WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 3

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterMarch 4, 2014

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from March 3

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    Credit: WWE.com

    CM Punk, despite not being on the March 3 edition of WWE Raw, was the center of the episode in many ways.

    Backstage reports had fans buzzing about Punk's possible comeback. Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, on Wrestling Observer Radio, (h/t WrestlingInc.com), reported on Sunday that "CM Punk is expected to return at tomorrow night's Raw in Chicago."

    The Usos won the tag team championships, The Real Americans continued to splinter and The Shield took on The Wyatt Family in a fantastic match. There was no sighting of Punk, though.

    Fans psyched for seeing "The Best in the World" compete again watched Monday's Raw with disappointment slowly enveloping them. Those able to see beyond that, experienced an episode that built several WrestleMania matches well and delivered a match that rivaled the first The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family clash.

    The following is a look at the episode, complete with letter grades for segments and bouts, highlights and results. On a night when WWE announced that the Hall of Fame is set to welcome Paul Bearer, we begin with Paul Heyman teasing the return of his former best friend.

Opening Segment

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    Punk's music hit, inspiring the fans to cheer and chant, but Heyman came out instead of "The Best in the World."

    Heyman sat cross-legged in the center of the ring as Punk has done so many times before. He talked about how WWE didn't respect or want Punk, playing up his rebelliousness.

    Inciting thunderous chants, Heyman announced that Punk wasn't in the arena.

    He blamed the fans for his former client quitting, saying they took Punk away from him. He had blame to aim at Undertaker as well. In his mind, Punk's decline began after battling Undertaker at WrestleMania 29. 

    Chants for Punk echoed as Heyman introduced Brock Lesnar. Lesnar snatched a mic and said that Undertaker was scared of him. 

    Mark Henry stomped up the entrance ramp just as Lesnar exited the ring. "The Beast" quickly felled the big man, cracking the ring steps against Henry's face. He then F5ed him through the announce table.

    The crowd responded with more Punk chants. 

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I believe he deserves louder than that."—Heyman to the fans.

    "People accept lies so much easier, but the truth does sting just a little bit, doesn't it?"—Heyman to the fans. 

    "I provided CM Punk with the bosom from which his soul could be nourished."—Heyman.

    "I want the streak conquered."—Heyman.

    Lesnar throws a TV monitor and bounces out of the ring into the crowd.

     

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    Heyman was his usual stellar self, dripping with despicableness. Teasing Punk's return was smart, not delivering on it was just the opposite.

    The anticipation of seeing Punk come back was replaced with a punch to the gut, a feeling that cancels out some of the Heyman's brilliance and Lesnar's fury.

    Not feeding the hungry, vocal Punk fans led to distracting chants during Lesnar's vicious attack on Henry. It ended up keeping the Chicago fans waiting around for Punk to return, despite what Heyman said, a move that feels like WWE was either holding up its middle finger to Chicago or trying to prove that Punk shouldn't be cheered.

    The result was an uncomfortable scenario that created a battle in addition to the matches for the rest of the night—Chicago fans versus WWE.

The New Age Outlaws vs. The Usos (Tag Team Championship)

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    The New Age Outlaws and The Usos battle on SmackDown.
    The New Age Outlaws and The Usos battle on SmackDown.Credit: WWE.com

    The tag champs donned WrestleMania XXX jerseys to go with the championship belts. Road Dogg told Chicago fans that they weren't worthy of hearing his catchphrases.

    Road Dogg flung Jey Uso into the corner, and Billy Gunn stomped on him outside the ring. The New Age Outlaws kept the high-flyer grounded and in their corner until a spinning kick freed him enough to tag in his brother.

    Jimmy Uso took on both men, hitting the running hip attack his father made famous.

    The pace of the match picked up, Jimmy kicking Road Dogg off the apron, Gunn sending Jimmy crashing to the mat. A superkick and a diving splash finished off The New Age Outlaws with Jey getting the pinfall on Gunn.

     

    Result

    The Usos win the championships by pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You sure a rambunctious gaggle."—Road Dogg to the fans.

    Jimmy tags Jey as he leaps over the rope onto Road Dogg.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    The Usos' crowning moment was expected and came in an average match. Still, seeing the likable pair finally achieve this goal was moving. 

    It's the smart move to take the titles away from Road Dogg and Gunn as well. They always felt like lame-duck champions because of their age.

