WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Oct. 27, 2014) from San Antonio, Texas featuring the fallout show from the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) that went down this past Sunday night in Dallas. And while there may have been plenty of anger coming out of that show, this episode did a great job erasing it.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
RAGING RANDY ORTON
I had no Earthly idea how very much I needed raging Randy Orton in my life but now that he's here, I feel complete.
That's weird upon initial assessment but a deeper look reveals the obvious causes, of which there are two:
1. He's righteous
2. Seth Rollins is the smarmiest asshole
There was a time when the idea of Rollins turning heel on The Shield was insane, mostly because he's got a build and workrate that screams "mid-card babyface high flying perennial Intercontinental champion". There's a very thin line between leaning towards being a Dolph Ziggler and leaning towards being a Shawn Michaels, and there was some time there where it felt like he would fall under the former distinction. But no; he is absolutely leaning the other direction.
He is, quite literally, the heel the entire WWE Universe is currently revolving around, which is really something considering the WWE world heavyweight champion is Brock Lesnar, the guy who beat Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania.
So when The Authority was doting all over him and he was beaming with pride that he beat Dean Ambrose and doesn't have to deal with him anymore, Orton become the guy we all got to live vicariously through. There is no reasoning with a smarmy asshole like Rollins; there is only yelling, and screaming, and seething, and blind rage, and an RKO OUTTA NOWHERE.
Orton owned this performance. He screamed through a prolonged promo without ever taking a breath, which meant every vein in his head was popping out and giving the appearance that it was, quite literally, about to explode. There was no subtle nuance here because there was no room for it that. Just unmatched intensity and unbridled aggression.
We needed to live through someone, and Orton delivered for us.
I'm not sure an RKO ever felt so good.
Maybe the best part was the reaction to all this. Rollins sold death (still the best sell in the world, by a mile) when he was hit with the RKO and it added a great deal to an already huge moment. Triple H was amazing as the overlord losing control and getting super annoyed by it. Stephanie McMahon was outstanding looking to Triple H wondering what they're going to do about all this.
My favorite part may have been Triple H condescendingly ordering Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble to pick Rollins up off the mat because they needed to save some face while leaving.
Hot damn, this was one of the best segments of the entire year. Absolutely everyone involved hit a home run.
All the best to all the rest
Stephanie McMahon attempts to woo John Cena: The "bring John Cena to the dark side" angle is largely played out, especially considering we watched Paul Heyman work it for weeks on end not long ago, but didn't it feel so very good watching Stephanie dress Cena down while owning the crowd? It really did. But what was really good about it was that this segment was scripted to make Cena look like a true babyface for the first time in what feels like forever. As Stephanie was dressing him down and calling attention to the "Cena sucks" chants, the crowd did something it hasn't in a long time and only chanted "let's go, Cena". Even if it wasn't a genuine reaction (hell, it would be even more powerful if it wasn't), Cena looked genuinely touched in response to it. The Authority has tried to corrupt Cena before, but this segment worked well.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins: I've got problems with this match getting booked so soon after Hell in a Cell, but to their credit, all that went away when they put together a 20 minute PPV quality main event. It was laid out really well, Rollins proved he's one of the best wrestlers on the roster right now, and Cena sports entertained his ass off. He did give away the disqualification finish, however, right at the climax of the match, and it most definitely put a damper on the proceedings. Still, this was an outstanding TV main event.
Chaos for no reason: At the conclusion of the Cena-Rollins match, almost the entire locker room ran down to the ring and started brawling with each other. I can't come up with a good explanation for this happening. I can't find a single reason this would make sense in any way. It was literally just a bunch of dudes leaving each other alone while rushing to the ring and then fighting each other once they got to the ring. This is customary before the Royal Rumble, but at least then it makes sense to simulate what the Rumble match will be. How the hell does this make any sense for Survivor Series? This was really bad way to fade to black, especially considering how amazing the match was that preceded it.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane: Earlier in the evening, Cena was shown recruiting the Intercontinental champion to his team. So Kane booked himself in a match with him and Ziggler proceeded to give Kane his best match since Daniel Bryan was carrying him earlier this year. This was laid out really well, much like Dolph's program with Cesaro, to bring him across like a scrappy underdog who understands he's a scrappy underdog but is beating strong opponents anyway. It's working to get him over so much better than being "The Show Off" who loses all the time but at least has a good match doing it. This was also a rare instance of Dolph looking a lot better for coming into contact with Cena, seeing as he was the first guy who was approached and then he went out and proved he's worth the spot by picking up a clean win over Kane. The Authority beating him down to set up a Cena save felt right on a number of levels, and Ziggler repaying the favor in the very next match felt even better. All of this worked so very well.
Bray Wyatt is Dean Ambrose: There was a planned match with Cesaro that didn't happen because Ambrose wanted Wyatt. He cut a promo, beat the hell out of Cesaro, and then angrily called Bray out to answer for what he did. And then Bray showed up on the titantron and proceeded to do what Bray Wyatt does and say many words without saying much of anything at all. He said they are one in the same and he plans on dismantling Ambrose's mind. That's a funny angle, considering WWE has only ever pushed Ambrose as a crazy person who is out of his mind. They didn't do anything to kill any enthusiasm for the coming program between the two, but they also failed to do anything to add any excitement to it.
Nikki Bella vs. Naomi: Let's just take it as a victory that the most Brie Bella was subjected to as Nikki's new personal assistant so far was to help her win a match. I'll hold out hope they stick with working angles like this that actually involving wrestling instead of dumping liquid on Brie's head.
Mark Henry & Big Show vs. Gold & Stardust: Show and Henry challenging for the tag team titles made no sense, so of course they telegraphed the obvious Henry heel turn. That did nothing to lessen the impact of it, or hurt the story they were telling, mostly because they actually stuck with the story and brought it to a natural conclusion. Henry has been upset for some time now, hardly holding on to the ties with Show. Booking Show to piss him off repeatedly with over enthusiastic tags was a great way to break the levee.
Roman Reigns is coming for Seth Rollins: Call me crazy, but I haven't missed Reigns and his proclamation that he'll be coming for Rollins to avenge his brother Ambrose didn't do much for me. Your mileage may vary.
AJ Lee vs. Alicia Fox: Another roll up finish in a Divas match that was really only a vehicle to push further issues between Fox and Paige. The Divas champion is now an ancillary player, seemingly thanks to the Total Divas rule they claim doesn't exist. Where's Emma when we need her?
The Usos vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow: This was fun enough, with The Usos again delivering the goods in the ring and Mizdow again entertaining in his role. Nothing of note as far as further teasing a break up.
Hulk Hogan returns: There are issues with Susan G. Koman (or Coleman, according to The Hulkster), but it was a cool moment bringing out Hogan to pose with cancer survivors in the ring. They appeared to be having a great time, and that was wonderful to see. Keep fighting, ladies.
THE BIG GUY is back: Bo Dallas was sacrificed to the returning Ryback, and we can't even be mad about it because "Big Hungry" had that crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Feed us more, BIG GUY. The best part? No Curtis Axel to drag him down.
This was an unexpectedly fun show that was occasionally great and was only bad during the illogical show closing chaotic locker room brawl. What a pleasant surprise. Who would have thought the only real disappointment would be the Wyatt-Ambrose segment?
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?
All photos via WWE.com.