Thoughts of a Pleb: A Raw step forward?

Wrestlemania weekend is finally over. It’s bittersweet, because on one hand Wrestlemania is generally when the product is at it’s hottest, and highest quality. On the other, I may actually get some sleep now. It all culminated in Raw last night, the show that widely considered to be one of the best of the year, partially because of the Wrestlemania hangover: all the fans stick around for Raw the next night too. This year though was a bit different. The word I keep using to describe was underwhelming.

Last year we had a Ryback heel turn, Dolph Ziggler cashing in his Money In The Bank briefcase and won the World Heavyweight Championship, and The Undertaker wrestled his first match on Raw in 3 years, as he teamed up with Kane and Daniel Bryan to take on The Shield. The year before saw Brock Lesnar’s return to the WWE. We could be forgiven for expecting something equally as huge this year.

Did it happen? Not really. There were a few key talking points, but nothing at the level of a Lesnar return. That’s not to say it was a bad show – it definitely wasn’t. I was just always waiting for something bigger to happen.

For me, the most exciting thing that happened was the event that could spark the revival of the Divas division. Paige. Paige debuted on the main roster, and the reigning NXT Woman’s Champion was placed straight into what will hopefully be an epic feud with AJ. She came out to congratulate AJ on her title defence at Wrestlemania, only to be slapped and challenged to a match, with the Divas Championship on the line. For AJ, it was 295 days as champion – and no longer counting. Paige is your new Divas Champion, and is the only person ever to hold a WWE Title and a NXT Title at the same time. She is also the youngest ever Divas Champion. Records are falling for Paige already, and there are so many big things in her future.

Paige Divas Champion

 

Another thing I found really interesting was Cesaro’s expected break from the Real Americans. What I didn’t expect, and I would be surprised if anyone else predicted this, was for him to defect from Colter to Paul Heyman. I was shocked when it happened, but I think it’s a great move. I’m sure Cesaro has the ability on the mic, but it’s not something we’ve really seen much of, so with someone with as much star quality as Cesaro has, giving him a manager as a safeguard could be a very smart move. What I’m really intrigued about is whether they’ll be heels or faces. Cesaro has been smiling a lot this last week or so, so you’d think he would be a face. His swing is so over, his pure power is so over – Cesaro is so over. The fans are ready to love him. But Heyman has obvious heat, having just managed Brock Lesnar when the streak ended, and WWE would be foolish not to capitalise on that. This is a pairing I am looking to seeing develop.

Cesaro and Heyman

 

And of course, Evolution are back baby! Randy Orton and Batista teamed up to face The Usos on Raw, but they used it more as an exercise to take their frustrations out. I thought it was actually a really well done segment, after all the bickering and cheap shots between the two since the Rumble, it did a good job of putting over how destructive Orton and Batista can be when they’re working together. Add in Kane, Triple H, and the power that Stephanie McMahon yields, and they are one hell of a formidable stable right now. Unfortunately for them, they’re up against the most popular superstar in the company, and the group that’s been the best thing in the WWE ever since their debut: Daniel Bryan and The Shield. Add in Vince McMahon as the power behind them (presumably), and you have two very even groups, that can put on some classics. It’s faction warfare at the top of the WWE, and I love it!

Bryan and Shield

 

Those were the three main things of note for me, but other incidents I can mention are Bad News Barrett’s return to the ring (defeating Rey Mysterio), and the Wyatts vs John Cena, Sheamus and Big E. It was really interesting to me to see Cena as the face in peril for most of the match, I assumed since Big E has the lowest reputation of the three it would be him. I’ve already said that there are things I would’ve done differently in the Wyatt-Cena feud, but I can’t fault them for the story they tell whenever they’re in the ring. All the Wyatts play their roles to perfection, and Cena is doing a decent job of not knowing how to respond, or what to do next.

There was also of course the Ultimate Warrior’s speech, but it just didn’t click for me. There was just something about it that felt out of place, maybe it’s just my unfamiliarity with him coupled with his eccentric promo style. And in addition to Paige’s main roster debut, Aleksander Rusev had his first match on WWE TV, while vignettes were shown for Bo Dallas and Adam Rose. That’s a lot of new faces for one show, which means we are about to get a big turnover in the roster. I’m looking forward to it. Most of what I’ve seen and heard from NXT in general has been excellent, so I have a lot of faith in these guys stepping up to the main roster.

All that is positive, but I have to make a comment about the crowd. They were loud, but it was a different crowd than in past years. When Lesnar came back, the place went crazy. Ziggler cashing in last year may be one of the loudest pops I have ever heard. This year, there wasn’t the same intensity. I think I’ve worked out why. The last couple of years the biggest pops were for returns, or hardworking talent that was underrated, or being misused by the company. This year, the fans got exactly what they wanted. We all needed to see Daniel Bryan reach the top at Wrestlemania. They were loud, but the difference this year was that the WWE actually wanted us to have that reaction, and designed it. We’re not complaining, because we think they finally did the right thing. The crowd wasn’t as legendary as in recent years, because they were happy. That’s a good thing.

Bryan champion

 

You know, in total I’ve posted around 5000 words in 3 days. That’s a lot of writing. Don’t expect anything from me tomorrow, but hopefully I’ll be back before the end of the week. I feel like I should say another thank you to all of you, since on Monday our daily view record got broken again. It is ridiculous that in this month alone (and we’re only 8 days in), we’ve had more views than in the whole of 2013. It’s all down to you guys, the more views we get the more motivated we are to write.

What did you think of Raw? Where do you see the Cesaro-Heyman association going? Are you a Bo-liever? Get in touch with any comments, questions or even requests in the comments underneath this article, or by the usual methods below.

 

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Email: wrestlingsplebs@hotmail.com

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