    Now The Usos can head into WrestleMania with the titles, taking on one or more of the top teams in the division and producing a better match.

Cesaro vs. Big E

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    Right away, Cesaro caught Big E in midair and rammed his knee into the big man's side. The fans roared for the Swiss strongman as he tossed Big E out of the ring and then later dizzied him with the Cesaro Swing.

    Big E and Jack Swagger collided outside the ring, the Intercontinental champ clocking the man he defeated at Elimination Chamber. Swagger then charged in, hitting a Swagger bomb on Big E, forcing the referee to end the match.

    The Real Americans squabbled, and Big E swooped in to hit the Big Ending.

     

    Result

    Big E wins via disqualification. 

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Cesaro catches Big E in the air and hits a backbreaker.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    WWE understandably wants to continue the tension between The Real Americans, but repeating nearly the exact same scenario as last Monday is uncreative. 

    To do it before the match could do much entertaining which leads to a deflating feeling for the audience. This felt like a throwaway bout, a transition chapter in a longer story.

    It's strange too that Cesaro hasn't lost his cool yet. He seems only mildly annoyed by Swagger costing him victories and hasn't even evolved to passionate yelling yet.

    The climax of this story will be fun, but this part certainly isn't.

The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family

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    The Shield flew out of the ring before The Wyatt Family could enter the ring. Luke Harper and Seth Rollins began the official beginning of the match.

    Rollins launched himself at Bray Wyatt's whole clan, but Harper soon hurled him into the security barricade. A hurting Rollins reached for the tag, but Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns weren't there, both distracted by Wyatt.

    Ambrose did make his way in and attacked Erick Rowan's knee.

    He locked in the figure-four leglock only to suffer a stomp to the gut from Harper. The pace quickened, the referee struggling to keep order. Wyatt slammed Ambrose down; Harper put his feet on his throat.

    Ambrose laid out Wyatt with a DDT and then crawled to the corner, but Rollins walked away.

    He told Reigns that he and Ambrose were on their own. Reigns tore through the opposition, clocking everything within striking range. He bashed Harper with his apron dropkick before the match's order fell apart altogether.

    With Reigns hurt on the outside, Wyatt hit Sister's Abigail Kiss on Ambrose for the win. 

     

    Result

    The Wyatt Family wins by pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Rollins lands on his feet after Harper suplexes him from the top rope.

    "Chaos used to favor The Shield."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

    Ambrose hits a nasty DDT on Wyatt.

    "You too figure it out."—Rollins to Reigns.

    Reigns spears Rowan over the announce table.

    Harper hits a suicide dive that knocks Reigns over the announce table. 

    "I told you it's Armageddon."—Michael Cole.

     

    Grade

    A+

     

    Analysis

    WWE has excelled when it has come to this feud and these two groups.

    The factions delivered a great match complete with what looks to be the end of The Shield. Rollins did look regretful after watching Ambrose get pinned so he may try to reconcile with his teammates. Either way, this story continues to be compelling, and the in-ring action earned the "This is awesome!" chants it garnered.

    The blend of brutality and athleticism, animosity and uncertainty that has been the collisions between these squads is the highlight of the company right now.

Summer Rae and Fandango vs. Emma and Santino Marella

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    Santino Marella and Emma tagged in and out several times, forcing Fandango and Summer Rae to enter and exit the ring again and again.

    Fandango finally began the match in earnest, hitting Santino with a right hand. The ballroom dancer dominated Santino briefly, but missing his diving leg drop evened things out.

    The Divas then clashed, Emma knocking Summer over with clotheslines, dancing in between her moves.

    Emma hit the Emma Sandwich, and the crowd responded with disinterest. Santino chased Fandango away, while Emma applied the Emma Lock. The silly couple then celebrated awkwardly.

     

    Result

    Emma and Santino win via submission.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Fandango rolls through a missed diving leg drop. 

    Santino nearly drops Emma while they are celebrating.

     

    Grade

    C

     

    Analysis

    On a night where Chicago fans are expecting to see Punk, putting on a silly match like this is asking for a lack of response.

    WWE did give Emma a chance to introduce more of her move set, but there was more slapstick with Santino than there was actual in-ring action. It's a poor choice not to mention Emma's match with Paige on NXT: ArRival to play up how good she is. It would have been an easy plug for the WWE Network as well.

