WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Jan. 6, 2014) from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, featuring the annual "Old School" episode. And it sure was a gay old time.
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.
- Nostalgia is one of the best things about being a human being. Seeing the old stage, the old colors, the old logos (albeit with the modern twist), the blazers worn by the commentators and just the overall look and feel of the entire set up was fun. It's good to look back at where you came from to appreciate not only where you are but where you're going. I also like the idea that this show was run just two days before an announcement that could make or break WWE.
- I actually really liked the opening segment because it was old school in its style. Heel champion says outrageous thing that we all know to be bullshit before babyface challenger shows up to speak the truth, outing heel champion for his bullshit. Those roles are almost always reversed in WWE these days. The heels tend to speak the truth while the babyfaces rely on cheap heat to get over.
- He called that man Randall. I love it.
- Loved, loved, loved the way Daniel Bryan was brought into the lantern light during The Wyatt Family entrance. Just a really cool visual. It's interesting: Don't Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, and Bray Wyatt already feel like a bigger deal due to their association with Bryan? Doesn't that make this story worth it this early on, something like what Mick Foley was referring to recently?
- Thought the six-man tag between The Wyatt Family and The Usos & Rey Mysterio could have been much better but there were a lot of little things to like: Competitive in fighting with the group, Bryan refusing to smile or sell, Bryan attacking immediately after the three count to clear the ring and so on. There's still a lot of potential here.
- Good on Baltimore for chanting for Bryan. Let's try to keep that up no matter where WWE travels, yes?
- Why can't we get a segment every week that features Ted DiBiase laughing? I would watch the hell out of it.
- In addition to that, I would like to humbly request that Ryback replace JBL on commentary. I love his new character, laughing after all the ridiculously awesome nonsense that comes out of his mouth. The Big Guy is better than you and it's time to get used to it. Also, put a bra on Big E. Langston. BIG TRAPS EMPTY KEGS MANY SETS NO REGRETS.
- Loved the shots Dean Ambrose fired off at Roddy Piper. "If we were around when you were on top, you never would have made it to 112-years-old." That's easy but still manages to be clever. I still don't think he's anywhere close to main event material but this was fun, although the dig that Piper was only jealous because Ambrose is a better U.S. champion is in the running for most ridiculous insult ever. Roman Reigns, on the other hand, was perfectly menacing. "If you ever touch me again, I'll break your old ass in half." That was great.
- Of all the people I can imagine CM Punk running with, the New Age Outlaws aren't included in that list.
- Haven't we had enough Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara? I mean, isn't 368 matches enough now? Hey, at least he's getting something of a story with the Royal Rumble coming up.
- Daniel Bryan isn't brainwashed at all, it seems. He's completely aware. In fact, he revealed his reason for joining the family was to learn to become a monster. I don't like that this was done in a throwaway backstage segment, but at least we're getting some background. I don't know that I like the direction as much as before, where Bryan lost his soul to the evildoers and what not, but I'll give the benefit of the doubt.
- The Rhodes Brothers vs. Real Americans was just some good old fashioned passionate professional wrasslin'. Back when all those reports were circulating that with Triple H gaining more and more power within WWE the tag team division would see a resurgence, it was easy to dismiss them. After all, who would bring it back to prominence? Yet here we are with Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Jack Swagger, and Antonio Cesaro tearing it up in free TV matches. That's without mentioning the plethora of other great teams who also put in work on a weekly basis or, at the very least, when called upon. It truly is a great time for tag team wrestling.
- Just as I was sitting here thinking how awful it was to have to watch Booker T and DDP talk about yoga and waste everyone's time, here comes Ron Simmons to save the day. DAMN!
- I don't know whose idea it was to have a Damien Sandow vs. Great Khali rematch but BURN IT WITH FIRE AND DON'T PISS ON THE ASHES. Here's WWE for you: Old ass referee Sgt. Slaughter -- and shame on you for voting him over Bob Backlund and Arn Anderson -- misses a clear rope break during a pin and not only do the fans cheer him making this mistake, they cheer when a rightfully upset Sandow confronts Slaughter and ends up in a sleeper. Unbelievable. Peasants, the lot of them.
- It doesn't happen often but the production gaffe for Brock Lesnar's entrance was inexcusable. You can't miss the opening riff in this theme. You can't. It's iconic, and should be featured every time it can be.
- I'm not sure how big a fan I am of Big Show crashing the party and tossing Lesnar around, not after the way he was booked in the angle with The Authority. I get that WWE expects me not to have a memory and accept Show for the big monster killer part after he's gone from TV for a couple weeks but I just can't do it. This probably ends with him doing a job for Lesnar on another broken ring superplex, though, so I guess I'll put up with it. Plus, the old Show vs. Lesnar matches were always fun HOSS FIGHTS.
- I must confess that I missed a large chunk of Raw here. Actually, everything up to the main event. There was a Divas match, though. Go Bella Twins. Yes, I said that. Apparently I also missed Bad News Barrett and Rikishi reuniting with Too Cool to battle 3MB. That was probably fun.
- Really enjoyed Punk vs. Roman Reigns in the main event, at least just as much as I've enjoyed Punk working with the rest of The Shield in singles match-ups. The timing was better than the Seth Rollins match and Reigns brings a big fight feel to the table every time he steps in the ring. That's an underrated quality, maybe the most underrated. He performed big on a big stage and it sure was nice to see Punk do the job for him, even if it came via some form of assistance from Ambrose. Everyone got their stuff in and everyone looked good while we got a clear winner. Believe in Reigns.
- Super happy to see Jake "The Snake" Roberts come back on this show. Actually, I think I prefer this return to a return in the Royal Rumble match. This way he gets to look good bringing out his snake and posing for the crowd. Could he do the work involved in actually working the Rumble? Probably. But it's better not to have to see that. This was simple and effective.
- Ambrose couldn't stop smiling, even with a snake on his face. What a wonderful breach of kayfabe.
This was a good, fun show. It felt rushed early but by the end had settled into a nice groove and closed with a solid booking decision and a cool return.
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?