WWE Raw has been a mixed back the last few weeks, some great moments mixed in with some truly horrendous segments, I am happy to report that was not the case last night. This weeks edition of Raw has been one of the best I’ve seen in a good long while. Great matches, superb continuous storyline build-up with the right (IMO) superstars getting exposure, and the nights celebrity guests weren’t involved in ridiculous segments that overstay their welcome. The night started off in a brilliant way with another war of words between Cena and Ambrose that led them into a six man tag between them, The USOs, and the tag champs Gold and Stardust. A great back and forth match where each team shined, before Ambrose and Cena picked up the victory. Now here is where it gets great, the Authority comes out after the match and re-schedules the Contract on a Pole match between Ambrose and Cena to take place on Raw. That is an unpredictable sense of anything can happen on Raw that has been absent for a while (Rock’s return last week excluded).
Which leads me to the MVP’s of last nights Raw, the matches. The first match I have to praise, unexpectadly I must admit, is Big Show vs. Rusev. They have built a nice little saga for themselves and the crowd was unbelievably into this match. The physicality of these two big men going at it was daunting, Big Show completely dominating the proceedings in the early going, only for Rusev to find an opening and take over. This has been the norm with his matches lately, but it works. The crowd got behind Big Show wanting him to make his come back, and he looked like all was lost when he was locked in Rusev’s signature submission. Mark Henry makes his way down to the ring and interferes, making it unclear as to whether Big Show would have tapped. Great story building there, and I am looking forward to this continuing, bravo.
Next up is two matches (one match of the night IMO) that built up an impending feud between Randy Orton and Seth Rollins. First up Randy Orton went up against Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler in an amazing contest. Slow burning, but physical, and it picked up near the end with near falls and the crowd getting behind Randy Orton. The man is just too good at in ring psychology not to appreciate. Towards the closing minutes of the match, Seth Rollins came down to ringside to observe. In what I described as full going full on Diamond Dallas Page in his RKO execution, Orton threw Ziggler up in the air from the powerbomb position and RKO’d Ziggler mid-air. After the match, Rollins came into the ring and stared down Orton then delivered a curb stomp to Ziggler, the one upsmanship begins. PS. Orton made Ziggler look like a million bucks in this match. Great back and forth.
Next up we had Rollins vs. Jack Swagger, with Randy Orton returning the favor by coming down to the ring to observe the match. This match was pretty much Rollins’ show with Swagger getting in some good offense, purely I think so the camera could cut to Orton’s great mocking mannerisms. After Rollins escaped the ankle lock a couple of times, Rollins was able to pick up the victory with a roll up. Afterwards, Randy Orton makes his way into the ring, makes a great quick this is how it’s done gesture to Rollins then RKO’s Swagger. He then slithers his way to the corner that Rollins is occupying and further builds the future saga between the two. This is what I mean about the nights continual build-up. It’s given time, and great story building and I was eating it up.
The Divas division got some great attention tonight in short lived but entertaining enough bouts. AJ Lee teamed up with Layla on Raw against Paige and Alicia Fox, the great feud between AJ Lee and Paige continues, the two have great chemistry. A great moment had AJ dragging Alicia’s hand to the corner looking for Paige to tag in, Paige refuses before screaming at AJ not to tell her what to do. Stuff like that is gold. The match ended with Layla abandoning AJ, who picked up the victory against Alicia Fox anyhow, she then proceeded to attack Layla for the trouble. AJ Lee and Paige continue to be the best womens competitors the company has had in a long time. I want to kiss whoever discovered the pair of them.
We get another match featuring the cast of Total Divas, with the show in full swing this is just something we’ll have to get used to. Mercifully, that Bella feud has also been relegated to these short matches. But the fact remains, those Bellas know how to put on a match when they try and these Divas do give it all they have when they get into the ring and I do dig how much air time womens wrestlers are getting these days. It’s all love, here.
Now it is time for the main event, a main event that *GASP* was built up through the night via interview segments with its two participants. That is how you build a show, build the anticipation, good on ya. For the match, the entirety of the Authority came to ringside much to the chagrin of Ambrose and Cena. The match was short lived, but aggressive. The crowd was behind it, the Authority was used to further build the saga in a beautiful way. Throughout the match Ambrose forgoes several opportunities to capture the contract in the name of proving a point to Cena, with the Authority laughing at him for it. Ambrose really understands his character. At some point, the action spilled out to ringside, with Orton taunting Ambrose and getting a right hand for his troubles. Cena followed this up with throwing Ambrose into Orton, Kane, and Rollins. Next up, suicide dives from the ring by both Cena and Ambrose. By this point, the Authority had enough and hit the ring to attack our babyfaces. The assault was short lived, with Ambrose and Cena gaining the upperhand. While Cena is distracted, Ambrose makes his way up the ring post to grab the contract and the right to face Rollins inside HIAC.
Words can’t describe how happy I am that Dean Ambrose picked up the victory in this match. I am predicting he and Rollins will tear it up inside Hell in a Cell and I hope the brass has the good sense to make it the main event. With the stipulation added earlier in the night that the loser of the match would go on to face Orton at HIAC I have my doubts. But in any event, the decision to give Ambrose the win over Cena was a great way to say the future is now. I expect the foreshadowing of Orton and Rollins to continue in the coming weeks as well, maybe truly beginning at the HIAC event. Time will tell.
Overall Raw Grade: A (With everything I mentioned plus the STELLAR Bray Wyatt segments throughout the night, and Mizdow continuing to be comedy gold in the match between The Miz and Sheamus… I truly believe this grade is deserved. Bray really knows how to make his presence felt even when he isn’t physically featured on the show, and Damien Sandow is taking what he was given and consistently turns it into one of the most entertaining aspects of the show every week. Great RAW this week. Let’s keep this going.)