WWE Raw: 5 Talking Points to Come from Monday Night's Show
With WrestleMania season in full swing, expectation is high in WWE.
As fans, we want to see the big names in the big feuds ahead of the big night on April 6—and that’s exactly what we got last week. Hulk Hogan came back home to announce his involvement in next month’s Show of Shows, while the Undertaker also returned to set up a blockbuster program with Brock Lesnar.
As a result, this past week’s instalment of Monday Night Raw was always going to struggle to replicate such excitement.
But ultimately, the show did a solid job of building on the rivalries that have steadily been brewing in recent weeks. Furthermore, there was even a title change to add to the excitement.
Which brings us to the first of our five talking points to emanate from Monday Night Raw...
Usos Win the Tag Titles
After months and months of building a reputation as one of the most entertaining pairs in the tag team division, the Usos’ hard work was finally recognised this week as they were crowned WWE Tag Team Champions.
Jimmy and Jey defeated The New Age Outlaws cleanly, via pinfall, in a match that many had seen coming after the mass labelling of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn as transitional champions.
Personally, I think it may have been more effective to save this moment for WrestleMania. The teams had been feuding for a while now, and with a little more build on the mic, this could have been one of the biggest tag team battles in recent ‘Mania history.
But alas, it appears WWE could want a fresh feud for the upcoming pay-per-view, with many speculating a multiteam match could take place or perhaps a more straightforward showdown with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.
Regardless of what the future holds though, this was a great moment for the Usos. It could well mark the start of a period of divisional dominance for the latest champions of the legendary Anoa’i family.
Real Americans Tension
WWE have been teasing a split between Jack Swagger and Cesaro for quite some time now, but on Raw this week, we were given the clearest sign yet that the duo’s affiliation could be coming to an end.
Initially, it looked like lazy booking from WWE, as Swagger once again got himself involved in Cesaro’s business—costing the Swiss the victory in his match with Big E.
But WWE Creative ramped up the drama in a second segment, prior to Swagger’s subsequent match with the WWE Intercontinental Champion. This time, Cesaro interfered before the bout could even begin, neutralising Big E before coming within seconds of subjecting Swagger to the Big Swing.
Ultimately, Zeb Colter convinced Cesaro to relinquish his hold on Swagger, and the two awkwardly patched things up—but not with a great deal of conviction.
As a result, the disintegration of the Real Americans appears to be imminent—a decision that I imagine the majority of the WWE Universe, myself included, will be more than satisfied with.
Are The Shield Finished?
And speaking of disintegration, did we finally witness the end of The Shield on Raw this week?
Having allowed himself to be distracted by Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose inadvertently left Seth Rollins high and dry when the latter had been desperately looking to make the tag.
Rollins retaliated by very deliberately deserting Ambrose before barking (with a great delivery) to Roman Reigns, "I can’t be the glue that keeps this together."
Ambrose and Reigns went on to lose to the Wyatts in yet another stellar showing from the company’s top two factions, and thus, seemingly spelling the end of The Shield. However, the remorse on Rollins face at the end of the contest suggested that this one is far from over.
It wasn’t the most clearcut of breakups, but much like the aforementioned Real Americans, the end appears to be near for the Hounds of Justice.
An incredibly appealing Triple Threat match at WrestleMania could well be on the cards.
The Authority Clamps Down on Bryan
Events on Raw would suggest that WWE have put all their eggs in the Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H basket for WrestleMania XXX.
Bryan was systemically beaten down—first by Randy Orton, then by Batista and finally by The Game himself.
It may not be the title match that many fans want for Bryan, but I think the company is doing a brilliant job of booking this one nonetheless. Triple H is once again playing the out-and-out dastardly heel—a role few fill better than he does—and the condescension in his earlier promo only stoked the flames of this ongoing rivalry.
Furthermore, Bryan is finally the centre of attention. Perhaps more importantly, he’s thriving in the spotlight.
Pardon the cliche, but it’s the ultimate underdog story. The longevity of this rivalry makes it all the more significant, and the way this one’s going, it is most likely going to steal the show at WrestleMania next month.
A knock-on effect of this is that it appears that WWE Creative are persisting with an Orton vs. Batista title match—with both men playing the heels.
That situation could yet change, but I’ve always been intrigued by the prospect of heel vs. heel.
However you look at it, the Bryan situation is having some hugely interesting repercussions surrounding the prospective WrestleMania line-up.
No CM Punk
Truth be told, I wanted to avoid making too much of the CM Punk situation—given that he wasn’t even a part of the show.
But in the history of WWE, I don’t think there’s ever been a man featured so prominently in a show despite maintaining a physical absence.
Aside from that, Punk’s no-show is potentially of huge significance.
The Straightedge Superstar loves his hometown, and that passion is unanimously reciprocated. Thus, for Punk to miss an episode of Raw in Chicago, it’s safe to conclude that something is very wrong indeed.
After hearing that Punk was scheduled to appear on the show, I began to think that this whole angle was just one big work. But now, just 24 hours later, I’m starting to believe that this disappearance could indeed be the real deal.
I may yet be proved wrong, of course (and I really hope I am), but this seemed to be the clearest indication yet that CM Punk has well and truly severed his ties with WWE.
It’s certainly interesting that the company at least alluded to Punk with the teasing of his entrance, though. Are WWE playing mind games with the fans? Or perhaps even with Punk himself?
Given the current state of confusion, it certainly seems to be working on me at least.
Monday Night Raw this week played host to some significant developments, many of which look set to have a major impact on the WrestleMania XXX card.
But beyond that, I cannot help but feel that this show was a little flat. Perhaps it was the lack of any big-name returns or the continued hiatus of one CM Punk. But either way, I had been expecting a little more from WWE with the Showcase of the Immortals now a little over a month away.
In favour of looking on the bright side though, we did see a much-deserved title change. We also saw the potential disbanding of (firstly) the Real Americans and (secondly) one of the most devastating heel factions in company history.
The foundations have been laid—and very sturdily at that. Now, it’s time for the company to push on and deliver at what is a most exciting time on the WWE calendar.
But what did you guys think of Monday Night Raw this week?
Is The Shield's breakup for real?
Are you happy with the Bryan vs. Triple H build?
And what on earth is going on with CM Punk?
Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the show, as well as any of the points that were discussed in the article.