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Sting makes first appearance ever on Raw

While we've come to expect a big brawl to end the final Raw before the Royal Rumble, WWE decided to change it up, and instead the end of Raw featured the first appearance of Sting on the Monday night program.

WWE fans have been waiting for the next sighting of Sting ever since his WWE debut at Survivor Series. While "The Vigilante" Sting has been mentioned almost weekly, he hadn't been seen since November. Finally, he appeared on the show that he once did his best to bury in the Monday Night Wars, once again disrupting the plans of Triple H and The Authority.

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John Cena once again was on a quest to get Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan rehired by the WWE. Triple H agreed to give Cena another chance to earn their jobs back (after allowing the fans to vote on whether the match would happen). He would have to beat Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show to earn their jobs back, and if he lost, he'd lose his title match at the Royal Rumble

The match happened like you'd expect for the most part. Cena had problems early on, started to come back, then the numbers game caught up to him. Just when it looked like Seth Rollins would get the pin, Sting showed up on the Tron. As the noise grew in Dallas, the camera panned back, and it showed him walking towards the curtain, and then as his music played, he stood on the ramp. Everyone in the ring stopped, and looked toward him. Triple H looked apoplectic and started to push his way to the bottom of the ramp, yelling.

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Cena used the distraction to roll Rollins up, and get the win. Sting, looking satisfied, made his way to the back, before Brock Lesnar came out to finish the show (more on this later).

While he didn't do much in the appearance (in fact, he was only on camera for about a minute), it made the ending memorable and got fans excited going into the Royal Rumble on Sunday. I do have to say, Triple H made the segment as much as Sting did. His outrage at seeing Sting, and then completely freaking out after the match, was perfectly done. It was a little surprising to see Sting do so little in one of his sparse appearances, but it certainly did the job in pushing us a little closer to a Sting/Triple H match that everyone expects for WrestleMania.

The Rest of RAW:

** As mentioned, Brock Lesnar played a prominent role in this show. He started the night by coming out and demanding that Seth Rollins come out. Yes, Brock demanded this, as he snatched the microphone out of Paul Heyman's hand. He's not the most polished talker, but just the fact that it was him talking instead of Heyman added to the segment. He acted enraged and demanded to fight Rollins. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon both came out, and even that barely calmed down Lesnar. Rollins showed up on the Tron, and goaded Lesnar a little bit. Cena later came out, as mentioned before, and all the attention was put on him, but that segment set up the ending.

After Cena won, Cena celebrated with the fans and made his way to the back. After both Cena and Sting were gone, Lesnar's music played and he came out, making a beeline for Rollins. He tackled Rollins before being pulled off by Kane and Big Show. He delivered F5s to both Kane and Big Show, while Rollins was able to escape.

The past two weeks with Rollins and Lesnar have been absolutely fantastic. While the past few months have established Rollins as a good heel, the past two weeks have re-established his credibility as a wrestler and done more to excite people for the Royal Rumble card than anything else.

There hasn't been much to the build. Rollins has been his normal cocky self, but just pushing it toward Lesnar and Heyman rather than a face. But it's worked excellently, and what was a somewhat boring title match has all of a sudden become the most compelling in some time.

** Monday night also featured the "Raw Reunion". There were two main components to this, which helped promote current storylines. The first segment that featured legends was a simple panel to talk about the Rumble pay-per-view, which consisted of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels answering questions. While nothing of note happened with the questions, Big Show came out to run down the legends, and he even punched out Flair. That brought out Roman Reigns, who attacked Big Show and then knocked him out of the ring, without saying a word.

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The other big segment started with the nWo (represented by Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and X-pac, who was called X-pac instead of his WCW name, Syxx). After they talked for a while, they were interrupted by The Ascension. They ran the legends down and again talked about how they were better than any of the older tag teams. This caused JBL to come out from behind the desk, saying he had enough, and that he placed a call of his own, which brought out Ron Simmons as the APA music played.

The Ascension didn't back down at all as they entered the ring, but before anything else happened, the New Age Outlaws' music played and they came out. The Outlaws then attacked, beating up The Ascension before JBL hit a couple Clotheslines from Hells on The Ascension. Later in the night, it was announced that The Ascension would face The New Age Outlaws at the Royal Rumble

I really wasn't a fan of the segment. I thought that making The Ascension look like chumps while you were trying to push them was a terrible idea. This isn't having 3MB job out to legends, presumably this is a team that will be in the title picture in the near-future. However, the chance to get revenge at the pay-per-view could save the angle. If they let the Ascension absolutely tear the Outlaws apart, that will serve the team well. I'm not even talking about one of their typical quick matches. If they take five minutes to absolutely dissect and brutalize the Outlaws, that could help get The Ascension over as true heels, and get heat on them that they so far have been lacking. I'm not a huge fan of allowing guys who have no business in the ring beat them down, but it certainly can be salvaged on Sunday.

** Daniel Bryan made his in-ring return to Raw, but surprisingly it came in a loss to Bray Wyatt. The match itself was very well done. It doesn't look like Bryan is holding anything back, despite his injury. He even busted out a top-rope Frankensteiner, which was a move he didn't even use all that often before the injury. Kane distracted Bryan at the end, which led to Wyatt hitting Sister Abigail and winning. They certainly are protecting Wyatt, and hopefully soon we'll see exactly what for. Daniel Bryan will face Kane on SmackDown, and if Bryan loses, he'll lose his Royal Rumble spot.

** Dean Ambrose, coming off securing his Rumble spot last week, beat Bad News Barrett in a non-title match. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention for the past year. The record of the Intercontinental champion in non-title matches has been horrific lately. However, it's good to see Ambrose get a win before the Rumble, after losing to Bray Wyatt so many times in a row.

** The New Day (represented by Big E and Kofi) beat Tyson Kidd and Cesaro in a tag match. After the match, it was announced that all three members of The New Day would face Kidd, Cesaro and Adam Rose in an Elimination match. Kidd and Cesaro are really gelling quickly as a tag team, and it seems they break out new double team moves every week.

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** Paige and Natalya beat Summer Rae and Alicia Fox. Nikki Bella was on commentary during the match. After the match, the winners came down to face off with the Bellas, and the two teams will have a match at Royal Rumble. I suppose this is happening, instead of a singles match, because Nikki Bella is still nursing an injury

** Jey Uso beat The Miz. Their two teams will have another match at the Royal Rumble for the titles.

** Rusev beat R-Truth in a quick match.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster


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