Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger
A match voted on by the WWE fans, Randy Orton and Jack Swagger delivered a pay-per-view quality match in the semi-main event of Raw.
Swagger wasted little time in targeting the leg and, more specifically, the ankle of his opponent in hopes of eventually applying the Patriot Lock and forcing a submission. Orton, conversely, spent a lot of time trying to fight off submission attempts by Swagger, punching and kicking the hands of the former World champion in an attempt to break his grasp on "The Viper's" lower limbs.
A hot finishing sequence, involving the aforementioned Patriot Lock, eventually lead to Orton dumping Swagger outside of the ring, the self-proclaimed "Real American" charging back in and eating an RKO from Orton. Randy would pick up a second consecutive victory over a top SmackDown star.
After their performances on Raw, an actual feud between Orton and Swagger may not be a bad thing.
Paul Heyman reveals his new client
For years, fans have begged and pleaded with WWE to utilize some of its young talent, to put them in position to succeed. On Monday's Raw, they did just that when Curtis Axel (formerly Michael McGillicutty) was revealed as the latest so-called "Paul Heyman Guy".
Axel has long been a very solid professional wrestler, capable of delivering a solid match with nearly any opponent. His one noticeable weakness, however, has been his lack of microphone skills. With Heyman as his new manager, the third-generation Superstar has been given the mouthpiece he needs to connect with the audience.
What makes the revelation of Curtis Axel as the latest Heyman client so awesome is that there was no shock or surprise associated with it. WWE did not dig deep into a bag of old and worn out toys to find a surprise Superstar to re-sign and trot out on Raw. Instead, they stayed in-house and chose a guy with great potential who was missing one key element of Superstardom to receive a rather substantial push.
Whether it works out for Axel is irrelevant. The fact that Vince McMahon and his creative team took the initiative to pull the proverbial trigger on a push for one of its talented young stars is a breath of fresh air.
The beginning of Monday's Raw featured the most organic and natural promo any Superstar has delivered this year. The fact that said promo was cut by Ryback is a nice surprise.
Was his promo, during which he challenged John Cena to an Ambulance match for the WWE title at WWE Payback, the most original of the year? No. But Ryback demonstrated great command over what he was saying and even better confidence in the way he delivered the promo. He believed what he was saying and, as a result, it came across so much better than some of his more recent mic work.
The improvement should not come as a surprise. Like him or not, Ryback has shown an ability to constantly improve since returning to WWE last year. Monday night, he was at home with his new persona and his performance benefited significantly because of it.
Team Hell No & Kofi Kingston vs. The Shield
Not only was the six-man tag match from Raw the best match of the night or better than anything from Sunday's Extreme Rules, it was also one of the best matches of the year. A classic tag team bout strengthened by the intensity provided by Daniel Bryan and the tremendous tag team wrestling by the heels, it made a "very good" episode of Raw a "great" one.
The Shield brings to every match a dynamic that almost guarantees a high quality showing.
Dean Ambrose is the street fighter who will do any dirty, underhanded thing within the confines of a match to wear an opponent down.
Roman Reigns is the explosive power wrestler who utilizes his strength and size advantage to wear the opposition down.
Seth Rollins brings with him a death-defying attitude that allows him to make the leap of faith or endure a high risk bump all in the name of victory.
The Babyface were, on this night, every bit as good. Daniel Bryan performed with a fire that had been missing since the CM Punk series of matches last summer. He and Kane demonstrated a phenomenal chemistry with The Shield, their most consistent rival.
Kofi Kingston was his typically solid and exciting self, as well.
The high energy finish only served to put a bow on the gift that the match was for WWE fans.