The Champion vs. Champion match opens the show as we get a first time ever, on the main roster, contest between Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler and United States Champion Rusev. I think it's cool that Lana comes out with the United States Title first. My only issues with this are that there should be more build for a Champion vs. Champion match and that neither guy can really afford a loss. Dolph has been on absolute fire, but Rusev's streak isn't going to end on an episode of Raw. What we got was a ten or so minute match that was damn good, but ended via disqualification. Unfortunately, the post match attack didn't make Dolph look great as he had to be saved by Ryback. After running off Rusev, Ryback cut a promo about his life story, showing clips of Nexus and Tough Enough. It wasn't bad, but it was rather awkward and long. Some of the crowd liked it, but some seemed to be wondering what exactly was going on. However, I 100% commend the WWE for giving guys promo time that don't normally get that. Only one way to learn right?
After a Total Divas promo airs, since it returns this Sunday, Nikki Bella faces Natalya. Last week, Tyson Kidd wore Nikki's hat during Brie's match with Nattie. This time around, Nikki is knocked off the apron only to fall into Tyson's arms. I instantly grew scared that one day John Cena will remember that and end him. Nikki would go on to win with the Rack Attack. Standard Divas stuff but Tyson continues to be awesome. We also get Naomi backstage running into the Miz and Damien Mizdow. She hugs Miz and thanks him for the opportunity as she got a callback from one of Miz's "people" in Hollywood. She wishes him luck even though he's facing her husband in a tag match tonight. Odd.
So, what I didn't know was that the Usos vs. Miz and Damien Mizdow match tonight would be for the WWE Tag Team Championship. It makes sense since the Usos won at TLC by disqualification. The Usos have been the best tag team in the WWE throughout 2014 as they can always have good matches. I honestly can't remember a bad Usos match this year. Mizdow gets knocked down at one point, Jey survives the Figure Four, leading to a fucking tequila sunrise. Miz nearly wins with the Skull Crushing Finale but only gets two. Did not expect that. The Usos end up hitting a big splash and winning back the Tag Team Titles. I enjoyed the match and the title change wasn't bad. I can see the Usos going on to face the Ascension and eventually dropping the belts to them. The Usos got a post match in-ring interview, which made this seem like a bigger deal. Naomi celebrated with them and they claimed that they messed with the Miz in the same way that he messed with them.
Returning, Cesaro is sitting in the corner with a towel over his head like he's Raven crossed with Taz. He has a microphone and talks about how, week in and week out, he outperforms everyone in the ring. He says that 2014 should have been his year but he's been told by WWE decision makers that he doesn't connect. He does deliver though. He seemed to be doing a face "pipebomb" type promo before saying he doesn't care about the fans or fancy elaborate entrances. He also makes a mistake by saying "4 ropes" instead of three. He corrects himself and issues an open challenge. It's answers by BAD NEWS FUCKING BARRETT! And you know what? HE'S AFRAID HE'S GOT SOME BAD NEWS! The match itself could have been better, though it seemed like Cesaro got knocked silly and maybe it was cut short. Barrett seems to be a face and even though Cesaro made a slip up on the mic, it's another example of giving a guy a chance to speak who doesn't usually get the opportunity.
Next, we get a rematch from Main Event between Luke Harper and Jack Swagger. This was your basic affair, but didn't seem to have much meaning. It was kind of just there. Harper wins with the Clothesline from Smell. After a fun little backstage segment with John Cena, Edge and Christian, we are set for Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins. Big Show joins the commentary team and steals the show. Show says a lot of the things that some fans have felt about Roman Reigns, which I did not expect him to touch on. "He got Superstar of the Year because he's pretty." I do feel that this should have gotten bigger build, just like the opening match. It got over sixteen or so minutes, but wasn't that great. I mean, it wasn't bad, but the middle portions felt like they were just trying to make it to the fifteen minute mark. It should have been shorter and save the long match for a future PPV bout. Big Show causes the obvious DQ after the crowd pops for the Reigns comeback and he turns the announce table over on him.
Seth Rollins says that he has big plans for the Cutting Edge Peep Show. We get highlights of the Dean Ambrose/Bray Wyatt feud because neither guy is there due to a house show that is running tonight for some dumb reason. Next week on Raw, they meet in an Ambulance match. Daniel Bryan is now out for his announcement. He starts with tears in his eyes and talks about how a kid from a small town in Washington could main event WrestleMania. He won the belt and married the girl of his dreams, only to return from the honeymoon and two days later, his dad died. Then he got hurt and the doctors didn't know what was wrong. He asks, "is my career over?" and the crowd shouts "NO!" because they, and me, don't want it to end. Bryan answers his own question with "NO!" to a huge pop. He announces that he will be in the 2015 Royal Rumble. I fucking loved this. Daniel Bryan went out, spoke from the heart and got a legitimate and natural ovation from the fans. Beautiful.
The Ascension made their debut next and I'm not sure how I feel about the facepaint they've added. It makes them look like a cheap knockoff of Demolition, who was originally a cheap knockoff of the Legion of Doom. Don't get me wrong, I did love Demolition. Miz and Mizdow wanted another match so they got fed to the Ascension. Well, Miz fed Mizdow. This was fine though I never really saw much in the Ascension.
Finally, we reach the last segment of the night. The Cutting Edge Peep Show, featuring Seth Rollins, who was with J&J Security got off to a basic start. Edge and Christian claims that maybe Seth didn't have the best 2014. Maybe it was Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler or even Sting. Seth brings out Big Show before demanding to see Cena. Cena doesn't respond, so Seth resorts to taking out Christian. Still no Cena until Show holds Edge and his broken neck over the Money in the Bank briefcase and Seth threatens to Curb Stomp him. Cena comes out but is stopped at ringside. Seth continues to goad and threaten him, which goes on for far too long, and says that if Cena doesn't bring back the Authority he will paralyze Edge. Cena also waits far too long to respond, but finally agrees. Seth, ever the heel, says "I'm gonna kill him anyway" leading Cena to run in and take him out, which he could have done from the start. He gets taken out and as Seth, Show and J&J leave, Brock and Heyman appear before the Authority shows up. Triple H and Stephanie are in the building as it looks like 2015 is going to be a bit more of the same as 2014.
In the end, this was probably my favorite Raw since the post-WrestleMania episode. It's like, with the WWE not having everyone available, they somehow managed to put on a show without useless filler and a million recaps. We got two really good matches in the Tag Titles and Ziggler/Rusev, while everything else made some sense. The opening was kind of fun, we got a title change, BNB and the Authority returned, the big Daniel Bryan announcement and the show was fun. 9/10.