• To call the final segment of Raw this week a hit wouldn’t be fair. It was more like a home run. A game-winning one. Maybe even a walkoff game-winning homer. It was as close to a perfect segment as we’ve seen in a long, long time. Not only did it make me actually laugh and react, it made me extremely interested in the coming Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view. Think about it, it had everything. The ring was filled with legends like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Bret (Hitman) Hart and Mick Foley, along with countless current superstars, all of whom had held the WWE Championship or World title (some both) at some point in their careers. The gathering was to promote the unification of the titles this weekend. As he does better than almost anyone, Triple H delivered a powerful and heartfelt promo about the rich history, what the significance of the unification of the titles means and how important this weekend’s match between WWE champ Randy Orton and World champion John Cena is.
The Game was drowned out by the Seattle crowd, which chanted hometown hero Daniel Bryan’s name (he’s from nearby Aberdeen, Wash.), which brought a huge smile to his face as he stood in the ring. To the credit of Triple H, he allowed the adoration to go on for several minutes before getting in a line about everyone in the crowd being actually related to Bryan. The Game then finished his powerful speech. Had the segment ended right there, I still might have deemed it a hit, based solely the folks in the ring and the Game’s words. But it was far from over.
We then were treated to two of the best promos of the year courtesy of Orton and Cena, who were invited to the ring by Triple H. Orton delivered a flawless promo that showed why he is considered the greatest heel of his generation. He dragged the likes of Foley, Michaels and Hart into his segment, leaving me wondering if Cena could rise to the occasion following such a strong promo. Cena outdid even himself. He brought Bryan into the conversation, again prompting a huge crowd response, put over nearly everyone in the ring (and some not even there) before tearing the proverbial strip off of Orton for his many (perceived) shortcomings. It was the best promo I’ve seen Cena cut since Cena-Rock 1 a couple of WrestleManias ago.
And again, the WWE could have ended the segment there and everyone would have went home more than happy. But it got better. Orton delivered a cheap shot to Orton, prompting Cena to tackle him. As the stars inside the ring pulled the pair apart, all hell broke loose. Orton attacked CM Punk, who attacked Orton. Triple H pulled Punk off the pile, tossing him hard to the ground. Punk then attacked Triple H, prompting Michaels to deliver some Sweet Chin Music to Punk. Bryan then exacted his revenge on Michaels by hitting him with his Running Knee. As the chaos unfolded, Orton moved to attach Bryan, only to be shoved, hard, into Stephanie McMahon, who like anyone named McMahon, takes a great bump. Incensed, Triple H delivered a Pedigree to Orton, ending the melee with a resounding thud.
The show ended, perfectly I might add, with Cena helping Triple H and Kane lift Stephanie to her feet. All stood over Orton, who mouthed the words “I’m sorry” just before the cameras went off. It was a flawless ending to one of the best finishes to Raw in recent memory. I couldn’t help but think that segments like that are why the WWE is the best promotion on Earth. We certainly more writing like that.
• The Slammys. Always one of the better shows of the year, this year again delivered with some cameos by the New Age Outlaws, Michaels, Hart and Foley. The fan interaction WWE elicits is second to none, even if I didn’t agree with all of the Slammy winners. CM Punk versus the Undertaker was one of the greatest matches in WWE history, much better than Cena-Rock 2, which ended with The Rock seriously injured.
• Shorter matches. While I love a good wrestling match above all else, the Slammys did prompt WWE brass to tighten the matches on Raw, which was notable, and welcomed. I find the long matches many weeks feel like fill. I didn’t sense that this week. I truly felt that they were the appropriate lengths, with many being highly entertaining.
• Bray Wyatt’s rocking chair continues to be a hit for me. Watching him sit in it while a match goes on, sometimes right on the edge of his seat, other times relaxed like he’s sitting on his porch out in the middle of nowhere watching the sun go down, is both hilarious to me and very creative. I get a kick out of catching glimpses of it during matches.
• Brodus Clay’s domination of Xavier Woods was a hit for me in that it continues to take the big man back to the dark side, where I think he’ll get a chance to flourish. It even appears Brodus is on a collision course with his current tag-team partner Sweet T, which has the potential to be entertaining in and of itself.
• The Wyatts’ courting of Daniel Bryan. The idea that Bryan could maybe one day align himself with the Wyatts appeals to my sinister side, I guess. If it never happens, the worst we face is a longer feud between Bray and Bryan, which also can’t be a bad thing. Lots of intrigue here for me.
• On the strength of one of the top 5 episodes of Raw of 2013, and because I feel like any misses I do have are nitpicking, I’ll refrain from picking any misses this week. It was a fantastic Raw.