Tuesday Raw Roundtable: Randy Orton, John Cena, Brock Lesnar and the Wrestlemania 31 Build Continues

There are less than 2 weeks to go before Wrestlemania 31, What did the Pulse Wrestling crew think of the second to last Raw?

Darren Paltrowitz

The good (e.g. Heyman, Mizdow, Bryan) is still good. The bad (e.g. Undertaker not appearing, the repetitive Authority storyline, the unfocused tag team division) is bad and getting worse. Although it was spoiled in advance, it was cool to see Sting, but not “one of the best moments in Raw history” (or whatever Michael Cole was told to say). It was nice to see the divas get featured more, even if the match the was great. It was a bummer to see that the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal is being treated as a lower-card/jobber happening. I still don’t feel interested invested in much of Wrestlemania, but look forward to watching it and then seeing a reset in the storylines.

CB

This Raw was a little better then the past few weeks, but not by much. The Brock Lesnar video package made me want to root for Lesnar, and the Heyman promo reinforced my rooting interest. The “Daniel Bryan” chants levied towards Reigns by a crowd in Iowa doesn’t bode well for the reactions he’ll be getting in 2 weeks. Also, without Lana, Rusev is just not the same.

Brittney Soban

Opening Promo: The Authority came out and spoke about how angry they were. We all knew this was coming. Not spectacular and not boring, just kind of there.

AJ Lee v. Nikki Bella: It was nice seeing the Divas match go for a bit longer, especially since this is a Wrestlemania match build up. AJ and Nikki did a nice job going back and forth and Brie throwing Paige into the ring post is going to help add to the tension at Wrestlemania.

Miz v. Ryback: The match itself wasn’t super memorable but the surrounding issues and subplots were. Ryback trying to get Mizdow to hit the Miz was good, the Miz’s ultimatum to his personal assistant was even better. Maybe, on the grandest stage of them all, we’ll finally see Mizdow turn on the Miz.

John Cena/ Rusev Contract Signing: Poor acting/over acting aside (and who the hell was that attorney guy?) this contract signing set up did what they are supposed to do- build tension and get the fans behind the match. Cena, making it about the United States Championship and how much he hates that Rusev has the title, can build the emotional investment in the match and promote the title. John Cena has had a long, successful career. Whether you love him or hate him, his interest in a title match brings some prestige back to the title.

The New Day v. Cesaro & Kidd: The WWE is trying to highlight it’s mid-card titles and showcase more athletes but this match, with Los Matadores outside the bring, the New Day, Cesaro & Kidd inside the ring, it was too much going on and not enough good action. Poor handling of the talent needs to be addressed. Comedy is fine, but having El Torito mix it up successfully with the Tag Champs only serves two purposes: to try for cheap laughs and to make the champions look weak.

Brock Lesnar Interview: Lesnar did a great job promoting himself, without needing Heyman to be a mouthpiece. He talked about his destruction over past greats, The Undertaker and John Cena specifically. He said that Roman Reigns wouldn’t get a fairy-tale, feel good ending. And I believed that, it wouldn’t be simple, the match will most likely be brutal. And it’s exactly what we need for the main event.

Big Show v. Erick Rowan: If only booking would allow for Big Show’s true purpose at this point in his career to happen that would be great. I get that it’s classic to make him look strong. I, along with most, were disappointed when he didn’t win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal last year. However, having him steam roll over Erick Rowan takes away from Rowan’s momentum. Big Show is at the time in his career where he should put younger talent over, not roll over them. Besides, this match never even started.

Battle Royal Demonstration: What was the point of this? Was there a point? Mark Henry announced he was in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Curtis Axel didn’t enter the Battle Royal. And no one looked impressive. If the big guys in the match (Henry, Big Show, Kane) are highlighted in the Battle Royal at Wrestlemania fans are going to either boo them out of the building or simultaneously go to the bathroom.

Paul Heyman’s Rant: Heyman did what he does best. Reigns came out to challenge the naysayers. His new shirt was a noticeable change from the “Believe That” mantra Reigns has been tugging along since the Shield break-up. Reigns made it clear that no one tells him he can’t and he made it clear that he intends to do whatever it takes to dethrone Brock Lesnar.

Six Man Tag Match, Ziggler, Bryan & Ambrose v. Stardust, Harper & Barrett: They are trying to build for the match at Wrestlemania but R-Truth has avoided getting into the middle of the fights, despite being the one to sneak away with the title belt. Dean Ambrose winning the match for his team tonight was a good thing for the Lunatic Fringe but the after- match antics only served two purposes; trying to emphasize how complex a 7-Man ladder match could become and allowing Barrett to show he is a force to be reckoned with.

Bray Wyatt Promo: Another nice promo by Wyatt, I just hope the match is worth all the promos. And I hope the Undertaker shows the world he can go one more time. Wyatt is entertaining but the same ramblings week after week show that the Undertaker needs to appear, even if he’s silent, to build some more tension. There are only so many times we can hear Wyatt call himself “The New Face of Fear” before it gets old.

Randy Orton V. Seth Rollins: The match never started. Instead it looked like Orton would be beaten down by the entire Authority. Then, the lights went out, Sting appeared. A brief moment of disbelief on everyone’s face, including Orton’s, before the Viper and The Icon struck out at The Authority.

Brian Mitarotondo

Raw did almost nothing to advance any storylines or get me excited for WrestleMania. The Authority “break up” was so obviously an attempt to trap Orton that it was tough to watch the segments throughout the show. The Diva’s match was actually watchable for the first time in weeks, which is a plus, I guess. They managed to make Mizdow boring, and kill any momentum he may have had. The contract signing was a waste of time. The tag team match was OK though. I would have rather seen a couple of singles matches between the competitors though. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Uso that isn’t hurt while the Uso that is hurt can’t wrestle. It seems like Show is beating up Rowan simply because he has nothing better to do. I know it is tough without Brock around, but even Heyman’s promos are sounding repetitive now. And Reigns looking sedated while delivering his promo didn’t help either. I looked like that for a couple of hours after I got my wisdom teeth pulled, droopy eyed with a crooked smile, but I digress. Maybe now that BNB got his belt back, this ridiculous game of hot potato can finally end. Sting showing up was a nice surprise though.

And why hasn’t Bray Wyatt had a match in weeks? He is going to have to carry a 50 year old guy in 2 weeks, and he might be as rusty as Taker by the time Mania gets here.

Justin Czerwonka (@JCWonka)

The show still wasn’t quite Wrestlemania-level important, but it did a better job than last week’s show. The ending was done well, although I’m pretty sure everyone knew what was going on with Rollins and the Authority going into the match. I thought Roman Reigns did a decent job of responding to Heyman/Lesnar. The contract signing was just like any other contract signing. I thought AJ and Nikki had a nice little women’s match. It wasn’t NXT level good, but better than we’ve seen on RAW in recent memory. I’m starting to get sick of the IC Title feud. At this point it isn’t close to funny anymore. But the WWE still needs to do a convincing job next week on RAW to sell Mania to some fans who aren’t buying into it yet. Tonight was better, but they need a good final sell next week. I’ll give RAW a 6, which might be a bit generous but the good slightly out weighed the bad.

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