By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Bid Farewell the WWE Universe
I was really hoping that this new ex-Authority era in WWE would kick off without them, but apparently not. I know it's a logical way of following up the pay-per-view, but please let this be the last time we ever have to sit through a long talking segment from them opening Raw. Furthmore, Triple H's comments toward Sting didn't give too much away which was good because there's plenty of time to go back to that before WrestleMania in March.
Daniel Bryan Addressed Team Authority
Bryan's return was a pleasant surprise and giving him the reins of Raw for a night was a smart move considering he still can't do anything physical. The segment lasted a little longer than it should have, but they set up a lot for the rest of the show in terms of what each member of the team would be involved in. Again, a 30 minute talking segment to kick off the show isn't preferable, but it accomplished quite a bit.
Ryback def. Mark Henry
I really liked how it was mentioned that the reason this match was made was because Ryback wanted to avenge his loss to Henry from WrestleMania 29. It was better than just going off the fact they were on opposite sides at Survivor Series. I can't really comment on the match because we saw only 30 seconds of it when we came back from commercial. At any rate, it's nice to see Ryback positioned dominantly despite being the first one elimination from his team at the pay-per-view.
Dean Ambrose def. Intercontinental Champion Luke Harper by Disqualification
While this was a great match on paper, it didn't exactly live up to its full potential. That said, it was apparent they were holding back a bit and I don't blame them since this could be a very good feud down the line. They had an enjoyable matchup while it lasted even though Bray Wyatt's interference was predictable. Wyatt's post-match attack on Ambrose was well done and helped him get his heat back after being attacked at Survivor Series.
Santino Marella and Larry The Cable Guy Promoted "Jingle All the Way 2"
Personally, I have no problem with Larry The Cable Guy and didn't mind that he guest hosted, but putting him out there in front of the live crowd was disastrous. Not even Santino's presence helped his cause at all. Santino's been gone for several months with an injury and you wouldn't have even known because hardly anyone cared when he came out. Nothing personal against Santino, but he might as well stay retired. Thankfully, they got the plug for the new WWE Studios out of the way and didn't have the segment overstay its welcome.
WWE Tag Team Champions The Miz and Damien Mizdow def. Gold and Stardust
I love Miz and Mizdow as tag team champions not only because they're incredibly entertaining but also because they can have matches against both babyface and heel teams. Miz and Mizdow are technically heels, but Mizdow is slowly turning face as the crowd get more and more into him. Mizdow doing most of the work only for Miz to get the tag at the last possible second and get the pinfall win was great. If they can continue to build tension between them, they can have a very fun feud together, but in the meantime I'll enjoy their reign as tag champs.
Jack Swagger Saved Sgt. Slaughter From United States Champion Rusev
You had to know Rusev wasn't going to go through with either option, so something had to give. It's always nice to see Slaughter and he was the perfect candidate for this role given his pro-USA moniker. Swagger coming to his aid seems to indicate that they'll be reigniting their rivalry, this time for the United States Championship. This is a few months too late, but I'm still all for it. Then again, it might be setting up a match for SmackDown or next week's Raw, so we'll see.
Fandango def. Justin Gabriel
If you saw the Survivor Series Kickoff Show, then you already saw this. It was a basic squash match with nothing different about it from the first time. As I said then, I couldn't care less about the "new and improved" Fandango. A new haircut, valet and entrance music isn't going to cut it. The dancing gimmick needs to go. The talented Johnny Curtis is capable of so much more than this.
Big Show Explained His Actions
Show's promo was everything you'd expect it to be coming off his heel turn at Survivor Series. We've seen him turn so many times over the course of his career that it's gotten to the point where I just don't care anymore. I was afraid John Cena was going to come out, but Rowan was a pleasant surprise. I'm not exactly the biggest Rowan fan, but I will take this feud over a millionth match between Show and Cena. Rowan looked good by getting the better of Show on night 1, so there's that.
Brie Bella def. AJ Lee
This is the third time we've seen this match in recent weeks, so it really wasn't anything out of the ordinary. It wasn't bad necessarily, but it was far too short to mean anything. The highlight of the segment was AJ's verbal jabs at the Bellas which were pretty funny. I continue to question whether The Bella Twins are officially back together or if it's all a ruse by Brie. I'm leaning toward the latter, but time will tell.
Tyson Kidd and Natalya def. Adam Rose and The Bunny
I was fine with this match the first time it happened. Several rematches later and logically, I'm sick of it. I was optimistic at the start of this apparent Adam Rose heel turn, but by now, it feels like a waste of time. He's still not fully turned yet and it's not one of those instances where the longer they wait to do it, the more it will mean. In this case, people will stop caring... if they ever cared to begin with. On a side note, Kidd deserves better than this, especially after all the wins he's been stacking up as of late.
John Cena and Dolph Ziggler def. Seth Rollins, Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match
It was a well-wrestled match for the most part even if the ending outcome was never in doubt. Mercury and Noble, despite being positioned as "security," are actually great wrestlers, but of course they weren't able to showcase their talent here. It was an easy win for Cena and Ziggler, but there was zero sign of where they're headed after tonight in terms of how they build to TLC.
All the talk of it being a "new era" didn't exactly live up to the hype since not much felt different despite the epic conclusion to Survivor Series. While I was slightly disappointed by this being an underwhelming show, I can't say I'm surprised. This is usually the case with post-Survivor Series shows and it's not like I was expecting Sting to show up anyway. It's clear they have no direction for who will take charge of the company going forward, so the "General Manager for a night" shtick will seemingly be returning for the time being. It was nice to see Bryan back, but there was hardly anything about this show that stood out as being special, let alone good. Regardless, I haven't given up on WWE Creative just yet and I hope they can redeem themselves going into TLC in less than three weeks.