Table of ContentsMonday Morning Thoughts
What I Am Looking Forward To
Live Raw Blog
Post Raw Thoughts
Monday Morning Thoughts
Batista Heel Turn and Ramifications
Interesting turn of events over the course of last week, with Botoxta starting off with almost a “tweener” promo on Raw, and then going closer to heel on Smackdown. The problem I have with it is that he’s still acting like a face. It’s an odd dichotomy in that he is being very John Cena-ish in his beliefs. I know many have said that the best heels truly act like they believe their actions are for the best. This isn’t exactly that though, and it is a lot more like how Cena gets booed despite being a fan favorite. The boos Batista receives are so much more genuine and strong while both men are doing nearly the same thing. I think it goes to show the amount of respect Cena has honestly earned from the WWE Universe, even from fans that seemingly pretend to despise him. Batista is a far weaker version of anything Cena delivers as a performer, in ring or out of it. Will the people who have been booing him finally come around to admitting John’s strengths? No, I wouldn’t expect that much. But the booing might drop in volume and power going forward, because now those fans realize that there is a far much greater evil to whatever they perceive to be right. Batista can’t promo at all, while Cena is at worst stale. Botoxta can’t wrestle 10% of his previous output, while Cena is still putting on Match of the Year contenders. Batista’s pandering to the fans feels forced and scripted, while John’s feel true and with his heart on his sleeve. Any reason you may have to boo Cena, Botoxta deserves 10 times more.
The main point is now what WWE will need to do to salvage their WrestleMania Title match and main event. How could anyone who is receiving a WWE paycheck think that the only option is to continue to go as is? They’ve booked themselves into a corner. While WWE isn’t shy of heel vs heel matches (my personal favorite is the last minute booking of Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley at In Your House Buried Alive in 1996), it’s another thing to sell your top event of the year with one. In a PPV that generally ends with the faces conquering their foes in valiant fashion, how would a match without a fan favorite fit onto the card?
So something is almost guaranteed to take place. And thankfully, there are a lot of options. Maybe I’m looking through my rose tinted glasses too much, but all the options I can think of are steps in the right direction.
Will Daniel Bryan be Added to the WWE Title Match?
In all honesty, no one should be in the match except for Orton and Bryan. And the only reason Orton would be welcomed is because he is the champion. It might not be the freshest match, but it’s still the match most of the paying audience - live or at home - want to see. The WWE Universe want Daniel Bryan to win the WWE Title at WrestleMania.
But will it happen? If it does, I doubt it’ll be because he’s inserted on any Raw before New Orleans into the match to make it a Triple Threat. He’s already made his intentions clear to take on HHH, and even through the scrambling WWE has seemingly done over the week, the recaps and highlights have all included Daniel Bryan’s confrontation and challenge to HHH. There is no immediate intention to veer from that direction. It could change, but I doubt WWE would **** around with anything HHH related at this point of the game (no pun intended).
Will CM Punk be Added to the WWE Title Match?
I would wager this is a more likely possibility, though still not a foregone conclusion. Rumors are obviously circulating about a CM Punk return to Raw tonight in Chicago, and with Daniel Bryan vs HHH ready to be signed and booked any second now, the only logical place for Punk to fit into the card is as a third man in the Title match. Some have suggested that Vince McMahon himself return as an on screen character to somehow get Punk involved in the title match, with him being the protagonist against HHH in an authoritative role. It is something I’ve mentioned a few weeks ago, with the shoot rumors being that Vince was the man behind the scenes working to get Punk back, while HHH was less concerned. It’s honestly a fitting way to bring a real life situation into the scripted reality of professional wrestling. There’s no doubt that the fans aren’t having any of what WWE has scripted for us, so adding a dose of realism from one of the genuine fan favorites is a more than safe decision.
But… I hate Triple Threat matches for the title. This isn’t about my opinion really, but it seems WWE has backed off from multi-challenger WWE Title matches as well. There are exceptions like the Elimination Chamber, but in general WWE has reduced the amount of Fatal Four Ways and other combinations for their top title since the buyrate failure of the Fatal Four Way PPV event. I think they started earlier than that, but that was easily a turning point as well. The money is always going to be in deeply personal 1-on-1 contests. So will WWE go with a Triple Threat with Punk as the 3rd man? I’m not entirely convinced, though it would be the simplest and safest answer.
