Monday, March 28, 2011

WWE RAW 3/28/11 --- The Last Stop to Wrestlemania

WWE RAW 3/28/11
March 28th, 2011
Allstate Arena,, Chicago, Illinois
Attendance: 17,000 +/-

It's almost Wrestlemania time as the WWE rolls into the former Rosemont Arena in Illinois. Tonight The Rock is IN the building live, as are both John Cena and The Miz. Triple H and the Undertaker have promised to have a face-to-face tonight as well, so this is a big RAW for the company, let's see how they deliver.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Josh Matthews and Jerry Lawler

We open the show with CM Punk in the ring and the lights dimmed as he shows us a video package of the attack on Orton last week In front of his wife, which gets him a ton of heat. Punk keeps calling Randy by his full name, Randall Keith Orton, and it's delightful. Punk says he's glad he got to show Randall's wife what Randy Orton really is. He says he'll close this sick and twisted chapter at Wrestlemania, but Orton's music hits and he comes out with a heavily bandaged knee from the attack last week. Orton limps to the ring and they start fighting immediately. Orton uppercuts Punk and prepares for the RKO, but instead he wants to go for the punt but his leg is too injured for him to run and he collapses! Small “CM Punk!” chant starts up as Punk realizes Orton only has one leg. Crowd is chanting for Randy now as Punk lays him out with a kick. Dueling chants tonight and I'm guessing we'll get them at 'Mania as well Punk hits the GTS on Orton and leaves the ring with a smile on his face. Excellent way to open the show and add heat to this feud.

Backstage we see Edge and Christian together, Edge wearing an old trench coat of his. Edge says he doesn't get why he can fight Del Rio on RAW but not on Smackdown, but Christian reassures him the RAW GM will be okay with it. Apparently Edge and Christian reunite on RAW for the first time in a decade next...

Edge/Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio/Brodus Clay

This is the first time Edge and Christian have teamed together on RAW in ten years. Or, atleast that's what the WWE wants you to think, as they tagged more than once on RAW around 04-05 before Christian left for TNA. Edge and Clay start us off, trading shots and quickly Edge and Christian trade quick tags and beat up on Clay. They both get in the ring and Edge whips Christian into Clay as they use some double-team maneuvers like they haven't missed a lick. Clay bails and Christian tries the slingshot splash, but Brodus catches him so Edge dropkicks Christian's back, sending him down to the floor. We take a quick commercial break and when we return we see replays of Alberto Del Rio beating up Christian. Both men are in the ring, trading shots. Del Rio nails Christian with a superkick for two. Del Rio tags Clay back in and he drops an elbow for a two count of his own. Del Rio tags back in and this a top rope elbow drop, but again Christian gets the shoulder up. Christian hits a big tornado DDT from the top though and gets the hot tag to Edge, who nails Clay and gets prepared for the spear, but Del Rio sweeps his feet. Christian and Del Rio whip eachother into the guard barrier outside the ring while Edge hits the spear on Clay in the ring, and that's enough to get Edge the pin at 4:42 (shown). This was an excellent, HOT tag match for the time it got but it felt a little rushed and that held it back from being something great. The near five minutes they did show us though were killer with Edge and Christian hitting great double-team moves and bumping around. **¾

After the match Del Rio locks on the armbar on Christian briefly until Edge runs him off. Edge thinks Del Rio is gone and comes back to check on Christian but Del Rio just runs out afterwards and slaps the armbar onto Edge as well. Del Rio gives him a little wink before he takes his leave. Great match and segment to add heat to this feud.

We see footage of Trish Stratus and Snooki drinking at a bar in New Jersey, apparently Trish is in “Snooki's world” tonight. Pretty sure these are pre-taped segments. We take a commercial break and when we return we see The Miz backstage with an upside down WWE logo hung up, texting on his phone with Alex Riley.

We hear the e-mail noise and the Anonymous GM has sent an e-mail to Cole on his iPad this time apparently. The email says that The King will have to wrestle Jack Swagger tonight to prepare for his match against Cole at 'Mania. So are we just confirming Cole is the RAW GM now or something? When we return The Corre is in the ring and they announce an eight man match at Wrestlemania pitting The Corre against Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella, and Vladimir Kozlov. So Christian's not involved there, good.

Justin Gabriel vs. Santino Marella

This...could be fun. Big Show/Kane, Vladimir Kozlov, Tamina, and The Corre are all at ringside so it's almost like a lumberjack match at this point. Gabriel gets a quick cover on Santino for two and tries to work a hammerlock. Santino starts laying in shots though and hits a big hip-toss and headbutt combination, and he's already calling for the Cobra. Everyone is fighting outside at this point but Santino hits Gabriel with the devastating COBRA and that's enough to get the win at 1:53. Just a nothing match to get The Corre vs. Big Show feud some TV time going into 'Mania. Nothing wrong with that at all, as even Big Show and even KANE does the freaking trumpet gesture that Santino does! Okay, that's just funny. ¼*

