30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 3-3-14
By Al Laiman
Mar 4, 2014 - 2:24:42 AM
credit Tom Jenner
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30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - RAW 3-3-14
1. Let me just say that I am absolutely psyched for this episode of RAW, and I haven't felt that way at least since the buildup to Summerslam, if not the Summer of Punk. I already see the Punk signs have not been confiscated, and it took seconds for the Punk chants to ring loud. The first match is announced as a first-time ever on RAW match between Batista and Daniel Bryan. I know they faced before, but that was when Bryan was in NXT. CM Punk's music hits to an immense pop, but it looks like a red herring. The chants for Punk are so loud that they come through the music. Turns out it's Paul Heyman, that silly troll. They're actually mentioning his name on television again though, so either it's been a work the whole time, or something's been worked out since the walkout. Heyman plays into the crowd chants, saying he deserves louder, which is only encouraging them. I swear I just saw Brock Lesnar guy in the crowd. Heyman does his best pipe bomb pose, and it looks like he might do some straight shootin'. Heyman starts listing all of the problems the Corporate Overlords had with Punk. Interesting, considering the context of how their feud went and ended, and considering where he stands in the Undertaker feud. Heyman starts working the crowd into cheers, showing just how damn good on that stick he is, and he even calls what he's doing a "pipe bomb."
2. Those cheers instantly turn into heat though, as Heyman informs the Chicago crowd that he isn't there. Heyman starts addressing why nobody is talking about CM Punk anymore, and he points the blame at the WWE Universe. Turned it around again, well played Paul. Heyman reverts back into character, blaming the audience for taking Punk away from him. He bridges that into blaming the Undertaker. Hey, they actually recall history more than a month ago! He somehow managed to turn that into revenge for last year's WrestleMania. Amazing. Heyman then builds up Lesnar as the conquerer of the streak before introducing him.
3. Great sign in the crowd: "Return. Win at WrestleMania. Leave. Repeat." We get a replay of the Undertaker's HAM-winning performance. The Punk chants emerge again before unfortunately, Lesnar gets on the mic. Fortunately he keeps it brief after listing his resume.
4. Before Lesnar can leave, Mark Henry cuts off his exit. Much like Henry's last confrontation with Lesnar, it's brief before he gets punked out again. Lesnar starts tearing apart the announce table hastily before he F-5's Henry through it. Damn, Henry has just been Lesnar's bitch this year. Cole calls him a "400-plus man." Nice. Cole then calls it "bedlam" which is a great word. I just hope he doesn't use it every week now.
5. The New Age Outlaws come out to incredible excitement, complete with a close-up of some dude texting. So enthralled. Road Dogg trashes Chicago, so they're heels again, I guess. They must really want the crowd cheering for the Usos. Their callback gets an impressive response, especially considering the circumstances of the evening. Is it just me, or does the ramp look unusually short, despite the immense size of the building? The Punk chants take over already, so the attention to the match exclusively was short-lived at best. They really build up this as a must-win for the Usos, which with both the Shield and the Wyatts looming, I suppose is true. A toss over the rope sends us into the commercial with the Outlaws going strong.
6. Jey Uso is still the face in peril when we come back. A triple spin, double miss, hit jumping kick... thing, finally has Jey getting the hot tag to Jimmy, and the pace picks up immediately. Man, those fast-paced hot tags never get old. Jimmy hits what looks like a pretty stiff corner hit on a fallen Road Dogg before an awesome corkscrew to Gunn. Gunn takes control back after a near-fall, but Jimmy hits an awesome tag-out splash high-spot... thing. JBL announces the new tag team champions a few seconds early, but who cares... The Usos win, finally coming from rarely-seen jobbers to the titles. The only shame is that it didn't happen at WrestleMania, but I doubt they care right now. After a promo spot for the Need for Speed guy, the Total Divas have a brief moment of watching the screen... for some reason.
7. We come back with Big E and Cesaro already about to go, and Cesaro is getting himself some good reactions too. Hardly a surprise in Chicago. Big E gets sent to the outside rather quickly, but punches out Biff before he can do anything. They look really rushed after being given a ton of time last week. Big E goes right into the Big Swing, but Biff comes in again and screws him out of the match. Cesaro unfortunately walks right into a Big E slam. Man, did that segment go by really quickly. Looks like a lower card match between those two at WrestleMania is looming.
