5 Stars From Last Night’s #RAW
A Monday Night Raw without Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Brock Lesnar, Rusev, Dean Ambrose and Bad News Barrett can’t possibly be WWE’s strongest show, and that’s what we got last night. Raw wasn’t bad, but when you’re missing most of the fan favorites, three hours can be an especially long show. With that said, there were some important storyline progressions, and we now have a new #1 contender for Seth Rollin’s title at Extreme Rules. Let’s get to the stars!
If you’ve ever seen NXT, then this should come as no surprise, but if you haven’t, you watched a big part of the future last night as Neville took on WWE Champion Seth Rollins. The best part about having a heel champion who isn’t Brock Lesnar is that they can realistically lose any match. Rollins is quick and explosive and freakishly athletic, but by WWE standards, he’s still a relatively small guy. While he dominated most of the match against Neville, all it took was one reversal and Rollins was in the kill zone for the Red Arrow. I also love that J & J Security interfered, which helped Rollins win the match. Around the time Stone Cold came around, it seemed like WWE was trying to make all heels these bad asses who would get cheered by the smart crowds, but from day one in wrestling heels have been chicken shit guys who cheat to win. As much as it seemed unnecessary for Rusev to low blow Cena at Fast Lane, that’s what he SHOULD be doing. He’s a bad guy. The bad guy can’t keep winning clean and fighting honorably or else there will be no distinction between good and bad. Getting back to Neville, it was great seeing him get a shot with the Champ in just his second match on Raw. He can go, and he’s had some of the best matches in wrestling over the past year, so giving him a spotlight was great to see. The announce team was actually pretty good here, too, as they didn’t just make fun of Neville like they do with most NXT call ups. Neville has a bright future, and I love how the WWE is handling him so far.
2. John Cena & The US Title Open Challenge
If you watched Chris Jericho’s live podcast on the WWE Network after Raw, you saw Cena talk about being the US Champion and giving all comers a chance at the title. He’s had the title for two weeks, and has fought two solid matches against Dean Ambrose and Stardust. He’s beaten both of them, but John Cena should beat both of those guys. Cena’s been around for awhile, but he’s still John Cena. It’s not like Kane or Big Show or Mark Henry who just show up to get beaten. He’s still the face of the company, and losing a contested match to John Cena is better than winning against most of the guys on the roster. If you’re in the ring with Cena and it’s not a squash, then you’re getting a spotlight on you that just doesn’t happen with most other guys. That he holds a secondary title and keeps defending it only makes this situation better. If Cena can leave the US title picture better than when he entered it, it will have been a job well done.
3. New Day ( Doesn’t Suck)
If you told me I’d be giving New Day one of the stars for last night’s Raw I would have called you crazy and slapped you across the face. But New Day is taking baby steps towards a heel turn and I absolutely love it. Big E is the best out of the three, and he followed up his tweets from last week with a promo about a fan telling him he sucks but also asking for an autograph at the same time. I also love that their clapping is the only thing that is keeping them sane while thousands of people tell them they suck. If you watched their match, at one point Kofi, who was not in the match, cheap-shotted Kalisto. When Xavier Woods gets up and realizes what Kofi did, he gives this sinister smile of approval, and the group is adding more depth to their characters each week. You’d think the WWE would know by now that a happy go lucky clapping group isn’t going to work, but at least they’re listening to the crowd and making New Day more interesting. I’m fine with Lucha Dragons feuding with Cesaro and Kidd and then a heel New Day swooping in as the next challengers to whomever has the belts.
Sheamus is another guy who should always be a heel, and I’m glad WWE recognized that and brought him back as this Celtic asshole. He came up as a heel, and although he might’ve been pushed too fast, turning him into a good guy was not the answer. Now he’s back as a heel, and he does all the little things that a good bad guy should do. He took out the two most popular guys on the show, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, AFTER they fought a grueling match. When a fresh Mark Henry shows up, he wants nothing to do with him and tries to leave the ring. As I said with Rollins, there’s a huge benefit to having your bad guys be actual bad guys. When Sheamus and Mark Henry are on the outside of the ring, he uses the ring post to his advantage, and it’s clear from his pre match promo and antics during the match that he’s here to destroy our idols. Also, his new music is awesome, and although his hairstyle is kind of silly, he needed a change and a look that now identifies him as a bad guy.
5. Randy Orton
This is more of a “none of my favorite guys were on the show” star instead of a “he had a good showing” star. Most of the popular guys weren’t on Raw, and since Orton is the new #1 contender, I might as well have given him this slot. He fought Kane earlier on in the night, and I’m pretty sure the WWE is 0 for 100 when they have Kane and Big Show wrestle on the same show. I think Roman Reigns should’ve been given this slot, as it seems like the Orton/Rollins story has run it’s course, but they have great chemistry together, so their match at Extreme Rules should be good. It’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here, and how Lesnar and Reigns fit into the WWE Championship picture in the future.