WWE Raw: 5 Talking Points to Come from Monday Night's Show
In what was the go-home show for Extreme Rules, Monday Night Raw was tasked with adding the final touches to a build that has so far been thoroughly entertaining.
It was a star-studded evening featuring the return of Ric Flair, an all-out brawl between Evolution and The Shield, and a vintage attack from a rejuvenated Kane. However, the show somehow felt like it lacked that special something—though that is largely due to the great success of previous weeks rather than a failure this time around.
Nonetheless, there was plenty to digest. Upon reflection, what do we make of the incidents from Raw? And what significance will they have on the Extreme Rules Special Event this Sunday?
This article looks to answer those questions as we round up five of the top talking points to come from Monday Night Raw this week.
Extreme Rules Build
As I alluded to earlier, this week’s Monday Night Raw wasn't a perfect show. But if we look at only the segments concerning Extreme Rules feuds, the action was pretty impressive.
The Shield’s showdown with Evolution gave us an exciting end to the show, but it was nothing too out of the ordinary.
Bray Wyatt’s choir certainly was, though, as was Kane’s attempt to drag Brie Bella under the ring.
First of all, it’s good to see WWE trying something different with its booking. All too often, it has relied on the back-and-forth formula of promo, brawl, promo, brawl, with little deviation from the script.
But when Wyatt assembled his choir of youths, few could say they had seen that one coming. And though we have seen wrestlers emerge from beneath the ring in the past, in this instance, it was all too fitting for Kane’s current character.
Which leads me to my second point: This booking was also highly relevant.
Extreme Rules is all about unusual matches, and it’s good to see the feuds being booked accordingly. Finally, WWE is making effective use of its gimmick special events.
Tag Team Title Match
The Usos successfully defended their tag titles against RybAxel in what was a pretty high-quality matchup.
Personally, I thought this one was going to be saved for Extreme Rules, and it still might feature on the show’s card. I can’t help but feel that the value of such a match would be diminished, though, as the two teams faced off just days ahead of the special event.
On top of that, The Usos won clean, and there was no post-match retaliation from Ryback or Curtis Axel.
There’s still time to announce a match on SmackDown this week, but, nonetheless, I think it might have been better to postpone their Raw showdown and save it for the big dance on Sunday evening.
That being said, though, it was an entertaining match with a neat finish, so if we do get an immediate rematch, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Who would have thought we'd be saying that about RybAxel just a few months ago?
When Sheamus came out for his match with Titus O'Neil, you’d have been forgiven for thinking this one had “uneventful squash match” written all over it.
But instead, the former Prime Time Player jumped Sheamus before their match had even started, revealing a more aggressive and dominant side to his floundering character.
This was a nice twist, as O'Neil has shown before that he has potential. He’s got the look and the mic skills to match, but he has been given few opportunities since he separated from Darren Young at the turn of the year.
This new “opportunity” didn't last long, though. Sheamus surprised O’Neil with a Brogue Kick from out of nowhere, picking up the win in a short-lived bout.
Looks like I spoke to soon with the squash match comment...
I can’t understand why the WWE would hint at a push for O’Neil, only to end it after a minute or two. A win over Sheamus could have been huge, but this match was something of a waste and didn’t really add much to the show.
It could yet blossom into a more meaningful rivalry, but based on the events of Raw alone, this one just didn’t make too much sense to me.
Intercontinental Championship Tournament
Speaking of booking that didn’t make much sense, I personally felt that the Intercontinental Championship Tournament had something of an anticlimactic ending.
Bad News Barrett defeated Rob Van Dam to earn himself a shot at Big E’s strap, but his win was largely overshadowed by interference from Cesaro and Jack Swagger.
I guess the logic is that Cesaro was screwed out of beating Van Dam last week, but this was no way to develop that story. The whole point of a tournament to determine the new No. 1 contender is that it adds significance and prestige to the belt.
For Cesaro and Swagger to put their personal beef ahead of the belt merely undermines it and undoes the good work of this tournament.
Admittedly, we’ll probably get a pretty decent Triple Threat match between RVD, Cesaro and Swagger, but the WWE should have kept that separate from the intercontinental title scene.
The Shield and Evolution Close the Show
The show closed in exciting fashion, with Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns degenerating into a three-on-three brawl.
Evolution looked set to come out on top, but The Shield fought back and eventually cleared the ring of their veteran foes. Based on this evidence, their six-man tag match at Extreme Rules promises to be a fantastic clash.
But another point worth bearing in mind here is that The Shield and Evolution closed the show rather than the WWE world heavyweight champion.
Was this a sign of things to come? Will Daniel Bryan vacate center stage at Extreme Rules in order to accommodate The Game and his adversaries?
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, as Bryan’s early withdrawal from the show could have been a result of the tragic developments in his personal life. But if not, I think it’s cause for concern for the company’s new champion.
CM Punk’s reign was marred by the fact that he rarely headlined a WWE show, and I really hope the same fate does not befall Bryan.
In his first defense, he needs a big challenge on a big stage. The returning Kane ticks one of those boxes, and only a main event spot at Extreme Rules can ensure both requirements are met.
Evolution vs. The Shield may steal the show, but it doesn’t need to close the event in order to do that. The WWE title deserves to be respected, and it should close Extreme Rules.
It was by no means the greatest episode of Monday Night Raw since the turn of the New Year, but it definitely wasn't the worst.
Most importantly, though, it is mission accomplished as far as Extreme Rules is concerned. The WWE put together a strong build, and, as a result, we have a highly promising card that should add to Extreme Rules’ growing reputation as one of the better events of the year.
But what did you think of the show itself? Do you agree with the issues outlined in this slideshow?
Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the show as well as the talking points, and let me know how you think the WWE did with its Extreme Rules build.