Despite an injury suffered during WWE's tour of Europe, WWE champion John Cena headlined this week's edition of WWE Monday Night Raw alongside Team Hell No to rival The Shield. Meanwhile, all three competitors in the World Heavyweight Championship match at Extreme Rules were also in action on the flagship show.
Here, I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of predictions and wishful thinking about what I hope to see in the coming weeks.
Ricardo Rodriguez w/Alberto Del Rio def. Zeb Colter w/Jack Swagger and Big E Langston w/Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee in a Triple Threat to Name the Stipulation for the World Heavyweight Championship Match at Extreme Rules
Harmless Triple Threat match to kick off the show, with Ricardo Rodriguez defeating Zeb Colter and Big E Langston. It was silly at times and stupendously stupid as well, but it was a logical way of establishing the stipulation for the World Heavyweight Championship match at Extreme Rules.
I hoped it would be made a Ladder match, so I'm glad that was the stipulation they ultimately went with. Although I was fine with this bout, I question the move to have it open the broadcast, as it was somewhat strange and not announced ahead of time.
WWE Champion John Cena Introduced His Make-A-Wish Guests to the WWE Universe
Classy segment featuring WWE champion John Cena and the kids from the Make-A-Wish foundation. Regardless of whether you love or despise Cena, you have to admire and respect just how dedicated he is to the organization.
It was a memorable moment in the lives of those young children and definitely a feel-good moment for those watching at home. Furthermore, I'm glad WWE played it straight and didn't have Ryback or anyone interfere merely because it wanted to keep it kayfabe.
Randy Orton def. Cody Rhodes
Great match between Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. These two have awesome chemistry with one another and were given quite a bit of time to shine in the squared circle.
The final few moments were well done and the ending sequence with Orton reversing the Beautiful Disaster kick into an RKO made for a cool finish. It's a shame that Rhodes doesn't mean much anymore, as this would have been a marquee match at one point in time.
His loss to The Viper was set in stone from the start, but he surely looked strong in defeat.
Namoi w/Cameron def. Brie Bella w/Nikki Bella via Referee Reverse Decision
Mediocre match between Brie Bella and Naomi. The bout lasted a mere minute before ending with the tiresome Twin Magic act, which caused for the decision to be reversed moments later.
Naomi is an impressive competitor, but she wasn't given enough time to truly showcase her athletic abilities. This bout didn't serve much of a purpose outside of plugging the new Divas reality show debuting on the E! network this upcoming summer.
3MB Confronted The Shield
Standard promo from The Shield discussing their path of destruction since their debut late last year. It was a nice momentum booster, but it wasn't anything we haven't heard before.
3MB interrupting was an unpleasant surprise, as I have no desire whatsoever to see the group turn face to feud with the heel faction. We've been seeing Team Hell No fend off The Shield for weeks now, but it was still an effective way of setting up the inevitable WWE Tag Team Championship match at Extreme Rules.
World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler w/AJ Lee and Big E Langston def. United States Champion Kofi Kingston (non-Title)
Fun match between World Heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler and United States Champion Kofi Kingston. Their matches are always very well wrestled, but the match itself has grown so stale that everything else was rendered irrelevant.
The action was entertaining down the stretch, but the champion vs. championship stipulation lost its luster long ago. Kingston is only two weeks into his U.S. title reign and he's already been relegated back to enhancement-talent status, which shouldn't come as much of surprise to anyone.
Jack Swagger w/Zeb Colter def. Zack Ryder
Basic squash match with Jack Swagger dominating Zack Ryder. The fact Ryder actually received an entrance and mic time for once was a bit of a shocker, but sadly, it amounted to nothing.
This sole purpose of this match was to further Swagger's strong momentum, so at least it was successful in that aspect. I can't imagine him winning the World Championship at Extreme Rules, but it's important that they book him as a threat to the title going into the event.
Mark Henry Won a Tug of War Challenge
Throwaway segment with Mark Henry hosting a Tug of War challenge. It was used to showcase Henry's unadulterated strength, but it was poorly executed, to say the least.
It was an absolutely asinine concept that did nothing to get me excited for the pending program between Sheamus and Henry. Needless to say, this segment felt like filler more than anything.
Alberto Del Rio w/Ricardo Rodriguez def. Antonio Cesaro
Good match between Alberto Del Rio and Antonio Cesaro. These two have great chemistry with one another and engaged in an enjoyable exchange.
However, it was yet another solid match that had a predictable outcome with Del Rio going over. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the match went as long as it did. But what's the point if the outcome never changes every time they clash?
The Great Khali w/Natalya and Hornswoggle def. Fandango w/Summer Rae in a Dance-Off
Meaningless dance-off between The Great Khali and Fandango. Dance-offs are rarely ever entertaining in WWE, and this train wreck of a segment was no exception.
I'm happy for Fandango's success and such, but I'm getting the feeling WWE has no idea what to do with him. Chris Jericho will be on hiatus for the foreseeable future, so they better find something for him to do fast before his 15 minutes of fame expire.
The Shield def. WWE Champion John Cena and WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No
Solid match with The Shield defeating WWE champion John Cena and WWE Tag Team champions Team Hell No. Since Cena was legitimately injured, I commend him for actually competing in this bout, and WWE did a nice job of working around it.
The Shield pinning Cena clean to score the victory came as a huge surprise, and I couldn't be happier with the decision, as it's not too often we see The Champ lose in such a fashion. Additionally, Ryback entering at the end to indicate that he was indeed in the arena the whole time was simple and effective.
Overall, a mediocre show that was a significant step down from last week's edition, but it certainly wasn't the worst show of the year, either. There were a number of excellent matches over the course of the three hours, but almost every one of those bouts had a finish that could be seen coming from a mile away.
There were also segments on this week's Raw that were painful to watch and downright absurd, which made it feel like the script for this show was written five minutes before it went live. Nonetheless, with less than three weeks remaining until Extreme Rules, I have hope that the next two episodes of Raw will do an effective job of building up the undercard for the event.