Being close to the Royal Rumble and the Road to WrestleMania is typically a sign that the quality of RAW is going to go up, but this show was a major step back.
- John Cena Appreciation Night--Bizarre segment to end the show with last night. It was successful in two ways. One, I will forever and always get a kick out of gloating Stephanie. Shes is phenomenal in that role. Two, it made me really curious where this angle is going with Cena, The Authority, and Cena's Survivor Series team members now that they have all been fired. Continuing on with this I hope that sooner rather than later we get some suggestion that Sting is looking to right another wrong. It probably would have been too soon last night, but maybe something as simple as the lights flickering during The Authority's next party or whatever might do the trick. A creepy video on the big screen. Something that suggests The Vigilante is watching and is beginning to play mind games with The Authority.
- Seth Rollins added to the WWE World Heavyweight Title match at the Royal Rumble--This worked for me. If you're going to have The Authority return they needed to do something BIG right off the bat. Rewarding Mr. Money in the Bank with a shot at the strap worked for me in that regard. It also helps that I had just about zero desire to see Lesnar/Cena III at this point. I know that Lesnar may be a short-term deal now in WWE so your hand is kind of forced in that regard, but it was too soon for Lesnar/Cena II and it's definitely too soon for Lesnar/Cena III. The addition of Seth Rollins to the match adds another dimension that should be interesting.
- Ambulance Match--This was the match that I felt could save the show. The problem is that we've seen these two go at it in these types of matches so much that the brawling all over the place didn't feel special at all. The Sister Abigail to the floor was impressive and while I really like both guys I liked Bray Wyatt winning straight up in this one. While I have gotten beyond my desire to see blood in wrestling I must admit that this feud could have been enhanced by someone wearing the proverbial crimson mask at some point.
- Handicap Match--I despise handicap matches, but if you're going to book one this is how you do it. Ryback fought valiantly against Seth Rollins and Kane, but came up short. Since this was the first RAW back with The Authority in charge you had to expect some stuff like this. I hope the overt heeling is minimized though so that at least we aren't going to be subjected to all sorts of stacking the deck by those in charge against Cena and his buddies. That gets old and quickly.
- Bad News Barrett wins the Intercontinental Title--Triple H, correctly, pointed out that Barrett never really lost the title so this made sense. While he deserves better than a midcard title I liked this move. Fans were behind the Ziggler IC win so hopefully that's raised the importance of the belt to some degree. This only helped the fans get behind Ziggler further so hopefully we'll see Dolph get the real elevation that he deserves.
- Roman Reigns vs Big Show--This one is about what you'd expect. Reigns promo before the match missed the mark to a degree, but was better than some he's done. This leads me back to, "Why does everyone have to talk so much?" Giving Reigns a Goldberg-esque push where he shows up and wrecks thing would work a heck of a lot better than forcing him out there to do promos like this. The odd thing about this match is that they seemed to protect Big Show. I have no issue with that decision in a vacuum, but you've devalued him so much over the years it's kind of too late for that. The end with Reigns Spearing him and the steel steps falling on his head was kind of clever. This was moderately successful I suppose.
- Mixed Six Person Tag--This was fine for continuing the Miz/Mizdow vs Usos/Naomi deal. Nice touch having Alicia Fox attack Naomi before the match. Damien Mizdow is over huge. This is heading towards a great Virgil/Ted Dibiase moment and I cannot wait to see it.
- Cesaro and Kidd Attack!--Interesting way to really kickoff the Cesaro/Kidd tag team by having them wear costumes that covered their entire bodies in order to sneak attack Big E during his match with Adam Rose. I really liked Rose's reaction to it whether he's in cahoots with them or not just because it was a nice heel thing to do. That move that Cesaro and Kidd did was awkward looking though. We need something better than that. I am all about tag team wrestling so if we aren't going to get a legit main event push for Cesaro I'd at least like to see him be a factor in the tag ranks. Hopefully that's what we are getting now. The New Day? No idea where that's heading. Things don't look great for those three right now though.
- The Ascension--The match was fine and probably what they should have done last week with their debut. What was more interesting and generated more discussion was how they name checked the Road Warriors and Demolition. Some seemed troubled by how they apparently disparaged Road Warrior Hawk specifically. This is being mentioned here, but will actually be tackled in another post.