By Aaron Oster
2:38 PM EST, January 7, 2014
On a night that was filled with nostalgia, Old School Raw saved the best for last, as Jake "The Snake" Roberts made his return to the WWE at the end of the night.
In the main event, Roman Reigns became the first member of The Shield to beat CM Punk one-on-one (with some distractions of course), and it looked like The Shield would do more damage to Punk, when Roberts came out to make the save (with some assistance from the New Age Outlaws, who had been out with Punk for the entire match).
But, of course, it wouldn’t be a Roberts appearance without him getting to place a snake on someone -- in this case, Dean Ambrose. It was the first time Roberts had been seen on WWE television in nearly nine years, and just the second time that he had been there since he left the WWE for the second time, in 1997.
Roberts has been known for battling his “personal demons.” He had gone to rehab multiple times for drugs and alcohol since he left WWE in '97, and he had fallen horribly out of shape, to the point where simply walking winded him. However, in 2012, Diamond Dallas Page (who was also at Raw on Monday) invited Roberts to stay with him, in what he called an “accountability crib.” They worked on getting Roberts back in shape, and Roberts was regularly drug tested throughout the process. Page said if Roberts tested positive once, he wouldn’t help him anymore.
Roberts has gotten back in shape so much that he declared his goal was to wrestle at this year’s Royal Rumble.The WWE had distanced itself publicly from Roberts through his struggles (though they did pay for his rehab at least one time), however, this seems like it may be a step towards a renewed relationship between the two. While I am not sure if we’ll see Roberts at this year’s Royal Rumble (I’d guess no, as I feel like if he was a surprise entrant, they would’ve saved his return specifically for the Rumble), my guess is that we will see him in New Orleans, getting his long overdue induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The Rest of RAW
** The WWE did a really good job, as usual, of balancing current storylines with the nostalgia on this show. Using Ric Flair not just for his past, but also acknowledging his time in Evolution to show his disappointment in Randy Orton was a nice touch.
While sometimes Piper's Pit has been awkward when he’s been brought back over the past few years, partnering Roddy Piper with The Shield worked out perfectly in this instance. And the crowd loved seeing some of the wrestlers that aren’t back too often, such as the Too Cool reunion, as they faced 3MB. Some of the other former wrestlers that showed up included Ted Dibiase, IRS, Nikolai Volkoff, Bob Backlund, Arn Anderson and Ron Simmons.
** It was really odd to see the Wyatts lose their first match with Daniel Bryan in the fold. You would think some of the miscommunication would come a little bit later down the line, after they established themselves as an even more powerful group with Bryan. We’ll see what happens next week when Bryan teams with Bray Wyatt to take on the Usos.
** It looks like Big E will be starting a feud with Ryback, as Ryback sat out on commentary during Big E's win over Curtis Axel. Could be an entertaining match between two powerhouses.
** Speaking of a match between two powerhouses, after Mark Henry tried to gain some revenge for last week against Brock Lesnar (and got a broken arm for his troubles), the Big Show came out to confront “the Beast.” In something we haven’t seen since Lesnar returned nearly two years ago, Big Show actually manhandled Lesnar somewhat, tossing him across the ring before Lesnar bailed up the ramp with Heyman. We saw these two feud back in 2002, and Lesnar hit an F5 on Show during that feud, so if just to see that feat of strength again, this could be a good match.
** Alberto Del Rio beat Sin Cara, and then cut a promo about the Royal Rumble, specifically calling out Batista.
** More Batista promos were shown, including one saying he was the first official entrant into this year’s Rumble.
** The Rhodes Brothers beat the Real Americans in another entertaining match.
** The Great Khali beat Damien Sandow when the ref, Sgt. Slaughter, missed Sandow’s foot on the rope. Sandow yelled at Slaughter after the match, and got a Cobra Clutch for his troubles.
** Aksana and Alicia Fox beat the Bellas when Aksana pinned Brie. This is the second straight week Aksana has earned a pin over a Bella on Raw.
** It was a great turnout for Raw at the Baltimore Arena. I couldn’t see the top level on the camera side from where I was sitting, but besides that, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Usually there would be a couple more sections tarped off.
They also announced that Raw would be returning to Baltimore on April 21.
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