WWE Raw: The Old, the New and the Now from Monday Night's Show
On Monday Night Raw this week, we once again witnessed the integration of the past, the present and the future of the WWE.
These features may not have been as prominent as they have been in previous weeks gone by, but once again, these nuances managed to creep their way into the show’s proceedings.
The resultant optimism that this evolution (no pun intended) has created was somewhat tarnished by some unfortunate news, but nonetheless—in line with the saying—methods were adapted leaving nothing to perish (pun intended).
This article looks to review Monday’s show whilst viewing events through our time-travelling lens to cover the old, the new and the now.
Old-School Limo Segment
Monday Night Raw kicked off with an old-school limo segment, transporting us back to the days of the Attitude Era.
Scenes such as this one will always be a hit, as they’re a nice way to ramp up the intrigue that little bit more. Who would we see swing open the door? Possibly a returning Vince McMahon, as it has so often been before? Some fans in the arena seemingly thought it could even have been Ric Flair after his brief cameo a couple of weeks back.
Ultimately though, it was, of course, Evolution. No real surprises here, but nonetheless, it was good use of an old-school segment to help kick off Raw in exciting fashion and evidence that old doesn't necessarily mean boring.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
As long as we’re talking about the old, it’s only fitting to mention the cameo appearance of Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
Although given his renaissance on the WWE Network’s Legends House, is this technically the new/now?
Either way, rather than utilising Duggan for a one-off, throwaway appearance, the WWE managed to merge his promo for his Network show with Alexander Rusev’s anti-America, pro-Russia storyline. Lana and Rusev logically came out to denounce Duggan and his country, before Big E came out to make a save of sorts.
It turned out to be an effective segment that not only pleased the audience in attendance but also further built an up-and-coming start.
Yet another example of the seamless blend between the old and the new that we’ve seen from the WWE in recent weeks.
Attention for the U.S. Title
In the last couple of weeks, the United States Championship has been a real focal point of the WWE’s weekly programming—and given the company’s prior handling of the midcard belt, this is very much something new.
How long has it been since the U.S. title was given such precedence?
Last week’s Battle Royal regained our attention, and Dean Ambrose’s subsequent rematch on SmackDown only fortified that interest. Having the title holder then feature in a hard-fought, and fairly impressive, succession of matches this week maintains the wave that the title is riding.
Sure, the belt wasn’t on the line on Raw, but the holder was booked very strongly. More importantly, though—and here’s where the new comes in—the match wasn’t billed as Sheamus in action; it was billed as the U.S. champion in action.
How often was that the case when Ambrose held the strap?
Let’s forget about cries of "Super Sheamus" for now and just enjoy the fact that the U.S. title was given a level of recognition that has recently been unprecedented.
It looks as though we’re set for reruns of John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt and Evolution vs. The Shield at Payback.
And though we’ve already seen battles within these rivalries, we were given various hints on Monday Night Raw that we could be in store for some new stipulations to shake things up.
Triple H promised that Evolution would take the Shield apart “one by one.” Does this mean that we could be set for a series of singles matches rather than one six-man brawl? Or perhaps some kind of elimination match?
And we saw a similar suggestion from Bray Wyatt. After he and his Family lost to Cena and The Usos, Wyatt thanked Cena for showing him what he now must do. Based on this, it seems that Wyatt has something significant planned for his next showdown with Cena—and that’s exactly what this feud needed to maintain its momentum.
We may not have any clear-cut answers on what exactly Triple H and Wyatt meant, but it looks like there’s certainly something new coming to each man’s respective rivalry.
The Divas division has seen plenty of storyline developments lately. But other than Paige’s title win, very few of these developments have actually been about wrestling.
Drama from Total Divas and a budding relationship between two dance partners have both dominated the female division as of late, but on Raw this week, we saw a segment that actually related to in-ring competition.
After tasting defeat at the hands of Paige, Alicia Fox went on a rampage, hurling every object she could get her hands on and screaming at anyone who got in her way that she is in fact “championship material.”
Needless to say, such a development was hugely refreshing. Having given the Divas more attention lately, there’s still been something of a lack of competitiveness. Hopefully Fox’s outburst and her new, steelier attitude will do something about that.
Big E vs. Rusev
As mentioned previously, Big E came out to save Duggan from Rusev on Raw this week, though he was promptly set on his way by the imposing Bulgarian newcomer.
It all suggests that these two could be on course for a head-on collision, and I for one think this could be a pretty great rivalry.
I know a lot of people, including American rapper Wale, have been slightly peeved by the WWE’s insistence of pitting Rusev against the roster’s African-American contingent (first R-Truth and Xavier Woods, then Kofi Kingston and now Big E).
But I highly doubt this is any sort of conspiratorial racism. If anything, it’s maybe a part of Rusev’s pro-Russian storyline—but I don’t want to get into some political debate on here, largely because I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about…
Either way, Rusev vs. Big E could be an awesome new feud to add to Payback. Both men are tremendously athletic strongmen and thus could put together something rather entertaining.
No World Champion
So where do the events of Monday Night Raw leave the WWE right now?
Well, the biggest piece of news is arguably that involving Daniel Bryan and the announcement he made of his upcoming surgery. As a result, the WWE is now without its world champion—and that’s never a good thing.
At this stage, it’s too soon to tell if this is a work. Perhaps it is all just a ruse to further build up Kane ahead of a rematch between him and Bryan.
But regardless of the legitimacy here, the bottom line is that the WWE is still without its champion and star performer. This is far from ideal with Payback coming up, as these B-level shows need as much star power as they can get.
It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on this one, but as things currently stand, things aren’t looking as rosy as they once were for both the WWE and its fans.
Pressure on WWE to Deliver Elsewhere
A knock-on effect of this is that there is now a greater pressure on the WWE to deliver the goods with other feuds.
Obviously, Evolution vs. The Shield is now the major program, and there’s little doubt that this will fail to live up to the hype. However, if there’s no WWE title match at Payback, the aforementioned idea of three singles bouts, rather than a six-man tag match, could now be more likely to be booked.
Either way, expect these six men to do an admirable job of atoning for Bryan’s absence.
As for the rest of the card, it’s time for the likes of Big E and Rusev to step up to the plate and really make an impact.
But with further talent such as Cesaro, and more credible midcard champions in the form of Bad News Barrett and Sheamus, I remain confident that the WWE can manage without Bryan. We’re certainly now looking at a very different playing field after Monday night’s news, though.
For me, this was another solid showing of Monday Night Raw, though the news of the WWE champion’s layoff certainly put a dampener on events.
As a result, The Shield and Evolution took centre stage, but as I mentioned in the previous slide, the rest of the roster is going to have to start stepping up to atone for the loss of one of the company’s most entertaining performers.
Ultimately, though, I’m sure the company will cope.
The tease of the stipulations at Payback, as well as the initiation of new feuds and re-establishment of midcard champions, will hopefully be enough to sustain the positivity that is currently permeating through the WWE.
As ever, though, please let me know if you disagree with my views. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on Raw, as well as any of the issues that were covered in the article.