Best of WWE: Raw and SmackDown 2014

DISC 2

The Yes Movement vs. The AuthoritySaxton and fans discuss Bryan’s effort to get into the main event at Wrestlemania. Saxton handles the hosting bits just fine, but adding the fan perspective at times is a bit redundant.

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 - Daniel Bryan occupies RAWDaniel Bryan “Occupies” RAW
RAW • March 10, 2014

One of the set’s best segments and 2014 highlights sees Bryan hold a sit in with fans until The Authority agrees to give him a match against Triple H … and a ticket into the Batista vs. Randy Orton title match at Wrestlemania if he defeats “The Game.” This was probably the first obvious indication that the writers (and Vince McMahon) were finally on board with making Bryan a tippy-top tier guy. This is one of those memorable RAW moments they’ll be replaying for years to come.

John Cena vs. Luke Harper
RAW • March 24, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 - Wyatt Family puts mask on John CenaAnother of Cena’s “I’m gonna get a new guy over” efforts from 2014. Despite his size, Harper is agile and powerful enough to come across like a major threat to Cena. Had the writers not decided at the last minute to rush into a Cena/Bray Wyatt match at Wrestlemania, they could have gotten some excellent pay per view matchups with Cena and Harper. They’re on fairly even footing until the lights go out and Cena is tied in the ring ropes wearing Erick Rowan’s sheep mask as The Wyatts hover around him. We didn’t get a finish, but for sheer creepiness, this worked perfectly. Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Sending a MessageFans share their take on the Wyatt/Cena moment.

WWE Divas Championship Match
AJ Lee vs. Paige
RAW • April 7, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 -paige-vs-aj-lee-divas-championshipPaige has progressed dramatically from her debut where she came off as very nervous and tongue-tied. It didn’t help that she was having a promo with AJ Lee, one of the all-time best Divas regarding her promo work. AJ survived the Divas roster in a free-for-all match at WWE: WrestleMania XXX [Blu-ray] and was so annoyed with Paige interrupting to congratulate her that AJ decides to defend her title against the NXT prospect. This would be more fondly remembered if Paige didn’t badly botch her finisher to the point that it looked like she just barely contacted AJ. Rough start for Paige, but she definitely gets better — not that you’ll see on this set. Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Turning the PaigeReaction to Paige’s arrival. These are starting to get a bit dull…

Wwe_evolution_2014The Band is Back TogetherLooking at the conflict between Shield and Evolution.

This signals the first major glaring absence from the set as Triple H’s world title match against Bryan is curiously skipped. Not only was it a good match, but more importantly, it firmly established The Shield against The Authority, a major storyline for the first half of 2014. There’s not a lot of matches on here I’d rank as just as important to include in a best of 2014 set than that one and it’s a puzzling oversight.

Handicap Match
The Shield vs. Rusev, Alberto Del Rio, Bad News Barrett, Jack Swagger, Fandango, Titus O’Neil, 3MB, and RybAxel
RAW • April 14, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 - Evolution mocks The ShieldThe problem with not having a respectable mid-card is sadly obvious here as despite an 11-3 disadvantage, I still liked The Shield’s odds here even as they face a team consisting of two former world champions (Del Rio, Swaagger) and one credible opponent who hasn’t been a victim of the “you win one, you lose one” booking. This match is also weirdly laid out as it largely plays out like a regular tag team match, where an 11 on 3 advantage doesn’t matter since a worn down Shield member has two relatively fresh teammates to tag.

Going elimination rules would have worked just fine as it would showcase how dominant the Shield was and still allow for the post-match shenanigans. Instead, after getting punked out by The Shield’s superior team strategy, the heels just attack at once and lay out The Hounds of Justice. Then, Evolution — Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton come out and do an extended beat down. It would have been far more impactful had Evolution attacked while Shield was nearly finished beating down the loser squad as a 14-3 advantage. Instead, the segment doesn’t get nearly the reaction from the fans as The Shield was already laid out before Evolution’s music hit. Rating: 2 out of 5

The Wyatt Family & Children Surround the Ring
RAW • April 28, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 -  Bray Wyatt sheep familyCena is questioning the WWE Universe as to why they want him to battle Bray Wyatt in a steel cage. Interestingly, this is as close as Cena has come to complaining about the fans. In an amazing segment, a choir of children come out to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” as The Wyatt Family joins them. The kids surround Cena in the ring as the lights go out and when they come back on, they’re all wearing sheep masks as Cena looks on with a genuinely creeped-out expression.

Like the Bryan segment from the first disc, this was a legitimate RAW moment with a tremendous visual. Since the whole “Cena Sucks” era began there’s been very few moments when a Cena opponent is able to get the majority of the fans to boo them, but Wyatt had the fans so rattled for at least one night, the fans were solidly behind Cena like it was his 2004-2005 heyday. This is the kind of segment that pisses me off in how far too quickly The Wyatt Family was disbanded as there was so much more for them.

Following the Buzzards

Cracking The ShieldDiscussion on The Authority trying to stack the odds against The Shield.

20-Man Battle Royal for the United States Championship
RAW • May 5, 2014

Dean Ambrose has to defend his U.S. title in a battle royal. Thankfully it’s more eventful than the dull periods of the Royal Rumble. Ambrose manages to be in the Final Three only to get eliminated by Sheamus, who captures his second U.S. championship. It wasn’t as especially epic match or anything so it was another interesting selection for the disc. Rating: 2.5 out of 5

John Cena & The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family
SmackDown • May 9, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 -  John Cena and Usos vs Wyatt FamilyThis is more like it. The Usos have outstanding chemistry with The Wyatts and Cena works well with pretty much anyone on the roster. It’s building to the WWE: Extreme Rules 2014 matchups between The Usos and Harper and Rowan and Cena vs. Wyatt. That was a trademark booking staple in the NWA because it worked so well. Classic wrestling goodness here including a sensible ending to help set up a little intrigue when a champion is facing a challenger. Rating: 4 out of 5

BO-lievers

Bo Dallas vs. Sin Cara
SmackDown • May 23, 2014
(Alternate Commentary with Bo Dallas)

A very puzzling addition to the set as Bo Dallas has been a non-factor since his arrival against the dead in the water Sin Cara. Rating: 1 out of 5

I know this isn’t a Best of Shield disc, but if we needed another Smackdown moment, why not the April 25 segment where The Shield gets its payback against everyone who helped Evolution the RAW before?

Seth Rollins Turns on The Shield
RAW • June 2, 2014

Best of Raw Smackdown 2014 - dean-ambrose-shield-shockSigh. Easily my least favorite RAW moment from 2014 as one of the WWE’s most dominant factions is split so Triple H can brag about how he always wins following The Shield’s dismantling of Evolution the previous night at WWE: Payback 2014. With the benefit of hindsight, Rollins certainly came out alright and Reigns is being forced as the new face of the company, but a full-blown Shield/Wyatt feud could have carried the promotion through the second half of the year into Survivor Series with Daniel Bryan on the shelf. Ambrose’s look of shock once he realizes Rollins betrayed his teammates makes the segment.

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