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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Wrestlemania Week: Raw Emotion

I don't have a great deal of time today, so rather than go too deep into Wrestlemania stuff - I still want to talk to you about my favourite Wrestlemanias and my thoughts on this year's show yet - I thought I'd offer a few thoughts on Raw this week.

I was hugely impressed with some many facets of this week's Raw. From the build - they expressly told their audience that Rock and Taker would be on the show - to the execution, the show delivered in nearly every way. An extra positive to it will be if a buyrate comes in and Mania has eclipsed recent editions and perhaps jup back about that magic one million mark.

A lot about the Raw this week was about the timing of certain things. I watched Wales v England at the weekend, and I was surprised at how negative the reaction was to England's performance. I felt England were dominant, in control and played some nice football. However, most of their chances and exciting play came in the first half. The second half, I'll admit, was nowhere near as exciting as the first. I think if the halves had been reversed, and England had played their best stuff in the second half, people would have gone away thinking better of the performance.

A month or so ago, The Rock returned to WWE and reminded us all of how (go on, I'll say it) electrifying he is, and ignited a feud with John Cena. A week later, the well built Undertaker cabin segments came to a head with Taker's return and Triple H's surprise involvement. Their initial, silent face-off was captivating.

Both feuds, though, lost a bit of steam after that. HHH/Taker in particular was only kept alive by virtue of some wonderful video packages. However good those initial scenes were, there was a danger of Wrestlemania arriving without the fans recapturing that excitement level which naturally dwindled after the opening gambits.

This week, though, both feuds suddenly became current, interesting and relevant again. I personally can't wait to see what happens on Sunday.

A big return on a TV show often offers conflicting views on how you promote it. Do you keep it quiet and enhance the surprise, yet risk not adding extra viewers? Or do you plug that Superstar X will be around but lose that surprise factor in an attempt to add 0.1 to your rating?

Shawn Michaels appearing on Raw was a terrific moment, and the fact that the promise of Rock and Taker on the show had already done the work of bringing in the people made it all the easier. HBK, hall of fame or no hall of fame, is so massively respected by the WWE Universe that anything he is involved with instantly lends it more credibility. The fact that one of the big Mania matches happens to feature his best friend and his best opponent makes things all the more perfect.

When three men and a microphone can make a 10,000+ crowd go 'ooooh' several times in a promo, you know you are onto something. HBK's "what make you think you can do what I can't?" to Hunter was good. Taker's "ask him" in reference to Shawn hit the spot too. That crowd had forgotten they were at a pro wrestling show and had suspended their disbelief. That's when wrestling is at it's best.

I wasn't expecting The Rock to get physical before Wrestlemania. In fact even at Mania I was only expecting a Rock Bottom and a People's elbow. On Raw he got attacked, hit a comeback, nailed a fabulous DVD. I would say he hadn't lost a step if wasn't for him stumbling when nipping up. He even took an Attitude Adjustment from Cena. The beatdown of Miz might not have helped him too much, but it isn't like Miz has been built as a phenomenal wrestler. He's an opportunist and an annoying figure on the mic, and can easily get his heat back. Being involved with Rock for a few months won't do him any harm at all.

Rock's physical work, especially the last bit, with Cena attacking him, means that now speculation for his involvement on Mania centres on a different purview entirely. I, like many others, had it down that Rock would find his way into this match and find an excuse to attack Miz, either pre- or post-bell, and symbolically pass the torch to Cena. Now though, I'd see this as a letdown. Rock needs to look strong in reacting to Cena.

In another Blog entry later in the week I'll discuss what I think might go down in the matches in Mania as a whole, but just quickly I think there is a possibility that Rock promises, during the night, to not get involved at all in the match. He lives up to his word, save for maybe getting rid of Alex Riley forcibly, and after Cena reclaims his belt, The Rock attacks him.

On Raw, you could go with one of two things, depending on how involved Rock wants to get. He either challenges Cena for the title (highly unlikely, still, though, I feel) or offers Cena his hand in respect. The latter incident could either mean a handshake to try and get Cena over with Rock fans, or Cena viciously attacks Rock and turns properly heel. It would make a fantastic post-Mania, first Raw angle.

I liked a lot of the rest of this week's Raw, too. I particularly liked the Punk v Orton action, with Punk getting a great deal of heat back and creating a story for their match. Really, really solid and logical booking creating a situation where you want to see a match.

The Mania line-up is an interesting one. Almost every contest has a chance to be good to very good. It's how much they live up, and how many potentially good ones make it to the great level.

But that is all for another day...............

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