Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Jan. 20
During a week that featured marquee stars standing in the spotlight, several unexpected names provided the best WWE action.
R-Truth, The Usos and Bo Dallas thrived. They had some of the most engaging and impressive performances this week.
The worst of the week came courtesy of WWE's handling of a new Superstar and a tepid conclusion to the Jan. 20 edition of Raw.
Batista's return lies somewhere in the middle. As great as it was to see him him standing in a WWE ring again, his first appearance on Raw in years didn't grab hold of the audience as well as The Usos' brawling, the Superstars on Main Event and the NXT champ.
Best: Two Standout Bouts on Main Event
One can't blame fans for skipping Wednesday's Main Event; the match lineup just didn't look good on paper.
R-Truth taking on Damien Sandow and Sin Cara vs. Alberto Del Rio is by no means a pair of dream matches, but each of those Superstars delivered. Momentum swings, intensity and drama were the hallmarks of both bouts.
Sin Cara and Del Rio's latest clash was one of their best. Their animosity felt real, as each man struggled to put the other away.
A story of Del Rio's frustration and Sin Cara's resilience ended with a teeth-rattling superkick that begs to be rewatched.
The first match of the night was just as good.
Given a significant amount of time with which to work, R-Truth and Sandow battled back and forth, continually pulling weapons out of their arsenal that only resulted in two-counts. They built toward the climax well, quickening the pace before R-Truth's eventual win.
Recently, Sandow has improved at telling a story in the ring. R-Truth, on the other hand, reminded us of his value to the company as a quality midcarder.
Worst: Stalling Xavier Woods
While R-Truth battled on Main Event, Xavier Woods watched from the announcers desk. WWE seems unsure of what to do with the recent NXT transplant and hasn't given him enough time to try to connect with fans.
On Monday's Raw, he lost in mere moments against Fandango. On Wednesday's NXT, Alexander Rusev dominated him.
Not every new wrestler can go on a Goldberg-like undefeated streak, but Woods' outings have been short and uneventful, downsizing the stage on which he's trying to impress. Fans need to see more of his character and in-ring ability even if it's in losses; otherwise, he'll be doomed to stay at his current spot, the 2014 version of what Zack Ryder was in 2013.
Best: The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
The Usos continue to improve and close in on being tag team champions.
In their collision with The Wyatt Family on Monday's Raw, they tried to brawl with their unsettling foes. Even though Luke Harper and Erick Rowan's power eventually took over in the exchange, the fact that Jimmy and Jey hung with them in a slugfest was impressive.
The sound of flesh smacking flesh, along with a merging of speed and strength, made this bout the best of the night.
The Usos continue to be in quality matches like this one, looking more and more like legitimate title contenders in the process. Surviving The Wyatt Family's brutality—as they did last week as well—thrusts The Usos forward.
As this match and recent offerings prove, they are certain to thrill as they make their journey toward tag team gold.
Worst: Raw Limps Home
The end of the go-home edition of Raw felt like a Roman candle that spit up a few sparks.
John Cena chased Randy Orton out of the arena until the WWE champ hopped into a CRV and sped off. Cena then walked around, seemingly unsure of what to do. It was an underwhelming ending marred by awkwardness.
There was plenty to like about the final segment, from how real Cena's anger felt to Kofi Kingston holding Orton's leg until Cena could get to him.
The last few beats of the song, however, left fans unsatisfied. WWE didn't nail their Royal Rumble sales pitch, and anyone unsure about buying the event was likely unmoved by the lasting image that Raw provided.
Best: Banner Raising Ceremony
Note to those in charge of booking AJ Lee: This is how you celebrate a wrestler becoming the longest-reigning champ in a title's history.
Bo Dallas held a banner-raising ceremony near the end of the Jan. 22 edition of NXT. He was his usual irksome self as he thanked everyone from his teachers to his cousins for helping him become the longest-reigning NXT champ in the title's short history.
His trademark irritating grin, a shot at Seth Rollins and the absurdness of the moment made it highly entertaining.
Adrian Neville interrupted him, and their confrontation quickly led to a challenge. If Neville could survive for four-and-a-half against Dallas, he'd earn a title shot on the live NXT special on Feb. 27.