of the year, they handled that well, but seriously, you have limited appearances for Lesnar and you use three of them on HHH? How is that not HHH’s ego out of control? Ugh.

Anyways, UT will beat Lesnar and I will get sad. That is what I took from tonight’s segment. God bless Lesnar for selling people’s offense, though. The dude is a freak, he is so big, yet he can oversell like god damn Ziggler. It’s amazing. And Lesnar does it, every time. He would sell an old man pushing him softly the ground like it was a nuclear blast. Dude is a professional.

Anyways, the Raw was blah, and Wrestlemania looks to be full of garbage matches in my humblest of opinions, so I am not in the least bit excited. Again, all I keep seeing is “Well the WWE might be waiting to do….” as a hope that the Bryan story line somehow hits a pay off, but I don’t see it happening, or again, even if it does, it could have been done so much better.

The good news is the WWE looks to be hitting a high point in talent in the next year, as Cesaro, The Shield, The Wyatt’s, Damien Sandow, the stronger tag division are all full of talent and could make things far more watchable if they are pushed properly. Seriously, the Shield vs Wyatt’s at Elimination Chamber was amazing and it makes you excited for someone who actually knows how to tell a story to take over and run things next year. HHH could easily ruin it, but hopefully there is enough talent that will float to the top and displace the old guard whose time has come.

In closing, god damn fucking Emma. You’re garbage!

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2 thoughts on “WWE Raw Thoughts, February 24th 2014

  1. Thoughts I had today… Won’t happen of course, but could you imagine? Next week in Chicago, everyone’s half expecting CM Punk. Let’s say that isn’t a work( still only half convinced it isn’t).
    What if they run with Bryan coming out and ‘shooting’ on the WWE. Airing all his frustrations… they’d get so much heat from the Punk situation… and could walk Bryan right into the main event.  Batista isn’t getting any heat as a face, it isn’t working at all for him… why not make him a sympathetic heel(this was thought of before Raw, that promo kind of sounds like they’re going this route)… like, he’s there to plug a movie, it isn’t his fault, his friend just gave him a job…. Bryan get’s the title, Batista feuds with him for a month after mania so you still have his name in the spotlight for the movie. Everyone wins. Making it meta makes the wwe seem super smart, they’ll benefit from a shitty situation with Punk, you get the wrestlemania moment for Bryan that at this point he needs.

    • I like it. It would be smart to play off the fans reactions (but in a positive way, not in a “eff you” kind of way the WWE does it nowadays).

      Having Bryan championing the anger from the WWE crowds about how everyone is being booked would just make him an ever bigger face then he is now.

      It would just be insane to me if Bryan, who was the star of 2013, doesn’t get his Mania moment.

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