Will both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan be Added to the WWE Title Match?
A Fatal Four Way? I think this would be a better option if you aren’t removing Botoxta outright, but still unlikely.
Will WWE Book a WrestleMania X style mini tournament for the WWE Title?
Now there’s the idea I would go with above all. Before I go further, I want to recognize that apparently The Doc suggested this in one of his columns. Kudos to The Doc for thinking of it first.
I don’t believe this scenario will happen, but I think it would be the one best to go with. Consider the pieces:
- HHH with his ego could easily place himself in a #1 contendership match against Daniel Bryan
- Orton vs Batista would be the next logical match in the middle of the card, much like Yokozuna vs Lex was placed
- The final match of the night would be Daniel Bryan vs the winner of Orton/Botoxta, leading to the crowning moment for Daniel Bryan to finish the biggest event of the year
Something tells me this makes the most sense.
Where would that leave CM Punk? Out in the cold, unfortunately. As much as I agree with the supposed reasons for his departure (if it was true at all), he shot himself in the foot by removing himself from everything. He shouldn’t just be sandwiched into the main event to fix an error, because that’s pretty much what caused this match in the first place. Batista was sandwiched into the main event despite the ongoing storylines for CM Punk and Daniel Bryan to fight off the Authority going into WrestleMania. Now, Punk could still fight the Authority, but other than being screwed out of the Rumble win, he hasn’t been about the WWE Title as much as he’s just been wanting to take down the establishment. Would the title do that? Sure, but it’s a roundabout way that seems a little too convoluted at this point. WWE is trying to fix WrestleMania, and complicating things more is a risky endeavor. Unless it’s Kane vs Punk at Mania, or HHH vs Punk with Daniel Bryan moved to the WWE Title match, Punk seems lost on the WrestleMania card.
Maybe Triple Threat against Bryan and HHH? But why would HHH book himself in such a match? Maybe HHH removes himself entirely, and makes Punk vs Bryan? Seems convoluted, and it’s hard to imagine HHH not wrestling on the card.
Sadly, Punk doesn’t organically fit in anywhere right now. If he returns, it’s going to feel forced. But I won’t deny that forcing Punk onto the WrestleMania card is better than leaving him off entirely.
Of course, that’s a big IF he returns. I know I’ll be listening all night for Killswitch Engage, Living Color, or maybe another new song we won’t recognize. And much like I did live at WrestleMania 24 next to former LOP columnist sheepster, and a few months later when a briefcase was cashed in on Edge, I will mark the **** out.
Is There Room For Other Talent?
It’s hard to imagine that with so many elite level match ups already arranged for WrestleMania that there are so many names still yet to find their place. I know LOPforums poster, mod, part time columnist, and actual professional wrestler and promoter in Alberta TeamFarrell (a.k.a. Coach) has brought up a few times how horrible some of the matches on WrestleMania cards have been wrenched into the 4 hour show in an obvious effort to get some prominent names on the card. Be it the Team Johnny vs Team Teddy match from 2 years ago, or the WrestleMania XX Tag Team Fatal Four Way matches for each brand’s titles, these matches never feel like they belonged or added anything to the show.
This leads to a conflict, where frivolous matches aren’t worthy of the spot, but some of the wrestlers are worthy of a spot. Let’s go with the idea that we’ll be seeing Bray Wyatt, John Cena, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, HHH, Batista and Randy Orton in the top matches, it still leaves the following names without direction:
- Christian (I guess these guys might be facing off, but even that match seems forced)
- Alberto Del Rio (I’m not his biggest fan, but it still feels wrong to not have him on the card since he is heel #3 right now)
- Big Show
- Mark Henry
- The Real Americans (especially Cesaro, who is on a roll)
- Dolph Ziggler
- Wyatt Family
- The Shield
- New Age Outlaws
- Rey Mysterio
- Big E.
I would say all of these men have earned a spot on the card in some fashion.
