Over the past few years, the RAW after Wrestlemania has been considered to be one of the best RAWs of the year, particularly because of the crowds it draws. This year was no different.
From start to finish, the crowd was loud, boisterous and made their presence felt in nearly every match. While the fans had fun, you can tell the wrestlers loved it to. Daniel Bryan not only had fun with the crowd as he opened the show, you could simply tell by the look on his face how much he loved it. Even as a heel, Bray Wyatt played to the crowd. Randy Orton did his best to troll the crowd, particularly after the show went to commercial. And, as part of that crowd, I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable wrestling experiences I've had as a fan.
The crowd in New Orleans was, even in comparison to past years at the same time, incredibly creative as well as constructive towards the show. They sang, they chanted, cheered and booed. While I personally hate the “Cena Sucks” chant, even I was smiling at singing “John Cena sucks” to the tune of his theme song. The most crowd-related activities were for Bray Wyatt however. During his match, especially when he was in the ring, the crowd swayed, and also sung “He's Got the Whole World In His Hand”. They also adapted the chant usually reserved for TNA's Samoa Joe and chanted “Bray's Gonna Kill You”.
The WWE knew what was coming, at least to an extent, and did a beautiful job of playing off of the crowd and using it to enhance storylines instead of just the single show. They debuted Paige on the main roster to an incredible roar, as they knew most of the fans at this specific show would know her. If she had debuted in a few weeks, there's a chance that the crowd would have given her a lukewarm reaction. And the controversial decision to pair a face Cesaro with Paul Heyman worked, at least for one week, because they knew that Heyman would be cheered in front of this crowd (More on both of these developments below). And, crowds tend to parrot other crowds. If they were watching RAW, they'll likely cheer the same way, at least for a little while at least.
The question is which of the crowd chants will stay over. We've seen some that were popularized on the post-WM RAW stay around, like the “Yes” chant. But, as Triple H reminded us last week, some, like “Fandangoing”, fizzled quickly. My guess is that the swaying for Bray Wyatt is here to stay. It's extremely easy to do, and as it was shown both when he was in NXT, and on RAW, it looks pretty cool. I could also see crowds trying to sing when he's in the ring, though I have a feeling that will be marked by various degrees of success, as many crowds quite simply won't be able to sing together.
All in all, the crowd on Monday night not just enhanced the show, but may have made a big mark on WWE.
The Rest of RAW:
** I actually considered leading with this, but we have a new Divas champion. Paige, who is currently the NXT Women's Champion, came out to a tremendous roar from the crowd while AJ was in the ring. For those who haven't been watching NXT, Paige is a tremendous wrestler from English who may be one of the most technically proficient female wrestlers we've ever seen in WWE. AJ challenged her to a match right there, and while Paige hesitated, AJ demanded the match. While AJ got in most of the offense, Paige was able to hit her finisher, the Paige Turner, for the win, and stop AJ's reign as Divas Champion just shy of 300 days.
If I had to quibble with something, I wasn't thrilled with how they portrayed Paige. She has portrayed herself as being incredibly confident and capable, and having her be hesitant didn't do much for her. I also wish she had gotten a little bit more offense in. However, this should be a decent-length feud, and there's nothing wrong with saving the good matches for a Pay-Per-View.
** Daniel Bryan opened the show by giving a heartfelt speech to the crowd, thanking them for all of their support, and truly putting them over, while they serenaded him with Yeses, “Daniel Bryan” chants, as well as a “You Deserve It”. Triple H came out and demanded a match between the two for the title. Later in the show, he insisted on getting help from Kane, Randy Orton, Batista and The Shield.
** At the end of the night, after Daniel Bryan came out, Orton and Batista came out and assaulted Bryan. Kane then later came out to add a chokeslame. Triple H came out, and after demanding that the ref starrt the match, it looked like he would give Bryan a pedigree. However, The Shield finally officially broke away from the Authority, coming down to the ring, attacking the other three, and then Reigns speared Triple H. It looks like they'll have a feud between those eight, possibly even getting an 8-man at some point.
** As I mentioned before, Cesaro aligned himself with Paul Heyman. Zeb Colter came out with Cesaro as he was accepting the Andre the Giant trophy. Zeb put himself over as the man responsible for Cesaro's success, when Cesaro dropped the bombshell that he was joining Paul Heyman, to a big roar. It will be interesting to see Paul Heyman manage a face wrestler, as he's almost exclusively been a heel in his WWE career. After he joined Heyman, Swagger came out, and Cesaro beat him by countout.
** Speaking of Paul Heyman, he came out with Brock Lesnar to boast about beating the Undertaker. Interestingly, the Undertaker wasn't at RAW at all, though that might have been due to his injuries that he suffered at Wrestlemania. I actually expect Brock Lesnar to stay around for a little bit, rather than go away for months as he has lately.
** I already talked about the crowd reaction and interaction with Bray Wyatt, but they also had a match. The Wyatts beat John Cena, Sheamus and Big E, to gain a measure of retribution for Wrestlemania. As I said in my Wrestlemania column, I fully expect the Cena/Bray Wyatt feund to extend for a couple more months.
** Before coming out for the main event, Batisa and Orton teamed against the Usos. The match ended in a double countout, but Batista and Orton attacked the Usos after the match, assaulting them with the stairs and slamming them on the floor. The two posed together after the match, so we may see them tag more, especially with the new alliance with Triple H.
** Rob Van Dam made his return, beating Damien Sandow. It will be interesting to see how they use RVD in this run.
** Bad News Barrett had his first singles match since his gimmick change, and beat Rey Mysterio. He got a huge reaction, while Rey Mysterio was booed. While of course, this crowd is a bizarro crowd, Rey has been getting a few more boos lately. That could be something interesting to watch.
** The WWE aired promos for NXT superstars Bo Dallas and Adam Rose. For those who aren't aware, Bo Dallas has a heel gimmick where he's portraying an over-the-top face. Basically, think Kurt Angle when he first debuted in the WWE. Meanwhile, Adam Rose is more or less Russell Brand.
** Alexander Rusev had his first singles match, squashing Zack Ryder.
** Emma and Santino beat Summer Rae and Fandango
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