WrestleMania 31 Review

Few things of importance happen on a pre-show, but this year’s WrestleMania gives us two matches. The only important non-match thing to happen, though, sees Rusev and Lana backstage, with Lana saying she’ll never show compassion again, and Rusev saying he’ll crush Cena and kill America. So, yeah. That’s character building on the pre-show.

WWE Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)

Jey Uso is legitimately hurt, so Cesaro “hurts” him right near the start of the match so that he doesn’t have to actually compete in the match. Only two men are in the ring at one time in this match, in case you forgot the rules.

This is a fast-paced match whose goal is to get the crowd into the action and provide us with energy. It has a bunch of fun spots, a great pace, some highlights for each team, and performs the function it was intended to do.

It does get confusing for a lot of the match, as it becomes tough to figure out who’s legal when everyone is in the ring at once. El Torito and Naomi both get involved at one point, but there are no disqualifications since it’s a fatal four-way match. We basically just go from big spot to another big spot; whoever’s actually legal doesn’t matter.

The finish comes when everyone is down, Jimmy Uso goes for a splash, Cesaro tags himself in without Jimmy knowing, and after the splash is hit, Cesaro throws Jimmy out of the ring and picks up the win. It’s a mess of a match, but it’s pretty fun.

Match Rating: ***

André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Curtis Axel is first, because everyone teams up to take him out. Basically everyone who isn’t in a match already is in this match. Bo Dallas is even in it, and we haven’t seen him for months. It’s too crowded to even tell what’s happening at the start.

I don’t know what you want from me here. It’s a battle royal. They’re all basically the same. Big Show’s eliminations of The New Day are fun. Our final three are Big Show, The Miz, and Damien Sandow. Miz wants to team up with Sandow, but Sandow doesn’t want to. Sandow eventually eliminates The Miz. Big Show decides not to take the opportunities he had to eliminate Sandow, which is stupid, but whatever.

It’s after Ryback gets eliminated that we think Sandow’s going to win. But, while he gives it his all, he doesn’t succeed. Big Show eliminates him and wins the battle royal.

Match Rating: ***

The actual show kicks off with “America the Beautiful,” sung by the guy who sung “Wake Me Up” and probably other songs, too, but I don’t know any of them.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Stardust vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose vs. R-Truth vs. Bad News Barrett

This match opens with seemingly everyone getting to do a high-flying spot. That allows us to take everyone out so that we can get to more one-on-one action. Well, the type of one-on-one action that you get from matches like this. Two people do something, one of them gets knocked down, and then someone else takes their place.

Stardust brings his own, sparkly ladder which provides a funny couple of spots. From there, lots of ladder stuff happens. It’s very exciting, as we expected it to be. Ambrose probably took the sickest bump. Our finish sees Bryan and Ziggler both climbing the ladder, no-selling headbutts to one another — a dumb spot, in all honesty — before Ziggler eventually falls of and Bryan wins. It was a pretty strong match, and a very exciting one with which to open the show.

Match Rating: ****

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

Orton looked like he wanted to end it early, but J&J Security interfered. He then hit middle-rope DDT, but from the apron, on them. Then we get to see Orton and Rollins wrestle a match without distractions, at least for a while. Rollins gets to pull off high-flying moves that we rarely get to see from him, while Orton plays the smart veteran. We tease a punt at one point, but J&J Security stops it. Finishers are kicked out of, a phoenix splash is missed, and it’s just solid wrestling. Our finish sees Rollins go for a curb stomp, get sent into the air, and hit with an RKO, in what was a really cool spot.

Match Rating: ***1/2

Sting vs. Triple H

Sting gets this mildly racist Asian-style entrance, while Triple H gets a Terminator-themed one. We also find out that this is a no-disqualification match, which we previously didn’t know, I don’t think.

The fast pace with which the PPV was operating ends with this match. That isn’t to say that it’s bad; it’s just to describe it. Sting and Triple H wrestle a slower match than what we previously saw. It’s not that these two men can’t still go, but they decided to do lots of rest holds, lots of grappling, and not a lot of big spots. And then things get weird.

Sting gets Triple H into the Scorpion Death Lock. Then DX’s music hits, and the crotch chops Triple H did earlier make sense. Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, and X-Pac all come down. Sting fights them off once, but a second distraction allows for a Pedigree, which Sting manages to kick out of.

