WWE Week in Review, Feb. 15: Cesaro Scores Big, Mark Henry Returns
It was an all-around entertaining week in WWE these last seven days, with both Raw and SmackDown delivering quality programming. It remains to be seen, though, whether this will translate over to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, which is only a little over one week away.
Randy Orton continued to run the gauntlet this week, losing to John Cena and Cesaro on Raw and SmackDown, respectively. What does this mean for his chances when it comes time for him to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship inside Satan's Prison?
The rivalry raged on between Daniel Bryan and Kane on Raw, where Bryan fended off The Big Red Corporate Monster. Will Kane look to seek retribution, or will he forgive his former friend for his explosive actions?
As their highly anticipated encounter nears, The Wyatt Family and The Shield picked up various victories over the course of the week. Which stable will get the upper hand going into the upcoming event?
I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing the Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE Main Event broadcasts, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, I will give an award to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: Randy Orton vs. Cesaro (SmackDown, February 14)
Since qualifying for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber match two weeks ago, Cesaro has been on fire. One might argue that his recent (random) name change might have something to do with it, but there is absolutely no doubting that WWE officials are high on Cesaro, no matter how "boring" some backstage politicians may find him.
He proved that on SmackDown this week against current champ Randy Orton, whom he has met in singles action multiple times in the past. However, none of their matches were as excellent as this particular encounter, where Orton sold amazingly for Cesaro and looked very credible in defeat.
In a shocking turn of events, Cesaro nailed his signature uppercut on The Viper and followed up with The Neutralizer for the clean victory, the biggest of his career to date. What this means for Orton heading into Elimination Chamber remains unclear, but this is only the beginning of a bright future for Cesaro.
Superstar of the Week: The Wyatt Family
Heading into their highly anticipated battle against The Shield at Elimination Chamber, The Wyatt Family are riding a wave of momentum. In this opening contest of this week's Raw, The Wyatt Family took on the trio of Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
It was an awesome matchup that kicked off the show on a high note. In the end, Wyatt caught Mysterio in the Sister Abigail and slammed him face first into the mat to pick up the victory.
They followed up this win with yet another valiant victory over Sin Cara and Los Matadores on WWE Main Event. This, too, was an excellent outing from the bearded clan, making them look strong as Elimination Chamber looms large.
Cesaro had a strong week as well, but his shortcomings on Raw cost him the top spot this week.
Show of the Week: Friday Night SmackDown, February 14
For the first time in a long while, Monday Night Raw was actually good for the most part. Not every segment and match was a home run, but a majority of the show left me optimistic regarding the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and the road to WrestleMania as a well.
Even WWE Main Event wasn't half bad this week, spotlighted by an enjoyable six-man tag team match featuring the The Wyatt Family. However, it was Friday Night SmackDown that ultimately won the award for Show of Week for being being an all-around excellent and firing on all cylinders.
From the marvelous main event between Cesaro and Randy Orton to the fun Fatal 4-Way to the spectacular six-man tag team match, there was very little about the blue brand this week that wasn't awesome. If you went out for Valentine's Day on Friday night, you (shockingly) missed out on what was one of the best episodes of SmackDown in recent memory.
Seriously, go back and watch it on DVR if you haven't already.
This Week's Highlights
John Cena vs. Randy Orton: Surprisingly enough, this match was very solid and served as nice main event on this week's Raw. Granted, we have seen these two face off far too many times over the years, but the Los Angeles crowd didn't crap all over the contest, which was an encouraging sign. At the very least, Cena's pre-match promo about "change" coming in WWE left me hoping that we won't see them in a match against each other ever again after Elimination Chamber.
Mark Henry vs. Dean Ambrose: The match itself wasn't necessarily a highlight, but it was nice to see Ambrose defend his United States Championship for the first time in months (and actually acknowledge his lack of defenses). Not only that, but the post-match showdown between The Shield and The Wyatt Family was just plain awesome. The live crowd desperately wanted to see the two tandems go to war right then and there, but WWE was wise to save that for the pay-per-view. Bonus points to the proper showcasing of Roman Reigns as well.
The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and Christian: An excellent opener to SmackDown. Six-man tag team matches involving The Shield are rarely dull, and this bout was no exception. Everyone involved was given time to shine, and the final few minutes were very well done. It was nice to see tension teased between Sheamus and Christian at the end seeing how they will be competitors inside the Chamber in a few weeks. It was also another strong victory for The Shield.
Jack Swagger vs. Mark Henry vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kofi Kingston: I was very glad to see the midcard receive some love for once. The Intercontinental Championship hasn't been prominently featured at all in recent weeks, but this was a step in the right direction. The Fatal 4-Way was fun and featured some exciting action. Seeing Swagger score the clean victory for once was also a refreshing change of pace. He and Big E can have a nice feud over the title, but it is up to Creative to give it the TV time it deserves.
Eight-man tag team match: There were a handful of multi-man matches on SmackDown this week, and all of them delivered. This one in particular was successful in highlighting The Usos and setting them up to contend for the WWE Tag Team Championships sooner rather than later. Could we see a four-way match for the straps at Elimination Chamber also involving the Rhodes brothers and Rybaxel?
This Week's Low Points
Fandango: I couldn't have cared less about either match Fandango was involved in this week, so I am just grouping them both under one category. I don't mind a Fandango vs. Santino Marella feud since both guys aren't much more than comedic characters, but why get Emma involved in this garbage? I had high hopes for her WWE debut, and it hasn't lived up to my expectations so far. Here's hoping she ditches this stupid storyline sooner rather than later.
The Authority: Why must every episode of Raw open with a promo from The Authority? Honestly, are these segments supposed to draw ratings or something? It is literally the same thing every single week with Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Randy Orton, and it has gotten to the point of being absolutely obnoxious. If these segments served a purpose, I wouldn't mind as much, but they don't, so they don't accomplish anything except waste time.
Darren Young vs. Damien Sandow: It is good to see Young being pushed and not being completely forgotten about, but what about Sandow? He lost in a one-minute match despite taking John Cena to the limit less than a month ago. He had a story surrounding his losing streak for a while, but apparently, that is no more. The feud between Young and Titus O'Neil was furthered nicely during this segment, but the match itself was meaningless.
The New Age Outlaws: They were actually involved in a very good matchup on SmackDown (see: "This Week's Highlights"), but their shenanigans on Raw did nothing for me. Betty White's promotional plug for her show was fine, but I have no desire to see a 50-year-old man crapping his pants. Seriously, who found this funny, and what demographic was this intended to apply to?
Big E vs. 3MB: I have enjoyed Big E's reign as Intercontinental champion up to this point, but he is in desperate need of new challengers. Thankfully, he has one in Jack Swagger after SmackDown, but his matches with 3MB on Main Event this week did nothing to boost his momentum. His match against Drew McIntyre was halfway decent, but his 30-second squash against Jinder Mahal was simply strange. This would have made more sense if he were using his five-count gimmick from NXT.
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Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.
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