The WWE had one last chance to promote Wrestlemania on their flagship television show last night. Raw was held in Atlanta -- the host city of last year’s Wrestlemania -- at the Philips Arena where just about a year ago the “once in a lifetime match” was made between The Rock and John Cena.
Raw had that “big-time” atmosphere last night just six days before Wrestlemania 28. All night video segments showed snippets of the Rock-Cena feud over the last year. It all led to the final segment of the show when the two faced off for the final time before the main event this Sunday.
Rock came to the ring and started with his usual jokes on Betty White, his freaky dentist, and of course, Cena. It didn’t last long until Cena heard enough and delivered another emotional promo. Cena ripped into The Rock calling him a “visitor” to the WWE over the last 10 years. Cena used some strong non-PG era language to get his point across.
The Rock looked miffed and then told Cena that he helped build this “office” that Cena has been running around in the last 10 years. They exchanged a few more words before they both dropped the microphone and went toe-to-toe. It looked like an altercation would ensue, but the camera faded to black.
What did you expect? The WWE has been building a year-long feud and have come up with many creative ways to keep them from brawling. Why ruin it on the go-home Raw before Wrestlemania?
To keep a year-long feud interesting you cannot just have Rock and Cena brawl every few weeks to keep the momentum going strong. Then there’s no point paying good money to see the match. Instead, building the feud with promos and hour-long documentaries on their lives is the smarter way to go.
I’ll agree that this feud has had its share of highs and lows, but the highs out-weight the lows ten-fold. Rock and Cena have given you everything you can ask for the last year. There’s no book on how to keep a storyline interesting over a year because it has never been done before. These are uncharted waters for the WWE and I couldn’t think of two better stars to place in the middle of this challenge.
It was good to see Cena reflect on his career and it’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since his debut. Cena spoke candidly about the raw emotion and negative reaction he gets from the crowd every time he enters the arena. Cena said that every star turns their back on the WWE Universe when the fans turn on them. Yet, Cena says he differs from those superstars because of his “unfaultable resolve.” It was strong words in a string of excellent promos delivered by Cena over the last six weeks.
He drove home the point that no one remembers second place and that’s why he needs to beat The Rock. Rock said he needs to beat Cena to become the greatest WWE stars of all-time. Obviously, this means a ton more to Cena as The Rock reached “all-time great” status years ago.
*I was a little disappointed that Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels did not appear on the show. The WWE showed vignettes to recap their feud. I wasn’t totally shocked they weren't present on the go-home episode of Raw since there is nothing left to say. If you want to talk about building a feud with zero physicality, this is it. Having these guys do another stare down in the middle of the ring would have been overkill.
*Chris Jericho continued his personal attacks on CM Punk’s family. This time Punk’s mother was the target. Jericho said Punk’s parents had him out of wedlock. Punk took his frustration out on Christian and re-injured his neck forcing him from Team Johnny at Wrestlemania. Drew McIntyre will replace him.
*Randy Orton tagged with Sheamus against Daniel Bryan and Kane. Bryan picked up the pinfall over Sheamus after a distraction by Bryan’s girlfriend A.J. It was a solid opener for the show and good to see that with all the stuff going on the WWE has not forgotten about the World Heavyweight Title.
*Raw had a lot of matches packed into the show, but they were all kept short. The Mark Henry vs. Great Khali match was another example of that, but it did a good job of setting up Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny. Booker T joined Team Teddy after he saved Long from getting squashed by Henry. Long offered Booker the spot as a thank you for saving his skin. Anything that takes Booker T from announcing, I’m all for it.
*Brodus Clay's made quick work of Curt Hawkins. I just wonder where the WWE is going with Clay. Obviously he can beat up jobbers, but when is he going to do something of more substance? I’m guessing after Wrestlemania is when we will see Clay do more and possibly enter into a long-term feud with someone.
Overall, the show was solid and even though all the matches were short, they advanced the feuds going into Wrestlemania.