Below are my notes from this week's episode of Monday Night Raw at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas:
WWE didn't announce specific attendance but noted there were just under 15,000 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Triple H opened the show and vowed to end the Yes Movement. He blamed the fans. Batista came out and questioned Hunter for giving Daniel Bryan the opportunity to be in his Wrestlemania XXX match. He earned his title shot by winning the Royal Rumble and didn't come back for a triple threat. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton came out and told Batista the reason people cheer Bryan is because they don't believe in him. An argument ensued and Hunter walked out. He said he's sick of little troll faced gremlins like Daniel Bryan and the fans cheering for him. He's sick of Hollywood movie stars coming back telling him what's right for the business, thinking they know more than he does. Hunter told Orton he can't win a match without him holding his hand. Enraged, Hunter said there's going to be a triple threat match at Wrestelmania. Daniel Bryan isn't going to be in it because it's going to be Batista and Randy Orton and him.
After Hunter made the announcement, Orton hit Batista with the RKO and did the Orton pose.
The added stipulation adds intrigue to the top storyline headed into Wrestlemania. The biggest knock on the stipulation when it was made last week was that it was "beyond obvious" that Bryan was going over. Now, that's not as obvious. Critics will say this is Hunter's kayfabe and legitimate way of burying Bryan, however, I still think Bryan is the favorite. If Bryan doesn't get in the title match at Wrestlemania, there's going to be a riot. However, I like the stipulation because it adds doubt, which increases intrigue.
I also want to note Hunter and Daniel Bryan have had the highest quarter ratings for their build, which makes it clear it's this year's top Wrestlemania angle, which proceeds The Rock vs. John Cena over the past two years.
Back from commercial, Batista told Renee Young backstage that coming back was a big mistake. One could certainly look at how Batista's return has gone and draw legitimately parallels, however. he's actually said to be quite happy back with WWE.
The Real Americans upset WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos when Cesaro caught one with an uppercut and followed with the Neutralizer at 12:22. A high-paced bout with a lot of energy, that told the story Zeb Colter had his guys back on the same page. JBL was really selling Cesaro and Swagger as heels, as they've essentially been turned by the babyface booking of Cesaro to begin the year. The Usos were clear babyfaces in this one.
Continuing from Smackdown, Kane told The Shield things got out of hand on Friday night in a backstage segment. He asked if he can count on them. Seth Rollins affirmed, letting Kane know they are united. Kane said they'll do the right thing or find out how replaceable they are.
Sheamus beat Titus O'Neil in 4:07. This was a St. Patrick's Day gimmick with Hornswoggle coming out first, followed by O'Neil having a red goatee and leprechaun hat on. When O'Neil, as the heel, beat up on Hornswoggle, Sheamus used the little guy to attack Titus and later hit the Brogue Kick for the win. Christian was on commentary, continuing his undercard program with Sheamus. He attacked Sheamus afterwards, hitting the Kill Switch. Both are in the 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. I'll note the over the top Bad News Barrett, on his platform, delivered the bad news about St. Patrick's Day holiday. The day people will use to get inebriated and do shameful things they won't remember the next day. Only to regret them for the rest of their lives.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Manganiello are coming to Raw next week to promote Sabotage. For those that didn't see this, Arnold did the Yes chant! Scooby-Doo is also coming with The Mystery Machine and there's a mystery to be solved.
John Cena's promo, titled #CenasLegacy, began with him likening his relationship to the WWE fan base to an old married couple. They don't always get along but he always gives his best. He said he's afraid of Bray Wyatt because he'll stop at nothing to destroy the legacy he's worked for. Wrestlemania for him is not about fighting Bray Wyatt but every thing he's worked for and every man, woman or child that's believed a word he's ever said. Cena said at Wrestlemania - he will fight for his legacy.
Bray Wyatt gave his rebuttal on the big screen. The world gave him his battle scars because it was his birth right to have them. He had Cena merchandise on and said he could be just like him and he could go home to his plastic girlfriend and his castle. Bu he's right about one thing. Wyatt is different than anyone Cena has ever faced because he doesn't care if he leaves Wrestlemania or even dies, as long as the word sees him as the way he does.
The #CenasLegacy segment was well done by both John and Bray. Cena was direct and the message about his legacy over. Bray Wyatt's rebuttal was excellent and as I wrote on social media, he killed it." I don't know how long Bray can keep this going but there's more intrigue and mystique in his gimmick than any gimmick in the past 10 years.
There were issues on commentary during Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton. Jerry Lawler asked JBL if he felt the No DQ stipulation favored Orton. JBL didn't answer, causing him to ask again. JBL said he was going to get to see the match he's always wanted to see, Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania and Cole said he was getting ahead of himself. JBL questioned him what he meant and Cole ran through the Wrestlemania stipulation. Lawler corrected and Cole apologized. A real debacle for the trio.
Daniel Bryan beat WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton in 14:36 when Batista speared Orton. This was a good way to build to the new stipulation of Bryan's possible insertion in the title match at Wrestlemania but if there's one match they've overkilled, it's this one. As good as Bryan is and Randy can be, we've seen about everything they have to offer. The crowd was still into the bout, which speaks volumes about their talent, but I'll argue they've done this match too many times in too short of a time period.