    The company is taking its time in bringing Emma along, so far only having her play a comic-relief role and not the gutsy-but-goofy fan favorite she excelled at playing in NXT. 

Sheamus vs. Christian

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    Christian began these rivals' latest clash with a pair of slaps. Those blows seemed to please Sheamus.

    "The Celtic Warrior" knocked Christian around, bashing him against the barricade and delivering a Irish Curse backbreaker. Christian briefly took back the advantage, but Sheamus dodged a crossbody and watched his foe fall on his face.

    They fought on the outside, Christian scurrying around the announce table.

    Christian brawled his way to control of the match. He then mocked the crowd as he had Sheamus hurting and unable to string together any offense. "Captain Charisma" escaped Sheamus' signature moves for a while, but the Irishman's forearms soon met his chest.

    A frog splash wasn't enough to put Sheamus away. Sheamus' White Noise only earned him a two-count.

    It took a Brogue Kick from the apron to keep Christian down.

    Backstage, Sheamus spoke with Renee Young. Christian interrupted the interview, attacking him with a stage light.

     

    Result

    Sheamus wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Christian pushes Sheamus off the top rope.

     

    Grade

    B+

     

    Analysis

    The fans upset about Punk not showing up yet took it out on this match, chanting "This is awful." While it wasn't as compelling as their previous efforts, it was an entertaining match that showed off their excellent chemistry.

    It had less big moments than their match on last Monday's Raw or the SmackDown before Elimination Chamber. 

    WWE is going to have a tough time selling Christian as a threat to Sheamus should these men meet at WrestleMania. He has yet to get a win in this series. 

The Bella Twins vs. Alicia Fox and Aksana

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    Alicia Fox and Aksana kept Brie Bella in their corner, stomping and slamming her. Brie squealed in pain, the fans chanting for Punk in the background.

    When Nikki Bella entered, she tossed Fox around. Aksana and Brie battled in one corner as Nikki hit Fox with a backbreaker for the win.

     

    Result

    The Bella Twins win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Aksana and Fox drop Brie on the back of her head.

     

    Grade

    C-

     

    Analysis

    Feeding these two Divas to a restless crowd wasn't fair to the performers. There is nothing they could have done to win over the Punk-focused audience.

    They offered a few bursts of excitement in a match with too sharp of an arc. The typical hurried nature of Divas matches had the familiar effect of gutting it of emotion.

Daniel Bryan Challenges Triple H

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    Daniel Bryan addressed the audience from in the ring. He demanded that Batista come down to fight him or that Triple H accept his challenge for a WrestleMania match.

    The Authority stepped out, Triple H soaking up the CM Punk chants with a grin. Bryan recalled all the times Triple H has screwed him over before challenging Triple H again.

    The COO scoffed at the idea. He brought up the "B+" argument again and said that Bryan wasn't good enough to face him.

    Stephanie McMahon told Bryan that without his family, he'd be nothing.

    Bryan suggested that McMahon put on Triple H's trunks and fight him if "The Game" wouldn't. Triple H told him to leave, Bryan refused, and Kane came down to take care of the bearded warrior.

    Kane couldn't even step between the ropes before Bryan dove at him, punching at his head. Security threw Bryan out.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Careful what you ask for, garden gnome."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield on Bryan.

    The Chicago fans drown out The Authority and toss out non-PG taunts.

    "Here I stand, unbroken, with these people behind me."—Bryan.

    "I'm 90 percent sure, she'd whip your ass too.""—Triple H on McMahon to Bryan.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    If WWE doesn't end up booking Triple H vs. Bryan, this will all be a waste, but if that match happens as expected, it will be moments like this one that make that such a satisfying experience.

    Triple H's condescension is infuriating, and the unfairness of Bryan's story makes one forget that it's all a scripted show. It's hard to not try to punch Triple H through the TV. That's a rare kind of heat he's generating.

    As long as WWE allows Bryan to prove Triple H wrong about him, and he finally gets a true triumph, this will all be brilliant in retrospect.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler

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    Aaron Paul drove Dolph Ziggler into the arena in a sports car and sat in on commentary.

    Alberto Del Rio attacked first, throwing in a Ziggler-like taunt in between offensive moves. Paul talked up Need for Speed as Ziggler dished out some punches only to suffer a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.

    Paul stood on the announce table to bark at Del Rio. It distracted Del Rio enough for Ziggler to hit the Zig Zag and get the three-count.

