I've said it before and I'll say it again.
When WWE is bad, it can be really, really bad. The storylines can be nonsensical, the matches can feel inconsequential and the overall product can feel very, very stale.
However, when WWE is good, it is fantastic. Not only is it fantastic but it is the very best at presenting professional wrestling (or sports entertainment) in the world. No other promotion can touch WWE when it is on its game.
The only thing is that WWE is rarely on its game.
That rarity finally happened at the end of Tables, Ladders and Chairs Sunday night in Boston and occurred again Monday night in Philadelphia, as history was made, and quite possibly, the solidification of WWE's next stop star.
Before we get into the historic happenings, let's jump into the full match results from a jam-packed Wells Fargo Center:
- Goldust def. Adam Rose
- Fandango def. Heath Slater
- Dolph Ziggler def. Dean Ambrose via disqualification
- Rusev & Alberto Del Rio def. Jack Swagger & Ryback
- Neville def. Tyler Breeze
- Extreme rules match – The Wyatt Family def. The Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno
- Charlotte & Becky Lynch def. Alicia Fox & Brie Bella
- WWE World Heavyweight championship – Roman Reigns def. Sheamus
Roman Reigns' year has come full circle
This was not the plan from the beginning of the year, but everything fell right into place for WWE. The timing couldn't have been better.
Just 11 months ago, Roman Reigns entered the Wells Fargo Center for the Royal Rumble to a chorus of relentless boos from the Philadelphia fans.
When he won the Royal Rumble match, the animosity toward him persisted, thus rerouting WWE in a different creative direction with him.
The backlash Reigns received that night traveled with him to multiple cities. It wasn't in every city, but it was in more than WWE wanted for the man it tabbed as its next top star.
Fearing the backlash would reach nuclear levels at WrestleMania, WWE changed course and had Seth Rollins cash in his Money in the Bank contract and win the WWE World Heavyweight title. It still protected Reigns to a certain extent by not having him flat-out lose to Brock Lesnar, but it didn't give him the prestigious title he was destined to claim.
Things fell into place for WWE that night, but things still hadn't quite clicked for Reigns even as he headed into TLC Sunday night, as the Boston fans apathetically watched he and Sheamus have a very physically taxing match.
The angle that occurred after the match, however, finally seemed to help Reigns win over the majority of the fans base. The fans of Boston gave Reigns the thumbs up of approval, but the real litmus test came Monday night in Philadelphia — the same city that started the animosity months earlier.
It turned out, however, that Reigns' momentum carried over to the next night, as the fans of Philadelphia opened their arms and finally accepted him for his faults and all.
And at the end of the night, the irony set in, as Reigns defeated Sheamus to become the new WWE World Heavyweight champion. This may be technically the second time for Reigns, but it felt like the very first time all over again. And he did it in the same city that mercilessly shunned him nearly a year before.
This time around, the fans were with him every step of the way.
Now, WWE did a lot for this to happen. WWE wanted this to happen. This wasn't something that happened by solely organic means.
This was planned and mapped out, which is something WWE fans typically don't want. WWE fans typically want to be able to decide for themselves.
But WWE finally put all of the proper pieces in all of the proper places and it worked out to near perfection.
WWE had Triple H take a devastating beating at the hands of Reigns at TLC Sunday night in order to help endear him to the fans. WWE had Vince McMahon return to television Monday to give him one last hurdle to leap over before finally bestowing upon him its greatest reward.
The result was a great story that played out over the course of the first great episode of Monday Night Raw in a long, long time.
After weeks of porous creative decisions that led to lackluster television ratings, WWE finally broke the chain, for one week, anyway, of negativity energy surrounding Raw and put forth an effort nearly everyone was satisfied with.
More importantly, WWE may have finally cemented him as its next top star. It took a little longer than expected, but WWE finally got there.
And for it to happen in cities like Boston and Philadelphia — two cities that aren't afraid to voice their opinion when asked (or isn't asked for that matter) — only further validates Reigns. If you're over in Philadelphia, you're over.
