Mike Tedesco’s RAW Thoughts
January 20, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
It’s finally happened. After months of the most mediocre television imaginable, probably some of the worst television WWE has produced consecutively in over a decade, we got a show that I felt was entertaining and well put together top to bottom. Of course there are underlying factors that are concerning, such as a heavy reliance on past talents to produce a good show, but WWE did a lot of things right last night, so I want to talk about them.
Brock Lesnar has seemingly turned face
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were the first ones out for the night, and the crowd was red hot for that. I have to tip my cap to the crowd in Dallas. I thought they were pretty fantastic throughout the night. It could be that there were a lot of rabid fans near the crowd microphones, but I don’t really think that’s the case. They were molten for every segment that they were needed to be. Heyman was going to start the show with his usual lines, but Lesnar ripped the microphone out of his hand and said that he’s here to fight tonight before calling out Seth Rollins to a big reaction. The crowd was awesome here, particularly when Lesnar said that Rollins had ten seconds to get out there, and they counted down for him. That was very cool.
The Authority then made their way out in pieces (first Triple H, then Stephanie McMahon with Big Show and Kane) to try to calm him down. Lesnar was gearing up to fight all of them throughout, and Heyman was fantastic trying to calm him down. All of these actions (particularly Lesnar’s actions at the end of the show, which I will get to) strongly suggested to me that Lesnar has gone face. I can only assume that will lead to a termination of his partnership with Heyman at some point, but we’ll see what happens. If Lesnar is face now, that creates an interesting problem for WrestleMania if he is still the champion after Sunday. A face Lesnar would definitely spoil a match-up between Roman Reigns or Daniel Bryan. I’m very interested to see where this goes.
John Cena was out next, and this is where the segment started to drag a bit. It didn’t drag because of Cena’s appearance. It just started to get too long. I thought the segment would have been fine had Cena just ended it with the “ash-holes” line (which played off kind of childish), but it went on even longer. First Stephanie McMahon had to verbally pick him apart, and then Seth Rollins had to chime in. There was one good part where Rollins kind of tripped over his line, but he recovered strong, only for Cena to improvise and poke fun at it. I thought that was very good.
Finally, Triple H made the proposition to the WWE Universe to vote on if Cena should have a match that night where if he won, Ziggler, Rowan, and Ryback would get their jobs back. If Cena lost, he’d be out of the title match at the Royal Rumble. Interestingly enough, Cena didn’t say a word throughout that challenge. The segment started off great before running into the usual pitfalls of a three-hour show of just simply going too long. At least they left you with a nice hook for later in the show, but my goodness it took a long time to get there.
Daniel Bryan loses his first RAW match in eight months
I’m sure some people were up in arms about Daniel Bryan losing to Bray Wyatt in his first RAW match since May 2014 when he faced Alberto Del Rio, but I’m not one of them. For me, it’s more important to see him performing with a healthy neck, having good matches, hearing great crowd reactions toward him, and in the end, depending on what happens Sunday, it doesn’t even matter. For Bryan to overcome insurmountable odds from The Authority, he has to look like the deck is stacked against him every now and then. Bryan is facing Kane this Thursday on Smackdown in a No DQ match where if he loses, he’s out of the Royal Rumble. With this loss due to interference from Kane, it looks like the numbers aren’t in his favor. Of course, he’ll come back and win on Smackdown to stay in the Rumble. I highly suspect that The Authority will then put him in the number one spot at the Royal Rumble to stack the deck more against him. If Bryan wins the match, then he’ll have overcome the biggest obstacle they’ve put in front of him yet, and we’ll get the underdog story again at WrestleMania this year. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story?
In any event, I thought these two had a very good match. It was entertaining and, most importantly, ate up a lot of time that would have gone to pointless filler. I’d rather watch a long, entertaining match than one segment of stuff that myself and WWE don’t really care about.
Damien Mizdow is one entertaining SOB
I absolutely loved that segment with The Kliq and Damien Mizdow. This guy is just incredibly funny. When he came in dressed as X-Pac, I honestly couldn’t stop laughing. Who knew all those months ago when they seemingly did Mizdow as a one-night thing that it would evolve into this?
Royal Rumble Legends Panel gives hype for Sunday
This was really the only big hype for the Royal Rumble match itself on this show other than the “By The Numbers” video, which incorrectly listed Kane as only having 38 total eliminations. He’s at 39, even though the CM Punk elimination was after he got eliminated. They marched out Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels to talk about its importance, and they did a good job of it. Some of their comments were a bit cringe-worthy, such as Ric Flair saying it was the biggest moment of his career or Shawn Michaels saying all three men in the ring would be nowhere without it, but they still did a good job playing up its significance.
