lesnar-heyman-mcmahonWith the Elimination Chamber firmly in the rearview mirror, it remains to be seen how the build to Mania really gets into gear. Will Vince and Heyman actually ‘fight’ or will it be just a set up for a Lesnar run in? Will CM Punk successfully make a complete fool of John Cena for putting his guaranteed WWE Title shot on the line? How will the Real Americans spread their message of Americanness? What’s the over/under on how many times they say WE THE PEOPLE? When will Randall Orton turn heel? Which WWE film will the company shamelessly promote this week? When will Fandango debut? For that matter why does he pronounce it Fan-dang-go?

Best
Real Americans: Well it certainly hasn’t taken very long for the Swagger/Colter combo to generate intense controversy. People are outraged and complaining about WWE portraying a stereotypical Tea Party person as a villain. I could link to any number of stories on the Internets on the subject, but what some of those people seem to forget is that this is WWE. It’s not like this isn’t the first controversial character they’ve featured on any of their shows. As Eric Bischoff once said ‘Controversy creates cash’ and this is really what it’s all about. People are talking about this new character and the company is getting coverage from outlets it usually doesn’t. People who hate the characters and are raging against them as stereotypes will probably tune in. More viewers + Bigger ratings = Happy Vince. Whether the angle is in good taste or not is irrelevant to this main goal.

Jericho: It seems like no matter how long Y2J is away from the ring, he comes back better then ever. Right now he’s at an age where he should be in the decline and end of his career. Whether it’s the breaks for Fozzy that keep his body going or his natural ability he could have years left in him. One of the best part about his current run is the match quality. He lasted nearly 48 minutes in the Rumble, was in the EC nearly the entire time and had a great TV match with Punk. Most importantly, he’s shown a willingness to put others over, with Ziggler being the latest example. He’s at the tail end of his career and is fine with putting on excellent matches regardless of whether he wins or not and doesn’t care like others whether it will make him look weak. This is one of the many reasons that Jericho deserves his place among the all-time greats.

Fight Night: Everything from the way they touted the Punk-Cena match throughout the show to the way Cole and Lawler handled commentary during it gave it a big fight feel. The fact that these two have faced each other so many times was shown by Cena grounding Punk with submissions and Punk ducking Cena’s flying shoulder tackles, among other things. This adds another layer to the match and its meaning and the viewers are the ones that benefit. The expression on each guy’s face as the other kicked out of big move after big move told the story. Cena locking in the STF only to have Punk slip into the Anaconda Vise then have Cena turn it into what looked like the Crippler Crossface is the best example of some of the great sequences during the match. Yes Cena beat Punk clean with the AA, but it wasn’t the 5 Moves that preceded it, but a hurricanrana! A hurricanrana from Cena! This match could’ve easily headlined Wrestlemania itself.

Worst
Telegraphing: From the very beginning it was fairly obvious that Lesnar returning to attack Mr McMahon was an excuse to set up a Brock-HHH match at Mania. Coming back to exact revenge on Lesnar for attacking his father-in-law is a simple reason to reignite the feud, but couldn’t Creative have not telegraphed it so much. It even got to the point where Lesnar was stalking a ‘hobbled’ Mr McMahon and the crowd was chanting Triple H repeatedly. So when H’s music subsequently hits it doesn’t have the impact that it could have had and certainly not on the level when he returned immediately after Taker did a few years ago. How odd does Hunter look without his signature long hair?

dean-ambroseDear WWE: You guys do not give ‘Slightly Off’ Dean Ambrose nearly enough time on the mic. Please change this, kthx bye.

Entertainment: You’d be forgiven if you thought this episode of RAW was one big movie trailer. That’s because trailers for WWE movies were shown and it was even incorporated into a Sheamus-Barrett segment. It seems WWE doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘subtle’ as the shameless self-promotion could not have been more apparent. Yeah sure it’s great that Barrett is in Dead Men Down, but how is it effectively promoting that movie when Sheamus comes out and mocks the fact that Wade doesn’t say a word? Is that really going to make people want to see the movie? As if it couldn’t get worse, Cole and Lawler did ab it about food from Sonic with Jerry having a tray of said food in front of him.