WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 10, 2014) from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, featuring all the latest build to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for later this month in Minneapolis.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- Remember the celebrity guest host era of Monday Night Raw? God, that was an awful time. With that said, Betty White is alright with me. She's like a million years old, and she's still awesome.
- I actually really appreciated Triple H stealing Betty's thunder. Such a strong heel move here.
- I used to despise Daniel Bryan's smile because I always felt like he should be a lot more pissed off about how badly he's been getting owned at all turns by everyone above him in WWE. But these days it's more of a "I'm still over as hell, fuck you" smile and that's just the best thing. Even better than Randy Orton's rampant insecurity, which is still the best thing he's ever done as a character, including the Legend Killer gimmick.
- I liked the opening segment, complete with Triple H stealing Betty White's thunder, Orton being insecure and doing his best to kiss up to The Authority, and Bryan showcasing how over he is with the L.A. crowd. It ended really bizarrely, though, like everyone just stopped, music played, and they all walked away. The idea of the evil overlord giving the super over babyface the night off to piss off the crowd isn't a new one, but it's a good one. It worked out okay.
- I'm not sure if it was his intention, and think it probably wasn't, but Goldust kicked off the six-man against the Wyatt Family by starting a clap among the crowd but stopped after like five people jumped in, leading to those five people looking ridiculous for going along with him. Well done, Goldy.
- OH MY GOD, THAT FINISH. Everything about the six-man between the Rhodes brothers & Rey Mysterio vs. the Wyatt Family was great but the finish was beautifully put together. The way Bray Wyatt skillyfully executed the tag and met Mysterio while he was running to hit the 6-1-9, pulling off Sister Abigail in one fluid motion was fucking incredible. His primal scream while pinning the little man put it over the top. Hot damn, I can't wait for Wyatts vs. Shield at Elimination Chamber.
- Admit it: All of your panties got wet when Roman Reigns called Renee Young "baby girl". That goes for you too, fellas. You got all hot and bothered. Okay, yeah, it was sexist and he shouldn't have said it in a professional setting but they're trying to play on his good looks and charm, and that's one way to do it.
- Our greatest fears have been realized, Emma fans. She's been paired with Santino Marella and WWE has proven it has no clue what got her over in NXT and how it should translate to the main roster. Get ready for a joke run that won't go anywhere, kind of like Santino.
- I'm scared, Cagesiders, because I'm actually starting to enjoy The Miz's new gimmick. It will only ever work when he's walking out and complaining during matches we don't care about already, like Fandango vs. Santino. "Are you kidding me with this? Fuck these guys." I can get behind it if I don't care what's going on in the ring. Delivery was good too. Not your typical smarmy, unbearable Miz.
- Byron Saxton is fine, but Renee Young should be doing all backstage interviews. More him means less her and that's not a good thing.
- Sheamus is so Irish. He's the most Irish guy who was ever Irish. Look at him, all Irish'ing it up. He really Irish'ed up Raw. Pints and pints of Irish.
- Meanwhile, Christian's stiff board promo reaffirmed the feeling that his time has passed right on by. Sure, he can go in the ring, but I'm having a hard time finding something else compelling that he brings to the table. I want to like him more, I just can't find a good reason to.
- Didn't expect to, but greatly enjoyed Christian & Sheamus vs. Real Americans. Actually came away feeling like Sheamus vs. Antonio Cesaro is a potential big money match sometime down the line, or at least one that would entertain greatly on the undercard of a big show. Also, tag team matches in general have improved by leaps and bounds over the past year and it doesn't seem to matter who is involved. They put Christian together with Sheamus and they were awesome here.
- Strong promo from John Cena. Always felt like he should start drawing more on the real life reality that he's the top guy and everyone knows it, so whoever wants to become a big star has to figure out that problem. The issue is it's so tough to do as a babyface, but he struck the right balance with that brief interview with Renee Young last night.
