Each week, Mary “Queen of the Busted Open Nation” Grater reviews WWE Monday Night Raw.
One of the most highly-anticipated episodes of Monday Night Raw, live from Chicago, in years.
Speculations and rumors of hometown hero CM Punk returning had everyone’s emotions running high.
Would WWE be able to keep the show on course and contain the hostile environment?
We open Raw, and CM Punk’s music hits. The crowd comes unglued. But as they wait to see their savior, Paul Heyman walks out. He grabs a mic, and as the crowd chants “CM Punk,” Paul tells them he thinks he deserves louder than that.
The crowd goes from boos for Paul to immediate cheers, even managing to get louder. Paul sits down with his legs crossed – obviously in homage to Punk – and says he is there to tell them the crowd story about a “Paul Heyman guy.”
He begins telling the infamous story of how Punk was never wanted in the WWE, and that he still isn’t wanted in the WWE. He hits every point about his struggle, him not conforming, him being outspoken, and him not having the right look. (The crowd at this point is pretty much worked into frenzy.) Paul says this is his “pipebomb” about CM Punk – who is not there tonight.
Heyman says that if Punk was there, he would be doing what he always does, and that is being the best in the world. Paul says there is someone to blame – there is a reason why Punk couldn’t take it anymore – and Paul blames the fans.
He goes on, saying the fans can boo all they want, but the truth hurts. This is why he chooses to lie all the time. People are more accepting of lies than the truth because the truth stings. Paul tells them that when Punk was with him, he was the longest reigning WWE champion of the last 25 years. Paul provided Punk with what he needed – but then the fans took Punk away from him.
Heyman tells the crowd he doesn’t just blame them, he also blames The Undertaker. He claims that Punk’s downward spiral started when he failed to beat Undertaker at last year’s WrestleMania. Paul wants revenge on Taker, and the only way to do that is to end the streak. He says the only man that can do that is Brock Lesnar.
Cue Brock’s music.
Brock heads out and says he doesn’t make claims he can’t back up. He says Taker is scared, and Lesnar will end the streak.
Brock and Paul go to leave when Mark Henry’s music hits. He makes his way to the ring, but Brock quickly dominates Mark, and F-5’s him through the announce table.
From there, we were treated to an above-average Raw. (Maybe fans should threaten to hijack shows more often.)
The Real Americans
Cesaro had a rematch with Big E from last week’s Raw that once again ended in a DQ. Jack Swagger interfered in the match, hitting the Swagger Bomb on Big E. The two got into words, when Big E hit the Big Ending on Cesaro from behind. Zeb Colter got on Jack for not going in and saving Cesaro.
Later in the night, Big E faced off with Swagger. The match ended immediately when Cesaro interfered and hit The Neutralizer on Big E. Swags and Cesaro began to argue, which led to a shoving match, and ended with Cesaro setting up Jack for the Big Swing. (Pop from the crowd keeps getting bigger.) Colter was able to defuse the situation, and got the two to hug it out, but the tension was still there.
Sheamus and Christian
The two had a brutal match in their progressing feud. While the crowd gave Sheamus the expected “booing” treatment, it didn’t take away from the match. Sheamus was able to hit the Brogue Kick and emerged victorious. Renee Young tried to interview Sheamus after the match, but Sheamus was brutally attacked by Christian.
Both Sheamus and Christian have been outstanding in these matches. Fans need to recognize this is about as perfect a throwback feud as you’ll get. The story line is great, and the two keep delivering great matches. Unfortunately, the feud is getting lost in the shuffle with everything else going on right now.
- The Usos finally defeated The New Age Outlaws, and captured their first Tag Team Championship. (About time!)
- Emma and Santino defeated Summer Rae and Fandango.
- The Bella Twins defeated Aksana and Alicia Fox after inexplicably hanging out with them backstage.
- Dolph Ziggler got the win over Alberto Del Rio with the help of a distraction by special guest Aaron Paul.
- John Cena came out to placate the crowd and addressed The Wyatt Family again. Bray Wyatt responded with another thought-provoking promo.
- Lana came out and introduced Alexander Rusev from NXT.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK
There were multiple highlights this week, because the WWE was forced to put effort into the show in order to prevent the crowd’s attempt to hijack Monday Night Raw. In the end, it was almost as if WWE hijacked the hijack … if that makes sense.
First off, the main highlight was the Paul Heyman “pipebomb” that opened the show. It was a brilliant move by the WWE to put Paul in the position to take the heat from an upset Chicago crowd. They knew in the end it wouldn’t have an adverse effect on Paul’s character. Also, you could legitimately see that Paul was upset that Punk wasn’t at Raw. He effortlessly transitioned the promo into his current client’s match against The Undertaker. I could write another blog about this promo alone – I probably will – but if you didn’t understand why Paul Heyman is one of the greatest characters in pro wrestling history before, you do now.
Coming in at a very close second was the promo between Daniel Bryan, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. “Nuclear heat” isn’t even the phrase. I haven’t seen that much hate for two villains in so long, and the whole segment gave me chills.
And it was genius.
They managed to get the #hijackraw hashtag trending on Twitter because they brought it up. Daniel Bryan included the crowd and was a great replacement for Punk. Stephanie and Trips were on a new level of evil. Hate them all you want, this is exactly what they want. They handled the hostile environment beautifully, and made the best of the situation.
The last highlight was The Shield vs. The Wyatts 2. Another fantastic match between the two factions saw the emergence of a new star. Seth Rollins was MVP of the match, hands down. His explosive run to start off the match showed how amazingly athletic he is, and that he has been overshadowed way too long. At one point in the match, Rollins went to tag in his partners, and they were nowhere to be found. So when Dean Ambrose went to tag him later on in the match, Seth jumped off the apron and started to head to the back. Roman Reigns went to get him and asked, “What are you doing?” Rollins said he is sick of being the glue holding The Shield together, and they need to work their stuff out. A rally from Reigns and Ambrose wasn’t enough to overcome the numbers game, and The Wyatts emerged victorious again.
No one saw Rollins betraying his brothers before; now, the descent among The Shield just got even more intriguing.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE NIGHT
I’m closing with this because it is fitting.
Daniel Bryan faced off against Batista in the main event. That wasn’t the disappointment. The match was OK for what it was, and it was longer than any of Batista’s matches so far, so I’ll spare him.
The match ended in a DQ when Batista purposely threw Bryan into Randy Orton, who was on commentary ringside. Orton then attacked Bryan. Bryan fought back against Orton, but eventually, was taken out by Batista, and then Triple H, who was standing ringside with The Authority.
I’m disappointed that this far into this story line, no one came out to aid Bryan. No one. I’m all about the slow burn if this leads to Bryan somehow getting into the main event at WM 30, but come on! All these people talking about getting screwed, and still, no one has rallied with Bryan? (And Cena and Show after Raw goes off air does not count.) I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been a faction against The Authority yet, and the end scene felt like another slap to the face of the fans. Even Steve Austin had a helper every now and then.
And that is why this segment gets the “You Stink” award.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to address that my personal disappointment was that CM Punk didn’t emerge from the crowd to save Bryan from The Authority. It was set up to look that way, and it was done on purpose – as a slap to the fans. I don’t know when we will see Punk again, but I can only hope that somewhere in this fight-against-the-system story line, this is setting up for a triumphant return, for Punk to help a fellow indy guy that was never supposed to make it in the WWE.