Even Reigns felt the significance of his victory occurring in Philadelphia, as after the television program went off the air, he grabbed the microphone and thanked the Philadelphia fans for booing him all of those months ago at the Royal Rumble.
He said that it was a proverbial kick in the butt telling him that he needed to improve in order to win over the notoriously tough fan base.
From here, I suppose Reigns will be feuding with The Authority for the time being, but let's not dwell too much on what's to come or what took place months and months ago.
For this night, let wrestling fans finally embrace Reigns, and let's revel in the fact that for one night WWE was not only good, it was fantastic.
Kevin Owens-Dean Ambrose feud may finally get interesting
In other happenings on the Monday Night Raw, Kevin Owens stepped up his intensity level after losing the WWE Intercontinental title to Dean Ambrose at TLC Sunday.
During Ambrose's match with Dolph Ziggler Monday night, Ambrose walked down and decimated them both, including power bombing Ziggler on top of Ambrose. Owens said in a backstage interview that he would stop at nothing until he drove the already unstable Ambrose insane.
Finally! Finally, WWE has thought of something creative to do with Owens and Ambrose. It only took them a month to figure something out.
Hopefully, what is on the horizon is something that both men can sink their teeth into and improve their status in the process.
The New Day segment was a bit strange
In what was a smart decision by WWE that The New Day, The Lucha Dragons and The Usos did not wrestle on Raw after taking part in a proverbial car wreck during their ladder match at TLC.
Instead, all three teams showed some of the effects of their dangerous affair and took part in merely a talking segment.
However, the segment was kind of odd.
First, we had The New Day come out in a more subdued mood, as they were selling their injuries from the night before. But instead of gloating about their impressive title defense, they wanted to show The Usos and The Lucha Dragons respect for their exploits at TLC.
The New Day offered to shake the hands of both teams and they obliged. The New Day then waited until both teams left the ring before finally letting their hair down a little and celebrated their triumph.
Like sore losers, The Lucha Dragons and The Usos took offense to this and attacked The New Day. The Philadelphia fans were already firmly behind The New Day when this segment began, as they was plenty of New Day merchandise to be seen in the arena, but this only made the fans get behind the trio even more and against The Lucha Dragons and The Usos — the supposed noble good guys.
Word from the wise, don't celebrate your major accomplishments in WWE. The good guys will be sore losers and beat you up.
Go figure, Philly got extreme
When you have The Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno at your disposal, and you're putting on a wrestling show in Philadelphia, it's almost an unwritten rule to do something that harkens back to the original incarnation of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Despite The Wyatt Family dominating the ECW stalwarts in a tables match at TLC, WWE had the two teams go at it again Monday night, but this time in an extreme rules match.
As most would expect, chaos ensued. And it didn't help anyone involved that match took place in Philadelphia, which probably compelled the wrestlers to take a few more chances hoping to impress the sometimes blood thirsty Philadelphians.
At the end of the day, it worked. Bodies were ravaged and the fans rejoiced.
When it was all said and done, The Wyatt Family prevailed once again over the extreme quartet after a very lively affair.
With this feud seemingly reaching its end, the direction The Wyatt Family goes into from here will be interesting to see.
Becky Lynch receives an assist
The heel ways of Charlotte and her legendary father Ric Flair continued Monday after the former teamed with Becky Lynch to defeat Brie Bella and Alicia Fox.
Near the end of the match, Lynch unknowingly picked up an assist from Flair, who tripped up Fox, which allowed Lynch to put Fox in the dis-arm-her to pick up the victory.
I guess Lynch will eventually see the footage of the match and disagree with the underhanded tactics of those dastardly Flairs.
Tyler Breeze loses again
It didn't take very long, but Tyler Breeze went from a hot act in NXT to a jobber in WWE. That notion was further cemented on Monday when Breeze lost in uneventful fashion to Neville.
Don't fret, as Breeze will probably get his win back at some point and no one will gain anything from this endeavor.
Note: WWE will return to Philadelphia on Monday, March 21 for another episode of Monday Night Raw.