Last week was emotionally draining for wrestling fans. We had an epic Wrestlemania 30 and everything that came out of it. The end of the streak. A brand new WWE World Heavyweight champ. A rising star in Cesaro. Then there was a raucous Raw the following night and sadly, the untimely death of the Ultimate Warrior the very next day. Emotional drainage aside, I was personally amped for this week’s episode so let’s jump into it!
Monday Night Raw opened with a 10-ring bell salute to the late great Ultimate Warrior. All the superstars, the Authority and Vince McMahon included, were on the stage to pay tribute to the fallen wrestling legend as a video package played on the big screen. Jerry Lawler announced that tonight’s show would serve as a celebration of Warrior’s career and life. Classy touch by the company here. Another of numerous tear-jerking moments to occur over the past week for many, I’m sure.
Tournament of Contenders
Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio rekindled their brief rivalry in the first match of the night. This was the initial match in a tournament launched to crown a new number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship held by Big E. Way to make the IC title seem important again despite the likelihood that it’ll continue to be an afterthought. As for the match, it was just okay. Del Rio looked impressive as usual, but it was RVD getting the win and moving on to the next round.
The second match of the night featured two teams comprised of guys who would probably be better served as singles competitors. RybAxel vs. the Rhodes Brothers was a short encounter that ended when Cody had his Disaster Kick countered by a Meat Hook from Ryback. Surprisingly, RybAxel has been slowly trending up the tag team ladder, while Cody and Goldie continue to head in the direction of a split. Feud or not, I think a split would benefit both brothers.
I would normally skip the Divas match, and this one was certainly worth skipping. Considering the events of last week, though, I figured it deserved a mention. Newly crowned Divas Champion and current NXT Women’s Champion Paige faced off against former champ Alicia Fox. Paige secured the non-title victory via submission, sort of proving that last week wasn’t a fluke. Nothing worth raving about here, but I do understand the rage behind Paige. She’s a talented gal with a lot of potential and possibly a breath of fresh air in a stale female division.
On the previous episode of Raw, Batista and Randy Orton finally found themselves on the same page when they decided that sending a message was more important than capturing the tag team titles. The Usos couldn’t fully extract their revenge in their non-title match due to outside interference from the Shield, who attacked and sent both Orton and Batista scrambling in retreat. In a logical world, the Usos would take offense to that interference and confront the Shield for meddling, especially with their past. In the WWE Universe, all is most likely to be forgotten and everyone becomes best buds.
Domino of Domination
The Conqueror of the Streak Brock Lesnar wasn’t in attendance, but his mouthpiece Paul Heyman was. Heyman came to the ring and announced his new guy, The “King of Swing” Cesaro. Former World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry is nothing more than enhancement talent these days, and if you look at it like that, you can say job well done in his match with Cesaro. The Swiss Superman made short work of the World’s Strongest Man, and in the process, moved on to the next round of the IC tourney.
Cesaro is that one guy who “may” be able to bring some type of prestige back to the Intercontinental crown. He’s easily been the best U.S. Champion in the past what … five years? At least! Hopefully we’re going in that direction.
The Bolivian Brute Alexander Rusev debuted last week and looked dominant enough against Zak Ryder. He was back this week to pick apart Xavier Woods. You know your ride on the main roster is off to a rough start when you’re the new guy being fed to a newer guy. R-Truth knows a similar feeling because after watching his protege lose the match, he was attacked by the monster and laid out in the ring beside Woods. Can’t say I have the highest of hopes for Xavier Woods. And while he doesn’t strike me as too awful, the best thing Rusev has going for him is his looker of a manger – easily.
In another IC tournament match, Sheamus took on the All American American Jack Swagger. Sometimes Swagger looks sloppy. Others he’s nearly flawless. This was a good match in the little time they had to work it. Sheamus got the win with a Brogue Kick, but the affects of the Patriot Lock were apparent after the match. Big Pasty looked legitimately hobbled but either way, will move on to the next round.
In attempt to meet the weekly promo quota, Damien Sandow hit the ring to spew some jaded rambling. He’s got that sense of entitlement every heel has. Overlooked. Deserves better. You know how the story goes. This segment got sort of interesting when Big Show interrupted and essentially gave Sandow someone to voice his anger to. Of course this doesn’t go over well for the Intellectual Savior as he ended up getting knocked out by Show’s Weapon of Mass Destruction. Near pointless segment here, outside of kicking more dirt on Sandow.
The Wyatt Family had their weekly appearance in the form of an in-ring promo. After some meandering by Bray on the mic, it became clear that the feud with Cena isn’t quite done. Cena actually came to the ring to engage in a verbal confrontation with the man he defeated at Wrestlemania. Apparently John was in a jovial mood because he kicked into full-on comedy mode using Bray as his target of ridicule. Cena eventually got serious and challenged Wyatt to a match at Extreme Rules – in a steel cage. Bray accepted and now the first match for the next WWE “special event” is on the card.
The tournament for the Intercontinental Championship number one contender continued with Dolph Ziggler vs. Bad News Barrett. This was another solid showing by two guys who “appear” to be headed in opposite directions. Nice back and forth action that spilled onto the floor, and saw both guys kicking out of finishers. In the end, it was Barrett hitting the aggressive elbow shot he calls the Winds of Change and securing a spot in the second round. While the Bad News Brit looks to be in line for a push, I see both of these guys winding up in the same place – Midcard Hell!
Due to sticking their collective nose where it didn’t belong, the Shield was thrown into a seemingly no-win situation when the Authority booked the trending trio to face Alberto Del Rio, Alexander Rusev, Bad News Barrett, Drew Mcintyre, Titus O’Neil, RybAxel, and all three members of 3MB. Yeah. It was a stacked deck. As you can imagine, this wasn’t much of a match for long. It was pure retribution. When the time was right, Evolution stormed the ring and joined in the beatdown. You heard me – Evolution (minus Flair) flanked by the sappy theme music and all. The newly reunited threesome destroyed the Shield and ended the show celebrating their moment of triumph in the ring.
The Wrap Up
As much as the Yes Movement annoys the crap out of me, I must say the show is just lacking something when Daniel Bryan isn’t around. Or maybe it was the lusterless main event that was void of the climatic elements you expect to close the show. I guess the bright side is the fact that Evolution, one of the most dominant fashions in the post Attitude Era, has been reformed. With all they’ve accomplished on their own, you would think reconnecting at this stage of their careers would make for a stable that is more dangerous than ever. And with Kane lurking, who may be shedding his corporate shell, the good guys could have their work cut out for them.