Welp, back for another week on the not terribly scenic Road to Wrestlemania. Only three more Raws to go, so they better start getting things moving with a quickness.

First though, the three questions that need answering in tonight’s show:

1. Will there be an in the flesh sighting of the Undertaker tonight? If it is ever going to happen before Mania it will be tonight. Bray Wyatt has the goddamn urn. The urn! The thing that has emitted magic green smoke and at one point housed the light beacon that now sits on the Pyramid at Luxor Las Vegas. The thing that Kama once melted down into a chain but because it is the magic urn it became whole again. If that sort of offense won’t drag him away from fun runs and couples yoga I don’t know that anything will.

2. How much longer can they wait before solidifying the card? As of now many of the things we’re treating as official have not actually been made so yet. Undertaker is still nowhere to be found. John Cena is sad because he’s not invited to Wrestlemania and Rusev isn’t taking his calls and went so far as to return the mix tape that John lovingly made for him. Daniel Bryan right now has no match at Mania. Seth Rollins and Randy Orton are teaming up tonight. Sure, we know these things are going to be taken care of by the 29th, but we don’t know it yet.

3. Can anything be done to make people excited about Reigns/Lesnar? Brock is supposed to be here tonight. Who knows if he will actually appear, but let us assume that he actually graces us with his presence. Will he and Reigns face off or will all of our big Mania matches be notable for rarely if ever having the participants in the same place at the same time? Will this finally be the crowd that gets behind Reigns and makes him seem worthy of being in the main event?

Monday Night Raw 3-9-15

The music in the recap of last week sounds like something off the Last Temptation of Christ soundtrack. At first I typed that as the Passion of the Christ soundtrack. I wonder how Willem Defoe would have done being flayed.

Randy Orton and Authority Jamboree

Well at least Kane gave a reason why this is happening the middle of the ring. I’m okay with that sort of logic, silly as it is.

Yikes! @jagster27 asked me on Twitter if Big Show was using Just For Men. I’m afraid I have to disagree with him. I’m pretty sure what’s on his face is something out of the Benjamin Moore Home Exterior line.

This show is already a disappointment because Jamie Noble didn’t just beat the hell out of Rollins and proceed to make out with a returning Nidia. Then Taylor Matheny returns and it turns out she’s been working in Japan under a mask this whole time and is now the best woman in all of wrestling. No one asks where Josh Matthews is.

Disingenuous leader of the jocks Seth Rollins is a entertaining Seth Rollins. On the other hand John Cena lite Randy Orton is worst Randy Orton. Though his refusal to even waste time making fun of Joey Mercury was not the worst thing ever.

This angle would have been better served after Mania. A couple of months of Orton just making Rollins and crew continually more paranoid would actually be some decent tv. Orton plays the role of guy only out for himself, willing to ally with anyone he thinks can help him. Let him keep straddling the line of turning but not doing it, and only Jamie Noble sees the truth.

Winner: Benjamin Moore

Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett

I had no idea Stardust has interjected himself into the I-C title picture. This man must win the title. It is my goal to be the last Stardust fan on the internet. Should only take another week or two to check this goal off the list.

Michael Cole – he is the whitest man, and the least hip person, in the entire world.

I seriously have no idea what is happening on commentary. There’s talk of Dikembe Mutombo and Booker T as a potato farmer (if anyone deserved to harvest a crop of them it’s JBL) and I’m pretty sure there was a Damien reference. If only HBShizzle was here to join them.

Daniel Bryan knows no speed but full speed. I love him, but seriously DB. You’re in a multi-man schmozz for a title so horribly cursed it may have come from King Tut’s tomb. Give yourself a month or so of just cruising along, pointing your fingers in the air, and not taking hard bumps.

Why is no one questioning if Daniel Bryan is putting himself in danger by taking unnecessary risks in returning to wrestling and trying to prove something just because people say he’s too small? Shouldn’t we all be wringing our hands and clutching our pearls and wanting someone to step in and stop this sort of thing from happening? Am I subtweeting without using Twitter? Will this paragraph make it into the review? Did JBL reference the Cricket World Cup? Can anyone explain cricket to me? All good questions worth asking and giving consideration to.

Winner: The Bangladesh Cricket World Cup Team

Stardust vs. Dean Ambrose

I’ve decided I want R-Truth to just be the entire commentary team. Sure it won’t be coherent or enhance the angles in any way, but at least it would just be one unintelligble guy out there instead of three.