8. Damn, even the Shield gets a big face pop. This is the rematch everyone's been waiting for, and I have a feeling they won't disappoint. They're visibly pumped, and they're eating up this response, as well they should. The Wyatts themselves get a good reaction as well, because when these teams get together, we all win thanks to watching good wrestling. I'm glad they made the comparison between Ambrose and Swagger, as it was odd having that happen twice on one show. Chicago chants "this is awesome!" before the match even starts, ala Minneapolis, and why the hell not.
9. The Shield goes on the offensive immediately, and all I hope is that it isn't rushed like the previous segment. Rollins goes crazy with three straight high spots, getting tremendous pops for his trouble. Rollins takes a fall after getting on top again, and they cut away from it, so I assume it was a mistake. Not good, hope he's okay. That takes us into commercial.
10. Well, he's still in the ring, so he's obviously okay. Rollins gets to the corner, but Ambrose and Reigns were distracted. Ambrose gets tagged in and looks like he's going a bit "Loose Cannon" with things. All six of these guys are getting the chance to shine in this feud, which is tremendous for everyone involved. Harper seems to get better and more agile every week as he gets more time in the ring. The crowd starts chanting for Reigns as Ambrose takes more cheap heat.
11. Wyatt knocks Reigns off the ring before Ambrose plants him with a vicious DDT. They're building him up well. Just as Ambrose crawls to the corner, Rollins bails and walks out of the arena. Rollins explains exactly why he's leaving, but Reigns keeps asking "what are you doing?" Wyatt gets a nearfall before Reigns comes in goes absolutely apeshit on everyone. Ambrose and Reigns team up for an awesome kick from the outside. Reigns then spears Rowan over the announce table, and Harper does a freaking high spot to the outside! Holy shit, this is awesome. Bray catches Ambrose with Sister Abigail with Rollins watching from the top.
12. The Wyatt cut-off sends us into comm... No, it's an inter... No, okay it is an interview with Batista, heavily booed. Batista trashes the Yes Movement and Daniel Bryan. At least it was brief.
13. Main Event is live on the Network now, so good for those who watch it. Fandango and Summer Rae are already out, and Santino now apparently comes out to Emma's theme. I'm okay with that, even if it is a damn earworm. The mixed tag rules keep getting a weird cycle of tags out, which I'm sure was supposed to be quirky, but the crowd hates it. The crowd is so bored they're even chanting for a Ziggler appearance now. Santino's chance to be taken seriously passed after that Elimination Chamber match he almost won, unfortunately. Emma busts out some Tajiri reference with a Tarantula, followed by a low cross body in the corner. Santino chases Fandango away with a sock puppet before Emma wins with her submission again. The awkward thing makes sense now that they're playing it up. Santino gets a small reaction for doing the only thing people seem to still like about him, the trombone, which makes Emma do it too. Yay.
14. Promo for the WWE Network with Stephanie, skip. Newly-heel Christian, and who is he facing... You've had your disclaimer... IT'S A SHAMEFUL THING, LOBSTERHEAD! MY BRAIN IS TURNING UPSIDE DOWN, HOAK HOGAN! THE AUSSIES WARNED ME OF MOST CERTAIN DESTRUCTION WHEN THE TOILET FLUSHED IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION! IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MYTH, BUT WAS OVERWHELMED BY THE FORCE OF MY DESTRUCITY DISCHARGE! IT'S NOT MY FAULT, I WAS BLAMED FOR COVERING KEVIN SPACEY WITH A PHOTOSHOP ON THE SELFIE, HOAK HOGAN! I DON'T EVEN WATCH THE OSCARS, BUT WHAT IN THE TERRAIN OF TESTAMENT WAS CM PUNK DOING THERE? I KNOW HE'S NOT IMPRESSED, SO WHY IS HE THERE! WHY IS HE TAUNTING ME? IS THIS REAL LIFE? IS THIS REAL LIFE, HOAK HOGAN! ANSWER ME! SKKKKKRRRRRRRRRRRONK!