Paul Heyman introduced a video package that showed Undertaker getting older at Wrestlemania each year. He proclaimed the streak would rest in peace and got good heat from the crowd.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon told Triple H that Daniel Bryan spit in the eye of the McMahon family legacy last week. She doesn't understand why Hunter wants to go to the ring to talk to him. She doesn't understand what it means to go out and talk to him man to man. Is he even thinking at all tonight? The story is Hunter is distracted by Bryan but he believes he's thinking real clear. The segment ended up Stephanie telling him that he better [take care of it].
Goldust beat Fandango in 5:11. This was interesting as Fandango botched a clothesline and busted Goldy open, which was the equivalent of declaring war as Goldust worked stiff the rest of the match. Summer Rae was involved but Cody Rhodes pulled her off the apron and the crowd started chanting "Cody." Goldust wasn't happy afterwards and as I reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Goldust had to have minor medical attention backstage.
In the #CorporateKane segment, Kane cut a promo about last week's Occupy Raw segment with Daniel Bryan. He blamed Jerry Lawler for "using his hometown connections," allowing for it to happen. Kane called the movement dangerous, inappropriate and said it violated numerous safety codes. He invited Lawler to the ring but he wouldn't come. Kane ordered The Shield for help and Dean Ambrose instructed that he go to the ring. Jerry got in the ring with Kane and The Shield and Seth Rollins told him he's got a good feeling that Daniel Bryan isn't going to save him because The Shield always does what's best for business. This is when they turned on Kane and caused further confusion about whether they are breaking up or staying together as babyfaces. This is because of differing opinions between Vince McMahon and Triple H.
Naomi and Cameron beat WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee & Tamina when Naomi hit the Split-legged moonsault off the top rope on AJ Lee. This was her first match since getting injured on the February 3rd episode. Naomi had an eye patch on but it's believed it was there for kayfabe purposes. The Bella Twins were on commentary to promote Total Divas and their appearance on this week's episode of Psych. It was good to see Naomi back and even better to see a potential restart on her program with AJ Lee. After the match, dissension was teased between AJ and Tamina.
WWE announced Mr. T for the Hall of Fame, which was no surprise, considering they announced it via a press release on Monday afternoon.
Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Big E and Mark Henry beat Damien Sandow, Alberto Del Rio, Ryback and Curtis Axel when Show chokeslammed Sandow and pinned him in 9:03. This was done to promote the 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and was as forgettable as I fear the match it was promoting will be. Big Show is clearly the favorite and booked as such in this one. WWE continues to be indecisive with Ziggler, Big E doesn't have any real direction, Henry has bounced around struggling with injuries, nothing came of Sandow's push, Del Rio's back in the doghouse and RybAxel couldn't do it on their own.
Bray Wyatt beat Kofi Kingston in 2:55 to keep him strong as possible for John Cena at Wrestlemania XXX. Kofi is relegated to an enhancement talent without a Wrestlemania storyline.
The final segment was Triple H and Daniel Bryan, who as we noted, have had the highest rated segments in the build to Wrestlemania XXX. Hunter told Bryan everything had been building to this and none of it was personal. He wasn't going to debate with Bryan what was right and what was wrong. Hunter talked about the burden he carries each day when making decisions as to what is best for the company. Triple H said last week he crossed a line you don't come back from but he's willing to let it be water under the bridge. He said he had no choice but to shutdown the Yes Movement and if that meant putting an end to Daniel Bryan, then know apologizes. That's what he has to do because that's what is best for business. As a man he just wanted to look Bryan in the eye and say, no hard feelings may the best man win. Hunter extended his hand and Bryan refused to shake it. Triple H said that was cool and if he was him, he'd do the exact same thing. Probably a lot worse.
As the crowd chanted Daniel Bryan, Hunter said the reason they shout that is because they respect him. He said they have seen you walk through a mountain of crap that I have dunked on you, when anybody else, would have folded a long time ago and took their ball and gone home, not him. This was a clear dig at CM Punk that started the chants up. Hunter told Bryan he has earned his respect. This resulted in Stephanie McMahon coming out and saying what Bryan did last week was not only disrespectful but it was illegal. She said she is formally pressing charges because he spit in the face of her family and will suffer the consequences. She ordered police to go to the ring and arrest him.
Stephanie and Hunter argued, with Stephanie "irate" for Triple H saying he respects Daniel Bryan. Stephanie said this is her business, as Triple H said it was "our business." The officers cuffed Bryan in the ring. Triple H told them to get off him because they're not even real cops and he's looking forward to doing this himself. Hunter attacked Bryan while he was handcuffed in the ring. A lengthy beatdown ensued with Stephanie McMahon telling Hunter to make Bryan pay. He held Bryan's head so Stephanie could slap him. He told her she hit like a girl and she continued to assault him. The assault continued in the ring and finally the show went off the air with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the ring. He said our ring, our house and our show. There is no Yes Movement.
The final segment was well done and was a nice followup from the Occupy Raw movement. Triple H got one back after Bryan won a round last week. I think most fans will be satisfied at the additional stipulation in their Wrestlemania match, which is certain to increase intrigue.
Undertaker didn't appear live as advertised, however, he did make an off-air appearance and will be on this week's episode of WWE Main Event.