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RAW Deal: Do not go gentle into that good night

Joe 'the Grappler' Marsalis
RAW Deal: Do not go gentle into that good night
Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon for control of RAW finally gets the stakes we’ve all been looking for, writes this columnist

PHILADELPHIA—On one hand, the Philly crowd didn’t eviscerate RAW (and Roman Reigns) as bad as WWE thought they would. That’s great to hear, I guess.

On the other hand, it’s more of a sign that the crowd is increasingly becoming apathetic to the grandaddy of them all. Even the evening’s biggest announcement went by with a mere whimper—maybe because it was two weeks too late.

Go hard or go home

Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon for control of RAW finally gets the stakes we’ve all been looking for: if the Deadman loses, WrestleMania 32 will be his last WrestleMania ever.


Granted, nothing’s ever the last in pro wrestling until you’re dead, but this is finally the wrench in the gears we’ve all wanted to see. It’s the kind of twist that legitimately furrows smarks’ brows, thereby resulting in some real urgency and drama: will they go the easy route and have Taker beat the non-wrestler Shane, or will they heed the call of the crowd and attempt the brand split, at the expense of Taker’s career? Although the decision seems easier than presented (so long as you embrace the WWE’s kind of thinking) it’s still worth some careful consideration.

I’d love to tell you what my personal guess is for this match, but so many possibilities are on the table and at this point, I’d rather just let it unfold and let myself be entertained. Although I love to analyze wrestling, it really is better enjoyed when you turn off your brain, and while not expecting a surprise at every turn, be open to the idea that anything really could happen. It is WrestleMania after all, and it is WWE. (Incidentally, too many expectations is what leads a lot of fans to rage.)

Do as the Roman does

That said about expectations, however, I’d like to believe that they’re finally going the right way with Roman Reigns. I could, once again, be reading too much into it, but check it: we now have a Reigns that mercilessly pulled a guy—his boss—from his car and beat him down on the asphalt. In short, we have a Roman Reigns who is a dick.


This is great. Reigns lashing out against the cold world that’s turned their backs on him is probably the only way people will accept the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania this close to the show. If he completes a full transformation during the bout, then that might just singlehandedly save the match (outside of Triple H’s ring generalship, of course). It might be a little too optimistic to say so at this point, but paradoxically, this is an expectation I need to have if I want to power through the show.

Dean Ambrose trains in the desert

Presenting without comment. Seriously, you need to go watch this. I’m not even sure why they didn’t air it on RAW.


Madness in the temple

None other than El Jefe himself, Dario Cueto, is back in charge of things at the Lucha Underground temple in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. And boy, what an earth-shattering return.

Since the beginning of the second season, Catrina, ghost valet of former Lucha Underground Champion Mil Muertes, was running the show. Cueto was relegated to a fake temple operation somewhere outside. There was some sort of an implied civil war between the two parties, and Cueto’s return brings with it the institution of a new hierarchy in the gritty fight club. He’s in control, and what better way to enforce that control than to have his monster of a brother, Matanza, win the title in this year’s Aztec Warfare gauntlet match.


Despite not having the same ring presence as the fearsome Mil Muertes, Matanza Cueto is amazing to watch. This is a guy who can throw people around even better than Mil Muertes could, and fly just as well as any of the regular luchadors in the temple. He’s smaller in stature, but he’s an athlete that should be seen to be believed, and he’s a satisfactory choice for the much-hyped role. In fact, a lot of the Lucha Underground newcomers are well-chosen that this might be their best rookie year so far.

Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring Mellow 94.7 DJ and PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! This week, they try to get into the WrestleMania spirit by watching two terrible Mania matches on the WWE Network: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg from WrestleMania XX, and Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole from WrestleMania XXVII! Listen to it here! –

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