The WWE put a lot of effort into making Monday's episode of Raw not only memorable but also ratings friendly.
The company did so by jamming three championship matches on the card, putting on a celebration for Seth Rollins and having a couple of surprise appearances.
Whether or not the show boosted ratings will be determined in the next day or so, but did all of the effort make for a better show?
In my opinion, it did.
Raw this week had a feel of excitement that the show typically severely lacks. A lot of the angles that played out made sense and furthered the stories in logical fashion.
Before we delve too deep into the specifics of the show, let's take a gander at the full match results from the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va.:
- Sheamus def. Ryback
- King Barrett def. Neville
- Bray Wyatt def. Dean Ambrose
- WWE Tag Team championship – Tyson Kidd & Cesaro def. The New Day via disqualification
- Dolph Ziggler def. Stardust
- Luke Harper & Erick Rowan def. Zack Ryder & Fandango
- WWE Divas championship – Nikki Bella def. Naomi via disqualification
Now here are my full highlights and observations from the program:
Kevin Owens appears on Raw, takes out John Cena
A year ago, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose headlining a pay-per-view with the WWE World Heavyweight championship on the line would have sent the die-hard wrestling fans into a frenzy.
But that was not the case this past Monday night. That's because one man overshadowed that: Kevin Owens.
When Kevin Owens' music hit, it looked like he was going to answer John Cena's open challenge for the WWE United States championship. I expected a great match between the two with the inevitable outcome of Cena retaining his title, just like he did against Sami Zayn a couple of weeks ago.
But what we got was even better, especially for Kevin Owens.
Instead of accepting the challenge, Owens stood toe-to-toe Cena on the microphone and then got to get one over on him by hitting him with the pop-up power bomb.
Then, it was announced that these two would have a match at Elimination Chamber.
How cool was that?
The best part was that it was so simple. All it took was one simple angle and the entire wrestling world was going crazy wanting to see this match. WWE tends to over-think some of their stories, but it didn't this time and it came off to perfection.
Kudos is in order for Owens for stepping up when the bright lights were on him. He looked like he belonged. He didn't look out of place. He looked composed and carried himself like he was the top star in the entire company, let alone NXT, and the moment where he chastised Cena for trying to give him advice was absolute gold.
As a fan of his work for years, it was almost surreal to see him in that spot. It will be even more surreal when he actually takes on Cena in two weeks.
Even more kudos is in order for Cena, as he helped make Owens look like million bucks during this segment. Talk about doing this guy a favor. Cena did just that.
Cena has been quite generous to the mid-card lately even in victory. He's been letting people kick out of the attitude adjustment left and right and is having pay-per-view-worthy matches with people that wouldn't have even sniffed a lengthy match with him if it wasn't for the United States title.
For a guy that's still in the relative prime of his career and in the position that he's in, Cena should have earned a lot of respect from fans Monday night. Granted, he'll more than likely win at Elimination Chamber, but not before he and Owens put on an epic match.
Seth Rollins to face Dean Ambrose at Elimination Chamber
That title match I referred to earlier, yeah, it's happening at Elimination Chamber, too.
Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to seeing this match, but the angle doesn't feel all that hot at the moment.
Ambrose lost his match against Bray Wyatt, albeit due to interference, and then forced his way into the match threatening to essentially decapitate Seth Rollins.
I guess that's how you set up a championship match in 2015.
Regardless of the angle, the match will be very, very good. That much is for certain. On top of the fact that these two are great performers in the ring, Ambrose and Rollins have great chemistry together and love to get creative while they're working against each other.
I'll be looking forward to what they have up their sleeve at Elimination Chamber.
Rusev ditches Lana; Lana smooches with Dolph Ziggler
After weeks and weeks of foreshadowing, Rusev and Lana officially went their separate ways Monday night — for now at least.
The reason why I say for now is because Lana immediately ran into the arms of Dolph Ziggler on the same night. It just so happens Ziggler and Rusev are both taking part in the Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental championship, which tells me some deception could occur during the event.
For now, however, Lana and Rusev are no more. Hopefully, it's temporary. If it's not, it'll be a shame. I just believe Lana complements Rusev so well and vice versa. They're the perfect package in my eyes.
To break them up just for the sake of breaking them up seems counterproductive to me. I know that WWE may see big money in Lana, but how big exactly? Is she going to be any bigger than the Bellas? AJ Lee? Paige? Time will only tell I guess.
Side note: It didn't take long for Lana to start losing her Russian accent, did it? I guess she went to the Kofi Kingston school of losing your foreign accent.
Tag Teams get time to shine
In an effort to promote the Tag Team title Elimination Chamber match, the WWE had all of the teams involved take part in a large brawl of sorts during the program.
I was already looking forward to the match because I just want to see how it's going to be structured and what the finished product is going to be.
There's never been a tag team Elimination Chamber match, and to put six teams in there is probably going to be pretty darn chaotic. That's going to be 12 people in there instead of the usual six.
The angle the WWE shot Monday boosted my anticipation level for the match. But what keeps preventing it from going through the roof for me is the fact that a team like Los Matadores gets a shot at the titles, despite not being on television in eons, but a much better team like Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are left out.
Although Harper and Rowan haven't teamed together in months, they're still more worthy than Los Matadores. Harper and Rowan were tearing the house down with the Usos for half of 2014. Los Matadores haven't done anything meaningful since they were glorified lumberjacks in the "Wee"LC at Extreme Rules last year.
Now that they're back together, I expected Harper and Rowan to be pushed straight to the top of the division.
After taking some time off to film a movie, Paige returned to WWE television Monday and immediately set her sights on the WWE Divas championship, as she was the rightful No. 1 contender before she was taken off TV.
Hopefully, this sets up a triple threat match with Naomi involved and with Naomi winning as well.
But it was definitely nice to see Paige back as there haven't been all that many divas showcased on Raw lately. Paige gives the WWE another quality person at its disposal.
Neville sells knee injury to perfection
Although Neville lost yet again, he did so by doing a wonderful job selling the fact that his knee was injured.