-We are LIVE (and sold out) from Washington DC (the capital of the Free World and home to random violence).
-John Cena kicks us off and receives a definite heel reaction. An intense, but somewhat rambling promo basically says that the Rock will experience failure at WrestleMania and Cena won’t replace the new belt. The crowd gets on Cena with a “boring” chant, so John goes total heel and proclaims himself better than the Rock because the champ is here. If anyone thinks Cena isn’t winning the title at WrestleMania, they are insane.
-Hey, WWE wants everyone to send out Touts about Rock-Cena II…let’s not and say we did.
Big Show, Randy Orton, & Sheamus vs. 3MB
So I miss the first part of the match due to dinner being delivered and, when I return, Sheamus is caught with a missile dropkick from MacIntyre, starting a brief heat segment. Sheamus manages to get the hot tag to Big Show and all the babyfaces hit their finishers in short order to get the win.
Winners: Big Show, Randy Orton, & Sheamus
-The Shield’s music hits after the match but they don’t attack. Instead, they cut a promo saying pretty much the standard heel things and…nothing happens. Well, that’s one way to build to a match at the biggest show of the year. I missed the heat segment but it seemed about **.
-Earlier today, Zeb Coulter and Jack Swagger preach in the shadow of the Capitol building and basically say the same thing that they’ve been saying for weeks.
-Alberto Del Rio responds by referencing Zeb Coulter’s Jumanji coat (wow, a reference from 1995…that’ll hook those kids).
Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler
Oh yeah, now this is what I’m talking about. They fight over a headlock to start until Bryan catapults Ziggler into the corner and works some Yes Kicks. Bryan flips over Ziggler on a corner charge and tries for the No Lock but has to settle for a surfboard instead. I love that hold.
Dolph takes control and hits a dropkick to the back of Bryan’s head and works a headlock. They fight to the corner where Bryan actually busts out a Tarantula (THE AMERICAN BUZZSAW) but Big E Langston provides enough of a distraction for Ziggler to hit a Fame Asser for two and take us to commercial.
We return with Dolph working his Show Off Headlock but Bryan drives him to the corner to break. Dolph misses a charge to the corner and Bryan kicks the hell out of him. He misses a swandive headbutt though and Dolph applies a sleeper. Bryan manages to reverse to his own sleeper so Dolph goes to the jawbreaker to break the hold. In a stiff spot, both guys go for a cross body block off the ropes and crash together in mid-air. Ouch. AJ starts skipping around Kane on the outside, allowing Langston to nail him from behind. This distracts Bryan long enough for Ziggler to roll him up and grab the tights for the win.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
-Langston lays out both babyfaces after the bell and the heels stand tall heading into their title match at WrestleMania. The match was well-worked (as expected) but the finish kind of came out of nowhere. Still though, I think the tag match at WrestleMania will be a pleasant surprise **3/4.
-Recap of Brock Lesnar breaking the arm of Shawn Michaels last time he appeared on Raw.
-Speaking of Shawn Michaels, he hits the ring (dressed like Zeb Coulter) to express his concern for Triple H. Triple H will not stand idly while Shawn acts like a wuss though, so he heads to the ring. HBK says the Undertaker respected Shawn when he ended his career but Brock Lesnar respects no one.
However, Shawn wants Triple H to kick Brock’s ass, so he’ll be there in Hunter’s corner to make sure it happens. Shawn has two words for us: Brock…Lesnar’s…music? Alright, that’s three words but still Brock and Paul Heyman make their way to the entrance ramp.
Heyman gets a great line in as he says Triple H will be disappointing everyone when he loses on Sunday, but Triple H should be used to disappointing his wife. Ouch. Heyman promises that Hunter is committing professional suicide and Lesnar will triumph on Sunday.
-What are the odds that Lesnar actually wins? 100-1? 500-1? I wouldn’t hold my breath, Lesnar fans.
