I felt a little underwhelmed by Batista’s return, and I know I wasn’t the only one. I was never the biggest Batista fan in the world, but I was relatively excited to see him back. The first mistake of the return was having Randy Orton involved. He cut a promo directed toward Triple H & Stephanie before Batista interrupted him, and the crowd wasn’t quite as excited as you might have guessed.
Triple H & Stephanie looked pleased with Batista’s appearance before they left the ring, leaving Batista to cut a promo directed at Orton, telling him he was back in WWE to win the Rumble, headline Wrestlemania 30 and win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Fair enough, but I don’t think this return lit the world on fire like WWE had hoped.
The Rhodes Brothers & Big E Langston vs The Shield
The faces in this match, the WWE Tag Team & Intercontinental Champions respectively, seem to be floundering booking-wise, without much direction. Meanwhile the Shield have the tension building between Ambrose and Reigns, but ultimately they haven’t had much going on other than the involvement with CM Punk. For all of its improvements, WWE really could use more midcard feuds to round out its shows instead of having these types of random matches week in, week out.
As far as randon six man tag matches go, this one was quite good, and since all 6 men are in the Rumble you could argue that it helped build towards that match (as if the Royal Rumble match even needs build). This match was mostly about the Shield working together quite well, with Reigns stealing the show, as has become the custom lately. In back to back moves he caught Cody Rhodes, who was attempting a disaster kick, with a mid air superman punch, before nailing Goldust with a bone-rattling spear.
It was actually Rollins who picked up the pinfall, however, as he defeated Big E Langston by pinfall following his finisher the “Black Out”, which is essentially a badass looking curb stomp. The Shield would celebrate and high five in the ring before leaving, meaning WWE is trying to make it seem like they are clearly on the same page headed into the Rumble, which to me signifies a potential breakup happening as soon as the Rumble. The Rumble is the perfect place for a stable break up with the easy opportunity for one member to turn on another.
Daniel Bryan segment
For me, the Bryan/Wyatt angle is really falling flat. Bryan came out and claimed that he was never in fact brain washed by the Wyatts, but he joined them as some sort of elaborate plan to get Bray Wyatt 1 on 1. I realize I need to suspend disbelief in wrestling, but of all the ways to take the storyline this is the lamest. Daniel Bryan really couldn’t think of a better way to get a 1 on 1 situation with Bray than to join the family for 2+ weeks? Come on.
I loved the idea of Bryan being brainwashed by the Wyatts, torn at the idea of never getting his fair shake, but they seem to have rushed the entire feud and the end result is going to make the Wyatts appear incredibly weak, especially Bray.
It is announced that Daniel Bryan will face Wyatt 1 on 1 at the Royal Rumble, which leads to the question will Daniel Bryan pull double duty, or miss the Rumble match? Many have him pegged as one of the favorites, so if he does indeed miss the Rumble match and winds up only competing with Bray that is yet another pitfall of this damning feud.
After a quick squash match seeing Fandango go over Xavier Woods, the promo heavy Raw continued. Kane was out to discuss his recent actions, namely chokeslamming CM Punk last Friday on Smackdown. He didn’t waste any time, as he quickly called for Punk to come down to the ring.
Kane made a forced apology (Stephanie had ordered him to apologize after all) and Punk said that it was cool, he was also sorry, before attacking Kane with the mic. Kane bailed, seeing as he is unable to attack back according to orders from the Authority as apart of his job description, and Brad Maddox came down saying that if Punk wanted to fight, he could fight one of the New Age Outlaws, who made their way to the ring.
CM Punk vs Billy Gunn
The heel, “Corporate” New Age Outlaws might take some getting used to, but I think they can be great in the role. Billy Gunn lost a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to Road Dogg, meaning he had to face Punk, while Road Dogg made his way to commentary stating “Billy is horrible at Rock, Paper, Scissors, but he is good at decimating scrawny individuals, and that’s what’s about to happen here”.
