Thoughts From Raw:
- So there it is, then. No CM Punk. Not this week, and not at Wrestlemania XXX. I’ll give WWE credit for two things: They acknowledged the elephant in the room right away, and they picked the perfect guy to do it with. Paul Heyman’s promo was beautifully done. He sucked us in, and then he heeled on the fans and turned the whole thing into a segment about Brock and The Undertaker. So my hat’s off to him for that…
Still, this sucks. That’s really all I have to say about it at this point. I’m not particularly mad at Punk or WWE. It just really sucks that a man who has contributed so much to mainstream wrestling in recent years, who ultimately did break through the company’s glass ceiling, and who the fans in Chicago were screaming for, is apparently gone. And he’s going to miss out on a landmark Wrestlemania. It sucks. It really, really sucks.
Also, AJ Lee, Punk’s real-life girlfriend, was conspicuous by her absence this week. No doubt her match would have been showered with chants for him.
*sigh* But moving on…
- While the fans seem to have lost the battle for CM Punk, we seem to have won the Daniel Bryan fight. Batista’s heel turn, combined with all this drama about Bryan not being Wrestlemania-worthy seems to be an indicator that Bryan will help close out the big night. My only questions at this point regard the specifics of how he’ll get there.
- HA! The return of the “Asshole!” chant! I missed that!
- I was surprised that Batista’s big heel promo took place on Smackdown, which obviously has a significantly smaller audience than Raw does. Still, he’s saying all the things the fans seem to be wanting him to say: Bryan’s not a star, he’s what a champion is supposed to look like, etc. Batista is so much more natural as a heel, and you can tell he’s having more fun that way. So kudos to WWE for bringing back “Heeltista,” the Batista I wanted to see back from the very start.
- So the Usos win the WWE Tag Team Titles not at Wrestlemania, but on Raw a month beforehand? Is this so we can pull back the curtain on the live episode of Main Event and see the Authority ultimately wants the Outlaws as champions? Why didn’t they just take the straps at Elimination Chamber, then? Did they do it to counter the crowd’s negativity over CM Punk? Why are we getting belt changes on TV shows instead of pay per views? Still, the Usos deserve the belts. You can’t deny that. They’ve earned the right to call themselves the tag team champions.
- Jeez, Mark Henry just can’t catch a break, can he? The man who was once a monster heel is now fodder for Brock Lesnar. No disrespect to Lesnar, but Henry deserves better. In a perfect world, these guys would get a pay per view match. They don’t even have to give Henry the win, but at least he’d be able to get more than one offensive move in.
- William Moody, a.k.a. Paul Bearer, is definitely a worthy addition to the WWE Hall of Fame. Oddly enough, when I think of that character, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t his work as The Undertaker’s manager. My most vivid Paul Bearer memory is what I’ll refer to as the promo about “The Undertaker’s secret,” which of course, turned out to be the seed that grew into the debut of the Kane character. I’ve embedded the promo below. As you’ll see, Moody was a hell of a performer, and a bona fide Hall of Fame talent.
- Dolph Ziggler got a great rub from Aaron Paul tonight. And likewise, sending Paul out there with Ziggler made sure the guy didn’t get eaten alive by the crowd, or at least drowned in “CM Punk” chants.
- Fantastic six-man tag tonight between The Wyatt Family and The Shield. I was happy to see Seth Rollins at the center of the dissention we saw in the Shield. It certainly can’t all be about Roman Reigns, can it? That sequence of aerial maneuvers was just amazing. He became his own human highlight reel.
- During the Sheamus/Christian match, the announcers took shots at Jim Ross, and have Christian some snark about his body. We know you’re there, Vince. We can hear you…
All images from WWE.com.
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