I was going to write a separate Blog about Once In A Lifetime: Rock vs Cena, but I really don't think there was enough content on the show to warrant a full write up. Yes, there was a lot there, but much of it was stuff we already know, whether a long time wrestling fan who has watched since well before Rocky debuted, to those who just recently started watching through this past year and is just sucking in all WWE has fed the fans about these two guys in this one time only match.
But I will say a few things jumped out at me that I want to mention. First off is that right from the start of this 'documentary' they felt it important to press upon us that both of these men are still in their prime. There's only five years between these guys and Rocky isn't even forty – though he will be in May. Heck, Sting just turned fifty-three and is no where near an embarrassment in the ring (cough Hogan cough cough Flair cough). I really don't think the WWE had to make such a deal about them both being in their prime.
I really enjoyed the pictures and videos of both Rocky and Cena from when they were young. They were both so silly, but who they grew into was so obvious in those videos. The way that Rock dove into his Samoan upbringing and the way they showed all the work Cena does with children really brought humanity to the men who sometimes we forget are more than just the characters we see on the TV screen each week. I think they believe that showing us their humanity will further interest us in their WrestleMania match. As I have been saying more and more, TPTB in the WWE really know what they're doing to set up for the biggest bang for their buck. That they had the final RAW before WrestleMania in the same location that Rocky and Cena set up for this match. It might have worked better if they hadn't piped in crowd reaction, but that was also a calculated risk that I doubt most fans even noticed. All in all I think this hour show before RAW was beautifully executed for the effect they were after.
Orton & Sheamus vs Kane & D-Bry w/ AJ > A-
I give WWE huge props for starting RAW with something other than an In Ring Segment. They past weeks almost every show has started with talking or recapping of some sort, it felt fresher and different that they threw us right into a tag match with four huge stars who will be in big matches at WrestleMania. All four of them worked the ring and their characters in this match and it could only have pushed people to be more interested in seeing them face off at WrestleMania. Even AJ with her adoring eyes and stepping into the match to protect her man, she set up for major involvement this Sunday. Personally I see AJ costing D-Bry the Title, but I'll get to that in my Predicts
Winners – Kane & D-Bry
Video > C
I'm going to wrap up all of the Cena/Rocky videos right here. I can't say they really added much to this RAW as the WWE spent a whole hour before RAW pushing them and their match. While I'm sure a lot of people missed the show exclusively about them, but we knew about it and all they've done this year to each other. I know the WWE wanted to pound them into our heads and our hearts, but for me it was overkill and took away from the show rather than adding to it.
Santino w/ Long & Horney vs Otunga w/ Laurinaitis & Vickie > B-
While they wanted to further set up for this tag match and be silly, they only succeeded in further making Otunga look like an idiot. Yes, I know that the flagpole to the head was planned, but he's just so horrible that I can barely stand the sight of him. I do like that they have added Horney and Vickie to this match as flag bearers and mascots as that will set up for more interest in the match, plus more WrestleMania bonuses for more people. This is something I'm impressed that WWE does; that they make sure as many wrestlers get seen on WrestleMania as is possible so they can say they were there and so they get the bonus.
I also have to admit that I loved seeing Long and Santino trip Laurinaitis. I know seeing Team Teddy getting the upper hand over Team Johnny could very well mean that Team Johnny will be coming out on top over Team Teddy, but I'm going to keep my toes crossed that we won't be stuck with Laurinaitis for too too long. Heck, maybe Trip will even be able to force Laurinaitis out of his seat at the Head of Talent Relations! Oh, I also want to say that I hope now that Miz is in a match he won't screw with Rocky and Cena. While I'd love to see a dirty ending between Cena and Rocky so they have to continue the feud through SummerSlam, they have pushed their match so hard as a once in a lifetime that the would piss off too many buyers if they screw with the match in any way.
One last thing. I could not believe that Laurinaitis told Miz that he was going to be on Team Teddy, then fixed it to be Team Johnny. Was that a Feudian slip? What a blunder!
Winner – Santino
Video > C
Yes, we know all this stuff about Taker, Trip and HBK. I know this is the go home to WrestleMania, but if they're going to be pushing this match, why not have the three guys involved actually on the show. I was under the impression they were going to be there, but they showed this video instead? Not happy about this, no matter how well produced the video was.
Eve w/ Beth vs Kelly > F
Why are we being forced to watch this schlock? I met Finlay this past weekend and thanked him for the work he did with the Divas back in the day. He lit up with a great smile and a sparkle in his eyes. He stated that he doesn't watch the Divas. I told him he wasn't missing anything. He replied that that's what he'd heard and shook his head. In the earlier show about Rocky and Cena, Cena was shown working with some of the Divas. While he's great at bringing about emotion, I'm not sure he should be the one working with the Divas for their moves. Then again, I guess it's good that he's working with them, that someone is caring.