You’ve got to give it up for The Badass, he is in tremendous shape for a recently turned 50 year old. Road Dogg had some interesting things to say, including that the Outlaws were interested in competing for gold again, and it was announced that they would be competing against Goldust and Cody Rhodes for the tag team title at the Royal Rumble kickoff. I’ll be honest, I would love to see them win the belts again.
Punk would gain the victory after hitting Road Dogg with a suicide dive, and then hitting Billy with the GTS, scoring the pinfall. Following the match Brad Maddox came out to say something to Punk, but was quickly interrupted by Kane who informed Punk that Sunday at the Rumble he would be the #1 entrant into the Rumble match.
Rey Mysterio vs Alberto Del Rio
I’m not sure how many times we’ve seen this match between Raw, Smackdown and PPVs, so I’m just going to go with “too many”. Del Rio would go over cleanly with the cross armbreaker, forcing Rey to tap, but the match was really just an avenue to get Del Rio into the ring and to be interrupted by Batista, which is exactly what happened after Del Rio’s win.
Batista hit a pretty weak spinebuster, and followed it up with a powerbomb that I don’t think qualified as a “Batista bomb” since he didn’t fall to the ground when delivery it, but maybe any powerbomb by Batista is a Batista bomb. Anyhow, he showed better intensity stomping about and shaking the ring ropes than he did when delivering the moves on Del Rio. A better appearance than the initial return segment, but still an underwhelming Raw return as a whole for big Dave.
Big Show & Brock Lesnar confrontation
Big Show made his way to the ring first and cut a pretty damn good promo, including a spot on impression of Paul Heyman that had me rolling. He then invited Brock to “come down, get in his face” and they could see what would happen.
Brock came out, but stopped short of the ring before heading back up the ramp. Big Show again got on the mic and demanded Brock get his ass to the ring and “get in his face”, leading to Brock coming back out and again stopping before getting into the ring to think. This time he decided to get into the ring, and got into Big Show’s face as he had demanded.
The two would jaw momentarily until Brock backed up and feinted towards Show, causing him to flinch and then laugh. Brock then shot for a double leg, but Show shrugged the attempt off with ease, sending Brock into the corner. Big Show would go flying towards Brock, who dodged and began hitting Show with shoulders in the abdominal region, until Show just picked Lesnar up and tossed him over the top rope.
Brock responded by tearing apart the announce table and tossing two monitors, before grabbing a steel chair. Big Show would foil his attempt, however, by blocking his entrance back into the ring when Brock tried sliding in with the chair. This was a good segment to build up Big Show’s chances of wining on Sunday to a more casual brand of fan, and it was pretty entertaining any way you look at it. Brock will go over at the Rumble, we all know that, but it should be pretty entertaining while building Lesnar up as an unstoppable animal on his path to a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
The Usos vs Harper & Rowan
The Usos have been on a major roll lately, and they seemed to be moving up near the top of the totem poll as far as tag team competitors go. The Family worked as the monster heels in this one, spending much of the match slowing the pace and trying to wear down the Usos. Bray began talking on the mic as the Usos were being pummeled, asking the crowd “is this not what you are here to see?”
Daniel Bryan would eventually run down to attack Bray as the Usos gained control in the ring. Harper, distracted by Bryan’s attack on Bray Wyatt, was rolled up for a 3 count by the Usos. The Usos stay on a roll and it added a little more build to Bryan vs Wyatt.
Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton
This match was made earlier in the night by Triple H, who wanted Orton to “right the wrongs” from last week. As you would expect, Orton came out very aggressive, attacking Kingston mainly with punches and ground attacks, until Cena arrived and ran in to attack Orton, disrupting the match. Cena would beat Orton all the way up to a luxury box, where Orton then made a dash for the streets, apparently having a get-away vehicle, driver and all, waiting for him to make a cunning escape. Cena, plans foiled, heads back into the ring dejected.