WWE Monday Night Raw opened with former WWE champion CM Punk. He said that he didn’t overreact last week because The Rock didn’t deserve to be WWE champion. The footage showed by Vince McMahon last week was doctored, and McMahon got what he deserved due to that.
That brought out Booker T, who gave the fans the power to decide Punk’s fate. In a WWE Active match, fans would vote for Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio or Chris Jericho to be his opponent.
That was a good way to open the show. Punk was strong on the mic, like he usually is, and delivered a very good promo. It’s interesting to see Punk try to keep up the illusion that he and Heyman had nothing to do with The Shield.
The whole “the footage is fake” portion of the storyline is intriguing, to say the least. It’s obviously Heyman in the video, but WWE could be going somewhere with it that fans wouldn’t expect.
Ryback vs. Antonio Cesaro
Ryback picked up the victory here after hitting Shell Shock on Antonio Cesaro. WWE must really like seeing the same matches over and over again these days.
This would be the third week in a row that Ryback and Cesaro would face each other, though this would be the first time on Raw. The other two were on Main Event, with the second being the best. This match was on par with last week’s match, but it edged ahead a bit since Cesaro didn’t run away this time.
This contest featured some nice back-and-forth action and was even for the most part. Ryback is progressing very well in the ring as a performer and is much more than a wrecking machine now.
Cesaro continues to be one of the best overall performers in the company. I can’t wait to see him elevated to the main event when the time comes.
Backstage, John Cena was with Vickie Guerrero. Vickie mocked Cena for wanting to call out The Shield, but Cena just stated that he needed to stop them. I really hope this doesn’t turn out like the Nexus, which was John Cena defeating the stable pretty much by himself.
If he ends up taking down The Shield by himself, then WWE really should just give up doing heel stables since every time one pops up, Cena beats them single-handedly.
Jack Swagger vs. Santino Marella
Jack Swagger got his first Raw victory in a long time after making Santino Marella tap out to the Patriot Act, formally called the ankle lock. Swagger just destroyed Santino here.
I was never a fan of squash matches unless they served a purpose. I felt that this one did. Swagger has been gone for a while, so WWE needs to build him back up as a believable heel, and not the joke that he was before he left.
I loved his intensity in this match. I really hope it carries over into his other matches as well.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Cody Rhodes
Alberto Del Rio defeated Cody Rhodes here after making him tap out to the cross armbreaker. Rhodes got in a small burst of offense, which included the Disaster Kick, but this match was mostly controlled by the World heavyweight champion.
Last week, Rhodes was just destroyed by John Cena. This week, he put up a fight but was ultimately defeated by another top star. It’s disappointing to see Rhodes go from being a member of an excellent tag team to getting beat quickly by the top stars. I have a feeling that it will all lead to something, though.
Despite losing, Rhodes is still facing the main event Superstars. Perhaps he’s feeling them out and waiting for the perfect time to strike. I would love to see Rhodes in the main event, and whatever this storyline is, it could be his ticket to the top. He did have some good chemistry with Del Rio in this match, so his future at the top is looking bright.
Post-match, Del Rio thanked everyone for their support before The Big Show appeared via satellite on the titantron. He declared that he ran away on SmackDown so that he wouldn’t flatten Del Rio with his rage. He wanted his rematch at the Elimination Chamber, and wanted Del Rio to sign the contract before having someone send it to him to sign.
I like how The Big Show was really calm during his promo. He made me believe that he really was holding back his rage. Seeing a man of that size speak calmly despite what happened on SmackDown was a bit freaky.
The Big Show is no longer a whiny giant who lost his title; He’s a monster looking to destroy. I don’t think he’s going to win the title back, but I like that he’s heading into WrestleMania as a heel.
Backstage, Team Hell No were arguing over their loss on SmackDown. Bryan then told Kane to stay backstage during his match. The end is near for Team Hell No.
I think both of them will most likely be inside the Elimination Chamber, so they won’t be losing their titles at that event. That’s when their team will explode, though.
Rey Mysterio vs. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan picked up the win after making Rey Mysterio tap out to the No Lock. Submissions seem to be a popular way to win this week. Mysterio and Bryan had an enjoyable match. The action was fun to watch as they went back and forth throughout the contest.
Both Superstars performed quite well here, but Mysterio seemed slow. He was moving really quick on SmackDown last week, but it looked like he slowed down his offense for this match. His style of wrestling is no doubt taking its toll on him, so taking it easy here and there is understandable.
Post-match, Mark Henry made his return to the WWE. He walked down to the ring, tossed Bryan aside and targeted Mysterio. At the end of the assault, Sin Cara was also down after a failed attempt to help his partner.
That was a pretty intense return. I’ve been wondering when he was going to come back, and I’m glad it’s now. He adds more depth to the SmackDown main event, especially since he is a former World heavyweight champion.
Booker said that the Elimination Chamber match would feature former champions, so Henry is back to reclaim what was once his. After that assault on Mysterio, the master of the 619 could be out of the match. That opens a spot up for the World’s Strongest Man.
Backstage, Bryan was mad at Kane for actually listening to him. Kane said that he valued their friendship, but then revealed that he was joking.
These guys are going to be at war sooner rather than later. Having them both in the Chamber would be a great move, and having one eliminate the other would be even better.
Live via satellite, The Big Show received his meal from room service. That’s it? Did we really need to see The Big Show get his dinner delivered? If this segment taught us anything, it’s that for a big man, The Big Show eats very little.
Sheamus vs. Kane
After a distraction from Daniel Bryan, Sheamus hit Kane with the Brogue Kick for the victory. I couldn’t really get into this match. It was an even contest, but it was slow. I found myself wanting to fall asleep during this match, and it only really got my attention when Bryan came out.
