24 hours off the back of the WWE's Royal Rumble pay per view we expected to see WWE Raw emanate live from Hartford, Connecticut. However, due to the extreme weather in the Northeast United States, the decision was made to cancel the show, with the state declaring a travel ban after 9pm. But the show would still go on for the WWE last night, with a special edition of Monday Night Raw. And while it would not feature any live matches, the show still contained plenty of drama, and was perhaps a blessing in disguise for WWE after the reaction of the Philadelphia crowd to Daniel Bryan's Royal Rumble elimination, and Roman Reigns Royal Rumble victory.
The interview segments featuring Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar earlier in the show were all great to watch. Each came across as informative, and further developed their storylines going forward on an individual basis. Reigns was of course the most prominent of all three interviews, given the situation of the Philadelphia crowd at the Rumble, and how Reigns would handle the issue. Given his recent tweet online, I had my fears he may struggle to further endear himself to the fans. I thought Roman did a good job of trying to turn a negative into a positive, when he said the fans had the right to boo and cheer whoever they want, and all he is worried about is concentrating on himself and his career. This speaks volumes of Roman, and I think this segment was certainly able to help repair some of the damage done to him thanks to the poor creative decision from WWE to book him, and other Superstars in the Rumble.
Daniel Bryan also had an interview segment, which was always going to be interesting after the fan reaction from Sunday's Royal Rumble. I felt Bryan came across as very humble throughout the whole interview, and the things he said felt very real at times, which was perhaps the case as it must have been emotional for him knowing he wasn't going to win and how the fans would react. Hearing Bryan speak about the Rumble match itself was a perfect idea, and hearing him sum up the reaction from the fans about him and Roman was a great move, as it seemed Bryan may have been trying to turn the fans into Roman's favour. Perhaps his most interesting quote was when he stated that he failed the WWE fans. If anyone failed the fans, we all know it was creative and not Bryan, so it was a shame to hear him having to say that. It's fair enough Bryan did not win the match, but the booking of him and other superstars could have been handled so much better.
Despite the poor weather conditions, and a lack of ability for WWE to really use the ring to move on any story lines, the company was able to advance stories and also promote the upcoming Fast Lane Pay Per View. One of the first things promoted was the upcoming match between John Cena and Rusev. It was noted that the match was going to be saved for Wrestlemania, but the Authority wanted to bring it forward following the backstage altercation between the two at the Rumble. This is interesting as many speculate this could see the end of Rusev's undefeated streak. I don't see it happening there though, I see that loss still coming at Wrestlemania. Either Rusev defeats Cena at Fast Lane, or they fight to a no contest with the rematch taking place at Wrestlemania. This wasn't the only announcement for Fat Lane either, as it was announced Triple H has challenged Sting to a face-to-face confrontation. What does this mean for both men? Well, it's obvious to me that this is the set up for the Wrestlemania 31 match between the two men. But this is a great way to get fans hyped up for the match, as you know something big is going to go down between the two. I for one cannot wait to see what happens.
Of course, the weather meant that Raw would not see any in-ring action, and instead would see interviews with WWE Superstars. However, no one wants to hear three straight hours of interviews. So what was the WWE's solution to this and filling those empty spots for the night? To broadcast the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match in full, and the thirty man Royal Rumble match in full, on free television. Now, as a fan who watched through the Network and only paid $9.99/£9.99 for the stream I'm not too fussed by this. But there are those fans who do not have the Network, meaning they had to pay $44.95/£19.95 to see the event. If I was in their position, and I was then able to watch the two mainly promoted matches on the card for free, I would be left wanting a refund for the show in the first place. Granted, it was a high quality show, despite the reaction to the outcome, but for the company to give it away for free on television the next night must have felt like a slap in the face for many. Of course, this was only a one-off, and is unlikely to be a situation we see repeated again any time soon, but I'm sure there was a frustrated part of the WWE Universe last night that felt disappointed in how WWE chose to fill the show.
The final segment of the show was perhaps the best bit, and it was a great way for WWE to end the show. We saw the first real confrontation between the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar, and his challenger in Roman Reigns. It was a well planned, handled, and thought out segment, that for me felt like it would easily engage the WWE Universe headed into their Wrestlemania showdown. The segment had a personal feeling to it, and the added element of Paul Heyman asking the questions, as well as him selling Brock like the monster he is. Brock didn't need to really say a word, it was all Heyman, and if anything I think it would have made the fans want to see Reigns destroy Lesnar all that bit more. Reigns giving his response directly to Brock was a great move, and saw neither man take their eyes off each other, making for an intense segment with a thrilling and exciting conclusion. Had the segment been done in the ring in front of a live crowd, I fear that it would not have come off as well as it did at the end of the show. The segment was excellently presented, and it has left me wanting to see more between these two headed into the biggest show of the year.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on last night's special edition of Monday Night Raw, and either let me know what you think about my thoughts, or your own opinions on the show.