Triple H goes to get a sledgehammer, but then NWO comes out. Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall come down and beat up NWO. Sting hits a Scorpion Death Drop, but Triple H kicks out of this. I guess we needed these distractions instead of having a good match. Sting looks like he’s about ti win, but Shawn Michaels shows up out of nowhere and superkicks Sting. That doesn’t end the match, though. We still have to do a bat vs. sledgehammer spot.

Sting breaks the hammer in half with the bat, but Triple H eventually uses the good half to hit Sting and win the match. So, yes, Sting just lost his first match in WWE, and he didn’t even get to do a full match; we needed a silly nostalgia trip instead.

Match Rating: **1/2

Triple H goes to shake Sting’s hand after the match, and Sting accepts the handshake.

Maria Menounos interviews Daniel Bryan after the match. Pat Patterson puts over Bryan, which is completely unnecessary. Then Roddy Piper shows up and congratulates Bryan, too. Ricky Steamboat is next. Then Ric Flair. And Bret Hart. They all do a “Yes!” chant before Ron Simmons shows up. Well, you know what he does.

Skylar Grey and Travis Barker perform the official WrestleMania theme song. It’s a pretty decent song as far as I’m concerned. And the performance is good. So there’s that. And then Kid Ink showed up to do some rapping and I lost complete interest.

AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins (Nikki and Brie Bella)

AJ gets knocked off the apron right off the bat and sells it for what feels like forever. When she starts to get back up, she’s knocked down again. As such, the weaker seller winds up having to do exactly that for most of the match while the Bellas dominate on offense. Paige does a high-risk move to turn the tide before tagging in AJ. There are a couple of sloppy spots here — one DDT in particular isn’t that great — but that doesn’t matter too much. AJ eventually locks in the Black Widow for the win. The two singles matches on Raw were better than this, but it was still fine, if short.

Match Rating: **1/2

Highlights from this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony are played next, for the 99% of you who don’t care about actually watching the full ceremony.

WWE United States Championship Match: Rusev vs. John Cena

Rusev comes out with artillery, tanks, and Russian soldiers, which is just awesome. John Cena gets this ultra-patriotic video package and entrance. But remember, it’s not about patriotism.

Rusev forces Eden to introduce him first, which is kind of fun. Cena and Rusev start off with a very quick pacing, getting the show back to the intensity and speed at which it started. It stays that way through most of the match. Rusev’s moveset is great, and Cena always steps up on PPVs. Cena even does a move I’ve never before seen him — or anyone, really — do: a springboard stunner.

Our finish comes when Lana tries to interfere, Rusev knocks her off the apron, Cena hits an AA, and Cenawinslol. One AA. Still, really solid match.

Match Rating: ***1/2

Stephanie McMahon and Triple H then cut a promo in the ring. There’s been a new attendance record at Levi’s Stadium. Good for them? Stephanie then tells us that WWE wouldn’t exist as it is right now without them. Triple H then tells us how great he is. Then The Rock comes out, because of course he does. He’s got a movie coming out in a week; did you really think he’d miss WrestleMania?

After lots of waiting for the fans to shut up, Rock cuts an anti-Authority promo. The Rock wants to fight Triple H. Triple H says he has nothing to prove to The Rock. But Rock taunts him. Triple H takes off his suit, but Stephanie gets in the middle of them. She says The Rock would be nothing without the McMahons. She eventually slaps him and orders him out of the ring. The Rock leaves the ring and notices Ronda Rousey at ringside. She comes into the ring with The Rock. Because Furious 7.

Stephanie thinks she can take Rousey in a WWE match, because it’s different from an MMA fight. She orders Rousey out, but Rousey tells Stephanie to make her.

Triple H eventually tries to stop everything, but Rock punches him a bunch. Rousey then flips him. Stephanie tries to force Rousey to leave, but Rousey easily throws her away. And that ends the biggest stalling tactic of all time. Rock and Rousey get to celebrate for a bit, right before a Terminator trailer is aired.

The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

Wyatt comes out to scarecrow-zombie things. One of which he “awakens” while walking down to the ring. Okay.

There are no other Superstars for whom I get the same sort of anticipation that I get when The Undertaker makes his appearance. It works even when it’s still light outside.

