By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton Interrupted Ric Flair
It has been a while since we last saw Flair on Raw (close to 10 months to be exact), so it was nice to see him back. His promo wasn't anything special before Orton interrupted. It was cool to see the two in the same ring considering their history together, and they made mention of that in their promo as well. John Cena coming out to the aid of Flair was standard stuff, but it furthered their feud for the Royal Rumble nicely.
Rey Mysterio and The Usos def. Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper and Erik Rowan
Strangely enough, Bryan looked like he fit right in with The Wyatt Faimly with his new attire. The match was fine for what it was, but it was more focused on telling the story that Bryan is under the control of Bray Wyatt. It was strange that they are already teasing tension between Bryan and Harper seeing how Bryan just joined them one week ago, but we will see what it ends up leading to. Also, a nice win for The Usos and Mysterio, even if it was slightly overshadowed.
Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston def. Curtis Axel (Non-title)
I had no desire to see this match after seeing it on SmackDown three days prior. It wasn't poorly wrestled or anything, but they have had so many matches against each other in recent months that defeating Axel isn't much of an accomplishment for Langston at this point. If anything, it looked like they were setting up Ryback vs. Langston for down the road, which has the potential to be a good rivalry if it were over the Intercontinental title.
The Shield Appeared on Piper's Pit
Roddy Piper can be either hit or miss in most of his appearances, and he was definitely on his game in this segment. He had a fun verbal exchange with Dean Ambrose, even if it was shorter than I would have liked it to be. Piper also hinted at dissension within The Shield and helped hype the CM Punk vs. Roman Reigns match for later in the night. Punk making the save was logical, but The New Age Outlaws accompanying him was a pleasant surprise.
Alberto Del Rio def. Sin Cara
The crowd seemingly couldn't have cared less about either competitor. Sure, Cara defeated Del Rio twice before, but neither of them has appeared on Raw in weeks. It was a nice match, but nothing we haven't already seen before. At least Del Rio's post-match promo was intriguing, as it hinted at a potential show down between him and Batista in the Rumble match.
WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. The Real Americans (Non-title)
These two teams always work well together and this match was no exception. The live crowd was quiet early on, but they got engaged in the action towards the end. The finishing sequence was well done and it was another good win for the Rhodes brothers. The Real Americans, in my opinion, should be the ones to ultimately take the titles off them, but I am not sure WWE feels the same way.
The Great Khali def. Damien Sandow with Sgt. Slaughter as the Special Guest Referee
This was as exceptional of a match as it was last week, but did anyone expect differently? Khali is extremely limited in the ring, but Sandow got the best match out of him as he possibly could. Unfortunately, Sandow's foot being on the rope means this feud will continue, which is last thing Sandow needs right now. Seeing Sgt. Slaughter is always a nice treat, though.
Brock Lesnar Issued an Open Challenge
Lesnar brawling with Mark Henry is nothing new since we saw it last week, but it appears Henry has officially been written off television for a while with his arm now "broken". Big Show coming out to confront Lesnar wasn't much of a surprise since it has been rumored as of late, and I can't say I am all that excited for their pending feud. They had more than enough matches a decade ago, but I guess a win over Show at the Royal Rumble would only help further Lesnar's momentum.
Aksana and Alicia Fox def. The Bella Twins
It was your basic Divas match for the most part. Brie Bella tried her best to rally up the crowd from the apron, so props to her for that. The only thing worth noting is that Aksana picked up another upset victory, this time over Brie. Does anyone know if John Cena and Daniel Bryan recently broke up with their girlfriends?
Too Cool def. 3MB
Too Cool is a guilty pleasure of mine, so I was super psyched to see them back in action. 3MB got in a decent amount of offense, but it essentially a showcase for all the members of Too Cool. The live crowd, who had been relatively quiet up to this point, came to life for Too Cool and seemed to enjoy the act as much as I did watching it from home. After all these years, they still got it.
Bad News Barrett Mocked the Legends
They does these Legend role calls for every Old School Raw and I enjoy it. It gives them one last moment of glory before the end of the show and they definitely deserve it. I could have done without the horrendous Bad News Barrett interruption, though. How long will it take WWE Creative to realize that it is a terrible gimmick and it isn't working?
Roman Reigns def. CM Punk
They worked the solid match I expected them to and Reigns looked like Punk's equal throughout the bout. The action really intensified down the stretch with the suspenseful near-falls and everything going on at ringside involving The Shield and The New Age Outlaws. Reigns going over was the right move and the commentators treated it like the big deal it was. It cements the fact that he will be the golden boy coming out of The Shield and that we could expect big things from him this coming year. The post-match bit with the return of Jake "The Snake" Roberts was extremely awesome and very cool for those that know his story. I surely hope this means that he will be participating in this year's Royal Rumble match or even being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year.
Although it was a good show, I don't think it was as entertaining as the last Old School shows were in 2010 and 2013, respectively. Then again, those episodes were so great that it would have been difficult to outdo them. It was great to see Randy Orton and John Cena relegated to only one segment on the show and still being able to promote their upcoming title match. The Piper's Pit and main event matches were excellent, and the Too Cool reunion was fun as well. I also enjoyed the Legends cameos throughout the night and the strong hype for the Royal Rumble in a few weeks. This was a solid start to the year for Raw and I hope they can keep it up going forward.