Wade Barrett vs. Zack Ryder
The Miz is on commentary because God hates me and he’s challenging for the IC title on the WrestleMania pre-show (WOW!). Barrett hits a suplex for two but Ryder comes back with a facebuster to absolutely zero reaction. A dropkick hurts Barrett but Ryder gets caught on the top rope and Wade punts him off. Elbowdrop gets two and a big boot sends Ryder to the floor. This match has already gone on way too long. Barrett gets distracted by the Miz so Ryder mounts his futile comeback with the Broski Boot but it only gets two. Barrett finally says “wait a minute, this is ZACK RYDER” and hits the Bull Hammer for the win.
Winner: Zack Ryder
-Meanwhile, Santino tells Vickie he just saw Vince McMahon stomping around complaining about Guerrero and Brad Maddox. It’s a SWERVE though because it’s April Fools! Isn’t that funny? I mean, that’s cutting edge comedy right there. Vickie books Santino in a match because he annoyed her. I got $100 it’s either Kane or Mark Henry.
-This show is really treading water at this point.
Santino Marella vs. Mark Henry
Ah, I knew it would be one of those guys…it always is. Here’s the “match”: Santino tries a kick, Mark Henry hits the World’s Fattest Slam, match over.
Winner: Mark Henry
-DUD obviously. I like Henry’s heel character but I’ve heard that the matches between him and Ryback on the house show circuit are terrible, so I don’t have high hopes for Sunday.
-Speaking of Ryback, he hits the ring because he’s pissed Henry interrupted his attempt at Mark’s bench press record. I think that’s how the first match between Ric Flair and Harley Race was set up. Ryback isn’t allowed to touch Henry because of Booker T’s ruling, so he throws Santino at Henry instead…poor guy.
-Backstage, CM Punk admits that he’s disrespecting Paul Bearer because he’s trying to get in the Undertaker’s head. He teases that Taker might lose his cool and get disqualified or stay on the floor a second too long and get counted out. Obviously that won’t be the finish but CM Punk recently stated that his match with Taker won’t be a “workrate match”, so expect lots of false finishes and DQ teases.
Zeb Coulter vs. Alberto Del Rio
Wow, “Dirty” Dutch actually wrestles a match on Raw…never thought I’d ever see that. There was zero crowd reaction for either Coulter or Swagger, so let’s push them to the moon. Ricardo Rodriguez remains at ringside even though Del Rio asked him to leave.
Del Rio offers Coulter a free shot (a definite heel move) but Swagger attacks Rodriguez on the outside, forcing Alberto to dropkick him. Coulter grabs a crutch and nails Del Rio, drawing a DQ and obviously ending the match. Swagger attacks from behind, destroying Del Rio with the crutch and it’s an old-school heel beatdown.
Winner by DQ: Alberto Del Rio
-Obviously, this was just an angle and not a match. It was a good segment from a booking point of view, but absolutely no one cares about Swagger at all.
-The Rock hits the ring to respond to John Cena and sucks up to the people a little bit. Since we’re in Washington DC, Rocky also teases that one day he might run for president and his inauguration might be just a little different. Hell, if Jesse Ventura could win governor of Minnesota…nah, nevermind. To say this live crowd is pro-Rock is just a bit of an understatement. Rock says as long as the people are behind him, John Cena has absolutely no chance. Good promo as usual from the master.
Chris Jericho vs. Antonio Cesaro
Cesaro doesn’t even get an entrance and they wonder why no one cares about secondary titles? Never mind the fact that he’s definitely jobbing here as well. Also, do they actually expect people to PAY to see the in-ring debut of Fandango? There must be some great stuff in Titan Tower water.
They trade some basic stuff to start and Cesaro drives Jericho to the corner but gets caught with a dropkick. Vertical suplex gets two but Cesaro catches him with an uppercut and applies a chinlock. Cesaro goes up top but gets crotched and Jericho brings him down with a hurricanrana for two.
Unexpectedly (sarcasm), Fandango’s music hits and he dances out to the stage. I can’t believe I just typed that last sentence, by the way. We actually take a commercial break after this nonsense too. Seriously, who is booking this garbage?
So, during the break, Jericho hit a springboard dropkick but Fandango only gave it a 2. So Fandango is ripping off the Diamond Doll now? Google it.
Cesaro has control by the way and Jericho hits the floor after running into the corner. He introduces Jericho to the ringside barrier, knocking over a fan’s drink in the process, and gets two back inside. He catches Jericho coming off the ropes with a Michinoku Driver (big pop from me) for two and hits a yodeling European uppercut in the corner for two.
