By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Shield Addressed Evolution
It was logical for The Shield to respond to Evolution following the attack that closed last week's Raw and I enjoyed their intense promo. Dean Ambrose did most of the talking, Seth Rollins kept his bit short and sweet and Roman Reigns did the same. I really liked that they wasted no time in going right after Evolution as they entered the arena in their limousine. I would have liked the brawl to a last a bit longer, but it was a small preview of what to expect, so it was good that they didn't give it away just yet.
Rob Van Dam def. Jack Swagger
I expected more of a match from these two since their initial encounter on SmackDown from a few weeks ago only lasted a minute, but it was the exact opposite. Hell, it wasn't a match at all! They have the potential to have a good match together, but I get that this was used to further the feud between Adam Rose and Swagger. It'll take time before Rose gets over with the audience, but I have hope that it will. Also, where was Cesaro? Isn't he currently feuding with RVD?
Divas Champion Paige def. Alicia Fox (Non-title)
I've been saying for a while now that the only way to make people care about the Divas division is to give them more mic time on Raw. I was happy to see Fox cut a promo before the match even if the live crowd didn't have much of a reason to care. The match itself lacked heat, but it was all about Fox decimating Paige only for Paige to get the quick victory. Fox's post-match meltdown garnered her good heat and it looks like there might be an actual story forming in the Divas division for once. Woohoo! Fox isn't great in my opinion, but she is underrated and I'm be completely content with her feuding with Paige until AJ Lee returns.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan Addressed the WWE Universe
Bryan recapped the last nine months of his journey nicely and how he has overcome every obstacle put in front of him. It had been rumored on Monday afternoon that Bryan required neck surgery, so it's unfortunate to see that those reports were accurate. Bryan has had so much bad luck since he won the title at WrestleMania it's ridiculous, but I surely hope he comes back better than ever and stripping him on the title won't be necessary.
John Cena and WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos def. The Wyatt Family
Oh look, another SmackDown rematch. I didn't have as big of a problem with it as I usually do if only because this match was good enough to do again on the flagship show and I found the rematch even better than the original. Everyone involved worked hard, provided several exciting spots and the Rowan was the right Superstar to take the pinfall loss for his team. It made sense to give Cena a win after his losses last week, and it also made for a feel-good moment for the live crowd.
Evolution Responded to The Shield
It was a solid promo from Evolution and everyone played their parts well, but it didn't feel as hot as The Shield's promo from earlier on in the night. If anything, it felt unnecessary especially if both factions would be featured in yet another segment later on in the night. Less is more, people. At least the announcement of Batista vs. Roman Reigns gave viewers something to look forward to for the rest of the night.
Nikki Bella def. Natalya
I have no problem with Total Divas storylines carrying over to WWE TV as it gives the women some storyline support to their matches, but has it really come down to not liking someone else's artwork? That's stretching a bit much, don't you think? The match was actually passable if not good, but the crowd couldn't have cared less and the Divas holding up numbers at ringside was just plain stupid. Based on what happened afterward, it looks like a Natalya heel turn might be on the horizon, but I'd much rather see Cameron be the one to turn heel. She is annoying to no end.
United States Champion Sheamus def. Curtis Axel (Non-title)
Axel has little to no heat at the moment, nor does Rybaxel, so it wasn't a shocker that the live crowd wasn't into the action. Even still, they worked a decent match to the best of their ability. Both guys are great workers, it's just that their characters are so stagnant that no one had any reason to care. This felt more like an enhancement match for Sheamus more than anything else.
United States Champion Sheamus def. Ryback (Non-title)
Unlike Sheamus vs. Axel, this was a great match that exceeded expectations. They had a very good matchup on SmackDown a few months ago and this was much of the same. There were various reversals and both guys looked strong by the end. They have much better chemistry than one would think and the finish was very well done. I expected something of note to happen to warrant this match happening on this show and not on SmackDown, but perhaps it was only done to kill time.
Stephanie McMahon Addressed WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan
The crowd didn't even bother to boo Stephanie as she entered because they had been completely drained by this point in the show. She didn't say anything that couldn't have been said in a backstage segment and it only set up Kane's attack on Bryan. I realize that was their way of furthering the feud between the two, but would it have killed WWE to have Bryan go out the way he did earlier in the evening?
Dolph Ziggler def. Fandango
Well, Fandango didn't face Santino Marella for a millionth time, so there's that. The match was pretty basic with most of the focus being on Layla at ringside. Yes, Ziggler won, but since it was against Fandango, it doesn't mean much if anything at all. I assume Fandango confessing his "love" for Layla will set up a Summer Rae return in the near future, but will that turn her babyface?
Rusev Interrupted "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
Obviously, Duggan's appearance was to promote Legend's House on the WWE Network. Was it really a coincidence that he came out after the graphic of the most viewed shows on the WWE Network was shown? I didn't have any problem with it, however, as Legend's House is absolutely fantastic and anyone not watching it really should be. Rusev coming out was predictable and logical yet Duggan's American ties. What wasn't predictable was Big E making the save and I thought that was smart booking. Big E is currently directionless now that he is no longer Intercontinental champion and he and Rusev can have solid matches together. I guess this proves that Rusev really is racist after all.
Cody Rhodes def. Damien Sandow
I'm glad the commentators mentioned the history between the two early on in the match. It was a good match while it lasted, but neither guy has meant enough as of late to make this match meaningful. Obviously, it was used to further Cody's impending heel turn given the way he raked the eyes of Sandow to win. On a side note, I was glad to hear Sandow cut a "rant" promo on the Raw pre-show, but it was more of a plug for the WWE Network than it was a sign that WWE has plans to do anything with Sandow in the near future.
Roman Reigns def. Batista by Disqualification
Reigns vs. Batista has been a personal dream match of mine for quite some time now and it was cool to see them go head-to-head in singles competition for the first time ever. I would have liked to hear the commentators make reference to the fact they were the two remaining Superstars in this year's Royal Rumble match, but that's just nitpicking things. The match was decent enough and the non-finish protected both men. The Shield getting the better of the 11 Superstars who ran down to save Evolution was a refreshing change of pace and it further solidified The Shield's dominance. That said, I fully expect Evolution to emerge victorious in the rematch at Payback next month.
The only major talking point coming out of this show was Daniel Bryan, his impending surgery and whether he'll be vacating the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Aside from the main event, everything else was either inconsequential or filler making for a middle-of-the-road show. Some matches served a purpose and others were even entertaining, but there were far too many talking segments and I don't blame the crowd for being drained by the end of the night. Payback was being set up to be an exact replica of Extreme Rules, but with Bryan being injured, I'm interested how the pay-per-view card will be shaken up.