The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw 5/5/14
All eyes were on World Wrestling Entertainment and their follow-up to the Extreme Rules pay-per-view as Monday Night Raw hit the USA Network airwaves.
Just 24 hours removed from their defining victory over Evolution in a six-man tag team war of attrition, The Shield kicked off the evening's broadcast to a huge ovation. Unfortunately for the Hounds of Justice, it would be the one pleasant moment of their evening, courtesy of both "The Celtic Warrior" Sheamus and Evolution.
After falling victim to the flames he created, Kane was sure to be on the warpath as he avenged his loss to Daniel Bryan in the previous night's Extreme Rules match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. His revenge would be more mental than physical, however, as he rattled both Bryan and his beautiful wife Brie, leading to a ludicrous backstage segment, the likes of which only WWE can produce.
Bray Wyatt addressed his victory over John Cena, referring to himself as a god before teaming with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan later in the evening to take on The Shield in the rekindling of their great feud.
Rusev was impressive as he downed former Intercontinental, United States and tag team champion Kofi Kingston, Bad News Barrett knocked off Big E in a rematch from Sunday night, and the eccentric Adam Rose made his Raw debut.
WWE continued its hot streak of solid television programming Monday night with its post-Extreme Rules episode of Raw.
Here, now, is the best of the best from the broadcast.
United States Championship Battle Royal
Battle royals can oftentimes be hit or miss, but, on Monday night, the company delivered one that was more of a success than failure, thanks to a few entertaining stories and spots presented throughout.
Big Show and Mark Henry established dominance as the biggest competitors in the match, only for the rest of the competitors to team up and eliminate them. Santino Marella utilized the Cobra to deliver the strike that ended Dolph Ziggler's night, something that drew a chorus of boos from the audience. Dean Ambrose went on a tear late in the contest, showing the tenacity of a pit bull, but simply fell victim to a bigger and stronger opponent in Sheamus.
The Celtic Warrior delivered the Brogue Kick and dumped Ambrose, drawing a mixed reaction as he celebrated with his newly won United States title.
The match was set up by Triple H to put Ambrose at a disadvantage and get the title off of the Shield's most unpredictable member. It worked, kicking off a night full of revenge for Evolution.
Kofi Kingston vs. (Not So Alexander) Rusev
Down goes another first name in the WWE Universe!
Fans were treated to a taste of what Rusev is capable of when he took on Kofi Kingston in a very entertaining showcase of athleticism and skill. Kingston, one of the best midcard babyface workers WWE has ever had, looked great as he threw his speed, leaping ability and high-flying skills at Rusev, only to have the Bulgarian Brute brush them off, counter with his agility and power, and defeat Kingston with the Accolade.
Until Monday night, Rusev had been tearing through guys with the same two or three moves and was failing to connect and draw the interest of the audience. While the crowd in Albany still hesitated to get behind the Super Athlete, it's performances like this one that will ultimately get him over with the WWE Universe.
The jaw-dropping, gorgeous "Ravishing Russian" Lana and her use of old school wrestling heat will not hurt, either.
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro
RVD and the King of Swing are two Superstars one wishes had better chemistry than what they have shown thus far. Sunday night's Triple Threat Elimination match, which consisted largely of action between the two of them, was mediocre at best.
Monday's match was slightly better, but had an awful finish that detracted from its quality quite a bit. The sequencing was better on Raw, the action tighter and less sloppy, but the ending ruined what was a perfectly fine contest between two accomplished workers.
Van Dam hung upside down in the ropes while Cesaro unleashed with several forearms to the face. He refused to stop by the referee's count and was disqualified as a result. Paul Heyman had to pull his latest client away, telling him, "You don't want to get suspended."
Perhaps the finish would have had greater effect had Cesaro done something more vicious and violent than relying on the same forearm shots he uses regularly in his matches.
Still, a very good match that was marred by an ill-advised finish.
