Welcome to the first Raw Afterthoughts of 2014 - where we break down last night's Raw program in more detail than we can during a show recap. Got thoughts, opinions, questions of your own? Be sure to weigh in below in the comments, or hit us on Twitter
We went Old School last night on Raw. I love the simple and straightforward touches that WWE puts on for this night. The announcers don the old school blazers from the 80's, they use the old TitanTron and stage setup and the ring ropes. Even the production graphics call to an era gone by.
Sadly, last night's show was a minor miss for me. The effort was there to give the show the old time feel, and I applaud it, but I felt numb to the whole thing. Part of it comes from the live reaction. Some reports say the building was lively, but it came across on TV so flat and dead. Visually, it looked like fans were into some guys and spots, but the audio wasn't there.
I do enjoy seeing the legends on these shows too. My favorite moment of the night was the surprise return of Jake Roberts. When his music hit I didn't recognize it at first but it was a once it clicked for me, it became a great moment. Those who have followed his road to recovery had to see this as a cool moment. I know I marked out for it. And while Rikishi and Too Cool (Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay) were never a favorite act of mine, they were fun to see in their short match with 3MB.
I was glad they held off on Jake hitting any moves - like hitting his trademark DDT - with the hopes they're saving it for the Rumble. I know it's been said that he is hoping to get a moment like that and I would love to see it. And overall, I would love to see the legends as a whole do more to give a rub to today's talent. I think it would be great for all involved.
Speaking of today's talent, I was really disappointed with the follow-up to the Daniel Bryan story. Jim Ross said in his blog that WWE needed to hit a home run, but this felt like a bloop single in its place. They created such a hot cliffhanger on last week's show, but this follow up was just flat.
What I was hoping to see was Bryan being brainwashed at the Wyatt Compound. I want to see Bryan being aggressive and dominating opponents. Rather, we saw his team lose in a roll-up on Harper after some miscommunication. I don't think this is the worst thing in the world, but the only thing I can see is this angle being short term in order to get Bryan further over as a face and elevate Bray Wyatt. Well, that didn't work out for them tonight.
Other Points of Note:
The Beast Faces The Show...
Big Show faced off with Brock Lesnar last night. It was an unexpected turn for me to see him do this. As much as I'd like to see Lesnar face off with newer talents or fresh opponents, there is history there and they have had some good matches in the past. I think they could be setting up a Rumble moment, or a potential singles match for these two.
Lesnar had some great facial expressions while working with Henry, and Show did a good job of being serious. It helped erase that dumb image going into the New Year's week show when Big Show was dancing in a diaper.
Worth pointing out is that Lesnar took a strange bump when Show rag-dolled him around the ring. It looks like he tweaked his ankle and he did limp to the back. I would expect him to be okay by Rumble.
Best of the Shield...
Roman Reigns was put in the spotlight last night. In Piper's Pit, Roddy called him out and asked if he would be the best of the Shield if he beat CM Punk in the main event. Piper was solid, as were all three members of the Shield in that segment. They did a great job of continuing to tease the dissension between the members of the Shield.
Punk and Reigns had a slow start to their match, but it picked up through the middle and into the finish. Punk looked like he was barking a lot of instructions at Reigns in the early going especially. The finish picked up well, and Reigns going over made logical sense and it played in well to the current story.
Speaking of Ambrose, he had to be tickled. He got a chance to verbally spar with Piper, fight with the New Age Outlaws, and be "snaked" by Jake the Snake. Quite a night for the verbal leader of the Shield.
The Quick Strike:
- The continued video packages for Batista are just simple and effective. Something straight out of Rob Van Dam's return playbook.
- I'm thrilled that it appears Jerry Lawler just ate some bad seafood and isn't having an issue with his heart. That said, it was ironic that they put over Lawler's medical issues via the App on the same show that Gene Okerlund brought up his old 1-900 hotline.
- Finally, a little life out of Randy Orton. Orton is so robotic and monotone normally, but last night he seemed to flow well and had a good exchange with Ric Flair.
- Another week, another solid outing from the tag champs, Cody Rhodes and Goldust. And who saw Goldust hitting that huracanrana?
- Ryback actually was entertaining on commentary during the Langston/Axel match. I assume that is Langston's next program going forward.
- Speaking of Langston/Axel, the live crowd sat on their hands a bit til Langston started to hit power moves at the end.
- Get ready for the epic rubber match of the century: Sandow/Khali III - "Officials with Vision". I can't wait to see how they have an official flub this one up!
- If you didn't read that previous point in "sarcasm font", please re-read it with the appropriate mental adjustment. I get that they can't push everyone to the main event at one time, but Sandow showed so much promise in his match with John Cena that it would have been great to see better follow-up.
- It looks like we're going to Alberto Del Rio vs. Batista at some point, given Del Rio's targeted promo on The Animal. I am guessing Batista squashes him at some point, either on TV or at the Rumble.
- None of the Del Rio vs. Sin Cara match seemed to work for me. They had Del Rio beat him like a jobber, then Del Rio went off on a promo on Batista. It took away anything that the Sin Cara character had going after beating Del Rio twice within the past month.
That's all for this week. We'll be back next Monday with more Raw coverage right here on Ring-Rap.com.