The show began with a wonderful video package and tribute to The Ultimate Warrior. A true legend that will never be forgotten. RIP Warrior.
1) Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio
The first match of the night was a first round match in a tournament to crown the new #1 Contender to the IC Title. RVD and Del Rio had some great matches last fall for the World Championship so I expected this to be no different. Some solid exchanges and counters throughout this bout. It was a very good match and way to start the show. Despite giving Van Dam a run for his money, Del Rio fell victim to the five star frog splash. Van Dam defeats Del Rio and advances in the tournament!
Match rating - 7/10
2) Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel
As always, Cody and Goldust put in a very entertaining performance. Ryback and Axel held up on their end as well. They've started adding new moves to their repetoire and it's been effective as they pick up the victory here. Fun tag team match.
Match rating - 6.5/10
3) Paige vs. Alicia Fox
This would be Paige's first match since her shocking debut and Divas Title victory. She definitely showed how different and better of a wrestler she is than most other women on the roster. Alicia Fox actually put in a good effort as well, resulting in a solid Divas bout. Good change of pace for the Diva's Division for sure. Paige wins with an innovative submission hold.
Match rating - 6/10
4) Cesaro vs. Mark Henry
This match wasn't good as you would probably expect since it involves Henry. Although it did a wonderful job of portraying Cesaro as the beast he is. Great showing from Cesaro as he took it to Henry and defeated him to advance in the tournament.
5) Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger
With these two legit tough guys, I expect this to be a very physical and entertaining bout between two brutes. Indeed it was. Good match that Swagger dominated for the most part. Both men put in a solid performance. Swagger hit a big slam on the outside which was a highlight for me. Another great moment was Swagger going for his now signature shoulder block over the top rope, but Swagger moved and caught him in the Patriot Lock. Great counter. Sheamus gets out of the move and rolls out of the ring where Swagger starts working over the leg. Swagger gets back in the ring only for Super Sheamus to hit a Brogue Kick out of nowhere. I HATE abrupt finishes like that. Coulda went atleast five more minutes. Hope for more between these two. The ending spoiled what was otherwise a good match.
Match rating - 6.5/10
Next up was a segment that just pissed me off. Sandow was cutting a really good promo on how he deserved better, but was interrupted by Big Show. Sandow kept talking and ended up getting punched in the face. Horrible treatment of such a phenomenal talent.
6) Fandango & Layla vs. Santino & Emma
Pointless match. Only purpose it served was to establish Layla as Fandango's new girl. As I said on Twitter, I would have just preferred to have seen Layla face Emma as they are both very talented.
7) Dolph Ziggler vs. Wade Barrett
I was looking forward to this match from the start as I knew these guys had the ability to steal the show and that's exactly what they did. Really good match, easily the best one of the night. The crowd even chanted "This is awesome". Solid work from both men. It proved that both guys deserve a push. After a very competitive match with several near falls, Barrett gets the victory with the bullhammer elbow!
Match rating - 7.5/10
The final segment of the show was the best segment of the show. The Shield taking on 11 men was boring, but it was the start of a good story that began being told earlier in the night. Batista & Orton told Triple H they wanted nothing to do with The Shield and refused his offer to team with him. During Batista & Orton's match with The Usos - The Shield interfered. This clearly must have changed Orton and Batista's minds because after the 11 mean beat down The Shield, "EVOLUTION IS A MYSTERYYY!" blared through the arena! Evolution's music hit and out came Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton. They beat down The Shield as Triple H proclaimed "Believe in Evolution!" Phenomenal ending to Raw.
Overall thoughts: The show was a big step down from last week although it did have a few high points. The Cena/Wyatt segment delivered as always. Ziggler/Barrett had the match of the night while RVD/Del Rio was a solid bout as well. And the ending in which Evolution reformed was brilliant. So if you missed Raw, check out the things mentioned along with The Warrior video package at the beginning of the show. The storytelling in the area of The Shield, Daniel Bryan, and Evolution continues to be superb. Loving it. The IC Title tournament was good so far, expecting even better next week as Cesaro faces RVD and Sheamus faces Barrett. Decent episode of Raw this week.
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