This schmozz is a couple weeks early. That’s how unimportant this title is. They have to have their pre-Mania everyone fighting angle three weeks before the show.

This show is turning me stupid. I just laughed some genuine laughs at R-Truth’s belt switch move. And then Booker T explaining the trick to Michael Cole like he’s Fuad from Family Guy learning humor.

Winner: No one. See that’s the joke! Because the I-C title is the worst thing no one who wants it can possibly win!

Newhart Update: We’re up to S4, Ep11. It’s obvious by this point that being an innkeeper is just something that hangs around on the show for when having a guest will move along the plots for the main characters. If there were no guests ever about 95% of the show would be exactly the same, and the other 5% would not be hard to work around. It’s now a show about Dick Loudon, guy who always either has all the time in the world or a deadline breathing down his neck, and the weird people surrounding him. Larry, Darryl, and other brother Darryl are now fully integrated into the cast and nearly every episode has some of subplot of theirs that may or may not intersect with the main story arc. The recurring townies are getting more fleshed out as well, which helps as with just one setting and four main characters you desperately need interaction with the outside world. The episode where they think the inn is haunted was the best one we’ve watched since last week.

WWE HOF Announcement

I’ll save my thoughts on Warrior for another time. Too busy wiping the tears away. Connor was about the age of my niece when he was fighting cancer, and thinking about someone so small dealing with that is heartbreaking.

Paul Heyman is Going to Make You Love Roman Reigns Dammit!

Thank you WWE for reminding me how awesome the Shield was. The fact that we didn’t get a years-long feud akin to the Von Erichs vs. the Freebirds is a damn shame and really ought to be felonious.

If I won the Powerball jackpot I would hand Paul Heyman a blank check and tell him “put down the figure you need to walk around with me and introduce me like you did Brock Lesnar.” Also Lenne Hardt would do my voicemail messages for me.

Paul Heyman was on the hottest of fire. He has been given the task of rehabbing Reigns, making Lesnar seem unbeatable and dangerous enough that he might do anything, keeping Seth Rollins and his briefcase in the minds of the audience, hell even throwing some heat on the damn Undertaker match. And he’s bearing it all. I don’t know that he can actually get the crowd to turn on Lesnar, nor am I sure he wants to. But he is going to lose his voice and maybe his mind in the process of trying to make people care.

Winner: Every single person who doesn’t think managers are dead.

Big Show/Kane vs. Ryback/Erick Rowan

If I were single and built like Ryback I’d be on Tinder too. Good for you Big Guy. Get you some.

While the other matches tonight were nothing to actually give a damn about they at least had the decency to have other things happening so I could pay attention to and write about something other than the match happening. This match was the slowest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Jim Thome legging out a triple and even that was faster paced than this match.

Awwww, the old couple is having a squabble. These two have been around since back when getting on the internet meant hoarding a bunch of AOL starter cds with the free hours. Yet here, in 2015, only a few weeks from Mania they’re having an angle considered important enough to justify bringing Stephanie McMahon’s character into it.

That said, if you’re going to make these two pathetic lumps who can’t get along a thing, might as well let them look like the wastes they are and get bitched out by a woman who can probably barely bench press as much as them. (Fuad says the joke is Steph is kind of ripped.) Normally I would complain about the idea that these two monsters allowed themselves to be so thoroughly shredded, but there’s no one in the world over the age of 5 who could think that Kane or Big Show is a threat to anything but the backstage catering. There is no mystique left to destroy. WWE has made a helldemon and a legitimate giant into just a couple of slobs. Well done guys.

Winner: Stephanie McMahon. Someone had to come out of this looking better. She makes giant men cower before her. Good for her.

The slow burn of Miz going insane is wonderful.

Was that $9.99 song done by Sum 41? I think it may have been. Whatever happened to them. Did they get lost in the Yukon?

Wiz Khalifa? Nope. Musicians on wrestling shows reached their apex with Chad Brock. No point watching any more. Hoping “We Dem Boys” is some sort of hint about the Briscoe Brothers coming soon. (I see that joke was made about 4,000 times on Twitter during the broadcast. Oh well, I’m keeping it anyway.)

AJ Lee vs. Summer Rae

Welp, now I hate the Flintstones.

I’m pretty sure that no one was thinking of Eva Marie when they hashtagged #GiveDivasAChance.

I wonder if Punk watches the show when the Mrs. is on.

