Last week's Raw was very surprising to me. This was for numerous reasons, with the main one being that most Raw's that feature some kind of guest star usually never work. It always comes off as awkward and the celebrities seem out of place and generally uncomfortable. This was not the case last week, Jon Stewart seemed natural and actually was a great addition to the show. Seth Rollins proved that he is most likely going to be in the main-event picture for a long time. I consistently get frustrated with the WWE because they simply seem unable to develop new stars. It is obvious that Rollins is a world-class wrestler, but I believe that in short time he could become the company's top heel.
The hope was that this week's edition of Raw successfully builds off of the momentum of last week's show. There are several storylines that need to be progressed. We are fully on the road to WrestleMania and the WWE doesn't have too much time to sell their audience on the idea that the show will be worth buying. They already know their core audience will be watching the event on the WWE Network, but these next few weeks are all about getting those that are on the fence about the event to consider subscribing to the network. Will anymore superstars be entered into the ladder match for the Intercontinental title? Will the Miz and Damien Mizdow finally begin their feud? Will we get a response from The Undertaker or just another wacky Bray Wyatt promo? Is Sting going to show up and cause mayhem? Is the WWE actually going to give the Divas some time to wrestle? Let's see. Here are 10 takeaways from this week's episode of Monday Night Raw.
*Spoilers follow below!
10 Orton the Comedian
The show starts with Randy Orton being welcomed back into The Authority. It is once again a long-winded promo to open an episode of Monday Night Raw. Thankfully this one wasn't as painfully dull as most of the promos that air on Raw. This was mainly thanks to the Big Show openly mocking the Pittsburgh crowd. Randy Orton also displayed some comedic chops, ripping on Corporate Kane and Big Show. The show ended with Randy Orton flipping the bird to Seth Rollins during their handicap match against Roman Reigns, costing them the match. Orton then beat the living hell out of Seth Rollins after the match, culminating in an RKO through the announcer's table. It seems that we will indeed be seeing Rollins versus Orton at WrestleMania.
9 The Yes Snoozement & The "We Don't Know What Else to Do with You" Match
Pittsburgh cheered for Daniel Bryan's entrance but was pretty much silent during his match with Wade Barrett. There are two possible reasons for this. One is that Daniel Bryan suddenly has lost his popularity or the crowd has no interest in what WWE is doing with him and the logical answer is the latter. It seems like we are watching WWE intentionally reduce a superstar's popularity by just tossing him in a storyline that would have been more suited for him a couple of years ago. It is unfortunate, but just the reality of the situation.
The Intercontinental Championship ladder match will most likely be the best match on the card at WrestleMania. However, it seems to be just a bunch of random superstars tossed in together. There is the possibility that the ladder match will make the Intercontinental title feel relevant again, which is really the only positive I see in this. Sure, it will be a great match at WrestleMania, but it seems like many of the superstars involved in this match deserve something more.
8 Heyman Does it Again
Brock Lesnar is actually in the house! It has been awhile since the WWE Universe has actually seen him on Raw and the WWE has put in all their chips in the pot, hoping Paul Heyman can sell the WrestleMania main-event. Truth be told, Heyman has been doing an excellent job of selling the match between Reigns and Lesnar the past few weeks. Tonight was no different, as he delivered another effective promo. Heyman somehow manages to both sell Brock Lesnar as the biggest badass the WWE has ever seen while building up Roman Reigns. Heyman even mentioned the possibility of Lesnar leaving the WWE for the UFC. This was just another classic Heyman promo. If WrestleMania is as successful as the WWE hopes it will be, they can thank Paul Heyman for that.
7 The Flaming Rocking Chair
Throughout Raw, Bray Wyatt appeared in vignettes stating that The Undertaker needs to "find him." Finally, Wyatt entered the ring and cut yet another promo, proclaiming himself as "the new face of fear." Wyatt uncovers the urn and smoke comes out of it which leads to The Undertaker's bell ringing. The arena goes dark and the urn has been replaced with Wyatt's rocking chair. Then a digital lightning bolt stuck the chair and sets it on fire. This is as hokey as it gets folks. The crowd had no reaction to it at all and seemed bored by it. I was dumbfounded that the WWE thought this would be entertaining, so I don't blame them.
