What We Learned from Monday's Edition of Raw
With just two weeks until the final pay-per-view of the year, the WWE needed a solid Raw show to build hype ahead of Tables, Ladders & Chairs later this month.
After a disappointing week of WWE TV tapings last week, the main event between John Cena and Randy Orton was in desperate need of direction and promotion, and a sparse looking card needed matches adding to it.
Although we got some matches added to the lineup for the pay-per-view, they weren't the most convincing matches you're ever likely to see on a pay-per-view.
Still, Monday's Raw represented progress of some kind, and we even got a much anticipated return on the show.
Lets take a look at what we learned on Monday's edition of the show.
Punk Could Be Heading Up the Card After the Shield
Monday's show opened with CM Punk looking for answers—like most of us, to be fair—after his mysterious attack from The Shield last week on Raw.
And, whilst it would go on to be confirmed that Punk will square off against all three members of the stable at TLC, it was the events before it that were particularly interesting.
Punk sounded off against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in one of his excellent promos, before being cut off by Corporate Kane.
Could Punk be on the way up the card to get involved with "The Authority" after TLC? It certainly seemed as if that is a possibility moving forward—after all, Punk is in desperate need of serious direction.
Wade Barrett Is Alive!
Surprise everyone, Wade Barrett has not fallen off the edge of the Earth after all! The Englishman returned on Monday's edition of Raw in a predictable guise—"Bad News Barrett."
Anyone who has seen the gimmick online will have been relatively impressed by the angle, and many were excited that the segment could have worked on WWE TV moving forward to try and freshen up his character.
However, his return didn't exactly pan out as expected. It all felt a bit too gimmicky and stale—and it wasn't exactly helped by Michael Cole doing his very best not to burst into laughter behind him.
It was the first time Barrett has appeared under his new gimmick, and it could get better. However, there is work to do without a doubt.
Creative Are Picking Rivalries Out of a Hat
When a card looks so bare two weeks before a pay-per-view, you get the scenario where creative try to scramble around and put some matches on the card to try and bulk it up.
Quite where Damien Sandow vs. Big E Langston came from is anyone's guess—it certainly was a bolt from the blue.
It also puts an end to the Dolph Ziggler and Sandow rivalry, which is a little bit of a shame, although Sandow's opportunity to get into the gold again will be welcomed by many fans.
Alberto Del Rio losing to Sin Cara was also another example of the WWE just merely trying to fill time in any way possible.
How to Ruin a Promising Debut
Here's the thing. You get a guy stepping up from developmental who looks to really have something about him, and that guy is Xavier Woods.
A few weeks ago he impressed on debut, and looked set for a pretty bright future in the company. Since then though, creative have got it all wrong.
You can almost handle him teaming up with R-Truth—a veteran guiding a rookie through his early days in the company is perfectly acceptable. However, having his first serious feud against someone of Brodus Clay's stature is pretty confusing.
To be honest, having him use Clay's entrance was ridiculous enough. But then to have him wrestling the guy—oh, and "Sweet T" as well—on Raw felt a bit peculiar for a guy who is supposed to have so much hype behind him.
We also learned that Clay may well be turning heel. Which would at least be something.
Sort the Tag Division Out, WWE
Reportedly, Triple H's big idea when he took power at WWE was to give the tag division the big push it so desperately needed.
When The Rhodes Brothers took the straps from Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, it felt like we were starting to see that push come to fruition.
However, with just two weeks to go until the final pay-per-view of the year, the tag champions are currently not yet booked in a match. They were once again involved in six-man tag action, although this time their partner was Big Show.
With The Real Americans—arguably the best tag team aside from the champions—involved in action immediately after, would it not have made more sense to try and build a tag match for TLC?
Ryback and Curtis Axel Could Be Long Term
Last week, I was pretty outspoken at the idea of Ryback and Curtis Axel constantly teaming up for no apparent reason.
They teamed up again this week on Raw, and they managed to get a win too, when they beat the bizarre team of "supposed to be feuding" Miz and Kofi Kingston.
Perhaps Ryback's future lies in the tag division with Axel? The former Intercontinental champion is another who looks to be in limbo at this moment in time, since the exit of Paul Heyman from WWE TV.
With the tag team division in desperate need of a shot in the arm, perhaps Ryback and Axel could be the team that do it?
Or perhaps that is just being optimistic. Regardless, they look to be together for the long term.
Cena Gets the Upper Hand, Predictably
Monday's Raw went off the air in a familiar fashion—John Cena having the upper hand on his current rival.
This time it is Randy Orton who is in the firing line of Cena, with their championship unification match getting some solid buildup ahead of TLC in a couple of weeks.
It was nice to see Orton refer to his demonic past too—notably when he punted Cena's father in the head back on Raw in 2007. That is the side of Orton that really seems to work, and when he ambushed Cena after the contract signing, the two went at it in pretty impressive fashion.
Predictably though, it was Cena who would finish on the upper hand, putting Orton through a table to end the show.
What we did learn though, is that it looks like the match could actually be heading to some sort of worthy conclusion at TLC. After some shocking finishes at previous pay-per-views such as Battleground, it would be foolish of creative to let another one end in farce.