WWE Raw Monday saw the reformation of a group of future Hall of Famers and the celebration of a current Hall of Famer's life.
The fans at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Ala. got to witness what was in my opinion another good chapter on the road Extreme Rules.
Before we get to the highlights and observations from this show, here are the results of the matches that took place Monday:
- No. 1 contender's tournament for Intercontinental Championship (First round) – Rob Van Dam def. Alberto Del Rio
- Ryback and Curtis Axel def. Cody Rhodes & Goldust
- Paige def. Alicia Fox
- Randy Orton & Batista def. The Usos by disqualification
- No. 1 contender's tournament for Intercontinental Championship (First round) – Cesaro def. Mark Henry
- Alexander Rusev def. Xavier Woods
- No. 1 contender's tournament for Intercontinental Championship (First round) – Sheamus def. Jack Swagger
- Fandango & Layla def. Santino & Emma
- No. 1 contender's tournament for Intercontinental Championship (First round) – Bad News Barrett def. Dolph Ziggler
- 11-on-3 handicap match – The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins) vs. Jack Swagger, Bad News Barrett, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Alberto Del Rio, 3MB (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre), Alexander Rusev, Titus O'Neil & Fandango went to a no contest
Now for my observations:
WWE celebrates the life of The Ultimate Warrior
The WWE made the classy move Monday by celebrating the life of The Ultimate Warrior, who died April 8, just days after he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
WWE started the show with every member of the locker room on stage, most of which in Warrior t-shirts, and did a 10-bell salute. A video package of Warrior was shown as well. The WWE then showed the crowd, who all had Warrior masks.
Throughout the program, WWE showed highlights of Warrior's career, including his win over the Honky Tonk Man at Summerslam back in 1988 for his first Intercontinental Championship. The company also showed his epic win at WrestleMania VI over Hulk Hogan where became the first man to hold both the Intercontinental and WWE titles at the same time.
The superstars paid tribute as well as some wore their Warrior t-shirts to the ring and The Usos went away from their usual face paint and donned the paint of the Warrior.
The reformation of Evolution
The theory of evolution is that things progress over time. The theory based upon moving forward.
Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton proved otherwise because they're bringing something back from the past, and that is their faction from a decade ago called Evolution. Evolution was essentially a 21st century version of the Four Horsemen. The group didn't have its Horsmen-like strut Monday, as the three men came out with bad intentions for The Shield.
Earlier in the night, Batista and Orton told Triple H that they wanted nothing to do with The Shield and that he had to handle the trio on his own. That was until The Shield attacked Batista and Orton during their match with The Usos. This was enough for Batista, Orton and Triple H to finally get on the same page and reform Evolution. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon put The Shield in the main event of the show without revealing the group's opponents. Their opponents turned out to be the first 11 heels WWE could find to throw out there.
The Shield held its own, but the numbers game eventually caught up with the trio, which left the door open for Evolution to come out with their old music and all. Evolution then laid a beat down on The Shield as the show went off the air.
I think the return of Evolution is a good thing as long as The Shield is the group that stands tall at the end of the story. I doubt that Evolution is going to have another two-year run like it did the first time around, so it would make sense for the proverbial old guard to put over the proverbial new guard in this story. I must say though, it will be nice to hear Evolution's theme song on a weekly basis again.
Are we getting Kane versus Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules?
With Triple H looking as if he's going to be fully entrenched with The Shield-Evolution storyline, that will leave WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan looking for an opponent for Extreme Rules.
Enter: Kane. Stephanie McMahon berated Kane Monday and asked him where did the monster inside of him go. Never mind the fact that she's the reason why the monster went away to begin with, but I suppose everyone forgot about that. Kane then began morphing into a monster again, grabbed his mask and vowed to destroy Bryan.
Nothing has been set in stone yet, but it looks like we're going to get Kane versus Bryan one-on-one at Extreme Rules, unless WWE adds the former tag team into The Shield-Evolution program.
For Bryan, being saddled with Kane at Extreme Rules is kind of a let down. Sure, there's a lot of back-story between the two as they were once WWE Tag Team Champions. It also makes some sense given the story that is being told, but I figured Bryan would get a bigger name for his first title defense. The only good I see coming out of this is that Bryan should retain his title.
There are still two more weeks of television before the event to get this potential story hot, so I'm willing to holdout total judgment until I see all of the pieces come together.
By the way, Bryan was not a Raw Monday as he was enjoying his honeymoon with his new wife Brie Bella.
John Cena tried to be funny again
John Cena found it necessary to show his comedic side again Monday, as he clowned The Wyatt Family by showing doctored photos of the trio's heads on other people's bodies. I'm sure that stopped being funny in 2005.
The whole point of Cena's silly humor was to get Wyatt to lighten up. He told Wyatt that there was no need to bring the monster out of him again because it doesn't exist. Cena then called Wyatt's punk card and challenged him to a cage match at Extreme Rules so that Luke Harper and Erick Rowan could not interfere. Wyatt accepted.
If Cena was actually funny, I probably wouldn't mind him trying to be funny. But since he isn't, it doesn't do anyone any favors. Not even him. Superimposing people's heads on other people's bodies? Really? If I a dollar for every time I saw that being done in wrestling I'd be filthy rich right now. I probably would have bought and sold WWE's stock by now.
Intercontinental title tournament underway
The WWE began an eight-man tournament to see who will become the No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship, which is currently held by Big E.
The eight men in the tournament were Rob Van Dam, Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry, Cesaro, Jack Swagger, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and Bad News Barrett. The entire first round played out Monday, which set up semi-final matchups of Sheamus versus Bad News Barrett and Van Dam versus Cesaro.
I love tournaments in wrestling, which makes me yearn for the days of the King of the Ring. I don't see a bad reason to have one.
I like this tournament especially because it gives some life to the Intercontinental title. There's actually a reason to pay attention to it now besides for when Big E is carrying it to the ring. Having tournaments like this instantly lends the title some credibility and the Intercontinental title could definitely use some.
This may not be going out on a limb, but I believe this tournament is Cesaro's to lose. WWE is getting firmly behind Cesaro, and with Paul Heyman in his corner it should mean good things in his future, including winning this tournament and then winning the Intercontinental Championship. However, Cesaro needs some music as soon as possible.
Bad News Barrett and Dolph Ziggler have a great match
This was easily the best match of the night. It comes as no surprise when you put two guys in the ring that can definitely hold their own in the ring.
Barrett and Ziggler seemed to good chemistry with each other and the fans bought into the match.
Paige's submission is devastating
I've only seen Paige's scorpion crosslock once before and that was on NXT ArRIVAL when she made Emma tap out to it. It looked very painful then and it looked every bit as painful when she locked it on Alicia Fox Monday night.
Paige's previous submission was similar to this, but she upped the ante with the scorpion crosslock and the result is one of the most painful-looking submission moves in all of wrestling.
My back hurts just writing about it.