It ain’t over till it’s over: The Shield and The Wyatt Family haven’t remotely settled their differences despite their battle at Elimination Chamber. In fact, lingering tensions between the factions have led to the rematch of all rematches this Monday on Raw, by order of WWE COO Triple H. Yet despite The King of Kings’ efforts to keep his house in order, an intriguing proposal by Daniel Bryan has put The Authority as a whole on the spot, and an interesting wrinkle has occurred within the balance of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture. So let’s rev things up with WWE.com’s five-point preview for this week’s Raw, featuring special guest star Aaron Paul.
Guess what? Batista doesn’t like you very much, either. That, at least, was The Animal’s message to the WWE Universe last Friday on SmackDown, as well as a promise to dominate every favorite of the WWE Universe who stood in his way between now and WrestleMania. Dolph Ziggler – despite an inspired effort – was first on the chopping block. Who will the No. 1 contender target next?
Prepare for war … again
Ready for Round Two? The Shield and The Wyatt Family are set to collide yet again just two weeks after they nearly tore Minneapolis off the map in their epic battle at Elimination Chamber. The Wyatts have looked dominant in the weeks since then, while The Shield, who was divided and conquered in the contest, have looked less than cohesive of late, particularly with regards to Dean Ambrose’s increasingly hostile attitude toward his teammates. Can The Hounds of Justice put their internal issues aside and get the job done? Or are they doomed to repeat history when The Wyatts come calling again?
Just say “YES!”
Daniel Bryan can’t have the WWE World Heavyweight Championship just yet. But perhaps he can have Triple H. The submission expert took the fight straight to its source last week, delivering an emphatic WrestleMania challenge straight to The King of Kings himself. The COO all but laughed in Bryan’s face, though the “Yes!” man’s handy defeat of WWE Director of Operations Kane shows he’s not exactly ready to give up on his endeavor. Bryan clearly wants to play The Game; will Triple H oblige?
A one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest
John Cena told Bray Wyatt to come get some. And Bray Wyatt did, taking a piece of the 14-time World Champion with him when The Eater of Worlds – aided, as ever, by his Family – seemingly injured the Cenation leader’s knee in an in-ring mugging one night after costing Cena the WWE World Heavyweight Title inside the Elimination Chamber. The exact state of Cena’s injury is unknown, but it’s unlikely he’s going to let this go by without some kind of response before long. What – if anything – can we expect from the wounded Cena?
Next stop, Raw
And we didn’t even need a giant magnet to get him: “Need For Speed” and “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul is headed to WWE’s flagship show as the special guest star. How will the WWE locker room react when the Emmy Award-winning actor steps into their midst? Given what happened the last time Raw had a guest host, we’re guessing The New Age Outlaws will be sitting this one out.
Live Raw Discussion
Here are a few ideas shared with me through email from a reader msisw:
a -Punk returns prior to WM as a voice against The Authority. His "sabbatical" is mentioned often and is "left off" the WM card as punishment: "You can't just disappear for awhile and then come back and expect to main event unless you're an A+ guy."
b - Bryan beats HHH to be inserted into the WM main event.
c - Bryan wins the main event and becomes champion
d - Punk comes out and is revealed as The Authority's ace in the hole leading to a Punk vs. Bryan main event.
e - Doesn't really matter who wins but a mega heel punk vs. mega face Bryan writes itself for months.
Punk main events WM. Bryan wins the title. Fans are happy. IWC masturbates in pile of own feces for months over Bryan/Punk feud.
Only problem is I can't see Bryan wrestling 3 matches in one night unless the HHH match is a squash (hahaha, yeah right) or he isn't featured prominently in the Orton vs. Batista match (perhaps a Kane assault beforehand means he walks into the triple threat match late and all bandaged up?)
a - Similar to the above except Punk returns as a mega heel who has agreed to help The Authority at all cost with being guaranteed a title shot in the main event of WM one day.
b - Bryan is inserted into the Orton/Batista match prior to WM.
c - Bryan wins.
d - Punk comes out, again, as the Authority's ace in the hole.
e - Punk and Bryan go full tilt but ultimately Punk gives Bryan the victory (finger poke of doom 2? or interference from The Authority versus Bryan forces Punk to have a change of heart mid match and gets counted out?) citing he already held the title for the longest tenure in modern history and all he wanted was to main event WM, which he was able to.
Just a couple of thoughts.
I like my ideas better, but it’s definitely food for thought.
