More In Depth Thoughts on Monday Night Raw: February 17, 2014

Last night’s show was a major step up for a variety of reasons.

 

The six way opening argument was the same segment we always get before the Chamber and it still works well. Christian turning heel for Sunday is fine as well since you want it to be balanced and Christian can easily turn from face to heel. However the heel turn was kind of wasted by having him get pinned so quickly. Have him walk out to save his body for Sunday.

 

Bryan’s shoulder injury gives them an out to have him lose while also setting up something for Wrestlemania. The question is what are they setting up. All of the signs seem to point to Bryan vs. Kane, which is a match that should happen……at any other PPV. After the year that Bryan has had and all the torture that HHH has put him through, the only other match that would work besides fighting for the title or facing Undertaker (and that’s a stretch at this point) is Bryan vs. HHH.

 

Everything is set up for it and the story writes itself (“You said I’m not good enough to beat the best, so how about I beat you at Wrestlemania?”). Bryan kicking out of the Pedigree, kicking the tar out of HHH and making him tap to the YES Lock in the middle of the ring would be more than an acceptable match for Bryan at the biggest show of the year. However, it doesn’t seem like that’s where we’re headed and I don’t get why. My guess is they might be saving that for Extreme Rules, which would be decent but totally miss what could be a much bigger reaction.

 

What is with all the dancing wrestlers? Brodus, R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Fandango, Summer Rae, Emma, the Funkadactyls and I’m probably missing some. When did dancing become this big of a gimmick?

 

Henry vs. Reigns was exactly what everyone knew it would be, though there was one major highlight. During Shield’s entrance, there was a fan holding up a Batista sign that read “Boo This Man.” I’m not sure why but I cracked up.

 

That brings us to Shield vs. Wyatts and I have nothing but praise for it. This is what you get when you build up two anythings as monsters that can’t conceivably lose a match. It helps that they’ve kept these guys apart most of the time and made the fans actually want to see a match. I’m more excited for this than anything in the last several months and there’s no way the match isn’t awesome.

 

That being said, it’s also one of the most frustrating stories in recent memory. Look at Reigns and Wyatt. Those two are proof that WWE can EASILY make someone into a star that can sell tickets and get the fans excited but they just don’t do it most of the time. Bray Wyatt has been around about eight months (let that one sink into your head for a minute) and is rumored to be facing John Cena at Wrestlemania. Reigns broke Kane’s Royal Rumble record. These pushes started in the last few months and they have the fans drooling. So why do we have to sit through so many horrible start and stop pushes the rest of the year?

 

One last note: how many of you would fork over your money right now for Reigns vs. Wyatt at Wrestlemania?

 

The Swagger/Big E. stuff was done quite well. I don’t think Swagger is anything more than a challenger of the month unless they’re setting up Swagger vs. Cesaro at Wrestlemania, though I don’t think that’s where they’re going. Big E. needs the Langston back though. “Here is your winner, Big E!” just doesn’t sound right.

 

Now we get to the highlight of last night’s show. I’ve been wanting to see a big time Cena vs. Cesaro match for a long time and last night showed why. That was a textbook definition of how to give someone a rub and Cena is rapidly becoming a master of the art. Cena was stopped at every turn until he finally gave up on finesse or technique and just knocked Cesaro down with raw power and hit a quick AA before Cesaro had time to counter. That’s telling a story and making someone look like a killer at the same time.

 

The other thing to notice about that match was the crowd. They were INTO that match, just like they were with the Sandow cash-in a few months ago. One of the hardest things to do in wrestling is make you question something you know is true and that’s what Cena is getting better and better at doing. I think deep down everyone knew Cesaro wasn’t pinning Cena clean, just like people knew Sandow wasn’t winning the title. However, Cena was able to make us believe that it COULD happen, even for just a few minutes. That’s some powerful ability and something that only a handful of people ever could do.

 

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: people aren’t going to truly appreciate Cena and his abilities until he’s gone. Lawler summed it up very well last night: Cena ALWAYS gets a reaction. Yeah it’s a mixed reaction, but that’s far better than fans being silent during an entrance. It means there’s something that people care about and that’s the most important thing.