The PPV’s pace slows down here. You know The Undertaker isn’t going to work a particularly fast-paced match. He hasn’t in recent years, and even in his prime wrestled a relatively slow style. And, no, the match isn’t particularly good. Most of it sees Wyatt beating on Undertaker, and then the last few minutes are just all finishers and counters. But it had the one moment we needed to see — a crabwalk and a sit-up at the same time — and it’s not like it was horrible. No, it’s not an Undertaker classic, but it’ll do. Undertaker wins after a second tombstone piledriver.

Match Rating: **1/2

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns comes down from the crowd with about a half-dozen security guards, which ruins the whole thing. Lesnar gets introduced by Paul Heyman, which is great.

Lesnar hits a German Suplex and an F5 within 30 seconds. Lesnar looks like he legitimately took a stiff shot from Reigns and got cut open. Lesnar dominates Reigns like he did to Cena at SummerSlam last year. Suplex after suplex. Lesnar removes his gloves at one point. He then starts slapping Reigns, to which Reigns responds “please sir, may I have another?”

The thing we’re doing here is watching Lesnar destroying Reigns, but Reigns continuing to kick out. Three F5s in and Reigns is still kicking out. Reigns eventually tosses Lesnar into the ring post and gets the moment, busting Lesnar open further. It takes three Superman Punches to knock Lesnar down, followed by two spears before a pinfall can even happen. Lesnar kicks out, though. It’s easy to get invested in this match if you want Lesnar to win.

A fourth F5 from Lesnar puts both men down, at which point Seth Rollins runs out to cash-in his Money in the Bank contract.

Match Rating: ***

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins

Rollins throws Reigns out of the ring and then hits a curb stomp on Lesnar. A couple of finishers and attempts later, Rollins hits a curb stomp on Reigns and pins him to win the championship. Huh.

Match Rating: N/A (not a real match)

Rollins celebrates on the ramp to close out the show.

The Good: Main event. WWE Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way. WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match. Rollins/Orton. Rusev/Cena. Undertaker leaving seemingly uninjured.

The Bad: Divas match getting only a few minutes. Sting/Triple H not getting a real match.

Match of the Night: WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match.

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WrestleMania 31 Predictions

If I may, a bit of self-indulgence. Wow. It’s been a whole year since I started doing these things. A full WWE season. That’s pretty cool, I think, assuming we’re stretching the definition of the word “cool.” Regardless, we’ve almost reached the end.

WrestleMania 31, which doesn’t have a number attached to its logo because WWE is stupid, has had a lackluster build. I don’t know if anyone would argue that at this point. Some of its biggest feuds have been built up by a single person, and the feuds themselves just aren’t that good. But, hey: it’s still WrestleMania, it’s still the biggest show of the year, and the competitors are still likely to deliver big matches. With that said, here’s how I see it shaping up.

WWE Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)

Prediction: With one of The Usos reportedly being injured, Los Matadores undergoing a tweener turn that nobody cares about, and The New Day being a complete failure, it’s hard to see anyone other than Cesaro and Tyson Kidd retaining, isn’t it? I’m picking them, at least.

Random Thoughts: Remember how we all thought The Ascension would be next in line for the Tag Team Championships? Yeah, those were fun times.

André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Prediction: Of the announced participants, the most likely winner in my eyes is Damien Sandow. However, I’m going to pick someone who hasn’t even been announced as an entrant: Sheamus. We’ve been getting “Sheamus is returning” vignettes for a while now, and this would be a great place for it to happen, and for him to win.

Random Thoughts: Isn’t it a little disgusting that both this and the Tag Team Championship match are taking place on the pre-show? They would’ve worked perfectly slotted between some of the bigger matches on the show, but instead they’re being shown on a show that has less interest going for it than Smackdown does.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Stardust vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose vs. R-Truth vs. Bad News Barrett

Prediction: Yes! Yes! Yes! With Bryan jobbing out to Ziggler twice — albeit once after a lengthy gauntlet match — I predicted that it meant he was winning this match. Yes, that’s backwards logic, but WWE doesn’t operate on normal logic anyway. I’d guess the only other potential winner is Ziggler. But my pick is Bryan.

