Before getting in to my post, I should first say that unfortunately, my in-depth coverage of the past week was only out of respect to WrestleMania. I’m still not in a position to post full reviews of shows for a while, and may even miss the odd show. I hope you can all keep the faith. For the time being, i’ll only be posting on things that specifically strike me in the world of wrestling.
I should quickly mention my surprise at King and J.R. remaining on commentary for the start of the show. What a treat! I get the feeling that neither J.R. nor WWE want J.R. on the road again permanently, but he is clearly the best ever and adds an extra notch of quality to any broadcast. Cole’s ‘attack’ on J.R. with his BBQ sauce was ‘vintage Cole’ and I expect to see Ross play some part in what eventually becomes the layoff of the Cole-Lawler feud.
First thing’s first. Triple H’s promo was very respectful, but the main talking point to come from it was obviously his apparent challenge to Undertaker for next year’s WrestleMania. That being the case, it seems like a difficult thing to back out of, and i’m not that thrilled. Their match at WrestleMania XXVII was obviously the stand-out, but does that mean I want to see it again? I’m not so sure, even if its because i’m worried it wont live up to their match this year. This echoes a lot of my thoughts when I heard HBK would be having another crack at ‘Taker at WrestleMania XVI, and that actually turned out to be, in my opinion, an even better match, so maybe I should shut up. I just think booking a re-match the night after the original, though creating a long build, is a little rash. The aura of WrestleMania should last for the week following it, and to concentrate on the next Mania straight after the last one kinda sweeps it under the carpet. Obviously, this is a point that can be made about the main event segment of this RAW …
I thought the tag match between Orton & Rey against Rhodes & Punk was excellent. They worked really well together and furthered two feuds consecutively that deserve to be continued, while really giving a rub to Rhodes, who more than held his own. In fact, he was probably given the spot of the match with that sick Beautiful Disaster to Mysterio as he was charging for a 619. Excellent timing, and had the whole arena gasping. The one thing I noticed was that the announcers (this being after J.R. and Lawler had vacated) failed to mention Rhodes’s history with Orton in Legacy. It would have been an easy and obvious way to add extra story to the match, as well as helping Cody even more in appearing on Orton’s level. Stupid. Nonetheless, great match.
Another meeting of Attitude supernovas this time between Austin and HHH. Great atmosphere. I’m waiting on Rock-HHH now. That’s the one i’m dying to see.
God I hated the Austin-Tough Enough section. Did we learn anything about the show, or the contestants? Nah, it just wasted 5-10 minutes which could have been added on to the Bryan-Sheamus match. Thank God for Miz, who is now coming out to pops it seems. I can understand why in this instance! He was the first guy to put Tough Enough over in any meaningful way, by pointing out the obvious: that he started on Tough Enough, and is now among the very top performers in the WWE (all with characteristic smugness). Then a really interesting moment, suggesting to Austin that he have one more match in him; something Austin seemed to agree with, asking for the ring to be cleared. What we got was Riley attacking Austin, and Austin coming back against Riley, but this wasn’t just a Stunner for the fans, he was pulling out all his signitures, his Lou Thesz press, his big elbow, and of course, a Stunner. Something about this made me think that, contrary to what seemed to be clear, maybe Austin could have one more match. He certainly looked ready, as the announcers said. It comes at an interesting time, too, with it unclear who will be the next challenger to Miz’s title. Ignoring Austin, I think it’s between two people: Cena and Morrison. The assist from The Rock might legitimise a re-match for Cena. That all depends on what his plans are going forward (something I will discuss later). With their history, Morrison’s also a legitimate choice, especially given he’s coming off a win at WrestleMania, and the relative lack of pressure on an Extreme Rules card. All this said, could Austin be a choice? It would be a huge draw, and presuming that Miz would retain, what a further rub for him. I’ll be interested to see the booking.
A quick note on the Del Rio squash of Bourne: I completely understand why they needed him to squash someone as they needed him to seem even stronger and even more determined in the wake of his loss at WrestleMania and make sure he didn’t look weak. But why Evan Bourne? A young guy like that with great support and tonnes of potential. I’d have much preferred to see him dominate a guy like Mark Henry or Khali – someone with some gravitas, but who isn’t on any upward climb.
The Sheamus-Bryan title match was relatively short and sweet. I was worried we were seeing another squash in the early going, but it certainly grew as a resilient Bryan grew and took it somewhat to Sheamus. Though he lost, he has nothing to be ashamed of – it’s just important he moves on to something meaningful. As for Sheamus, I like the new red, white and blue attire for the US Champion. It’s such a simple thing, but it could be used to great effect when drawing heat. The major talking point after this match was the debut of Sin Cara, ostensibly to save Bryan from a Sheamus beat-down and maybe stake a claim to the US title. His entrance was superb, leaping over the top rope from the floor and absolutely running rings around The Celtic Warrior, absolutely too hot to handle, culminating in a remarkable cross-body from the turnbuckle to the floor in which he just seemed to soar. He reminds me of a Rey Mysterio from the 90s, which is a huge compliment. Maybe he and Bryan will be tagging together against Sheamus in the coming weeks, which is incredibly mouth-watering!
The main event segment saw John Cena ‘calling out’ The Rock. This I thought was perfect ground for a Cena heel-turn. That didn’t materialise, but i’m not complaining; for one thing, there is plenty of scope for that going forward, secondly, what we got instead was the booking of a dream match, what I will refer to as ‘Icon vs Icon II’, and finally, if we pin all our enjoyment on whether Cena is heel or face, we’re liable to ruin what could be, whatever his status, an iconic feud and an era defining match. I’m not going to say any more than that about the match itself as we have no idea as to how it will be treated come the time. I will reiterate though, that I would have liked this to have waited for a little while before being announced. Like the HHH-‘Taker re-match, it is booking that completely ignores what is supposed to be the biggest spectacle in the business happening just the night before, and treats it as more transient than it is, or should be. What was surprising was the run-in of The Corre. I thought we might be seeing something huge at this point, but it turned out that they were just fodder for the story between Rock and Cena as they tried to out-do each other. I understand why they did it, but it seemed a bit needless and arbitrary. It should have been just the two, face to face, up close, getting more and more intense, before agreeing to the match. Anyway, that’s a pretty small point. There are, nonetheless, lots of questions coming out of this, the answers of which may decide the success of the angle: The main one is how often will we see Rocky? If we see him at least relatively regularly, at timely and surprising times, it will be great. Secondly, how exclusively will he be dealing with Cena? He should be his main concern, but Rock should possibly be allowed to stray from that over the year to make sure his feud doesn’t get stale while giving rubs to the up-and-comers. Whatever way you look at it, this is an awesome announcement, and already lends the next WrestleMania a huge gravitas.