Posted by: pop-break | April 22, 2013

RAW Recap: 4/22/13

justin matchick fills in …

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As the WrestleMania high finally dies down and the WWE sets its sights on the next Pay-Per-View, Extreme Rules, tonight’s Raw gets a big boost from supposedly featuring the first non-PPV match for The Undertaker in over two years.

Also, tonight’s Raw isn’t actually live since the show was taped at the O2 Arena in London a few hours before the actual airtime. This means there’s a bit more editing than usual, but it’s not noticeable enough to bring it down to Smackdown levels.

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Things kick off with Paul Heyman once again speaking for Brock Lesnar and hyping the proposal for yet another Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar match at Extreme Rules. Despite supposedly postponing his answer to the challenge until next week Triple H surprises Heyman by not only appearing at the show, but by accepting the cage match with Lesnar before giving Heyman a pedigree. The Triple H/Lesnar feud is starting to feel pretty stale at this point, but after a so-so match at WrestleMania they are hopefully looking to end the feud on a high note at Extreme Rules.

R-Truth vs. Antonio Cesaro
R-Truth comes out rapping and sounding completely unintelligible. Cesaro decides to do some yodeling for his entrance and is equally unintelligible. Everyone looks so damn confused. After losing the US Championship last week, Cesaro needed a nice win here to get back into the swing of things. He’s a great performer, and must have pissed off somebody to get buried like this. He’s starting to turn into a jobber after this lame duck loss to R-Truth. I swear I could see the despair in his eyes when he couldn’t kick out after being pinned by R-Truth. WWE doesn’t seem to know what to do with Cesaro, but the stuff they’re putting him through now is no answer.

Rhodes Scholars vs. Tons of Funk
Brodus Clay and Tensai … excuse me, that’s Sweet T now … come out and look like they’d be more at home at a Clippers halftime show. The London crowd seems to be enjoying Cody Rhode’s fantastic mustache more than the match itself, which only featured Sandow and Brodus Clay exchanging blows. Sandow and Rhodes deserve more than matches that ends in a simple roll-up, even if they did win this one.

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Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho
Just before this match Vicky Guerrero screeched at Dolph Ziggler that a win for Jericho here would make him eligible for a Fatal Four Way at Extreme Rules for Ziggler’s World Heavyweight title. Ziggler is always fun to watch, and as always he sells better than Billy Mays at a bake sale. Despite Jericho’s advancing age they were both able to put on a great, high flying match, even if it did start to run a little long. In the end Jericho almost won by giving Ziggler the Walls of Jericho before being interrupted by Fandango’s theme song. Fandango never actually came out, but Jericho was distracted enough for Ziggler to give him a Zig Zag and keep the title match at Extreme Rules just between himself, Jack Swagger, and Alberto Del Rio.

Mick Foley shows up for a second to promote his new DVD and criticize Ryback for blaming John Cena for his recent failings. Not much happens here, but hey, Mick Foley!

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Sweet T vs. Cody Rhodes
Since their previous tag match only featured Brodus Clay and Sandow, Cody Rhodes and Tens….wait no Sweet T…decide to face off. Cody Rhodes might not be the most popular guy in the WWE right now, but in no way does he ever deserve to lose to a man who names himself after something that can be found on the McDonald’s Dollar Menu. This essentially became a squash match since Rhode’s never even had a chance to show off any moves at all, and seemed to just get thrown around by Sweet T the whole time.

Promo Time
Daniel Bryan and Kane put on a nice and funny promo in preparation for their match with Undertaker vs. The Shield. Daniel apparently has a thing for diagrams and strategies for taking out The Shield, but Kane seems to be hesitant to introduce his tag team partner to his brother. The Shield sneak attack the two and deliver devastating blows to the both of them. This shows not only that Kane and Daniel Bryan are one of the most fun tag team duos in recent years, but also that The Shield is still a force to be reckoned with, despite the looming appearance of Taker.

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This was followed by a promo with Ryback saying he was pretty offended by Mick Foley’s earlier comments about making excuses, and hopes that he shows up in the ring later on. Ryback continues to bore with these promos, proving that his rote performances in the ring are indicative of his entire gimmick.

Big E. Langston vs. Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder returns after a few weeks of not doing much but hanging out with the catering crew, but unfortunately he’s up against Langston who’s getting a pretty nice push from the WWE. Big E and his moobs of glory make short work of Ryder in a really quick squash match.

