By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Brock Lesnar Attacked The Undertaker
As always, Undertaker cut a good promo on his WrestleMania streak as did Paul Heyman. It wasn't anything we haven't heard before, but it was still solid hype for the match between Lesnar and 'Taker on Sunday. It took some time to get to, but Lesnar was finally able to get the upper hand over 'Taker. Obviously, it's too little, too late and I doubt many people still see him as a threat to the streak, but I still appreciate the effort to put last-minute heat on him, nonetheless.
Alberto Del Rio def. Intercontinental Champion Big E (Non-title)
Del Rio and Big E have always worked well together and this was no exception. I figured it wouldn't be anything more than a quick squash match for Del Rio, but it was surprisingly competitive and went longer than I expected it to. Big E looked good in defeat by getting out of the armbar on several occasions, but I must admit I was a bit disappointed Big E didn't go over the former world champion. Would it kill WWE to give him a meaningful win every once in a while?
Summer Rae def. Natalya
This was the first time in months that a Total Divas was incorporated into WWE storylines, and I actually didn't mind it. It was a logical follow-up to their fallout on the show and the match was actually pretty decent. Natalya is great in the ring and Summer is improving each week. I like the move to give Summer the win, as it sets her up to be a top heel in the Divas division in months to come, though there isn't much competition outside of AJ Lee.
The Authority "Ended" the "Yes!" Movement
There is no doubt in mind that Triple H and Stephanie McMahons are hands down the best heels in the entire WWE today (calm down, Bray Wyatt is a close second). The sad part is that they aren't an active part of the roster. I absolutely love how HHH has fully embraced the "burying" persona that fans have given him (and possibly rightfully so) and the video package was a great touch, even though some of the Superstars featured might feel offended. Batista, the hometown hero, was actually cheered for once and had a fun verbal exchange with HHH, as did Randy Orton. They did a superb job of building up the possibility of them facing each other at WrestleMania and also adding the no disqualification stipulation to the Batista-Orton match for later in the night.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos and Los Matadores def. The Real Americans and Curtis Axel & Ryback
The crowd wasn't receptive to the match early on, which wasn't shocking given that fans haven't been given a reason to care about this 'Mania match at all in recent weeks. However, they came to life after the commercial break as the action intensified and heated up. Everyone was showcased nicely, but I can't say I'm a fan of the finish with Los Matadores doing the old "switch-a-roo". Are they the male version of The Bella Twins now? The boos they received at several points during the bout were telling.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. Fandango and Damien Sandow
The fans in attendance couldn't have cared less for this matchup, and it truly is a shame. This was supposed to serve as hype for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but the their involvement in the match feels forgettable. This match was fine for what it was, but it was only mere minutes long and felt completely pointless. It's just sad to see just how far everyone involved in this match has fallen in recent months.
Bray Wyatt def. R-Truth
This was your standard squash match with nothing real special about it. Truth sold well for Wyatt's offense and Wyatt looked as dominant as ever. My only complaint was that no replay was shown of Wyatt defeating Big Show on last week's SmackDown. Isn't that still an impressive feat in 2014? John Cena coming up behind The Wyatt Family after the match while wearing a sheep mask was actually pretty clever, even if one would think that The Wyatt Family would have figured out it was him after a few seconds. Cena getting the upper hand here gives me hope that Wyatt goes over on Sunday, but fingers crossed.
Naomi def. Divas Champion AJ Lee in a Lumberjill Match (Non-title)
This had to be one of the best Divas matches I've seen on Raw in ages, though that isn't saying much. They were given more time than usual and made the most of it. Naomi is improving at a rapid pace in the ring and AJ brought the best out of her here. The lumberjills only reminded me just how horrendous Rosa Mendes looks right now. Good god. Anyway, Naomi winning doesn't surprise me in the slightest, as losing non-title matches has been the norm for AJ for months.
Kane def. Roman Reigns by Disqualification
I felt bad for Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins for getting as few votes as they did. How do we know for sure that these polls aren't rigged? The match itself was decent while it lasted, but it wasn't long before The New Age Outlaws and The Shield interfered as expected. Neither should have lost this close to 'Mania, and The Shield taking out Kane gave them momentum going into the six-man tag team match.
Roddy Piper Hosted Piper's Pit
Piper has been clamoring for some time to be involved WrestleMania 30, and although that won't be the case, this was the next best thing. I liked the tie-in to the first WrestleMania benig 29 years ago today, but what was the purpose of this segment? It devalued Piper's Pit if only because the shenanigans involving the Battle Royal participants could have happened regardless. Big Show has been getting the better of everyone in recent weeks, so I hope this doesn't mean he wins on Sunday.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Batista in a No Disqualification Match Went to a No Contest (Non-title)
Take a second to realize that this would've been our WrestleMania main event this year. Isn't that a scary thought? This wasn't a bad match at all and it was actually entertaining during some spots, but I guarantee you that had this show not been in Batista's hometown of Washington D.C., the crowd would have crapped all over this contest. The Authority were great in their heel roles on commentary and Daniel Bryan's appearance threw the crowd into a frenzy. His brawls with HHH, Batista and Orton were awesome and it looked like a bona-fide star in this segment. The entire audience doing the "Yes!" chant was a very cool looking visual and was an excellent way to close the show.
Although the WrestleMania undercard may feel underwhelming to some (and it definitely is to an extent), at least WWE tried to make it mean something on this show by hying up every advertised matchup in some form or fashion. Most people will only remember the show closing segment, but the rest of the show (for me, anyway) was enjoyable and furthered my excitement for the event. It may not be the greatest 'Mania card ever assembled, but I'm looking forward to this year's Show of Shows much more than I was last year. This go-home episode of Raw succeeded in pushing all the marquee matches in addition to giving the undercard bouts some time to shine as well. Enjoy WrestleMania, folks!
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