I find it ironic that the final Monday Night Raw of 2014 ended up being one of the best-received shows they’ve done in months. It appeared to be a serious attempt to get things back on track as we head into WrestleMania season.
Rollins, along with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury, was out as a guest on a special edition of the Cutting Edge Peep Show (a combination of Edge and Christian’s in-ring shows). Rollins extended an invitation for John Cena and Brock Lesnar to join him earlier in the show. When Cena refused to answer his request Rollins responded by knocking Christian out with his Money in the Bank briefcase before he and Big Show took advantage of Edge. Cena rushed to his aid, but paused after being given an ultimatum where he was forced to either reinstate The Authority or watch Rollins deliver a curb stomp to Edge’s surgically repaired neck. After much hesitation Cena reluctantly agreed to Rollins’ demands thus putting The Authority back in power. Rollins still attempted the curb stomp, but was thwarted by Cena who then received a handy beatdown from him and Show. As the heels made their way up the ramp, they were greeted by Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar. Heyman shook hands with Rollins as Lesnar looked none too happy. Triple H’s music unexpectedly hit as he and Stephanie came out (with champagne glasses nonetheless) to partake in the celebration. It now appears that The Authority is back stronger than ever. While some feel their return could’ve been held off until the new year, the fact remains that it was a strong closing segment that further solidified Seth Rollins as WWE’s #1 heel. Rollins’ performance alone is worth going out of your way to see in case you missed it.
Daniel Bryan to Return at Royal Rumble
WWE had spent all day teasing that Bryan would be appearing to make an announcement regarding his future. It was certainly pushed in a way that made you think he was retiring. Instead, he recounted the major events over the last year of his life such as winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, marrying Brie Bella, losing his father, and his recent medical problems. To cap it off he announced his entry into the 2015 Royal Rumble match. The crowd exploded at the news. With there being backstage concern over Roman Reigns’ position, it now appears that Bryan is a serious candidate to win the Rumble. All I can say is that WWE will be a lot more interesting with him around.
Realistic Promos Take Center Stage
One of the main criticisms of the current WWE product is the lack of genuine emotion in promos. It often seems like everyone on the roster, save for Heyman, recites lines from a badly written script instead of going out to say what’s really on their minds. Steve Austin even addressed the issue in his recent podcast with Vince McMahon. Well, it seems that WWE has gotten the message since last night featured some of the best promos we’ve seen on a single episode of Raw in ages. Following Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev, Ryback came out to talk about the path he took to realize his dream of becoming a WWE superstar. They aired video footage from his Tough Enough days and the period he was a member of the Nexus. It was arguably the best promo of his career. Although he’s being groomed to eventually put over Rusev I came away from this segment with a newfound respect for him. A later segment saw Cena put over Edge as being one of his greatest opponents and most decent people he’s met in the business. While this did play into the show-closing angle, there was nothing scripted about the words coming from Cena’s mouth. The Usos were also given time to address the audience following their Tag Team Championship victory over Miz and Mizdow in a scene reminiscent to what they did last week with Ziggler. These post-match interviews are a nice added touch that I’d like to see more often.
Final thoughts: For the first time in weeks there appears to be some genuine momentum on Raw. Hopefully, it’s a sign of what’s to come in 2015.