The Delco Elbow Drop

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

WrestleMania 31 and the Raw after WrestleMania

WrestleMania 31 is officially in the books and I gotta say, I was a lot more entertained by the show than I thought I would be. Maybe it’s because I went in with low expectations but I was very pleased with the way WM31 was put together. Granted, there were some finishes I didn’t like, which I’ll go over below, but that’s to be expected. Still, the set was very cool and the day time setting of the show was actually kinda cool. Kept to a once in a seldom while thing, a show in full daylight like WM31 can be a great change of pace.

Also as has been in the past few years, the Raw after WrestleMania is almost as important as the annual event itself – and this year was no exception. With lots of great matches and surprises (not to mention a hot crowd), Raw from San Jose on March 30 was one of the best in recent months.

WrestleMania 31 Pre-Show
It’s weird that a 4-hour show needs an hour pre-show, since it just feels like it diminishes whatever is on it, like it wasn’t good enough for the show proper. Regardless of that, the pre-show saw Cesaro and Kidd retain the tag titles and Big Show win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Kidd and Cesaro retaining was the right choice, especially since one of the Usos is injured and the other teams were The Matadores (who only show up on TV around Mania season) and the New Day, who the fans actively hate with every fiber of their being. (I like all the members of New Day – Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods – but I can’t deny the New Day gimmick is less than pointless and they’ve done nothing with it so far.) And not to be overlooked, Natalya is killing it lately with these leather, dominatrix-type outfits.

The Battle Royal came down to Miz, Mizdow, and Big Show. Miz demanded Mizdow eliminate himself and Mizdow finally fought back and eliminated Miz. Though, this was before they thought to team up and take out Big Show. Mizdow put up a good fight but couldn’t take out the giant. I really, REALLY hope they feud Mizdow against Big Show in the coming weeks/months in a David and Goliath feud to keep getting him sympathy heat, now that a feud with Miz seems to be kicking off. Because if they just kill any kind of push for Mizdow, what was the point of having Big Show win?
Sandow, you're the real people's champion

It was cool to see Hideo Itami in the Battle Royal (and swerve everyone who thought Adrian Neville was a lock to win the spot) but I think that someone like Ryback or Mizdow should’ve won the Battle Royal. Someone younger on the roster who could use any kind of accolade to propel them forward a little bit.

IC title ladder match
The show opened with a bang with the Intercontinental title ladder match. Almost everyone in the match had a good shot of winning the belt (sorry, R-Truth) but in the end it was Daniel Bryan who walked out with the gold. His first IC title win, this makes Daniel Bryan the 26th Triple Crown Champion in WWE history, winning all the titles he’s eligible for. Not even John Cena or the Undertaker are Triple Crown winners (both needing an IC title reign).

Then Bryan had his first title defense the very next night against Dolph Ziggler. It was a great singles match, one of the best seen on Raw in a long time. Afterward, Wade Barrett attacked Bryan and Ziggler but Sheamus ran out to make the save – only to (gasp) turn heel and Brogue Kick both Ziggler and Bryan. They’ve been teasing his return for some time now and there’s been speculation that he would turn heel upon his return and it looks like he’ll be a major contender for the IC title now too.

Seth Rollins vs Randy Orton
This was a solid match but the highlight was the finish, where Orton popped Rollins into the air while he went for a Curb Stomp, only to bring him crashing down in an RKO. Orton got the win but Rollins would be the biggest winner of the day later in the show. 

Sting vs. Triple H
“Shenanigans” is the only word that comes to mind when I think about this match. The entrances were ridiculous, to start. I didn’t really get why Sting had a band of drummers open for him. I thought a small orchestra set up like in the WWE 2K15 commercial would’ve been much better and fit his character. And the Triple H entrance…oh my god the Triple H entrance. I’m still torn about it. On one hand, it was pretty cool but on the other hand it was super cheesy. But Triple H as a Terminator made a lot more sense once the match was over.

Along with the Terminators, Triple H had soldiers during his entrance, played by (from left) Enzo Amore, Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder, Buddy Murphy, Solomon Crowe and referee Drake Wuertz.

In a big surprise, the DX appeared (Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and X-Pac) to try and help Triple H but it wasn’t long before nWo (Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) hit the scene to even the odds. Then from nowhere, Shawn Michaels appeared to Sweet Chin Music away any hope Sting had of winning. I thought it was an odd move to sign Sting and push this months-long angle since Survivor Series only to have him lose but it made more sense once I heard JBL yell, “We win again!”

It’s very apparent Vince put this whole angle together as one more “up yours” to WCW – WWE won the Monday Night War and refuse to let anyone ever forget it. I don’t know what Sting will do now but I’d hope he stays around. Coming into WWE to have one match and lose doesn’t seem like a great way to end your career. But Triple H being a Terminator made more sense after he won, seeing as how WWE likes to rewrite the past and kill any threats to their dominance that they possibly can.

AJ Lee and Paige vs The Bella Twins
I don’t remember a whole lot from this match, other than Paige’s awesome new pentagon ring gear and the Bellas losing. It didn’t make much sense for this tag match to exist – shouldn’t it have been a title match with all four of these Divas competing against each other? Granted, it would’ve been a pretty terrible four-way to shove into the barely 6 minutes they got at WM31.

The six-Diva tag match the next night on Raw was really great though as Paige, AJ and Naomi faced The Bellas and Natalya. Teaming Natty with the Bellas doesn’t make much sense but hey, anything is better than her feuding with El Torito.

