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WWE Raw: More talking, less action going into Wrestlemania

COMMERCIAL IMAGE - In this photograph taken by

COMMERCIAL IMAGE - In this photograph taken by AP Images for WWE, WWE Champion CM Punk thanks the troops for their service during WWE�s 9th annual "Tribute To The Troops� holiday special at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. The show will air as a two-hour special on Tuesday, December 13 beginning at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network, and as a one-hour special on Saturday, December 17 beginning at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. (Jim R. Bounds/AP Images for WWE) (Credit: AP )

Last night’s Raw in Philadelphia featured more of the same: lots of talking and very little action between the stars who make up the three biggest feuds going into Wrestlemania.

It’s evident that The Rock and John Cena are talking circles at this point. The same could be said with Undertaker and Triple H, while the CM Punk-Chris Jericho angle continues to get deeply personal. Let’s start there.

CM Punk opened the show last night and was quickly interrupted by Jericho who apologized for making comments about Punk’s alcoholic father. Y2J said he would never bring up his dad again, but said Punk’s sister was another story. Apparently Punk’s sister has a history of drug abuse.

I was not crazy on this angle last week because I feel this storyline has no place in the PG world of the WWE. This is a storyline that would have thrived during the Attitude Era and was executed very well in Ring of Honor by Punk and Raven in 2003. I’m still not totally sold on this angle, but if there is a solid ending to this feud that ties in to Jericho’s personal attacks, then I’m all for it.

By the way, Jericho’s mic work was top-notch yesterday and it shows why he is still one of the best all-around performers in the WWE over the last 13 years. He started off his promo apologetic and I almost bought it for a second even though I knew it was going to end up the way it did. That’s why, no matter if it’s the PG era or the Attitude Era, there’s always a place for Jericho on TV.

Half way through the show we had another taped promo of The Rock in front of the legendary Rocky Balboa statue. It’s obvious at this point that if there’s one thing Hollywood has taught The Rock it’s not to do too much live. Ah, the joys of being able to edit something out.

A lot of people – including me -- have been critical of The Rock’s promos, especially the live ones, which always fall short of his taped promos. However, last night’s taped promo was better than most of his live ones. Maybe I was smitten with the references to Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, but it worked for me. The best part of the promo: Rocky didn’t slam Cena with moronic, childish insults.

Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Mark Henry following his match with Cena. Don’t know what the point of that was other than giving Philly a chance to see The Rock live. If Rock was trying to send a message to Cena by hitting his finisher on a fallen Henry, it didn’t work. I look at it like this: Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Henry following Cena’s finisher. In short, Cena softened Henry up for The Rock.

The final segment featured Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels in the ring all together for the first time since last year. HBK kicked off the segment, but thankfully it wasn’t long before ‘Taker came out. I say thankfully because I’m tired of this match being about HBK. Firstly, in a Hell in a Cell match, the referee’s importance is zero. Secondly, this feud needs to be more about the Hell in a Cell stipulation. I feel that has been undersold a little and we have the two masters of this match going head-to-head. These guys created the standard for Hell in a Cell.

In the end, I feel HBK will be fair because there is no way The Streak ends or continues with a black mark on it. The WWE has done a good job of creating reasons why HBK could cost either guy their chance with destiny. After Undertaker told Triple H that HBK was better, Michaels delivered a smirk that was priceless. Jim Ross wrote on Twitter that his smirk might have just driven up the buy rate for Wrestlemania.

Overall, it was a good show and even though it was more talking and taped promos. What do you expect? The WWE is trying to protect their top three feuds with very little physicality. If it was any other pay per view we would have probably seen more matches on free TV. But this is not just any pay per view. With one more Raw left, there is no reason why we shouldn’t expect the same thing next week.

Quick hits:

*A hype video for Lord Tensai aired. That’s for A-Train, aka Prince Albert, who wrestled with the WWE from 1999-2004. He joined New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2006 and has been there ever since. A-Train was denying rumors of a WWE return on Twitter a few days ago.

*I may sound like a broken record but I need to say it again: Randy Orton is being wasted at the moment. Arguably, Orton is the No. 2 or 3 guy in the WWE behind Cena and Punk. Both Cena and Punk have high-profile matches on April 1, why not Orton? He could have easily been inserted into the World Heavyweight Title match. This has nothing to do with me hating on Kane. This feud is just beneath Orton going into Wrestlemania. You’d figure you want your top guys in visible, high-profile, money-making matches going into ‘Mania. Not in this case.

*The cool thing about Orton’s interview was the location: on the entrance ramp with Josh Matthews. That’s very old school and something you don’t see utilized anymore. Wrestling fans of the 1980s on Twitter were clamoring about it and how they miss it. All the segment needed was “Mean Gene” Okerlund.

*Mark Henry did lose to Cena, which was expected, but he returned to that monster mode that brought him to the World Heavyweight Title in 2011. Interested in seeing where that goes after Wrestlemania.

*Really digging Cody Rhodes abusing the Big Show. All this feud needs is Shane McMahon who used to cut awesome promos making fun of Big Show in 2001. Who didn’t love McMahon’s impression of “The Big Slow?”

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