WWE Raw: 5 Talking Points to Come from Monday Night's Show
The WWE paid tribute to The Ultimate Warrior this week on Raw, after the Hall of Famer’s recent passing a week ago—the timing of which brought new meaning to the word "tragic."
And it must be said, it was a fitting memorial.
The recently observed trend of blending the old and the new was as prominent as ever, while we also saw a No. 1 contender’s tournament set up for a shot at Big E’s Intercontinental Championship.
As a result, the Extreme Rules pay-per-view is already shaping up to be a good one with less than three weeks until the May 4 show.
With this in mind, this article looks to discuss five of the most noteworthy talking points to come from Raw this week.
No. 1 Contender's Tournament
With no clear challenger for Big E’s intercontinental title, the WWE had two options: hurriedly throw something together for Extreme Rules or focus its efforts into something more significant.
It appears that WWE went for the latter.
An eight-man tournament was set in motion, featuring no less than six former world champions. Ultimately, Rob Van Dam, Sheamus, Cesaro and Bad News Barrett won their singles bouts against Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry and Dolph Ziggler, respectively, thus advancing to the semifinals.
Regardless of who goes on to win the tournament, this has been a great way to both build up the strap and pay homage to the Warrior.
In arguably his most high-profile match, Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan to unify both the WWE and Intercontinental Championships at WrestleMania VI. Thus it’s only fitting that his memorial show featured such a meaningful tournament for the coveted strap.
"Prestige" gets thrown at the intercontinental title all too often, but in this case I believe this tournament is a great way to build back to the prestige of that esteemed strap—the history of which the Warrior contributed so greatly to.
Paige Defeats Alicia Fox
Last week on Raw, Paige made her emphatic debut by ending AJ Lee’s 295-day title reign to win the WWE Divas Championship.
As shocking as it was, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that such recognition was undeserved. At just 21 years of age, Paige is perhaps one of the most exciting products of NXT so far. She’s the WWE’s first titleholder to be born in the 1990s and thus epitomises the new era of talent that we’re starting to see emerge.
And therefore it was great to see her pick up another solid win on Raw this week, after locking Alicia Fox in her brilliant Scorpion Cross Lock manoeuvre.
Credit to Fox is also due, who furthered her growing reputation as one of the better workers on the women’s roster.
But the most important thing here is that with Paige now involved in the female competition, and hopefully a feud with AJ around the corner, the future looks bright for the Divas division. It's something that's been said many times before but rarely with this kind of conviction.
John Cena Challenged Bray Wyatt
Throughout their feud, John Cena and Bray Wyatt have displayed exemplary mic skills that have captivated audiences.
On Raw this week, though, we saw Cena slip into his slapstick ways of old. The WWE still doesn’t seem to realise that superimposed images of wrestler’s faces on baby’s bodies aren’t that funny, especially when you’re supposed to be building somebody as a fearsome heel.
But the positive here is that all that goofiness was acknowledged by Wyatt, thus becoming a part of the storyline.
This cued Cena to "get serious" as only he can, which resulted in him challenging Wyatt to a match at Extreme Rules—inside a steel cage. Sure, their exchange may have been below the standard we’ve seen as of late, but the end result made up for that.
This is Wyatt’s chance to get over—and in a big way. Proving himself alone would arguably be more significant than a WrestleMania win with the help of his Family.
Kane Is Back
Corporate Kane was a shadow of the monster that his character used to be.
Which is why it was great to see the Director of Operations retrieve his mask and pledge to “eviscerate” Daniel Bryan, presumably at Extreme Rules.
Stephanie McMahon was as excellent as ever as she coaxed Kane back into his former ways. We may not have seen the Big Red Machine fully clad, but you can bet your bottom dollar that his return is imminent.
This is a welcome development, as it gives Bryan a high-profile opponent for the coming weeks. Furthermore, having Kane rediscover his evil side is perfectly fitting for the Extreme Rules PPV.
I may be getting carried away with myself there, but the sight of Kane with his mask in hand seems to strongly suggest that a clash for the titles is right around the corner. His history with the champ will only add to the occasion.
It’s a nice direction for the WWE title to take, while it also gives us the opportunity to see a separate top-drawer storyline unfold in the coming weeks…
...And so Is Evolution
The band is back together, and they’re feuding with the Shield.
They may not have Ric Flair by their side, but Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton looked as strong as ever when they emerged together to their music of old.
Apparently the Alabama crowd thought differently, though, as the trio’s emergence was greeted with near silence. It’s a shame, because even as heels, these guys deserved a much better response than that—after all, this was one of the most dominant factions in pro wrestling history.
But despite that blemish, the signs for the future are incredibly promising.
The Shield vs. Evolution is now all but confirmed. A clash that was once consigned to video games or fantasy booking will soon become a reality. An appearance from Flair would make this reunion all the more special, but even without the Nature Boy, we have a colossal showdown to look forward to.
There’s been plenty of talk of a bright future in recent weeks, but the present is now shining just as strongly.
It’s something that I alluded to earlier, but once again on Raw this week we saw a great combination of the past, present and future.
Bringing back the likes of (classic) Kane and Evolution will make for awesome moments for the older audience, whilst having them face the stars of today and tomorrow is exactly what is best for business—for both the company and its fans.
After months of criticism, the WWE is finally starting to be booked sensibly.
Some say we’re still in the era of reality. Others say it’s the dawning of a completely new one. But either way, it’s a great time to be a fan of the WWE.
And as a wise man once said, the fans are the legend-makers. Through their storytelling, loyalty and memories, the spirit and essence of the company’s stars—past, present and future—will live on.