What We Learned from Monday's Edition of Raw
Another Raw closer to Survivor Series, and the card has started to take shape ahead of the big pay-per-view later this month.
Monday's show came from Manchester, England, and it was full of surprises, momentum pushes, twists and shocks.
The main event seemed to be routine enough until an almost huge twist at the end, leading to what is likely to be our main Survivor Series-style match.
But what else did we learn from Monday's edition of Raw? Take a look at this slideshow and find out.
Big Show Responds with Style
In truth, I wasn't really expecting it to be in the opening segment of the show, but I was certainly expecting Big Show to get his revenge on Randy Orton.
It became evident from the start of the show, when "The Authority" were announced as being on vacation. You just had a feeling that chaos would occur, especially with the way Orton's opening segment played out.
The WWE Championship match is getting some nice buildup ahead of the pay-per-view, with both Orton and Show getting one over on each other on a frequent basis.
Show putting Orton through the announce table was a nice retaliation from the champion doing the same last week, and we should get a good championship match at Survivor Series.
The big question is, how will Orton respond next week?
Axel Gets a Momentum Push
Another shock for me was the outcome of the Intercontinental Championship match between Curtis Axel and Dolph Ziggler.
Axel has held the belt for a lengthy period without any real rivalry to speak of, and this felt like the right time for him to drop the strap in front of a partisan crowd in the U.K.
A win for Ziggler would have raised the roof, but things weren't to be, and Axel got a good, clean win.
Not only that, but he now stands as the only "Paul Heyman guy"—with the exception of Brock Lesnar, of course, who is a part-time worker with the company.
Could Axel be on the verge of a momentum boost? He will certainly rank as one of the lengthiest holders of the belt in the modern era, and that could be a springboard for success.
The World Heavyweight Championship Is Still a Midcard Title
It seems to matter little who has it around their waist—the World Heavyweight Championship just isn't that interesting anymore.
Even with the biggest name in the company holding the belt, not even John Cena can pump any interest into the title. Of course, that is not helped by the fact that he is portrayed as near enough unbeatable—and the chances of Alberto Del Rio winning in Cena's hometown are practically zero.
At least we saw some buildup and promotion for their match at Survivor Series on Raw, with Del Rio getting the upper hand temporarily on the champ before Big E Langston made the save.
Unfortunately, however, wrestling fans just aren't really that interested in the current storylines around the World Heavyweight Championship.
The Real Americans Continue to Grow
One thing that did come out of Cena's spot on Raw was the growing progress and popularity of Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro.
It seemed ridiculous at first to put the two together—considering how Cesaro is supposed to be from Switzerland, yet he is in a stable known as The Real Americans.
However, things are continuing to get better for them. After their victory over the Tag Team champions a couple of weeks ago, they will surely get their chance at the belts at Survivor Series.
They were never going to beat Cena, so the best they could do was to put on a strong showing for the crowd in the U.K. And they certainly did that. Cesaro in particular delivered some great spots, including that huge uppercut to the champ toward the end of the match.
They are on a momentum roll right now, and they could be the new Tag champions before long.
Ryback Hits a New Low
However, whilst Swagger and Cesaro are on a roll right now, things couldn't be going much worse for Ryback.
The man who was once revered as the most fearsome character on the roster was resorted to losing to R-Truth Monday.
That wasn't all, though. Not content with handing him another loss to a guy who is going nowhere, creative had Paul Heyman cut a seething promo on Ryback without giving him a chance to retaliate.
It is clear that Heyman and Ryback are now done, cutting another string in potential career paths for Ryback.
Where next for Ryback? In all fairness, it is hard to see any way out of this horrendous slump he is in.
Punk vs. Heyman Still Isn't over
Make it stop, WWE creative. Please, make it stop.
Just when you thought CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman had come to an end, they had to go and drag it back up again on Monday night. With Heyman telling the audience he was coming back for Punk—and then Punk laying his former manager out with a beating—it is clear this rivalry is not over.
The ridiculous thing is, both are ready for new challenges. Punk is surely destined to head back into the WWE Championship picture, and Heyman will have his hands full with Brock Lesnar's return ahead of WrestleMania season.
So please, lets not turn this rivalry into another series of prolonged matches between Punk and Paul Heyman's merry men.
Wade Barrett Is Missing in Action
This was the moment for Wade Barrett. He had been appearing in live events for a few weeks but had yet to make his return to TV tapings.
In front of his home crowd, Barrett's return would have gotten off to a brilliant start had he returned in front of a partisan U.K. crowd. But for some reason, it never happened.
Whether WWE brings Barrett back at the SmackDown tapings Tuesday night is another matter. Raw was the perfect opportunity for the former Intercontinental champion to debut once more and really start things off with a huge momentum push.
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family Would Have Been Superb
We came close to a brilliant twist at the end of Monday's Raw. With fractions between The Shield seemingly alleviated, if the trio had gone at it with Bray Wyatt and his family Monday night, it would have been a great turn.
Things, however, didn't pan out in that fashion, and the six of them combined to turn their attention to CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.
Imagine, though, if The Shield would have turned at the end of the show and become a babyface stable. Sure, it may not have pleased some people, but boy, would it have been a huge shock.
Finally, how awesome was Roman Reigns again? He is the true leader of the group now, something nobody would have predicted when they arrived at Survivor Series last year.
We Have Our Survivor Series Match
What that ending did provide us with, though, is an insight into what we will see at Survivor Series.
Surely, now The Wyatt Family and The Shield will join forces again at the pay-per-view to do battle with a CM Punk and Daniel Bryan team.
Who else it will involve is a bit of a mystery. It would be hard to imagine The Rhodes Brothers in there (I would like to see them defending the titles, in all fairness). Maybe The Usos will play a part after they made the save on Monday night.
Perhaps being risky, I'll also take a punt at The Shield finally imploding at Survivor Series. We've had teasers over the previous few weeks, and a Roman Reigns face turn is my ambitious prediction for the ending of the show later this month.