6 The End of the Authority?
In a tag-team match between Erick Rowan and Ryback versus Coporate Kane and Big Show, some dysfunction occurred. Big Show inadvertently hit the "knock out punch" on Kane and cost the team the match. After the match, Coporate Kane and Big Show started arguing, which led to Stephanie McMahon coming out and kicking the two out of the arena. Seth Rollins demanded that J&J Security leave ringside during the main-event. The Authority is either coming to an end or many of the wrestlers involved in the faction are set to get their own storylines post Wrestlemania.
5 Wiz & Wizdow Standing Tall
Wiz Khalifa makes an appearance on Raw and reveals to the Miz that "Wizdow" is not only an A-list WWE superstar, but also a skilled rapper. Damien Mizdow is revealed to be Wizdow and is sporting dreadlocks. Wizdow then spits some rhymes, before The Miz becomes even more infuriated with him than he has ever been. It is only a matter of time till the Miz and Mizdow turn on each other and face off at WrestleMania. Wiz Khalifa then performs while wearing one of John Cena's endless options of shirts. This makes it two weeks in a row that the WWE hasn't completely botched a celebrity guest appearance.
AJ Lee faced off against Summer Rae with pretty much every Diva on the roster standing outside the ring besides the Bella Twins. They were too busy talking about their roles in The Flinstones movie backstage. The match lasted a whopping three minutes and wasn't what I would call a technical masterpiece. There was also another brief Divas contest between Naomi and Natalya on the show.
It still seems like the WWE is still hesitant to allow the Divas on their roster to have a match of a decent length. The women's division in NXT is still far superior to the Divas division on Raw. This isn't because of talent, it is because the Divas get little to no time to perform on televised programming. It is still uncertain whether or not the #GiveDivasAChance movement that occurred on Twitter recently will actually change the way the WWE utilizes the Divas division.
3 Sting Calls Out Triple H
In a recorded vignette, Sting proclaimed that he will take Triple H down. Sting stated that he has been waiting 14 years to face Triple H and that at WrestleMania it will be "game over" for Triple H. This match is building a lot of momentum and hopefully it will deliver at WrestleMania. If you have watched TNA at all in the last few years, it is quite evident that Sting has slowed down quite a bit. However, if the crowd is fully invested in the match, Triple H and Sting wont have to do much in the ring to make it memorable.
2 The Road Is Getting Bumpy
John Cena confronted Rusev and got the upper hand. He got Rusev locked into the STF and the crowd chanted "USA!" Cena will not let go after Rusev taps and this leads to Lana making the match official for WrestleMania, so that Cena would release the hold. Their match at WWE Fastlane was surprisingly decent and one can assume that their match at WrestleMania will be even better.
The New Day defeated Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. This is actually quite substantial because it implies that there are more than two viable teams in the tag team division. It was also important because The Usos didn't face Cesaro and Kidd for the thousandth time. Instead, Los Matadores faced The Usos on Raw and the crowd was so uninterested they started chanting "CM Punk." All of a sudden, the WWE is hyping both the Intercontinental Championship and the Tag Team Championship. It seems completely random and poorly planned, but at least they are actually being featured on the show.
Why was Roman Reigns even on this show? The whole purpose of the main-event was to show dissension between Orton and Rollins. You could have replaced Reigns with Hownswoggle and it wouldn't have mattered. In fact, it probably would have been more entertaining if you did.
This week's episode of Raw was a major step back for the WWE. There were a few entertaining moments but for the most part the crowd wasn't engaged at all. Thus, continuing an unfortunate trend for the WWE. Every single time they take a step forward, they follow it with two steps back.
1 Connor's Cure
Connor "The Crusher" Michalek will receive the first ever Warrior Award at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This was a touching segment during the show that reminded us all that there are more important things in life than bickering about WWE storylines. Connor Michalek was an 8 year old Pittsburgh native whose life was cut tragically short due to cancer. The Warrior Award will be presented yearly from now on and it both a tribute to The Ultimate Warrior and people that exhibit the incredible strength that Connor demonstrated throughout his life. "Connor's Cure" is a fund that has been launched in an effort to conduct more pediatric cancer research. If you would like to donate, please visit givetochildrens.org/CONNORSCURE .