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WWE Raw results, recap, reactions (Jan. 12, 2015): There once was a show called Raw...

WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Jan. 12, 2015), and they returned to the city that hosted WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans.  The Authority was up to their old tricks, looking to punish their enemies.  And there were more of those enemies than ever, with both WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan back in the fold.  Plus, the emotional reveal of the first member of the 2015 Hall of Fame class, as Randy "Macho Man" Savage finally gets the call.

Click here to get full results with the live blog. Here's some reactions.



Remember last week, when The Authority trolled John Cena?  And, remember how last week started and ended with a talking segment instead of wrestling matches?  Well, if you like that...has WWE got a show for you.

Cena tried to call Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's faction a name on Twitter, because in 'Reality' Era WWE, lower their social media Q-rating is the worst thing you can do to anyone.  On the off chance that #TheAuthoritySucks didn't set the world on fire and shame Trips and Steph into re-hiring Erick Rowan, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback, John promised to win the WWE title at Royal Rumble and then hold it hostage by staying off of television until his friends are brought back.

They are no longer trolling Mr. Hustle, Loyalty and Respect.  They're also trolling us, by telling us a title we've seen defended once since August has any power to influence the management or direction of the company.

Our evil overlords come out and pick up where they left off last week.  After taunting Cena and spinning the firing of his three Survivor Series allies as being his fault, they lay out their latest challenge for him.  Is it an interesting moral dilemna that will advance his character, like, say - if he removes himself from the title match on January 25th, they'll rehire his boys?

Or is it (duh-duh-duhn) another match against Seth Rollins, where a Cena victory means Ryback, Rowan and Ziggler will be brought back?  Except this is a lumberjack match - and guess who picks all the lumberjacks, ensuring they are rotten to the core and/or beholden to The Authority?

The match itself was fine, but I couldn't bring myself to care.  You can only watch the same pairings with no real stakes for so long before it all blurs together.  A WMD from Big Show allows Rollins to pin him, and another thirty or so minutes of my life is gone.

McMahon headed backstage to dole out more punishment to some stray dissenters from last week - Naomi had to face Alicia Fox with one-hand tied behind her back because The Usos bad mouthed The Authority, Dean Ambrose had to see an expert in abnormal psychology to get cleared for the Rumble match and Daniel Bryan will have to face Kane on Thursday rather than waiting for his first ringwork to be in Philadelphia.

Even the rare occasions where these things connected on some level, it all just felt like I've been through it all before. And I don't think "this crap again?" was the reaction they were trying to elicit.



Do they want to make money with Ambrose and Roman Reigns?  Or they just want to use them in ways that anger or confound their most loyal fans?  I really don't know after watching this show.

We're back to "that Dean boy ain't right" antics.  The scenes with his Authority-appointed psychologist weren't the worst thing ever, but that's simply because Ambrose's manic energy and obvious love of pro wrestling comes through even when he's doing things so obviously beneath him.  The WWE Universe fell in love with his character when he was a passionate guy that had been deeply wounded by a friend, not because he makes fun of men who pee like girls.

I can look past the general mean-spiritness and sexism of the skits, because I know what I'm getting into watching WWE.  But the idea seemed to be that Dean is so crazy that he drove the professional crazy rather than him having outsmarted The Authority.  And I don't get anything from this segment or any of the gimmick matches with Bray Wyatt that says he's crazy in an interesting way.  The comedy isn't funny.  We're left with whatever the performer can wring out of it, and that's not much, even for one as gifted as Ambrose.

And then there's the man he calls "brother".

No sooner had we all breathed a little sigh of relief because they put Reigns back with Dean on Smackdown, kept his mic time to a minimum and even had or allowed him to poke fun at the criticism coming his way and generally focused on his being an ass-kicker as much as possible than they trot him out here tonight to tell Big Show a fairy tale.

The Big Dog is making strides.  He hasn't flubbed these horrible speeches he's been given.  His abilities as a solo wrestler are progressing nicely - anyone saying he only has "x moves of doom" just isn't paying attention.  The match he had with Luke Harper tonight was the best thing on the show.  A lot of credit for that goes to Harper, who rivals Cesaro for most underutilized in-ring performer (regardless of what you think about their charisma or whether or not they possess "it", they should be given mouthpieces and made perennial mid-card title holders who can be elevated to the main event as needed), but Roman is learning how to pace himself and tell a story in there without being part of a team.

But he's not The Rock.  He's not Cena.  Stop trying to make him that with "edgy" children's material, and let him be a bad man with serious swag.  Trust me, kids find that guy cool, too - even if he doesn't tell stories about beanstalks.



I'll say this for a show that felt like it was about 95% talking segments - at least they let Steph and Paul Heyman have multiple turns with the mic.

The current champ's advocate delivered his typical smoldering hype piece for his client somewhere around the 9PM Eastern mark, running down Brock Lesnar's last trip to the Big Easy (and making a win over The Undertaker for anyone seem like a small accomplishment, in my opinion, but we've got the next three months to worry about that).  He then teased some issues with The Authority's favorite son that built nicely over the next two hours - first in a backstage face-off with Seth Rollins, and then at the contract signing for the triple threat title match that closed the show.

