WWE Monday Night Raw, April 15: GSM's Analysis and Aftermath
Although last week's edition of WWE Monday Night Raw was one of the best of the year thus far, this week's installment wasn't able to capture that same magic. It was successful in building toward next month's Extreme Rules event, but it was also filled with a number of bad booking decisions that dragged the show down as a whole.
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.
Sheamus and Randy Orton def. Big Show
Standard Handicap match with Randy Orton and Sheamus defeating Big Show. It was basically the same thing we witnessed on SmackDown three days prior, so I don't understand what purpose it served.
Sure, Big Show took the clean pinfall loss this time around, but that did nothing to get me invested in this feud whatsoever. If nothing else, it was nice to see some in-ring action kick off Raw, which is a rare occurrence nowadays.
Brock Lesnar Challenged Triple H to a Steel Cage Match at Extreme Rules
Excellent segment with Brock Lesnar decimating 3MB and challenging Triple H to a Steel Cage rematch at Extreme Rules. Regardless of whether 3MB is gradually turning face or not, the group sold Lesnar's offense like champs, so bonus points go to all three of them for their strong selling of the attack.
Heyman made the challenge to HHH seem much more exciting than it actually was, but you should never expect anything less from him. I'm not fond of yet another rematch between the two at Extreme Rules, but if it means Lesnar getting his win back over The Game, then I'm completely content with it.
Kofi Kingston def. Antonio Cesaro to Win the United States Championship
Good match with Kofi Kingston defeating Antonio Cesaro to win the United States Championship. Aside from their match last week on SmackDown, the fans were given little to no reason to care about this match or the title being at stake.
Nonetheless, the live crowd came alive down the stretch for the suspenseful near-falls and the exciting exchanges between the two. Kingston winning yet another midcard title does nothing for me, as we've seen it happen so many times that it has lost its luster by this point.
WWE had Cesaro job out on a regular basis while champion, so the title change hardly means anything. However, I assume this means we'll be seeing Fandango challenge for the star-spangled prize sooner rather than later.
WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No def. Prime Time Players (non-Title)
Typical match between WWE Tag Team champions Team Hell No and the Prime Time Players. I've lost track of how many times we've seen these two teams clash in recent months, so I couldn't have cared less for this contest.
The action rendered irrelevant due to the fact that the Prime Time Players haven't meant anything in ages and the outcome was never in doubt. Extreme Rules couldn't come any quicker, which is where I expect Team Hell No to drop the straps to The Shield.
R-Truth def. Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett (non-Title)
Fine match between Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett and R-Truth. While the match wasn't necessarily bad, it didn't last long enough for it to feel memorable.
Although it seemed like Barrett was starting to get aggressively pushed again, he was back to his losing ways this week for no apparent reason, which is a shame. What's the point of the No. 1 contender's battle royal on this week's WWE Main Event if we know Truth is going to emerge victorious?
Team Rhodes Scholars def. Santino Marella and The Great Khali
Meaningless match with Team Rhodes Scholars defeating Santino Marella and The Great Khali. The tag team division is in a rut as it is, so adding the tandem of Marella and Khali into the mix might not help matters.
While I'm happy Team Rhodes Scholars scored the victory here, what does this win do for them? I'd much rather see them in singles competition at this point if they're going to be underutilized as a tag team.
Fandango Addressed the 'Fandango Revolution'
Decent segment with Fandango addressing the phenomenon surrounding his entrance music. He came off as a fan favorite for a majority of this segment, which was strange, but ignoring his new-found popularity also would have been a mistake.
I'm glad Fandango is getting over, but how is WWE going to maintain him as a heel for now? Furthermore, with Chris Jericho gone for the foreseeable future, where does Fandango go from here?
Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter def. World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler with AJ Lee and Big E Langston (non-Title)
Solid match between World Heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. Heel vs. heel matches rarely ever work in WWE, so it left me wondering if WWE is attempting to portray Ziggler as a tweener in this feud.
Swagger's attack on Del Rio earlier in the evening along with his victory over the World champ gives him a huge boost, but what does it do for Ziggler? There were plenty of other ways Swagger could have earned another shot at the title without having to make Ziggler look weak one week after winning the strap.
CM Punk Walked Out on the WWE Universe
Intriguing promo from CM Punk. He touched upon all of his various losses in recent months against The Rock and Undertaker, which made his departure from the arena feel logical.
I'm always a fan of the "loss of smile" stories in wrestling, so I'm interested as to what WWE plans to do with Punk upon his eventual return. Based off the pop he received during his entrance, I would not at all be surprised to see him turn face at some point.
Nikki Bella with Brie Bella def. Divas Champion Kaitlyn (non-Title)
Exceptional match between Divas champion Kaitlyn and Nikki Bella. There were a handful of sloppy spots throughout the bout, but it wasn't as bad as one would think.
The Divas rarely ever have meaningful matches on television these days, so at least Nikki's victory over Kaitlyn seemed to initiate some sort of feud between the two. However, I simply don't understand how the Bella Twins were able to pull off Twin Magic if it's now much easier to tell them apart.
The Shield Interrupted WWE Champion John Cena's Confrontation with Ryback
Strong segment featuring John Cena and Ryback. Ryback's pre-taped promo earlier in the evening was very well done and the numerous flashbacks were an excellent touch.
Cena showed good intensity during his promo, which is always great to see. The Shield's attack on Cena made sense and Ryback looking on from afar was an effective way of explaining his motives of targeting Cena. Although Ryback is showing true potential as a heel, I still fear that he will only be fed to Cena come Extreme Rules.
Overall, a disappointing show that was a weak follow-up to last week's extraordinary edition. There were a number of well-wrestled matches on this show, but there was a handful of bad booking decisions as well.
However, I commend WWE for beginning the build for Extreme Rules instead of waiting until the last minute to hype matches for the event. I highly anticipate next week's episode of Raw, as it will be hailing from London and will feature a blockbuster six-man tag team match pitting Undertaker and Team Hell No against The Shield.
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