When we return Undertaker's music hits and he makes his way to the ring. Triple H's music hits next and he does the same, but when he tries to do his signature water bottle-spewing bit on the apron, a loud gong is heard instead and the lights go out. When they come back on both men do the staredown in the middle of the ring when suddenly....Shawn Michaels music hits! This year Hall of Fame inductee is live on RAW and fired up! Great pop for Shawn and FINALLY they've smartened up and brought Shawn into this feud like they should have from the start. Big HBK chant as this crowd has been RED HOT all night long. Shawn grabs a mic and says he's really sorry to interrupt, but there was no way he was going to miss this. HBK does a great job on the mic here putting over both guys. Shawn looks to Triple H and asks him seriously what makes him think he can do what Shawn couldn't. Triple H grabs the mic and says that Shawn got soft and used to losing, but Triple H isn't Shawn and he HAS to win. Triple H talks about how resilient Undertaker was when he first entered the WWE 16 years ago. Hunter says that he wanted to emulate the Undertaker and that he's learned to respect him more and more each day. Triple H says he and HBK made a pact on the road five years ago that if they ever stopped living up to their standard of wrestling in the ring, they'd retire, or they would make them retire. Triple H looks to the Undertaker and says very seriously that that time has come for him, drawing some boos from the crowd. 'Taker has been broken down for years, this is true. Triple H promises he's the one who's going to end the streak at 18-1 and that the Undertaker will rest in peace.. Undertaker grabs the mic from him and says that if he ever felt the need to be put down, he'd go to Triple H because that's the respect he has for him as well, but to quote 'Taker, “It ain't that time”. Undertaker brings up how he doesn't see the same arrogance and confidence in Shawn Michaels eyes after he “humbled” him at Wrestlemania last year. Crowd doesn't like that. He says he ended Michaels career and that he's going to go into the Hall of Fame with regrets. Shawn tries for the Sweet Chin Music on Undertaker after this, but Taker grabs him by the throat and Triple H separates the both of them. Triple H grabs the mic and asks Shawn to show Undertaker why he's going to beat him at Wrestlemania, but Shawn just leaves the ring to some boos. I've never seen Shawn run in defeat like this, but he does just that much to Triple H's surprise. Undertaker tips his hat to Triple H as his music hits and the segment's over. Yeah, to say this was a great segment would be an understatement. This whole segment came off incredible and added a ton of heat to a match that really had none at all until now. This is EXACTLY what this match needed to convince people to buy the PPV and tune in for that main event. Excellent work by everyone involved.

Jerry Lawler vs. Jack Swagger

After a commercial break we return and it's time for Lawler's match against Swagger. Cole distracts Lawler to start and Swagger takes the early advantage with a big Swagger bomb. Swagger takes Jerry outside the ring and tosses him into the ring announcer's section, where Jerry finds a handy steel chair that he slams into Swagger's back for the DQ at 1:17. After the match King tries to destroy Cole's glass box with the chair and then tries climbing into it, but Cole's security takes him down and Cole throws a drink in his face. This crowd is hot and they want Michael Cole DEAD. Match itself was obviously absolutely nothing, but it served it's purpose. ¼*

After a quick commercial break we return and Vickie Guerrero comes out and mocks John Morrison's entrance routine, much to Michael Cole's amusement.Vickie gets in the ring and introduces her boyfriend, Dolph Ziggler. Oh Ziggles, I hope you can recover from this.

Daniel Bryan/John Morrison vs. Sheamus/Dolph Ziggler

Nice to see they found a way to work these two feuds into the show in one match, good use of time here. Sheamus and Morrison start us off with Sheamus taking the upper hand with big strikes. Morrison goes for a springboard sidekick but Sheamus catches him and gives him the Irish Curse backbreaker as we cut away to commercial. When we return Sheamus is still dominating Morrison in the ring with a bow and arrow-like submission, driving his knee into Morrison's back. Morrison gets the hot tag to Bryan, who cleans house on Ziggler and puts him in the LaBelle Lock briefly until Sheamus breaks it up. Morrison and Ziggler fight to the outside while Bryan goes for the LaBelle Lock on Sheamus now, but Sheamus is too big and he powers out and hits the High Cross powerbomb and gets the pin on Bryan at 2:44 (shown). Not bad at all for the time they were given, in fact this is about as good of a 3 minute tag team match you're ever going to see. It was rushed though, obviously, so it never really got off the ground. **¼

We cut away to a supposedly “live” segment with Trish and Snooki in a bar at New Jersey. Josh asks them about their training and Trish says she's shown Snooki some moves. Some guy keeps hitting on them and Snooki ends up smacking him. We go back to Josh but then right back to the bar again, where LayCool are now apparently. Snooki throws her drink in Layla's face immediately, and our reality show drink throwing quota for the month has been met I do believe. LayCool and Trish/Snooki tussle for a bit until security separates them. Snooki is very clearly hammered.

