3/11/13 RAW Review
The March 11th episode of RAW is in the books, and we are now less than a month away from WrestleMania 29. We saw appearances from The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar, while getting a good amount of matches as WWE geared up for the big night in what was yet another quality RAW, for the most part. .

There were some hits, and some misses. Let's take a closer look…

The tribute video for Paul Bearer to open the show was done perfectly, and The Undertaker paying homage with the urn in the ring was a nice touch. RIP. It was smart to tie in Bearer's passing with Punk's promo to build the match. There was no disrespect, and gives The Undertaker something more to fight for.

Both CM Punk vs. Kane and Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan were by far the matches of the night. Both of them were completely different, but perfect in their own way. Punk vs. Kane was an all-out war and related well with the passing of Bearer, while Bryan and Ziggler crafted a pro wrestling masterpiece. Kane coming out the victor in the Main Event was a nice final acknowledgment of Paul. Punk leaving with the urn was a fantastic twist, only further solidifying his place at the top of the heel ranks.

It was good to see Ziggler get a win on TV, and Bryan was a formidable opponent to make him look great in the victory. I was hoping for a match between The Show Off and Chris Jericho at Met Life Stadium, but it looks like Y2J will be in the IC Title picture moving forward. It's strange to see Jericho involved with The Miz and Wade Barrett, and poses even more questions as to where Ziggler fits into the WM29 picture.

Zeb Coulter's segment was clever, entertaining, and very controversial. Zeb took his views to a new level in his promo last night, which made the Del Rio vs. Swagger build much hotter than it has been for weeks. The same thing applies to this feud, as it does for Rock/Cena, keep it serious and personal. As funny as the parody promo was, Coulter and Swagger are going for Del Rio's throat with what they have said. ADR needs to match that intensity and make us believe he is fighting for himself and his culture.

The Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H program turned right back around last night with the work of Paul Heyman. He is the perfect mouthpiece for Brock, and has made this match so much more personal. This guy can do no wrong on the mic, and the added stipulation is a perfect twist. I would imagine that it would be for Heyman's ownership stake in the company vs. HHH's job… or something like that. Either way, it will inject Vince and Heyman right into the eye of this storm and make it another focal point moving towards WrestleMania which is a very good thing.

As much as the concept of two heavyweights battling it out at WrestleMania looks good on paper, Ryback vs. Mark Henry is not a good idea. Henry will probably get Shell-Shocked in the high spot of the match (If Ryback can actually lift him), but the rest of the bout will be a slow, sloppy bore-fest. At this point, a short program between two guys that can just stare at one another to build a brute vs. brute match is an easy way out with these two. Listen, I will be in attendance for Mania and I hope they prove me wrong, but at this point I think Creative could have done a better job with Ryback and his role at WM29.

It is very odd that Sheamus and Randy Orton are not playing a bigger part as we move towards Mania. I understand that they will take on The Shield, but I was almost certain that they would be battling for the WHC. Del Rio and Swagger has been good, but I am not exactly sure that their feud needed a title within its program to get over. Orton and Sheamus are two of the top talents within WWE, and the company is missing the boat without them going for a championship on the biggest night of the year. Also, it would be a perfect opportunity to turn Orton heel.

There was a huge void last night with the absence of both John Cena and The Rock, and the show just seemed a bit weak without its Champion and his WrestleMania challenger present. The video package that was put together was impressive, but this is the Main Event of the biggest show of the year. It should be highlighted every week with each Superstar involved, live on television, advancing that storyline and building it to the level it should be. This feud lost some steam last night and needs to be a huge part of the show next week.

Quick Hits
-The Shield's triple powerbomb on Big Show was downright sick. The back of Show's head hit pretty hard. Looked painful.

-Team Rhodes Scholars' rendition of "Oh you didn't know?" was hilarious. They should stay together, and get more TV time each week.

-I checked out the WWE Active section on the WWE app for the first time last night. It's very cool and shows an ongoing match during the entire commercial break.

-It looks like Johnny Curtis bought a ton of new gear for this gimmick. I sure hope he debuts eventually. His bit with Naomi was a bit awkward.

-The Bellas are back! They must have missed their boyfriends and were sick of the high school circuit and Comic Cons.

-Interesting to feature John Cena's divorce in the Rock/Cena video package. It definitely had an impact.

-There were entirely too many WWE Movie previews last night. #StraightToDVD

-Michael Cole definitely took notes on how Jim Ross used his commentary skills to build characters while a Superstar is in the ring. He always makes it a point to discuss personality/background/etc. in an interesting way.

Overall, last night's episode of RAW was solid throughout. One of the best of the year in my opinion, which is odd considering both Cena and Rock were not present. Aside from the endless Movie Previews, we saw another good mix of quality matches and storyline advancement as we head towards WM29. The Main Events are all set, but I am still waiting to see what undercard storylines will unfold. Hopefully we find out more next week.

That's all for me ladies and gentleman, thanks so much for reading. Please let me know what you think about last night's RAW!

Tweet me your questions and comments at @MikeSouzaJT. Have a great week!

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