Random Thoughts: Stardust has no chance to win this, so I don’t know why he’s in it. WWE scrapped that Goldust/Stardust feud for nothing! That would’ve been a perfect pre-show match, and then we finally could have had Cody/Dustin at WrestleMania. But, no, WWE decided we didn’t deserve that, so now both men are directionless.

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

Prediction: Rollins has been acting like a perfect cowardly heel in the abbreviated build-up to this match, and we’ve even been given hints of doubt that he can actually win matches. As such, it makes perfect sense to have him win here. Maybe J&J Security will help, or maybe he’ll cheat in another way, but I’m thinking Rollins gets the win here, with the feud continuing.

Random Thoughts: Orton at this point doesn’t really need a whole lot of wins. It’s kind of weird, since it’s not like he’s old, and yet he’s at that point in his career now. I still want to see him face Brock Lesnar, though. Once he and Rollins are done, that’d be something to see. F-5 into an RKO must happen.

WWE United States Championship Match: Rusev vs. John Cena

Prediction: Cenawinslol. Rusev’s still got this whole “unpinned, unsubmitted” streak going for him, and if it’s going to end, it’ll be at one of the bigger PPVs. Having Cena conquer this streak at WrestleMania simply makes sense, and giving Cena the United States Championship — as long as he doesn’t spinnerify it — does elevate the title. With a bigger focus on the smaller titles WWE has of late, Cena’s going to win this, right?

Random Thoughts: Cena’s been the heel in this feud. He tortured a man in order to get this match. But he’s not being portrayed as such, which is something I’d really like the “Reality Era” to do better. No more pure faces and pure heels is something we’ve dabbled in but not really done all that well, and this would’ve been a great opportunity to showcase that.

The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

Prediction: If we’re going to get Undertaker/Sting next year, and if we want it to mean anything, Undertaker has to win this. Seeing him lose two straight matches just doesn’t sit right with me if he’s going to continue. And I do not think this is his last match. He’ll wrestle next year. In fact, what will likely happen is he wins this match and then gets beaten down by Wyatt afterward, which is how we’ll write him out for another 11 months.

Random Thoughts: Do you know what’s been really bugging me for the last 12 months? People saying The Undertaker can’t wrestle a good match anymore. People are basing it solely on last year’s match and completely ignore the fact that he was concussed for most of it. His body isn’t that broken; he probably barely knew what was going on! Let’s wait and see; I think this will surprise some people with its quality.

AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins (Nikki and Brie Bella)

Prediction: The faces win? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. The feud’s been okay, but it’s not really for anything, and since WWE barely even cares about the Divas, it’s tough to pick a winner. But I’ll pick AJ and Paige, just because.

Random Thoughts: This should be a fatal four-way for the Divas Championship. It would mean more and it would give the match some stakes. But, no, we’re getting a throwaway tag team match.

Sting vs. Triple H

Prediction: Nobody thinks Triple H can win this, right? Sting may only wrestle one match in WWE — although I think there will be more — and he’s not going to lose in his debut. That is, unless he gets more dates added to his contract and therefore Triple H can cheat to win and setup a rematch at Summerslam or whenever. But, still, I’m going with Sting, as I don’t think we’re going to see a rematch between these two.

Random Thoughts: I still hope Sting does a couple more matches. One at Summerslam or Survivor Series, and then another at next year’s WrestleMania. That’ll be enough for me.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

Prediction: Brock Lesnar re-signing with the WWE has done more for this match than the last month of promos between the two Superstars. The announcement made this match unpredictable. We all thought Roman Reigns was winning if Lesnar left for the UFC, but now that he’s staying, who knows? In fact, I think he’s going to retain. The way he’s been booked gives Lesnar the edge, as he’s been booked as an unstoppable monster. Reigns has been made to look really strong, too, but not to that extent. I’m picking Brock Lesnar.

Random Thoughts: I really, really, really hope this match doesn’t suck. That’s it. I just want it to be good.

There are my WrestleMania predictions. Hopefully it’s a fun show.

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Smackdown Review (March 26, 2015)

Spoilers follow for the March 26th episode of Smackdown.

It the final show before WrestleMania! And John Cena is advertised for Smackdown! But first, a little rant. Here in Canada, we typically get Smackdown on Wednesday nights now that it’s made the jump to Thursdays in America. Why? Some hockey thing; I don’t know. Anyway, this week we got it on Thursday, probably because of hockey. That’s fine. But the network advertised it as a “special live Smackdown,” much like the very first Thursday show. Please. Don’t insult our intelligence. Smackdown was taped on Monday, for crying out loud.

