By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Nice match with Austin Aries and Bobby Roode successfully defending their World Tag Team Championships against Hernandez and Chavo Guerrero. The crowd came alive for the final few moments of the bout, but that was about it. Nonetheless, these teams work well together and it was another good win for Roode and Aries.
Fun Triple Threat match with Kenny King successfully defending his X-Division Championship against Sonjay Dutt and Zema Ion. As expected, the action was fast paced and exciting. I never bought into the possibility of anyone else winning the title, but I still enjoyed the contest regardless. The new rules for the X-Division are a nice change of pace. Although they might get old after awhile, only time will tell to see how they truly benefit the dying division.
Triple H assaults Paul Heyman during the contract signing.
Meaningless match with John Cena defeating Darren Young, Cena's promo was pretty basic, but it wasn't anything we haven't heard before from him and it lacked from the absence of WWE Champion The Rock. As much as I enjoy the Prime Time Players, their pre-match shtick felt random and wasn't all that humorous. The match was mostly taken up by commercial taken, so it hardly served a purpose.
Basic squash match with Ryback dominating David Otunga. We've seen the same thing from Ryback for weeks now, so the match was nothing out of the ordinary. The post-match angle with Vickie Guerrero putting Ryback in a match against Mark Henry at WrestleMania 29 was logical, but why did it take so long to get to this point? Nonetheless, I'm glad we'll be getting that match at 'Mania, as it could make for an exciting clash of the titans.
Standard segment with Fandango refusing to compete against The Great Khali. This was essentially the same segment we've been seeing from Fandango for weeks aside from the fact he actually made his entrance this time around. While he's garnering some mild heat from the live crowds, it doesn't exactly mean that they care about his character. He needs to take the next step soon or suffer from becoming stagnant.
Fine match between R-Truth and Damien Sandow. These two haven't feuded in several weeks, so it felt odd for them to resume it on this show. The match was nothing special and was over before it even started. Sandow losing via count-out protects him, but why should he be losing in favor of Truth anyway? I'm not sure what role either of these guys will be playing at WrestleMania 29, but I guess time will only tell as far as that goes.
Solid segment featuring CM Punk and Undertaker. Undertaker's promo was good, but not nearly as strong as I expected it to be. The same could be said for Punk, who showcased his excellent mic work, but it left a lot to be desired. The fact the segment was rather brief might have hindered it, but I feel like there should be more to the feud than just Paul Bearer's death. That has seemed to take precedence over everything else for some reason.
Decent match with WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No defeating Primo and Epico. It was well wrestled and felt fresh, but the ending outcome was never in doubt. That being said, this bout felt like dragged on a bit longer than it needed to, but I won't complain about getting more wrestling. AJ Lee's interference was well done and was nice nostalgia from the angle involving those three from last summer.
Randy Orton connects with an RKO onto Cody Rhodes.
Good match with Randy Orton and Sheamus defeating Team Rhodes Scholars. It mostly a rehash of what we got on Raw, but it was still well-wrestled nonetheless. The outcome was never in doubt, but Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow still looked good in defeat. The Shield challenging Orton and Sheamus to a match at WrestleMania made sense from a story-line standpoint and gave viewers a hook for the rest of the show to find out who Sheamus and Orton's tag team partner would be.
Exceptional tag team match with Divas Champion Kaitlyn and Layla defeating Tamina and Aksana. The in-ring action was surprisingly better than expected and maintained a nice flow throughout. The match wasn't a classic by any means, but it received enough time to feel somewhat significant. Based off the post-match antics, it looks like Layla is headed for a heel turn in coming weeks to contend for the Divas title.
Solid match between Dolph Ziggler and Kane. The crowd was flat for the bout at certain points (most notably during mid-match), but the pace picked up down the stretch. The outside interference was well done, which allowed Ziggler to score a rare victory. It's nice to see him back to his winning ways again, but this seems to be indicating he'll be involved in a tag title match at WrestleMania, which is something I'm a bit skeptical of.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Effective opening segment with Aces and Eights attacking Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez. It put good heat on the villainous stable and saved the World Tag Team Championship match for a later date. Bully Ray offered some explanation for why he turned heel at Lockdown, but not much. Regardless, it was a strong promo and it's been awhile since we've heard one of Ray's classic heel promos.
Good match with Knockouts Champion Velvet Sky and Mickie James defeating Gail Kim and Tara. Once again, the focus was on the tension between Kim and referee Taryn Terrell, but the match itself was still well-wrestled. It was also nice to see James again, who hasn't been seen on television in several months. I'm not sure who enters the title picture at this point, but the Terrell-Kim feud has shown promise in recent weeks.
Undertaker pays tribute to the late Paul Bearer to kick off Raw.
Excellent opening segment featuring Undertaker and CM Punk. The video package remembering Paul Bearer was touching and very well done. Having Undertaker kick off the show by paying tribute to Bearer with the patented urn was a nice touch, and Punk's inevitable interruption was logical. I would have found this disrespectful had they had not paid tribute to Bearer for the remainder of Raw, but since they did, I was fine with it. Kane's subsequent attack on Punk helped set up their main event match for later in the night.
Smart booking with The Shield dismantling Big Show. The first singles match of a Shield member should feel special, so I'm glad they held off on doing Show vs. Rollins here. The Shield delivering a triple powerbomb to Show was a cool visual and helped further their recent strong momentum. It was also nice to not see Randy Orton and Sheamus come to the aid of the World's Largest Athlete, wouldn't' have made any sense at this point in time.
Great match between Dolph Ziggler and WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan. These two have such amazing chemistry together, so it was great to see them get just enough time to shine inside the squared circle. AJ Lee's involvement was interesting given her history with Bryan, and Langston also played his role well. The action was exciting and Ziggler scoring the victory was a refreshing change of pace, as Bryan loses nothing from the loss. This appears to be setting up a tag title match between the duo of Ziggler and Langson and Team Hell No, which I wouldn't mind if it meant finally getting the straps off Kane and Bryan.
Typical promo with Fandango refusing to face Tensai. He did the exact same shtick he did last week, so there was nothing new here whatsoever. He generated some mild heat, but that was about it. As previously stated, I can't form a full opinion of the character until we see him change things up in coming weeks.
Strong segment with Brock Lesnar interrupting the match between Team Rhodes Scholars and New Age Outlaws. I didn't even think about the possibility of Lesnar attacking Road Dogg and Billy Gunn due to their affiliation with Triple H, so that was brilliantly booked. Paul Heyman's promo was excellent as expected and really put over Lesnar as a force to be reckoned with. The feud between Lesnar and HHH has been built surprisingly well in recent weeks and I look forward to what's in store for the rest of this rivalry going into WrestleMania.
Nice match with Mark Henry defeating Kofi Kingston. We all knew Kingston didn't have a chance against Henry going into this bout, but the Ghanian grappler still had an impressive outing regardless. Hernry catching Kingston in mid-air for the World's Strongest Slam was a sweet spot and once again showcased Henry's dominance.
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