Rusev vs John Cena

United States Championship
Rusev’s entrance was easily one of the best visuals of the entire night. Rusev in a tank?! It couldn’t get any more perfect for the Bulgarian Brute, the Hero of the Russian Federation.

And though I would’ve liked to have seen Rusev win, I think he still looked pretty good in defeat. Everyone knew that Cena was going to win because CENAWINSLOL. I just hope that Rusev’s previous year of domination is enough to propel him forward and that his current friction with Lana will pass because they work really well together.

The Rock and Ronda Rousey vs Triple H and Stephanie
I don’t remember the impetus for this segment (I think it was for Trips and Stephanie to gloat about beating Sting? Maybe?) but eventually The Rock interrupted them and he got a much better reaction than he did at the Royal Rumble.

What I do remember from this segment is that Steph slapped The Rock who said he doesn’t hit women but he knows someone who does – and brought in UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey from the front row into the ring. The Rock beat down Trips and Rousey gave him a judo throw. Steph tried to slap Rousey who immediately realized she had made a huge mistake. Rousey showed restraint and didn’t obliterate Steph or rip her arm clean off, unfortunately.

I’ll be really interested to see where this goes. Rousey is a huge fan of pro wrestling, has appeared on WWE segments before (at Summerslam I think) and has been seen at PWG before. But I don’t think she has any training so it will be interesting to see what her involvement is going forward. I’m assuming this was just another way to promote the new Fast and Furious movie which she and The Rock are in but here’s hoping for more Rousey in WWE.

Bray Wyatt vs The Undertaker
This is another match I’m really split on. On one hand, I think Bray did a great job in the match itself but an even better job carrying the feud itself, since Taker didn’t show up until WrestleMania itself. There’s also the sentiment that just being in there with Taker makes him look better.

Although, I don’t subscribe to that feeling. In my eyes, Bray should have won that match. He carried the entire thing going into Mania and if he had beaten Taker, would have legitimately been seen as the new “Phenom,” the new supernatural entity in WWE. But he was booked to lose and because of that, looked even more foolish for wasting his time for so many weeks calling out Undertaker only to lose.

Bray has had enough adversity in getting to the top of the card without losing matches he really should have and needed to win. Losing a feud with Cena and getting the Family taken away from him has really hindered his advancement. He won a nothing feud with Ambrose and had he defeated Taker, would’ve immediately been seen as a main event player. But now he’ll have to pick up the pieces all over again.

Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns
WWE Championship

Before Mania, everyone thought Reigns was a lock to win since it seemed like Brock was on his way back to UFC. But with the announcement on ESPN that he was staying in WWE, telling who would win this match became a lot more cloudy.

Brock started out this match brutalizing Roman, hitting several F5s and numerous suplexs, taking Reigns to Suplex City. But Roman stayed in it. And despite his efforts, the crowd still hated him. Hated him like you wouldn’t believe. Then something glorious happened. Seth Rollins cashed in.

In a WrestleMania first, Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. The match turned into a triple threat and with Roman and Brock both beaten down, Rollins was able to Curb Stomp Reigns after he had speared Brock and Rollins pinned his former Shield teammate and tag partner to become the WWE World Heavyweight champion.

The night after on Raw
After a better-than-expected WrestleMania 31, the Raw crowd was red hot. We saw the debuts of Kalisto as part of the Lucha Dragons (winning an 8-man tag match with New Day against Kidd and Cesaro and The Ascension) as well as Adrian Neville, who appears to have lost his first name. I can’t get over how stupid it is that his name is just “Neville” on the main roster and will continue to complain about it for weeks to come (maybe forever if they don’t give him back his first name).

Sheamus also came back and went full heel almost instantly, though it’s fair to say that his new haircut was enough to tell everyone that he’s not gonna be a face anymore.

Brock Lesnar wanted his rematch against Seth Rollins but Rollins said no…and Lesnar absolutely lost his mind. He tore up the set, pushed the announce table on JBL and Booker T, F5’ed Michael Cole and then F5’ed a cameraman twice. Stephanie suspended Brock indefinitely (to no doubt write him off the show for a few months) but I could see this as the beginning of a face turn for Brock as he fights against The Authority and their champ, Seth Rollins.

Dean Ambrose had a really good match for the US title against John Cena but ended up losing. Whether it’s the US or IC title, I just hope Ambrose is the next guy to win gold because he really deserves it.

And the Raw crowd HATED Roman Reigns. Like, even more than the crowd at WM31. Reigns was in a 6-man tag with Randy Orton and Ryback against Rollins, Kane and Big Show. The crowd was the least into this match of the entire night and proceeded to chant anything they could think of (namely NXT related chants), did the wave (which the cameras watched for a while instead of the match) and chanted “Please retire” at Big Show. But here’s the thing – a few mere minutes after chanting at Big Show to retire, they wildly cheered him for beating down Roman Reigns. That’s how much people hate Reigns – THEY WERE CHEERING BIG SHOW.

Lots of other stuff happened too on Raw but this is running way too long and I can’t remember everything so that’s it for now. Here’s hoping that WWE can build on this momentum into Extreme Rules and that Reigns doesn’t just immediately get another match for the title at Extreme Rules (he doesn’t deserve one either – he won the Rumble, got his shot and lost), though I’m almost certain he will.

(Gifs and images were found on r/SquaredCircle and /wooo/ or from Twitter. Also, the panorama at the top was by a Reddit user whose name I took down to give him credit then lost - sorry.)

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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