Smackdown opens with the Usos coming down to the ring, accompanied by Naomi. We’re doing a fatal four-way match with one man of each of the four major tag teams in the match.

Jimmy Uso (with Jey Uso and Naomi) vs. Big E (with Xavier Woods) vs. Fernando (with Diego and El Torito) vs. Cesaro (with Tyson Kidd and Natalya)

This is a fast-paced match with a good number of fun spots. That’s what you want from it, given that its goal is to get us excited for the match at WrestleMania. It’s only given one segment, but it’s lots of fun. Everyone comes out looking okay. Jimmy Uso wins with a splash to Cesaro.

Match Rating: ***

Renee Young and Byron Saxton are hosting a “WrestleMania Axxess” panel. Why? Because of reasons, I guess. They talk about WWE re-signing Brock Lesnar, showing a clip from SportsCentre, which is where Lesnar announced his re-signing. Then we get a video package about the Heavyweight Championship and its current feud, which is just so mediocre. The feud, not the video package. WWE does a great job with these things.

We come back from commercial still focused on Young and Saxton. They hype the WWE Network. Next video package is about the Intercontinental Championship and its match that’s coming up on Sunday. Young and Saxton then hype it a bit, too, before moving on to the Bellas vs. Paige/AJ feud. That’s the whole segment.

Following the next commercial break, we get a video package highlighting John Cena and Rusev’s feud. Once again, this is an entire segment. After that commercial break, it’s a video package for Randy Orton and Seth Rollins’ feud.

Finally, we get a second segment containing actual wrestlers. Well, Divas. AJ Lee comes down to the ring. She and Paige had a little spat on Raw, but they work it out here — which must have been funny for the live crowd, given that it was filmed on Monday, after they’d just fought with each other.

You know, it’s nice to see Divas getting time on the mic. AJ is really good at it, Paige is okay, Nikki Bella is okay, and Brie Bella … really doesn’t need to talk. Ever. But at least she’s been given a fair shot at it, unlike most of the Divas roster.

AJ and Paige are the first two out. They won’t let the Bellas win at WrestleMania. That brings out the Bellas. Nikki gets to talk first, which is good, but then Brie starts talking and it becomes painful to listen to. Nikki has a fun dig at AJ about how much time she takes time off. The Bellas are so much better as heels. Well, Nikki is. Remember when they were feuding? That was fun.

More of the Young/Saxton thing happens, followed with more video packages. We hype Sting/Triple H, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and Wyatt/Undertaker. I think that’s all of them. This is just a “play video packages” show, really.

Finally, we get a second match, which is the much-hyped 8-man tag team match for the main event.

John Cena, Mark Henry, Daniel Bryan, and Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, Big Show, Kane, and Bray Wyatt (with J&J Security)

I feel like this match exists just for WWE to show us and say “See, Roman Reigns is totally in the ring for large portions of tag team matches!” Reigns starts the match and does, indeed, spend a sizable chunk in the ring. In fact, for a really good amount of time, only he and Henry wind up in the ring. I think Cena and Bryan only actually get tagged in once each, and they’re both near the end.

Reigns has definitely improved in the ring, and I don’t have a lot of problem with him being the most prominently featured Superstar in this match. The more work he gets, the better.

This is a long match. It opens pretty slowly, which is too bad, and it kind of stays at that pace throughout. These are all big — either literally or figuratively — stars, and there’s no way they’d risk an injury on the final show before the biggest PPV of the year. The slow pace and low-risk style makes sense.

Bryan eventually gets in and, after the chaos one expects near the end of these types of matches, hits the running knee on Big Show to pick up the win. Cena and Reigns were both illegally in the ring for more than five seconds, but whatever. This was a disappointing match, but you shouldn’t have expected much.

Match Rating: **

The babyfaces celebrate in the ring to close out the final show before WrestleMania.

The Good: Fatal Four-Way Match.

The Bad: Two wrestling matches in a two-hour wrestling show.

Match of the Night: Fatal Four-Way Match.

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Raw Review (March 23, 2015)

Spoilers follow for the March 23rd episode of Raw.

