By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Interrupted WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton
Why must every episode of Raw start off with Orton and/or The Authority? It has grown tiresome and unoriginal. Why not kick off the show with a match for once? It was the same, stagnant promo from Orton that we always hear and The Authority wasn't much better. They established that Orton will be facing his Elimination Chamber opponents over the next few weeks and that his opponent for later in the night would be Daniel Bryan, but that was about it.
The Shield def. Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston, Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston
The combination of Langston, Mysterio and Kingston was a fun one albeit a bit random. Nonetheless, it was a well worked match from The Shield as always. It was obvious from the get-go that The Shield was going over given who was involved, but I still enjoyed the action, regardless. Dean Ambrose making the blind tag will further the tension between him and Roman Reigns, but why have Langston get pinned yet again? Also, bonus points to JBL for pointing out that Ambrose hasn't defended his United States Championship in forever.
Christian def. Jack Swagger
It is interesting to note that it was five years ago next week that Christian returned to WWE in a segment with Swagger. Has it really been that long? Anyway, this was another very good match from these two. Their SmackDown match meant more, but the crowd was still behind Christian throughout the bout and reacted to the near-falls at the end. Swagger's recent losses seem to indicate that he will be breaking away from The Real Americans soon, but why? I would rather see Antonio Cesaro go babyface, and The Real Americans should stick around in the tag team division for a little while longer.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws def. Cody Rhodes and Goldust in a Steel Cage Match
The match had a slow start, but it picked up the pace down the stretch and the crowd came alive for the finishing sequence. It was given good time as a whole, but one might argue that it dragged on a bit too long. The steel cage didn't even serve much of a purpose considering the competitors couldn't climb out, and that a steel cage tag team match was held less than a month ago on Raw. The final few minutes were well done and Rhodes' moonsault off the top was a very cool visual. I am not as worried about Rhodes doing it as I am about Kurt Angle only because Rhodes' body isn't in terrible shape at 28-years-old. The New Age Outlaws winning clean was a nice touch, though it still irks me that they still act like babyfaces. No tension was teased between the Rhodes brothers, but I assume they will breaking up soon to set up their rumored WrestleMania match.
Titus O'Neil def. Zack Ryder
I didn't think a segment could confuse me more than this one did. First, it was nice to see Ryder on Raw for a change, even if he was jobbing out to his old NXT rookie (which was pretty pathetic by the way). Second, O'Neil's new entrance theme is terrible and live crowd didn't react at all, but I supposed his heel turn will take a while to take over. Third, what was with The Miz coming out during the match and complaining on commentary? I consider myself a massive Mizfit, but not even I could defend this trainwreck. Wasn't he just a face last week and hanging out with Ryder backstage in a video on WWE's YouTube channel? Total garbage.
Emma def. Summer Rae in a Dance-off
When the dance-off was first announced, I cringed. I mean, how often are these things actually entertaining? Thankfully, Emma entered the ring for the first time and hopefully it is for good. There wasn't much to the dance-off since the live crowd was dead for Emma's signature dance, but I guess it will take time to get over with audiences. I wouldn't mind a mixed tag team match with Santino Marella and Emma against Fandango and Summer at some point since it was awesome down in NXT a few months back.
Sheamus def. Curtis Axel
I was pleasantly surprised with how much offense Axel scored over Sheamus throughout the bout and how long the match actually lasted. However, in the end, it was basically a glorified squash match. The crowd wasn't completely dead for this contest, as they were into Sheamus' offense. Sheamus may be getting good reactions for now, but he needs character development to avoid going stale like he did before he got injured last summer.
Alberto Del Rio Interrupted Batista
The mic work from both guys was decent, but it is just impossible to care about this program. Batista continuously asked Del Rio the million dollar question (why he has a problem with him), and Del Rio didn't give much of an answer. I'm assuming the brawl will lead to a match between the two at Elimination Chamber, but if the crowd reaction was any indication, no one will care. Hell, I am a fan of Batista and even I found this painful to watch.
The Wyatt Family def. Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth and Xavier Woods
Did anyone expect anything other than a squash match from the moment this was announced? I was fine with Truth and Woods being involved since they're enhancement talent anyway, but it is a shame that Ziggler had to be a part of the losing team after his amazing promo on the WWE App last week. Michael Cole mentioned it on commentary, but nothing beyond that. The match was solely used to boost the momentum of The Wyatt Family going into their upcoming match against The Shield, who cut a great promo after the contest concluded.
Naomi def. Aksana
It was an exceptional match by Divas standards and shockingly went longer than one would think. Of course, it was all about Naomi, which is logical given that she has earned a Divas Championship match against AJ Lee. I honestly don't have anything bad to say about this, but it would help if they announced the title match for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
Daniel Bryan def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton (Non-title)
Why is it that Orton and Bryan always have better matches against each other on television than they do on pay-per-view? This proved to be the case with their series of matches last summer, in December and on this show. It was an excellent match that was given great time. The fans were slow to react at first, but they were definitely into it after the second commercial break. I was afraid Kane's interference would cause a screwy finish, but thankfully Bryan emerged victorious anyway, in clean fashion, no less. They should have just ended the show on that note as opposed to having Orton and Kane get the better of him, but I will settle for Bryan picking up the win.
I was pleasantly surprised not to see John Cena a part of the show, but he is currently dealing with an eye injury, so that would explain his absence. As for CM Punk, he was not mentioned at all throughout the show, which was disappointing. He was/is one of their biggest stars, and the various chants for him over the course of the night show that fans won't be forgetting about him as quickly as WWE thinks. Raw will be in Chicago next month, so that should be interesting. Even still, they should have made a storyline out of his departure to silence the chants or something because keeping quiet about it will make fans want to chant more for him. In regards to the rest of the show, it was a snooze fest. The second and third hours just dragged on and on with no end in sight. The main event saved the show from being completely throwaway, but I expected more given the buzz around WWE right now and that it is WrestleMania season. Here's hoping things starting heating up soon with WrestleMania 30 right around the corner.