I will preface everything I’m about to say with the fact that I’m not a reporter who regularly covers live events. I didn’t even cover last night’s Raw, I just attended as a fan. I also wear my emotions on my sleeve and I definitely may have a tendency to be overly excited about things I’ve directly experienced. I wrote yesterday about how TLC left me more excited about Raw than I had been in a while. I wasn’t 100% convinced WWE would deliver, but I was hopeful based on the close to Sunday’s show.
It felt like they finally managed to get Roman Reigns over at TLC. The crowd went from Cena chants during his match to “Thank You Roman” chants by the end. I was really curious to see how the crowd that booed Reigns out of the building in January would respond to him. In all honesty, the crowd was so loud in the arena that it was difficult to hear his promo with Stephanie, which probably wasn’t the worst thing. Then Stephanie McMahon made mention of Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The roof blew off the place and I think his impending arrival had the crowd distracted and preoccupied for a while. Within the first ten minutes of the show I was feeling pretty high on my prediction for an exciting Raw. Not only was Roman accepted in Philadelphia, but we’d get to see Vince McMahon live on Raw for the first time in over a year.
In the time we waited for Mr. McMahon to arrive, I started to think it may not be the best idea to have him square off with Roman. Obviously the crowd would be happy to see Vince, because even though we may hate a lot of his decisions with the product, he’s still Vince. He’s still an electrifying, larger than life character that we enjoy watching. I began to worry that this would lead to some heat on Reigns. Regardless of Vince playing a heel, he was going to get cheered, which he did. When his music hit the building exploded. I immediately was transported to being 19 years old and watching the Attitude Era with my friends. Those friends were texting me expressing their regret for choosing not to attend. By the same token, Roman got booed at times during their exchange, including an “Asshole” chant at one point, which was probably aimed at Vince.
I also started to consider how I was feeling. As much as I’ve always loved watching and listening to Vince, should I really be popping for him? This is the guy responsible for the fact that people have quit watching WWE in droves. He’s responsible for why I have been finding WWE increasingly less enjoyable. But there I was screaming and laughing with everyone else, saying as many things as I could in my best Vince McMahon voice. I guess that question is best left for another day, because his presence brought an unbelievable jolt to the show, even if he got in Roman’s way a bit. Despite our differences, I’ve missed you Mr. McMahon. I couldn’t have been any more thrilled when Vince told Roman that if he didn’t win the title tonight, “You’re Fiiiiired!”
We got to see some old ECW legends, a couple of them possibly for the last time on the biggest stage. We also got to see the Wyatt Family go over for a second consecutive night. Unfortunately the Extreme Rules match isn’t the easiest to watch live as there is so much action at angles that are obstructed. I can’t give a proper evaluation of the match, just that Luke Harper is awesome and I was glad the Wyatt’s got the win. Even against the old hometown favorites, the Wyatt’s seemed insanely popular with the crowd. I forgot, but earlier in the night we got a good Ambrose-Ziggler match that included a maniacal Kevin Owens both in the ring and on the mic backstage. I look forward to this program continuing.
The New Day of course was a joy to watch as always. They reminded us of the work they and their opponents put in the night before and gave us an opportunity to show our appreciation for their brilliance and sacrifice. They also got an opportunity to turn up the comedy and put down their adversaries just after praising them and showing them the utmost respect. They took a beating for their actions and made their way out of there. It was light work for New Day, but they brought their A game nonetheless.
If there was any real complaint last night, it was with the women. It’s always fun to get a chance to see Ric Flair and watch him for Flair things in and around the ring, but honestly, it’s almost criminal how little they are using Sasha Banks. I’m not the only one that views her as a highly marketable commodity and the people clearly want her, but they are holding her back. She came out and sat in the first row with Team B.A.D. but as a spectator in the crowd it didn’t feel like a good use of her ability.
Closing the show obviously was the main event between Sheamus and Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The match obviously wasn’t going to live up to their TLC match as I imagine they were both at least a little limited physically. The crowd lost interest numerous times as there were some chants for CM Punk and Brock Lesnar. I don’t understand the Lesnar chants because he’s still part of the company and he works his own schedule. Anyway, it was exciting that none of us honestly knew how this would end. Maybe some people did, or will say they did, but I honestly believed Roman would be fired in some way last night. Vince got the crowd riled up, the match picked up in pace, the false finishes actually felt meaningful and by the end, the energy in the Wells Fargo Center seemed to swell around Roman Reigns. He overcame the League of Nations, minus Barrett again, and Mr. McMahon’s interference to win the WWE Title for the second time in less than a month, but this time held onto it longer than the infamous 5:15 and this time in the city that arguably kept him from winning the title at WrestleMania 31.
In the end, the crowd was behind him, it seemed in the arena that everyone was cheering. Sometimes things sound a little different on TV, but I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong about this. I WAS wrong when I said yesterday that Roman would be out of the title picture for a while with his feud with Triple H looming. I couldn’t have been more wrong and I’ve rarely been so happy to have been so wrong. I got the privilege of seeing the first title change on Raw since, I believe 2011. I also had the privilege of watching the story go full circle, being at both the Royal Rumble and Raw in my city. When the show went off the air Roman grabbed a mic which usually makes me cringe. He said that it was less than a year ago that we reacted a whole lot different to him He said that night is the reason for his progression for his improvement, that sometimes you need to get kicked in the ass to get better. He then said in a weird way he owed us a thank you for finally getting his moment tonight and he thanked us for supporting him and being a part of his triumph.
It was probably the best promo I’ve ever heard him cut, because it came from his heart and he said what he felt in his own words. He didn’t have to remember a script or talking points. He had reached a real milestone in his career and his life and he just expressed himself. He should be talking less, but talking more in that manner.
As I said, I had extremely high hopes for last night’s Raw and I felt without a doubt they delivered. I left the arena on a high that I’m still feeling. I feel like this could really be the start of a turning point for the company and it felt like a show that would go over really well with fans and was capped with a huge moment. Again, I may have some rose colored glasses having been a part of the crowd so please share in the comments your thoughts on the show, Roman’s new empire and the direction it feels the company is going in.
Thanks for reading and thank you WWE for not letting me down. Keep it up!