Summer Rae looks like she should be a good wrestler, what with the physical similarities to Charlotte. Those are sadly the only similarities.

Winner: AJ Lee

What the hell was with that Sting video. I’ve heard Sting. That’s not Sting. If you’re not going to use his real voice either make him sound like a robot or get Gordon Sumner to do the dubbing.

Pretty sure there were a couple moments in the Sting promo where I heard Vince’s voice. I hope if Sting ever talks on live tv that it ends up being like the lip syncing in a cheap kung fu movie.

John Cena, defender of jingoistic Americans and a warped view of Freedom of Speech. He is just an insufferable jerk.

Rusev vs. Curtis Axel

You know what would be a much better Wrestlemania angle than Cena vs. Rusev? Curtis Axel with Hulk Hogan in his corner vs. Rusev. I would be legit entertained at the prospect of that match.

“If this match goes 42 days I give the edge to Curtis Axel.” Well played there JBL. I’ll give you that one.

Do you think someone has had to talk Vince out of having a middle eastern wrestler come out and have the ISIS come down like Rusev has? I bet someone has.

Watching Rusev heel it up so awesomely just makes me pissed off that he’s getting fed to Cena. Literally anyone could be plugged into this spot, but they use the one guy who so does not need this notch on his bedpost. But hey, at least you got the crowd to cheer for Cena for a couple weeks. Guess that’s worth it.

“John Cena got what he wanted.” Isn’t that pretty much the story of WWE for about a decade or so now? John Cena getting what he wants is about as shocking as a tween using gay slurs in a game of Call of Duty.

Oh sure. You people finally get the chance to yell “WHAT?” at an appropriate moment and you let is pass. You have let me down Pittsburgh.

Winner: John Cena. Who else?

Swing Cats vs. New Day

Holy cats those shirts for Kidd and Cesaro are awesome. Like Ole Anderson level good. 

The only redeeming part of this match is that Kidd and Cesaro are working with some energy and moving with a pace that makes things move forward without getting into a rut.

That was a distraction in search of a purpose. They might as well have had the ref hold up a cue card saying “time for Natalya to distract Tyson.”

Winners: Screw it, Cesaro wins just because he has a level of swag that approaches Shinsuke Nakamura.

The pacing of the show is interesting. I can only assume that the Heyman promo just killed the format for tonight.

Natalya vs. Naomi

For purposes of maximizing hits I’m tempted to just put a picture of Naomi’s butt here. It would certainly draw more hits than talking about that 2 minute special.

I did like Natalya just taking the tag belt and storming off. Cesaro in the role of every guy who has ever seen his friend hook up with the crazy girl from the bar and not being able to stop him is a hoot.

Winner: Naomi

Los Matadores vs. Usos

This show has hit warp speed. I cannot think of a time where I’ve ever seen even part of three different matches in the same segment.

CM Punk is the most over person on the show. The United States is the most over country. Punk is likely miffed at the United States holding him down.

So all those times joking about the Usos and how they’ve gained weight and are barely clearing the ropes on their dives? Tonight we damn near saw a sad punchline. That was almost a broken Uso neck after catching his feet on the ropes. Might be time to start diving from the top turnbuckle there guys.

Eight men in an IC title match? At least four teams in a tag title match? A battle royal? Almost 40 guys in the space of three matches that will be lucky to get one hour of a four hour show? Sounds like WWE to me.

Winners: Tito Santana’s legacy

Seth Rollins is wearing a lampshade so large in this segment that it can barely fit behind the fourth wall. It’s so transparent that Orton is about to turn on Rollins tonight that I’m starting to wonder if maybe they do hold off until after Mania.

Bray Wyatt Promo

Wyatt in the ring already. Yup, Heyman definitely broke the format. Oh well, its not like anything that had time taken from it was going to be remotely close to as good as that tirade was.

Here’s how I’m going to make this angle work for me. Feel free to try it yourself. Imagine this is all happening in early 2014, after Taker lost his streak to CM Punk at Mania 29. Bray Wyatt is coming off a couple classic matches with the Shield. The angle he was seemingly born to do when he arrived in WWE is finally coming to fruition. Coming full circle given his initial feud with Kane. The unstoppable cult leader and dark magician against the lord of darkness and death. Not a feud between a guy who has been useless for many months now and an old dude playing dress-up once a year

The Gong still rules though. No foolin’.