Renee Young has never looked better. Proud of that Canadian Cutie and her obvious passion for wrestling.
Intro - Punk music/Heyman/Brock promo
Heyman using it is a swerve and a half. I would have liked Barrett, but this feels better.
I’m expecting him to use this to continue his promo from last week about WWE.
This is too much. It might be time for the “It’s still real to me. dammit” gif, but I think I can safely say CM Punk is my favorite wrestler I’ve ever watched, and I’m a flood of emotions.
I’m not happy that this wasn’t about Punk returning, but damn was that not the most perfect way to start things off. I doubt the Punk chants will die for the night, but he created the opening for the fans to listen to something not about Punk.
Well they let this get turned away for a few seconds, but the chants came back.
WWE need to be on their toes for the next 3 hours if they don’t want all their work to be shadowed by chants for someone not even in the storylines.
I liked seeing Henry come out, but unless this turns into match on Raw, what’s the point? Brock could destroy JTG and get the same message across. There’s no real need to waste Mark Henry on this rather standard and elementary storyline advancement. He was just taken out for a few weeks by Brock, is he going to have another vacation so soon?
Tag Team Championship - Outlaws vs Usos
While I don’t mind the reunion and return of the New Age Outlaws, I can’t say the matches have been all too special. Then again, even in their prime they weren’t great in-ring workers. Let’s just hope the Usos help bring the excitement. It won’t be enough to drown out the audience, but it should subdue them just a bit. Tag wrestling, even when standard as delivered by Billy Gunn and Roaddogg, is a great way to start the action.
Chicago might have one man on their mind, but they aren’t dead for this match whatsoever. The Usos have been such a solid team, but haven’t had the right break in a division that has been disappointing for too long. Now that the tag team division is back on track, and they are true #1 contenders, the time might be now for them to launch their careers.
I would like to see them take the titles here, but it leads to a multi team ladder match at WrestleMania. I don’t know if the Outlaws would fit due to their age in a ladder match, but if they can keep up, they should be included.
And the Usos win the titles! This match would have been a great opener for WrestleMania, but I think this is a sign that the tag division will be changing directions. There are too many names, and especially teams, who have earned and deserve a spot on the WrestleMania card for there not to be a spotfest type match. If Money in the Bank won’t return to WrestleMania, then the return of something like TLC or the original Tag Team ladder match would definitely fit. Real Americans, Rybaxel, Los Matadores, RhodesDust, Wyatt Family, and possibly The Shield are all genuine possibilities to join the fray.
Cesaro vs Big E.
That was so quick that there isn’t much to say. Interested in seeing where it goes, but isn’t it weird that the heel is more over than the face?
The Shield vs The Wyatt Family
Here comes the match of the night, though I’m starting to suspect this will be less of a match and more of a storyline advancement segment. I think we’ll see The Shield show signs of their WrestleMania placement, be it a split or a new feud.
As predicted, this was an amazing ****ing match, and it was the storyline advancement we expected for The members of The Shield. Thankfully there was a change of pace with giving Rollins the ball and being the one to walk out.
It was a great promo by Botoxta. Interesting to see where it all goes.
Speaking of interesting, a great quote from LOPforums poster TeamFarrell (yep, two mentions in this column so far)
“So, this is Vince's "**** it, let's throw things out there that they'll actually pay attention to" night?”
Too bad Vince didn’t think of this for WrestleMania 2-3 months ago.
Summer Rae/Fandango vs Santino/Emma
Emma can wrestle, so I don’t mind how silly this debuting storyline seems to be. The Divas aren’t about being taken seriously all too often. They only need to be interesting, which she is. You know there is something to this, even if you “don’t quite get it” like JBL.
Sheamus vs Christian
I guess this won’t be a match at WrestleMania if we are seeing it on Raw once again after all their previous confrontations. So where are they going?
I think in the future WWE needs to give us a better reason to be involved in these sorts of matches. Sheamus vs Christian is in no way a bad or uninteresting match, but their storyline has been as generic as possible without any really juice to it. In a Raw that has been jam packed where even the mixed tag match had a more relevant storyline for their quick match, a lengthier match from bigger names needs to have some sort of angle to keep everyone involved. Maybe a promo before the match to create some anticipation, or announcing it at the top of the show with recaps earlier on in the program. These matches deserve more attention, but WWE can’t just put the guys out there and expect complete devotion when 90% of the show they’ve put on so far has had some sort of background or development.
