Coming off a lackluster Extreme Rules Pay-Per View aka Special Event, tonight’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw featured the continuation of storylines involving The Shield and Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority/Evolution, a rematch for the Intercontinental Championship, crowning of a new United States Champion and an excellent main event.
As mentioned in previous weeks, you’re not going to find in-depth analysis and criticism of the matches. I’m not a play-by-play analyst; my opinion of matches basically falls within was I entertained by it or not. There will be no “5-star” match ratings and that other nonsense. This is about the angles and storylines heading into matches and the stories that come as a result. I’ll highlight the storylines and feuds I found the most interesting during the program, as well as list the match results and a short commentary after.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk discuss the rundown for my WWE Raw Review.
The Opening Segment | Triple H Flexes His Authority and Costs Dean Ambrose His Gold
As a result of The Shield’s dominance at Extreme Rules, it is announced that Dean Ambrose must defend his United States Championship in a 20-man Over the Top Battle Royal. What a great way to kick off Monday Night Raw! This is furthering the feud between The Shield and Triple H and I expected a title change going into the match. Needless to say, I called it. Sheamus wins the United States championship, ending Dean Ambrose’s 351-day reign.
After Ambrose’s loss, The Shield attempts to regroup in the ring. Before long, WWE COO Triple H comes out at the top of the stage. “Last night, Evolution and The Shield engaged in an unforgettable war, and at the end of it, you three were extremely lucky,” Triple H tells the Shield. “Since Ambrose has just lost his US Championship, it looks like your luck is changing and considering the fact that at the end of the night tonight the three of you are gonna be in six man competition against The Wyatt Family, I’d be willing to say your luck has run out.”
Triple H’s vendetta against the rising stars doesn’t appear to be over by any means. Triple H has finally found his groove as the heel authority figure, the fact that he isn’t trying to pretend to be a good guy just doing what’s “best for business” helps. He can be as vindictive and hateful as he wants because it’s in line with his character. I’m excited for this.
Stephanie McMahon and her Big Red Monster Continue Their Attempts to End The ‘YES’ Movement
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and wife Brie Bella are in their locker room discussing how he feels. Stephanie McMahon interrupts the couple and congratulates Bryan on his “victory” (air quotes included) over Kane at Extreme Rules. She tells Bryan that the only thing he accomplished the night before was angering Kane even more, warning Bryan that an angry Kane is capable of unspeakable violence. Of course, because Stephanie has to do what is “best for business,” she decides to protect Bryan by keeping him away from Kane. “As a member of The Authority, the only way that I can guarantee your safety is if you stay put in this locker room until your match later tonight.” Bryan sarcastically thanks Stephanie for her concern and as she leaves, Brie notices Kane’s mask nailed to their door.
Later, Brie and Bryan attempt to leave the arena but are stopped by Stephanie. She informs Bryan that he can’t leave because he has a match and if he does, he’ll be in breach of his contract and will be stripped of the championship. Of course, Stephanie laid on the concern with just enough sincerity to seem legit, but it’s not. Fast forward to the end of Bryan’s match, Kane’s pyro goes off and it sends Bryan and Brie in search of safety.
In what can only be described as a poor homage to horror films, the Bryans car won’t start, Bryan gets out to check it out only for Kane to suddenly appear in the backseat. Brie’s screams of terror were hilarious in a bad way. Bryan is able to get Kane out of the car and speeds away. I was hoping this feud was a one-and-done thing at Extreme Rules, unfortunately no.
RAW POSTMORTEM THOUGHTS
- With Sheamus’ US Title victory, I’m hoping this keeps him away from the main event picture and leads to a much needed character revamp. Sheamus has played the same stale character for years. He can’t just be the happy-go-lucky Irish fella with a mean bicycle kick. Rumor has it he’s about to embark on a heel turn. Good! Perhaps he’ll join The Authority and get a much needed rub.
- No Divas match, no Divas segment. Interesting…
- Adam Rose debuted. Moving on…
- Each week, WWE unveils more layers of Bray Wyatt’s cult-leader personality and this week was the perfect follow up to the happenings at Extreme Rules. Bray spoke about John Cena losing the support of the children, as they’re beginning to see through the façade Cena puts up. Cena may call Bray a monster, but he embraces it. He says the world must be burned down so it can be reborn in his image. He spoke about why he does what he does, giving examples of people the world turned their backs on. He ended by calling himself a God. Definitely one of his better performances. Cena is expected to respond to Wyatt’s promo tomorrow night on Main Event on the WWE Network. Hopefully Cena strikes the right tone and approaches it with seriousness rather than the alternating snark/comedy of his promo last week.
