New Raw delivers a taste of old school!
Bernie Barnes @thedailyjobber
The night after the Fastlane pay-per-view, Monday Night Raw brought a night of surprises, revelations and stipulations which have helped set the stage for WrestleMania 32.
The return of “Shane-O-Mac” Shane McMahon, after a seven-year absence from the WWE ring, kicked off the night of surprises. It also kicked off a night of segments that brought back themes and stunts reminiscent of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras of The Big Fed.
The McMahon Family Feud
In the night’s opening segment, the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy Award for Excellence was presented by Vincent K. McMahon to his daughter Stephanie McMahon, but the ceremony was interrupted by Shane McMahon. The crowd popped huge for Shane-O-Mac, and he thanked them for it.
There followed a lengthy segment eluding to deals made years ago behind closed doors, sordid chains of command, money, family, legacy, and a secret lock-box full of Vince’s skeletons.
By the end of the segment, a new match was made for WrestleMania: Shane McMahon versus The Undertaker inside Hell In A Cell. If Shane wins, he gets control of Monday Night Raw.
So, much like the early days of the millennium, the McMahon Family feud has taken centre stage of professional wrestling.
It seems strange that Undertaker was placed in a marquis match without being consulted or even being present at all, but reports now say he will appear on Raw next week.
No telling what impact Shane McMahon’s return will have in the long term, but he adds a new face element to the Authority dynamic which has been sorely needed. The implication that Raw and Smackdown may soon be under opposing management is an intriguing development, and implies a possible return to the Invasion Era days.
Brock Lesnar attacked Dean Ambrose as he arrived at the arena. Footage of the attack was caught on what appeared to be a cell phone, and was featured on WWE’s Facebook page. It was probably the most convincingly authentic bit of “unscripted” violence ever passed off on Raw.
WWE built on this convincing bit of media by making it completely cartoon. Unable to resist tricks as old as Attitude Era Stone Cold vs Mister McMahon, Dean Ambrose interrupted Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman’s promo segment, driving back into the arena in a hijacked ambulance.
What saved this over-the-top angle was the way the scene was played. Ambrose sold his injuries like death, and drove home his never-say-die bravery.
The other huge redemption came from another match set for WrestleMania: Dean Ambrose versus Brock Lesnar in a No Holds Barred Street Fight. (Although since it’s highly doubtful they will actually be in the literal streets outside the AT&T Stadium, they could have stuck with “No Holds Barred.”)
The Golden Truth
Goldust apologizes to R-Truth for costing him his very important match at Fastlane against Curtis Axel, and once again made his case as a tag team partner.
In keeping with the theme of throw-back Monday, this segment brings to mind Goldust’s early Invasion Era partnership with Booker T.
Still no reason obvious to audiences why Goldust and R-Truth would excel as a team. Perhaps they have great comedic chemistry. If so, hopefully it will get better than the series of awkward improv scenes we’ve seen on WWE television so far.
Blood Sport and Game Face
In a final bit of nostalgia for the days of hardcore yore, Monday Night Raw closed with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H crashing the main event match between Roman Reigns and Sheamus. Invoking the version of the Game most fans know and love, H came down in jeans, black leather jacket and wrist tape.
After brawling briefly, H delivered an Attitude Era-style beat-down on the number one contender, smashing his face repeatedly into the announce table. Reigns, sporting a bloody nose, was then pummeled further and finally Pedigreed face-first into the steel ring steps.
Since the no-blood policy was passed in WWE years ago, superstars drawing colour has become a rare and special occurrence. It was used here to get over the old-school brutality of The Game Triple H, who will stop at nothing to destroy Roman Reigns.
Only problem: the majority of the crowd loves old-school Game, D-X, blood and violence too much. Either that, or they really just don’t like Reigns. As the brutality raged, so did the pops. When Triple H stood tall over the fallen hero holding the championship belt, the crowd erupted in raucous applause.
If WWE is bent on getting Reigns over, they must revert back to what’s worked thus far: giving the people what they want. The last time Reigns was over, he beat Triple H within an inch of his life in quite heelish fashion.
If the throw-back trend continues, it would behoove Reigns to get on board, grab a sledge hammer and get to drawing blood and, hopefully, drawing much-needed pops as he heads to the main event of WrestleMania 32.