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Richard's Notes From Raw In D.C. - Ranking The Shield's Popularity, Cena's Back, Daniel Bryan Saves The Main Event

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Below are my complete notes from the go-home to Wrestlemania 30 episode of Monday Night Raw from Washington, D.C.:

The Undertaker opened this week's show with the gong hitting immediately at the show open. He cut a promo about the streak and how it will never be broken. Undertaker said there are three sure things to believe in - death, taxes and the streak. Finally, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar came out to Lesnar's music. Heyman started on the mic and it ended in Lesnar delivering the F5 to Undertaker. This is the first time Lesnar has been made to look like a legitimate threat to end the streak and it was imperative that WWE create doubt about this match's outcome. The segment was a good way to open the show and well done, however, there is actually very little doubt as Undertaker is nearly an 80% favorite to go over and remain unbeaten.

Alberto Del Rio beat WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E after hitting a standing side kick, ironically enough in a non-title match. The bout was done to make Del Rio look like a legitimate threat to win the 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania. I guess he's out of the doghouse too, only one week after concussing Christian. It's hard to explain why WWE doesn't utilize their titles because that clean loss for Big E made no sense.

Bray Wyatt did a "creepy" promo on the big screen with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper behind him. He said the whole world will see John Cena as he sees him… a monster. The story is Bray is in John's head heading into their match at Wrestlemania. Wyatt is very strong on the mic and the most interesting aspect headed into the pay-per-view for me will be how Wyatt vs. Cena is booked. Currently, Wyatt is a near 60% favorite to go over.

Summer Rae surprised Natalya by pinning her in a match that picked up on their feud from Total Divas. The work was good, it was just very short (to the tune of less than 3 minutes). Vickie Guerrero was on commentary and stated the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational at Wrestlemania will be a one fall to the finish match. That sounds like a disaster with all Divas in the ring.

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon had the hour two lead-in. They accused Daniel Bryan of being a fad and talked about the hype surrounding Fandango after last year's Wrestlemania. Hunter talked about marrying well but how it was his dominance in the ring that brought him to where he is today. He said it didn't matter what flavor of the week was thrown his way. Stephanie said Bryan is not here tonight. They rolled a video of Hunter's in-ring dominance and showed workers such as Scott Steiner and Kurt Angle as "flavors of the week."

Batista interrupted wearing a throwback Patrick Ewing Georgetown jersey. He said he wasn't in the video because Hunter has never beaten him. Hunter acknowledged the jersey and finally WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton came out and talked about Wrestlemania. Triple H made the main event between Batista and Randy Orton a no disqualification match.

The problem when Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton are in the ring together is that no one cares about the trio facing off. It's three heels and even with Batista sporting the Ewing throwback, it's just uneven. Again, again and again I've said the only way WWE salvages the title match at Wrestlemania is by including Daniel Bryan. What's even more problematic is Bryan wasn't featured in this segment and was off TV last week. I'm sure the thinking is "less is more" but he needs to be in on this. Very anticlimactic given the positioning of this on the Wrestlemania lineup.

The Usos & Los Matadores beat The Real Americans & RybAxel off a Los Matadores switch in 14 minutes. This was a good match for the positioning on the card. No one had televised entrances and there was an awkward moment where it went to commercial. Jack Swagger knocked one of the Usos off the apron and everyone just stopped. The show then cut to commercial and came back with Cesaro in the ring working. The crowd wasn't that into it but this wasn't bad in terms of energy. The bout was used to promote the Tag Team Championship match on the Wrestlemania 30 Pre-Show on Sunday.

Goldust & Cody Rhodes beat Fandango & Damien Sandow in a forgettable undercard match. More build for the 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal that saw The Rhodes Brothers get the win when Goldust hit the Final Cut on on Sandow. On commentary, JBL told Michael Cole he knew nothing about the medical profession because he did nothing when Jerry Lawler was dying on live television, alluding to King's heart attack in 2012.

