I know this is an off-topic way to begin, but right before Raw, the USA Network airs Law and Order SVU and the ending of those episodes is always super intense. Anyway, MLK Raw opens with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. Brock takes the microphone from Heyman and I'm just thinking "GET THAT DAMN THING AWAY FROM HIM!" He calls out Seth Rollins but gets Triple H instead. He tries to keep things calm but Brock threatens him until Stephanie McMahon, Kane and Big Show come out. And here I thought I'd get an opening promo void of the Authority. Seth Rollins appears on the titantron and he continues to play the smarmy heel, while Heyman begs the Authority to put a leash on Seth before Brock destroys the whole roster trying to get him. Of course, John Cena interrupts and cuts his usual promo before being told that he'll have another shot to get Ryback, Dolph Ziggler and Erick Rowan their jobs back. The fans will choose if he puts up his Royal Rumble title shot though. Gee, I wonder how they'll vote? You can either A) ensure John Cena gets yet another title shot or B) potentially get Dolph Ziggler back.No word on his opponent.
I don't totally get the booking of this next match. Just coming back from missing 254 days of action, Daniel Bryan can't really afford to lose, but they put him against Bray Wyatt, who can't afford it either. Bryan was gone for most of 2014 and lost no steam but Bray competed and lost a ton of it. After winning the feud with Dean Ambrose, to possibly build him up Undertaker at WrestleMania, he indeed won here thanks to Kane. On one hand, thanks to the interference, Bryan can afford it but on the other it still sucked to see. Also, watching a Bryan match is so different now since I cringe at nearly every move. Bray Wyatt should only wrestle Daniel Bryan though because this was another damn good match and their Royal Rumble match last year is still Bray's best. Post match, Kane Chokeslams Bryan setting up their Smackdown bout. Commentary did a piss poor job of selling this as a big win for Bray because they suck at their jobs. Backstage, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash come up to Triple H to try and get him to have a bit of fun. Shawn Michaels shows up and Trips is torn between DX and nWo as they mess with his new suit gimmick. We see X-Pac but wait, it's Damien Sandow, who does a better X-Pac than Sean Waltman. The real X-Pac shows up and it's funny. Miz makes Sandow leaves and tries to get 2 Sweeted but is denied. This was funny.
Oh god, they brought back the Legends Panel from the Summer. With the same three legends. Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan each talk about winning Royal Rumbles. They all make their picks as Shawn says Bray Wyatt will win, Hogan believes Daniel Bryan and Flair must be on something as he chooses Dean Ambrose. Out comes Big Show to claim that nobody can eliminate him, though Cesaro showed that's false at WrestleMania. Flair is pissed and lights up Show with chops before dancing, only to turn around into a knockout punch. Of course, here comes Roman Reigns to a decent pop but not one that I would expect from the guy who is possibly going to win the Rumble. He clears the ring of Show. Lame segment, but we are now nearly 90 minutes in and have had just one match. Ah, but after commercial here comes our second match as Bad News Barrett meets Dean Ambrose in a non-title match between two guys who, you guessed it, each can't really afford a loss. They worked a solid match, with Dean still selling Rusev's knee work. It's like Rusev taught him how to sell. Dean wins with a rollup, because being a mid-card champion (not named Rusev) means you have to lose a fuckton of non-title matches. I would have much preferred Dean go over another heel and Barrett win his own non-title match.
After Rumble By the Numbers, which is always fun, we go to the New Day. NEW DAY! They face my favorite tag team of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. It becomes more of the same stuff we've seen from them and they even try to steal Rosebuds. Wait, these guys are faces? Just to mention this, Cesaro is fucking great at pro wrestling. Are you ready for a nostalgia trip? The nWo come out, sans Hollywood Hogan. Hey, if you're gonna have Waltman in an nWo shirt, call him Syxx and not X-Pac dammit! Classic survey from Hall but when X-Pac goes to speak, out come the Ascension. JBL gets up from his desk, reveals an APA shirt like he's Superman and out comes Ron Simmons. Here come the New Age Outlaws too. Fuck, I hate them. The Ascension get absolutely destroyed by them in a segment that killed a new team for a cheap pop. The only thing I thought was cool was the APA part. Besides that, I thought this did absolutely nothing.
The Authority announce that John Cena will face Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane. Announced for the Royal Rumble is Paige and Natalya vs. the Bella Twins, while on the Kickoff Show we get New Day vs. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro and Adam Rose. Their recent match on Main Event was PPV quality for sure. Paige and Nattie faced Summer Rae and Naomi here. Shouldn't it have been Summer and Layla? Since Layla is doing nothing and Naomi is feuding with Fox? Whatever. Classic Divas booking. The Bellas are on commentary, being friendly which I still don't get, and the match is short because three hours is somehow not enough to give girls ample time. I hate this. Paige and Nattie win. Rusev is out to crush R-Truth up next. It ends quickly. Backstage, Brock Lesnar runs into Seth Rollins and says that he's a prizefighter who won't hurt him tonight but will do so on Sunday. After everything being super long early in the show, everything is short now. I guess that's what happens when you give nearly 40 minutes to a bunch of retired guys. Jey Uso beats The Miz in a match that I swear we've seen on every.single.show in the past few months. They just trade wins every week and it means nothing.
The Ascension vs. the Outlaws is added to the Rumble. Fuck, I have to watch lame ass Road Dogg and Billy Gunn do their 17 year old routine. Also, besides the Rumble and WWE Title match, everything on Sunday is a tag team match. The main event was your standard handicap stuff. Kane, Big Show and Seth Rollins beat up John Cena and he kept trying to make the valiant comeback because he FEARS NOTHING AND REGRETS LESS. When all hope looked lost, Sting appeared for the first time since Survivor Series. The entire Authority was basically frozen in place as he stepped onto the stage and the distraction allowed Cena to roll up Seth and win. It's still surreal to see Sting on WWE TV. Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan will be back during the Royal Rumble I assume. As Cena celebrates in the crowd, Sting disappears and Triple H throws a fit and shouts "STING" while the crowd "YES" chants everywhere. Brock Lesnar's theme hits because shit is getting real. He said he wasn't going after Seth tonight but targets him immediately. Seth gets taken down instantly, but escapes while Brock absolutely destroys Kane and Big Show. The crowd was red hot and this ending was exactly what Raw should be about. While the episode didn't build towards teh Rumble well, it had shock factor at the end and made me wanna tune in next week.
The ending of the show was fantastic, but I didn't love the entire episode. Bryan and Bray had a really good match, while Ambrose/Barrett was solid. The Legends Panel segment was dull, and I didn't like most of the Ascension stuff. Also, Brock Lesnar got a bigger pop at the end of the show than every face on the roster not named Sting or Daniel Bryan. That says something. 6.5/10.