Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday Night Raw 4/7/14

Often described as the wildest Raw of the year, it's WWE's "Opening Day," let's look at the headlines for the first Raw after WrestleMania.

5. Mr. Monday Night
Hey, RVD's back. There were a lot  of "meh" reactions on Twitter to this one, but I've never had a problem with RVD. Has he been wrestling the same match since 1997? Sure, but AC/DC's been putting out the same album since 1980 and I still like them. RVD is a good hand to have around, the crowd is usually hot for his matches, they play along with his taunts, he rarely puts on a downright bad match, why not bring him back for a little bit? Let him work with Bryan a couple times and have them put on a fun, classic ECW "let's pause and make the crowd applaud our spots" match.

Poor Sandow though.

4. NXT all over
When WWE first introduced their Performance Center, I have to admit I had some skepticism. It seemed like a surefire way to create the most cookie cutter, "WWE guy" mold of future stars. Somehow though, we've achieved the opposite effect, instead of the non-stop barrage of white guys with hair gel we were getting out of OVW and FCW, NXT is producing a truly unique set of wrestlers and boy were they on display last night.

We got hype videos multiple times for Adam Rose and Bo Dallas, Alexander Rusev debuted and mauled Zack Ryder and the NXT revolution was capped off by Paige not only making her in-ring debut, she beat AJ Lee and ended the longest Divas Title reign in history. Smart move making it a fluke win too, because now they can do the rematch at Extreme Rules, make it a submission match and we'll have the Black Widow vs. the Scorpion Crosslock.

And how about that, an actual moment involving female wrestlers?! It even passed the Bechdel Test! It's amazing how the crowd will get into something, even if it involves a performer that a good portion of the audience has never seen, if you just give them a reason to care.

3. Bray is gonna kill you!
Bray Wyatt lost to John Cena at WrestleMania, but last night, the entire Wyatt Family made mincemeat out of John Cena, Sheamus and Big E, or as The Masked Man described them, John Cena and the Cenettes.  Cena was barely even a factor in this match, aside from the crowd singing "JOHN CENA SUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS" to the tune of "My Time is Now" (that's going to stick like Kurt Angle's "You Suck!" btw), this was all about the Wyatts.

Bray's spider walk toward Big E was so horrifying, Regan MacNeil had to sleep with the lights on. Anyone who even thought about saying the word "buried" after Wyatt vs. Cena can hush now.

2.The Match Beyond?
The major storyline throughout Raw last night was Daniel Bryan's celebration and Triple H being really, really, really upset about that. HHH booked himself to challenge for the title later in the night and even got on the same page with Randy Orton and Batista, effectively reforming Evolution to take down the Yes Movement, it was definitely convincing enough to make me nervous.

But Triple H may have overreached when he involved The Shield, trying to bring them back into the fold, but the Hounds of Justice weren't having any of it when Batista and Orton double teamed Bryan and left him laying for Triple H. It was nice to see them actually fight an injustice, pretty sure that's the first time it's happened since two weeks after they debuted, and the night ended with Bryan and The Shield standing tall while Triple H, Orton, Batista and Kane got a case of the limber tail.

Wait, I count four guys on each side, we all know Triple H is an old school NWA fan, we have a PPV coming up called Extreme Rules, could it finally be time for... WAR GAMES?! Obviously WWE isn't going to do two rings, so it won't really be War Games, but put it inside Hell in a Cell, have the timed entrances, match doesn't end until someone taps out or is knocked out.

This seems like the perfect time to do it. Ever since the Monday Night War, it's been pretty much impossible to do a non-title match main event on PPV, you had to have stakes, but we're in the Network Era now. What better way to get people to check out the Network than to hype the brutality of War Games and tell people they only gotta pay $10 to see it for the first time in WWE. I'm not gonna pay $50 for a non-title match, but I'll damn sure turn the WWE Network on. That's the beauty of the Network. And the Wyatts vs. Shield feud proved that there is still life in the old faction war, WWE just had to change the landscape a bit to make it a viable PPV main event.


1. Raw is Heyman
Well, I can honestly say I've never experienced anything like this, Paul Heyman becoming the most hated villain and most beloved face in the same night without changing a damn thing about his character.

Heyman and that no-good son of a bitch Brock Lesnar naturally had to gloat about breaking The Streak in the most shocking finish to a wrestling match since the Montreal Screwjob, and while I'm still super bummed about it, I think Heyman's promo proved why if it had to be someone, it had to be Brock (and Paul). Some are already calling it the greatest promo of all-time (calm down), but it did prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Heyman is the best talker in the business today. I've been firmly in that camp since he returned, and I think you have to at least put him in the all-time top 10.

I wonder if this was Brock's bye-bye moment until the SummerSlam build though? Not exactly getting a lot of mileage out of that huge win, are we? Although I suppose you could argue it just inflates the aura of Lesnar... still a jerkface though.

But the night wasn't over for Paul Heyman, oh no, because when Cesaro was being officially presented with the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal trophy, he told his manager that he is not a Zeb Colter guy, he's a Paul Heyman guy! My wife's may have been more pissed about The Streak ending than I was and even her reaction was "OOOOHHHHHHH DAMN!" Oh damn, indeed.

Jack Swagger shattered the trophy (except for the Andre statue, which Paul Heyman carried around like it was his dolly) and got a good solid ass whoopin from Cesaro before retreating to a count-out loss. Put these guys in a 2 out of 3 falls match at Extreme Rules and let the fun be had as we barrel straight ahead into the Year of Cesaro™. Hell, he might even beat Brock at WrestleMania 31.

And now, one sentence thoughts on the rest of Raw:

  • It was nice to see the crowd do the Emma dance, but she needs more to do than this silly Fandango feud that I thought was over once the Rhodes Bros started feuding with him?
  • Even teasing the idea of Batista and Orton unseating The Usos as Tag Champs is not cool.
  • If you think every Bad News Barrett match will be as good as this one featuring Rey Mysterio... I'M AFRAID I HAVE SOME BAD NEEEWWWS.
  • Hooray, a nonsensical Ultimate Warrior promo that included a fashion choice even more ridiculous than a baseball cap with a speedo and arm tassels! 
Some called it the best Raw ever (calm down), "Best Raw" trended on Twitter, but I wouldn't go quite that far. The ending, while lots of fun, was a bit anticlimactic, I'm not exactly going to pump my fist in the air Judd Nelson style for The Shield saving the day when they've been good guys for a month now. It needed just a little something extra at the end, a War Games announcement would've been perfect, but Bryan's promo on Backstage Pass came close.

I loved the show though, it felt different, it felt like the dawn of a new era. Arguably the most "refreshed" I can remember the show feeling since the night after WrestleMania 14.

Follow me @kickoutblog and share your thoughts on Raw.

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