The road to WrestleMania is officially underway and it is selling time. These next few weeks will almost solely be focused on developing storylines and trying to get the WWE Universe to buy into the people the WWE wants them to. The WWE really wants the majority of the fans to be excited for the Roman Reigns versus Brock Lesnar matchup for the WWE title at WrestleMania. The feud got off to a horrendous start when the audience rejected Reigns as the new face of the company. They wanted to see Daniel Bryan once again headline WrestleMania and take back the title he was forced to give up due to injury. A lot of people feel like they were robbed of witnessing Daniel Bryan have a substantial title reign. Ultimately, the show must go on and there are much more matches that need to be built up besides Reigns versus Lesnar.
Both the Intercontinental and Tag Team titles need to be built up in these next few weeks. The WWE has already announced a ladder match for the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania, but they have not announced the participants in the match. Perhaps that is where Ziggler and Bryan will wind up, along with Dean Ambrose and Wade Barrett. Will the team of Cesaro and Kidd once again fight the Usos at WrestleMania or will they defend their titles against someone else? The WWE has a few weeks to get the audience's attention and more importantly, tempt them to grab their credit cards and sign up for the WWE Network. These next few Monday Night Raws before WrestleMania are the most important episodes of the year. The success of WrestleMania 31 depends on them delivering and getting their fans hyped for the biggest show of the year. Did this episode of Raw succeed in doing any of that? Let’s see.
10 The Future is Here
The WWE is really playing up the Seth Rollins and Jon Stewart angle. Raw opened by showing us Seth Rollins invading The Daily Show. What followed was a promo by Rollings. It seems like Monday Night Raw has opened with a promo for the past 100 episodes. Reigns interrupts Rollins to further develop the storyline that Rollins still holds the Money in the Bank briefcase. This was an interesting set up and the WWE is seemingly already developing a feud for after WrestleMania between Reigns and Rollins. Rollins shined later on in the night while hosting "The Daily Show" on Raw. It was just a few months ago that most felt that his verbal skills would be his downfall and it was just a few weeks ago everyone thought the leaked photos from his phone would be his downfall. Rollins continues to progress and impress. This episode of Raw should have proven to most that he is the real deal and the future of the WWE isn't as bleak as we all want to make it out to be.
9 Time Heals All
Randy Orton had grown stale with the WWE Universe before his absence during recent weeks. After the popular “RKO from out of nowhere” vines lost their popularity, Randy Orton seemed lost within the roster. He has the look of a main-eventer, but over time the WWE Universe seemed to have lost interest in his character. He is most effective as a heel within the company, but the WWE seems to be gearing him up for a face-turn and ultimately to be the one to try and take down The Authority. Even though he helped him in the main event of Raw, Randy Orton is still most likely going to face Seth Rollins at WrestleMania. Having said that, Seth Rollins was all over this Raw. so the WWE could go in a number of directions with him.
8 Climbing the Ladder to Relevancy
The Intercontinental Championship angle is in motion. Wade Barrett is another superstar that seems lost in his current role. His popular “Bad News Barrett” promos seem to be the only thing the audience loves. However, his talent in the ring is exceptional, yet on this episode of Raw, when he faced Dean Ambrose, only Ambrose's entrance shown live. It is rare that a champion isn’t shown walking to the ring. The reasonable takeaway from this is that Barrett will not be leaving WrestleMania as champion.Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper, R-Truth and Dolph Ziggler are most likely going to be included in the Intercontinental Championship ladder match. It may not be what Daniel Bryan fans want but it is currently where he stands. This might also not be a popular opinion, but I see no reason for Daniel Bryan to win that match. His popularity is undeniable so I believe that it would make the most sense for one of the other superstars to win that match. Even though the match is shaping up to be a showcase of talent, the WWE has no idea what to do with, it is most certainly going to be the most exciting match on the WrestleMania card. Am I looking forward to the match? As R-Truth would say, “for shizzle!”
7 Dysfunction in the Ranks
Damien Mizdow and the Miz are almost certainly going to be facing each other at WrestleMania. The WWE has been teasing this for weeks and it is a logical match to have. The Miz is a very serviceable heel, however it does make you wonder what Damien Mizdow will do after this. Will he go back to being Damien Sandow, the rope wearing superior being? Or will it lead to a completely new character? Either way, this angle has my attention and the erectile dysfunction commercial starring the Miz brought the angle to new heights.
