30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 3-31-14
By Al Laiman
Apr 1, 2014 - 6:22:31 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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30 Thoughts with Al Laiman - 3-31-14
1. It doesn't take long for RAW to get started, as the ever-familiar gong goes off and sends the crowd into immediate frenzy. I'll never get over how awesome this entrance is, and how no other can touch it. I am curious how they'll turn it up for a classic WrestleMania version this year. Taker talks about 21 men stepping up and being set down, although it's actually less than that, given that we had Triple H three times, Kane twice, and Shawn Michaels twice, but who's counting? Taker gives one of his classic metaphor promos, which work because we're not hearing them every week. Good opening work from the Deadman before Lesnar interrupts him.
2. Paul Heyman comes out and for once does not have to introduce himself. The crowd starts chanting for Punk again while Heyman builds up the match as well as his client. Heyman says that it's not a prediction, but a spoiler. Awesome line. Lesnar slowly walks toward the ring while Taker removes his expensive cloak, but then does the tired trope of pointing toward the sign and backs away. No wait, Psych-Hitler, no wait, not. But wait, he's coming back again, as they split going around the ring and Taker pretends that where Heyman is matters. No wait, he's leaving again... or is he? FINALLY, Lesnar gets in when Heyman slides in a chair, and after taking a few shots, gets the advantage. Lesnar follows it up with an F-5 and lays out Taker. It's about time Lesnar got a strike in.
3. We of course get a recap of everything we just saw when we come back, because none of us were paying attention. Lesnar shakes the ropes like he's the Ultimate Warrior. LeBig E is out next, and I'm surprised they haven't brought up his "low center of gravity" yet. He's facing the Black Hole of Charisma himself, who has lately been in Zero-Fucks-Given Mode. To his credit, Del Rio is one of the few on television who understands ring psychology, and he uses it early in the match here before going into commercial.
4. Bertie's working that arm like serious business. LeBig E is then easily able to catch Del Rio coming off the top rope for a slam, and then remembers his arm hurts. Bertie counters LeBig's Warrior splash, but takes more trademark moves. ADR gets a near-fall with a Backstabber, which is always a vicious-looking move. Big E gets in his splash, but Del Rio comes back with the cross-armbreaker. Remember when no one could get out of that move? Well, for the second week in a row, someone manages to power out of it with relatively low effort. Take that, contract ending! Despite all that, ADR goes heel Low-Ki on Big E with the ropes-assisted Ghetto Stomp! Love it! Del Rio gets the win over the Intercontinental champion in a good opening match.
5. That Thing returns to relevance as the vote for who gets to face Citizen Kane between the members of the Shield is up. Gee, I wonder which Shield member is going to win?
6. Recaps with Cena and the Wyatts, skip. Wyatt gets another vacant room HAMtacular promo. He's in spiral-glazed mode tonight, even a particularly hilarious moment of, "Do I have your attention now, kids?" I know there's a debate between some of the other columnists over who HAS to win this match, but honestly, I'm just really digging this gimmick. Wyatt gets cheered by the crowd for his words before the talking heads start yammering again, including Cole cliche #426, "switching gears." Then we get a Total Divas recap? Fuck off, skip.
7. It's the Total Divas-promoting portion of the show, while Vickie Guerrero announces that her Invitational is a one-fall match. I'm sure that won't be chaos. Natalya's facing Summer Rae, a match resulting from the feud on their reality show that was filmed months ago.
8. I'm aware that some of the other columnists watch that show with their wives/girlfriends, but I've lucked out in that she has no interest in reality television. She is a big Daniel Bryan fan though. Vickie then puts over that reality show they're all obsessed with by saying she has "better things to do." Summer Rae then somehow runs in to an extremely awkward Natalya Sharpshooter attempt. Then, suddenly, Summer Rae kicks Natalya from the outside of the ropes and... wins? What? Oh well, it's over.
9. Triple H is out next for his "Farewell to the YES! Movement" segment. Cole plugs the Network during his entrance, practically begging for more people to sign up. Steph sells the segment as their "benevolence." Triple H then again masterfully weaves support for the YES! Movement in being a dick to everyone. That's simultaneous action right there. They mock everyone by burying the Fandango brief spotlight. He then turns around and puts him over by blaming everyone else. The only difference is that the Bryan thing started a year before that, but who cares, this is effective. Steph again announces that Bryan won't be there. So one of the biggest competitors in one of the biggest matches is absent from the two RAWs before WrestleMania, not getting a single one-up on Triple H? Kay.
10. Triple H starts shooting a bit, mocking everyone who blames his success on marrying well. He's bringing out the big guns tonight. While I don't deny that H earned his way to the top, I think he definitely had a say in staying there. The crowd starts the "boring" chants before Triple H shows a vignette running down Triple H's former opponents, or at least the ones from 2000-03. It's a really effective video though, with some bad-ass background music.
