By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Batista Quit WWE
I liked the idea to have Evolution open the show since one of the biggest questions coming out of the Payback pay-per-view was what was going to be next for them. Triple H cut a good promo and it was logical for Batista to be fed up since he has basically been lied to by not HHH, but management in reality since his return about not getting what he was promised. Batista sold his aggression well but I didn't expect him to "quit", though he has been expected to take time off for some time now to promote his new movie. It was a newsworthy opening segment and left fans with more questions than answers.
United States Champion Sheamus and Rob Van Dam def. Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett and Cesaro
This was a good follow-up to the midcard title matches at Payback and it consisted of some very good in-ring action. The styles of all four competitors meshed nicely and it made for an enjoyable contest. It was given a substantial amount of time and Cesaro walking out on his partner put more heat on him in the process. Meanwhile, RVD pinning Barrett to pick up the win for his team set up him for a championship rematch at some point in the near future. In other words, this match couldn't have been booked better.
Big Show Interrupted Lance Stephenson (Damien Sandow)
Man, and I thought this crap with Sandow couldn't get any worse. Him mimicking Stephenson garnered good heat from the live crowd, but for viewers watching at home who don't know who Stephenson is or his significance (like me), it did nothing. The basketball shooting shtick was stupid but thankfully kept brief before Big Show of all people came out and mercifully put an end to it. Show hasn't appeared on WWE TV in months but his return didn't feel memorable whatsoever. Sandow was comical at times, but this whole segment was pointless
Bo Dallas def. Kofi Kingston
Kingston can get a good match out of almost everybody, so it wasn't much of a surprise that this was a nice contest. Dallas isn't fantastic in the ring, but he can definitely hold his own and he did so here against Kingston. It was a typical victory for Dallas who cut a nice heel promo before the bout that garnered him good heat. The squash matches can only go on for so long, but I'll cut him some slack since he debuted only a few weeks ago and has some time before it gets old.
John Cena Interrupted Stephanie McMahon
Stephanie continues to flourish in the role she's currently in and she cut another great promo here recapping the events from Payback. She also began the build for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view by announcing the fate of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the event depending on whether Daniel Bryan will be able to compete. Cena interrupting was a nice change of pace since he's hardly interacted with anyone but Bray Wyatt in recent months. He had some genuinely funny one-liners and stood up for Bryan by bringing up their history from last summer, making this one of Cena's better promos in recent memory. He and Stephanie had a strong verbal exchange that led into Cena's subsequent match with Kane nicely.
John Cena def. Kane by Disqualification
Not only did the match start during the commercial break, but it also ended abruptly and in anticlimactic fashion. Cena and Kane have never had great chemistry, but this match was mediocre at best and hardly any of it was worth watching. The non-finish protected Kane, but Cena still managed to get the better of him during the post-match anyway, so what was the point? I realize Kane had a minor meltdown afterward, but this guy might be contending for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a few weeks, so why make him out to look weak?
Los Matadores def. 3MB
We've seen this match so many times in the past that I stopped caring about their matches months ago. It didn't matter anyway because it solely served as a backdrop to Hornswoggle's bald head being revealed to the world, which looks terrible but maybe that's the point. Why not shave his entire head? Please, lord, make the never-ending nonsense between these two teams stop. It's far too painful to endure anymore.
Alicia Fox and Aksana def. Nikki Bella in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
You had to see the punishment of Nikki coming after Brie Bella "quit" the WWE at Payback. The only issue was that although the odds were stacked against Nikki, the crowd isn't behind Nikki enough to care. Thus, the post-match attack on her didn't pack as much of a punch as it should have, but the live crowd did pop for whenever Fox tossed her into the barricade.
Adam Rose def. Jack Swagger
The Chicago crowd would have reacted to Rose like no other audience has before, so why WWE opted to not have him appear at Payback is beyond me. The crowd on this show was a bit more livelier for Rose than past crowds have, but that might have been because he didn't appear during the third hour when the crowd would have been already exhausted. Rose and Swagger worked a decent match with Rose predictably picking up the victory. I'm still very much enjoying Rose at the moment, but he needs to evolve in some form or fashion relatively soon. Winning matches is dandy at all, but his matches aren't long enough for fans to see what in-ring skills he truly possesses.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan def. WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Non-title)
The first portion of this match was much of the same from the two teams following their prior encounter on last week's edition of Main Event, but it was still an enjoyable contest from start to finish. The Wyatt Family and The Usos always work so well together and this match was no exception. They picked up the pace down the stretch and had several near-falls that kept the crowd engaged in the action. The Wyatt Family winning sets them up for a tag title match at some point in the near future, presumably at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler to Qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match
As expected, Del Rio and Ziggler had a very fun match like only they can. They've fought multiple times over the last year and a half, but it's hard to complain when their matches are always so great. The action was entertaining and the final few minutes were especially well done. Fans couldn't care less about Del Rio, so why would he win over Ziggler? Ziggler has been overlooked for so long that a win here could have seen him regain relevance, but apparently WWE doesn't seen it that way and that's a massive shame.
Rybaxel def. Goldust and Sin Cara
Goldust must have really done something for him to make Cody Rhodes mad for him to pick Sin Cara as his partner. The match was nowhere near as good as it was at Payback, probably because there wasn't a story to be told this time around. Cody picking partners for Goldust is an odd way to further this story, but at least it's something different. I still think the end game is Cody turning heel on Goldust, but when that will be remains to be seen.
Rusev Was Named a Hero by the Russian Federation
This segment dragged on far longer than it needed to. I honestly almost fell asleep watching it. I would've been fine with the segment's long length if someone ultimately interrupted it, but no one did, so it left me scratching my head as to why this even happened. Rusev gained some heat from it, yes, but that could have been done other ways that weren't so boring and drawn out. It appears Rusev's "feud" with Big E isn't continuing after all.
Seth Rollins Betrayed The Shield and Joined Evolution
There have been many rumblings for a while that Evolution would recruit a new member following Batista's temporary departure and some fans figured it'd be a member of The Shield. I never saw it playing out that way, much less Rollins being the one to turn. That said, Rollins attacking his fellow Shield members was extremely shocking and made for one hell of a moment. No one saw that coming and it was certainly one of the best swerves WWE has done in a long time. Personally, I would've kept The Shield together a little while longer because they have so much left in the tank but at the same time, Rollins breaking up my favorite faction in all of wrestling today makes me want to legitimately despise him and the rest of Evolution, thus making them excellent heels. I can't wait to see where this goes next and what the future holds for The Shield, or what's left of it.
Many fans, myself included, figured that this would be a hot show coming off the great Payback pay-per-view but it was hardly anything exciting. Batista "quitting" generated some buzz and Seth Rollins joining Evolution is all that will be remembered from this show, but as a whole, this episode of Raw was a disappointment. There's a few weeks left until Money in the Bank, so there's still time to build toward that event. If nothing else, the night ended on a high note and left many viewers eagerly anticipating what next week will bring.