Winner > Kelly
Christian vs Punk > A-
I know a lot of people won't be happy with my grade. In reading the RAW Results comments I noticed a number of people thought Punk looked fake and didn't play the role well, other were pissed that Christian took such an attack at the hands of Punk. While I understand why people love Christian, I don't think the segment was bad at all. Christian is not ready to be in the ring and they needed to find a way to get him out of Team Johnny. Actually, I really liked the swerve that Christian had joined the team, then had to leave. They set up for what could be a jaw dropping feud between Punk and Christian at a later date.
Jericho was on the money in this segment, and I think Punk's anger and heart came through on his face when he posed after the match. I am really looking forward to Punk facing Jericho at WrestleMania. Rather than taking away from Punk for what he did in this segment, maybe we should be looking at this segment in that Christian is so secure in himself that he had no trouble taking these bumps to help further Punk's match and WrestleMania as a whole as he is not yet fit to work the show himself.
Brodus Clay vs Curt Hawkins > C+
Okay, I like the direction they're taking Clay, but I want them to take it to the next level. I understand they couldn't do it in this match as we're right at WrestleMania, but it's time for them to run with it within a few weeks after the PPV. I hope they have something interesting planned for him and soon, though I am glad he's not going to be in the big tag match at WrestleMania.
Winner – Clay
Big Show vs Primo w/ Epico & Rosa > B-
Normally Big Show is good at making the smaller guys look viable in the ring with him, even Rey doesn't look too terribly off, even though Rey can be in the ring with guys much smaller than Big Show and look like a child due to his size. Big Show and Primo didn't look at all viable or realistic. It just didn't work. What did work and brought this grade up from a D was Cody's post match invective. That man takes words that were written for him and made them his own. It had the feel of the wrestlers who obviously have a hand in what they're scripted to say. Jericho, Punk, Trip, etc., they obviously have a huge hand in their promos and this had that feel, and I think that's why it worked so well.
Winner – Big Show
Video > B+
I am really looking forward to Bloom's return and I think they're doing a wonderfully creative job with these Lord Tensai promos. Hopefully Bloom will get another and more successful run in the E.
Backstage Segment > C
While the Bellas didn't bother me, I want to slap Eve for the bad image she's putting out as a woman. I also want to slap Ryder for the spineless git he's being. So I guess they're doing their jobs, but the characters are such clichés that I want to scream. Though I have to say it's nice to see the twins being different people. That's one thing that's always bothered me about the Bellas, they are two people and should come across that way. That they've each picked a team is kind of cool.
Backstage Segment > A-
I really like the emotion we're getting from Punk. It's so nice to see some edge from some of the wrestlers. Hopefully it won't go away after WrestleMania. I'm all for this feud to continue after the PPV, as long as they change things up, not always have Jericho attacking Punk's family. I want to see Punk get angry, more vicious.
Henry w/ Laurinaitis vs Khali w/ Long > D+
I have to say it was nice to see Khali getting man handled the way he was. Even better was the speed at which this was over. But then when when Henry was faced with his former manager, things actually got interesting. Actually, I had quite a laugh when I saw Team Johnny coming to the ring. What the heck did Long do to his shirt? He looked like a reject from the bWo! Also, Drew was right up to date with what the team was supposed to do, even though he just was added to the team. Of course the faces couldn't get their acts together and get out there all together, but it gave Kofi a great leaping point!
Actually, while it made some sense to have Booker on announce for the go home RAW, it made complete sense when he made his way to the ring. I really like that Booker has been added to Team Teddy. Stacy was all smiles watching Booker in the ring. He's still in awe at how great Booker is when he cares about the promotion he's in. He didn't believe me while watching Booker in TNA, but since Booker showed up in the Royal Rumble Match he's finally believed me that Booker can have energy, emotion and make the fans care about him. I know some won't be thrilled that he's in this match, but I am. For those who don't agree with me, it's better than having Cole in this match!
Winner – Henry
In Ring Segment > A
This is where I'm not going to win with most people. I thought both Cena and Rocky were on the money in this segment. They blew it out of the water for the go home to WrestleMania, as they needed to. Personally, I wanted to see a couple blows thrown between them, just to wet our whistle, really give us a taste for WrestleMania, but they would have had to set up a way to stop them, not just go off the air. So I understand why they didn't do that.
I have so much more to say about WrestleMania, but I will say most of it in my WrestleMania Predicts. The one thing that did annoy me about this episode of RAW was that I wish they hadn't promised things they didn't keep. Where were Taker, Trip and HBK?