By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan Interrupted The Authority
Why must every episode of Raw kick off with The Authority and Orton? Seriously, I find it hard to believe they are actually big draws in terms of ratings. The segment accomplished essentially nothing, as The Authority or Orton didn't say anything we didn't already know. If nothing else, it was nice of Bryan (who received a deafening reaction from the live crowd) to acknowledge history by mentioning how Orton once kissed Stephanie McMahon back in 2009. Aside from that, there wasn't much about this segment worth noting, except for the fact that Betty White's appearance was kept short and sweet. Is that really how Big Show is going to return, though?
The Wyatt Family def. Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes and Goldust
I absolutely despise seeing the Rhodes brothers reduced to enhancement talent after such a great tag team title run, but at least they have great in-ring chemistry with The Wyatt Family. Mysterio has been floundering since his return in November, but at least he continues to be involved in fun matches. This bout was no exception, as it was well-built throughout and had a fantastic finish. Bray Wyatt catching Rey Mysterio in Sister Abigail was a thing of beauty.
Fandango def. Santino Marella
It seems like Fandango faces the same people every week, whether it is R-Truth, Xavier Woods or Santino. Or basically, the entire undercard. The match was complete throwaway and Fandango's win does nothing for him considering it was over Santino. It is such a shame that Emma is being relegated to this comedy fodder instead of taking part in the Divas division, but perhaps in due time.
Sheamus and Christian def. The Real Americans
Zeb Colter's pre-match promo was fitting given how neither Sheamus nor Christian are from the United States, and Antonio Cesaro's promo was also well done The match itself was highly entertaining that was filled with hard-hitting and exciting action. Every competitor looked great and kept the live crowd engaged the entire time. The contest helped hype the upcoming Elimination Chamber match as well.
Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler
As good of a match that this had the potential to be, the whole thing felt rushed, even the entrances. These two had great matches over the course of 2013, so it was disappointing this bout ran so short, but I guess time constraints could have been an issue. Batista's received his biggest pop to date when he came out to save Ziggler, and although he was briefly booed, he had them cheering him again after putting Del Rio through the commentary table, which was a cool spot.
The Usos def. Curtis Axel and Ryback
It was a decent match for what it was, but it was all about boosting the momentum of The Usos, so at least it was effective in that aspect. The Usos are red hot right now and I expect them to win the tag team titles sooner rather than later, but I would rather see the title change go down at WrestleMania 30 and not Elimination Chamber. The New Age Outlaws were fine on commentary, but I guess Vince McMahon couldn't resist his typical bathroom comedy with Billy Gunn. How stupid.
Mark Henry def. United States Champion Dean Ambrose by Disqualification
It's nice that Henry is back on WWE TV, but this would have been the perfect opportunity to bring back someone such as Rob Van Dam or Evan Bourne. In the end, it was probably a smart move considering the match and Henry's return was overshadowed by what happened afterward between The Shield and The Wyatt Family, which was just plain awesome. Words can not explain how excited I am for their clash at the Elimination Chamber event. As for the U.S. title, I think we are past the point of it meaning anything when Ambrose drops it despite holding it for so long, but perhaps they are keeping it on him so he can defend it against Roman Reigns and/or Seth Rollins at WrestleMania.
Cameron and The Bella Twins def. Divas Champion AJ Lee, Aksana and Alicia Fox
For those unaware, WWE announced early Monday that Naomi is still recovering from an eye injury sustained last week on Raw and will be back in action in a few days, hence why she didn't make an appearance here. It was your typical Divas tag team match for the most part with Cameron avenging her fellow Funkadactlys by pinning Aksana. There was no progression of the AJ-Naomi feud, of course due to Naomi's absence, but I still expect to see them face off for the Divas Championship at Elimination Chamber.
Daniel Bryan Attacked Kane
If Kane was placed on "administrative leave", why did he still make an appearance on this show? His promo was nothing out of the ordinary, as we have seen him play inferior to The Authority on multiple occasions in the past. Bryan coming out to brawl with him, though, was a refreshing change of pace and it was nice to see Bryan aggressive for once. I still don't want to see this lead to 'Mania match between the two but rather a one-off match on Raw at some point in the near future.
John Cena def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton (Non-title)
If you have seen one of their matches, you have seen them all, but I thought this one particularly stood out and was the best of the bunch as far as their recent matchups go. The crowd was hostile at some points, but didn't not as much as they were at the Royal Rumble, which was good. It wasn't an excellent match (or as excellent as Orton vs. Bryan from last week), but it was solid enough to send the crowd home happy and give viewers the impression that Orton's title is in major jeopardy come Elimination Chamber. I simply hope that he doesn't ultimately retain, which would be way too predictable. Then again, if the Royal Rumble was any indication, WWE clearly doesn't have a problem going with something we see coming from a mile away.
This was by far one of the best episodes of Raw in recent weeks. It wasn't phenomenal by any means, but the last few shows have been so dreadfully boring that this show felt fresh in comparison. The main event match certainly wasn't fresh, but I have no complaints. There were several other matches on this show going out of your way to see and the announcement that Lita will be going into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before WrestleMania 30 this year (and deservedly so) was cool, too. One match was added to the Elimination Chamber card (Del Rio vs. Batista), but I expect more matches to be added in the next week or so. The Los Angeles crowd was hot all night long, so kudos to them for making the show that much more fun. WWE found the solution to one of their biggest problems: If they don't want the fans to hijack the show with their chants, then give them quality programming and great in-ring action, which is exactly what they did here. If they can keep this momentum going on the road to WrestleMania, then they will be on the right track.
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