WrestleMania 31, Monday Night RAW, and The Aftermath
After watching WrestleMania 31 this past Sunday, I felt it would be best to wait until after Monday Night RAW before sitting down to write anything. The idea behind this was to allow myself the chance to reflect back on WrestleMania and give WWE the chance to tie up any loose ends on RAW. As I sit here, basking in the artificial glow from my computer screen, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed.
Let’s start with the Fatal 4-Way Kickoff Match. Fortunately the WWE made the excellent decision of having Tyson Kidd and Cesaro defeat The Usos, Los Matadores, and The New Day’s Big E and Kofi Kingston to retain the WWE Tag Team Championships. The match was a classic battle featuring the best teams on the main roster. It was fast paced and full of excitement but no matter how many strides the WWE makes with the tag division, utilizing this match on the Pre-Show as the Kickoff shows how the WWE views the division.
The 2nd Annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal wasn’t extraordinary but the end result was appropriate. The Big Show has been compared to Andre The Giant since his debut, and seeing that his career is winding down it’s only fitting that he won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at some point. Furthermore, the match allowed Mizdow to take a stand against The Miz, and Hideo Itami the opportunity to perform at WrestleMania. After it was reported that Itami used the GTS at the live NXT event the day before, I was hoping to see it again at WrestleMania but that’s no biggie.
When the Pre-Show came to an end and WrestleMania began, the first match was the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match. Some highlights included: Stardust coming out wearing Mister Sinister-esque gear, Luke Harper powerbombing Dean Ambrose outside the ring through a ladder, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler trading headbutts atop a ladder, and Daniel Bryan ultimately emerging victorious. Although I’d prefer to see Daniel Bryan in the World Title picture, but I’m all for having him as the Intercontinental Champion especially if it will help bring importance and prestige back to the title.
In the next match, Randy Orton battled Seth Rollins. Overall the match was good, but the only thing that still sticks out in my head from the match is the finish. Towards the end of their bout, Rollins went for the curb stomp and Orton propelled Rollins into the air hitting him with the RKO on the way down for the victory.
Then was the highly anticipated Triple H versus Sting match. Where do I begin? First off, I’m sure the entrances would’ve been better had it been dark out, but that’s just based off the location and start time so we’ll ignore that. Outdoor lighting aside, I would have rather seen Sting’s entrance featuring an orchestra (similar to the WWE 2K15 Trailer) but his entrance was still a historic moment. Triple H’s entrance on the other hand, was just a bad commercial for the new Terminator movie. The match itself started off great, Sting was in excellent shape and they both seemed to have good chemistry together. Then D-Generation X (Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, and X-Pac) came out to help Triple H. Next the nWo (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall) come to Sting’s aid. Suddenly Shawn Michaels is in the ring hitting Sting with Sweet Chin Music. Then Triple H uses part a broken sledgehammer to get the win over Sting and they shake hands. Does any of this sound wrong to you? It’s almost like a sick joke! Let’s go through this piece by piece.
I’m okay with D-Generation X interfering on behalf of Triple H. I’m fine with Shawn Michaels helping The Game too. However it makes no sense why the nWo would come to help Sting. In his promo leading up to the match Sting even explained he was not there to fight for WCW, he was there to take Triple H down. Although I would have greatly preferred to see Sting as the victor, if Triple H winning was going to be the end result anyways wouldn’t it have been much better to have the nWo come out and beat down Sting too? Either way I found the handshake to be a little much but still enjoyed seeing Sting have his WrestleMania moment.
AJ Lee and Paige versus The Bella Twins was decent. The conclusion of the match just seemed predictable. Considering the fact that the Divas Championship wasn’t up for grabs it should come as no surprise that AJ Lee and Paige came out on top. Coming off the whole #GiveDivasAChance craze, you’d think the WWE would have at least given these ladies some more time to show what they can do.
Following the Divas match, Rusev defended the US Championship against John Cena. In my opinion Rusev had the best entrance of the entire night, riding into the stadium on top of a tank. The only thing that would have made it better was if Rusev’s entrance was used to interrupt Aloe Blacc singing America The Beautiful. That would have gotten Rusev monster heat! The match was entertaining but John Cena won (as expected). Although I would have preferred seeing Rusev become the first person to make John Cena tap this result is better for everyone involved. Having John Cena as US Champion removes him from the World Title picture (at least temporarily) and allows him to help bring importance and prestige back to the title (like Daniel Bryan with the Intercontinental Championship). This also allows Rusev to move on to bigger and better things.
At this point in the event Stephanie McMahon and Triple H came out to the ring to brag and gloat about the event and were interrupted by The Rock. When things began getting physical, Stephanie slapped The Rock and demanded that he leave “her stadium”. As he left the ring he saw UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Rhonda Rousey sitting at ringside. The Rock recruited Rousey and the two of them confronted The Authority sending them cowering backstage. It’s always nice to see The Rock but personally I felt like the entire segment went on a bit too long.
