WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 18, 2013) from Lafayette, Louisiana, featuring the fallout show to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV) this past Sunday night in New Orleans.
And we've got a new WWE championship belt!
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions:
- Outstanding video package to open the show. The WWE production team is consistently the best in the business. Hell, when on their game, they can run with NFL Films. Absolutely love that the best comes out for the biggest time of the year too. It's WrestleMania season, motherfuckers. GET HYPE!
- Right call to open the show with John Cena establishing that he'll be in the main event of WrestleMania against The Rock. Really underwhelming promo before CM Punk showed up to add his two cents, though. Loved that Punk got to put over the fact that he should have won at Elimination Chamber if not for a ref bump. That's within character and he gets to keep his heat.
- Enjoyed the extended play on the reality era once again. Punk brings up real issues fans are having and voicing, Cena responds accordingly, and they set up a match to handle the business at hand. Acknowledging that Cena hasn't beaten Punk or Rock but that he has won the Royal Rumble is a great way to get to a meaningful match with a lot on the line that doesn't feel put together for disingenious reasons. This was fantastic booking. They also left the door open for a triple threat at WrestleMania, though that still looks extremely unlikely.
- Sheamus and Ryback actually had me getting a little excited for a HOSS FIGHT before Chris Jericho showed up to make it all about The Shield again. I'm going to praise Y2J once again for putting over everyone else now that he's back. Saying The Shield are like the nWo and Nexus but on an entirely new level is exactly what needs to be said and he's exactly the guy who needs to say it.
- Mark Henry running away from Great Khali? What is this nonsense? Oh, he's laughing at Khali and mocking his dance while looking hilarious? I love you, Mark Henry. It will be a travesty if his next feud is with Khali, though. After letting him go nuts in the Chamber match this past weekend, you would think there would be something more for him than Khali, of all people.
- If The Miz left his shoulder tape on for the remainder of his career, it would be the best decision he could ever make. A guy like Miz will never have the look of a man you can take seriously in a match against someone like Antonio Cesaro because it's impossible for a guy like Miz to look tough. He needs an extra prop to give him that edge and the tape gives him that. It's the small things in pro wrestling. You could argue a guy like Shawn Michaels is in the same boat as Miz and I wouldn't disagree. He just doesn't look tough and at first, it was hard to buy him in matches with Undertaker. But Michaels is so insanely talented, he more than made up for it with his consistently stellar performances. Miz can't touch that. Keep the tape.
- Was Randy Orton actually really good talking last night? Did that happen? I'd like to go deeper into this but WWE hasn't really bothered to explore his character for like six months now; probably a lot longer, actually. Liked the Barney crack on Kane, having trouble feeling invested in anything "The Viper" does right now.
- #AJTHighs #DolphZigglersAssCape #BigETitties
- I really liked the Money in the Bank cash-in tease, mostly because I still don't think Del Rio vs. Swagger is a good enough heavyweight championship match for WrestleMania and would much rather enjoy Ziggler bumping around like a mad man as champion. Plus, he's got Big E Langston running around with him, and he's supposed to be a destroyer of men. This should have happened already. Ricardo Rodriguez slyly grabbing the briefcase and hauling ass out while Big E ran him down was awesome. What a great manager and friend that Ricardo is, huh?
- Let's try this: If anyone call explain to me what the "Barrett Barrage" actually is, I'll become a fan of Wade Barrett. Go!
- Hopefully TNA started paying attention to how The Shield has been booked and realized that if they ever want Aces and 8s to get over in any capacity, they need to have them win matches against strong opposition. It's still hard to believe the trio, who continue to impress, have yet to lose and are beating strong teams in the process. Reigns was finally made not to look like a complete badass but that's okay because it showed the other side, that he can come back from getting beat on by the likes of Sheamus, who was booked like a god for over a year.
- Am I the only one who didn't really care much for R-Truth's return? Great tackle, though.
- Jerry Lawler was awful at Elimination Chamber and he was even worse on Raw last night. It's a tough situation because no one wants to be particularly hard on the guy after everything that happened in September of last year but he's doing his job poorly and that's something that needs to be said. It might be time to have JBL take over full time.
- Can we just break Kane and Daniel Bryan up already? They were awesome while they lasted and have been a lot of fun but I'm anxious to see Bryan back in singles competition. I don't have high hopes for how he'll be used but I think I've had my fill of the tag team version.
- We talked about it already but the new WWE championship is a gigantic piece of shit. The default version looks much better than the Rock's custom Brahma Bull belt but the main plate is too gaudy and overdone and the logo is too big. Whatever, it's not the spinner.
I liked some of this show but it dragged towards the end and the WrestleMania direction still isn't nearly as clear as it should be.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on last night's show.