We got another solid episode of RAW on the Road to WrestleMania Monday night. This isn't really surprising as WrestleMania season is my favorite part of the professional wrestling year.
In part because I'm really digging The Shield and the Wyatt Family I enjoyed their segments the most. The Hounds of Justice continued to show signs of conflict with Ambrose's old school heel maneuvering when Reigns was set to put the match away. While I've had some concern about the sometimes "hammy" delivery by Dean Ambrose this reminded me that he'll be an excellent pot-stirrer like "Rowdy" Roddy Piper once out doing his own thing. Reigns (who may be my favorite guy in WWE right now) continued to impress. Seth Rollins as always played his part well and does a good job being the voice of reason within the group. I've said it before and I'll say it again I hate to see The Shield breakup, but I'm excited about all three guys prospects out on their own. Their response promo after the Wyatt Family match was excellent. My favorite part was Reigns closing it with a serious, "Believe THAT and believe in The Shield."
Similarly the Wyatts delivered as well. I didn't like this promo quite as much as the Smackdown one, but that isn't a criticism. Luke Harper's whistling was a nice added touch and Rowan's "RUN" is a nice way to sign off on these promos. I wish WWE Network was going live before Elimination Chamber because I'd love to check out this match even more than the Chamber itself. It should be a brutal affair in a good way.
Batista and Del Rio had an OK segment. Del Rio brought good fire to his promo. For whatever reason, Batista hasn't really clicked yet. Hopefully they'll find something to get him rolling. Del Rio continues to just kind of be there. Not sure what they'll do exactly with these two, but I can't say I'm looking forward to it a whole lot.
Tag team cage match was all over the place. It's a small thing, but the NAO doing their pre-match routine really isn't helping. They aren't really supposed to be getting cheered, but they do that and then get a polite reaction. Nothing they do in the match really seems to get the crowd too heated. I think it's in part due to their intro routine. If they could tweak that to antagonize the crowd more it might bring some life to their matches. Cody is insane by the way. I could do without seeing that moonsault off the cage ever again. Impressive, but scary looking.
We found out that Naomi is legitimately tough. An extremely sloppy knee to her face by Aksana did some major damage. Naomi impressed me being able to complete the match with any sort of composure after that botch.
Lastly, the main event was excellent but I do have a minor complaint. My bias is that I do not care for non-title losses by champions. If you are going to do one though it should feel like a BIG DEAL. Due to how much the crowd loves Daniel Bryan this did feel like a big deal until they went with the post-match beatdown. That's where they lost me. Do that on Smackdown or next RAW, but you needed to let Bryan have his moment closing the show to make that non-title win matter. As an aside I despise Corporate Kane. They really need to figure out something better to do with him.
The episode was solid but unspectacular. The Shield and Wyatt Family continues to be stars of the show in my opinion. It was a bit odd that I don't recall them even acknowledging Cena's absence. I have no issue with him being off the show as a bit of unpredictability like that helps things from my perspective. I know why WWE isn't eager to do it, but I think all the big stars need to go away from time to time. It keeps things fresher.