OK, so Wrestlemania 31 ended up being pretty good.
Did we get five star matches? No.
Did we get a lots of payoff on well told stories leading up to Mania? Hell no, but we got a fun card.
DX showed up and so did NWO and it made little to no sense, but that was ok. We saw Scott Hall take a freaking back drop. That alone made up for the fact Sting lost the match.
HHH dressing up as a dollar store Terminator? Why not!
Rusev showing up in a tank like he was cosplaying Grant Theft Auto 5? Hell yes.
Bray Wyatt turning on a lantern in the daylight? Kind of weird, but whatever.
The point is, it was one of, if not the worst, build ups to a Wrestlemania ever, but somehow the right people talked into Vince’s ear, and they put together a solid show.
Best of all? Reigns didn’t win.
So where did that leave us? It left us with “the show after Mania” which usually ends up being one of the best shows of the year.
This is the show that a lot of people who couldn’t afford Mania buy a ticket for.
This is the show that isn’t being held in a carnivorous dome that mutes the frenzied crowd.
The kind of show where JBL’s hat gets a bigger pop than the New Day.
Remember a couple of years ago?
That is what a crowd is like in the show after Mania. Insanity.
I sometimes play that video when I’ve been sick from work and imagine that’s how everyone will react when I enter the office the next day.
“We’re going to need these TPS reports done – OH S**T, THAT’S WYATT’S MUSIC!!!”
The after Mania show could be booked like garbage and the crowd will still make it fun. Some people get annoyed at the so called “hi jacking” the crowd does, but give me that every single time over somewhere like South Carolina that only showed up to “Woo!” a couple of times.
So what went down tonight? Let’s see…
Basically imagine the NXT crowd multiplied by the thousands and filled up an arena. Heels become good guys, good guys become heels, and everyone still hates New Day.
So it wasn’t a shock that the place exploded for Brock Lesnar. Sorry, BARAAAAAAAACK, LESNAAAAAAAAR.
The basic premise was that he was pissed about losing his title. He never got pinned. He wants his title back. Heyman says Brock wants a re-match tonight.
The high point of this interview? The crowd chanting “Suplex City!”. Or Heyman smirking and saying “Suplex City, bitch.”
Steph came out, which is good, because she plays an actual heel unlike HHH who cracks jokes about real life stuff to cut people down, yet still wants to be the cool guy. “Hey, you’re being audited by the IRS and can’t afford a car, in this great city of San Francisco!” It’s maddening.
Anyways, Steph says Rollins isn’t here yet, but she’s sure he will be up for the challenge later.
We all know Brock isn’t wrestling Rollins tonight, but we’re just excited to see him bouncing around in the ring looking angry. He had F5 eyes tonight.
Dolph Ziggler has to have some of the worst ring gear in the entire WWE.
It honestly is like he’s a 12 year old girl from the late 80’s, wearing his jean jacket with put downs and empowering sayings plastered all over it. It’s like a box of candy hearts exploded all over him and he just said “screw it, works for me” and on he went to work.
Aside from his fashion sense, Dolph and Bryan are a great match up, and the crowd ate it up. If the plan is to make the IC and US title important again, this is a good start. You know, by having the Champ win after a great match, instead of losing repeatedly to R-Truth for a month straight.
The finish of the match was really good, with Ziggler and Bryan trading headbutts, before Bryan busted out his knee finisher. It was probably the best looking finisher he has pulled off since the one he did on Cena that actually connected. It didn’t hurt that Ziggler sells like a champ. He once made Brodus Clay look impressive, I kid you not.
The commentary team also did a good job for once by playing up the neck issues Bryan has had, and the concussion issues Ziggler has had.
I know, I was confused as well.
Then this happened:
Either Sheamus is back, or a very very angry rooster is back to help promote Chicken Run 2.
Sheamus proceeded to chase Wade Barrett from the ring (he had been doing commentary and was about to elbow the crap out of everything when the match ended) and Brogue Kicked D-Bry, then White Noised Dolph Ziggler (what a weird sentence).
Heel Sheamus is a nice break from jokey, I might try my hand at stand up Fella, face Sheamus, so this is a good move.
Does it doom Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler to a hundred tag team matches against Barrett and Sheamus on Smackdown? Possibly. But as long as the title is being defended by a strongly booked champion, I am down.
Signs most of your crowd are NXT fans? People are losing their minds doing the “LU CHA!” chant.
It was a good match for the Lucha Dragons, as they showcased their high flying style much to the delight of the crowd. Hopefully this translates into future momentum, but god knows with the WWE nowadays.