- Last night during Extreme Rules, I was extremely puzzled by Lana and Alexander Rusev apparently hailing from Russia. I know it’s still early in their run so I expect tweaks to the characters from time to time. Luckily tonight, Lana explained in her pre-match promo that Rusev now resides in Russia. I give the company credit for at least acknowledging the change in the characters. Not sure what if the whole “foreign heat” concept works here, but I’ll give this more time. Lana is great on the mic and Rusev continues to show great potential in the ring. He still needs a meaningful feud.
- Raw ended with a late appearance by Evolution (sporting new merchandise by the way) providing a distraction and ensuring The Shield’s defeat. The Shield rebelled against The Authority and Evolution must stop The Shield’s ascent before they inspire more to act the same. It’s a great thorough line to play up, provided The Shield ultimately puts an end to Evolution. I doubt we’ll see another 6-man match at the next PPV, so I’m thinking individual matches? I don’t know. It would be too soon to have Reigns face Triple H, especially when that should be saved for a bigger event.
1) 20-Man Battle Royal for the United States Championship
Participants: Dean Ambrose, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, Mark Henry, Titus O’Neal, Damien Sandow, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Zack Ryder, Santino Marella, Sin Cara, Dolph Ziggler, Heath Slater, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Sheamus, The Big Show
Winner: Sheamus wins after hitting the Brogue Kick and tossing Ambrose out the ring.
Commentary: Hot opener. Very chaotic, very messy, but sub-storylines were showcased. Cody accidentally eliminating Goldust, only for Cody to be eliminated by Rybaxel keeps their feud going while also teasing more dissention between the Rhodes brothers. Not sure I’m totally sold on Sheamus winning the US title, but as stated above, if it leads to more then great.
2) Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro w/ Paul Heyman
Winner: Rob Van Dam by DQ
Commentary: RVD was sporting a nasty shiner from last night’s event. Overall it was a good match that will prolong the feud between the two Heyman Guys. The WWE needs more non-title feuds in the undercard and this is a great way to go. Cesaro carries himself like a star and getting a nice win over RVD at the culmination of this feud will be the right decision.
3) Ryback w/ Curtis Axel vs. Cody Rhodes w/ Goldust
Winner: Ryback via pinfall
Commentary: Okay match wise. I’m fine with Cody taking the loss because the WWE is accomplishing two goals at the moment, pushing Rybaxel as a legitimate team and heading towards the inevitable split between Cody and Goldust. Goldust accidentally cost Cody the match due to Curtis Axel throwing him into the ring post.
4) Kofi Kingston vs. Alexander Rusev w/ Lana
Winner: Rusev via submission
Commentary: Rusev’s power is a feat to watch, but so was Ryback’s and Sheamus when they first debut. I don’t mean that as a knock against Rusev, just pointing out that impressive displays of power can’t sustain momentum and/or hold fan interest. Also, am I the only one who noticed that Rusev’s last sets of opponents have been minorities?
5) WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan w/ Brie Bella vs. Alberto Del Rio
Winner: Daniel Bryan via submission with the Yes Lock
Commentary: Solid match with Bryan playing up his injuries from last night. I remain bored by Del Rio, but I can’t take way his ability to put on a good match every now and again. The big fallout from this was the post-match angle with Bryan and Brie attempting to flee the arena because of Kane.
6) Intercontinental Championship Rematch
Wade “Bad News” Barrett (c) vs. Big E
Winner: Barrett via pinfall with the Bull Hammer
Commentary: Time for Barrett to be put into a feud and defend this title. The IC championship should be defended on every Raw, with Barrett being a fighting champion. Without PPV’s to sell (at least domestically), the focus should be on telling good TV, what makes better TV than a championship match?
7) The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) vs. The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Bray Wyatt)
Winner: Bray Wyatt via pinfall with Sister Abigail after the distraction by Triple H.
Commentary: Strong main event to cap off what was a great 2 out of 3 hours of TV. Keeping The Wyatts and The Shield as adversaries harkens back to the Attitude era when rivalries between stables and tag-teams were maintained even as they were embroiled in other feuds. I long for the day when Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt go head-to-head in one-on-one competition.
I hope you enjoyed the first of what will hopefully be a series of reviews for WWE Raw. I want these reviews to be a platform for discussion. If you have an opinion that differs from mine, feel free to share it. Debate is what makes wrestling fandom so awesome. One person’s interpretation of a match/storyline can be completely different from another. Hit the comments and let me know your thoughts on the May 3 edition of WWE Raw.