Raw Review (April 7, 2014)

Marter

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Apr 3, 2020
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Spoilers follow for the April 7th episode of Raw.

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The shows directly following any PPV, and in particular WrestleMania, are always a big deal. Raw, being the first one after a Sunday show, is often packed with surprises and strong booking. The idea, I believe, is that more casual fans will tune in for a PPV, and they might check in to the weekly show right after, possibly sticking around if the show is any good. The Raw following WrestleMania XXX turned out to be the best in a long time.

The show begins with Daniel Bryan, new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, coming out to the ring to make a speech. His emotion seemed genuine; he was astounded and in awe of the support that the WWE Universe was giving him. His promo was nothing special, but was interrupted midway through by Triple H, who lost to Bryan the previous night. Triple H says that he and Bryan are going to have a match tonight, and it'll be for Bryan's championship. Okay. That's how you kick off a show. The HHH/Bryan match from WrestleMania was likely the best on the card, and a rematch of that caliber is always welcome on free TV.

But what about Randy Orton and Batista? They have claim to a rematch, too. Well, the very next segment informs us that they'll get their rematch someday, but tonight will be competing in tag team competition. They'll battle The Usos for their championships. Why? Who knows! You'll find out when that match begins. Until then, we've got our first match of the night.

John Cena, Sheamus, and Big E vs. The Wyatt Family

Sheamus and Big E seem thrown in to this match for no real reason, save for the WWE not wanting to rematch Cena and any member of the Wyatt family. Interestingly, tonight's crowd was very contrarian. Cena, Sheamus, and (to a lesser extent) Big E were all getting heat, while the cheers were given to the Wyatt family. The match wasn't bad, but it wasn't as strong as any of the Cena solo outings, in large part because Sheamus and Big E are not particularly strong in-ring performers. WWE doesn't know what to do with Sheamus, who got over once but hasn't since, and Big E is large and explosive but nothing more. The Wyatt family winds up winning, with Bray pinning Big E because he's the most expendable.

Fandango comes out to start the next match, teaming with his ... dancer, Summer Rae. We heard Rae's theme song a week or two back, and it should really become the new song for the duo. Fandango's just isn't working, and Rae is becoming the bigger star of the two. It's announced that it's going to be a mixed tag team match.

Fandango and Summer Rae vs. Santino Marella and Emma

Santino and Fandango start, do a couple of things, and then the Divas are tagged in. Sadly, I think the Divas are better in-ring performers. Emma hits a couple of moves and then wins with the Emma Lock. What a disappointing second match.

Brock Lesnar is still in New Orleans and comes out with his manager, Paul Heyman, to cut a promo about breaking the streak. Well, Heyman cuts a promo while Lesnar stands there. Remember, Lesnar has no mic skills and is a mediocre in-ring worker. This is who broke the streak. Heyman's promo work is legendary, though, and that's why this pairing makes sense. Heyman knows how to work a crowd, and he works this one over like nobody's business. This will probably be the last we see of Lesnar for a while.

WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Randy Orton and Batista vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)

After a couple of back-and-forths, Batista and Orton send The Usos outside the ring and the match ends in a tie as both teams get counted out. Batista and Orton beat up The Usos a bunch. Orton seems no worse for wear after RKOing himself onto a monitor last night. That's a good sign to see. I expected him to be given the night off. This match does seem to devalue the Tag Team Titles, though. The champions were just destroyed, making them, and the belts seem weak.

Rob Van Dam vs. Damien Sandow

WWE ring announcer tells the fans to welcome back RVD. We do. This is a squash match, which tells you just how much the company thinks of Damien Sandow right now. There's one cool spot involving an apron spin kick to Sandow as he was hanging over the barricade, but this is a match RVD could wrestle in his sleep. Why not immediately drop him into something that matters? Having him beat Sandow accomplishes nothing.

Rey Mysterio vs. Bad News Barrett

Man, when was the last time Barrett competed in a singles match? No matter. He wants to show off his mic skills before the match, but Mysterio doesn't let him. For a short, one-segment match, this was a pretty good one. A couple of near falls, a hit finisher or two, and a win for the heel, Barrett. I hope he gets some sort of push. The crowd loved him tonight, but apart from the mega faces (mostly just Daniel Bryan), they were cheering for the heels.

Alexander Rusev vs. Zack Ryder

Another squash match, but this one was even more one-sided. Alexander Rusev made his debut at the Royal Rumble, but apart from short promos hasn't done anything else. He crushes Zack Ryder, who is also now in the jobber category, and finishes him with a camel clutch that's been dubbed The Accolade. He was impressive and got some heel heat.