The biggest chant was “New Day Sucks!”. Yes, even the Ascension was greeted warmly, while everyone hated New Day.
Big E was quick to make use of the heat:
New Day sucks
up all of your cares and troubles and vomits them into a bucket of hope. No thanks necessary. #RAW
— ShinigamE (@WWEBigE) March 31, 2015
Either this ends with people ironically loving New Day, or it ends up as the answer in a debate of “worst gimmick ever for a stable”. As my friend said, it’s not the Nation of Domination, it’s the Nation of Jubilation.
Kofi and Big E have talent! They’re peacocks! Let them fly! Xavier, he can tag along once in a while if he has to, fine.
— Rich 🐸☕️ (@richslade24) March 31, 2015
OK, so here’s the thing. Brock Lesnar is amazing. He is my favorite part of WWE. I could watch the man bake pies, get angry at the pies, then F5 the crap out of the pies all day long. He just brings an element of authenticity with him, and the WWE is correctly booking him like a psychotic monster which just makes it all the better.
Enter tonight. Seth Rollins shows up, then quickly rolls out of the ring and says “you know what, I’m tired. I’ll fight you another day.” Smart play by Rollins, let’s not lie.
Brock does not like this. Brock does not care for this. Brock goes into Brock mode and starts to chase down Rollins. He almost gets him a few times but Seth is slippery, he’s a worm, he’s the heel we love to hate, so he gets away.
Brock does not care for this either. Brock gets that look in his eyes. That look that says you better not change the channel or he might hunt YOU down.
Brock proceeds to toss J&J Security around like the mid level bosses they are.
Then he flips the announce table, crushing JBL and Booker T to death (they were taken away on stretchers).
Then, in what can only be described as my favorite moment on TV in years, he F5’s Michael Cole.
Let me repeat that, he F5’s Michael Cole.
I hate hate hate hate the Raw commentary team. Like, hate their work with a burning passion. I can’t stand listening to them do their best to giggle their way through matches. “MAGGLE, HE SHIZZLED HIS NIZZLE!!!”.
Every week. Every god damn week.
So Brock, being the hero that he is, destroys them, because hey, he’s Brock. This is who he is, we knew that going in.
Then he F5’s a cameraman, because you know what, Brock is a private man. He doesn’t need this.
Stephanie comes out and uses this as an excuse to suspend him ie gives us a valid reason Brock won’t be on TV trying to crush Seth Rollins into pieces every week.
It was brilliant. It was some of the best Raw in years. The first hour of the show was just so damn fun. Brock going crazy is the best use of Brock you can have. Every time he shows up, just get him to F5 a bunch of people and objects, and I’m a happy man.
Byron Saxton and the King replaced the commentary team for the night, and although Saxton clearly struggled (imagine a shy friend nervously whispering predictions during a movie, and that was Saxton tonight) at least he was trying to put over the in ring talent.
Miz and Mizdow had their big break up and Wrestlemania. They worked the angle and got the most out of it as they could. Sandow has never been more over.
The key here now is to keep the fans invested in Sandow. Either Sandow has to keep them loving him, the WWE has to write a good feud for Miz and Damien, or Miz has to continue making people hate him, thus loving people who hate him.
Anyhoo, Miz beats up Mizdow after a match, and thus the first seeds of their feud continue to grow.
Still, I have no idea why Damien is going as Mizdow anymore. You’re freed. You’re Sandow now. You have thrown off your Miz shackles. It’s kind of weird he’s keeping Mizdow, unless he just ordered a huge shipment of Mizdow t-shirts and wants to get his money back before switching ring names.
Adrian Neville made his Raw debut (though they simply called him Neville. Apparently being called up from NXT means you have to lose a name, a symbolic gesture of cutting off one of your testicles) and he looked great.
Was I saddened he had to get his first win over Curtis Axel? Of course. As Axel noted, it took 29 men to eliminate him from the Battle Royal (god bless you Curtis).
Still, Neville had a short but exciting match, and showcased his Red Arrow finisher to the NXT crowd, which ok, well, they’ve seen it before, but it was still awesome.
Am I scared Neville will suffer the small man’s fate most shorter men suffer under Vince? Yes, yes I am.
All I can hope is that they either let Neville into the IC crowd, or at the very least, bring back some sort of Cruiser weight title.
This ends with Neville in an awkward tag team with Adam Rose in a year, doesn’t it?
The Red Arrow Express?
Cena is all about the HLR.
Hokey logos, and retail.
He has had that same god damn shirt before when he was WWE Champ. Now it’s the same design for the US Title. He’s not even trying to make new shirts. Like, at least before he’d be like “What color neon should I choose this week?” but now he’s just re-using designs.
I don’t know what’s worst, that shirt, or the fact thousands of people will be wearing it next week on Raw.
Part me of wishes that in Africa there is a large box of Rusev shirts with the Bulgarian flag on it instead.
Quick check list for Cena running into a hostile crowd:
– Tell them you love their passion
– Hold mic up to the crowd
– Smirk at them to soak up some boos
– Scream about being John Cena and/or the champ
– Get serious face on as you talk about your next feud.
Cena issued an open challenge tonight and Dean Ambrose took him on.
Some people wanted another NXT guy to come out (Balor? Itami?) but if your neighbor was a well known puppy kicker, would you really bring over your newest puppy to him? Of course not. Keep the kids away from John.
They had a good match, with near falls on both sides, which again, helps elevate the title, so go to town with it John.
Quick note about Ambrose, while I think he has tremendous potential (he was white hot before he left for filming), that clothesline off the middle rope is the ugliest looking thing in the business.
He keeps trying to force it in, like he’s Roman Reigns trying to quickly sneak in “Believe that!” at the end of random promos.
Once in a while? The move looks awesome. It looks erratic. It looks spontaneous.
Twice or three times in a single match, every week? Come on Dean. Come on. You’re better than that.
The Divas put on a good match. My only issue is their story lines usually revolve around “BFF’s” or “random jealousy” so I don’t really care about any of their feuds.
Oh, AJ and Paige are best friends this week? When does Alicia Fox come down and scream at one of them before one of them turns on the other, and we cut to a commercial for Total Divas?
Re-name it the Women’s Championship, ditch the pink tattoo belt, and give them real feuds.
You know, ones over spilled coffee and funerals being crashed by a car with a loudspeaker…
OK, maybe just give them a feud over wanting the title.
Also, Paige, screaming “This is my house!” only works when you win a lot. Throwing somebody through the ropes for a commercial break does not make it your house.
Table would have been awesome if it was just given a slight push, but nooooo, the announce team refuses to put it over, and now we’re stuck with a dead gimmick.
Poor table. I really thought he was going to make it.
Seriously, though, why not just tip it over. Did Brock embed the table into the ground? Did he fuse it to the cement with laser eyes? What’s the deal here? They spent the rest of the show standing.
Ryback refused to make eye contact with Randy until he was done speaking, so part of me thinks “yeah, sure, he’s probably reading from a cue card. Why not, if it helps him get through a promo.”
Then part of me goes “Did he really need to read ‘Feed me more…'” off a cue card? Like, he should know that line at the very least, right?
The big fear for Rusev is that after his Cenitiation, he will struggle in the mid card until, ultimately, turning to a dance comedy gimmick. Poor Kozlov is probably reaching out to him as we speak.
Rusev looks like he would be too good to fall prey to that future, but all we can do is wait and see what they do with him now that his undefeated gimmick has run its course.
Jack Swagger feud for another three months?
The main event saw the usual players, Kane, Big Show and Rollins vs Orton, Ryback and Reigns. Is it great? Not really, but the WWE gave people a lot tonight, so take what you can get.
I mean that in the best way possible. Every two months we get a couple of shows where some of us go “OH MY GOD, THEY FINALLY GET IT!” before we’re back to square one, watching Kane and Big Show in the main event while HHH cuts a promo for 20 minutes about how stupid we are.
Just enjoy the fact Mania was better than we had hoped, and two out of the three hours of Raw were awesome tonight. All we can do is wait for Vince to retire and pray HHH takes the NXT style and applies it liberally to Raw.
That being said, Reigns was the most over heel tonight by far. Crowd just hated him. It’s especially endearing to see Reigns still play the role of a face, even going so far as to cock his arm for his Superman punch, when the crowd is dumping all over him.
Don’t worry, next week Reigns will be back into the middle ground of fan support, but for one night, holy lord was he a mega heel.
The good news is Rollins feuding with Orton or Reigns will still be fun viewing. It’s a fresh start for the belt, made even better by the idea that Brock Lesnar could be brought in at anytime to gun from that belt.
Seriously, a face Brock Lesnar run would be amazing. The guy was as hot as it gets tonight. He had a very Stone Cold presence tonight, destroying anything he wanted, and spitting in the face of Authority.
Also, he F5’d Michael Cole. Did I mention that yet?
Do it every week Brock. Do it every week.