His distraction very well could have cost Kane a spot inside the Chamber, which won’t sit too well with him. Another seed has been planted for the breakup of Team Hell No.
Miz TV with Guest Paul Heyman
After Heyman came out, he declared that he wanted to clear his name. He didn’t know anything about Brock Lesnar being at Raw last week and tried to change the subject to CM Punk and The Rock. The Miz wouldn’t have it, but they were soon joined by Vickie Guerrero.
She revealed that she was the one who brought Lesnar back as an attempt to impress Vince McMahon. The Miz called them both liars, and that brought out Lesnar. The Miz was ready to fight, but he was no match for Lesnar and the F-5.
I thought this segment was very well done. It adds a lot more intrigue to the storyline. Did Guerrero really rehire Lesnar? If so, her attempt to impress the boss obviously failed. Was Heyman present during the negotiations? Were they both conspiring against McMahon?
This situation has raised a lot of questions. Lesnar’s attack on The Miz also adds to the situation. It seems like his targets are people that insult Heyman, but there has got to be more to it than that. The plot just keeps getting thicker, and I love it!
Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett
Are we really getting this match again? They just faced each other three days ago on SmackDown, and a couple of weeks before that, and a couple of weeks before that.
Orton seems to have set people that he faces. Barrett is one of those guys, with Cesaro being a recent addition to that list. I’m begging WWE to give Orton a different opponent on SmackDown!
With Orton picking up the win, the match itself was good, but that’s no surprise, as they all have been good. I can’t really say anything that I haven’t already said about their many other matches. While they do produce a solid contest each time, I’m growing bored with seeing them wrestle each other over and over again.
The only thing that’s going to get me interested in another Orton/Barrett match is if a title is on the line. I’m not talking about the Intercontinental Championship; I’m talking about the World Heavyweight Championship.
WWE, please stick to Barrett’s feud with Bo Dallas for now, and give Orton somebody else to fight.
Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk
CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho here after a GTS in a great match. The match was very even as they went back and forth, reversing each other’s submission finishers and ducking moves.
These two haven’t faced each other since the 2012 Extreme Rules last April, but they didn’t lose that chemistry that they had at that event and at WrestleMania a few weeks prior. There is a reason they both call themselves the “Best in the World,” and it’s matches like this.
This wasn’t as good as their WrestleMania or Extreme Rules matches, but it was great for a Raw main event. WWE audiences rarely chant “This is awesome!” during a regular singles match on Raw, so I think the Atlanta crowd described the match perfectly. I was hoping for a Jericho victory, though, as he has yet to defeat Punk. I guess Chris Jericho was never meant to beat him.
The Next Inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame is…
The legendary Bruno Sammartino! This induction was a long time coming. I may not have been alive during his time in the ring, but I recognize that Sammartino is one of the absolute best to ever step foot inside of a wrestling ring.
The video that was included was great as well. It included comments from George “The Animal” Steele, James J. Dillon, Rocky Johnson and even William Regal as they talked about his impact on the business and what being a champion meant to him.
The video was very well put together, and I can’t wait to hear his induction speech!
Backstage Segments and Hotel Shenanigans
Matt Striker approached CM Punk backstage and wanted his comments. Punk said he was mad that The Rock stole his title. The Rock may have the physical belt, but the title of “champion” belongs to him.
This was a strong little promo from Punk. It’s unfortunate that The Rock wasn't on this week’s show, but Punk kept the feud alive with his great mic work.
Striker then teleported to John Cena and asked him why he was going to call out The Shield. He stated that The Shield was doing a lot of pushing and that it was time for somebody to push back.
I agree, it is time for somebody to push back. It’s about time someone targeted The Shield. I wish it was Ryback leading the charge since he was the first one they attacked, but as long as Cena doesn’t destroy them by himself, I’m sure it’ll work out.
Back with The Big Show, the contract finally showed up. Alberto Del Rio also came as well, and despite Big Show beating him down, Del Rio knocked him out thanks to a fire extinguisher.
This was a fun segment. I like how the guy kept trying to warn Big Show but was being ignored. The momentum keeps shifting back and forth in this feud, and that’s exactly how I like it. Seeing one Superstar get all of the momentum gets boring, but seeing an even feud is exciting.
Brad Maddox Calls Out The Shield
Before Cena could call them out, Brad Maddox appeared in the ring. He was manipulated by Paul Heyman and was an innocent victim. He called out The Shield, who called him a rat and eventually hit the triple powerbomb.
Cena finally came out, but through the crowd like The Shield. He was followed by Ryback and Sheamus, who both entered through the crowd as well. The Shield tried to run, but Randy Orton led a group to block the stage. After getting beat up for a bit, The Shield ran off.
Finally, some locker room unity! I’ve been waiting for that ever since The Shield starting attacking more than just Ryback. It took them a while to figure out that there are a lot more of them then there is of The Shield, but better late than never.
My only issue with the segment is that it felt rushed to me. I mean, Cena came out with Ryback and Sheamus, they brawled for maybe a minute and then The Shield ran away. WWE should have given this segment more time. Perhaps something earlier went longer than expected.
Either way, the locker room is finally united against a common threat. It’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.
Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable episode of WWE Raw. It featured a few good matches and in-ring segments, but what really got it over for me was the storyline development.
Storylines for the Elimination Chamber event later this month were built up nicely, while the Brock Lesnar storyline is going great. He returned last week to quite the surprise, and the mystery behind his return is only getting bigger. Vickie Guerrero may have said she re-signed him, but there has got to be a lot more behind it than that.
The journey down the Road to WrestleMania has been a good one so far, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!