It’s the last Raw before WrestleMania! Normally that might mean something, but since this year’s ‘Mania build has been so mediocre, I feel like it really doesn’t. Compound that with Bill Simmons and Snoop Dogg being the guest stars, and one has to wonder why anyone would care.

However, Sting shows up to kick off the show, and that’s a pretty swell way to begin. He even gets to talk, which is also pretty great. He cuts a promo about how evil Triple H is. Because Triple H is evil, until his next face turn. Sting says he’s not fighting for WCW, because that would be ridiculous. Hasn’t WWE been building this as WWE vs. WCW for months now?

Stephanie McMahon comes down to confront Sting. They go back and a forth for a bit. Stephanie tries to slap him at one point, but gets caught. That brings out Triple H, who takes off his tie on the stage, because he’s really mad for some reason. Stephanie is allowed to leave the ring and Triple H takes off his suit jacket, too. He’s ready for a fight. Stephanie gets a sledgehammer and hands it to her husband, but Sting’s got a baseball bat. Of course, they’re not going to fight on free TV! Stephanie stops her husband from getting into the ring. Well, it was a better opening segment than a 20-minute go-nowhere promo.

Dean Ambrose and R-Truth vs. Luke Harper and Stardust

Bad News Barrett is on commentary, which is great. When the match focuses on Ambrose vs. Harper, it’s also pretty good. That’s a feud we could have fun with in the future and NO WE HAVE NEVER HAD IT BEFORE EVER. Ambrose spends most of the match tagged in for his side, while Harper and Stardust tag in and out with at least some regularity. Truth eventually gets tagged in, Ambrose takes out Harper, Truth sloppily hits his finisher, and the faces win the match.

Match Rating: ***

Truth gets Ambrose to dance a little bit after the match, and they celebrate together.

A Special Olympics advertisement happens next. WWE partners with the Special Olympics, and that’s good on them. Renee Young delivers the promo for them, even though the president of the Special Olympics is there, too. Oh well.

A Roman Reigns interview is aired. It’s as boring as that sounds.

Ryback, Erick Rowan, Zack Ryder, and The Prime Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young) vs. The Miz, Damien Sandow, Adam Rose, and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor)

Bill Simmons is on commentary. The crowd is understandably dead. Nobody in this match — outside of maybe Miz/Sandow — have anything going for them. And none of them have much shot at winning the match at WrestleMania. As such, a match that’ supposed to be hyping us up for the PPV does the opposite. The match isn’t fun, it has nothing going for it, and if you wanted to, you could sleep through it.

Things almost get exciting when Sandow tags in, but Miz stops us from getting too excited by tagging himself in before anything good happens. Ryback eventually gets into the match and wins it for his team.

Match Rating: **

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins and J&J Security (Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury)

Fans voted for Orton to take on this team, in a handicap match, instead of facing either Big Show or Kane. No, it’s not rigged at all. AT ALL.

It’s not a long match. The heels beat on Orton a bunch, Orton beats on J&J Security, and then Jamie Noble eats an RKO.

Match Rating: *1/2

A pre-recorded interview with John Cena is aired. It’s as boring as the Roman Reigns one.

WWE Divas Championship Match: Paige (with AJ Lee) vs. Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella)

For the second straight week on Raw, we get a really solid Divas match. And, for the second straight week on Raw, the commentators show us that they literally have no idea how to call a Divas match. But maybe they’ll learn. Maybe we’ll get more matches like this, and like the Nikki/AJ match we got last week, and they’ll be forced to learn. Maybe the #GiveDivasaChance hashtag will actually do some good.

A couple of hardcore-ish spots, some decent wrestling, and a good deal of entertaining spots allow this to be worthwhile. It’s got some good drama, too. The crowd, for the second straight week, gets involved in the match, too. Brie Bella’s acting at ringside was even okay!

The finish is disappointing from a match perspective but works as a story. Both Divas tumble to the outside, AJ comes over to make sure Brie doesn’t interfere, and then she turns around and hits Paige, accidently, thinking it was Nikki. That allows Nikki to get her into the ring and hit the Rack Attack for the win. Still, though, the match was really solid.

Match Rating: ***

Paige attacks AJ after the match and they brawl for a bit. We’ll see how well they can work together at WrestleMania.

