Welcome to another edition of WTF for Monday Night Raw, where I count down the Top 5 moments from WWE’s flagship program. After checking out the list, please take a moment to check out the new WWE 50 book.
5. SETH ROLLINS
I didn’t see that coming. When dissension first began to show itself within the ranks of The Shield, I assumed the first major crack in the foundation would come from a disagreement between Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Now of course, we don’t know if this spells the official end of The Shield yet, but it’s certainly an interesting chapter that I didn’t think we’d be reading.
4. THE USOS
I’m a fan of seeing genuine emotion on display in the ring. When the Usos finally captured the WWE Tag Team Titles on Raw, I saw real emotion between two brothers who probably spent their whole lives (literally) dreaming of being champs. It brought a smile to my face, and after all, isn’t that what WWE is after?
There were some great ones this week. “RIP Gale,” which was an homage to Breaking Bad for Aaron Paul may have been my favorite. But don’t sleep on “Terra Ryzing,” Bore-Tista” or “Skinny jeans.”
2. FIRST SEGMENT
Nearly every Superstar I ever asked has told me that Chicago is by far their favorite city to compete in, and Monday’s crowd was evidence why. Their passion for hometown hero CM Punk was unlike anything I’ve ever seen … and that’s no exaggeration; they were seriously intense.
Equally intense was Brock Lesnar’s attack on Mark Henry. That’s how you convince crowds that he might actually win a match that he’ll never win (against Undertaker at WrestleMania).
As for sending Heyman out to Punk’s music, it was a stroke of brilliance. Regardless of who you blame for CM Punk not being on the show, you have to appreciate WWE’s attempt to own the moment. On top of that, they also managed to get the crowd so amped up that they seemed tired of chanting CM Punk’s name over the next two hours (though they were back on top of their game at 10 p.m.). I’d say that was by design.
1. BRYAN, STEPHANIE, and TRIPLE H
I don’t know what I liked most. The Chicago crowd’s enthusiastic “Yes” chants? The boos that made Stephanie’s words impossible to hear (by the way, I’ve never heard louder boos)? The continued support for CM Punk? The truth that was spoken while being disguised as storyline? Whatever it was, it was gold.
So it looks like Mr. McMahon is a cartoon character again. It’s gonna be tough to beat his last foray into animation.
All five WWE Elimination Chamber posters.
YES Network’s Forbes SportsMoney predicts big things for WWE, as they begin negotiations for a potential new TV home for Raw and SmackDown.
Like his father before him, Vince McMahon keeps meticulous handwritten booking ledgers. Get a look at them in the new WWE 50 book.
5. ORDER OF OPERATIONS
The order in which the Elimination Chamber participants walked out in the first segment was subtle, but very effective in elevating Cesaro. And I’m willing to bet it was no mistake. Of course, WWE started by sending John Cena to the ring first. It just makes sense, considering he is the true face of WWE and one of the best promos on the roster.
Being the second Superstar out is a very coveted spot. It gives that Superstar, in this instance Cesaro, the opportunity to verbally go one-on-one with the company’s top star. Everybody else after Cesaro was telegraphed … there’s just no way around that. And all their comments felt a bit obligatory … again, there’s just no way around that. With that in mind, being the second Superstar out is very prestigious, and hopefully is a reflection on how WWE feels about Cesaro’s future.
Christian’s ability to instantly work as a heel (given Daniel Bryan’s enormous popularity) is the sign of a true professional. My guess is that Christian’s heel antics were a one-time deal, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Captain Charisma as a “baddie” again. His work as “The Rock’s favorite Superstar” in 2003 and his 2005 rivalry with John Cena were among my favorite moments in recent memory.
3. ROMAN REIGNS
With CM Punk missing in action, there’s room toward the top for some new blood. Monday’s clean pinfall victory over Mark Henry will go a long way in helping Reigns be that new blood.
2. THE FINAL SEGMENT
Much like the go-home shows for Royal Rumble or Survivor Series (or any other pay-per-view that features multiple Superstars in big matches), you had to expect a huge schmoz at the end of this show. But just because you saw it coming didn’t mean it wasn’t cool. Any time you get a dozen or so Superstars tossing chaotic haymakers in the ring, it’s a sight to see.
1. CESARO vs. CENA
I normally cringe when I hear crowds chant, “This is awesome!” In this case, though, they were 100 percent correct. Cesaro vs. Cena was awesome. And amazingly, Cesaro managed to elevate his already skyrocketing status, despite walking away with the loser’s portion of the purse.
Happy Presidents Day!
10 years ago today.
arRIVAL … Get it? By the way, plenty of good NXT/Performance Center info in the new WWE 50 book.
The new WWE 50 book features Vince McMahon’s reaction to Alundra Blayze dumping the WWE Women’s Championship in the garbage on WCW Nitro. Only $18.63…