On Monday night, WWE Raw ended with a perfect mix of nostalgia and build for the SummerSlam pay-per-view as the company celebrated Hulk Hogan's birthday.
After advertising Hogan's birthday all night, complete with messages from the likes of Larry King and "Weird" Al Yankovic, they finally had a party for him in the final segment of the night. It started with "Mean" Gene Okerlund and Jimmy Hart out in the ring to introduce Hogan.
Hogan came out, shilled the WWE Network for a bit, and then thanked the fans. That's when the fun started. The “special guests” that had been hyped for the eventstarted to come out. First it was Ric Flair. Then “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff came out, marking his first-ever appearance on Raw.
Orndorff was followed by Roddy Piper, and then the nWo music hit, and out came Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Hall got the mic, said “Hey, yo,” and then asked the crowd if they liked Hogan better in red and yellow, or in the black and white of the nWo. Hogan ripped off his shirt, revealing an nWo shirt, and then the legends sang "Happy Birthday" to Hogan.
While that was nice, what happened next truly made the segment. Brock Lesnar, with Paul Heyman, came out and intimidated the legends, telling them the party was over. John Cena ran out to get between Lesnar and the legends, and after a staredown, Lesnar and Heyman backed off and made their way out of the ring.
It was a great way to combine a fantastic nostalgia segment with the current product. The segment needed something to tie it to SummerSlam, especially as the last show before the pay-per-view. Lesnar coming out to confront the legends was a perfect way to do that.
While I would have preferred that there was a little bit of physicality between Cena and Lesnar, it's perfectly understandable that the WWE wanted to hold off on anything between the two for the pay-per-view. Overall, it made for an incredibly memorable segment.
The rest of Raw:
* The show opened with Heyman coming to the ring with Lesnar. Heyman harkened back to Cena’s “Dr. of Thuganomics” days with a rap of his own, which was incredibly creative and really just emphasized how Heyman is the best in the business on the mic right now.
Cena came out later in the night and had a promo that wasn’t quite as good as Heyman’s, but it might have been more powerful. Say what you want about Cena, but he is certainly capable of hitting all the right notes in a promo and he did that in this one.
It was powerful enough that the irrational side of me actually started to believe that he could beat Lesnar at SummerSlam. He won’t, but the promo worked.
* Remember the praise I’ve been giving the Stephanie McMahon-Brie Bella angle? Well, the WWE flushed that goodwill away Monday night.
Midway through the show, McMahon came out and invited a woman named Megan Miller, who was introduced as Daniel Bryan’s physical trainer, to the ring. She claimed she was having an affair with Bryan, which brought out Brie Bella. Then, Brie Bella slapped Miller and put McMahon in the Yes Lock.
After they were separated, McMahon challenged Brie Bella to a match later that night. When Brie Bella came out for the match, McMahon came out and said Miller had filed assault charges against Brie Bella, and had her arrested.
Yes, if you are a fan of TNA (or follow angles that were considered some of the worst ever) and if you take away the arrest part, this does seem like the Claire Lynch angle from two years ago. In fact, Claire Lynch trended on Twitter.
Add a needless arrest to it, and it just makes the segment even worse. It truly puts a sour note on what to this point had been a strangely compelling feud. One can only hope that the match at SummerSlam will salvage it.
* Roman Reigns beat Rybaxel in a handicap match (made by Corporate Kane, back in a suit and without a mask) by disqualification. After the DQ, it looked like Rybaxel was going to continue a beatdown, but Reigns fought them off, hitting them both with Superman punches and spears.
* Randy Orton beat Sheamus as he caught Sheamus coming off the top rope with an RKO. There was a surprisingly loud pop for Orton’s win, and he even posed after hitting the RKO, like a baby face. I don’t expect a turn, but it was a very odd ending to the match.
* Seth Rollins beat Rob Van Dam. After the match, he went up to the top of the ramp, where Hogan’s presents were. He looked around them, and then when he turned away, Dean Ambrose burst out of one of the packages, and beat him up the ramp before Rollins escaped through the crowd. If you missed Smackdown, Ambrose announced that his match with Rollins would be a lumberjack match.
* Jack Swagger beat Cesaro by submission. Cesaro looked decent in the match, but at some point the WWE needs to figure out what to do with him before he stops being over. As it was, the crowd was completely dead for this match.
* Heath Slater won his second straight singles match on Raw, as he beat Dolph Ziggler by countout when Ziggler chased The Miz around ringside. I don’t think Slater is getting a real push, but beating Rollins and Ziggler in back-to-back weeks is certainly something to notice.
* Eva Marie beat AJ in a nontitle match when Paige distracted AJ. Paige then recited a poem for AJ. And AJ attacked Eva Marie afterwards.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster