In the wake of a highly controversial 2015 Royal Rumble, a crippling snowstorm struck the American Northeast, and with travel bans put in place by the governor of the state of Connecticut, WWE had no choice but to cancel the night's live Raw event in Hartford.
As Vince McMahon has repeatedly declared over the course of his lifetime as a promoter, the show must go on, and it did Monday night as the company presented its weekly flagship show from WWE headquarters in Stamford.
Just 24 hours after his...interesting...Royal Rumble victory, Roman Reigns sat down with Byron Saxton and addressed everything from his win to the Philadelphia crowd's reaction to fan criticisms surrounding his readiness to headline the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania.
His opponent at that show, WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, was also in the house, and by night's end, they would meet face-to-face for the very first time.
Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins all sat down with WWE broadcast personalities to discuss Sunday's pay-per-view event and their roles going forward as the road to WrestleMania 31 commences.
To fill the three-hour slot, the company rewarded its viewers by airing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between John Cena, Rollins and Lesnar and, to a lesser extent, the Royal Rumble match in its entirety.
When all was said and done, the show made for one of the more surreal yet entertaining broadcasts in quite some time.
WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut
Michael Cole, Booker T, John Bradshaw Layfield, Byron Saxton and Renee Young
- WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena and Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat match (Royal Rumble rebroadcast).
- Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble match (Royal Rumble rebroadcast).
Monday's episode of Raw was so incredibly refreshing, thanks in large part to stale booking and disjointed storytelling that had bogged down recent episodes of the show.
For once, there were no repetitive matches or overly complicated bells and whistles. Instead, it was a much more focused show that told its stories through more real and organic promos than the more scripted schlock fans have become accustomed to in recent years.
The promos from Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar in particular did more to build anticipation for their WrestleMania main event on March 29 than anything the crack writing staff behind the recent WWE product would ever be able to produce.
It was two men sharing the screen in an intense segment that was not overdone with corny lines.
"How are you going to handle disappointing your family when you lose to Brock Lesnar because you can’t beat Brock Lesnar. Not today, and certainly not at WrestleMania," Paul Heyman asked Reigns after detailing his own history with the No. 1 contender's family.
Reigns did not flinch at Heyman's attempts to play mind games. He did not allow the former ECW owner to get to him when mentioning The Rock and his loss to Lesnar way back in 2002. Instead, he assured Lesnar that the Beast would respect him, unlike others, come the Showcase of the Immortals.
It was a phenomenal setup to what should be a no-nonsense booking approach leading into the match between champion and challenger in Santa Clara, California.
Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan also impressed in exclusive promos, discussing the disappointment that came out of their losses at Royal Rumble. Like a pro-sports press conference in which the losers of the game or match are trotted out before cameras and asked to answer the difficult questions, they had to own up to their shortcomings while also looking to the future.
Dean Ambrose even got in on the fun, cutting a promo in which he detailed his long and arduous trek from Hartford to Stamford in blizzard conditions (involving a fight with a gas-station attendant in which he almost lost a finger) and compared the ordeal to the winding, twisting road to WrestleMania.
The addition of the WWE title match and the Royal Rumble matches, in their entirety, was a fine way to build on the events of Sunday night while also rewarding the faithful viewers who stuck around despite the unconventional nature of the broadcast.
More importantly, it shined the spotlight on Reigns and allowed him to cut promos without the normal handcuffs of WWE Creative and stupid cartoon jokes from Vince McMahon. He came across much more naturally Monday night than he has since returning, and that will only help endear him to fans already skeptical about his rapid ascension to the top of the company.
A memorable show?
Probably not a week or two from now. But a quality one that was completely unique, fun and less stressful than a typical Monday night?
Absolutely, proving that WWE can still deliver a quality product when the pressure is on and the conditions are not necessarily ideal.