6 Things are Heating Up
Bray Wyatt versus the Undertaker is a certainty at this point. Wyatt has been cutting ominous promos for a while now and at WWE Fastlane he finally mentioned The Undertaker’s name. There have been rumors that The Undertaker would show up on tonight’s Raw and there have also been rumors that he wouldn’t be seen until he walks to the ring at WrestleMania. On this episode, Wyatt set fire to a casket to symbolize that The Undertaker’s power is weakened and that he doesn’t stand a chance at their match at WrestleMania. It's shaping up to be an interesting match and we can look forward to more awesome promos from Wyatt on the road to WrestleMania.
5 Here We Go Again
For the thousandth time, the Usos faced Cesaro and Kidd. There was a bit of a wrinkle thrown into this match as both Natalya and Naomi were involved in this match. I don’t think this feud between the Usos and Cesaro and Kidd is doing anything but providing the announcers an opportunity to bring up Total Divas. If this is the matchup that is going to take place at WrestleMania, it will most likely be relegated to the pre-show of the PPV. Hopefully over the next few weeks, another team will be inserted into this storyline and at the very least give the illusion that there are more than two teams involved in the Tag Team title picture.
4 Axelmania Runs Wild on the Cenation
John Cena is once again calling out Rusev. Their match at Fastlane was surprisingly good, even though the two definitely have some chemistry to develop. Throughout their match at Fastlane, the cameras were constantly picking up John Cena calling the match and laying out the moves we were about to see. Even though Cena is vying to join the Andre the Giant battle royal, he will most certainly be facing Rusev at WrestleMania. In this segment, Stephanie McMahon once again proves she is one of greatest talkers the WWE has ever seen. She absolutely dismantled John Cena in this promo, claiming that the fans do not want to see Cena be a part of WrestleMania at all. This promo accomplished a a lot because it makes it seem like John Cena has to prove himself all over again. We all know this isn't true, but it makes the Cena character feel slightly less stale and boring. Curtis Axel made an amusing appearance and is welcomed with a warm reception. He is then promptly destroyed by John Cena. However, everyone can tell their grandchildren that on March 2nd, 2015, Curtis Axel was more popular than John Cena.
3 Sting vs Triple H is Going to be Good
The Triple H versus String match at WrestleMania seems to be centered around the WWE versus WCW angle. It is an interesting way to approach this feud because in that scenario it seems logical to cheer for Triple H, even though that is clearly not what they are going for. The crowd will almost certainly be in Sting's corner but there may be a section of the audience that will cheer for Triple H because he is regarded as a WWE guy. When the WCW invasion took place in 2001, the WWE depicted them as the bad guys. They were the intruders trying to takeover WWE programming. Now, they are asking the audience to root for a guy that was in WCW longer than most. It's definitely interesting and I think the audience might actually wind up being split down the middle, no matter how hard they try to depict Triple H as the bad guy. The fake firing of Booker T was to both depict Triple H as the evil boss and also a tool to promote the Booker T documentary that aired right after Raw on the WWE Network. I still feel like there will be a large portion of the audience that will cheer for Triple H during his match versus Sting. I also believe that isn't a bad thing, as the WWE is doing a very good job of getting the audience invested in this match. Now we can all dig that, sucka.
2 They Are Finally Giving Them a Chance
The #GiveDivasaChance hashtag went viral on Twitter and subsequently prompted responses from several key figures within WWE. AJ Lee made some remarks towards Stephanie McMahon which caused her to respond. Also, Vince McMahon himself addressed the hashtag by tweeting "We hear you. Keep watching.#GiveDivasaChance." The match between Nikki Bella and Paige that aired on Raw ran four minutes long. There was a commercial break during the matchup, but honestly that is longer than most divas matches. AJ Lee also returned during this match and was greeted with CM Punk chants. Yes, WWE Universe, we all know she is married to CM Punk. We also all know he is now in the UFC. This is a problem that the WWE will never be able to avoid, but it is nice to see some excitement surrounding the Divas division. Hopefully the WWE continues to promote the women's division and doesn't revert back to giving them absolutely no time and just asking them to look pretty while boring us to tears.
1 The Table is Set and it Looks Delicious
Tonight's Raw accomplished a lot. It set the table for a WrestleMania that many feel like has no chance of being entertaining. WWE has actually been able to make John Cena seem like an underdog, while also making Rusev an even more hateable character. The WWE was also able to sell Lesnar versus Roman Reigns, mostly because of the terrific promo skills of Paul Heyman. The WWE was even able to utilize Jon Stewart much better than most of the celebrities they have brought into Raw. In a shocking development, the WWE may actually be well on their way to building a new star in Seth Rollins. That is a bold statement, because the WWE has struggled to build stars in talents the WWE Universe connected with and you can take Cesaro as an example. Roman Reigns also had a strong showing on Monday Night Raw. The road to WrestleMania is off to a solid start and isn't nearly as bumpy as many thought it would be, myself included.