Snoop Dogg comes down to the ring next. Why? Who knows? That’s the biggest name WWE could attract, I guess. He starts to hype WrestleMania, but is interrupted by Curtis Axel. Snoop Dogg brings out Hulk Hogan. Hogan cuts a promo on Axel, saying #AxelMania is a joke. Axel eventually tries to punch Hogan, but is blocked. Snoop Dogg then throws Axel over the top rope, leaving him and Hogan to celebrate in the ring.

The Brock Lesnar interview we’ve heard twice before is played. It’s moderately more interesting than both Reigns’ and Cena’s interviews from earlier. But it says about as much, which is to say nothing more than we’ve already heard.

Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando, and El Torito) vs. Cesaro, Tyson Kidd and Natalya

The Usos are on commentary; Naomi is standing in the background, because why would we let a woman talk?

This is a rematch from Smackdown. It was sad then. It’s not played as much for laughs this time, which is nice. So, it’s not good, but it’s moderately better than the last time we saw it. So, uh, yeah. There you go. They wrestle and stuff. It’s decent-ish. El Torito pins Natalya with a sunset flip.

Match Rating: **

Bad News Barrett gets talked to by Kane backstage. Kane’s here to take Barrett’s title, so that it will be held in safekeeping before ‘Mania. Barrett doesn’t want to, but he’s told he’ll be stripped of it if he doesn’t comply. So? Who cares? He can’t do anything with it until the ladder match anyway! Whatever. He eventually relinquishes it, and a waste of a segment comes to an end.

Rusev vs. Jack Swagger

The last couple of times we did this they were glorified squash matches. This is the same as those. There’s no way that Rusev’s “unbeaten” streak is ending the Raw before WrestleMania. That’d just be stupid. Rusev wins with The Accolade in a match that has no interest to anyone.

Match Rating: *1/2

Rusev keeps The Accolade locked in for a while after the match. John Cena comes out to make the save. But Rusev grabs him and drives his spine into the barricade and the ring post. Then he throws him clean across the announcer’s table. A big kick and a locked-in Accolade on the announcer’s table sees Rusev going into WrestleMania with all the momentum. So you know who’s winning (hint: Cenawinslol).

Bray Wyatt comes down to the ring next. I thought perhaps he was going to have his first Raw match in over a month, but he’s here to cut a promo. He says some gibberish and then calls The Undertaker a liar. The lights flicker a little bit and Bray just keeps on going. It’s a good promo — one of Wyatt’s better ones. He ends it in Undertaker’s “pose.” No, we don’t get to see Undertaker.

Kevin Nash is named as the next inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. I guess he’s the last one, isn’t he? The class of 2015 is complete.

A Natalya/Tyson Kidd Burger King advertisement happens. It’s, uh, what?

Special Referee (Dean Ambrose) Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler

After watching these two absolutely steal the gauntlet match that happened on Smackdown, it made sense for us to get this match on Raw. Did we need a special referee? No, but if we didn’t have one then WWE would be giving us something we want for free, and that isn’t okay!

They get to do really great things here, too. Their match is wonderfully exciting. There’s not much to say beyond, well, it being lots of fun. Ziggler wins clean after a superkick and a Zig Zag. Yes, that’s two straight clean wins for Ziggler over Bryan.

Match Rating: ***1/2

Ambrose hits a Dirty Deeds on Ziggler after the match, then he grabs a ladder and begins to climb. Bad News Barrett comes down to stop him, followed by all of the other men who will compete for the Intercontinental Championship at the PPV. They all brawl.

Our main event tonight is not a wrestling match — because why would a wrestling show conclude with a wrestling match? — but a “face-to-face confrontation” between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. I think they mentioned it was the first time this happened, effectively rendering the snowed-in episode of Raw non-canon, I guess. Or maybe they just forgot.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are in the ring first. Heyman gets a mic. He says little more than usual, and even mentions that if he hasn’t sold you on Brock Lesnar already, it’s pointless to try at this point. But he does so anyway. Reigns gets to follow that promo. Lesnar holds up the title. Reigns takes the title and holds it up, just the same. They then play tug of war with the title. No, seriously. And then we fade out. That’s how Raw ends.

The Good: Paige/Nikki. Bryan/Ziggler.

The Bad: Orton/Rollins & J&J. Rusev/Swagger.

Match of the Night: Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler.

