WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Jan. 19, 2015) from Dallas, Texas featuring the go home show to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for this coming Sunday night in Philadelphia. It was a big show, too, with a plethora of legends showing up, Sting making his first appearance on Raw, and Brock Lesnar running wild.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
F-5 the world
An awful lot happened on this show involving the major players in the main event angle setting up what looks to be a clear picture for the future.
Let's run it down:
Brock Lesnar: The WWE world heavyweight champion arrived saying he was there for a fight, then stood around and let everyone talk for 20 minutes. It worked out, however, because it led to a match he could benefit from. When he didn't benefit from that match, that's when he got off the leash and hit an F-5 on everyone except Seth Rollins. Considering the reaction from Dallas, you would have thought this a babyface turn and WWE would be silly not to capitalize on what happened here. Lesnar vs. Rollins is what the fans wanted on this show, and Cena is a secondary character. That should have far reaching implications for the Royal Rumble. He also became self aware on this show, outright saying the very thing we've praised him for: that when he arrives you know it means the bullshit stops and it's all business. Except 58 of his 61 words were "baby" and that was weird as all.
John Cena: He spent his night worried about getting the jobs back of those who were fired because of his inability to keep The Authority out of power. You could argue once more that Cena showed himself to be the selfish, front runner he's always been here. After saying he would do anything to get Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan, and Ryback their jobs back, Triple H offered a match that would result in just that if he won but would also cost him his WWE world heavyweight title shot if he lost. His response to this wasn't to immediately jump at the opportunity to do right by those who fought for him, it was to worry about whether or not his spot in the Royal Rumble main event would go away. When they introduced the WWE App vote, the focus immediately turned to whether or not Cena was worried about fans hating him instead of those fans simply wanting the babyface trio to get their jobs back. If Cena was any kind of a hero here, he would have forfeited his title shot to get the fired stars reinstated and simply entered the Royal Rumble. Then he actually sacrificed something while having to work to gain it back. That's how you gain sympathy. Instead, he got the best of all worlds by the end of the evening, winning a handicap match with a little bit of help from...
Sting: His Raw debut comes a week before the Royal Rumble at just the right moment to ensure that justice is done and evil cannot prevail. He also made a very brief appearance on the ramp to point down at Triple H, mouth "I want you," and disappear back into the shadows. Less has always been more with the Stinger and he was used to perfection here.
Triple H: He had it all together, poised to control all the cards, before Sting interrupted and ruined everything. That's a recurring theme now and it would appear certain that Triple H vs. Sting is the match we're getting at WrestleMania 31.
Seth Rollins: This smarmy little bastard showed a lot of ass on this show, but it was done just so that all the babyfaces would look much better for it. From taking a verbal beatdown from Paul Heyman to being the brunt of John Cena's jokes to shitting his pants in fear when Brock Lesnar got in his face to taking the pinfall that gave the fired stars their jobs back to actually physically running away from Lesnar in terror, he was putting everyone over left and right. And the crowd was absolutely eating it up. That pop when Lesnar speared Rollins and started dropping bombs on his head tells you how great Seth has been as a heel for all this time. Tonight proved that if Brock is losing the title at the Rumble, it has to be to Rollins.
Stephanie McMahon: The Queen rules.
The opening segment featuring everyone mentioned was mostly terrible but that closing angle was hot as all get out. So hot, in fact, that I'm not certain the Rumble will headline this weekend.
Opening segment grade: D
Closing segment grade: A
All the best to all the rest
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt: These two never fail to deliver the goods, and this match was no differet. Really, it just underscored why a Bryan vs. Lesnar match is so desirable: Bryan would make you think Brock was literally killing him and when it came time to make his comeback he would do so with such ferocity you would totally believe in it/him. Wyatt winning only furthers speculation that a Deadman is in his future while Bryan is being set up for something big on SmackDown.
The Kliq: Normally, these backstage skits are as lame as they can possibly be, but I quite enjoyed the interaction between The Kliq. Be sure to check in in the comments section to let us know if you were fooled by Damien Mizdow doing his best X-Pac. I totally bought it until the real X-Pac walked into the picture. Kevin Nash punking The Miz is also a new favorite.
Legend's Panel: This wasn't any good the first time so I'm not entirely sure why they thought it would be worth our time to trot Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair out to embarrass themselves once more. Michaels tries way too hard, Hogan is working the same tired schtick that got him hated in the early 90s, and Flair is so eager to talk about sex pro wrestling takes a backseat. That said, once Big Show interrupted and Flair actually went after him it was mildly entertaining if only for the "what the hell is actually going on here" vibe it had. Then, Roman Reigns was called in to save the day to further cement him as a babyface -- he saved these three old men despite none of them even mentioning his name in their Royal Rumble predictions. So, in the end, it worked.
Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose: Don't understand the booking motivations here, and had a lot of little problems with this match, like the fact that Ambrose would sell his knee being hurt so bad he could't run the ropes before he used that same knee to stand up with. Then he won clean in a non-title match. It was fine, I just didn't get it.
New Day vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro: Remember that rumor that Kidd and Cesaro went to the Performance Center to work on integrating tag team moves into their arsenal. Well, Kidd hitting a dropkick during Cesaro's swing is the dopest move in all of pro wrestling right now.
nWo 4 Lyfe: I couldn't figure out for the life of me what these guys were doing cutting a promo in a prime spot and then The Ascension showed up. Look, the Rumor Roundup on this very site is one of my favorite things but I don't believe damn near a word of it because, again, they're just rumors. I try to have fun with them. That said, the recent rumor on this team was that they were going to get buried. Lo and behold, here they are working an 80s tag team act opposite the coolest heel stable of the 90s and looking like the two biggest geeks in the world in the process. If you can't look cool dealing with a group of old men, you're never going to look cool. Then the APA showed up, then the New Age Outlaws and all the old men just beat the shit out of the hot young destroyers. A burial? Maybe not, but are you taking them seriously after this?
Paige & Natalya vs. Alicia Fox & Summer Rae: I feel like I've written this a billion times but these ladies could really accomplish something special if they were ever given the time.
Rusev vs. R-Truth: It was R-Truth's birthday. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rusev won in a squash. WWE.
Jey Uso vs. The Miz: When Uso won, Michael Cole called it a "momentum building victory" for the tag team title match this weekend. I guess that's one way to put it.
There was a lot of fluff on this show but much of it was dumb fun. They also hit a home run with the closing angle.
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?