Best/Worst: Here’s That WrestleMania Match Again For Free, Everybody
The secret to this Raw is that it was SPECTACULAR because of the crowd response and atmosphere, but actually pretty assy in regard to match quality and storytelling. An early example is Daniel Bryan losing to Big E Langston AFTER the tag titles match at WrestleMania, but just BEFORE Ziggler cashes in and makes Team Rocket’s tag titles quest irrelevant. Another is the handicap match between World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio and the Jack Swagger/Zeb Colter team the night after Swagger LOST his title match, featuring almost no participation from Zeb. It’s like they (1) needed Del Rio to get hurt enough somehow to make Ziggler’s cash-in a reality, and (2) didn’t want to do the exact same match as Sunday, but couldn’t come up with anything better, so they said “Dutch, go stand ON the apron instead of beside it.”
Seriously, what does Zeb do here? He just kinda crouch-stands on the apron looking confused. That’s it. He doesn’t save Swagger when Swagger’s in danger, he doesn’t pull the referee out of the ring, he doesn’t distract anybody to keep Swagger’s tap-out from ending the match, he doesn’t do ANYTHING. He’s just there so the match will be technically different.
The actual match was pretty good, with the best parts of it being rehashed from the Mania match. I did enjoy Swagger falling victim to the Kurt Angle ankle lock counter (“roll forward”) and selling it by stumbling a bit and stopping himself at the ropes instead of doing the Kurt thing where he goes flying and straddles the middle rope with his neck. Realism, sort of!
The biggest complaint about this match is that it was 12 minutes long and nowhere NEAR as great as the 3 minute match that followed it.
BEST: HERE TO SHOW THE WORLD
SO, THIS IS HAPPENING
I’m not sure, but Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler for the World Heavyweight Championship might be the best three minute match I’ve ever seen. It was glorious. It accomplished everything you needed to accomplish. Alberto Del Rio was injured enough to justify a short match, but still valiant enough of a champion to fight through the injury and look tough. Ziggler got in a lot of cheap offense but won the match clean (as clean as a post-match Money in the Bank cash-in can be, at least). Most importantly, Ziggler WON THE MATCH, instantly giving the briefcase back the heat it’s been missing since Cena cashed in his like a dweeb and Ziggler hoarded the other one for a year.
How great was this, though? Del Rio’s corner kick was BOSS. Ziggler countered the cross armbreaker using logic (gasp!) instead of just rolling around into another signature move like WWE guys do. The Zig Zag was beautiful. It all worked, and I will be a happy man if Del Rio and Ziggler can get a formal feud soon, because they work SO well together. Plus, they have adorable crews.
Best: Holy Shit, This Crowd
We’re never going to forget Ziggler’s cash-in, thanks almost exclusively to the New Jersey crowd. They jumped the shark a little later when they did the “We Are Awesome” chant and started chanting for Michael Cole, but they did something very important: they stopped taking their cues, and just cheered for whatever made them happy and shat on whatever didn’t. WWE treated this like a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime happenstance, but you know what? This is what wrestling crowds are supposed to be like. See how great it is when the reactions are fun and organic, and not a bunch of line-reads you taught them before the show? It makes wrestling seem like a cool, fun thing to watch with your friends, and not like the propaganda and t-shirt sales video it usually is.
Best: Dolph Ziggler’s Crew > Your Crew
I love them. Absolutely love them. Kaitlyn had an awful, catty tweet about how AJ “didn’t know whether to laugh or cry” and how she was crazy, but f**k Kaitlyn, because crying and laughing can both be side effects of SHOOT JOY, and AJ had it. So did Big E. These three should be friends forever.
(they should also let Big E use his own entrance theme, because that is kinda weird)
Best: SIERRA HOTEL INDIA OTHER WORDS
Remember that theory that The Shield exists as an extension of my pro wrestling watching anger, and when I get to my breaking point they show up and beat people up on my behalf? Yeah, Undertaker cutting promos is my least favorite thing in the world, especially when they stop being about THE DEPTHS OF HAIL and veer towards issues regarding This Business, so theory validated.
I really, really wanted to see The Shield take Undertaker out (if only for the sight of Tyler Black standing tall over the goddamn Undertaker), but I’m also okay with Team Hell No making the dramatic save, and with Daniel Bryan being an honorary Brother Of Destruction. Because seriously, this picture is amazing:
This will make a hell of an Extreme Rules match. Or a solid WrestleMania match next year, which would give us a year of The Shield steamrolling super teams en route to breaking Undertaker’s streak as a unit. Or, more importantly, riding into the arena on a f**king helicopter. No, I don’t care if Mania is in the Superdome. They can land on the roof and cut holes in the ceiling.