The Undertaker versus Bray Wyatt match was too short but prior to the event it was reported that Bray Wyatt had injured his ankle training so the length of their encounter is understandable. Outdoor lighting aside it was still great seeing The Undertaker make his epic return to the WWE. Personally I thought Bray Wyatt Should Destroy The Undertaker in their match but it’s also nice to see another victory for The Deadman.
This brings us to the main event of WrestleMania 31, Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns. Before Brock Lesnar Re-Signed With WWE, the outcome of the main event seemed blatantly clear. Fortunately the announcement generated more excitement for the match as it made the possibility of Lesnar retaining much more plausible. The match itself consisted mainly of Brock dishing out punishment and Reigns taking it with a goofy looking smile on his face. Lesnar took a few big hits during the match resulting in a couple flesh wounds but nothing serious. Towards the end of the match, Seth Rollins’ music hit and The Architect was able to interject himself into the match successfully cashing in his MITB Briefcase to become the NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Although I wanted Lesnar to retain, I’m just as happy with this result. Rollins is by far the best heel in the business today and continuously delivers inside the squared circle. This also perfectly sets up Rollins to feud with Orton (likely at the next pay-per-view), Reigns, and Lesnar. I had extremely low expectations for WrestleMania this year and so I was not disappointed. With that being said, I still ultimately found myself feeling underwhelmed by the event as a whole.
Monday Night RAW delivered. The show kicked off with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman immediately storming the ring announcing they were invoking Lesnar’s rematch clause that night. WWE certainly made sure to start things off with a big bang.
Daniel Bryan successfully defended his Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler. After the match Bad News Barrett attacks Daniel Bryan from behind. As he prepared Daniel Bryan for the Bullhammer, Sheamus made his return scaring off Barrett in the process. Now sporting a mohawk and braids in his facial hair, Sheamus turned heel by attacking Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler leaving to a chorus of boos. I’m glad the WWE has made Sheamus heel but his new look is questionable. It’s as if he is trying to look like his character in WWE Immortals.
Lucha Dragons and The New Day defeated Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, and The Ascension. Although this wasn’t anything special, it was still nice to see NXT being featured on one of the biggest shows of the year.
Next up Brock Lesnar prepared for his rematch only to find out Seth Rollins declined. The Beast Incarnate was furious over this decision and began destroying everything in sight. He demolished J&J Security, overturned the announcer’s table, and gave Michael Cole a devastating F-5. When Stephanie McMahon demanded Brock Lesnar stop and he refused, she suspended him indefinitely. Although the world wants to see that match it’s obviously better this way. This decision allows the WWE to be selective in utilizing Brock Lesnar’s dates and allows them to build anticipation for that inevitable confrontation. This also allows them to temporarily write off Lesnar and have Rollins fight Orton first. I’d assume they might save the match with Lesnar for a bigger event (perhaps SummerSlam).
Mizdow defeated Stardust in a singles match only to be attacked by The Miz afterward. I love how the WWE has been taking their time in slowly building this feud. I’m sure this will lead to some great moments in the future. Additional Note: Mizdow’s version of the Skull Crushing Finale is better than The Miz’s version.
Curtis Axel came out to the ring and was interrupted by the debuting Adrian Neville. The Man Who Gravity Forgot made his entrance with a cape and hood (it looked better than that sounds) and put on a spectacular match.
Dean Ambrose answered the open challenge for John Cena’s United States Championship. The two had a great match which of course ended with Cena coming up on top (no surprise there). AJ Lee, Paige, and Naomi defeated The Bella Twins and Natalya. Nothing amazing to report here but the card placement makes me hopefully that in the future the WWE will start giving Divas more time and better opportunities to shine.
Rusev may have lost his United States Championship at WrestleMania but he continued stream rolling talent by crushing Goldust in a singles match. Then Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, and Ryback defeated Seth Rollins, Big Show, and Kane in the main event. This outcome was expected and okay considering Rollins is still in possession of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship hence a loss doesn’t hurt him (or his partners).
After RAW, Sting addressed the WWE Universe in an exclusive interview on the WWE Network. Despite losing at WrestleMania, Sting was still in high spirits and extremely positive about the overall experience. Although he was unsure what opportunities the WWE might throw his way, he said he “intended to grab them”. Moments later Bo Dallas interrupted Sting in an attempt to help motivate The Icon. His efforts would resulted in a Scorpion Death Drop.
Overall WrestleMania 31 and Monday Night RAW did a great job of setting things up for the future. Seth Rollins is more than deserving and capable of being in the position he’s now in, while Daniel Bryan and John Cena will hopefully do wonders for the Intercontinental and United States Championships respectively. I dislike that Sting was so vague about his future but I highly doubt that was the last we’ll be seeing of him. Hopefully next year we’ll get the long awaited Sting versus Undertaker match (they were seen together at the airport).