Bad News Barret Defends
One night after capturing his fourth Intercontinental Championship, Bad News Barrett defended the title against former champion Big E in another hard-hitting, well-wrestled match. The match at Extreme Rules was a bit more coherent, making it better than their follow-up here, but it still provided fans with a competitive bout.
E continued to show signs of a very skilled babyface worker, but his lack of character has completely limited him in terms of upward movement at this point in his young career. Barrett, on the other hand, has seemingly found a character that he can invest himself in and has improved as a worker to the point that he is starting to hit his stride.
The finish, in which Barrett raked the eyes of his opponent and caught E with the Bullhammer for the win was not necessary, given the fact that the champion beat him clean the night before, but it does allow the powerlifter the opportunity to save face, so it is understandable.
A really solid match that hopefully sets both men up for bigger and better things to come.
Cinco De Mayo 4: Revenge of the Demon
The segments involving Daniel Bryan, Brie Bella, Stephanie McMahon and Kane were great in the way that 80s' slasher flicks are great. They were over-the-top exercises of stupid fun that kept the viewer entertained and moved the story along.
Bryan and Brie even made some of the same stupid mistakes, such as leaving the car unattended so the bad guy could toy with the wiring, getting out of the car to see if the monster was dead and constantly putting themselves in harm's way to begin with.
When Kane finally did pop up in the backseat of Bryan and Brie's car and a fight between the champion and the Devil's Favorite Demon broke out, one could not help but laugh at the absurdity of the entire ordeal. Yes, it was stupid, but just as audiences (yours truly included) are still nostalgic for the aforementioned slasher flicks, the insanely over-the-top element of the Kane character will always work.
Brie Bella's scream on the other hand...not so much.
The Bryan-Alberto Del Rio match that was sandwiched in between was quite great but lacked the crowd heat that it needed to really excel on the next level. That the brand new WWE World Heavyweight champion was struggling to beat Del Rio, who fans recently witnessed lose to Goldust in two minutes, did not necessarily help matters.
You Can't Fool the Children
Bray Wyatt cut his best promo to date Monday night. That is saying quite a bit, given the quality of his work leading up to May 5, but, upon looking at the content of what he said, it is clear that it is the first real glimpse into the motivations behind Wyatt.
The disgusted manner in which he said, "They referred to me as a nobody," was absolutely spot on and indicates that he was a social outcast, as one would expect. He continued, claiming that he does what he does for the children. "I do this for the teenage girl who wakes up crying every morning when she looks in the mirror because they didn't think she was beautiful enough to be the prom queen," he continued.
It was an incredibly passionate promo cut by a man who believes every word he says. Wyatt has evolved from being a simple pro wrestler to being one of the best characters on television that, sadly, will not be recognized as such because of his chosen profession.
Realizing his power to touch others and the effect he has had on the masses, Wyatt wrapped up by calling himself a "god."
Just outstanding stuff from a guy so far above everyone else on the show in terms of performance that it is becoming almost laughable.
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
It is becoming clear that these two teams simply are incapable of having a bad match together. Despite the crowd in Albany not responding particularly well to anything on the show, not to mention the last match on a three-hour broadcast, all six men worked extremely hard to deliver a high-quality main event.
Seth Rollins, in particular, was a breath of fresh air once he hit the ring. The standing Shooting Star Press was incredible, and the energy he brings with him to any match will get an audience to, at the very least, sit up and pay attention.
The hot tag to Roman Reigns ignited the audience as he exploded into the ring with the Superman Punch and Spear. The appearance of Evolution late in the match sidetracked the Hounds of Justice just long enough for Bray Wyatt to flatten Reigns with Sister Abigail and secure the win.
The post-match beatdown by Evolution was nothing new, but the Triple Powerbomb to Reigns was a nice twist.
A great way to cap off the night's festivities and the latest chapter in a feud that will, hopefully, continue into Payback on June 1.