By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Hulk Hogan Addressed the WWE Universe
Hulkamania is running wild! As someone who started watching wrestling in April 2008 and never got to hear "Real American" live in WWE, He received a great reaction from the live crowd and even appeared to be in better physical shape as well (not to say I want to see him actively compete or anything along those lines). His promo was short, sweet and established his host of WrestleMania role well. I don't want to get too much into this here, but he belongs in WWE. He did nothing of note in TNA and hardly helped them, not to mention he had to be a part of WrestleMania somehow. Welcome home, Hulk!
Alberto Del Rio def. Batista
The match was slightly better than it was at Elimination Chamber, but still sloppy. Batista gets gassed too easily, which made for a few botches. I was surprised to see Batista lose his first match back to Del Rio, and it's not like he even gained anything from it since the focus wasn't on his win at all. I was also surprised that the commentators as well as Randy Orton actually acknowledged the boos Batista has been receiving as of late. I surely hope that is a sign he is turning heel sooner rather than later. If he is still a face come WrestleMania, he will be eaten alive.
Intercontinental Champion Big E def. Cesaro by Disqualification (Non-title)
There were some several cool spots throughout the bout and both competitors had impressive outings. I believe this was their first singles encounter to date and they showed they can work well together. I'm fine with the dirty finish since it protects both Big E and Cesaro and teases a potential feud between Cesaro and Swagger in the near future. Perhaps a Triple Threat match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 30?
John Cena Addressed The Wyatt Family
I have been loving all this talk of "change" in WWE by Cena, but I surely hope it's for real this time. They've talked about it in the past, but never followed through with it, so let's hope change is indeed in the air going into 'Mania. That might mean Bray Wyatt beats Cena at the event, but seeing is believing, I suppose. Cena cut a good, intense promo and The Wyatt Family's attack on him was well done. Wyatt could really benefit from working with Cena on the grand stage.
Sheamus def. Christian
Similar to their SmackDown match from last week, Christian and Sheamus put forth an excellent effort and had a enjoyable matchup. The live crowd was dead at various points, but they came alive toward the end and when Sheamus was on offense. The Brogue Kick in mid-air was a nice touch and a fitting finish. Christian has been booked in awesome fashion since turning heel last week, even if his win-loss record doesn't show it. I really hope this is the year he gets a singles match at WrestleMania, especially since he will more than likely be retiring later this year.
Daniel Bryan def. Kane
Despite not wrestling as often as he used to, Kane can still go in the ring and Bryan carried him to a solid match. It was given good time and kept a consistent pace throughout. The feud has been brewing for weeks so fans in attendance actually had an incentive to care, so I appreciated the smart booking. Bryan's win was logical but it felt like a big moment considering Kane has been a thorn in his side for a while now. I like promos that actually have some truth to them, and his post-match promo had just that. Bryan vs. Triple H is basically guaranteed for 'Mania at this point, but we will see how it affects the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match if at all.
Emma def. Summer Rae
I have complaining for weeks about how Emma should be wrestling on WWE TV instead of being involved in comedic nonsense, so I was glad they finally accomplished that here. These ladies actually had a very good match last week on NXT, but now that Emma is on the main roster, fans can't expect her to have long matches anymore. Even still, they made the most out of the time they were allotted and it was a nice win for Emma. Bonus points to Michael Cole for plugging NXT: Arrival on Thursday on the WWE Network as well.
The Usos def. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws (Non-title)
I hate to sound like a broken record, but why are The New Age Outlaws still doing their babyface entrance shtick as heels? Sure, it's fun for those in attendance, but because The Usos interrupted it, they got booed! Is that really the reception WWE was hoping their top face team would receive? The match lasted no more than a few seconds so it was a quick and easy way of giving The Usos another tag team title match (which will all knew was coming anyway), hopefully at WrestleMania.
Bray Wyatt def. Roman Reigns by Disqualification
Unlike the six-man tag team match from Elimination Chamber, the heel vs. heel dynamic didn't work as well this time around. However, both Bray and Reigns tried to make it a good match that mostly consisted of brawling and rest holds. Obviously, Reigns is on the verge of a big babyface turn, so one would think he'd receive a bigger reaction from those in attendance. Either way, the interference from the other members of The Shield and The Wyatt Family protected both competitors and kept the feud alive.
Undertaker Returned to Confront Brock Lesnar
Prior to this segment, I was curious why Lesnar hadn't done anything to get involved in the title picture going into WrestleMania, but at least that was explained here. He's under contract for at least another year, so there's always time for him to go after the strap later this year. As soon as Paul Heyman said Lesnar wanted to make history at 'Mania, it was pretty predictable Undertaker would return to confront them, but that didn't take away from the moment at all. 'Taker, who seems to be donning a Ministry-like look now, received a great reaction upon entering and his chokeslam to Lesnar through the table was a pleasant surprise since almost everyone expected Taker to be the one to take the beating.
A lot of people (myself included) had high expectations for this show given how much was rumored and advertised in advance, and I would certainly say it lived up to the standards I set for it. It may not have been the most epic episode in the history of Raw, but it had strong segments opening and closing the night along with a solid middle to keep it all together. The WWE Network was also heavily hyped throughout the show and many matches were teased for WrestleMania 30, so it's good to see they aren't waiting until the last possible second to start building toward it this year. The returns of Hulk Hogan and Undertaker made for the most memorable moments coming out of this show, so those would obviously be recommended to anyone who missed out on watching it live.