When Randy Orton returned at Fastlane, almost everyone assumed he would slide right into a brutal feud with Seth Rollins instantly. As Monday's Raw showed, the WWE is opting to go with a slow burn for at least one feud.
Raw didn't kick off with Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, or even John Cena on Monday night.
Instead, it was Randy Orton who came down to the ring. And as expected he was all fired up, wanting to get his hands on the guy who put him on the shelf for four months. Instead, the Authority came out, and offered Orton a chance to return to the Authority.
Surprisingly, he accepted after thinking it over, even shaking hands with Rollins and agreeing to team with him later against Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan. That match didn't go their way, as Orton got upset with Rollins tagging himself in, which caused him to leave the apron while Rollins took the pin.
Orton got in the ring, and people expected things to explode there, but instead, he walked away, not attacking Rollins, and seems to still be with the Authority.
With nearly five weeks to go before WrestleMania, many matches are in place without much ground-laying left to do. Reigns-Lesnar is set in stone, as is Triple H-Sting. Cena-Rusev really could wrestle tomorrow, even if that match isn't official yet.
So, it makes sense to have a feud that has a bit of slow burn to it, just to make March relevant when it comes to feuds. While we are all pretty sure that Orton and Rollins will collide at WrestleMania, it's necessary to have an actual build, as opposed to having the match in place and just upping the ante until the pay-per-view.
The key to the next few weeks will be the creativity of the feud. Everyone will be waiting for Orton to snap and attack Rollins, so how many different ways can they make Orton wait without making the situation look ridiculous?
The Rest of Raw:
** Roman Reigns came out and cut a pretty solid promo about his past month. He was interrupted by Daniel Bryan, who came out to give his thoughts. At first it seemed like Bryan was going to be a mouthpiece for the Reigns haters, talking about how Reigns was all look and no-talent.
However, it came around when he said that's what he thought before the match, but Reigns has earned his respect. They need to be more careful with this tactic. While it eventually came around, there was one point where Bryan was actively trying to get the crowd to boo Reigns, which is the last thing that Reigns needs.
After they shook hands, Paul Heyman came out to put over Reigns. He talked about how Reigns would almost beat everyone in WWE history -- but not Brock Lesnar. Reigns replied that he'll show everyone that he will beat Lesnar.
The most interesting thing about this was that despite Lesnar being advertised, and reportedly being backstage, he wasn't used during the segment. He wasn't completely needed, but to bring in Lesnar and not use him is extremely odd.
** It looks like we'll have a rare Intercontinental title match at WrestleMania. While there is the standing feud between Bad News Barrett and Dean Ambrose (and Ambrose still has the title in his possession), it seems others will be added to the match. Barrett faced Dolph Ziggler in a match Monday night, and R-Truth was on commentary after he beat Barrett on SmackDown. Eventually, Ziggler ended up beating Barrett after Ambrose distracted Barrett. So it seems like there will be a multi-man match at WrestleMania.
** John Cena came out and wanted a rematch with Rusev. Lana and Rusev came out to mock Cena, and then denied his rematch, saying that Cena didn't deserve one. So the next month of this feud will be Cena trying to get Rusev to give him that rematch.
** The Miz announced that the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal would happen again, and he'd be the first entrant, as he talked with Sandow backstage. Sandow also mentioned that now he was no longer a stunt double, people were contacting him to be a leading man, as Miz looked on confused and jealous.
** The Bella Twins beat Paige and Emma in about 30 seconds. This caused some furor online, including #GiveDivasAChance (a parody of the #GiveTruthAChance hashtag that the WWE had publicized earlier) starting to trend at one point. The WWE has a bit of a crisis in the Divas division right now. The women are openly commenting that they'd rather go down to NXT where they'd have some time to wrestle, rather than get 30 seconds on Raw. This isn't anything new, but the quality of women's matches in NXT is shining a big spotlight on the situation. We'll see if the WWE responds at all.
** A new wrinkle was added to the feud between Kidd and Cesaro and The Usos, as the Natalya nad Naomi are getting more involved. During the match, Naomi physically prevented Kidd from using the ropes for a pin, which caused Natalya to get in Naomi's face. Natalya then pushed one of the Usos off the ropes when it looked like they were about to win. Natalya has always been a very sympathetic figure next to Tyson Kidd, so a full turn for her will be an interesting look.
** Jack Swagger beat Stardust after Goldust distracted him and Swagger was able to catch him in the Patriot Lock.
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