And it's time. The Rock is there live, and backstage, preparing to go out. His music hits and the arena explodes as he makes his way to the ring. Huge sellout crowd with a ton of Rock fans in the house, but shit, who isn't a Rock fan? Massive “Rocky!” chants the moment his music stops of course. He does the “Finally The Rock has come back to Chicago” line and says this is the city where it all started for him. The Rock competed in his very first Wrestlemania right here in this building. He says for the first time that night he decided to “bring it” and says that was the unofficial birth of “Team Bring It”. There's already a fan in the crowd with a sign for it. The Rock says Team Bring It is a way of life, and that way of life basically devolves into the usual taking of objects and inserting them up others anuses. The Rock says he has a dream of his own when he called out John Cena (Cena gets MASSIVE boos and HUGE “Cena Sucks!” chants we haven't heard the likes of which since 2006). He calls Cena a “homeless Power Ranger” and says Cena will see his fist and his boot up his ass. The Rock says the People's Champ is here and Cena's music hits, gaining more boos. This is a totally pro-Rock anti-Cena crowd. Cena hits the ring and both men circle each other. Cena has his own mic and says that this is exactly what Cena wanted, The Rock back in a WWE ring. Cena tells The Rock this is where he belongs and I silently mark out to myself. Cena says he was one of The Rock's fans and he didn't know why he left and wanted him back for moments like this. Cena says he wanted to know what problem The Rock had with him, and Cena found it. Cena says his audience is kids and he's damn proud of it and who he's become as more boos reign down but Cena says he works his tail off for this business and wants to know who the hell The Rock is to tell him what to do. Cena is fired up and this is some of the best promo work I've ever seen from him. Cena says no one can judge him but God basically. The Rock agrees with him about the good lord, but says the lord can't save Cena from The Rock whipping his ass all over Chicago. Cena drops his mic as if to fight The Rock and then The Miz's music hits. Oh yeah, The Miz, the WWE champion. I forgot about that guy (just kidding). Miz hits the ring and says the usual stuff, Cena is going to lose at 'Mania, etc. Miz says he knows a secret about The Rock, that he's not going to do a thing tonight. Miz cites some of his movie numbers and I just noticed the mic in Miz's hand has the upside down WWE logo for Miz, which is awesome. The Miz says he guaran-damn-tees that he'll embarrass The Rock if he even looks at him funnily. The Rock just says bluntly that it doesn't matter what he thinks, and Alex Riley of all people at The Miz's side jumps The Rock with The Miz. The Rock fights back though and hits some of those patented smacks. He gives a DDT to Riley and gives him the People's Elbow! But Cena hits the ring as soon as it's done and gives him the Attitude Adjustment! Massive boos reigns down on Cena. If I was a betting man, I'd bet that Vince will in fact be able to convince The Rock to come back for one more match, against John Cena after all of this. It's the only thing that makes sense. That closes out the show.

Bottom Line:
This show had that elusive BIG SHOW feeling all night long. This was one of the best go-home shows I've seen before Wrestlemania ever. Every major feud got a good chunk of time with great promo work from almost everyone tonight and the crowd was huge and red hot all night long, into everything. There was a severe lack of wrestling, sure, as we only had about 10 minutes of combined ring time, but this was the rare case where that didn't hurt the show at all. This was all hype for 'Mania and it did that absolutely perfectly. The Rock-Cena confrontation at the end is something that will go down in wrestling history as one of the great moments in this modern age in which the WWE struggles to find it's new identity. Great, great show and an easy Thumbs Up.

Score: 9.5/10


JGlass said...

Wow, you gave the show a higher ranking than KB, and you are a much tougher grader than he, but I'm right with you on this one. The wrestling ranged from sub-par to pretty decent, but the show ending was explosive. It was AMAZING, had me pacing around in front of the television the whole time, jumping up and down, the whole 9 yards. I was applauding my television at times, giving the Cena the "I'm not worthy" bow, and even started screaming when Cena hit the AA. Wow man... WOW! I don't think I could be any more excited for Wrestlemania this Sunday.

FunKay said...

Before I start agreeing with you, 2 things:
1: Matthews said on various occasions that it was the first time in 6 years E & C had teamed on RAW.
2: Did you miss Sheamus & Ziggler vs. Bryan & JoMo?

Anyway, I totally agree with you for the vast majority of this review. Really good build-up show for the PPV and of course an epic moment there at the very end. Nice job X.

xfearbefore said...

Thanks for the kind words guys, and yeah, somehow my part about the tag match got deleted somehow, fucking Open Office, must have deleted it or something accidentally. Damnit. I'll work on inserting it back in.

Stormtrooper said...

I must say, I've given you crap about your ratings before, but you were spot on tonight, even more-so then KB, whom I have usually sided with. Great work.

This show was overall the best RAW they've had in MONTHS, maybe longer, and as you said it's the best Mania Go-Home show if not ever, then in a long-ass time.

Question. The sit-down interview between Rock/Austin prior to Mania X7 is (I believe) to be considered the best go-home interview for the Title Match. Did tonight pass it? I really think it did.

Also, how do you grade Miz's performance in the promo tonight?

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