Raw exploded into life as CM Punk’s rumoured hometown return seemed on the cards as his entrance music kicked off the show.
Punk left the company after reportedly wanting to ‘go home’ after being unhappy with the direction the company was going in. The WWE universe were wild with joy as they thought he was back, but they were to be disappointed, as Paul Heyman came out instead to deliver a ‘pipe bomb’ about the ‘Best in the World’ superstar.
Heyman addressed the fact that CM Punk’s absence had not been talked about and was vocal in who was to blame for the fact he had left. Initially he blamed the WWE Universe, but then went on to blame the Undertaker, claiming the loss at last year’s Wrestlemania started a ‘downward spiral’.
Brock Lesnar was then introduced, the man who will get the chance to try and end The Undertaker’s ‘streak’ at Wrestlemania 30 in April. Mark Henry then appeared, to confront Lesnar, and was promptly on the receiving end of an ‘F-5’ through the announcers table.
After a victory against the tag-team champions last week on Raw, the Usos were given the chance to steal the titles from the New Age Outlaws. Following a deserved rise in the tag-team division, it was refreshing to see Jimmy and Jey take advantage of their big chance, proving too much for the veteran pairing of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. For the first time in their WWE career, the Usos can call themselves the new tag-team champions.
Big E and Cesaro were next to square off and after interference from Jack Swagger gave Langston a DQ win last week on Raw, the Swiss superstar had the opportunity to get a legitimate win. However, Swagger got involved again to provide the same outcome. There is evident tension between ‘The Real Americans’ and a split is surely on the cards.
They’re here, Shield
The Wyatt Family and The Shield then collided, to provide another thrilling encounter in a rivalry that stems back to their show-stealing match Elimination Chamber. Seth Rollins dictated the tempo early in the match, as he launched an explosive attack on the Wyatt’s to give the ‘Hounds of Justice’ the advantage
The strengths of all six competitors were fully on show, and the WWE are definitely taking advantage of such a popular clash. But things turned for the worse for The Shield as Rollins refused to be tagged back in by Dean Ambrose, and walked away from the match.
There is evident dissension in the ranks, especially between Ambrose and Roman Reigns, and Rollins indicated that he could no longer ‘work’ in such a hostile environment. The action continued without him, amid a chaotic and entertaining end to the match that saw Reigns spear Erick Rowan onto the announcers table and Bray Wyatt claim victory by attacking Ambrose with the ‘Sister Abigail.
The three matches that followed, however, were not so entertaining. Emma and Santino faced Fandango and Summer Rae in mixed tag-team action and Emma secured the victory with the ‘Emma-Lock’.
Sheamus and Christian’s growing rivalry was next on show and victory was claimed by the ‘Celtic Warrior’ and his patented ‘Brogue Kick’. Chants of ‘this is awful’ and ‘boring’ summed up the match and the rivalry spawned by both superstars’ intentions to be WWE World Heavyweight champion doesn’t seem to carry enough interest to keep the audience gripped.
The Bella Twins were the next to be victorious, overcoming opponents Alicia Fox and Aksana in tag-team action.
Monday night Raw took a turn for a better at this point, returning with a first-time clash between Daniel Bryan and Batista on the cards. Crowd favourite Bryan was keen to face off against ‘The Animal’ after he has been recently criticising the state of the WWE roster and some of the more, in his opinion, ‘under-sized’ superstars.
Batista was also critical of the ‘Yes Movement’ calling it “one of the most ridiculous things he had ever heard”.
But before the match later in the evening, Bryan addressed Triple H, after last week challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania 30. The Chief Operating Officer and wife Stephanie McMahon launched a tirade against Bryan, branding him a ‘B+ player’ and denying him a match at Wrestlemania. Kane was called out to deal with the situation, but was attacked instantly by the enraged Bryan who was sent away by security.
Alberto Del Rio was next in action and his opponent Dolph Ziggler made a unique entrance, accompanied and drove in by actor Aaron Paul, star of the new film ‘Need for Speed’. Ziggler went on to win the match with a ‘Zig Zag’.
The Real Americans’ split then seemed to edge ever closer, after another DQ victory for Big E Langston occurred, with Cesaro this time interrupting Swagger’s match. It seemed that the pair would clash, but Zeb Colter made them ‘hug it out’.
John Cena, attacked by the Wyatt Family last week on Raw, was the next superstar to appear, as he questioned their actions. The crowd showed their hostility towards Cena, chanting instead for ‘CM Punk’ and even cheering the fact that he’d been left injured by the Wyatt’s. The Wyatt’s then appeared on the Titantron, with Bray Wyatt promising he would ‘put Cena down’.
The evening concluded with the main event match between Batista and Daniel Bryan. Bryan, who earlier called for the WWE Universe to ‘hijack’ the show, received an enthusiastic welcome in contrast to the masses of boos that welcomed Batista. Randy Orton was present at ringside and was sent a message by ‘The Animal’ as he threw Bryan into him.
The Authority made their presence felt, before Orton ended the match with an attack on both competitors. This eventually led to Triple H entering the ring, who, after a receiving a kick to the head, delivered a vicious Pedigree to a defenceless Daniel Bryan.
Despite all this action in the late stages of the show, chants of CM Punk still echoed throughout the arena, as the WWE Universe long for his return.