Monday Night Raw came to us on the heels of the Elimination Chamber pay per view. The event was marred in controversy and that drama certainly carried over into Raw. Legends, up and coming superstars, and massive returns ruled the night during this thrilling episode of WWE’s flagship show.
Raw got off to a raucous start due in large part to the highly anticipated return of Hulk Hogan. He got the crowd fired up with his one of a kind flare, boasting a red and yellow boa to the ring – a mix of his Real American and Hollywood gimmicks. The Hulkster, who actually seemed a bit nervous, talked about feeling good to be home and being excited about hosting the upcoming Wrestlemania event. Say what you want about Hogan, but he’s the true icon of wrestling and it’s great to see him in the WWE, the empire he helped build.
The crowd was pretty amped by the time we got to the first match between Batista and Alberto Del Rio, an Elimination Chamber rematch. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver – again. Batista seemed slow and perhaps a bit rattled as the crowd showered him with chants of “Boo-Tista” and boos throughout the match. To make matters worse, he ended up losing when Del Rio stole the victory via roll-up thanks to a distraction by Randy Orton. Honestly, the best thing about this entire segment was the post-match spat the former Evolution mates had in the ring, which featured Randy Orton talking smack and Batista expressing some of his frustrations over the negative crowd reaction.
Moving on, Cesaro vs. Big E was one of the more entertaining matches of the night. Both of these tough guys were on their game. Big E landed numerous clubbing blows, while Cesaro responded with his trademark array of uppercuts and slams. This one was pretty much back and forth until we saw involvement from Jack Swagger, who ended up costing Cesaro the match by disqualification. The Real Americans are obviously a ticking time bomb but this was an impressive showing by two guys who very well may represent the future of WWE.
After the break, we return to John Cena in the ring, who was of course, glad to be in Hulk Hogan’s company and also excited about the future of the new WWE Network. What he wasn’t excited about was being stomped out the night before by the Wyatt Family. He was appropriately irate that they’d cost him the chance to main event Wrestlemania 30 and proved it by calling out Bray Wyatt on the spot. The Wyatt’s entered the set with their usual massively creepy routine and unfortunately for Cena, gave him another beatdown. John Cena was taken out on a stretcher after The Wyatt’s banged up his leg.
Another Raw highlight came from Sheamus vs. Christian. Sheamus always seems to put on a great show, and this match was no different. The Celtic Warrior tossed Christian out to the floor almost immediately, but Captain Charisma bounced back quickly. Sheamus hit Christian with a barrage of high impact moves, yet the Canada-born technician kept firing back. As usual, Christian put up the type of fight that leads you to believe he has a shot at winning, but in the end, he ate a brutal Brogue in midair and got put down for the 1,2,3.
Bad blood continued to boil over when Daniel Bryan and Kane made it out for their match. This one seemed fueled by pure, unbridled hatred, full of emotion with great storytelling. These two took turns punishing each other with a series of devastating moves – spirited kicks from Bryan, turnbuckle and step smashes from Kane. Bryan’s educated feet proved to be too much for Kane as fierce roundhouse action and corner dropkicks eventually led to the flying knee that secured the victory.
Following the match, Bryan grabbed the mic and called out the man himself, Triple H, demanding that the COO set up a match between the two on April 6. There you have it folks – your Daniel Bryan Wrestlemania match. It’ll be interesting to see if this one sticks based on any potential fan reaction and fallout.
Main Event Time
Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt, stars on the rise, paired up for the intense main event battle of the night. The two locked up immediately and went to Slobber Knocker town. Now there was a lot of back and forth here, but I was actually surprised at how Bray seemed to control the bulk of the match. This one was pretty well done for two guys smarks are quick to call “green”. Things eventually got out of hand when Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, and then Seth Rollins followed by Dean Ambr
ose all threw themselves into the mix. Ambrose, the loose cannon of the Shield, ended up costing Reigns the match by disqualification when he hopped in and attacked Bray.
Reigns and Wyatt may have gotten the main event spot, but the main segment belonged to the returning Undertaker. The Deadman interrupted an appearance by Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, who were still talking that number one contender crap and trying to bark up a title match. After silently challenging Lesnar to a Mania match like only he can, Taker chokeslammed Brock through a table, making the match official and sending the crowd home in a frenzy.
The Wrap Up
I don’t have to tell you guys that Raw can either be hit or miss these days. This episode was a big hit! Epic returns and main event caliber matches up and down the card made for an exciting evening. I’m enjoying how some of these rivalries are unfolding and getting pumped for Wrestlemania 30. On top of that, the WWE Network came right on time. Until next week!