Only 24 hours removed the biggest show of the year, this week's electric edition of WWE Monday Night Raw looked to compensate for the disappointment that was WrestleMania 29. From a chaotic crowd to a shocking heel turn, this enjoyable episode not only proved to be one of the best in recent memory, but it also set the tone for the year ahead.
Here, I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of predictions and wishful thinking about what I hope to see in the coming weeks.
Mark Henry Interrupted WWE Champion John Cena
Entertaining opening segment featuring new WWE champion John Cena, Mark Henry and Booker T. I'm not usually fond of Cena's comedic antics on the mic, but he was particularly humorous here.
Henry produced some strong mic work as well and made it clear why he should be in contention for the title. Booker T saying that their match wouldn't be for the title was a bit strange, but at least it set up the main event nicely.
Big E Langston with Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee def. WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan with Kane
Good match with Big E Langston defeating Daniel Bryan. The bout wasn't given much time, but Langston still looked incredibly impressive in the time they were allotted.
Bryan was a fitting opponent for Langston to work with, as Bryan doesn't lose anything from the loss. Giving Langston a win over a former World Heavyweight champion was smart booking and I look forward to what else he'll bring to the table in coming weeks.
Wade Barrett def. The Miz to Win the Intercontinental Championship
Great match with Wade Barrett defeating The Miz to win the Intercontinental Championship. This most definitely exceeded their WrestleMania match as well as their initial encounter from a few weeks ago on Raw.
They were given a substantial amount of time to shine and developed awesome (no pun intended) chemistry with one another. Barrett winning back the title this early does nothing for me, as Miz's day-long reign as champion only furthered devalued the strap.
Alberto Del Rio def. Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter; Dolph Ziggler Cashed in Money in the Bank to Win the World Heavyweight Championship
Decent match with Alberto Del Rio defeating Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter in a Handicap match. While it was well-wrestled, it only served as filler since most people in the arena as well as those watching at home knew what was about to follow.
Dolph Ziggler's cashing in of the Money in the Bank briefcase was excellently executed and received one of the loudest reactions in recent memory, which was phenomenal to hear. I also liked how Ziggler's match with Del Rio actually consisted of a few false finishes before the bleached-blonde Superstar ultimately won the title.
It was only a matter of time before Ziggler cashed in, and I'm glad it was in front of a hot crowd that only enhanced the memorable moment. With Ziggler as champion, there are now endless possibilities as to who can challenge for the gold.
The Shield Interrupted The Undertaker
Strong segment featuring The Undertaker, The Shield and WWE Tag Team champions Team Hell No. Undertaker's promo was brief and touched upon his victory over CM Punk from the night before at WrestleMania 29.
The Shield's interruption was perfectly timed and set up a very cool moment before Team Hell No made the save. I surely hope this is leading to a blockbuster six-man tag team match at Extreme Rules, but seeing is believing given 'Taker's post-WrestleMania schedule on the road.
Santino Marella, R-Truth and Zack Ryder def. 3MB
Harmless six-man tag team match with Santino Marella, Zack Ryder and R-Truth defeating 3MB. While it wasn't necessarily a bad match, it didn't serve much of a purpose.
Nonetheless, it was kept short and sweet, with the faces scoring the victory. If nothing else, it was nice to see Ryder pick up a win on Raw for once.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus Went to a No Contest
Solid match between Randy Orton and Sheamus. Despite hardly anyone in the arena caring about this match, both guys put forth a strong effort and kept a consistent pace throughout.
Of course, this match will only be known for the hilarious chants that could be heard throughout the bout. Big Show's post-match attack on both Sheamus and Orton was well done and re-established him as a force to be reckoned with.
Fandango def. Kofi Kingston by Disqualification
Brief match with Fandango defeating Kofi Kingston by disqualification. It was a shame to see Kingston garner little to no reaction when he entered the arena, which is a significant sign that he's grown incredibly stagnant as of late.
The match itself lasted only mere minutes before Chris Jericho interfered and attacked Fandango, which helped further the feud between the two. On top of all that, the live crowd humming Fandango's entrance music was pure gold.
Tons of Funk and the Funkadactlys def. Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins
Fine eight-person tag team match, with Tons of Funk and the Funkadactlys defeating Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins. It was pretty much what you expected it to be, with everyone hitting their signature spots only for the faces to go over in the end.
I don't mind that it was taken off the WrestleMania card, but it is a shame none of these competitors will get their rightful 'Mania payday. Furthermore, I hope to see Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow veer away from the comedy and get pushed more aggressively going forward.
WWE Champion John Cena def. Mark Henry by Count-out
Disappointing match with WWE champion John Cena defeating Mark Henry via count-out. The few minutes of the match that we ended up getting were solid, but why prematurely end it?
The count-out loss protects Henry, but it was still an anticlimactic finish to a match I had higher hopes for. Ryback's involvement was logical, but his ambush on Cena came as a huge shocker.
I still think it's a huge mistake to turn Ryback heel at this point in time, but Big Hungry is the only fresh face at the moment that I'd like to see contend for the WWE title. Nonetheless, this was an excellent cliff-hanger to close a spectacular show.
Overall, an extremely entertaining edition of Raw that was undoubtedly enhanced by the electricity that was the New Jersey crowd. This show also felt quite newsworthy as well with two title changes in addition to a potential heel turn in the main event.
CM Punk has appeared on every Raw since July 2011, so it was a refreshing change of pace to give him the week off he deserves and hype him for next week. This show also didn't suffer from the lack of The Rock, Brock Lesnar or Triple H, either, as this episode definitely felt like a step in the right direction.
Unlike WrestleMania 29, this show gave me an optimistic feeling of what's to come in the weeks ahead with a certain sense of change in the air.