Evolution and Shield Promos
Monday's show started with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose in the ring. They cut a promo on Evolution, iterated their desire for a match against the group at Payback, then promised to take the fight to Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton.
And they did.
It was a short, simple and effective way to kick off the evening's broadcast and continued to portray the members of The Shield as babyfaces who do exactly what they promise to without blowing smoke or pandering to the crowd.
Later in the night, Evolution hit the ring. Triple H insultingly referred to Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose as "kids" and questioned their desire for a rematch to a match they already won. Randy Orton and a very frustrated Batista chimed in as well before the Hounds of Justice hit the ring and cleared their rivals out.
The show-long storyline involving both factions was extremely well done. To the creative team's credit, it has shown an ability to craft stories that start early in the show and continue throughout the night before wrapping up later in the show.
Rather than approaching shows in a segment-by-segment storytelling style, the writers have taken to writing show-long stories that will ideally keep audiences tuned in until the end of the broadcast. They did it with The Shield on SmackDown on the April 25 show, Daniel Bryan and Kane last week and The Shield and Evolution this week.
It is an effective and refreshing way to present a show. Whether they can keep it up and convince the audience to stay and watch is the big question.
Sheamus vs. Ryback
The most surprising match on this week's show was the battle between United States champion Sheamus and Ryback.
Moments after the Celtic Warrior forced a tapout from Curtis Axel, who he had locked in the Cloverleaf submission hold, Ryback attacked from behind and a match between them ensued.
Sheamus and Ryback exchanged power moves and had a very solid wrestling match before the U.S. champion delivered the high-impact Brogue Kick for the win.
It is unlikely that Ryback will remain in the title hunt, but he and Sheamus showed great chemistry with one another and hopefully impressed management enough to give them a reason to book them against each other in the future.
Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon
Amid all of the horror movie booking involving Kane and Daniel Bryan is the tension between Brie Bella and Stephanie McMahon, which continued to rear its head Monday night during Raw.
As Bryan was loaded into an ambulance, Stephanie continued to disingenuously ask about the welfare of her WWE World Heavyweight champion. Brie, the concerned wife, was infuriated that her husband was once again the victim of a vile and ruthless assault at the hands of the Big Red Monster.
No longer able to keep herself composed, she shoved Stephanie and demanded that she stay away. Having been physically confronted by Brie, the principal owner of WWE looked far from pleased.
If done correctly, there is a great opportunity for a heated match between Brie and Stephanie. The boss has not appeared in a wrestling ring, as a competitor, in over a decade, but like her father, she typically performs well when the spotlight is on her.
Brie, on the other hand, is a fine wrestler who has gotten significantly better over the last year. If the crowd's reaction to Brie shoving Stephanie was any indication, the interest is there. Since Bryan is injured, it may be the best course to take as far as booking Payback is concerned.