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Fury: The Film that made me furious….

Hey folks,  it’s been a while.  I guess you could say it was a lack of inspiration, a lack of watching films and trying to figure out how to balance, work, life, marriage and  toddler that keeps me from spouting off about every title I see.  And to be totally honest, I have been on quite a movie sabbatical over the last few years.  Besides, BoxOfficeBoredom.com had Matthew Parkinson, the legendary movie per day review writing super freak.  I’m certainly not Matthew but this dog still has remembered a few tricks from his olden days and it’s time to dust off the keyboard and get back to business.

I made the choice to watch Fury a couple of weeks ago and the film is still fresh in my mind even weeks later.  My mind keeps mulling over this World War 2 Nazi hunting tank adventure starring Brad Pitt and friends.  The film chronicles a boisterous tank commander (Brad Pitt) who is on  a mission to destroy Nazis with his rag tag crew of trusted companions and their young new recruit who is literally fresh off the boat and has never seen the hellish nature of war.  It’s supposedly a gritty tale, showing both the good and bad side of the war and the true despicable lines people cross during war time.  In war there are no heroes, only villains and the true villainous side is in the eye of the beholder.  Sadly, quality story telling must be in the eye of the beholder as well because if this film is the best they can churn out, then it is truly time to go back to the drawing board.

I’m not going to beat around a bush here; I hated the main characters.  Brad Pitt’s character was an absolute jerk who showed no compassion and was just all around a despicable man still trying to hold on to the small shred of decency he once had before heading to war.  His partners in crime were the most stereotypical thrown together group of rough around the edges thugs you could assemble.  Somehow this film felt that if you put a new recruit in close quarters with these awful characters we would grow to love them and care about their well being.    The problem is this group has you pulling away from them right from the start so it is hard to have any feelings towards anyone in the film.  I quickly learned I cared nothing for the lives of these people.  Of course you don’t wish death upon anyone but I really had no vested interest on if these guys survived or not.  In fact, I found myself many times just rooting for the ending to come rather than follow this character study journey any further.  Pitt was truly awful in his role.  I kept wishing for a shred of quality coming from him, but I never saw it.  I kept hoping for an Inglorious Basterds performance to sneak out by accident but instead I got a performance that was almost as dry and emotionless as the entire film.

The film makers spend way too much time plodding along and trying to show scenes of marching Nazis, some disjointed cannon fire and random exploding tanks, killing a teams of people you have never really gotten to know or care about.  It works its way until of course Pitt and company are traveling alone and heading on what seems to be a destined suicide mission.  Along the way we get to be the unwilling viewing participants in a German home where Pitt tries to hook his new recruit up with a German girl and has the most awkward meal ever  with the mother and daughter.  The scene was long and drug out and in many ways just was pointless filler for a love story that never had a chance to develop and a plot device that made the Fury’s crew look even more scummy than they already did.  By the time we get to a point we should care about these guys on there 1 vs. 1000 mission you just don’t care about them.  In some ways you start thinking that these guys may finally get what they deserve.

The film doesn’t even succeed at making you feel upset by the landscape of the war.  There are scenes literally of bodies being lined up for mass burials and a scene where someone drives over a dead body submerged in mud with a tank.  You barely flinch.  It feels fake and forced.  I felt so heartless not caring about it but the film did such a great job of not pulling on any heart strings that it is hard to shed a tear let alone keep your eyes open.  Yet, I persisted in finishing the film hoping something would come of this cinematic adventure I was on.

I came to realize that while I liked the idea of Fury by watching a preview the film just plodded along and could not deliver.  I was counting the minutes to the ending of the film and could not get engrossed in it.  I felt distanced from all the main characters, I felt no emotion towards any of the people in the film and couldn’t care less about anyone in the film.  It’s hard to cheer for the heroes of the film when you spend the first hour plus showing us why they don’t deserve an ounce of our respect.  Then suddenly the film thinks you’ll jump behind their heroic stand off and it will have you vested in their survival.  Sorry folks, it doesn’t work like that.  You got to make us care and Fury could not do that.  I’m sure that if I keep thinking about it I could find some more redeemable parts of the film but fact of the matter is that the bad outweighs the good here.  Why dwell on it and try to convince you to watch a film that should just be forgotten.   Skip this one folks.  You won’t be missing much.

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