Wayne Utterback writes about the WWE and sports entertainment at large for We Are Regal Radio
Wrestlemania season reaches its long-awaited climax this week, but never has a ‘Mania season felt more awkward and disjointed.
Watching Raw “Go Home” in preparation for the biggest show of the year this past Monday felt like a chore, with true acts of desperation serving as the only high points of the evening.
Undertaker’s opening of Raw was the first of many cringe worthy moments. Hearing him and Shane exchange the word “bitch” is reminiscent of the first Cena vs. Rock build. The story isn’t carrying the weight, so they insert some non-PG language to try and give it a little steam.
Shane performing his elbow drop from the top rope to Undertaker on the announce table was a shock, as I expected that Wrestlemania would be the place where we’d see a crazy move from Shane. Does that mean he won’t do anything drastic on the biggest stage since he’s already given it away? Nah. He’ll probably do something even more dangerous and I can only hope that he’s really thought this through before going on with it. I’d hate for him to get severely hurt in a feud that just isn’t clicking for me.
Still, the match will be an exciting one that is guaranteed to be a spectacle, so I’m still in.
I’m also still excited about the Divas triple threat for the title at Wrestlemania. Charlotte, Sasha and Becky are doing a serviceable job getting the better of each other. This match doesn’t have an obvious winner, so it could go any direction. The audience should be pumped to see these three put on a match that could be one of the better of the night.
Roman vs. Triple H. This has become a snooze-fest. Every week, it seems like they deflate Roman just a little more than the last week. For a guy that is clearly marked for Super Cena status, he just doesn’t connect in a way that makes him intriguing or engaging. This show had him get thrashed by Triple H and then he got to land on a pile of people to close out the show. Triple H ran to the top of the ramp and Roman stood in the ring. I couldn’t believe this was how Raw closed out. Not with a bang, but with a thud.
Dean came out during a Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman promo and filled an oversized children’s wagon with weaponry. It doesn’t come off as crazy, which I assume is what WWE intended. Instead, it just felt like I was watching Dean pick up his toys before he could have a snack. I want to love this matchup, but that’s only because these two are legitimately going to hurt each other at Wrestlemania.
Kofi Kingston and Alberto Del Rio had a decent match. I love Kofi using Trevor Lee’s stomp. It is a brutal move that should be on WWE television. I still don’t buy into these two teams being in a deep feud, but I can only hope they bring a chaotic match to Wrestlemania and not get stuck with a filler match. Kudos to Jonathan Coachman for coming back, as I’m sure there are three fans there who have sorely missed him.
Kalisto beat Konnor. Yay. Much excite. I can’t wait for his match with Ryback. Did I forget to tell you guys to bring out your sarcasm detectors?…Actually, the match does have potential, but I find myself just hoping they have a clean match without any botches or injuries. I almost feel like this would have made the better ladder match.
Paige and Emma got to briefly rekindle their NXT match on Raw and I was genuinely excited until it ended up being a Total Divas vs. Team Lana flail-fest. Then Eva Marie came out, got booed as hard as Roman was, and I thought for a brief moment that if she had in-ring chops, she could be the best female heel on the roster. Nobody likes her. Nobody.
Big Show and Kane crushed the Social Outcasts. If anyone reading this has a memory, you’ll recall Kane and Big Show singlehandedly ruined the Royal Rumble two years back. These two joining forces for the Andre the Giant Battle Royal really doesn’t sound appetizing. I’d love a surprise Cesaro return where he chucks each one over the top rope handily.
Dolph, Sami and Sin Cara vs. Stardust, Miz and Kevin Owens was an OK bout. The crowd made sure to chant “CM Punk,” which still makes zero sense. Dude isn’t coming back. Stop being jerks to these guys breaking their backs for you.
Kevin Owens was once again solid as an unlikeable character and Sami got a one up on him by kicking his face off to get the win. However, this ladder match still feels hastily thrown together with not a lot of stakes.
Zack Ryder beat Chris Jericho after AJ Styles distracted Y2J. Listen, I know AJ and Jericho will have a great match at Wrestlemania, but they didn’t have to give Zack a win in the process. That’s not really based on anything, I just don’t see the upside in Zack anymore.
I want to be excited for Wrestlemania, but they aren’t giving me a lot to look forward to. I can only hope that this becomes a showcase for the younger guys and the night is used to help catapult a few new stars. Give me Zayn and Owens at the top of a ladder trading bombs for the IC title, give me Dean pulling out a shocking win on Brock and give me a younger guy taking the Battle Royal. I want to see stars made in front of the one of the largest WWE crowds of all time.
Also, Roman is going to win. Brace yourselves, Roman is coming.
Smackdown was taped just before Raw this week. I’d call these spoilers, but you can’t spoil what already stinks:
AJ Styles defeated Heath Slater
D-Von Dudley beat Jimmy Uso
Dean Ambrose downed Erick Rowan
In another universe:
Lucha Underground continued its return reign of Dario Cueto this week with a solid episode where fan favorite Pentagon Jr. got a shot at the LU title, but it was the prior Wednesday where this show once again delivered an episode that was solid from beginning to end with Aztec Warfare (LU’s version of the Royal Rumble where eliminations come by way of pinfalls).
In Aztec Warfare we saw the show debuts of Rey Mysterio, El Dragon Azteca Jr. and The Monster Matanza Cueto. Go out of your way to watch this match and see how a promotion can build a monster heel in a matter of 10 minutes. This episode completely changed the landscape of Lucha Underground and only makes me long for each new episode. Watch it. Seriously.
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