15. Christian and Lobsterhead do their best to keep the crowd invested, but... yep, they don't care about this match. The crowd, when they are doing something, is chanting for CM Punk. Man, the announce table keeps recovering rather well. The match goes to commercial while they stare across the announce table. Thrilling.
16. We come back with Sheamus getting thrown into the corner, while everything relevant that happened took place on That Thing. I guess they gotta get their plugging for that in somewhere, with all this self-congratulatory promotion they're doing for the Network now. What is it about Sheamus matches lately that just make people not care? Then again, Christian matches haven't been much different, so this may be a bad combination. The crowd is either singing a song, or just 18,000 people are having muffled conversation. Sheamus goes through his series of trademark moves, and hey, even the Blair Witch Forearm Chops of Doom get a ten-count chant. Even smark crowds love to chant on cue. The match starts picking up, and Sheamus manages a pretty cool spot where he pulls Christian over the ropes and into White Noise for a nearfall. Sheamus hits a BOOT TO THE HEAD! on the outside of the ropes for the win, right as the crowd starts the boring chants.
17. Sheamus gets interviewed as we come back, but Christian attacks him into the set. I guess Christian is taking the Daniel Bryan spot for fighting him at WrestleMania. Joy.
18. Meanwhile, the Total Divas are fighting two non-Total Divas. Yay. The show's coming back, so I guess we better get back to having them win a lot on television. I don't remember when I last saw AJ wrestle on TV. I know it's recent, but she hasn't been around a lot. To her credit, Nikki hits one helluva clothesline when she gets the lukewarm tag. I say lukewarm because nobody in that building gives a shit. To the surprise of no one, the Entitlement Twins win.
19. In-show plug for the new USA series, skip. The second-loudest reaction of the night accompanies Daniel Bryan for his battle with the other heel in the WrestleMania main event. Bryan plays a little bit with the crowd by making them think he's waiting for Punk. Bryan teases the match with H at WrestleMania, which hopefully we're not in for a mauling for the sake of Big Dave looking good.
20. The Authority come out in response, likely to condescend some more. The crowd gets back to the Punk chants, especially with Triple H out there. The heat makes it hard to hear what Stephanie is saying, but Bryan disregards it. Bryan summarizes his beef with Triple H and releases the kraken of YES! chants. Triple H gets to more condescending taunting while the crowd hatefucks him for it. The Punk chants are overwhelming while Triple H keeps talking. He even starts HAMMing it up while being a douchebag about it, and he keeps refusing to lace up the boots for the big show.
21. Bryan calls him out for his hypocrisy, and Stephanie starts speaking for him again while denying listening to the Universe. What a great attitude to have while trying to get people to pay for their new Network, eh? She basically says that without their family, he's nothing. Bryan challenges Stephanie to the match while Triple H wears her skirt. There's an image I'd rather not ever have again.
22. H shoots it down yet again. H HAMs it up some more to be an even bigger condescending dick, and this will only be worth it if it actually leads to something. Bryan finally challenges H to make him leave the ring, but of course Kane comes down instead. Bryan takes him out with a high spot, and security is summoned to get him off Kane. Stephanie continues whining into the mic while Triple H finally looks intimidated to an extent. Dear JBL was that a long segment.
23. More recaps, skip. Roundtable discussion, skip. The Black Hole of Charisma is in the ring, and the sound of a motor brings us Dolph Ziggler with that NFS good. Surprising they'd give a guy who has basically become a high-profile jobber the celebrity cameo. Chicago's a good place to get him a pop though. They make mention of Del Rio being jealous that Zigs was the one bringing the nice car into the arena, despite the fact that Del Rio hasn't done that since before his face turn, if I recall correctly. Paul runs the distraction for Del Rio's nearfall, giving Ziggles a chance to counter with the Zig Zag and get the win. Wow, I can't remember the last time that happened.
24. It's not really a surprise, but Paul Bearer is going into the Hall of Fame. This is quite a class, especially for the lovers of HAM. The Warrior, Jake, and Bearer are definitely some of the greatest HAMs in wrestling history. Lita was always a lot of fun as well.