- Far be it from me to speculate but did it not look like Dolph Ziggler got pissed off that his entrance was cut short? He hadn't even made it into the ring before Alberto Del Rio's music hit and when he looked back, he did not appear to be happy. Maybe it's nothing, but considering all the rumors surrounding Ziggler for months now, it's hard not to wonder. The fact that Del Rio put him away in short order in a clean win just pushed the idea even more.
- That ass whooping Batista put on Del Rio was inspired. Don't turn a work into a shoot, remember.
- Actually, this was interesting because it completely negated the match these two are supposed to have in two weeks at the Chamber PPV.
- What is it exactly the New Age Outlaws were trying to spike Betty White's drink with? She's 92 years old. Why was this ever presented as a good idea, even if the plan was always for her to turn it around on them?
- Road Dogg is awesome on commentary, and it couldn't come at a better time with Rybaxel taking on The Usos and the L.A. crowd going into business for itself with Randy Savage chants. The commentary team, but mostly Road Dogg, did a great job of putting over The Usos like a legitimate threat to the tag titles. It shouldn't be long before they win the belts as the hot young team.
- Another awesome finish in a tag match. One Uso tagging in while the other was flying over the top rope? Hell yes.
- Liked the set up for Dean Ambrose finally defending his U.S. title only for Mark Henry to be the surprise opponent. The match was decent, but the storytelling was the best part because it was really just a nice way to get to Roman Reigns cleaning up on Henry with the Spear after Ambrose and Seth Rollins couldn't get it done. The push for this guy is unbelievable.
- The build for this Wyatts vs. Shield feud has been so unbelievably awesome I just can't even. You just can't even. None of us can even. A staredown across the ring with both on the outside? This was so good the fans cheered it along with a "YES" chant. You know you did something right when that's the case. And they popped big for each step forward from both teams because hey WWE, WE LIKE WELL BOOKED STUFF LIKE THIS. Who cares that these are two heel teams. This was so well put together. I loved that Reigns stepped forward as the leader and Bray was about to do the same but eventually backed off. There hasn't been a better build to a match in WWE in many, many years. I'm literally giddy in anticipation.
- Oh dear god, not only did they let Aksana work another match but she was very clearly making reference to the damage her knee did last week. It was hard not to feel sorry for Cameron and the Bella twins, who were given the unfortunate position of having to work with her. She ate the pin, at least.
- Remember when I said giving the babyface the night off to piss off the crowd just to make them happy when said babyface came back later was a good gimmick? Yeah, the payoff to this one kind of sucked. Kane kind of just showed up despite Stephanie McMahon saying he was on administrative leave, and Bryan kind of just showed up to brawl with him. Like WWE decided, "here, let's give the crowd something to cheer that will kill some time until John Cena vs. Randy Orton. Hopefully they get all the YES out of their system before our big main event."
- Loved how Betty White was used. Not too much, not too little and she's adorable. The New Age Outlaws stuff was weird and a little creepy, but whatever.
- It should be said that, if nothing else, WWE did a fine job of making the Cena vs. Orton main event feel like a big deal, much like they did for the two back at TLC in December of last year.
- I loved Randy Orton's freakout after hiting the draping DDT from the top turnbuckle. "SAME OLD WHAT? SAME OLD WHAT? SEE, I'VE NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE SO IT'S NOT THE SAME OLD SHIT!" He was so proud of himself, it was beautiful.
- Actually, let's give credit where it's due and admit these two had a hell of a match. It helped a lot that the crowd didn't take a fat dump on it. Come to think of it, I don't remember hearing a single CM Punk chant, which was nice. They treated this like an epic match, then worked it like one and the crowd responded to it like that's exactly what it was. The idea that the best rivalry of this era is Cena vs. Orton might suck, but what they delivered last night most definitely did not. Loved Orton's kick-out at four. Good finish after a strong match.
This was a wrestling heavy show that was short on angles and extended promo time. And you know what? It was better off for it.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?