Earlier this week, PWInsider.com reported that there is resentment in the backstage locker room over Dwayne not appearing at this week’s Raw as well as next week’s Raw in Pittsburgh. They clearly feel that as WWE Champion, Dwayne should be appearing on television nearly every week with it getting closer to April 7 and the fact that he is billed as the cash cow.

I have been pretty clear in past Shoots, that I am not the biggest fan of Dwayne headlining WrestleMania as WWE Champion. However, I am not up in arms about Dwayne not appearing on WWE television. While it is a little ridiculous, the boys in the back could look at it as ten minutes of air time that opens up and could be given to them. Also, as I stated last week, there is not a whole lot they can really do with Dwayne and John Cena anyway. They already did everything possible in their year-long build to last year’s contest.

I agree that the locker room talent should be upset that Dwayne is in the main event of WrestleMania as WWE Champion, but as far as him not appearing on WWE television, they should look at the positives because at the end of the day, Vince McMahon will do what Vince wants to do.


I just want to start by saying that I liked the frequent remembering Paul Bearer videos that World Wrestling Entertainment showed throughout the night as it was not only a fitting tribute, but it also helped educate the younger audience of who Paul Bearer was.

This Raw starts with The Undertaker kneeling to the urn and to Paul Bearer’s in memoriam tribute. I thought this was really well done and exactly what The Undertaker should have done considering his relationship with Paul Bearer. The CM Punk interrupt was GENIUS! First Mae Young’s 90th birthday and now this! It was near crossing the line, but not quite, which was perfect.

I just love how all the big storylines this year are incredibly personal as far as how they are being scripted by Creative. This gives these matches, notably the rematches, even more intrigue to want to see them at WrestleMania.

I’m anxious to hear The Undertaker speak, but CM Punk was the only one who needed to speak in their first “Streak” promo. I also liked Kane coming out to get Punk as it made sense considering Kane’s own relationship with Paul Bearer as well as set up a No Disqualification Main Event, which is never a bad thing. This opening segment was brilliantly scripted and got me fired up for a highly anticipated Raw.

I loved every part of the Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler match, including the hectic finish. I always love Daniel Bryan’s surfboard submission move, especially when Bryan turns it into a pinning position like he did early in the match with Ziggler. After seeing another Big E. Langston assault after one of Ziggler’s matches, I am curious to see how Big E. does in an actual match. More importantly, this match reminded us that while Daniel Bryan is good at being comical with Kane, he is still one of the most exceptionally gifted workers in the company today, personally I feel he is second only to Punk. He definitely deserves to at least be in a few World Title feuds in 2013 after Team Hell No breaks up.

The Team Rhodes Scholars spoof on the New Age Outlaw’s shtick was comical, but no one does it better than Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, who are just as much over with the crowd as they were when they left all those years ago. The Brock Lesnar attack on the New Age Outlaws was smart and kept the personal feel this rivalry has. I loved the close up shots of Brock Lesnar’s face during Paul Heyman’s promo, which not only answered Triple H’s challenge, but helped add a unique twist for their rematch storyline. P.S. Will someone please say, “Here Comes the Pain,” when Brock comes out? “The Beast” just does not cut it Michael Cole. I mean Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler saying it will not have the same effect as when Tazz said it back in 2003/2004, but still.

Damien Sandow taking Kaitlyn’s water was hilarious and it helped setup the Bella’s return to WWE television.

I liked how the Ryback and Mark Henry rivalry was booked again this week, first with Henry watching Ryback, and then the one-upmanship battle using the once up-and-coming, Drew McIntyre as a test dummy. The post-match trash talk between the two does not hurt either.

I wish the Antonio Cesaro vs. Alberto Del Rio match would have been better booked, but hopefully they will get more time in a rematch on a show like Main Event or Smackdown in the near future.

I liked The Shield’s post-match attack on Randy Orton and Sheamus following their match with Team Rhodes Scholars. However, Creative needs to figure out something else for this feud, as it is beginning to get repetitive and tedious.

The Chris Jericho Highlight Reel segment was certainly one of the oddest segments in recent memory.

However, it did setup a possible match for Chris Jericho at WrestleMania and I am curious to see if they have him win the Intercontinental Championship for a 10th time in next week’s triple threat.

It was good that Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger’s promo ended because there was a boring chant starting to develop from the crowd. Nevertheless, I will say that a match with Sin Cara made sense considering Cara’s ethnicity. Even so, it appears that even Vince McMahon is starting to see that Swagger is not over with the crowd at all.

The No Disqualification match was exactly what is should have been, physical, with steel chair shots, and bumps. I like The Undertaker costing Punk the win to his brother, Kane, as that is who should have won anyway considering the tribute to Paul Bearer throughout the night. Not to be outdone, CM Punk retaliated by attacking Kane with the urn and then mocking Taker at the top of the entrance ramp with it. This feud is amazingly booked considering it was thrown together at the last moment. I’m interested to see if they continue to have CM Punk stay one step ahead of The Undertaker.

This Raw was very well-done as I never got bored with the segments or matches during the three hour span. I was surprised at the no show of John Cena, but it did not hinder this great Raw on the Road to WrestleMania.

Main Event

I liked that this show started off with Jack Swagger costing Alberto Del Rio his match, while hurting his leg at the same time.

I also liked the Usos in tag action as I would like to see them used more regularly, but I did not like Drew McIntyre in this match as he a botched a sell on a super kick as well as The Samoan Wrecking Ball corner move.

Wade Barrett vs. Justin Gabriel was a pretty good quick match to end the in-ring action of Main Event. Barrett’s face-off with The Miz was a good way to build toward Monday’s triple threat for his title.


Once again we are treated to a Randy Orton and Sheamus vs. Team Rhodes Scholars tag match. I like how they disbanded Team Rhodes Scholars when they were the top contenders for the tag belts and now reformed them just to job to other teams.

The post-match Titantron promo by The Shield was a good way to officially announce the 6-Man Tag for WrestleMania.

Layla took some nasty bumps in a Divas tag match that was not thirty seconds long and was actually pretty decent. Her stealing the victory is a good way to setup a future Divas Championship rivalry with Kaitlyn.

I’m interested to see if Creative books the Bella Twins as Diva badasses of the division after their beat down of the Funkadactyls. I for one was surprised they did this after their last WWE run had them being booked as mostly love interests for male Superstars.

Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler was not as solid or well executed as their match from a few weeks ago, but still entertaining nonetheless. It seems as though their setting up a tag title match at WrestleMania. I do not know how excited I am about this, but it would be a gem of an undercard match if booked correctly. On a side note, Big E. Langston reminds me of a Nation of Domination Era Ron Simmons just because of his look and powerful presence in the ring.

The Shield attacking Sheamus and Orton is nothing new, but doing it in the interview area made it come off as fresh and not just a repetitive beat down week after week.

I like how Mark Henry did not help Ryback fight off The Shield and caused him to be triple power bombed after their match was interrupted. If that was not a heel enough move for Mark Henry, he then World Strongest Slammed Ryback not once, not twice, but three times. I still feel Big Show ends up teaming with Orton and Sheamus, despite Ryback being picked by Orton and Sheamus earlier on the show. I hope we are still treated to Mark Henry vs. Ryback at WrestleMania because it could be just the match that Ryback needs to regain his momentum from his fall push.

The Chris Jericho vs. Jack Swagger main event was a pretty good match to close out Smackdown. Jericho gets criticized for only coming back to WWE around the big pay-per-views, but this should be overlooked because of his ability to put over talent like Dolph Ziggler last summer and Jack Swagger on Smackdown.

This Smackdown stood out because of the nasty bumps that the Divas and Superstars took throughout the night. Even so, this show felt like it needed one more segment as it seemed like it was missing something.

Clean Finish(Final Thoughts)

Next week Raw is coming to my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I would have liked to go, considering WWE does not go there often, but I had prior engagements that I could not get around. Here’s hoping Raw is explosive with a return to the “Steel City.”

Match of the Week

Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler(Raw)

Question of the Week

What do you think Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman will choose as the stipulation to Brock’s match with Triple H at WrestleMania? The top or most frequent answer will be shown in next week’s Saturday Shoot Post.

Funniest Comment of the Week

From AwesomeAngle on Wrestlezone in a discussion about possible crowd resentment towards The Rock for his lack of television appearances recently, “70,000+ people chanting DIE ROCKY DIE= EPIC.”

Photos and Videos Courtesy of WWE.com

News Articles/Reports Courtesy of Wrestlezone.com

Ricki Hostutler