By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Hulk Hogan Made a WrestleMania Announcement
"Real American" will never get old to me, nor will it for any the fans in attendance for also went crazy when they heard it. It's only been two weeks since we last saw him and Hogan looks to be in even better physical shape than he was before. His promo was also kept short and sweet and I love the idea of a 30-man battle royal in memory of Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 30, as it's a great way of getting a lot of talented individuals on the card. I also like how Hogan stayed out there for the confrontation between John Cena and Bray Wyatt, which was equally excellent. Wyatt was great on the mic per usual and while Cena was his usual corny self, he got serious when it mattered most and finally challenged Bray to a match at WrestleMania 30.
John Cena def. Erick Rowan
The fact the match started during the commercial break and ended mere minutes later didn't help matters much, but at least Rowan dominated most of the match. Not only that, but Rowan lost via a roll-up and the commentators put him over well afterward. I was happy to not see Hogan get physical with The Wyatt Family, as I think that's the last thing he should be doing at this point. Regardless, it was very cool to see Hogan in the ring with Cena for a few minutes even if the fans weren't as receptive.
The Authority Addressed the WWE Universe
I don't normally like promos from The Authority, but this one was exceptional enough to not warrant any hate. For one thing, it didn't open the show, which is always a plus. Also, they were straightforward heels and didn't attempt to pander to the audience at all like they usually do. They garnered great heel heat from the crowd and set up a segment with Daniel Bryan for later in the show, so it was effective in that respect.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos def. Curtis Axel and Ryback (Non-title)
This was basically the same match we saw on SmackDown just a few days ago, but it was essentially harmless. The Usos were showcased nicely and Axel and Ryback can absorb the loss since they don't mean much anyway. Crowds are still very much behind The Usos and I hope they enjoy a long reign as tag team champs. The New Age Outlaws were decent on commentary and built toward their eventual tag team title rematch with The Usos.
Intercontinental Champion Big E def. Jack Swagger (Non-title)
Is anyone else getting tired of seeing Big E wrestle Swagger and Cesaro every single week? I know Big E has won all of those matches, but it's not like any of those wins benefited him because he wasn't the focus. I wouldn't have minded it so much had this been building to an Intercontinental title match between the three guys, but Big E announced before the match that he will be involved in the 30-man battle royal at WrestleMania, so it looks like he won't be defending his strap at the event after all. The match was only a few minutes long, but it didn't need to go any longer. The seeds continued to be planted for a Cesaro split from The Real Americans, but with 'Mania a little under a month away, I hope they solidify the breakup at some point in the next week so their match can be confirmed for the card.
Paul Heyman Interrupted The Undertaker
As always, Heyman was fantastic on the mic and did a superb job of putting over the importance of The Streak and those that failed to recreate history. This is the benefit of having Heyman be the mouthpiece behind the beast that is Brock Lesnar since he does all the talking for him and essentially sold the match to viewers. Undertaker was also good in his role on the mic and maintained his mystique by not saying much. Less is more when it come to 'Taker. My only question is that this was billed as announcement from 'Taker, and unless I'm mistaken, he didn't announce anything aside from Lesnar "resting in peace" at 'Mania.
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns def. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
The standards were set quite high with their amazing match at last year's (horrendous) Battleground pay-per-view, but that doesn't meant this match was any less awesome, especially considering it was held under different circumstances. The action definitely intensified down the stretch with some fun final few minutes. I loved how The Shield picked up the victory in clean fashion without even having to resort to getting help from Dean Ambrose at ringside. Similar to The Real Americans, I'm all but positive they are setting up a match between the members of The Shield at WrestleMania, but they'll need to make that official at some point in the next few weeks. Even still, the slow build to the breakup has been excellently executed thus far.
The Bella Twins def. Divas Champion AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka
We've seen this match multiple times in the past six months, so it wasn't anything different from what we've seen in the past. It was fine for what it was, and I have no doubt in my mind that this match was more about the return of Total Divas on Sunday than it was about the Divas Championship match on WWE Main Event this week. That probably explains why AJ took the loss (again) for her team, and it wasn't even Natalya (the No. 1 contender) who defeated her! I hate to play conspiracy theorist, but AJ loses the title tomorrow (on Main Event of all places), then I will assume that her boyfriend CM Punk's departure definitely played a factor in it. I mean, if the longest reign in the history of the title is coming to an end, why not do it on The Grandest Stage of Them All?
Daniel Bryan Occupied Raw
In theory, the whole idea of Bryan "occupying" Raw was a bit ridiculous, but it was the end result that really mattered. Basically what this taught everyone was that if you don't get what you want, you should riot or boycott. Good luck with that, folks! In all seriousness, as silly as it was seeing all those plants in Bryan shirts doing the "YES!" chant in the ring, the raging reactions from The Authority and even Damien Sandow who looked like he couldn't have cared less made this segment worth watching. I will honestly admit that I did not think they would do the stipulation of having Bryan beat Triple H to insert himself into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match later in the night at 'Mania, but color me surprised, they did. I couldn't have been happier to have been wrong, as the only way The Show of Shows goes off the air is with everyone in attendance doing the "YES!" chant as Bryan celebrates his title victory.
Sheamus def. Christian in a Memphis Street Fight
Although their feud has lacked creativity since its start, there is no denying that these two have great in-ring chemistry together. Unlike last week, where the Chicago crowd crapped all over their match, the live crowd on this show enjoyed the action and took a liking to the extreme stipulation. They were given very good time and pulled off some cool spots at various points. Even the finish looked awesome with Sheamus hitting the Brogue kick on Christian through the drum set. Granted, I'm disappointed Christian lost yet another match to The Celtic Warrior, but I'm curious as to where these two go from here.
Daniel Bryan and Big Show def. Randy Orton and Batista
The announcement earlier on of Bryan potentially being added to the world title match at 'Maina made this match feel more meaningful. It was well wrestled albeit formulaic tag team action, but everyone was able to get in their signature spots. The finish was well done with Bryan hitting his finisher on both Batista and Orton before picking up the victory. This was the best booking decision seeing how much Bryan had been highlighted throughout the night. It was a fitting conclusion to the show that also send the crowd home happy.
For the third straight week, WWE delivered a quality show. I was expecting this week's edition of Raw to be a let down after last week's hot show, but it wasn't a disappointment in the slightest. There were several highlights, entertaining action and multiple matches made official for the WrestleMania card. Speaking of which, there was a lot of build done for the premiere pay-per-view, so it's great to see all the major matches set in stone for the show a month in advance instead of waiting until the last minute like in past years. I am now more excited for WrestleMania than ever before and here's hoping WWE can maintain this strong momentum in coming weeks as 'Mania draws near.
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