Powell's WWE Raw Hit List: Jake Roberts returns, Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family, Piper's Pit with The Shield, Ric Flair and Randy Orton, Jerry Lawler update used to drive app traffic, C.M. Punk vs. Roman Reigns
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw Hits
Jake Roberts returns: A very nice surprise to close the show. It was a cool moment for fans who have followed Jake's recovery efforts, and it had to be a huge surprise for casual fans who haven't seen him in years. I am hopeful that they held off on having him perform the DDT because they wanted to save something for the Royal Rumble match.
Brock Lesnar and Big Show: Lesnar flashed some great facial expressions while wrenching on Mark Henry's arm. Once Show came out and flashed the serious look at Lesnar, I was able to at least temporarily erase the image of him wearing a diaper on Raw just two weeks ago. Lesnar took an awkward bump when Show tossed him around the ring. I didn't catch it last night, but Jonny Fairplay astutely pointed out that Lesnar appeared to tweak his foot or ankle, as he limped all the way to the back. I do understand the frustration of fans who want to see Lesnar work with newer stars that he hasn't been in the ring with before. Lesnar and Show certainly have history, but they have also put together some impressive matches in the past and I am looking forward to seeing them work together again whether it's in a singles match or just a key moment in the Royal Rumble.
Batista hype videos: These are straight out of the playbook that was used for Rob Van Dam's return last year. It's simple, yet highly effective.
Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and John Cena: Orton showed more life during this segment than we've seen in his recent robotic promos. I enjoyed the exchange he had with Ric Flair, who seemed to be on his best in-ring behavior.
Piper's Pit with The Shield: It had to be a fun night for Dean Ambrose. He verbally sparred with Roddy Piper, fought with the New Age Outlaws, and then couldn't stop himself from smiling when Jake Roberts rubbed the snake on his face. Hey, maybe it tickles. Piper was solid here and the segment played up the growing tension between The Shield while also foreshadowing the story coming out of Roman Reigns' win over C.M. Punk. Could we see The Shield members in a Triple Threat match for the U.S. Championship at WrestleMania 30?
Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. The Real Americans: It continues to be a treat to watch Goldust perform at such a high level at this point in his career. A huracanrana? I didn't see that one coming. The tag champions continue to deliver consistently entertaining matches even with teams we've seen them work with several times in the past.
C.M. Punk vs. Roman Reigns: A minor Hit. The match got off to a very slow start with Reigns applying Punk in a crowd draining side headlock and Punk appearing to bark out instructions. The closing minutes combined with Reigns getting a logical win based on the current storylines made up for it.
Rikishi and Too Cool vs. 3MB: I didn't care for the Rikishi and Too Cool act back in the day, but I must admit that it was a fun piece of nostalgia. And I can't complain about the current wrestlers losing in this case because 3MB loses to everyone.
WWE Raw Misses
Overall show: A minor Miss. I appreciate the attention to detail that WWE shows with everything from the graphics to the ring ropes to the blazers the announcers wore, etc. And those elements really worked for me last time. For some reason, I was really numb to it this time even though I applaud the effort. It seemed like the building was mic'd poorly. There were times when I could see that the live crowd was really into wrestlers or in-ring spots, yet I couldn't really hear it like I normally would. I don't think this was a hot crowd and that didn't help, but I think they were hotter than it seemed like on television. It's always nice to see the legends. I do wish they would do more to use the legends to give rub to the current talent.
Jerry Lawler and the WWE App: On the same show where the great Gene Okerlund told a 1-900 Hotline joke, WWE actually told viewers to go to the app if they wanted to know more about Lawler's medical issues. Oh, the irony.
Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family: Jim Ross wrote in his blog that WWE needed to deliver a home run. This was more of a sacrifice bunt attempt that resulted in a popup to the pitcher, resulting in a double play. I'm not ready to write this off completely, but this was a very flat followup to the hot cliffhanger that closed the final show of 2013. Show me Bryan being brainwashed at the Wyatt Family compound. Give me an aggressive Bryan plowing through an opponent. Just don't show me Bryan's team losing in their first match together. I am still hopeful that this is a short term angle designed to get Bryan more over as a babyface, while also elevating Bray Wyatt's profile, but night one was a major miss.
Big E Langston vs. Curtis Axel: The crowd rallied for Langston's big moves at the end of the match, but they were very quiet throughout the bulk of the match. I can't blame them. It was hard to get excited about seeing this match yet again. I did get a kick out of Ryback on commentary, and I assume they are setting up Langston vs. Ryback.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Sin Cara: What was the point of having Sin Cara beat Del Rio a couple times only to have Del Rio squash him like a jobber this week? My guess is that they have decided that Batista needs to plow through Del Rio on television or certainly in the Royal Rumble match. Still, it didn't make for great television and it erased whatever good they did for Sin Cara.
The Great Khali vs. Damien Sandow with Sgt. Slaughter as special referee: Is anyone looking forward to the third match of this apparently ongoing feud between Khali and Sandow? I realize they can't push everyone at once, but surely they could find something better for Sandow.
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