WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (April 6, 2015) from Austin, Texas with all the latest build to the upcoming Extreme Rules pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for later this month in Chicago. That included a mostly listless show that may reveal a big problem for WWE and its future.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
The future is here (and it looks just like the past)
Seth Rollins wins the WWE world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania 31 in a brilliant bit of booking that had everyone in the match looking fantastic and set up so well for the future. Suddenly we had a fresh Steve Austin type babyface in Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns looking really strong, and a full time champion who will actually work SmackDown tapings.
The future looked bright.
The next night a lame six-man tag team main event laying the ground work for what they would deliver to us last night, which is, to my eyes, a big old mehburger with cheese.
What we got:
- A long, drawn out opening promo from The Authority sans the two best promos within the group (Stephanie McMahon and Triple H) essentially just recapping recent events while also bagging on Kane's lack of success to give him reason to book the night's match card and line up. Also, Randy Orton calling out Rollins for obvious reasons that were already established on SmackDown last week.
- Randy Orton vs. Kane in a nothing match ending in a lame disqualification finish that wasn't much more than a waste of time for all involved.
- Roman Reigns vs. Big Show in a match that wasn't actually all that bad, all things considered, but is a lazy revisiting of a program we watched late last year that didn't set anything on fire.
- Ryback vs. Luke Harper because they had to follow formula and get THE BIG GUY a win just to beat him later because of course they weren't letting Orton pin Reigns.
- A mess of a triple threat that featured the aforementioned Ryback only because they needed to get Orton a win without pinning Reigns while also keeping Reigns relatively strong for whenever he gets back to the title picture. But that includes going right back to the Big Show program that no one wants while keeping Rollins locked in his ongoing feud with Orton, which isn't the worst thing in the world but combined with Reigns-Show just feels stale.
That's the big problem with so much of all this. It all feels so damn stale. Opening promos running 15 minutes when they should run five; matches we've already seen multiple times; multiple man main event matches; interference from the heel authority figure team; dissension among that team but only to serve the purpose that week and be forgotten about the next; Kane; Big Show; all of it.
What's so frustrating about it, too, is that in the midst of all this, Rollins worked a match with Neville and it was AWESOME. It was fresh. A recent NXT call up wants to make a splash on the main roster after a successful debut so he goes after the heavyweight champion. He fights valiantly, and even makes the champion look vulnerable, but ultimately comes up short because, well, he's still a rookie at this level and that's the champion he just ran up against. For daring to test him, Rollins got the heat on with a post-match Curb Stomp.
It was such a refreshing change of pace, and it was ultimately lost amid the sea of garbage surrounding it.
Thank whatever deity may guide your life for NXT, huh?
All the rest
US open challenge: Though this doesn't change my opinion on how Dean Ambrose looked coming out of it last week, I found myself loving this new gimmick John Cena is working of taking on any and all comers for the US title week in and week out. This week, Stardust took his turn and Cena gave him a good match before ultimately going over. Isn't this exactly what we wanted? So simple and so effective. A big star taking a secondary title and elevating it by making it an important part of his motivation as a character and fighting his ass off for it. Zero complaints here.
Payoff city, bitch: I'm surely not the only one who vocally supported WWE and made sure to consistently make mention of how brilliantly laid out the Miz vs. Damien Mizdow slow burn angle has been but I call attention to it here because it gives context to the distaste for what they did here. The first match between these two after spending all that time widening the rift between them took place on an episode of Raw going up against the NCAA college basketball title game in a time slot guaranteed to short change it. It's baffling to me that anyone who isn't already over ever gets over when they do things like this. Mizdow was so over going into WrestleMania, they could have booked him to win the Andre Battle Royal, run a story with Miz taking his trophy, and had them co-main event Extreme Rules. Instead, this. The match was just as disappointing as the decision to have it in the first place.
The New Face of Fear, somehow: Bray Wyatt is out here just totally acting like the Undertaker ordeal never happened and that's awesome.
Naomi getting a chance: It seems our (read: my) wish has been granted and Naomi is being pushed to the top of the Divas division for an inevitable showdown with Nikki Bella at Extreme Rules when she surely wins the battle royal for the right next week. It's just too bad that the commentary was so god awful in keeping up with the story the women in the ring were attempting to tell. Brie got her sister beat and almost no attention was called to it. What's more, Naomi's finish was no sold completely. She didn't hit it clean, and it was awkward and all that, but that's when commentary can make up for a misstep in the ring. Byron Saxton is so unbelievably out of his element he's actively ruining the show he's supposed to be enhancing. How spoiled were we with Gorilla Monsoon followed by Jim Ross? So good for so long and now so, so bad.
Clap or Snap: WWE has taken a step in the right direction with The New Day, acknowledging that everyone hates their guts and actually providing backstory for why they do what they do. How many of us have been sitting here wondering how they can just clap and act like everyone loves them when it's so obviously not the case? So how refreshing was it, then, when they come out this week and admit that they're only clapping so stop themselves from completely snapping and going ape shit on everyone around them? This is perfect for Big E. He's no longer a parody; he's a guy who is playing the act so he doesn't break you in half. They're going to build to that moment when they stop clapping, start snapping, and Big E is going to tear someone's head off and it's going to be GLORIOUS.
Lucha lucha lucha: Everyone hop aboard the Kalisto train now because it's going to get really crowded here soon. That entrance theme straight out of a Street Fighter game combined with the easy chant and crowd interaction combined with cool matches you don't see a lot of in WWE combined is going to get this team over. Cannot wait for Brass Ring Club vs. Lucha Dragons to tear the house down on a pre-show at some point soon.
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry: These two are always fun and reversing the character alignments actually worked quite well. Sheamus channeling Rick Rude was entertaining as all get out, but the way he was bumping around and feeding for Henry was equally impressive. There's money here, and maybe a lot of it.
There were a few things to like about this show but just so much to be downright despondent about.
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?