Every now and then the WWE has a legend return, for various reasons. Sometimes it could be to get a simple pop, or ratings. Sometimes it can make sense in a storyline. Other times, it can be to put young talent over.
On Monday night, the WWE did the last of these, using Ric Flair to give a rub to The Shield, despite his previous Evolution ties.
When it was announced on Twitter that Ric Flair would be coming back on Raw, it was assumed it would be part of the Evolution storyline. While some assumed he'd reunite the full Evolution, I never thought that made a lot of sense -- why pair a super-popular Flair with the most hated guys on the roster?
Before the main event of the night, which was Roman Reigns against Randy Orton (which ended in a no-contest as the two groups brawled), Flair came down to the ring. He talked about the great stables he's been in, primarily the Four Horsemen. He ran down the qualities that make a great stable, and talked about how he saw that in the ring. But instead of turning towards Evolution, he said he saw it in The Shield.
While it was a bit of an awkward segment, as nothing really came from it (at least at this point), it did the job, which was simply putting over The Shield as potentially the next great stable from the man that's more associated with great stables than probably anyone else in wrestling. I do think they could have done a little more with it. Perhaps have him come out, and run down Evolution for not seeing what he sees in The Shield, and then maybe even getting attacked. It seemed like while it was an acceptable segment, with someone like Ric Flair, they could have done more with it.
However, it does set up the passing-of-the-torch scenario. A win for The Shield at Extreme Rules would certainly do that, and even if it doesn't happen at Extreme Rules, as long as the feud ends with that win, it will set up that scenario.
The Rest of RAW:
** The show opened with Cena asking why the WWE Universe voted him into the 3-on-1 match last week. While it was a bit hokey to hear him talk about how insurmountable the match was when he ended up winning, I'm glad they're addressing that, and continuing the storyline where Cena is concerned that the fans are turning on him.
As he was talking, a children's choir came out and started singing “He's Got The Whole World." After singing a few verses, Bray came out and sung it himself as the children surrounded the ring. It was a fairly disconcerting scene, just like the end of RAW last week. But, unlike a lot of people, it didn't quite connect with me. I understand the point of it, that Bray has taken most of the adults in the WWE Universe, and now he's taking the kids, but for some reason it didn't quite work for me. I think part of it is that when Cena talks about the adults joining Wyatt's side, that's factual. Many, even most, of the adults in the crowd are cheering for Wyatt. But a vast majority of kids are still cheering for Cena. So to insinuate that he's losing kids too just seems a bit off when Cena's side of this feud is grounded in reality.
** Daniel Bryan did make it back for this week's RAW, and he had a segment with Stephanie McMahon where she “tried” to apologize for last week. He, obviously, didn't believe her, and as a token of goodwill, Brie Bella was given a divas title match.
The match was interrupted by Kane, who came up through the ring. He tried to grab Brie several times and drag her back under, but was stopped. However, he was able to get to Bryan, who he chokeslammed, despite the fact that Bryan was wearing a neckbrace, selling last week's injuries. After that segment, Brie and Bryan were backstage being looked at by the doctor, and Stephanie again tried to apologize. Brie aggressively told her to leave.
Two somewhat interesting things came from this. The first is that I think there's a chance we could see Stephanie in the ring again, against Brie Bella. It's been years since Stephanie has been in the ring. In fact, I believe her last match was in 2003 in Baltimore, in an “I Quit” match against Vince.
The way they are pursuing this feud though, with Stephanie so intensely involved, I could see it leading to match with Brie.
The second thing, and one that's mildly annoying to me, is how they are treating Kane's mask. I get that the mask is supposed to represent his demonic side, but to present it in a way where he can only be demonic if he has it on, and if he doesn't have it he can't act demonic, is simply asinine. We've seen Kane act evil without the mask before. He doesn't need the mask to be evil. And to treat it that way is ridiculous and hurts the monster personality that they're trying to get.
** The Usos beat Rybaxel in a Tag Team Title match. It was a pretty solid match between the two teams, featuring some great selling of a hamstring injury by Jey Uso. A bit disappointing that they couldn't get this on the Extreme Rules, particularly considering some of the matches that are on the card.
** Bad News Barrett won the Intercontinental Title Contender tournament, beating Rob Van Dam. The match featured interference from Cesaro, which also brought out Jack Swagger.
** Earlier in the night, Cesaro beat Jack Swagger after Paul Heyman attacked Zeb Colter. After the events from tonight, the WWE made a triple threat elimination match for Extreme Rules: Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger vs. RVD. That has the potential to be quite a good match, if given time.
** Alexander Rusev beat Xavier Woods by DQ after R-Truth got involved in the match. After the match, both of them got the upper hand on Rusev, knocking him out of the ring. A handicap match was made for Extreme Rules: Rusev vs. Woods and R-Truth.
** Hugh Jackman returned to RAW, doing a segment with Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow. While Ziggler and Jackman were in the ring, Sandow came out dressed as Mangeto. As goofy as the segment was, Sandow did a pretty good job of it, even causing Ziggler and Jackman to genuinely break up laughing a few times. The segment ended with Jackman giving a hip toss and Ziggler giving a Zig-Zag to Sandow.
** 3MB actually picked up a win, as Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre beat Los Matadores when Slater picked up a pin. This match was made to continue the feud between El Torito and Hornswaggle, and the two are getting a match in the pre-show of Extreme Rules in a “WeeLC” match.
** Sheamus beat Titus O'Neil, despite O'Neil attacking Sheamus during his entrance.
** Alberto Del Rio beat Cody Rhodes with the Cross Armbreaker. After the match, Cody again pushed Goldust away before going up the ramp.
** Adam Rose will make his RAW debut next week.
Stay tuned later this week for my look at Extreme Rules and my predictions.
Any questions or comments? Leave them below in the comments section or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster