As we’ve been made very much aware, we’re on the road to Wrestlemania and to be honest with you, I’m starting to get a little carsick. It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to write about wrestling here at The Peoples’ Movies, but it’s a shame that I don’t have too many positives to mention or an excuse to wax lyrical about how much I enjoy it. This is one of the oddest times in WWE that I can remember. I mean, there are a lot of people, including myself, who just aren’t feeling the whole thing right now. I’m not particularly excited about the apparently unshakeable, stone-clad, etched-in-a-fucking-mountain main event of Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar and while I think it’s bound to entertain in some capacity, I don’t think we’re going to reach the highs of last year’s Wrestlemania.
So, my first Raw recap and what a baffling one to have as my inaugural write-up. We had a very odd opening segment featuring Randy Orton, fresh from helping out Seth Rollins last week, welcomed back into the Authority. This just didn’t play well for me. It was obvious from the off that Orton was going to lamp Rollins, but Creative thinks we’re dumb enough to believe that someone who got curbstomped out of action for a few months would be all chummy-chummy with the curbstomper when they returned. OK, a lot of wrestling storytelling points are visible from a bus ride away, but this felt especially telegraphed. It was just a matter of time before Orton pulled the pin, but we would have to wait for the end of the show for that.
For some reason, rapper Wiz Khalifa got to sing not one, but two horrible songs, one of which I’ve had drilled into my head sine the WWE 2K15 game came out and caused me to have horrible flashbacks of that game’s soundtrack. I don’t mind his music in general, but it killed the crowd’s enthusiasm who paid to see some grappling, not an impromptu concert.
The pacing seemed to be all over the place. Time seemed to slow to an agonising crawl when Wiz was performing, but then later on in the show we had tag teams meeting each other on the ramp as one team was exiting and the other was making their way to the ring. Raw also went about 15 mins over its allotted timeslot too. Very odd.
So, we’re definitely getting Bray vs. Taker at ‘Mania. I’m looking forward to it. Whilst I wish that The Undertaker had bowed out when his ‘Mania streak ended last year when it made sense, it’s exciting that he’s coming back. The ’90s cheesy supernatural stuff played as real may not be to everyone’s tastes, but I enjoyed it. Plus, it gave us a great image of Bray Wyatt laughing maniacally next to a burning rocking chair.
Once again, Paul Heyman proves he’s the best on the mic by far. He delivered a stonking promo and it was amazing stuff. Despite Lesnar actually being there, there was no confrontation between him and Reigns, which struck me as odd. Perhaps they were concerned the bland Roman wouldn’t be able to hold his own against Heyman, but if that’s the case, why is he main eventing Wrestlemania? It’s also a shame that I can’t believe a single word the man says since Reigns winning seems to be an absolute lock.
The Intercontinental title is getting crowded. There’s going to be a ladder match with at least six participants and with the likelihood of more joining the fray. I like the fact that the belt keeps getting stolen though. Reminds me of the now-defunct Hardcore title. Will Daniel Bryan also be in the match? Who knows.
There was a bit of Divas action, but despite watching it last night, I can’t remember much about it. Part of this was the commentary which was awful all night. Raw has enough trouble keeping viewers engaged thanks to the occasionally nonsensical storylines and mid match ad breaks as well as a criminal lack of importance lent to the women’s matches, but the commentators were more interested in making pop culture references and basically talking about everything but the match. It’s incredibly frustrating and makes me miss good ol’ Jim Ross all the more.
The Cena vs Rusev feud rumbles on, with Rusev and manager Lana refusing to give Cena a ‘Mania rematch. Cena gets all pissy and patriotic, saying that if Rusev disrespects America once more, he’ll have something to say about it. Lo and behold, Rusev smack talks the U.S. and Cena comes barrelling out, puts him in a submission hold and Rusev passes out. Cena wasn’t done though and woke him up with a splash of water only to put him in the hold again. He eventually relented when Lana desperately agreed to give him his rematch. Learn from your hero kids, if something doesn’t go your way, stamp and whine and waterboard someone until it does. Hustle, loyalty, respect and all that jazz. I thought it was a pretty heelish thing for Cena to do, but WWE Creative aren’t known for their consistency.
The final match was a 2 on 1 handicap match between the definitely-not-still-pissed Orton and Rollins vs. Roman Reigns. Orton brought back memories of Stone Cold Steve Austin when he flipped Rollins off when he reached for the tag and soon spent about 20 minutes beating the hell out of him, from ringpost to steel steps and from barrier to announcers’ table. It was pretty damn brutal, especially one of the chair shots which made me wince in my seat. I don’t care how fake it all is, they still have to hurt. I like this version of Orton. When he’s a smiling babyface it never sits well with me, but when he’s all sadistic and driven, there’s no-one better. I’m hoping for some solid stuff between him and Rollins in the coming weeks.
So yeah, a bizarre episode of Raw this week. My main concern with the new stuff that was brought to the table is whether they’ve blown their ‘Mania load a little too soon. There’s still three weeks until the event and we’ve already seen the unbeatable Rusev tap out to Cena and we’ve seen Orton exact his revenge on Rollins. It seems like two major Wrestlemania drama cards have already been played. You never know with this company though. Hopefully they’re building to something bigger and better.