WWE shifted to promote The Shield vs. The New Age Outlaws & Kane at Wrestlemania by telling the story of The Shield's babyface turn. Footage of the turn on Kane was shown followed by a backstage promo of the trio on the big screen. Roman Reigns proclaimed The Shield was not to be messed with as they put their fists in as a sign of solidarity.

Bray Wyatt beat R-Truth after hitting Sister Abigail in a glorified squash match. They're just building Bray up as you would expect heading into his match against John Cena at Wrestlemania XXX. Adter the bout, The Wyatt Family assisted Bray in taking out Xavier Woods, who accompanied Truth to the ring. Did anyone else notice that JBL said R-Truth is a "tough young superstar." He's 42-years-old.

John Cena surprised the Wyatts in the ring, wearing the coveralls that Daniel Bryan wore in his brief time as a member of the faction and sheep's mask on. Cena stood tall as The Wyatt Family retreated in a good followup from last week.

Naomi pinned WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee in a non-title Lumberjills match. The headline-grabber here was AJ Lee sporting an engagement ring on her left hand. The story is AJ Lee is very unlikely to retain at Wrestlemania. Vickie Guerrero clapped with approval at the top of the ramp after Naomi's victory.

John Cena, changed into his merchandise, told Renee Young in a backstage interview that he's going to stuff his foot up Bray Wyatt's ass. The commentators played up the fact John Cena was back and going to let his actions speak at Wrestlemania. They turned it over to the expert panel, Alex Riley and Booker T picked Cena as the favorite but Bad News Barrett said it's 3-on-1 and Cena loses.

Roman Reigns won a WWE App vote to face Kane by a landslide. The results were Reigns 80% to 11% for Seth Rollins and 9% for Dean Ambrose. Reigns hit the ring alone through the crowd as the show went to commercial.

Kane vs. Roman Reigns ended in no contest after the rest of The Shield joined Reigns in the ring and attacked Kane. The New Age Outlaws came to ringside first, which called out The Shield. Post-match, all six men worked with the Outlaws saving Kane from the triple powerbomb.

"Rowdy" Poddy Piper hosted a Wrestlemania edition of Piper's Pit. The Miz came out and said unlike Andre the Giant and Piper himself, he actually won the Wrestlemania main event. He said Miz TV was better than Piper's Pit, which drew out Sheamus and then Titus O'Neil. Dolph Ziggler came out and said he's going to etch his name in Wrestlemania history. Piper had enough but this caused things to break down and a brawl to ensue. The locker room cleared and it looked like the go-home to Royal Rumble episode of Raw. Piper watched from the apron as everyone beat down on one another. Rey Mysterio made his return, getting a separate entrance from the job squad. Big Show came out next to his music, clearing the ring. When it was down to Show and Mysterio, he tossed Mysterio to the other workers on the outside. Piper raised his hand in victory, as WWE is clearly playing up Show as the favorite to win the inaugural 30-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Batista in a non-title disqualification match ended in contest with The Authority on commentary. Daniel Bryan made a surprise return, attacking Triple H at the announcer's table. Batista and Orton worked hard but the crowd wasn't into the match, with audible chants of 'boring.' Orton cursed when he was thrown out of the ring and audio was cut off. Orton took Bryan off Hunter and threw him in the ring. This resulted in Batista spearing Orton. Bryan then gave Batista a running knee and hit Hunter with a suicide dive. An all out brawl between Triple H and Bryan ensued on the outside, with the crowd fully behind him. The show went off the air with Daniel Bryan standing tall and The Authority retreating down the ramp.

All and all this was what we've seen in the build to Wrestlemania 30. The crowd is into Daniel Bryan but they couldn't care less about Randy Orton vs. Batista. WWE has been unable to atone for their booking mistake at Royal Rumble and it's followed them throughout the show on Sunday. This wasn't a bad show but it was lacking until Bryan made his surprise return. There was just no energy for the main event and that has to be concerning less than 6 days out.

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