11. Triple H then moves on to declaring how he'll defeat his former friends and give us another Triple H title reign. Oh what a joy that would be... Instead of the music most people wanted to hear cutting it off, oh goodie, we're gonna get a Big Dave interruption, Georgetown jersey and all. That might actually get him something somewhat resembling a face reaction in DC. They trade fairly good barbs with each other, with Dave actually getting a one-up on him. I'm impressed, Big Dave showed some mic charisma.
12. Randy Orton is out next, and dammit, he's making me like him again. Not three weeks in a row! Not three weeks in a row! Where has this tangible personality been for the last five years? H then challenges him to become the Viper again. Didn't we already go through this a few months ago? H reminds him that he has a match with the barista hipster on the other side of the ring, which ends the segment.
13. Roddy Piper is back for a Piper's Pit segment tonight. Dear JBL I hope he's not drunk. The WrestleMania pre-show is two hours long? That's six hours of television. That's a bit much.
14. A preview of the tag team title match is set up, conveniently with the faces and heels properly aligned, and Cole plugs the WWE Instagram account. Another thing to plug? Wow. I'm glad to hear the tag match set-up is one of those where you can tag anyone in. I miss those. Hey, remember when Los Genericos made a debut and went on a winning streak? Goofus does what he's done for the most part since they debuted him by having him beat the top names in the business, and that is take all the moves from the faces.
15. Cesaro gets tagged in to an impressive reaction. The faces continue to be in control until Cesaro punches one of the Usos right in the fuck to finally get the heels in mode. Lawler spends the whole match making Zeb jokes, showing us just how crucial to the team he is. JBL then sings the Usos catch phrase, and somehow that's even lamer than when he would do it for the TROOF. The dueling chants ensue, typically with the deeper voices chanting for one thing and the higher ones for the faces.
16. The heels don't get to do a whole lot, while the Usos get the hot tag, and who else is taking most of the abuse? Goofus, of course. But hey, at least his name is better while still not making him any different whatsoever, right? Genericos get booed for interrupting the Big Swing, and then one of them nearly kills himself with a spot to the outside, just missed landing on his head. Meanwhile, Biff does an awesome counter of another Genericos high spot into the Patriot Lock. Biff of course gets distracted, and with a Guerrero-esque fake-out for the win. The tension between the Real Americans is teased a bit, but not really. The commentators are still convinced that we give a shit about El Torito.
17. We come back in the part of Fandango's entrance that we've been allowed to see for about two months. Wow, he's the only one who got an entrance for a tag match with Sandow against the Rhodes'. I wonder how Fandango reacts to being crushed as a fad and put over as a worker in the same segment. JBL makes a joke about Lawler dying on live television just to make a point about Cole not being a real doctor, because you know, heart attacks are freaking hilarious...
18. The heels continue to have control over Cody Rhodes, who once again seems a bit directionless after his 84th promising chance at breaking through. Goldust gets the tag in to a mild-at-best reaction. Goludst hits a nice double-cross body, and Cody does a nice springboard to the outside. Goldust then pins Sandow after the Curtain Call. I swear I just saw Brock Lesnar guy in the crowd again too. Was anyone in the building even watching that match?
19. More shilling for the Network while That Thing's power will be summoned for the incredibly obvious answer to a poll. Recaps of the Kane/Shield feud, skip. The Shield cut a backstage promo, comparing themselves to Murderer's Row. I wonder how many people get that reference. Their promo is followed by the Wyatts' personalized entrance.
20. After the commercial break interrupting his entrance, we come back with the Bayou Rob Zombie taking on the TROOF, accompanied by Xavier Woods. He has a WrestleMania shirt on. Odds that he makes it into the Battle Royal? I know this is going to surprise you, but I don't like TROOF's chances in this match. They're talking about Cena like he isn't here, which would be even weirder. The week before WrestleMania, and no Bryan or Cena? Kay.
21. TROOF manages to get a few offensive moves in before being cut off again. Wyatt does a really interesting-looking tilt-o-whirl... facebreaker? Someone with Firestorm Pro give me the technical name for that move. It was never my strong point. Bray does his impression of Lindsay Lohan showing us how a crab walks before unceremoniously disposing of the TROOF in the biggest upset win of the last ten minutes. Xavier ends up getting to be fodder for the Brodie Lee clothesline as well.
22. Bray Wyatt yells "This is not the beginning, this is the end." Then because again we're all complete idiots, Cole has to repeat it word for word. Suddenly, someone in a lamb mask appears in the dark during the Wyatt pose. Gee, I wonder if that could be Cena. Oh holy shit, it's John Cena... Dressed like an Undertaker minion. The crowd cheers before they remember it's cool to hate him.
23. We come back with the Diva's champion in the ring already for a match against Naomi. Well, at least it's not Cameron. All the other Diva's, even the non-TD ones, get to be Lumberjills. I imagine this will go really well for AJ. AJ gets tossed back in twice, but when Naomi gets thrown out, they do nothing. AJ does it herself, then... subversion of expectations, they toss her back in as well. After a series of misses, Naomi eats a spin kick for the near-fall. Will the Diva's Champion lose yet again to a Total Diva?
