By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Vince McMahon Returned
At last! I've waited forever for McMahon to return, so I got goosebumps when his music hit at the start of the show. He's never been a part of The Authority, so it made sense for him to not side with them here. The stipulation that The Authority must split up if their team loses at Survivor Series is a hell of a hook. However, it'd help if John Cena's team also had something up for grabs as well. Nevertheless, the return of Vinny Mac was a newsworthy way of kicking off Raw.
Dean Ambrose def. Cesaro
Technically, this was their third match in the last week (if you count last week's Raw encounter), and while it was a good match, it felt like it was lacking something. Honestly, I think I enjoyed their Trick or Street Fight on SmackDown more. They work well together, but Cesaro doesn't feel credible at the moment. He needs a face turn or at the very least a few wins to regain relevance.
The Miz def. Jimmy Uso
Well, it appears Miz and Damien Sandow will be feuding with The Usos for the foreseeable future if this match was any indication. As I've said countless times in the past, I've never been excited by either of the Usos in singles competition, but this was a decent enough match that I have no complaints over. In fact, I found Jey's mimicking of Mizdow to be humorous, so there was that. On a side note, I couldn't even tell you the last time Miz won a match with the Skull Crushing Finale.
Tyson Kidd def. United States Champion Sheamus by Count-out (Non-title)
It's a shame Kidd isn't given the same light of day on Raw as he is on Main Event and NXT. At least he gets some mic time on those shows. On Raw, he's given the jobber entrance. This was a fine match with a pleasantly surprising finish. It was odd for Sheamus to lose prior to his title match after Raw, but maybe it'll lead to him turning heel eventually. It was great to see Kidd pick up a big time victory, even if he was attacked afterward.
The Authority Confronted Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler
The Authority had an intriguing pitch as to why Ziggler should join them, but we saw the same thing last week with John Cena. The promo dragged on for far too long and it was obvious where it was headed. At least Ziggler is sticking up for himself against the heel faction unlike many of the babyfaces late last year. Where is John Cena to come to his aid when he needs him most?
Seth Rollins def. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler by Disqualification
It was a nice change of pace to see Rollins get a title shot after beating Ziggler in a non-title match last week on SmackDown. As expected, they worked a very good match, but it wasn't until the final few minutes that they picked up the pace and delivered some strong near-falls. You had to know someone was going to get involved, but Randy Orton showing up got a big pop from the live crowd. They're building toward his face turn extraordinarily well and it'll make for a major moment when he finally flips the switch for good.
Ryback def. Titus O'Neil
It was another standard squash match from Ryback and not much more than that. It's quite a feat to get a passable match out of O'Neil and Ryback managed to do that. The crowd wasn't as hot for Ryback as they were last week, but this wasn't the best crowd anyway. At least they they were into the "Feed Me More" chant. Could Ryback be a candidate for joining Team Cena?
Big Show def. Mark Henry by Disqualification
The match was about as slow and plodding as you'd expect from these two. What couldn't this have been the match held after Raw went off the air instead? The crowd was dead for it and while this wasn't the greatest crowd, I can't blame them whatsoever. Both guys are so far past their prime it's ridiculous they're even feuding. I liked how Henry was made to look strong, but it's obvious Show will get his comeuppance eventually. Please let this mean they're not facing off at the pay-per-view after all.
Nikki Bella def. Emma
Nikki has come a long way in the ring and Emma is excellent, but this match wasn't anything special. Both ladies put forth a good effort, but it was essentially a quick win to boost Nikki's momentum. AJ was fine on commentary and at least we finally have a feud in the Divas division where there's an established face and established heel.
Rusev def. Zack Ryder
It's always a treat to see Ryder on Raw, even if it was in a losing effort. It was your typical Rusev squash match. What more is there to say? The post-match promo between him and Sheamus was well done, but it's mind-boggling to me why both of these guys were in action on this show when they'll be wrestling when Raw goes off the air. Couldn't they have done just the promo and nothing else?
Fernando def. WWE Tag Team Champion Stardust
I'm no fan of Los Matadores and their goofy gimmick, but I understand why WWE have Fernando go over here: to establish them as a threat to the tag titles. That doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it, though. They have so few tandems in the tag division they don't have much of a choice, but all signs point to a multi-team match at Survivor Series since Miz and Mizdow were on commentary for this contest.
Seth Rollins def. Randy Orton
I would have liked to see this match take place later down the line, but for what it was, it was a great match. They held back a bit early on, but as stated, it was for the best since I fully expect them to feud at some point. Rollins picking up the clean victory was shocking but it put Rollins over in a big way, as did his attack on Orton afterward. I'll chalk that up to being Orton's official babyface turn since there's no way he's a part of Team Authority now. Orton will be taking time off to film "The Condemned 2," but he should be back in time for Survivor Series. They'd be crazy to leave him off that show with it being in his hometown of St. Louis.
Rusev def. Sheamus to Win the United States Championship (WWE Network Exclusive)
First off, this match really should have been saved for Survivor Series. The feud started all of three days ago! I understand why they did it (to get eyes on the WWE Network), but there are other matches they could have done instead. It's a big time matchup and I couldn't get excited about it because it's so soon in the rivalry. They had a decent match, but it was boring after having to sit through a three hour episode of Raw. Rusev winning the strap wasn't a major surprise since, again, they really want to push the Network, but it would have packed more of a punch had it happened at the pay-per-view instead.
The show opened and closed with two very strong segments (I'm not counting the United States Championship match since that happened after the show went off the air), but everything else in between was just kind of there. Most of Raw consisted of filler and I didn't agree with making a few wrestlers work twice in one night, but I guess they felt they needed to kill time with John Cena not being on the show. There was some solid build for Survivor Series, but the best parts came at the beginning and the end.