Big Show came out to complain about none of the legends picking him to win the Rumble match. Big Show was fun in his role as antagonist picking on the legends. Ric Flair had enough and threw some chops before eventually getting knocked out. I thought it was interesting that Flair was the one to do this when Shawn Michaels is much younger and athletic enough to conceivably get in Big Show’s face, but so be it. It was still fun to see Flair go nuts for a moment before getting knocked out. That brought out Roman Reigns, who wound up clotheslining Big Show over the top rope. A lot of people think this means they’ll be the final two in the Rumble, but why would they let Reigns eliminate him so easily if it’s supposed to be a challenge on Sunday? I still don’t know if Reigns is the right choice to win this year, but we’ll see what happens. At least he didn’t do a fairy tale like “Roman and Gretel” or “Roman and the Three Bears” this week.
Dean Ambrose handily defeats Bad News Barrett
While I’m happy to see Dean Ambrose get some victories after losing every big match in his last feud, I have to roll my eyes at the fact that the Intercontinental Champion loses yet again. Every time Bad News Barrett has the title, he loses every match except an actual title defense. Actually, that’s true of almost every Intercontinental Champion. What’s the point of making the title anymore? You get less over with it than you were without it. It’s crazy. Ambrose did a good job selling the lingering knee injury from his Ambulance Match against Bray Wyatt a few weeks back. Ambrose is great with those things, one of very few who sells injuries long term. Remember last summer when his shoulder was taped up for over a month after a match against – who else? – Bray Wyatt? Good stuff for him.
Filler matches that are properly placed
Even though I cringed when they came out to no reaction even though they were basically begging for reactions, The New Day match against Cesaro and Tyson Kidd was properly placed and inoffensive. It came nearly an hour and forty minutes into the show as a way to give the crowd a chance to breathe after so much content. The Divas tag team match was the same thing, as was The Miz/Jey Uso match. I guess you could characterize the Rusev match as filler, but he’s a sleeper to have a great performance in the Rumble. I suspect Ryback will eliminate him and they’ll face each other at Fast Lane as a result.
It wasn’t just filler for the sake of filler. It gave people time to process and possibly go to the bathroom. My problem with the filler over the past few months was that the show was heavy on filler, but not on content. Last night, they were heavy on content, and the filler let you catch your breath, exactly what it’s there for.
The nWo, APA, and New Age Outlaws kill The Ascension
Was the whole point of The Ascension showing up downing all the legendary tag teams with JBL trashing them on commentary all so the legends could annihilate them on RAW Reunion? If so, that’s great because I enjoyed watching the beat down. The beginning of the segment was a little tough to watch with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash delivering scripted lines. You could tell they were uncomfortable doing it, but that’s the way the game is played now. I personally don’t think wrestling was bad when guys weren’t having their entire promos scripted because it gave rise to characters that felt natural, but what the hell do I know? Obviously the product has never been hotter with the Creative Writing 101 dropouts scripting the promos now…
Anyway, I loved the energy from the crowd when JBL got up from commentary and ran down The Ascension. I know I was just dogging on the scripted lines for Hall and Nash, but JBL’s lines were great. I suspect he might have been on his own with that. I’m going to try to use that at some point in my life. All in all, despite a rocky start, it turned out to be a very fun segment.
Sting makes his debut in a classic RAW Moment
After a lot of hype, the main event finally came. The match itself was mediocre, but that’s the problem with any handicap match. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a good handicap match. The finish is what set this apart. It was one of those classic RAW moments we’ll be seeing replays of for some time I think. Sting made his long awaited RAW debut. That was huge. The crowd really made this moment, and it gave me goosebumps. They erupted when Sting made his way to the stage and pointed at The Authority, causing Seth Rollins to be rolled up by Cena. Sting helped Dolph Ziggler get the win at Survivor Series and now he helps Ziggler get his job back. It must be nice to be Sting right now. Just show up, point, leave, and collect a paycheck. I love how JBL tried to pass off his appearance on the titantron as just a picture. I actually chortled when he said that.
Triple H called Sting out after it was all over, but Brock Lesnar answered the call instead. Lesnar attacked Seth Rollins to another huge reaction (and, in my mind, solidifying his face turn). Kane and Big Show pulled him off, and they both received F-5’s for their trouble. Lesnar took out The Authority’s two big guys as the show went off the air. It was a fantastic finish to the show, the best I can remember in a long time. I’m completely pumped for the match on Sunday. I think it might even be put on after the Royal Rumble match itself.
It feels like WrestleMania season after a show like that. It’s something we’ve all been waiting for, and it felt good to watch. Of course, under the excitement are still the warts of all their wrongdoings. Without the legends to carry certain parts of the show, this wouldn’t have been that great. There are still lots of underlying problems, but for one night, things were ok. Here’s hoping for another good show next week!
Bump of the Night: Wyatt giving Bryan a really nasty clothesline
Match of the Night: Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt ** 1/4
Final Rating: ****
Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Be sure to check out my Smackdown recap this Thursday!
Also check out my predictions for Royal Rumble, which will be up this Sunday!
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.