This was easily the most I’ve ever written for Raw, because it was quite entertaining this week. While the night wasn’t filled with returns as I suspected, it was filled with great matches, and great build. The three hours seemed to have flown by quickly because everything was moving at a great pace.
All can say is that this announcement didn’t really shake the WWE universe to its core, but it can be considered a big deal. Before I make any comment on the actual announcement, I need to say that this “controversy” still didn’t make much sense, because Reigns won clean. The Rock didn’t help him eliminate others from the Rumble match, if anything he helped officiate the match by getting rid of Show and Kane. I guess this was the best they could do after receiving smark backlash. Was it just me, or was this crowd popping for Roman when he came out? It was really brave for WWE to bring Bryan out at the same time as Roman, simply because they could risk making their top project look less popular. The announcement itself was actually great from a booking perspective, because it set up for an interesting Raw and makes for an interesting build to Mania. There was no smarter way than to book Reigns as a sympathetic person, someone that earned his way but needs to conquer more odds. This can easily win over the hearts of many fans, because in all fairness to the tradition of the Rumble, Reigns deserves to be in the main event. The change to Roman’s character was evident here, they’re taking him back to the serious and silent type of wrestler as opposed to the Cena-esque funny guy. This is the character he should have stuck with all along .I disagreed with the treatment of Bryan in this segment, Hunter really spoke down to him and it made him look less threatening, but that’s what Triple H does best.
Big Show vs Roman Reigns
Why? Can someone please explain to me why this match has to happen for the 6th straight week? They could have even brought out Kane or Harper. Reigns was going to lose the match either way, so he could have taken on some one new. Having Reigns lose this match was a good idea, because it gives more to his character that we need to sympathize with. That’s all I have to say about this match, at least until their rematch on Smackdown this week and Raw next week.
Dean Ambrose/Curtis Axel
I think it was great they gave a nod to the internet phenomenon that was “Axel was never eliminated!” I genuinely got a laugh out of this segment. I loved Ambrose’s intentions, he actually wants to challenge for the Intercontinental title. This type of push reminds me of how Cena was pushed in 04/05. Fans may judge the WWE for pushing Reigns quickly, but their taking their time with Ambrose and looks like they have big plans for him.
Cena Promo- Welcome back to Ziggler, Ryback, and Harper
I don’t know what this promo was supposed to accomplish. We’ve seen these men back for almost two weeks, and they’ve even made appearances on Smackdown. One thing I do like about these three being tied together is that it keeps up continuity from Survivor Series. It really shows these men have respect for each other and not just for a PPV build. Stephanie could have easily announced these matches well in advance, or maybe they didn’t need to be announced. Also, Rusev was hardly brought up in this segment, which was quite nonsensical. This is the guy Cena is feuding with, why isn’t he built on it even more? Cena’s rivalry with the Authority is pretty much over; I don’t think he should be focusing on them. As of now, it should be about disliking Rusev.
Uso vs Cesaro
Other than using his signature swing, Cesaro wasn’t very over. At moments it seemed like this crowd was popping a lot more for Jimmy Uso. It was nice to see back-to-back good matches. The ending was executed perfectly, especially with Cesaro using that upper cut to get a clean victory. WWE is subtly pushing this tag team of Cesaro and Kidd, and they’ve given them enough time to build some chemistry together. A few weeks ago I thought they were more of a mismatch, but now they know how to feed off each other’s in ring ability and psychology.
Bray Wyatt vs Dolph Ziggler
This match has to be Raw’s match of the year to this point. These two paced everything out perfectly, and had amazing spots. The vertical suplex from Wyatt to Ziggler goes to show how creative and ring savy both of these men are. The clothesline from Wyatt showed that Ziggler’s ability to sell has not gotten rusty. I had a feeling the eater of worlds was bound to win, but there were moments Ziggler almost changed my mind. These two had me wanting a Bray-Ziggler feud for Fastlane and into Mania. About two segments after tis match, Wyatt cut a backstage promo where he was speaking to someone who has been gone. After making references to being the most feared, and that “the devil wants to see you again” there is no doubt in my mind we’re getting ready for Wyatt vs Undertaker at Wrestlemania 31. Everything about this promo gave me chills.
Rusev vs Eric Rowan
Well this match didn’t even start, but it was great way of making Rusev look like a threat. As I mentioned in my prediction, they should have had Cena come out and get some sort of upper hand on him. I find it unrealistic that Rusev is a tough obstacle for Cena to overcome, because it’s the other way around. This segment didn’t do much for the feud itself, we should have at least seen Cena interact with Rusev or Lana. I’m shocked with how fast this program has cooled down, considering how hot it was last week.
Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins
This match capped off a Raw full of good matches. These two men are familiar with each other from ROH, so it was going to be a great match. The match started off slow, but they picked up when Daniel Bryan took full control with his kicks and amazing suicide dive. I think the turnbuckle spot was the highlight of this match from a wrestling perspective. Not many wrestlers can transition a top rope hurricarana into a sitting power bomb, and watching Seth execute this was a thing of beauty. While I was hoping to see a Randy Orton run in, the Reigns run in was just as good. I’ve never seen Roman get that much air on a spear, I marked out. After the night was said and done, Reigns came off as more of a tweener, which might be the best role for him.
Other than the build for Rusev-Cena, I very much enjoyed this week’s edition of Raw. They went about the right way to make all the fans happy by inserting Daniel Bryan into a feud with Roman. These two will be great together, especially if Bryan continues to play nice guy, while Roman continues to play “badass”. While these two men were the centre of the show, I personally believe Bray Wyatt emerged as the true star. Overall I give this Raw 7.8/10, or a B+.
Stone Cold Podcast
They said it flat out at the start, kayfabe is dead, and Austin couldn’t be more right. This interview was obviously directed towards many smarks that have had an issue with the product over the past few weeks or even months. I’d never thought I’d see WWE produce a shoot interview to this magnitude. Once they started to use the terms we use on the internet, this might have been the biggest tell all from WWE .All I can say, this company is in good hands with Triple H. He finally explained everything and even broke it down for us to understand. I couldn’t agree more with him when he said as of now they appeal to a wider range of audiences as opposed to 15 years ago. In actuality this makes sense, and I’m sure that’s why they have trouble pushing some wrestlers over others. In a very odd way I felt at times Hunter “buried Vince” by saying how some decisions weren’t his, especially how he hates the 3 hours Raw format. Maybe this was his way of telling us Vince makes many all of the questionable decisions. One person he chose not to bury was CM Punk. I felt he made Punk look like a bitter man, while Hunter knew it was all business. All and all, he explained aspects of the business that not many fans would have to time to think of, and even if they do, he went more in depth. These days this type of information is what fans need to understand decisions made by the WWE. Sometimes its much easier saying otherwise than fully having a grasp of what occurs backstage .It was great he touched on those certain topics, I’d love to see another one with Triple H sometime after Mania.