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Daniel Bryan, Kane, and The Undertaker vs. The Shield
Undertaker’s entrance is like no other in wrestling history and even after 20 years his presence entering the arena can still send a chill down your spine. It’s kinda weird seeing it on a program I didn’t have to pay any money to watch, but nonetheless is always a treat to see. After the attack on Bryan and Kane earlier, The Undertaker starts the match against The Shield all by himself before Team Hell No runs out to help him. Things calm down quickly and the match finally begins in earnest. Dean Ambrose gets squarely beaten by both Bryan and Kane before the Undertaker finally comes in and starts kicking some ass. For a man approaching the age of 50 the fact Undertaker can still pull off these earth-shattering moves is simply amazing. The match predictably featured only a few big spots for Taker, but they were pretty damn impressive anyway. Kane and Bryan get to work some of their tag team champion magic against Roman Reigns, but things start to even out soon enough. Daniel Bryan on his own is still one of my favorite performers in the WWE Universe, and boy does he get to put on a show whenever he’s tagged in. After a failed flying headbutt by Bryan, Dean Ambrose was able to pin him and claim another victory in The Shield’s undefeated run. I’m shocked that The Shield has lasted this long without losing, and it seems like each new match sets a benchmark for how high The Shield can take their winning ways.

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Promo Time Pt. 2: Electric Boogaloo
Apparently The Rock has tweeted that he will require surgery for some torn tendons suffered in his loss to Cena at WrestleMania. This is setting up for a pretty big return in a few months’ time, but I sincerely hope he gets more interaction with someone other than John Cena. If there is a Cena vs. Rock Part 3, I can only hope the WWE gives everyone in the arena a complimentary pillow for when they inevitably fall asleep during the match.

John Cena and Mick Foley are seen talking backstage, with Cena wanting Foley out in the ring with him for his confrontation with Ryback, in what I assume is a move to add someone who can actually entertain the fans to the meeting. Foley agrees, and Cena gives him a chair hoping that Foley brings some of his old-school hardcore mentality once Ryback shows his face.

Fandango vs. William Regal
Fandango gets a massive pop from the London crowd as they serenade him with his own theme. But once England’s own WWE veteran William Regal shows up, all bets are off. This match had a lot of fantastic crowd participation, with soccer chants booming from the crowd as the super short match ended with Fandango pinning Regal. If you had told me a month ago that Fandango would become arguably the hottest rising star in the WWE Universe, I’d say you were crazy. Now I can’t stop humming his intro tune, disturbingly addictive earworm that it is.

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The victory high wore off quickly after Chris Jericho came out to get some revenge on Fandango for embarrassing him the past few weeks. Taking him by surprise, Jericho threw him off the entrance platform and had a quick dance with Fandango’s tango partner.

Divas Battle Royale
This Battle Royale was to determine who would contend against Kaitlyn as she defends the Divas Championship. It’s shocking how irrelevant most of the WWE female roster is besides AJ, with Tamina Snuka, Cameron, Naomi, and Layla filling out the rest of the Royale. This is only further reinforced by the fact AJ won the Royale despite literally lying still in the ring for 99% of the match, faking being unconscious until only Layla remained and let her guard down to get knocked out of the ring. I’m happy AJ is getting a shot at the championship, but surely the WWE can do better things with one of their

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Promo Time Pt.3: The Legend of Curly’s Gold
WWE Films have been ramping up their film production over the past few months, and their next big project was revealed as No One Lives, a Saw-like horror film that features Brodus Clay. Let’s all hope that the film features him and the Funkadactyls grooving to some funk tunes while watching teens try and escape mutilation, because otherwise the whole movie will have wasted a golden opportunity.

Mick Foley and Ryback meet in the ring, and Foley asks why Ryback seems to have lost momentum since shooting straight to the top last summer. The obvious answer is that Ryback’s ring presence is predictable and repetitive, and his mic skills further prove that Ryback might have gotten too much of a push too soon. Awkward pauses, weird inflections, and a simple lack of actual emotion define Ryback on the mic. He can play the bad guy for sure, but a lot of this comes from the writing he’s given instead of any actual intimidation.

Cena and Ryback vs. The Shield
Foley and Ryback almost come to blows before Cena runs out to save the Hardcore Champion, and it seems like we’ll have to suffer through a lengthy and boring Cena vs. Ryback match before The Shield interrupts them. Cena leaves Ryback to fend for himself against the threesome, just as Ryback did to him last week. But a change of heart sees Cena attack Reign, Ambrose and Rollins with a chair to scare them off. With The Shield temporarily off their backs, have Cena and Ryback developed an appreciation for one another? Of course not, as Cena crushes Ryback with and Attitude Adjustment before leaving the ring.

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The stage is now set for Cena vs. Ryback for the WWE Championship next month at Extreme Rules, but this just means we’ll have to endure another few weeks of achingly dull smack talk between Cena and Ryback before they actually get in the ring with one another (hopefully with a cameo by The Shield).

Tonight’s Raw saw some surprising outcomes, namely Cesaro becoming a jobber for R-Truth and The Shield defeating The Undertaker of all people. Aside from being able to watch The Undertaker perform without paying and arm and a leg, this was a Raw defined mainly by an energetic crowd and matches that ran the gamut from tedious and predictable to high-flying and enthusiastic.

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