Glad to see two of the top three matches on the show are being set up with nifty video packages instead of something wacky like two guys actually facing off in the ring. Seems like a great way to set the table for your biggest show of the year.

Winner: Everyone who secretly enjoyed Royal Rumble 1994.

Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton/Seth Rollins

I know Big Show and Kane were just chewed out for being incompetent, but what is the point of a 2-on-1 match? Why not 6-on-1 with Noble, Mercury, Kane, Show, Rollins, Orton? A No-DQ match where all of them can be in the ring at once. I do not understand evil authority figures who feel compelled to always stack the deck with just a single Ace, instead of loading yourself a Royal Flush.

It’s hard to tell where the reactions are for Reigns at this point because he’s in the main event of a show that has killed this crowd all sorts of dead. There’s no cheering, no booing, no anything for Reigns.

There is however cheering for Orton’s middle fingers.

So by the precendent set in Copeland v. Anderson if Orton were to take the MitB briefcase it would be his right?

“One flipping second” is not exactly the sort of intense statement I look for when a man is in the deepest tremors of rage.

For a group that rarely can see 5 minutes ahead Creative put together a fun story arc tonight. From Orton telling Rollins what was going to happen to him, knowing the best way to lie to a person is to tell them the truth, to the coincidence of Show and Kane being told to leave, to Rollins banishing his security because he’s got his good pal Randy by his side. Heck, they made sure to never show HHH just to confirm that he wasn’t around to step in. Not a bad job there guys.

This crowd was deeply into Orton tonight. I think it is because he’s one of the few people on the show who is given the freedom to portray a character who doesn’t seem bound by the rules of the universe in which he resides. He’s a face who isn’t stupid. He can display multiple emotions in a single promo. He has an air of danger about him unlike anyone but Lesnar. It doesn’t work constantly, because a little Orton goes a long way as we’ve seen the last few years. But when he’s on and the angle is working he can draw in a crowd like almost no one else on the show.

And that’s our show. How did WWE do with the questions we had for them about tonight’s show?

1. There was lightning and there was an urn that smoked and turned into a rocking chair. My guess is Taker was at Cracker Barrel, felt bad that he couldn’t show up, and ordered a gift to be sent to Bray ASAP. But he did seemingly accept the match and the gong played so let’s go with it. Now just keep pretending it is 2014.

2. They did a good job for the most part. We know that Cena vs. Rusev is happening. We know the divas tag match is happening. We’re basically sure that Taker vs. Wyatt is happening. Orton beat the crap out of Rollins which would seem to guarantee that match happening. Outside of some minor fringe things like adding people to multi-man or multi-team matches it looks like we finally have the entire route to Mania mapped out.

3. Bless Paul Heyman, he really tried. The fact the main event audience was only really interested in Orton however doesn’t leave me thinking the Roman Empire is going to be in force in San Fran on the 29th.

And tonight’s awards go to…

Ugh: Sting’s voice – What the hell was up with that? It isn’t like you can’t find lots and lots of video of Sting talking. And it isn’t like they made the voice sound otherworldly or supernatural for a special effect. They just kind of made his voice sound deeper and like he was in a hurry. Hell, get another little kid voice like they used for his original Crow promo at the Clash with him and the bird. It took what could have been a solid promo summing up why the hell Sting was here and instead made it campy and odd. Honorable ugh to that horrible car crash of a segment with three matches in 8 minutes or so.

Honorable Mentions: Seth Rollins for taking one hell of a beating. Randy Orton for giving one hell of a beating. The Writing Team for actually setting up a nice episode long arc with a payoff at the end. Wizdow for spitting hot fire as only he can. Mark my words, other than if Rollins cashes in MitB, the loudest pop of the night will go to Sandow when he finally tosses Miz over the top rope in the ARMBAR.

MVP: Did it run long? Yep. Was it repetitive at times? Yep. Did Paul Heyman try to do the labor of 6 months of programming in one deranged promo? You damn right. He’s giving a feud between a guy who’s never there and a guy no one wants there everything he has to try and get it over. Every tiny trick of getting the crowd in that he’s learned in 30 years is being used right now. Nothing is being left on the table, no matter where it may lie on the kayfabe spectrum. Paul Heyman has a bucket, he’s on the Titanic, and he’s trying to bail water so hard that even the ocean cannot conquer him.

Well that’s all for this week. If you liked this please share it anywhere you can. Find me on Twitter @spiffie6123. I need friends. Help me.