There are very few times in which I watch Monday Night RAW and think to myself “I’m pretty sure the WWE wants me to hate this entire show”, but I’m almost positive that this episode, featuring the return of the Authority to RAW, qualifies. I don’t believe that’s a bad thing.
The return of the Authority marked a night in which pretty much every heel on the roster went over. If a babyface won their match, it was due to disqualification and said “winner” found themselves on the wrong end of a beating.
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In the case of Erick Rowan, Ryback, and Dolph Ziggler, whom directly fought against the Authority, found the deck carefully stacked against them throughout the night. Ziggler’s title defense turned into a surprise two-out-of-three falls match that he lost to Bad News Barrett. Erick Rowan had J & J Security as special referees for his match against Luke Harper. Ryback had a two-on-one handicap match against Seth Rollins and Kane with J & J Security at ringside. All three predictably failed to the Authority’s schemes.
But what of John Cena, the leader of the anti-Authority resistance? He got an appreciation night.
To me, that proclamation was an incredible demonstration of self-awareness by the WWE and a borderline genius way to draw heat. Most of the WWE fans would sooner see Cena fired than get his own night of celebration. The WWE is well aware of this and they know that act alone can draw some heat.
But the Authority went further than that. Cena not only receives his own “special” night, it is celebrated by the Authority unceremoniously firing his Survivor Series teammates while playing celebratory music and dropping balloons and confetti in a celebration of Cena while he stood dumbfounded in the ring.
That moment when you realize you (kayfabe) cost three people their jobs. Photo credit: WWE.com
It’s rare that the WWE has a night like this. It felt like a nWo-era episode of Monday Nitro. Evil reigned supreme and it paid to be bad. Just ask Seth Rollins and his new-found title shot with the Money in the Bank briefcase still in hand as a trump card.
This episode was the first needed step in making Wrestlemania something truly epic. If done right, the WWE could establish the Authority and their allies as a huge, nWo-like stable in ultimate power and Wrestlemania could be the stage in which that power is systemically ripped away match after match to liberate the WWE.
It’s a simple formula, but it works (see: Daniel Bryan’s title victory last year). Here’s hoping they pull it off.
Five Takeaways from the Night
1) The divas operate in their own reality.
I’m sure this comes to a shock to absolutely no one, but the divas just feel like this completely separate entity that exists in their own Total Divas universe. Even divas that aren’t on the show, like Naomi, have their lack of involvement on the show brought up as a talking point.
It’s almost as if Total Divas is a substitute for actual mic time and character development for the divas roster. The talking points during the match mirror whatever happened on the latest episode. Yet, despite this some very noticeable things are left out, like John Cena ever appearing on camera at the same time as his girlfriend.
It just seems like an odd approach. Clearly, the WWE is seeing results on the bottom line otherwise they wouldn’t even bother going this route, but as someone that really, really wants to avoid watching that show at all costs, I’m definitely not a fan of this.
2) Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt can make any gimmick match fun.
It seems like Dean and Bray have nothing but crazy gimmick matches thrown their way and every single time they just bring the house down. The ambulance match was far more fun than it had any business being. Not only that, it still seemed fresh even if this is the fifth or tenth table that Dean has put Bray through with an elbow drop.
Eventually, this rivalry has to end so that Dean can get a Wrestlemania program going and I hope he finally gets the huge blowoff with Seth Rollins that he so rightly deserves.
3) Seth Rollins getting tossed into the Royal Rumble title match was absolutely needed.
Yes, Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena is a huge match, but we’ve seen it far too many times in close succession. You can’t keep running the same match and expect fans to believe it has the same big fight feel. I don’t care what the reasoning was either in kayfabe or behind the scenes, but throwing Rollins into the match creates all kinds of fun potential results now.
There’s probably no way Rollins wins the match, but with his the Money in the Bank briefcase still in hand, does the Authority make a huge power play to ensure Rollins leaves with the title? Does Sting return to stop a potential cash in? Do ex-Shield-mates Roman Reigns and/or Dean Ambrose get involved? Does Brock just unceremoniously destroy both of them?
Basically, anything besides a repeat affair feels like a breath of fresh air at this point.
I have no idea what these two are doing, but I don’t care. Photo credit: WWE.com
4) I’m happy Cesaro and Tyson Kidd are a thing.
I have no idea what they were doing posing as Rosebuds, but I don’t care. Ceasro is amazing in the ring and Tyson Kidd has completely revitalized his career after a very good NXT stint. There is no way that I won’t be happy for any excuse to get them working on TV.
5) The WWE is either brilliant or stupid for what they are doing with the Ascension.
WWE Fans: “Those Ascension vignettes are the corniest things I’ve ever seen”
WWE: “HA! Just wait until you see their entrance.”
WWE Fans: “They are a Road Warriors re-tread”
WWE: /writes in a shot at the Road Warriors in the next Ascension promo
WWE Fans: “You just really don’t care and are having too much fun with this aren’t you?”
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