Not all Pay Per Views can be winners and WWE proves this to us time and time again. But sometimes all is not lost as WWE occasionally are able to rectify mistakes made the very next night. That’s the advantage of making a live show with the schedule WWE has, if they discover things didn’t go as planned they can change things on the fly and create some shocking, unpredictable moments.
These 5 episodes of Raw all follow a Pay Per View where critics and fans alike were left with a slightly bitter taste in their mouths. WWE had to make things right in order for viewers to continue to tune in, and WWE did.
Did the wrong person win? Were the matches just plain awful? Did the story not progress? Well don’t judge until you’ve seen the whole show they have to offer, because sometimes they have something up their sleeves. As these 5 editions of Monday Night Raw can attest to.
5. Fastlane 2016
Let’s start off with the most recent addition to the list. This past week at Fastlane the show was headlined by Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat match to determine who will face Triple H for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 32. Match result aside as I could write a whole article on that, and many already have… It was a solid main event, and it was a quality match, however that was the show’s only selling point.
The under card of Y2J Vs AJ Styles, Kevin Owens Vs Dolph Ziggler and Naomi/Tamina Vs Becky Lynch/Sasha Banks were all commendable matches but they all lacked an importance about them. Also, the less said about the Wyatt Family Vs Big Show/Kane/Ryback and R-Truth Vs Curtis Axel the better. WWE literally placed a bunch of filler matches in a filler PPV. It was like WWE had set the car on cruise control on the Road to WrestleMania (Quality car analogy, I know, thank you).
Or so that’s what we thought as we fast forward 24 hours to Monday Night Raw. The show opened with Mr. McMahon awarding the ‘Vincent J McMahon Legacy of Excellence’ award to a very worthy recipient… It was Stephanie. Now, I think most people had an idea how this segment was going to go down when it was announced the week before. Vince awards it to Triple H, winner of the Fastlane main event Roman Reigns would come down, ruin everything and destroy the trophy and such. Thankfully this did not happen, something much more, well, confusing happened.
As Stephanie was about to read her prepared speech suddenly HERE COMES THE MONEY, MONEY TALKS! The prodigal son and the missing McMahon of 7 years, Shane McMahon makes his return to say that he kind of still runs WWE. Another 15 minutes go by and suddenly we have another WrestleMania match. Shane McMahon Vs Undertaker, Hell in a Cell for control of WWE. Uhh, that was unexpected. A lot of unanswered questions, but that’s what you want!
On top of that, Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose No Holds Barred is confirmed for ‘Mania, solid story progression for Charlotte, Becky and Sasha as well as the post main event fight between Roman Reigns and Triple H helped us all forget how incredibly dull the previous nights PPV really was.
4. Royal Rumble 2012
Outside of the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler, this show was just not good. So in reality, almost any episode of Raw could top it but nevertheless let’s keep going.
Daniel Bryan successfully defended the World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show and Mark Henry which could only be described as okay. There was a Brodus Clay squash match and an 8 Diva Tag clustermuck which are always hard to pull off successfully. John Cena and Kane were starting their painful ‘Embrace The Hate’ feud, yuck.
The Royal Rumble match itself was fine, it had its surprise entrants and was for the most part adequately booked… But Sheamus won. Chris Jericho had just returned with his ‘End of the world as you know it’ stuff. It didn’t really make a hell of a lot of sense, but it was fun speculating. But many were expecting Jericho to finally win a Rumble but alas, no. Sheamus would go on to only be in the opening match of WrestleMania anyway, so it was all pointless in the end.
The next night on Raw was about whether Triple H would fire John Laurinaitis. CM Punk came out and had some fun leading the crowd in singing “Nah nah nah nah, Hey hey hey, Goodbye” at Big Johnny. CM Punk wrestled Daniel Bryan one on one for the first time in WWE, which was ruined by Jericho attacking Punk which started up their WrestleMania program.
At the end of the night it was time to find out whether Triple H was going to fire Laurinaitis, and as it looked like Hunter was going to wish John best of luck in his future endeavors… GONG! The Undertaker, who hadn’t been seen since the previous WrestleMania where he defeated Triple H and left on a stretcher, made his return. He challenged Triple H to another match at WrestleMania but Hunter walked away. An intriguing story was about to be told, one that definitely topped the Royal Rumble.
3. TLC 2015
Lets talk about TLC 2015 because it was more circumstantial as to why is wasn’t great and it can mainly be boiled to the same theme… SO. MANY. INJURIES. At this time, here is the injured list. John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan (hadn’t yet retired), Cesaro, Sting, King Barrett, Tyson Kidd, Nikki Bella. Plus Brock Lesnar is still having his time out period. With all these people out you can see why Sheamus was WWE Champion going into this show.
The show itself had one or two bright spots but it ultimately just showed how depleted the roster was at this point. Jack Swagger had a US Title match on PPV! This is a man who has, no exaggeration, done NOTHING in the last 2 and a half years. TLC 2015 is probably going to be best remembered for Kalisto’s death defying Selida Del Sol off the ladder through a ladder. Absolutely insane, and definitely why he became US champion not long after.