24. AJ gets another close-fall as Naomi's outfit, which is made out of Jerry Garcia ties, reflects from the ceiling lights. Naomi makes her comeback to resounding SILENCE, but you know, we better keep pushing them. Tamina decides to step in front of AJ, despite what happened last week, and a brawl breaks out. What a shock, AJ ends up losing yet again to one of the reality stars. Nobody cares. Since the launch of that show, AJ's record in non-title matches has to be about 6-147 against them.
25. Kid Rock is still a thing? Who knew? Cena gets a backstage interview, responding in his Cena fashion. He tells us we'll see John Cena being a monster. Cena, as one would naturally do, then shills and promotes the show and all the ways to watch it. How convenient. Panel stuff, skip. Recaps, skip.
26. I'm in suspense here; I have no idea who's going to be Citizen Kane's opponent. Oh wow, it's Roman Reigns. Lawler actually asks if 80 percent of the vote can be called a landslide. No Jerry, it's too close to call... About 8 girls chant "Let's Go Roman." Did the crowd just get bored or something? They were really hot earlier. Roman takes over the match and starts hitting vicious strikes everywhere. He sets up for the spear, but is distracted by the Outlaws coming down. Surprise of surprises, the Shield attack from behind, Reigns ducks a Kane strike, and hits the Superman punch. The Shield hit the ring and they all attack. Talk about another one-sided feud. They've barely had any trouble with all three of these guys, except for one night on Smackdown when they had three other tag teams on their side.
27. Hulk Hogan will be at Smackdown for the first time since... Brock Lesnar took him out maybe? Let's hope Piper is somewhat articulate tonight. Piper mentions Andre the Giant and tries his best to describe what a battle royal is. Every time I've seen this guy on television in the last few years, I've kinda felt sorry for him. Piper's interrupted by Miz, but he keeps talking. Piper apparently really wants to use Miz's catch phrase tonight as Lobsterhead interrupts him. What a shameful thing. Man, there are a lot of spare mics around tonight. I guess Titus O'Neil's new gimmick is... Spelling his name? To counter the idea of just introducing himself, like the next guy coming out, Dolph Ziggler. It's a Hustle-trademarked clusterfuck in action!
28. Piper at least seems to be having fun, as he says they're all named "You." Piper throws an eye-poke, conveniently causing a fight between the equally-aligned faces and heels. A few of the rest start to hit the ring until Rey Mysterio gets his own entrance music for it. Mysterio did a top-rope move, so I assume he's out with an injury for Sunday. Big Show's music finally wakes up the crowd a bit. Big Show beats up everyone, even hitting a double chokeslam, and has a staredown with Mysterio. Mysterio then spells his own doom with a fake-out, and gets caught and tossed into everyone. Man, now he's definitely out until next WrestleMania.
29. Now for something that'll surely keep the awoken crowd invested, a heel vs. heel main event. I normally don't care about recaps, but seeing Orton falling on the floor laughing at Batista was worth seeing again. Wait, did I just like something about Ranny Ahtan yet again? Is this real life? Then we get The Authority coming out to ringside, because as we all know, Triple H and Stephanie have just not had enough face time in the WrestleMania buildup yet. I'm gonna really struggle to give a shit about who wins this match while listening to H and Steph HAM it up on commentary. Well, Triple H HAMs it up... Steph is incredibly easily excited about everything.
30. Triple H continues egging on each of the members of the match while Steph continues into superfan reaction mode. Triple H is so insistent about the Viper being there. Holy shit, it's about time, Daniel Bryan attacks Triple H from the crowd! Now that's a reaction! Orton then decides to kill that immediately by throwing him into the steps. The distraction causes Orton to get speared, and as Batista brings him up, he kicks Batista in the head! He then does a high spot right into Triple H and doesn't let up. Intensity in ten cities! Bryan continues cleaning house until everyone else is knocked away, and Bryan finally stands tall, summoning the heavy YES! chants. You know, that two-year-old "fad." Even Bryan points to the WrestleMania sign, because we just don't know it's coming up. They should really promote it more if they expect this relatively-unknown project to be successful. Overall, this was the typical pre-Wrestlemania RAW... Lots of promos, mostly short matches, but at least finally a positive note for the ending of RAW in Bryan's direction. The show wasn't much except for being a really long commercial for WrestleMania, but that's to be expected. It had a few fun hype moments, and all I can really hope is that they don't phone in the actual show like last year.
Check out the trailer for my second short film, starring Jackie!
Not a lot of HAM tonight, as it mostly was served between Bray Wyatt and Triple H. I think Wyatt takes it by a hair, as his promo just edges out Triple H's Fandango dance impression for the pre-WrestleMania weekly HAM.
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
3-10-14 - Stephanie
3-17-14 - Randy Orton
3-24-14 - Dean Ambrose
3-31-14 - Bray Wyatt