The SmarK RAW Rant – 02.24.14 Live from Green Bay, WI Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Jerry Lawler Hulk Hogan returns to start, much like 2002 when he got his gigantic reaction and then fizzled out quickly. So he takes three tries to get “WWE Network” out properly, and it’s the TURNING POINT of his career, which is apparently that he’s hosting Wrestlemania XXX. So yeah, this was a thing that happened. Batista v. Alberto Del Rio The crowd immediately starts with “Boo-tista” chants, which is awesome. So Big Dave attacks to start, but gets caught with a cheapshot from ADR before clotheslining him to the floor. Del Rio trips him up on the apron and sends him into the stairs as we get a weird commentary track as they hang a lampshade on the whole Bryan-Batista controversy a month after everyone else in the country already figured it out. Like, is this their plan to make it seem it was their idea all along? We take a break and return with Del Rio in control and Batista sucking wind. For a guy with an MMA gym logo on his ass he’s not particularly well conditioned. They slug it out and Batista gets a half-assed powerslam for two. Del Rio goes for the arm again, but misses a blind charge and Batista makes the comeback. And then we get the best finish of all finishes, the IDIOT BABYFACE DISTRACTION finish, as Orton’s music hits and Del Rio rolls him up for the pin at 10:38. *1/2 Which then gives us an ELECTRIC showdown between Orton and Batista, as Orton is all “Man, these people are booing the shit out of you!” and Batista is all “Woo, WWE Universe, freedom of expression, DEAL WITH IT!” Thank god Wrestlemania is free this year is all I can say, because then I enjoy the psychological experiment of 70,000 people shitting all over the “main event” without feeling ripped off because I dropped $70 to watch it. Sheamus v. Christian I’m saddened because I really wanted Christ-Mus to be a thing. Sheamus pounds away in the corner and gets a short clothesline for two, and puts him on the floor with a clothesline. The twitter scroll makes me sad that there are actually real people who sit there tweeting encouragement to John Cena in his battle with Bray Wyatt. Christian comes back with a knee to the gut in an awkward sequence while the announcers go off on some inane course. And we take a break. Back with Sheamus in control and hooking the Cloverleaf, but Christian makes the ropes. Sheamus reverses the Killswitch into White Noise, but Christian rolls him up for two. Sheamus with a powerslam for two. Christian dodges the Brogue Kick, but comes off the top and lands on another Brogue Kick at 14:37. This was fine. **1/2 John Cena joins us to pimp the Network and declare his admiration of Bray Wyatt’s bold move in screwing him over. The Wyatts come out, and when Bray smiles on the way out you can totally see how he’s Bo Dallas’s brother. Anyway, Bray introduces himself as the eater of worlds and reaper of death, and Cena is all “Them’s fighting words!” and it’s on. The beatdown quickly follows and Cena “injures” his knee, making him easy pickings. This feud is just so weird, basically shoehorning it into Wrestlemania when everyone actually wants to see more Shield-Wyatts instead. Kane v. Daniel Bryan Kane goes for the arm right away, but Bryan throws kicks in the corner as it’s getting increasingly unlikely that Kane is actually a sleeper agent or anything else that would make the storyline make sense. Bryan clips the knee and goes to a half-crab as the announcers have suddenly decided that everyone wants to see Bryan v. HHH at Wrestlemania. I don’t feel like I was surveyed on that one. Kane goes back to working on the arm, and sends him into the stairs as we take a break. Back with Bryan throwing kicks for two, and he goes up with a missile dropkick and head kick for two. He walks into a chokeslam, however, and Kane gets two. Another try, but Bryan wraps him up in the Yes-Lock, and Kane powers out. Bryan ducks away, hits the flying knee, and gets the pin at 17:10. *** So Bryan calls out HHH, and lets us know that we want Daniel Bryan v. HHH. You know, I was just thinking that HHH really deserves a Wrestlemania payday in addition to his payday as part owner of the company. It’s what’s best for business. Summer Rae v. Emma Odd choice for inclusion. Summer is DISGUSTED with Emma’s dancing and takes her down, but Emma gets a sunset flip for two. Summer with a spinkick for two, and she chokes away on the ropes. Emma quickly takes her down and finishes with the Emma-Lock at 3:30. Dull stuff. * Putting her with Santino makes her look like such a loser, though. Roman Reigns v. Bray Wyatt Slugfest to start and Bray bails, as the crowd seems to be burned out tonight. Bray pounds him in the corner and follows with a short clothesline for two, and we hit the chinlock. We take a break and return with Bray slugging away in the corner while the fans chant for other guys. Roman comes back with a corner clothesline to wake up the crowd, and follows with the apron dropkick and backdrop suplex for two. Superman Punch time, but the Wyatts appear at ringside, as does Seth Rollins to take them out. A brawl follows and Dean Ambrose makes the save, then runs in for the DQ at 12:43. I wouldn’t be putting Reigns in long matches like this yet. ** Brock Lesnar joins us for the main event interview, and he’s got an open contract for Wrestlemania, and wants a title shot there. But HHH and Stephanie won’t let him have it. So to recap, the Authority is holding Daniel Bryan back from winning the title, and holding Brock Lesnar back from winning the title. They literally do not want ANYONE holding that damn title, apparently. So Brock will be skipping the show this year, rather than taking a “consolation prize”. However, Undertaker answers the open contract challenge, and he’s got the Ministry of Darkness goatee again. Maybe he’ll brainwash JBL again too. So he signs the open contract (by stabbing Brock through the hand) and then chokeslams him through the table for good measure. So that’s a yes to the match, I’m thinking. The Pulse I found this to be kind of a dull show when we were basically promised a big mind-blowing Wrestlemania lead-in. Hogan in particular was used in just about the laziest way possible. It might also be because they’re building up to a show I don’t want to see featuring a bunch of matches with guys I’m not interested in. But hey, that’s why the Network is there now, right?