The show was filled with clunky, just plain bad matches from Ryback Vs Rusev and The Wyatt Family Vs ECW Originals. Roman Reigns and Sheamus main evented in a TLC match that can only be summarised in ‘Meh’. However the post match beat down Reigns gave to Triple H was tasty. However it was the night that followed that truly made the previous show all worth it.
The next night Stephanie confronted Reigns and delivered the stiffest slaps I’ve ever seen and announced that Mr. McMahon would be making his return to take care of Roman Reigns. Vince hadn’t been seen in over a year so this was incredibly significant. Vince announced Reigns vs Sheamus for the WWE Championship and if Reigns loses, he’s fired. High stakes (finally) in the main event of Raw!
Sheamus and Reigns would go on to have a match with all the shenanigans you would expect with the stakes this high. With interference from the League of Nations and Vince himself, Reigns managed to beat Sheamus to win the title. The first time the title had changed hands on Raw in over 4 years. Roman would receive a thunderous ovation for his win in the same city where he was booed out of the building at the Royal Rumble.
2. Breakdown 1998
Time to go back to the Attitude Era for this one, and the reason the Raw that followed topped this show? One incredible and fondly remembered moment. We’ll get to that, but first the actual show itself.
Now you have to remember that this was the hottest period of the Monday Night Wars. WWE and WCW were trading wins each week so each company were pouring most of their shocking moments on TV to garner ratings rather than have them on Pay Per View.
In Your House: Breakdown was a passable show. The Attitude Era was not known for its in ring material as much as it is in today’s era, so a lot of Breakdown was just there. It wasn’t particularly bad, just not, you know, good. The exception of this was the opener between Edge and Owen Hart. Looking back on it, it’s amazing that we were lucky enough to see this match and Edge and Owen put on quite a contest and it’s certainly a hidden gem on the WWE Network, go check it out.
Breakdown’s main event was a Triple Threat between Kane, Undertaker and Stone Cold for the WWE Championship and as per Mr. McMahon’s orders, Kane and Undertaker could not pin each other to win the championship. Austin was backed into a corner, how was he gonna make it out with his title… Well, he didn’t.
The finish came when Kane and Undertaker double chokeslammed Austin and they both pinned him at the same time. Breakdown went off the air in confusion as to who had won the championship, looks like we’d have to find out the next night on Raw.
On Raw Vince McMahon called Kane and Undertaker to the ring to announce who was the WWE champion, but before he could go too much further Steve Austin was shown on the titantron driving into the arena on a Zamboni. He drove it all the way in and crashed into the ring before attacking McMahon as police officers restrained him, Austin was then arrested. It was one of the defining images of the Attitude Era.
Later that night Mr. McMahon admonished Kane and Undertaker for not defending him and instead of naming one of them champion, he set up a match between the two at Judgment Day with Austin as the referee. He flipped them the bird when their backs were turned, got caught and the Brothers of Destruction obliterated McMahon, injuring his ankle. What an eventful Monday Night Raw!
1. WrestleMania 29
What else would be here? It’s probably the biggest instance of Raw outshining the Pay Per View and it did, on many levels. Arguably the reason this edition of Raw is so acclaimed was the passionate fans in attendance that night, but we’ll get to that.
WrestleMania 29 in a word? Underwhelming. Not to mention the fact it was headlined by The Rock and John Cena which was originally billed last year as ‘Once in a Lifetime’. So not only was build to the show just not engaging, it was a repeat on top of that. The under card was filled with forgettable matches, to the point I had to look them up to remember what was on the show. Also, Jack Swagger hilariously didn’t even get a proper entrance for his World Heavyweight Championship match. OUCH!
The other main events were Triple H defeating Brock Lesnar (why?) in a violent brawl and The Undertaker claimed his final victim of The Streak at WrestleMania by defeating CM Punk in what was by far match of the night and saved the show from being irredeemable. John Cena then beat Rock in what was almost a copy/paste job from last year. It was pretty stock standard.
Let’s fast forward 24 hours and the crowd is rabid in New Jersey! John Cena opened the show with a promo and he had a lot of fun with the partisan crowd. The crowd was all over Cena chanting “Boring!” and even “Same Old S**t!” It was a sign of things to come.
The Shield interrupted The Undertaker, Fandangoing was born and a sleeper match between Sheamus and Randy Orton ended up being one of the most entertaining matches simply because of the raucous crowd chanting everything under the sun! Also, Wade Barrett regained the Intercontinental Championship he lost the night before to a massive reaction, a lot of Brits go to WrestleMania!
Speaking of massive reactions, NOTHING compared to the reaction that occurred when Dolph Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank opportunity and won the World Heavyweight Championship. Deafening! I had goosebumps watching just on TV, can’t imagine what it was like in the arena. With all of those developments, it’s no wonder this is often times heralded as one of the greatest episodes of Raw ever and it totally overshadowed WrestleMania.