 

HHH and Orton have had the exact same conversation for about four straight months now and they’re not adding anything to it.

 

That brings us to the tanned elephant in the ring. Batista hasn’t even been allowed to cut a regular promo since winning one of the biggest matches of the year and now he’s heading into Elimination Chamber for the least interesting match on the card. For the life of me I can’t imagine that he gets a one on one match with Orton for the title at Wrestlemania, Disney movie or no Disney movie. At this point his return is a disaster, but I still feel sorry for Batista in the whole thing.

 

At the end of the day, Batista just came back at the wrong time. People want to see Daniel Bryan and Daniel Bryan alone getting the title shot at Wrestlemania and would boo ANYBODY other than goat face. If Batista was getting this shot at say Money in the Bank, people wouldn’t mind for the most part and the reactions would be fine. The problem for Batista is that he has to step into the arena at some point and talk about going to Wrestlemania and the reaction isn’t going to work. A heel turn (even though he pretty much is one by default at this point) isn’t going to be enough. The problem is I’m not sure what IS enough.

 

Onto a more pleasant note, Titus O’Neil is NAILING this character. Word on the street is that he blew Vince and HHH away with his promo last night and I can’t say I disagree. The guy is perfect for the “I’m just better than you” character and has the charisma and mic skills to pull it off. No he’s not the best worker, but he’s good enough to hide it and that’s all you need to be at this level.

 

The Tag Title stuff was fine, just like the Intercontinental stuff.

 

I feel so sorry for Orton and Sheamus. They had to have their previous match at the post Wrestlemania Raw and last night they get to follow Cena vs. Cesaro. It’s even worse because their matches haven’t been bad at all but they’re overshadowed by circumstances beyond their control.

 

The brawl at the end was exactly what it needed to be.

 

That’s how I would sum up last night’s show: exactly what it needed to be. Every match on Sunday got some focus and I want to see the show way more than I did coming into last night. The fact that we got a classic match made things even better.

 

The most interesting thing though is that Wrestlemania is totally up in the air now. Look at the following people:

 

Sheamus

Shield

Bray Wyatt

John Cena

Daniel Bryan

Undertaker

Brock Lesnar

 

All of those names are in play for Wrestlemania and there are a lot of matches that could tear the house down. I’m getting excited and the Network launching in six days makes it even better.

 

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book of on the History of Summerslam at Amazon for just $4 at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HY4NV7Y

And check out my Amazon author page with wrestling books for just $4 at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6

 

7 comments

  1. rick says:

    “Everything is set up for it and the story writes itself (“You said I’m not good enough to beat the best, so how about I beat you at Wrestlemania?”). Bryan kicking out of the Pedigree, kicking the tar out of HHH and making him tap to the YES Lock in the middle of the ring would be more than an acceptable match for Bryan at the biggest show of the year. However, it doesn’t seem like that’s where we’re headed and I don’t get why.”

    It’s probably because I assume they are setting up Bryan to win the title at wrestelmania and then defend it against triple h. When he takes matters into his own hands after wrestlemania.

  2. M.R. says:

    If they’re planning on Bryan vs Kane at Mania and Bryan vs Triple H at Extreme Rules, Triple H is an even bigger egocentric asshole than I thought.

  3. M.R. says:

    Also, didn’t care for Colter shouting about how he was going to ‘own’ Big E following his match, left a bad taste in my mouth.

  4. Civil Defence says:

    But where would that leave HHH for WrestleMania? No way he isn’t booking himself into an important match at the biggest show of the year

  5. Jay H. (the real one) says:

    I don’t see them doing Daniel Bryan vs Kane at Wrestlemania. I think he will either fight HHH or be in the Title Match on April 6th.

    SamualDude Reply:

    Why not both? Have him face off against HHH and if he wins, he’s get put into the title match.

    Jay H. (the real one) Reply:

    Yeah like Bret Hart did at WM 10 with Owen and Yokozuna. That would actually work too.