Ruthless Aggression and the WWE title
Randy Orton made his way to the ring to address his victory over John Cena at the Royal Rumble but found himself interrupted by the arrival of new No. 1 contender Batista.
The Animal reiterated his plans to take the WWE world heavyweight title from whomever the champion is come WrestleMania, whether it is Orton, Cena or even Daniel Bryan.
Suddenly, the music of The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, interrupted, and he and Paul Heyman made their way to the ring. Heyman informed Raw general manager Brad Maddox that he should give Lesnar a match against Orton or Batista—"or else."
Later in the evening, Maddox and the entire WWE Universe found out what "or else" meant when Lesnar interrupted the tag title match and laid waste to both Goldust and Cody Rhodes, delivering an F5 to each of them before bashing them repeatedly with steel chairs.
Lesnar is at his best when he is destroying things, and fans found out why on Monday night.
The interaction between Orton, Batista and Lesnar reunited three of the top young stars of the Ruthless Aggression era, all of whom would go on to win multiple WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. While a potential title match between Batista and Orton may not drum up a great deal of anticipation or excitement, a triple-threat match involving Lesnar would be fresh and would bring together three Superstars who have never competed against one another in a major 'Mania bout.
Opening In-Ring Segment
WWE needed to present Daniel Bryan very early in Monday night's program, and it did just that, having the goat-faced Superstar interrupt Triple H and his lovely wife, Stephanie, to kick off the evening's festivities. He discussed not being allowed to enter the Royal Rumble match.
Things got heated, and the former WWE and World champion was soon face to face with the COO.
This brought about the arrival of The Shield, and just as it appeared as though Bryan would be on the receiving end of a three-on-one beatdown, Sheamus and John Cena hit the ring, setting up a huge six-man tag team main event to determine three of the Superstars to compete inside the Elimination Chamber on February 23.
The segment was simple but did a great job of accomplishing a few different things all at once.
It reminded fans that the war between Bryan and The Authority is still ongoing, even if it was placed on the back burner for two months. It also set up an awesome main event that had implications for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
The very definition of an effective show-opening promo.
The Main Event
The six-man tag team main event was as good, if not better, than any match from Sunday's Royal Rumble, which should not be a surprise given the absolutely outstanding talent involved.
The Shield is the best faction WWE has seen since Evolution a decade ago while John Cena and Daniel Bryan are among the best workers in the business. Sheamus, in his two appearances since returning from injury, looks like he barely missed any time and was crisp in his ring work Monday night.
The fast-pace led to dramatic near-falls and more than a few hot sequences late in the bout. The exchange between Bryan and Seth Rollins was extraordinary and Cena locking in the STF to Roman Reigns, who was largely unstoppable throughout the bout, had fans rising to their feet as they anticipated the conclusion.
Then the Wyatt Family arrived, drawing a disqualification win for the babyfaces, who cleared the cult-like faction out of the squared circle and stood tall to close out the show.
The most interesting aspect of the finish was the way that the Wyatts indirectly cost The Shield the match. With Cena now part of the Elimination Chamber match, freeing up the Wyatt Family until WrestleMania, one has to wonder if fans will finally get the much-anticipated six-man war between them and The Shield upcoming at the February pay-per-view.