WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 17, 2014) from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, featuring the go home show to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for this Sunday night 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.
- There are two kids in my house during Monday Night Raw each week. When John Cena's music hit to kick off the show, dinner was interrupted with both kids rushing to the television to see him. That familiar music just makes 'em feel like all is well in the world and the big cartoon Superman character tops it off. It's time like these when it's easy to forget about a heel turn. But not forever. That's a story that needs to be told sometime before he retires.
- Did Cena just call Randy Orton a "thumb sucking baby"?
- Remember when it was easy to know who we loved and who we hated? Cesaro was wildly cheered during SmackDown last week and won a big match to a huge applause. Now he's out on Raw tonight and getting booed like a big time heel. Granted, the opposition changed, but this may have been a case of the difference between the two crowds at Raw and SmackDown shows. There still exists a weird divide there.
- No real surprise we got the stock "everyone involved in the Elimination Chamber WWE title match needs to get in on the first segment" writing from the WWE creative team. No one came away looking all that good, not really, but Daniel Bryan was over more than any of the rest of them. What does that say? Maybe nothing. What does that change? Probably nothing. I do like that we got all the right match-ups in the even more stock "book everyone against each other" idea: Sheamus vs. Orton, Cena vs. Cesaro, and Bryan vs. Christian.
- I'm not sure Christian actually turned heel last night but I quite like the idea of it. There's no healthier career move for a stale babyface with nothing going on than a heel turn going into a title match, especially when that turn may have come against the most over babyface on the roster. And, really, why wouldn't Christian go heel? JBL has been shitting on him on commentary for being ugly as hell, he's the only guy who lost to Orton while he was running the gauntlet, and there's very little hope for him and he's got very little going on right now. That's a perfect mix. WWE also badly needs stronger heels at the top of the card too.
- "A hard fart victory."
- Surprised they would give away Kane vs. Bryan in this setting with this build in this time slot on this episode of Raw. Happy they did, though, because it wasn't a very good match.
- Roman Reigns' "baby girl" >>>>> Seth Rollins' "sweetheart"
- Saying it because it needs to be said: Sooner or later, preferably sooner, Reigns is going to have to show some range on the microphone. The low monotone badass stuff is only going to work for so long.
- Hey, look, some EMMA backstory! Good on WWE for showing her wrestling in NXT and making sure to work in the silly dance with her in-ring skills. That's always what needed to happen. A budding romance with Santino Marella? Not so much. Actually, not at all. Actually, get her away from Santino now, please.
- Really enjoyed Reigns vs. Mark Henry. Love that Henry would do the job like that while he's still got the juice to make it mean something. It's sad that this is where his career has gone, of course, but at least he's doing a lot of good while he still can. Also really enjoyed Seth Rollins like a little kid celebrating Roman's win and Reigns humoring him the whole way. Dean Ambrose's jealousy and resentment was also great. The Shield are just fucking phenomenal.
- I will never get tired of the "Bray Wyatt says cool shit" segments on Raw. They're a million times better when it's helping advance the best feud we've seen in WWE in a long, long time.
- Another good booking decision that may not have ever been on purpose: Reigns looks like such a strong leader when they do these staredowns with the Wyatt Family because he's flanked by Ambrose and Rollins who are jittery and cannot contain their excitment. They're dogs on a leash, eager to get to the meat just out of reach. Reigns, meanwhile, is the quiet calm in the center. It's implied that despite this, and perhaps because of it, he's the most dangerous of the three. His booking against the likes of Henry proves this to be true. The best part is all of this projects perfectly on television. Everyone is perfect in their chosen role and they execute it flawlessly.
- Story time with Goldust and Cody Rhodes could get over, couldn't it? Bad News Barrett was finally used right here, wasn't he? The Rhodes brothers playing with toys and telling stories, Barrett comes in with bad news and the bad news isn't really bad news it's just him destroying their toy set? That's just good stuff.
- Understand the need for Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston but I couldn't find anything to care about. Match wasn't great, and the interruption from Big E wasn't all that inspired.
- I spoke too soon. Zeb Colter cutting a promo on Big E while he was working a 2-on-1 handicap against 3MB was great, cheap heat on the Denver Super Bowl loss and everything. The reference to getting high was the best. In fact, he did more to sell me on the match this Sunday night than anything that came before it.
- Is it just me or was Big E absolutely dragging by the end of the match? He could hardly breathe trying to cut a post-match promo.
- Extended arm and headlocks early in a match never made sense to me. There are too many ways for a fresh wrestler to counter and why wouldn't they that early in the proceedings? Cesaro locks up Cena's arm about one minute into the match, leaving the other one free, and Cena just stands there and tries to make it look like he's in a lot of pain when he has an elbow free to figure out a way to work out of it. Stuff like this is why some Cena matches are impossible to get into.
- It got a lotbetter as the match wore on. I enjoy Cesaro's fall away slam into a cover spot and his workrate is perfect for the WWE main event style in matches like this against the likes of Cena. We now know the Giant Swing spot is good for a pop every time, no matter what. We also know Cena countered it better than anyone before him. Actually, Cesaro's signature spots are perfect for matches like this, and there are a million ways to be creative with them, like the European Uppercut off the top turnbuckle. They were given a ton of time, which was nice, but I can't help but wonder what this match would look like on a PPV main event.
- Cesaro just had awesome matches with the two biggest stars on the roster in two consecutive shows.
- "The way it looks to me, you're not the face of the WWE. You're the ass." Good one, Dave. Actually loved Triple H's shrug and "come on, man" at Batista after he pushed Alberto Del Rio, though. Still don't care about the match this weekend and I'm not sure anything could change that.
- Didn't really care all that much about The Wyatt Family vs. Sin Cara & Los Matadores, though I did like Sin Cara's ring gear for the match.
- The Usos jump around too much during their entrance. I know, fun killer here. Road Dogg belongs on commentary at all times, though. I would love for him to replace JBL on SmackDown to start, get him nice and comfortable, and ease him into Raw.
- Well, if you're going to chant for CM Punk during a match, Randy Orton vs. Sheamus is definitely the match to do it. Just imagine how awful life as a WWE fan would be if these two were battling it out in the main event for three months as the main storyline? Doesn't that thought kind of make you want to pull a Punk?
- Wait, why are The Shield attacking Sheamus? Oh, okay, it's just to get us a chaotic scene to close Raw with. At first I didn't like that this was how The Shield and Wyatt Family first got physical but on second thought, this was perfect. Let 'em brawl a bit before they end up under the confines of a six-man tag match on Sunday.
Found myself sad when they went off the air because I wanted more of the brawl. That's a good sign.
Liked the psychology of the show as a whole, but there were a lot of misses (Swagger-Kingston) mixed in with the hits (Cena-Cesaro). The close was a great lead-in for the Chamber, though.
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?