WWE Monday Night Raw Review: 21/04/2014 Highlights

Last week’s show was a bit of a come-down after Wrestlemania, so could the WWE, as we edge closer to Extreme Rules, produce a better show this week?

Dragon vs Demon: Bryan/ Kane feud intensifies

This show started with what can only be described as a brutal assault. Kane delivered three thunderous tombstone piledrivers to the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, one on the outside, one on the steel steps, and a final one on the announcer’s table. It was a statement of intent from the Devil’s Favourite Demon. Stephanie McMahon pleaded for Kane to stop but he was uncontrollable. This was a great segment to start the show, as Kane’s stock immediately increased, and the WWE Universe is likely to believe he can now be a major threat to Bryan’s title run. It’s unlikely Bryan will drop the belt so soon after earning it, but Kane is a more than worthy champion if the WWE decide to throw yet another curveball our way. This feud has really heated up.

Bray Wyatt has the whole crowd in his hands…

This guy is truly fantastic. Apart from the Ring of Fire match with Kane, he has not put a foot wrong, and his promo near the start of this show was ridiculously good. He is an insanely talented talker and it’s great to see the WWE acknowledging this and providing him with ample time to show off. This week’s promo was particularly excellent because it included the truth that the WWE seems to try to hide sometimes. John Cena does not get the same reaction he did a few years ago. He obviously still has his fans but the people are smarter and can’t be dictated into cheering a particular superstar. Bray mentioned how his own support was growing whilst Cena’s faltered and it was magical to watch as the (red hot) crowd got right behind him and sang along with his creepy rendition of “He’s got the whole world in his hands”.

We saw more of Bray and his family in the handicap match vs Cena which was fun for what it was. The main thing to take away though was the sheer excellence of Bray and of this feud in fact. Here’s hoping for a relatively clean victory for the Eater of Worlds at Extreme Rules to push him into superstardom.

Shield vs Evolution

The first thing to note is that Ambrose is absolute gold on the microphone. He may not be positioned as the leader of the group as he once was, but I believe he can still reach the pinnacle of the company as the best heel in the business. Also whilst Reigns is the main focus now, Seth is underrated as a complete package. His talent in the ring is known, but he is also very competent at promos. He can be a popular babyface like Bryan no doubt about it.

Now down to the segment. I have to say after the lacklustre introduction last week I wasn’t particularly excited about this feud. As always though the WWE produced some fantastic video packages which finally got me excited for the return of Evolution. I’m not a huge fan of any particular member of the faction, so maybe it’s the thought of the Shield destroying them that I like so much about this situation. In this episode Evolution insulted the Shield but escaped before the Hounds of Justice could attack. That particular showdown will have to wait until next week.

As a quick comparison of my excitement of faction feuds this year: Evolution/Shield is just below Wyatts/ Shield.

The Number 1 Contender’s tournament for the Intercontinental Championship Continues

The matches last week were generally fantastic, and this week’s show’s began with another great installment in this tournament. Bad News Barrett took on the Celtic Warrior Sheamus in a hard hitting contest. These two have put on excellent matches before and last night was no different. The crowd were immensely into this one, as the victor was constantly in doubt, constantly chanting “This is awesome!” It truly was. Barrett picked up the clean victory over the Irishman with a bullhammer elbow out of nowhere. It’s great to see the man, born and raised in Preston, England, being given a second chance and grasping it with both hands. He has developed a vocal fanbase since his return.

Cesaro continued to impress in the second match, but in what was a rather large surprise, he was defeated by RVD. Jack Swagger got involved in the match-up which seemed to hinder the ebb and flow of the work in the ring but it at least continued the build towards the presumed Cesaro vs Swagger match at Extreme Rules. Maybe RVD, if he loses next week, will be thrown in to add a bit more excitement to the match, as Cesaro/Swagger is something we have seen numerous times on free television recently.

I can’t help but feel this tournament is a great idea for everyone but Big E, who is not even in match-ups, he is simply shown backstage watching a monitor. Let’s hope he doesn’t fade into irrelevance with the rise of Barrett and Cesaro in the mid-card.

Paige vs Aksana

Okay Aksana isn’t the most talented diva but she actually played her part well in this match. The idea of the match was to establish Paige as a star, and a legitimate champion. Divas’ matches generally get dreadful reactions from the crowd, but recently with prolonged time to show off their skills, there seems to be a little bit more excitement. Not much, I must admit, but let’s hope its the start of something. There is a lot of talent in the division and it just needs to be utilised properly.

Tag Team Titles

Towards the end of last year the tag team division really heated up with the Shield, the Rhodes Brothers and the Usos being particular standouts. Since then it has lost a bit of steam, but on Monday’s Raw things began to look up once more. The Usos vs Rhodes match was a fun, if short, match, and Rybaxel finally looked like legitimate threats by attacking the Usos afterwards. Ryback and Axel were also rather entertaining on commentary in contrast to many superstars who are rather drab. The hinted split of the Rhodes brothers, as Cody pushed away his brother after the loss, was interesting, but I’m personally really enjoying them as a tag team. They could be a real loss to the division. If the WWE do feel the team has run its course, I truly hope they have something lined up for Cody afterwards, as he is a potential main event talent.

Conclusion

The build to Extreme Rules was furthered this week, and that is really the only aim at this point in time. Kane is the perfect choice for Bryan’s first opponent as champion, especially with the history between them. They should put on a good match at the show. I’m expecting either Wyatt/Cena or Shield/Evolution to steal the show though, particularly the latter, which has been built well after a lacklustre start. Looking further down the card, there is joy in seeing Barrett and Cesaro receive a push but others remain under appreciated. Perhaps at the top of that list is Emma, who has all the talent in the world (which she proved in NXT with Paige), but remains stuck in a comedy role with Santino. Let’s hope Paige and Emma can lock up for the title in the near future and show a larger audience their abilities.

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