Nice finish, and a solid match. It just needed a better presentation from WWE for the fans to give a shit.
Daniel Bryan/Authority segment
Top of the second hour main event time. I like seeing guys smile genuinely. Wrestling should be fun.
“Hijack Raw”??? That’s a bit too meta for me to grasp.
You walked into that one Daniel.
HHH coming out to face this audience? Interesting.
It really feels like this is the time for a return to take place.
She is talking to the Universe in one of the most condescending ways possible. She’s a great heel.
This is way too intense. Accident or on purpose, WWE have shaped this audience into a frenzy. I might be home, but I’m at the edge of my seat. The sad thing is that nothing at all might happen involving Punk, but I won’t let that jade me from saying it has been a great Raw.
I am thinking the main event won’t take place, and will be some sort of screwy ending. And I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine with what happens. I’m not sure what will happen, be it a Punk return or some sort of move forward for Daniel Bryan towards HHH at Mania, or the title match.
Del Rio vs Ziggler
With the grand entrance, maybe the right man will win this match?
Probably not. Del Rio is just not catching on the way he is presented to be, while Ziggler continues to stay over despite losing too many big matches.
I am glad to be wrong.
Real Americans Face Off
I don’t want to see another team split up right now! ****!
John Cena Promo
This whole “change goes through Cena” is almost like an opening for a WCW-esque New Blood vs Millionaire’s Club angle of guys like Bryan, Cesaro, Ziggler and possibly Punk against Cena, Orton, Batista and HHH. I doubt it, but the door is there to walk through if ever WWE wants to go in that direction.
Batista vs Daniel Bryan
Not enough time for much to happen here. I expect Orton, Kane, and HHH to make some sort of appearance. Could someone come out to defend Bryan?
Or am I just too hopeful and delusional?
They are really going late here. **** this is double weird.
I can’t help but feel a little deflated. But it’s because I’m a victim of my own hopes and expectations. WWE delivered a superb Raw, but I was holding out for a long shot that never took place. WWE certainly played with my emotions, but it was a hell of a ride. Let’s be fair, WWE could have offered the world to CM Punk to return for tonight, and he flat out said “no” so we can’t blame WWE for teasing us all night. I still blame them for digging the hole they are working so hard to dig themselves out of and forcing CM Punk out (if that’s what happened), but tonight’s show was an amazing 3 hours, despite the let down. And I can’t complain about that let down, as I only have myself to blame for getting excited.
Should WWE have toned it down a bit? Maybe. But I don’t know if I would have been as into every twist and turn that took place tonight if I wasn’t so wrapped up in the possibility of Punk’s return. Had I not had that hope, I might not have paid as much attention, or been as emotionally involved. They hooked me in with Cult of Personality just like I was hooked in when Shawn teased us in Montreal with Bret’s Hart Attack theme so many years ago.
I think the toughest part is that I have to say goodbye to my favorite wrestler. Consider this: my favorite wrestlers have gone in this order according to the following eras: Ultimate Warrior 1988-1996 (I barely watched between 92-96), Stone Cold from 96-2001, Kurt Angle from 2001-2005, CM Punk from 2005-today.
I was too young to really be bothered when the Warrior left all 3 times when he was my favorite. And when Stone Cold took off in 2002, he wasn’t my favorite anymore. Kurt Angle left in 2006, which was exactly when I started watching CM Punk on weekly WWE TV after he made such a strong impression on me in ROH.
Each time my previous favorites left, I had already discovered a replacement or wasn’t that interested in wrestling. 2014, Daniel Bryan might end up being his year, but it wasn’t because he surpassed Punk the way other faves once did, but because I have actually had a chance to let Punk go organically.
I know “it’s still real to me”...
I don’t care. I love wrestling, and it’s been a part of my life for so ****ing long. This is a new feeling for me as a fan, and it’s not easy to deal with somehow. My life isn’t ruined, and I’m not Chris Crocker and in tears over here. But it’s a sad day in my life as a wrestling fan. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but at least I had a great ride tonight with Raw.
And on that note, Peace out
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