25. So Big E is getting another match, giving him two jobber entrances in one show. IC proud, babay! Now he's facing Biff, and Cesaro immediately attacks him and hits the Neutralizer. Biff looks like he just ran into truck of manure. Biff keeps egging it on, and Cesaro gets him locked in for the Big Swing. The crowd pops huge for it, but Zeb gets on the mic trying to stop him. Zeb then makes him help a brother up while they stare each other down so they can hug it out. Oh no, Team Hell No is back again! Zeb then directs them to do the "We, the People!" yell. Teasing the turn even longer. Did we really need both of those tonight?
26. The Wyatt teaser plays when Cena's music hits... Man, is Sin Cara running production tonight? He's visibly gimpy, and getting a pretty heated reaction, though hardly surprising. The Punk chants arise again. Cena saying that he won't have a match at least gets a positive reaction, and the YES! chants following that are admittedly a bit funny. Cena, unlike Big Dave, knows how to take all that in stride. Takes some thick skin, and I admire that. Cena runs through some of his more memorable matches in the AllState Arena, especially mentioning the infamous Money in the Bank match from 2011.
27. Cena says he respects Chicago and addresses the hijacking, while verbally acknowledging that everyone wants change. Gutsy move, and clever because it has Chicago cheering him. Unfortunately, he then says the change will go through him, which brings them back to the heat. He brings it back to where his career started, in this building, and claims he will stand tall. The Wyatt signature cuts it off, and we get the post-match Bray Wyatt glorious HAMminess. Bray is already a frontrunner for HAM of the Year, following in the lines of over-the-top greatness with Daniel Bryan and Paul Heyman. Backstage, Orton wishes Batista luck for his match, cause you know, they're both heels now. Good JBL I really hope something else happens with that main event.
28. Well, I thought the main event was up next, but Rusev comes out with his not-Ivan Drago manager. He cuts a quick promo that no one understands, and... That's it. Recap of Hogan on the Today Show, skip.
29. Batista gets booed out of the arena, unsurprisingly. Maybe he can pull a TROOF and use needing a drink of water to get heat when he's blown up after his entrance or something. Cole is nice enough to repeat Batista's entire promo, in case we didn't suffer through it the first time. Bonus crowd HAM for the Skinny Jeans sign. Batista does the power thing while Bryan has to use his cunning abilities to get the better of him. It's nice of Bryan to keep Batista on the ground so that Batista doesn't have to get blown up. He finally comes back with a clothesline and then lingers for a while. The Chicago crowd is merciless toward him. We go into commercial with Bryan on the outside.
30. Bryan starts mounting a comeback before Batista powders. Bryan hits him with the dive, getting the crowd back into it. He starts laying in the kicks while they keep rehashing Triple H grade insults. As Bryan goes up top, the Authority with Citizen Kane start heading toward the ring. The distraction gives Batista a chance to take the advantage back. Batista uses Bryan to take out Orton, confusing everyone as to how to react. Orton then gets in the ring and hits Bryan, giving
Batista EDIT: Bryan the win. Batista counters the RKO, sending him into the running knee. He goes for another high spot, but gets gored by Batista. Kane tries to attack, but Triple H cuts him off. Triple H tries to yell at Bryan, but he kicks H in the head. Batista then hits a Batista Bomb, and Triple H loses the jacket and tie. H then hits a Pedigree, as they stand tall over him yet again. Steph mocks the YES! chants while the crowd BEGS for CM Punk. Instead we just get the rehash of the match while the music plays. That was... meh. After the first hour, my enjoyment slowly waned. I guess all the rumors about Punk showing up were false, and the hijacking was nothing more than a series of chants. Some really long promos, and we did have one really fun match with the six-man tag, and good on the Usos for finally winning, but it really dragged at spots. Plus, why did we need two Cesaro/Swagger encounters? Why did the H/Bryan promo need to go so long? What the hell was up with production tonight? Yes, the first hour was awesome, but after the second two hours, it seems like a distant memory. I need to learn to not get psyched for things, they end up feeling like a letdown.
Heyman earns it back for his glorious fakeout.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
1-6-14 - Dean Ambrose
1-13-14 - Big Show
1-20-14 - Big Show
2-3-14 - Bray Wyatt
2-17-14 - Titus O'Neil
2-24-14 - The Undertaker
3-3-14 - Paul Heyman
Super Bowl Commercials!