Monday Night RAW HITS:
Overall Show: The first Raw of the new year was an absolute blast for this viewer, at home, to watch. Sure, having a themed episode of Raw might not have been the best idea to begin the new year (especially when it was a throwback to “old school”), but more than enough happened on this episode to keep me interested in nearly every segment. WWE went all out, as usual, with both the sets, and the wardrobe, and really made this feel like an event. A fun watch, indeed.
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts: Never in my wildest dreams did I think the name “Jake Roberts” would appear in a 2014 Monday Night Raw HIT list. Never. Ever. Eeeever. But here we are, just seven young days into 2014, and he’s at the top of the list. I had to admit, when his music hit, I immediately jumped off my couch just like the 8-year-old me would have done 23 years ago. His involvement was a total surprise to me, which helped heighten its impact, and let’s face it….he looked like a million bucks (sorry Ted). DDPYoga has clearly not only saved this man’s life, but rejuvenated his soul, and there was more more impactful appearance last night than Jake’s. And if you catch a look at Dean Ambrose’s face, as Jake laid the snake on him, he’s smiling from ear to ear. Even his inner fanboy couldn’t wait to escape. Just an overall amazing surprise. Congratulations, Jake. Your hard work has paid off, and you look great.
CM Punk vs. Roman Reigns: An excellent cap to an excellent Monday Night Raw. Roman Reigns had the spotlight placed on him by being put in the ring with arguably the best wrestler in the company on what will likely be one of the higher rated Raw episodes of the year, and delivered. This was an excellent match, and both guys worked well together. This is one match you should go out of your way to see.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman: This hit goes mostly to Paul Heyman, who again proved he is the master salesman, and master manipulator. Plus, let’s face it. When Heyman is left to do the talking, instead of Lesnar, largely it is a much better promo. I couldn’t have been the only one sitting at home waiting for Heyman to say that Lesnar could beat any man, dead or alive, and have the Undertaker’s gong silence him. Regardless of that, this segment was a huge hit. Lesnar’s interaction with Mark Henry and then the Big Show felt like must-see TV. The moment Lesnar’s music hits, you know something worth seeing is about to happen. This was absolutely no exception.
The Legends: No big surprises, outside of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, but it’s always good to see the legends on an episode of RAW. Too Cool both looked great, DDP looked like he had actually aged in reverse, and the cameo by Mean Gene Okerlund pushing the faux hotline was laugh-out-loud funny. A tip of the hat to all of the legends who appeared and made the show memorable for this viewer.
Opening Promo with Ric Flair, Randy Orton and John Cena: I wasn’t sure there was much that was going to make me interested in another Cena/Orton WWE Championship match, but the Nature Boy brought the goods. Because of his passion during that promo, Orton seemingly showed more fire as well, and by the end of the verbal exchange, RAW was already off to a hot start. Awesome segment.
The Rhodes Brothers vs. The Real Americans: It’s hard for me to hide my love for the Real Americans, as both Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro was world class, premiere athletes. But, once again, Goldust and Cody Rhodes were among the highlights of the show. Goldust is preforming at a level, in his mid-40’s, that easily rivals his “prime”, and should at the very least build a strong argument to WWE brass that younger isn’t always better. I’m not sure how much longer the elder Rhodes has left on his current WWE run, but I am in no hurry for it to end, and thoroughly look forward to what he’s going to bring to the table every single week on RAW. Who called Goldust hitting a picture-perfect top rope spinning head scissors in 2014? WHO I ASK?!
The Shield on Piper’s Pit: When this is the “weakest” segment that the Shield were involved in all night, you know you’ve got yourself a blockbuster episode of Monday Night RAW on your hands. This would have ranked higher on my list (although it’s not exactly in chronological order anyways) if it wasn’t for the fact that they were involved in a first-rate main event, and later one of the coolest segments in RAW history. An Ambrose’s verbal battle with Roddy Piper sells me a ticket to anything, anywhere at any time. One of the current best in the business sparring with arguably the best talker of all time. Such a treat to be be given the opportunity to watch.
Monday Night RAW MISSES:
The Great Khali vs. Damien Sandow: The partially carries over my disappointment that Arn Anderson wasn’t selected as referee (rather we saw a relatively common appearance from Sgt. Slaughter). But the real crime here is the barely mobile Khali going over in convincing fashion on Damien Sandow. The upside that was built for Sandow via the Money in the Bank win, and subsequent challenge of John Cena has all but disappeared, in sacrifice of a couple of laughs from Khali. Such a shame.
Daniel Bryan in the Wyatt Family: For all of you that told me I was over-reacting last week, I draw your attention to this week. What is the benefit of teasing tension 7 days later, at your first given opportunity. Your argument was that this gives Bryan the chance to spread his wings out from underneath the smothering thumb of Cenation. Instead, Bryan has sacrifices his values, and beliefs for what will inevitably be a one-to-two month “heel” turn, then beg the fans for their acceptance (which who whole-heartedly had) again. Terrible, awful, shameful writing. If Daniel Bryan was 6’4″, 250lbs, this wouldn’t be happening, and that’s my biggest problem with all of this.
Bad News Barrett: I’ve got some bad news. This sucks.