Monday Night Raw 4/1/13 – The go-home show saves its best gasps ’til last
John Cena made it ten minutes into his promo before being hushed with “boring” chants, the crowd united against him despite his description of Washington DC as a house divided into “Cenacrats” and “Rockpublicans”. The Great One stopped by later in the evening and predictably scored a better reaction from the fans, but his segment proved equally tiresome – a depressing fact to state about a promo from “The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment”. The Rock bragged about “connection”, highlighting the absence of precisely that in leading to Sunday’s rematch. Holding off on physical contact until the showdown itself is traditionally a wise move, but as last week’s Q&A showed, the fans need a small bit of friction every so often to maintain a level of anticipation.
It’s now been established that any tag team wishing to push ahead has 3MB delivered to them on a silver platter. Big Show, Sheamus and Randy Orton, step up to your plate. Of course, all this tension about Big Show being a “team player” is, one hopes, paving the way for Randy Orton’s redemptive Wrestlemania heel turn. “It’s all about these three getting along for the length of that match,” said King. How hard can it be? Big tag matches at Wrestlemania (The Corre, New Breed) don’t last especially long, so for these bouts – typically comprised of those wrestlers who didn’t make it onto the main card – the fans need that extra incentive for even marginal investment. Big Show as a potential liability will have to do.
And what to say about The Shield? The faction is closer to the NWO than Nexus ever dared: they enter through the crowd, soundtracked by generic guitar riffs, dressed in black and with their very own Kevin Nash 2.0 bringing up the rear. The only difference? The NWO were all over WCW like a virus. They interrupted several matches a night, hijacked the commentary box and generally ruled the roost. The Shield politely show their faces for one small segment each week, targeting their team. As far as threats go, this one’s a damp squib.
Shawn Michaels’ status as a special attraction is elevated following his retirement. Having assumed the role of referee for 2012’s Undertaker/Triple H Hell in a Cell, he’s now materialised at the very last moment to offer corner duty for The Game at this year’s Wrestlemania. God forbid this is becoming a regular thing; Triple H and Brock should be left to do their own thing on the Grand Stage, with the exception of a ringside interjection by an ineffectual Stephanie. Now that the match stipulation is No Holds Barred, this one is in danger of becoming a handicap.
“I know what I’m doing,” Triple H assured his DX comrade. Good point, Hunter. It seems every time Triple H has a big match, HBK drops by to deliver an ominous warning, as if his friend is a rookie, as if he’s Fandango awakening the big beast. This time, Shawn was a little more encouraging – he’d essentially travelled all the way to Washington DC to announce in front of 50,000 fans that he was putting his money on a HHH victory. Everyone knows by now that Triple H has a little more gas in the tank and isn’t going to lose his career at this Wrestlemania, before The Undertaker can retire, and to Brock Lesnar of all people. “He does this for money,” said HBK of Lesnar. “He does this to hurt people, he does this because he enjoys wreaking havoc.” And there’s your foregone conclusion. Who’s willing to drop their career to that?
Miz tried not to sound too heartbroken as he vowed to win Wade Barrett’s Intercontinental Championship at… the Wrestlemania pre-show. Before we get mad at Fandango for bumping this bout from the main card, it’s worth noting that once again we have a musical abortion clogging up the PPV runtime, and this year it takes the form of… Diddy. This leaves us with 9 remaining matches. Run your eyes up and down the card: a few of those are going for five minutes, and one extra special match is destined for the 18-second treatment. The smart money’s on Rhodes Scholars/Team Funkadoodoo.
One has to wonder what the Punk/Undertaker feud would have looked like had Paul Bearer not passed away, but the manager’s death has, surreally, lit a fire under this one. The very mention of Bearer elicits a fiery response from the audience, so it made sense that Heyman masquerading as his reanimated corpse would draw some astonishing heat. The crowd were roaring with duelling chants of “Undertaker” and “CM Punk” as the Dead Man took each successive blast from the urn, still in the possession of Punk. And then, unbelievably, the Best in the World poured the ashes of Taker’s dead father all over himself and the Dead Man. Far from PG-13, you will agree. Nevertheless, after the rest of the evening’s feuds gave me multiple reasons to yawn, this segment came right along and had me sitting bolt upright. It’s like Eric Bischoff always says: controversy creates cash.