Jericho gets sent to the apron but runs to the top and hits a double ax handle (given a 4 by Fandango) before following with a bulldog. Lionsault hits and Jericho looks to finish but Cesaro counters to an impressive gutwrench suplex for two. Jericho fires chops off in the corner and comes off the top with a high cross body for two.
Jericho finally gets sick of Fandango’s low ratings and dropkicks him at ringside, allowing Cesaro to roll him up for two. Jericho quickly recovers though and applies the Walls of Jericho for the submission win.
Winner: Chris Jericho
-Another match, another job for Cesaro. Fandango attacks after the bell while a loud “you can’t wrestle” chant echos throughout the arena while the announcers do their best to ignore it. Call the whole thing *** as the match was really hurt by the nonsense on the outside from FanDAAAAAAANgo. JBL does his best to sell the angle but Fandango is just not a character even close to Jericho’s level.
-Trish Stratus asks Stephanie McMahon to induct her into the Hall of Fame. C’mon, Trish, you’re retired…you don’t have to kiss ass anymore.
-Hey, let’s look at some fan’s Touts because nothing says “ratings” like watching wrestling fans try to cut promos on webcam.
Funkadactyls vs. Bella Twins
Naomi hits a sloppy flying headscissors while the announcers go nuts for her hitting one of the Bellas with her ass. You know it’s bad when I’m actually planning when I’ll go to the bathroom during WrestleMania. Hint: It involves the Bella twins. I do approve of Nikki and Brie’s outfits though…very stylish.
Anyways, Naomi gets trapped in the heel corner and the Bellas are just as bad as they were when they left WWE, so the heat segment doesn’t draw much heat. Naomi tries an embarrassingly terrible sunset flip but Nikki grabs an arm to slow her down. Naomi hits something resembling and enzuigiri and makes the hot tag to Cameron.
Cameron catches Nikki with a bad flying headscissors and hits a DDT for two, stopped by Brie. A big brawl erupts on the floor and that leaves Nikki to roll through a Cameron body press and get the pin. Yuck.
Winners: Bella Twins
-Wow, that was terrible. Let’s just agree to never mention that match again, ok? -**
Main Event Interview
What exactly does “verbally eviscerate” mean anyways? To find out, let’s go the Undertaker!
Taker says Punk sealed his fate by disrespecting Paul Bearer and, yes, the streak may come to an end but Punk will never live to brag about it. Since it’s WrestleMania, we also get the appearance of the druids, although Taker doesn’t seem to have brought them this time.
After some druid gaga, Paul Heyman appears on the entrance ramp with an impressive make-up job, looking exactly like Paul Bearer. When Undertaker charges, Punk unmasks as one of the druids and beats Taker down with the urn. Unexpectedly, the crowd starts to chant “CM Punk” before being drowned out by general noise but the chant was definitely there.
So Punk continues the beatdown while verbally berating Undertaker, pretty much sealing his fate for Sunday. Punk finally opens the urn and dumps the ashes out on Taker, I guess finally answering what is in the urn? I always thought the urn was supposed to contain the ashes of Taker’s dead parents but they’ve messed with Undertaker’s backstory so many times that I can’t keep it straight.
So yes, Punk will be killed at WrestleMania…no question.
Well, the show wasn’t terrible (minus the Bella match) but it definitely won’t convince too many people to order the show who already weren’t. I really think the problem is that many of the main event matches don’t exactly have mystery surrounding their finishes, so it’s hurting the build-up.
A very special announcement: Your favorite wrestling author (me, of course) will be attending the Hall of Fame, Axxess, and WrestleMania this year.
I will provide live coverage of WrestleMania directly to you, the reader right here on PWMania.com. You can also follow me @MikeShannon22 and you’ll be hooked up to full coverage of the entire weekend. I’ll be providing live play-by-play of all Hall of Fame speeches, taking pictures of everything (and everyone) at Axxess, and providing live coverage of the entire WrestleMania event.
Also, I will updating a couple times per day on the PWMania website, so make sure you check back frequently for all the updates from the biggest week of the year.
See you in New York.