By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Randy Orton Roasted The Authority
Is anyone honestly buying that Orton is back with The Authority full-time? It's not a matter of if he goes after Seth Rollins, it's only a matter of when. That said, his unconventional "roast" of The Authority was pretty entertaining and showcased his charisma on the mic when he's motivated. I also liked how he said he was "only kidding" only to flash a grin at the camera, adding more interest in the Handicap main event than there was originally.
Daniel Bryan def. Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett (Non-title)
These two are capable of having a good match, and they had a solid outing for the time they were allotted, but most of the match consisted of commercial time. By the time they returned from commercial, it was essentially over, so that was a disappointment. Barrett lost another non-title match, and in other news, the sky is blue. Ugh. I'm glad Bryan has at least some direction going into WrestleMania, but this is a major downgrade from what he was going only a few short weeks ago. A true shame.
Dean Ambrose def. Stardust
What is WWE's obsession with putting R-Truth on commentary? I wouldn't care about him either way, but I'd rather have him in the ring than on commentary because at least then he wouldn't be taking away from the action. The midcard champion getting beat only to get his title stolen by Truth is the same story they've been telling for weeks. Move on already. They've unfortunately managed to squash any interest I had in this upcoming Intercontinental Championship Ladder match. Oh, and the match between Ambrose and Stardust was a total afterthought.
Paul Heyman Addressed Roman Reigns
My words can't do this promo justice, but in a nutshell, it was phenomenal. The anger and aggression Heyman showed in his promos both last week and this week were nothing short of stellar, and the fact you couldn't tell if the mic cutting out was a part of it or not really added to it. Heyman playing off the recent UFC rumors by stating Lesnar will unify the WWE and UFC title belts (which is not at all happening so don't even think about it) was intriguing as well. Heyman is the only factor in this WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania that's been appealing so far. WWE has done nothing else to make fans give two craps about that match. Brock Lesnar's presence here was completely useless, but if nothing else, Heyman playing him while he was standing in the ring was a nice visual.
Ryback and Erick Rowan def. Big Show and Kane
The silence Rowan receives when he makes his entrance speaks volumes. It all goes back to the insanely stupid decision to have Show go over him in their feud in December for absolutely no reason. The crowd couldn't have cared less about the match, and who can blame them? Show and Kane were involved, enough said. What was worse than the match itself was Stephanie McMahon completely emasculating Show and Kane afterward. I have zero desire to care about an impending feud between them, especially now that they've been made out to look like cowards.
Wiz Khalifa Performed
What a waste. I understand this was his hometown, but other than that, I saw no reason for this to occur. They get some free mainstream publicity from it, sure, but what was it really worth it? I've always said in the past that musical acts on Raw are best when they're kept short and painless and that's what this was, but it was made worse after the excellent use of celebrity Jon Stewart last week. That contributed to storylines, this didn't (with the exception of Damien Mizdow announcing his intentions to compete in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but you could have done that anyway).
AJ Lee def. Summer Rae
The Bella Twins' promo was what it was (and what it was was not good), but at the very least, it gave the women more mic time that they desperately need. However, I would've been fine with AJ getting an entrance over them showing that promo. The match was fine, but fans haven't been given any reason to care about Summer, so they sat on their hands for most of the match. I'm happy we're actually getting a women's match at WrestleMania that has some history behind it, but this wasn't the best build for it.
United States Champion Rusev def. Curtis Axel (Non-title)
The match was everything it needed to be and what you thought it would be: a total squash. Axel has a nice thing going for him right now, but it was necessary for Rusev to go over in dominant fashion. The post-match bit with John Cena locking Rusev in the STF until Lana gave him a match at WrestleMania was exactly what I feared we'd get. It's such a lame way of getting to their WrestleMania match because we've seen it done before and you'd think Lana would've been smarter to not accept. It also basically says that if you ever want anything in life (that you didn't earn), you should choke someone out to get it. Excellent advice.
The New Day def. WWE Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (Non-title)
What better way to further the terrible momentum of Raw than to have The New Day appear? Worse yet, have them win! The match was decent, but without enough time, it was forgettable, but the ending outcome killed it for me. The crowd's apathy for The New Day is painfully apparent, so the decision to have them beat the tag champs in clean fashion was simply appalling. If WWE really wanted them in the tag title match at WrestleMania, which they shouldn't be anyway, why not go old fashion and have them win a No. 1 Contender's match? Beating the champs does nothing to help the credibility of the straps or of the ones holding them.
Naomi def. Natalya
I'm all for the women getting more television time, but this match was beyond pointless. Much like Barrett vs. Bryan from earlier, most of the match took break during the commercial break. Thus, how do they expect anyone to care about the bout and who wins? Naomi won, but it didn't further any sort of story aside from teasing tension between Natayla and Kidd. The way they went from one match to another was refreshing, though I can't say many people had much incentive to tune in after the break to watch Los Matadores in action.
Los Matadores def. The Usos
Yes, Los Matadores are still on WWE TV in 2015, and much like The New Day, they won. Honestly, what more can possibly be said? This was yet another case of the match taking place during the commercial break, but even if it didn't, it wouldn't matter because Los Matadores are terrible. If they want to do a multi-team match for WrestleMania, that's fine, but I'd rather see The Ascension and The Prime Time Players involved instead of The New Day and Los Matadores.
Bray Wyatt Called Out The Undertaker
Wyatt's recent promos have bordered between being original and repetitive, and while some of the content of this promo was more of the same from him, it was very well delivered and that's all you can really ask for. You had to know Undertaker wasn't showing up here despite how much it was teased, but the visual of the lightning striking the rocking chair in the middle of the ring was pretty cool. How Wyatt will refrain from repeating himself in the next few weeks remains to be seen, though.
Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins and Randy Orton in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
From the opening segment, it could be seen coming from a mile away that Orton was going to turn on Rollins here, but it was well built. The match was an afterthought and so was Reigns' win, but the moment of Orton officially turning on Rollins packed a punch. There's only a few issues with it: for one thing, Rollins was made to look like a total fool. Secondly, Orton gave Rollins his comeuppance on this show, so what's the point of them facing each other now? I still look forward to the match, but logically, there isn't a reason for me to considering we just witnessed Orton get his revenge on Rollins.
I can't believe how much of a roller coaster Raw has been the last few weeks. It's either very good or very bad and never in between, and that's an issue. There were hardly any highlights from this show aside from the closing segment and the promos from Heyman and Wyatt, as everything else was unbearably terrible. Through it all, I still excited for WrestleMania and I believe most of the matches have potential, but the build has been far too inconsistent. They still have two more shows to deliver a strong final build for 'Mania, but will it be too little, too late?