The Ultimate Warrior, recent Hall of Fame inductee, cut a promo about nothing in particular. It was dull and not particularly interesting. He hasn't been on Raw in how long? And this is how WWE uses him? A waste of a segment unless you're a huge fan of the man (and I know some are).

AJ Lee comes out next to explain to everyone how she defied all odds and is still the Divas Champion. The longest reigning Divas Champion. Tamina is still her bodyguard, because apparently we're supposed to forget about that turn a couple of weeks back. Of all people, NXT's Paige comes out to congratulate AJ. AJ says she doesn't need that and they start a match.

WWE Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee (with Tamina Snuka) vs. Paige

AJ dominates the majority of the match but a countered Black Widow sees Paige hit the Paige Turner for the victory. Sorry, what? A 295-day title run ends with one move? That's not how you do that! You build up Paige as an actual competitor, let the two women have a back and forth match, and then give the title to the newcomer, if that's your plan. You don't have her hit one move and win it. It'd be different if it was a back-and-forth match in which Paige had damaged the champion before that, but it was the single move, pinfall, and victory. I guess AJ and Paige will now feud. It'll be a good feud, as both women can actually wrestle. Where does this leave Tamina? Who knows. She seems an afterthought at this point.

"Real American" hits to signal the "brother"-saying WWE legend is up next. He's going to present Cesaro with the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy, because WWE must have realized that they should have done that last night, when Cesaro ... was already given the trophy and Hulk Hogan was wasted as the host. We're retconning things a day later, apparently. Hulk actually just shakes Cesaro's hand before leaving. His bed time was soon. Cesaro and Zeb Colter cut a promo in which we learn that Cesaro is ditching Zeb and is now working under the management of one Paul Heyman. Seriously. I guess WWE doesn't have faith in Cesaro's promo skills. Jack Swagger winds up sidelining Cesaro after Heyman shows up, and in the commercial break the two begin a match.

Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger

This is a short match filled with both competitors' signature moves, eventually ending with Swagger leaving the ring, heading up the ramp, and getting counted out. We're heading to a bigger clash here, probably at Extreme Rules. I'm going out on a limb here and predicting Cesaro vs. Lesnar at some point, given that they're now both managed by Paul Heyman.

A backstage promo involving Stephanie McMahon telling both Kane and The Shield that her husband, Triple H, must win the championship tonight. Kane lets it slip that The Game ordered the beat-down of The Shield two weeks ago. I guess we know how this is going to go.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H

We don't get this match. Daniel Bryan comes out first and is followed by Batista and Randy Orton. They each hit their finisher on him. Kane follows and does the same. Triple H comes out after and forces the referee to ring the bell. If he was smart, he would have gone for the cover then. The Shield's music plays and they head to the ring. Trips had plenty of time to win the championship and get out of there. The Shield side with Bryan and despite Triple H's warnings, everyone starts fighting. Raw ends after Bryan gets a knee on Triple H and all four heels are left on the ramp. We're teasing a four-on-four match, hopefully for next week's Raw. We really need the Bryan/Triple H feud to end so Bryan's true championship reign can begin. As much as I appreciate Triple H back in the ring, he needs to move on to fighting someone else.

This was a good Raw. It might even be considered a great Raw. There was only one true booking mistake, a couple of strong debuts, some decent-to-good in-ring work, and lots of emotion. We got most of the stars you'd want to see. We sit through the bad weeks to get to ones like this. I hope the momentum continues.

The Good: The Wyatt Family. Rob Van Dam's return. Bad News Barrett actually wrestling. Cesaro and Jack Swagger's feud kickoff. Paul Heyman's promo work. Rusev/Paige finally getting called up to the main roster.

The Bad: AJ Lee losing her title after being hit with one move. The three squashes on the card (Batista/Orton vs. Usos, Rusev vs. Ryder, RVD vs. Sandow). The Ultimate Warrior's boring promo.

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ImSkeletor

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Feb 6, 2010
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I saw the A.J thing as being an upset due to her arrogance. She threw he title up when she had no reason to and tried to slap on her finish crazy early. So she got reversed hard into the Paige Turner (which got botched hard). I see arrogant champion having to earn the title back after a major, sudden upset more interesting than underdog new comer having to overcome long term champ AGAIN. I realize that's the tried and true arc but I thought this was an interesting reversal. Anyway it was a great RAW and I'm excited for the future of this REALITY ERA.