     

    Result

    Ziggler wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Ziggler outdoes Del Rio's trademark entrances in cars.

    Paul reacts viscerally to just about every blow in the ring.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    The short match featured some good action from two outstanding in-ring performers who have locked horns countless times. They didn't challenge their best matches together, but it was fun, thanks to the surprise entrance and the fan favorite getting the win.

    Del Rio didn't build on his win against Batista from last week, likely meaning he'll be in the category of Superstars that will struggle to make it on the WrestleMania card.

Big E vs. Jack Swagger

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    Before either man could throw the first blow, Cesaro ran in and hit the Neutralizer on Big E, ending the match. Swagger got into Cesaro's face and pushed him.

    Just as Cesaro prepared to deliver the Cesaro Swing, Zeb Colter encouraged him not to attack his "brother." He backed off, and Swagger begrudgingly took Cesaro's hand.

    Colter asked them to hug it out. They gave each other angry hugs and kept jawing at each other.

     

    Result

    Big E wins via disqualification.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "What's good for the goose is good for the Swagger." Jerry Lawler.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    The match itself was nonexistent, but the post-match staredown featured the intensity that was missing from Cesaro and Swagger's earlier exchange.

    Colter looks like an amazing manager after talking these two out of clobbering each other. The Real Americans' split is coming for sure, but delaying it some builds suspense. Adding some cracks to their alliance, though, makes for compelling TV.

John Cena Addresses The Wyatt Family

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    Hobbled, but smiling, John Cena stepped into the ring, only to be welcomed by the night's familiar refrain—CM Punk chants.

    He said the doctors prevented him from competing. Cena talked about how special Chicago and the Allstate Arena was to him, from debuting there to battling Punk at Money in the Bank.

    Bray Wyatt cut his speech short, appearing on the Titantron while Cena stood in the dark.

    Wyatt compared Cena to a racehorse at the end of his career, saying he would put him down.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Mercy is calling you by name."—Wyatt to Cena.

    "The loneliest man on Earth is the man who sits alone atop his empty castle."—Wyatt to Cena.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    Cena did well to win some of the Chicago fans over by complimenting how loud and vocal they were. His speech focused too much on Chicago, though, as the rest of the world watched him placate to another city.

    Punk chants ruined the effect of Wyatt's promo, but he gave another standout performance.

    The Wyatt vs. Cena feud is assured great verbal confrontations, and this was not one of them. It was simply good, forcing fans to wait for the rivalry to truly get rolling.

Daniel Bryan vs. Batista

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    Before the match, Batista spoke with Renee Young backstage. He said that average guys aren't superheroes and dismissed Bryan as a viable Superstar.

    Randy Orton paced near ringside, clutching his championships. Orton's presence distracted Batista, who overpowered Bryan early on.

    Bryan went after the bigger man's leg, dropkicking his knee and whipping the limb around violently. A half Boston crab had Batista in pain, a series of uppercuts had "The Animal" dazed. 

    The powerhouse hit a clothesline to shift the advantage back his way.

    The bearded warrior fought back with his usual frenetic energy, flying at Batista through the ropes and hitting a missile dropkick that had the fans roaring.

    The Authority sauntered down to the ring, distracting Bryan. Batista then hurled Bryan into Orton. 

    Orton then attacked Bryan who hit him with a flying knee. Bryan knocked everyone on their back, but a spear from Batista halted his flurry.

    Bryan made Triple H woozy with a kick to the head, only to have Batista powerbomb him. "The Game" followed up with a Pedigree. The Authority towered over a fallen Bryan, a scene fans saw so many times in 2013. 

     

    Result

    The match ends in a no-contest.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "The Yes Movement is possibly the dumbest thing I've ever seen in my life."—Batista.

    Bryan gets an incredibly close two-count after a kick to the head.

    Batista mocks Bryan's Yes! chant.

     

    Grade

    A-

     

    Analysis

    WWE has gone back to the familiar story of "the man" beating Bryan down. It's an emotional story, one that appeals to the audience's sense of justice.

    As much as many fans want Bryan to be in the title picture, it's upsetting scenes like this one that make Bryan vs. Triple H the more entertaining, cathartic match.

    Delaying making it official is smart, and one almost starts to believe Triple H that the match will never happen. Fans know better, though, and this is all the slow, mostly one-sided buildup to what should be an unforgettable climax at WrestleMania.