The road to WrestleMania became clearer on the February 10 episode of Raw, a show that shifted the focus of the company to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
Randy Orton let down The Authority last week by losing to Daniel Bryan in a phenomenal Raw main event. This week, he would have the opportunity to make up for his loss by defeating his greatest rival, John Cena. Would The Viper regain the trust of those in power or would a loss eliminate him from contention for the "face of WWE" status for good?
The Shield and the Wyatt Family were both under the same roof in Los Angeles Monday night. With a huge six-man tag match between the two upcoming on February 23, what would they have in store for one another and, more importantly, the fans who have waited patiently to see the big match?
The Animal returned to Staples Center, the home of his first World Heavyweight Championship victory back in 2005 at WrestleMania 21. Would Batista target Alberto Del Rio? Would a match between the two be made for Elimination Chamber?
Would the fans care about either one of them?
All of those questions and more were answered Monday night.
What worked the most on this week's Raw?
Let's find out.
This is the good, great and awesome from the February 10 episode of Raw.
Team Hell No Explodes!
Earlier in the show, Daniel Bryan had demanded a match against Kane but was told by Stephanie McMahon that the Director of Operations had been given a week off (and a strongly worded letter) as a result of his actions last week.
That did not stop the Big Red Monster from making his way to the ring later in the evening. Before he got too far in addressing the WWE Universe, Bryan hit the ring and the former tag team partners unloaded on one another. Ultimately, Bryan got the better of Kane and was left standing in the center of the ring as the fans in Los Angeles erupted with a loud "YES!" chant.
The segment was short and sweet and continues what should be a nice little television feud for Bryan and Kane in the weeks between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania.
The Usos vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel
Was the match extraordinary? No. But it did position the Usos as No. 1 contenders to the New Age Outlaws and the WWE Tag Team Championship, perhaps as early as the upcoming Elimination Chamber show.
The Outlaws' return to the ring has been a nice story but it is clear that while both are still adequate workers neither can keep up with the faster pace of today's WWE.
The Usos, on the other hand, have been one of the best teams in wrestling for the last year but have yet to get over the proverbial hump and claim their first tag team titles. It is their time, and the quicker the belts get off of the Outlaws and onto the twin brothers the better off the tag division will be.
Alexander Rusev and Lana Promo
The impending debuts of Alexander Rusev and Lana should inject some excitement into WWE programming.
Rusev is a highly athletic Bulgarian Superstar who, if handled correctly, could be today's answer to the late, great Umaga. He could easily be portrayed as a threat to John Cena and the other top WWE Superstars without needing much of a stint in the midcard. Bring him in and push him immediately.
Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Wyatt Family
The first match on this week's broadcast saw the Wyatt Family continue to roll into Elimination Chamber with a win over Mysterio, Rhodes and Goldust in six-man tag team action. Wyatt, Rowan and Harper need to continue gaining momentum given their match with The Shield in just under two weeks and what appears to be a big rivalry with John Cena heading into WrestleMania.
The babyfaces in the match have lost a ton of momentum in recent weeks, which is a shame for Rhodes and Goldust, two of the hottest wrestlers on the roster for months. Unfortunately, they appear to be lost in the shuffle heading into the upcoming February 23 pay-per-view.
The finish of the match was outstanding as Wyatt caught Mysterio with what can best be described as a running Sister Abigail for the win.
A really energetic way to kick off the show.
A Crack in The Shield
Renee Young interviewed The Shield about their upcoming match against the Wyatt Family.
Reigns talked first, calling Young "baby girl" and stating that actions speak louder than words. From there, Rollins and Ambrose chimed in before the topic of discussion turned to Ambrose and his seeming reluctance to defend the United States Championship.
Ambrose tried to defend his lack of defenses while Reigns questioned what kind of champion he wants to be. This led to an open challenge issued by Ambrose, which would be answered by Mark Henry later in the evening in what would be a really boring title match.
The continued dissension between Reigns and Ambrose has made for some of the best television over the last two months, and the eventual breakup of The Shield has the potential to be one of the hottest stories in WWE.
John Cena vs. Randy Orton
Are we sick of seeing these two wrestling yet? Yes.
Did they still deliver an excellent match to close out this week's Raw? Yes.
Cena and Orton capped off a decent edition of Raw with a quality main event that saw each Superstar kick out of one another's finishing maneuvers.
Following a kick out from an RKO by Cena, Orton flashed a look of disbelief that really put over his desperation to win the match and retain the confidence of The Authority so that he could remain the face of WWE. It was a small thing that flew under the radar but emphasized the story of the match and the overarching storyline involving The Viper.
Cena's win was not a surprise, nor should it have been.
Orton will have the opportunity to make up for the loss in the near future as he still must face Sheamus and Antonio Cesaro to complete his matches against the Elimination Chamber field.
Sheamus and Christian vs. The Real Americans
Speaking of Sheamus and Cesaro, both men were involved in the match of the night as the Celtic Warrior teamed with former rival Christian to meet the Swiss-born Superstar and partner Jack Swagger.
The match was an excellent tag bout that put on display three of the six Elimination Chamber competitors.
Sheamus continued to prove himself as the most underappreciated worker on the roster while Christian shook off some more ring rust in preparation for the big WWE World Heavyweight Championship match on February 23.
Cesaro was, arguably, the most over Superstar in the match and that bodes well for any potential push he may receive coming out of the Chamber match in two weeks.
Meanwhile, Swagger and manager Zeb Colter continued to hint at dissension that could see the former World Heavyweight champion undergo his first babyface turn in the coming weeks and months.
Lita Takes Her Place in the Hall
The Hall of Fame announcement regarding Lita's induction on April 5 was long overdue. The most influential woman in the history of wrestling, Lita reintroduced women's wrestling to a national audience. Her high-flying style was unlike any fans in North America had seen since the Jumping Bomb Angels took WWE by storm in the late 1980s.
With the likes of Trish Stratus, Victoria, Jazz, Ivory, Molly Holly and Jacqueline, Lita helped lead a revival of legitimate in-ring work from the Divas.
She more than deserves the honor that will be bestowed upon her this year during WrestleMania weekend.
The Shield and Wyatt Family Face-off
On Monday night, two trios competing in a highly anticipated six-man tag match on February 23 stood across the ring from one another and stared the opposition down. Nothing was said on a microphone and there were no punches or kicks exchanged. Instead, tension filled the air and fans erupted at the thought of The Shield and the Wyatt Family coming to blows.
It was a perfect way to continue to create anticipation for the match at Elimination Chamber without the teams coming to blows.
Roman Reigns stepping into the ring when no one else would was awesome and really puts over his take-no-prisoners demeanor.
Easily the most exciting of the matches on the February pay-per-view card.