By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton and Batista Interrupted Stephanie McMahon
The sight of any member of The Authority kicking off Raw nowadays makes my eyes roll, but this segment wasn't half-bad. Stephanie thankfully didn't pander to the crowd, but she wasn't as aggressive or as vicious as she was during that awesome ending angle last week. Orton and Batista also played their roles well here and had a few clever one-liners, but their performances weren't anything memorable. I guess this was one way of hyping up the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania without having Daniel Bryan in attendance.
Christian def. Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship
Given who was involved, you had to know this was going to a barn-burner of a match. Everyone worked hard, the match was given very good time and featured extremely entertaining action with very few dull moments. The finishing sequence was fantastic and it was great to see Christian win a match clean for once. It was nice to see the Intercontinental Championship shown some love for a change and I look forward to Christian vs. Big E on WWE Main Event. Speaking of whom, it was probably best for Big E to stay off commentary since he doesn't usually flourish behind the booth.
Sin Cara def. Damien Sandow
As a massive fan of Scooby Doo and gang, I enjoyed his appearance here, even if it was a brief one. That being said, the match was completely pointless. It was a minute-long minute that basically saw Sandow get buried (it's an overused term, but it is appropriate to use here) and Sin Cara hardly benefited from the win since the live crowd couldn't have cared less about him. Couldn't Scooby appeared alongside a returning Rob Van Dam instead?
Los Matadores def. Curtis Axel and Ryback
This was yet another match that served zero purpose. Los Matadores are a comedy act and Axel and Ryback are a terrible tag team. If they are indeed contending for the WWE Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania, then why have them lose here? If nothing else, it was cool to see The Shield gain vengeance over Ryback and Axel and I'd like to see them added to the tag title match as well, but I'm not holding my breath.
Michael Cole Interviewed Triple H
While Triple H's promo was solid, this was nowhere near as good of a segment as the one that closed Raw last week. As I said with Stephanie earlier, at least he didn't act like a babyface here, but it would have been better off just cutting his own promo without the whole sit-down interview environment. I enjoy his weekly interviews with Cole on the WWE.com website, but they don't transcend well onto television.
Cody Rhodes def. Fandango
It was a fine follow-up to the match between Fandango and Goldust from last wek, but was it really necessary? The match was nothing out of the ordinary and the fact Cody needed a distraction from ringside to pick up the victory was pretty cheap. I hate to sound like a broken record, but he and Goldust deserve much more than a spot in the battle royal at WrestleMania. Put them in the tag team title match, dammit!
The Miz Interrupted Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Manganiello
It's always a treat to hear Hogan's awesome entrance music on Raw and seeing him alongside Arnold (no, I will not attempt to spell out his last name more than once in this review) was also a cool sight. They didn't do much besides promote WrestleMania 30 and their new movie, but I was glad to see Miz make an appearance for the first time in forever. Granted, it wasn't anything amazing, but it was a decent segment for what it was that saw everyone involved get a little physical.
Big Show def. Titus O'Neil
We saw this same exact match on Main Event and that match was better than this one! Seriously, this was that bad. It was quite clumsy at various points but was thankfully kept brief. O'Neil has no heat right now and that is due to the poor booking of his character since breaking away from Darren Young. Show didn't need the win, and thus the match was a total waste of time.
John Cena vs. Luke Harper Went to a No Contest
Similar to their match from SmackDown, Cena and Harper worked a great match, though the pace was a bit slower than it was during their last encounter. Harper scored plenty of offense over Cena and the commentators put him over strongly throughout. It was also encouraging that he didn't decisively lose yet again to Cena, so the non-finish was a smart move. Cena sitting in the ropes with the sheep mask on his face was also a humorous visual.
Naomi def. Divas Champion AJ Lee by Count-out (Non-title)
This wasn't much of a match, as it only went a few minutes before ending on a count-out. I guess it saves the eventual rematch with Naomi getting her revenge for a later day. Vickie Guerrero punishing AJ by putting her in a Divas Invitational at WrestleMania makes sense from a storyline standpoint given their history, so I can't complain. It gets all the Divas on the card and puts AJ's title in jeporady for the first time in recent memory. The tease of a split between AJ and Tamina Snuka is also intriguing, even if I have no desire to see Tamina turn face.
United States Champion Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins def. The Real Americans
With this being the first time that these two tandems have clashed, they delivered an awesome match and reminded us fans just how fun tag team wrestling can be when showcased properly. Everyone was given the spotlight at one point or another, but Rollins in particular looked like a star in this match. It was a nice win for The Shield, even if it doesn't put them in tag team title contention. The live crowd didn't seem to care for Kane announcing that he and The New Age Outlaws will be facing The Shield at WrestleMania, and I can't say I blame them. Regardless, as long as The Shield are sticking together (for now), then I'm content.
Brock Lensar Called Out The Undertaker
I liked the fact they saved this for the main event segment since this feud has received hardly any focus since it first began a month ago. Undertaker's casket entrance took up most of the time, and it as a retread of a basic segment we've seen multiple times before in past Undertaker feuds. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it didn't exactly feel fresh, either. I assume WWE doesn't want 'Taker getting physical before 'Mania to not risk injury, so I was fine with them not brawling. However, Lesnar desperately needs to get heat back on him, so that should come on next week's go-home show. Even after this, this match still feels like it's lacking something, though the match will likely be great.
WWE has definitely been delivering great episodes of Raw in the last month or so and this show kept that strong streak alive. There were several excellent matches (the Fatal 4-Way, Shield/Real Americans, Harper/Cena) that made up for all the pointless squash matches (Show/O'Neil, Matadores/Ryback and Axel, Sandow/Cara). Furthermore, the appearances from Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Arnold Schwarzenegger (making up for the lack of Daniel Bryan, who thankfully sold his beat down from last week) in addition to the announcements of more matches being added to the WrestleMania card made this show noteworthy. On a side note, congrats to Razor Ramon/Scott Hall on the induction into the WWE Hall of Fame! He is very deserving of the honor and rounds out an already strong class of 2014. While I am genuinely excited for The Show of Shows in just less than two weeks, here's hoping WWE can deliver a strong go-home show next week to convince viewers that this event has the potential to be phenomenal if booked correctly.
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