Everyone played their part well in the final segment.  Heyman and Rollins cutting each other off was great, and Seth believably shutting down the Innovator of Extreme felt like an important step in his evolution as a top guy.  Cena was likewise great with a few words that reinforced his "if you want some, come get some" ethos and played mind games with both of his competitors (the exact kind of babyface maneuvering we're denied from Ambrose because they go to the wacky unstable guy well instead).

In the end, Rollins looked like the descendent of Edge once again, wisely picking up the pieces of the predictable contract signing scrum to curb stomp the champ who is hardly ever here and the one who always is.  It irked me that no one even mentioned the possibility of a cash-in...a decent announce team would have at least presented the pros and cons of trying to claim the belt here tonight, and to not do so calls attention again to how little the title matters these days.

Meanwhile, back in the 10PM slot, the man who was stripped of the WWE title because he couldn't defend it (which is different from choosing not to defend it, I guess) showed up to walk down memory lane of WrestleMania 30...until his old nemesis the Billion Dollar Princess showed up.

Steph wanted to remember the months immediately after last March, mocking DB for being injured and reminding us who, in kayfabe, was responsible.  Her pitching of her fitness video as a put down of The YES Man has to be seen to be believed, really.  Anyway, the injury talk set-up a match with Kane for the first Thursday night Smackdown in quite some time, and gave us our first glimpse of Bryan in action since last Summer.

While he didn't look super crisp, it was invigorating to see him go.  And he went just like it was 2013.  In the minute or so they went at it, there was a running knee and a suicide dive.

Throughout his time on tonight's show, you realized how much the product has missed him.  Whether it's delivering an honestly pretty average promo about "average joes" or running through a brawl we've seen a million times before, the audience just reacts with Bryan in a way they don't for anyone else in WWE.  With him back on the scene, Reigns and Ambrose and Ryback and Sami Zayn and every other babyface on the roster can be brought along slowly.

Because I want to see The Beard square off against all three men in the Rumble title bout.  I want to see him feud with Bad News Barrett, and Luke Harper, and Kevin Owens.  Daniel Bryan is the everyman babyface Vince McMahon has been chasing at least since Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mick Foley had to hang 'em up.

Thank goodness he's back.



Miz & Mizdow, and Miz vs. Jey Uso: We were treated to a few segments of Miz's Golden Globes After-Party, with the possessor of The Moneymaker in full smarm-mode.  These also teased their break-up a bit, as Mizdow said that he's been collecting footage for his version of the Globes winning film Boyhood by filming Miz at home.  He'll call in Manhood.  The Marine 3 star didn't look happy, but he took his stunt double's help in beating Jey in their singles' affair.  As entertaining as everyone is, the sheer number of times we've watched these teams work together makes me numb to it.  See above.

New Day beats Masters of the WWE Universe: I'd be so much more excited for this if Cesaro & Tyson Kidd weren't still sort of attached to Adam Rose (I'd love it if they were sort of attached to Leo Kruger, however).  Hopefully, Cesaro's post-loss crankiness with the Rosebuds signals an end.  Some parts of the crowd seemed to be behind Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston, which - good for them.  I still really dislike the gimmick, and this pairing is probably my least favorite of the possibilities.

Alicia Fox defeated one-armed Naomi: Time spent filming reality shows and not working with Sarah Amato and her team in NXT is not helping the Foxy One.  She looked sloppy here, and the scissor kick looked particularly beat.

Brie Bella rolled up Paige: Hey look, a Divas match that ended with a distraction and roll-up.  Mentioned here almost exclusively for Kidd's incredible cat shirt.

Bray Wyatt says cryptic stuff: There's probably a book to be written on where they've gone wrong with this character.  Outside of the section on not having hot young acts work programs with the babyface you won't ever book to lose a feud, most of it has to do with their being no consequences for anything he does.  I have no idea how he's better off for winning his feud with Ambrose.  This sounded like more of the same old Southern gothic same to me.

OOOHHH YEAH!  Macho Man is going into the Hall: This was pretty great, and covered in depth elsewhere.  It's a little jarring to see the whole company fawning over the man after pretending he didn't exist for so long, and different from when they did the same with Bruno or Warrior, because we can't see Randy Savage tell us how he made peace with Vince or his organization.

The Ascension tell us they're better than everyone, especially "local athletes": The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Lana & Rusev gloat about Ryback's firing, the U.S. Champ knocks Dean Ambrose unconcious: The Bulgarian Brute is desperately in need of something to do.  Hopefully, the Rumble and its fallout will provide it.

I have no idea how Mrosko grades these things.  As an overall entertainment product - a three hour and fifteen minute one, with the overrun - it fails miserably.  90% of the characters aren't developed, only one story was advanced in any kind of a meaningful way and there wasn't very much wrestling.  But I cheered Bryan's enthusiasm and I respectfully jeered Rollins every word and deed, and I'm genuinely pumped for whatever feuds come out of the next PPV involving those two men.

Grade: D

Your turn, Cagesiders.  Be gentle on the fill-in guy, although I may not be here to read what you say anyway.  As soon as The General's internet connectivity issues are addressed, I'm leaving the grid for a week.

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