Tuesday, March 31, 2015

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - March 30th, 2015 - Night after WrestleMania 31

After an unbelievable night in the form of one of the best WrestleMania's in recent memory, if not of all time, WWE had a big act to follow. That almost always guarantees a thrilling show as WWE is pressed to deliver. Beyond that, we are headed into it with a lot of question as we wonder what's next for a number of superstars. Let's prolong it no further. Time to take a look at this week's edition of Monday Night Raw! The episode following WrestleMania 31!

Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman demand that Lesnar get his rematch

I don't think there was a better way to start the show than this. Brock is hotter than he's ever been since returning and despite his loss, he's still looking as dominant as ever. Seeing Lesnar come out with his ring gear brought me to my feet as I knew he was ready for a fight. Heyman delivered a phenomenal promo that was followed by a cliffhanger by Stephanie. Will we see Brock compete live on Raw for the first time in over a decade? This was a great way to get the show going as it answered some questions, but also left us with new ones to keep us watching.

1) Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler - Intercontinental Championship Match

The two hardest workers on the roster in front of one of the hottest crowds of the entire year?! I knew this would be amazing from the start and it certainly lived up to expectations. The set of matches these two had prior to WrestleMania were good however they were lacking that certain something to put them over the top. Their Smackdown match showcased their ability to create drama & nearfalls while their Raw match showcased their pure wrestling ability. This match combined the two and even added some viciousness and intensity into the mix. All those things along with the super hot crowd made for one of the best TV matches of the year. Awesome match from beginning to end. The importance of the IC Title is already beginning to rise. I can only imagine what guys like DB and DZ will do for it in the coming months.

Match rating - ****

Sheamus' return
In the past few years, Sheamus has really grown on me so I was pumped to see him return and I LOVED how they did it. You think he's here to make the babyface save then he nails Ziggler and turns mega heel. I also liked how he changed up his look. It got a "You look stupid" chant, but it makes him look even more serious in my opinion. I'm definitely looking forward to this forthcoming chapter of his career. Epic return.

2) Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, & The Ascension vs. Sin Cara, Kalisto, Kofi Kingston, & Big E
I marked out as soon as I realized that we would be seeing Cesaro in the same ring with the Lucha Dragons on Raw and luckily, they ended up starting out the match! Cesaro & Kidd had a killer match with them on Main Event recently so it cames as no surprise that I was hyped for this, along with many other people who know how well Cesaro works with guys of the lucha style. The opening sequences of this match absolutely ruled. The crowd was on fire with chants for Cesaro and he & the Lucha Dragon wowed the audience, particularly Kalisto, who delivered a spot that was first done in 2007 when Cesaro faced the likes of Pac (Adrian Neville) and Ricochet on the Indie scene, as he jumped up onto Cesaro's shoulders and cut a back flip off. Cesaro goes for a clothesline, Kalisto slides under him, roll up - 1..2.. NEARFALL! Kalisto is OVERRRRR! Things slightly settled down from this point as we ended up rolling to commercial. We came back to more great action that resulted in a completely awesome closing sequence that even allowed Kofi Kingston & Big E to shine. Those belly to belly suplexes from Big E were epic! Fantastic eight man tag, this was a ton of fun!

Match rating - ***1/4

Brock Lesnar wreaks havoc
This segment epitomizes why Brock Lesnar is so valuable to the WWE. No one could have executed this quite like he did because he is LEGIT. Most people, including myself, would tune in and/or pay money to see Lesnar go nuts like this every week. I liked how they teased the title match only for Rollins to back out as it garnered even more heat towards him and made him look like even more of a coward. I think it's safe to say that Brock is a full fledged fan favorite at this point. It'll be interesting to see how other crowds react to him in the future. Another thing I have to mention here is how awesome of a job that Stephanie McMahon did. She continues to excel in her character. As for Lesnar's suspension, I'm curious where this will go. It's either a way to set up a surprise return before Extreme Rules or a way to keep him off TV for a few months until it's time for his rematch. I, for one, hope it's the latter. As I said before, Brock is hotter than ever, keep that momentum going in any way possible! He sells PPV's-- or in today's world, he is network buys and seeing him at Extreme Rules would be best for business!

3) Damien Mizdow vs. Stardust
This is a match that I think really went under the radar of many. For one, it's the Rhodes Scholars from 2013 colliding under different gimmicks and the angle afterwards where Miz attacked Sandow was great. I'm really looking forward to the Miz/Sandow feud. If I was booking this show, I probably would've placed this differently on the card because the crowd had no time to rest from the past hour of epicness, but they still reacted pretty well, better than a normal audience would.

Adrian Neville debuts
I didn't even feel the need to place this as a match because it was essentially Axel getting himself over with another hilarious promo for his AxelManiacs before Neville crashed the party and blew everyone away. Even a long time fan like myself felt like a new dynamic was added to his presence when he stepped foot in front of that crowd. He looked like a million bucks here and I have high hopes for his future on the main roster. Here's to a future filled with mind blowing matches on the main roster from The Man That Gravity Forgot!

4) John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose - United States Championship Match
The first meeting between these two last fall was pretty lackluster so I was hoping for something better here and we got just that. This blew their "Contract on a Pole" match completely out of the water. After Bryan/Ziggler tore the house down, it seemed like these two were hell bent on topping out and they nearly did. One thing they did extremely well was making it look like Ambrose COULD win despite Cena coming fresh off his title victory. The counters out of each other's finishers stood out as well. Some awesome exchanges here. All around great match and another bout on this show that I feel will be remembered as one of the best TV matches of the year.

Match rating - ***3/4

5) AJ Lee, Paige, & Naomi vs. The Bellas & Natalya
Last week, Paige & Nikki delivered a very good contest for the Divas title so this led to some excitement about this multi-Diva tag. I liked that they gave them a fair amount of time to work here, even if it didn't quite reach the level I thought it would. The Bellas have improved A TON, but this match honestly showed that they are still a step behind the other women involved. There were several little things I noticed them do that just seemed completely off like Brie hitting a firemans carry into an armbar then randomly doing the move again. Then Nikki somewhat threw off Naomi's high impact sequence of offense and seemingly prolonged the heat segment that felt like it went way longer than it should have considering the payoff was fun, but minimal. Nice little finishing sequence that went under a minute with Natalya nailing a vicious german suplex on Paige and AJ thesz pressing one of the Bellas. The faces pick up the win. I'm not gonna criticize this a lot because if you think about, none of these women, even the ones who performed well here, aren't used to working matches this long which is why I'm not hammering on and on about the things I didn't like about this match from The Bellas. As mentioned before, they've improved a ton and I feel like they'll only get better with time if they're given more opportunities to work these longer style matches. Solid effort from the Divas.

Match rating - **1/2

6) Rusev vs. Goldust
Honestly almost didn't mention this because there's not much to say. Rusev "restarts" his winning streak by essentially squashing Goldust. I don't understand why they dropped the brother vs brother story just to make Goldust & Stardust jobbers. None the less, Rusev with a dominant victory here. Curious what's next for him.

7) Randy Orton, Ryback, & Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, The Big Show, & Kane
Many people were critical of this match ending Raw, but I want to applaud WWE for giving it a shot instead of just throwing Reigns under the bus. I've never been behind the decision to push Reigns as you probably know however I never felt the need to talk shit about him because I've honestly felt bad for him this entire time. If I'm mad or annoyed with anyone, it's whoever felt like pushing him to win the Rumble and setting him up for this reaction in his first big push was a good idea. I think WWE wanted to do this similar to what they did last year after Mania by having the faces face the heels in a six man tag with the faces coming out on top for a happy ending. It would also be a test as to how the fans would react to Roman now that he's out of the main event picture. Sadly the reaction was possibly the worst yet. "Worse than Cena" chants and boos for him hitting offense on three of the most disliked men in the company. It's sad to think that we might never get to see Reigns become what he truly could've been - THE next big thing and THE top babyface. I certainly hope he can recover from this. On the positive side though, Ryback may have been the star of this match. I'm glad they gave him the chance to get his stuff in as the crowd ate it all up chanting "Feed Me More" and "We Want Ryback" several times. Beyond that, Ryback picking up Show for the shell shock was an epic visual that brought the crowd to it's feet. This wasn't the best ending that WWE could have booked, but I don't blame them for giving it a shot because their intentions were good.

Overall thoughts: I really enjoyed this show from start to finish. I'd say the first two hours are must see as you get two high quality matches, two Brock appearances with him going nuts, plus Neville's debut, and that super fun eight man tag. The third hour was lower in quality and only slightly picked up with the main event. The quality of the first two hours can't be overlooked though and the logic in the last hour can't be hated on. For that reason, I say this could very well be in the running for best Raw of the year. Definitely the best one thus far this year. Highly recommend giving it a look if you missed it.

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