WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Oct. 19, 2015) from Dallas, Texas with all the latest build to the upcoming Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (PPV) this coming Sunday night in Los Angeles. The big stars of yesterday were in town to cast a long shadow of the not-so-big stars of today.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
First, having Stone Cold Steve Austin introduce Undertaker was a cool moment, even if there wasn't any reason for doing it other than "hey Texas, here's The Rattlesnake, have a HELL YEAH!" The downside of having him on the show is that he casts a long shadow.
Then again, he's one of the greatest ever.
Either way, out comes Undertaker and Dallas treated him more like a returning hero and less like the dick-kicking cheater he's become in his crusade to get his revenge on Brock Lesnar. That's the story, after all, and it was oh so nice for Paul Heyman to actually bother telling it.
I've been waiting for the moment they put the two of them in the same ring so Heyman could bring up Brock beating the streak just to make Undertaker react to it.
Meanwhile, "The Phenom's" only play was attempt to get inside Lesnar's head just days away from their match, something Heyman was quick to point out so as to keep his client on an even keel to ensure he does what he's always done before.
They treated Brock like the heel for retreating to the back, but that was the right play. They did wonders servicing the story with a solid if unspectacular promo from Heyman and Undertaker and Lesnar looming larger than life ahead of their final showdown.
Better than you
When Shawn Michaels' music hit, the crowd didn't pop like one of the greatest wrestlers who ever lived was coming out to the ring, even in his home state. He was treated like a star, sure, but not like he didn't have to earn whatever they were going to give him.
Did he ever.
You shouldn't skip the video to get right to the text on this section. Click play and watch Michaels absolutely ether Seth Rollins. And I mean that in the Nas sense, that shit that make your soul burn slow.
Rollins draws attention to the fact that so many have called him the second coming of The Heartbreak Kid, except he's actually better. Shawn's response is a breathtaking smackdown:
"You know something, I gotta tell ya: If I had a nickel for every guy who was supposedly the next me, dude, I'd be a millionaire. The most amusing thing to me, the thing that never seems to escape me, is that that's what you guys do. You and so many others aspire to be the next Shawn Michaels. That's what is so funny to me. You're perfectly happy being called version two. And you know something, the difference between guys like you and guys like me? It never once occurred to me ever in my career to ever be the second coming of anybody. And I guess that's because foolishly I was too busy becoming the greatest wrestler who ever lived."
When this was over, I was initially upset that I didn't get to see an old favorite deliver some Sweet Chin Music to a hated heel champion -- especially considering Rollins was demanding they "hit my music" repeatedly -- but that verbal beatdown was better than any physical altercation. I absolutely believe it was a legend of the past speaking for what so many executives within WWE believe -- remember Vince McMahon's take on millennials? -- but holy hell, it was fun watching Michaels eat Rollins alive. I mean, if there's ever been a guy I've wanted to see get put in his place like this, it's this version of Seth Rollins.
Reunited and it doesn't feel good
I'm not sure we can say The Shield reunited here, because that's not really what happened. It's more like Seth Rollins agreed to be in a tag team with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose just so he could screw them over.
Still, they gave away a lot of firsts that should have been really special. They headlined Raw with The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family, with one of the Shield members holding the WWE world heavyweight title, and it couldn't have felt any less special.
Meanwhile, The Wyatt Family was absent Luke Harper, with absolutely no explanation, and plus Erick Rowan, also with no explanation.
It was quite clearly a thrown together gimmick, likely an attempt at getting viewers to stick with the show during a down period in viewership. The story wasn't there, and there was enough intrigue on issues outside of it -- what the hell happened to Harper and Randy Orton? -- that it took away from what should have been a huge moment.
That said, they did well to get some good heat on Rollins for once again backing out on his team while getting Reigns and Ambrose over coming together to valiantly fight against the big monster heels. Bigass McStrongman has been fantastic in his role despite his stunning lack of experience and the idea that Rowan would transition back so seamlessly actually works well for the story considering the spell Bray Wyatt is supposed to have his followers under. The match was good enough, and the post-match brawling was fun.
There's just a huge sense of disappointment surrounding The Shield's first match back as a team happening this way.
All the best to all the rest
New Day vs. John Cena & Dudley Boyz: Just hours after Vince McMahon met with Jerry Joney, New Day cut a promo on Dallas calling Tony Romo's clavicle and Dez Bryant's foot BOOTY. They are the guys who run into Dallas fans and shout "HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS" during dark times like this, and it's always funny. Meanwhile, this was one of the lesser six-man tag matches you'll see. The chaos wasn't nearly as entertaining as usual, it didn't get enough time to flesh itself out, and the babyfaces were poor sports after legitimate defeat. To hell with 'em! I did enjoy the hell out of Big E and Kofi not running in to help Xavier, instead choosing to grimace in pain while watching him go through a table wondering why such a fate had befallen their friend. Again, I'm not sure why I'm supposed to boo New Day and cheer the others here, but this is WWE.
Team Bella vs. Team BAD: Sasha Banks and Naomi worked babyface for this match and all was well early on. Nikki Bella was aggressive as hell and the commentary team actually keyed on as much, saying she was getting herself ready for her title match at the PPV this weekend. The match got sloppy in a hurry, though, with Nikki notably attempting a clothesline on Sasha as Banks was coming in on a hot tag with one of her own. They recovered well enough to be passable for a Divas match on Raw, and Nikki won going into her rematch. Good enough.
Neville & Cesaro & Ziggler vs. Barrett & Sheamus & Rusev: Because of this job, I found myself far more interested in what they may or may not do with Rusev on this show, which was nothing. As for the in-ring, what actually matters, the lesson in this match was simple: Cesaro has a such a strong set of babyface signature moves there's no reason on Earth he shouldn't be in a better position in the company.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella: This was basically the same as Nikki being aggressive to get ready for her title match except Charlotte just won a nothing match clean and walked off. Really nothing to this.
Paige interview: Renee Young is suddenly a hard hitting reporter not afraid to ask the tough questions and get after her interview subjects. Paige running her down for it was more entertaining than any Divas match and it is my sincere hope this is a new Renee character who is here to stay. I care less about the truth in the Natalya case and more about Renee asking questions about it.
Kevin Owens vs. Mark Henry: Man, it was nice to see the nasty monster Henry return, if only for a moment, when he screamed in Owens' face that he's been a bully for 19 years. He's still a babyface, though, so KO got to beat him clean and show off that he can hit the Pop up Powerbomb on even a man as big as Henry, which means he'll do the same to Ryback this weekend. As with so much else on this show, there was nothing great here but it was good enough build to the match.
This was an enjoyable show, save for the decision to reunite The Shield this way instead of holding off on doing it proper.
That's it for 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?