This week’s Monday Night Raw had all the hallmarks of something special and, for large parts, the WWE delivered.
A ‘night of legends’ included a sit down Royal Rumble chat with Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan and some of the most important tag teams from years gone by stepped back in the four-sided ring to round on a couple of pretenders to their legacies.
We also saw the Rumble’s main event continue to motor towards its conclusion and a tantalising Wrestlemania showdown (which we both predicted and wished for in this column in recent months) near fruition.
Amongst the raucous excitement at Dallas, there were some negatives. An oh, so (or should that be U-so?) promising middle card remained stagnant as the company’s top tag teams and under studies continued to lock horns with no progression to storyline or meaning.
That aside, however, we saw the second coming of Sting and Daniel Bryan continue his tour de force since returning from injury. Both are very pleasing indeed.
His appearance in John Cena’s handicap match against Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane swung it in the face’s favour but it is his defiance of HHH and the prospect of his match against the CEO one of the most exciting billings in Wrestlemania history.
A la John Barnes’ famous rap, the crowd went bananas at the sight of The Stinger and the WWE must take credit for the way they’ve used him since his first appearance at Survivor Series.
Sting is the franchise’s delightful enigma. He is tantalisingly being dangled in front of the WWE Universe, sparring with Helmsley from a distance with maximum annoyance to the Authority, biding his time until he is unleashed.
We might have to wait a little longer until Sting runs free in the WWE, but it will surely be worth the wait.
MOVE OF THE WEEK –JBL’s clothesline from hell
The returning tag legends segment may not have been delivered as it should, but it certainly didn’t disappoint. The New World Order, New Age Outlaws and Acolyte Protection Agency all in a ring together can’t help but please most fans.
Add to that a booming clothesline from hell from JBL and we’re more than content.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) January 20, 2015
— WWE (@WWE) January 20, 2015
— The Big Guy (@Ryback22) January 20, 2015
TRIBUTE OF THE WEEK
Not a usual part of this column but one that cannot be ignored this week.
Before the madness of MNR, we had a poignant tribute to the life of Martin Luther King as part of Martin Luther King day that celebrates the civil rights leader’s birthday and remembers all of those involved in the movement.
A new year and a new set of in-ring treats await fans of WWE wrestling, with 2015 shaping up to be a promising one for the franchise and its adoring army of fans all over the world.
– #Quiz360: WIN dinner for 2 at Channels, Media Rotana
While 2014 was not short of its faults (the WWE Network, ahem), its last two pay-per-views – Survivor Series and TLC – served up some intense matches and rivalries that could pave the way for an incredible 12 months. Not only that, the impressive performances of WWE NXT's roster could see some future hall-of-famers introduced to the main stable of wrestling's most popular brand.
We're just as excited for the year ahead and here we'll share five things that we hope will come to fruition as we say goodbye to 2014 and head to Wrestlemania and beyond.
Use #WWETLC to share your wishes for 2015 in the world of wrestling or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
1. More Wyatt vs Ambrose
The pair's vicious match up at TLC was superb and will surely go down as one of the PPV's finest fights, which when you consider some of its previous headline acts is some statement.
Their hatred is utterly convincing and their skill in the ring undeniable, as is their chemistry in the ring.
Both are sure to be at the centre of 2015's storylines and expect them both to have shots at world titles if their stars continue to rise as they have at the tail end of the year just gone.
2. Give youth a chance
NXT's R Evolution event gave us the incredible championship match between Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville, and both should be given a crack at the main roster.
Zayn and Neville are at the top of a superb WWE feeder championship, and are proving more and more popular with fans, especially those fed up with John Cena and the powers that be.
Both are capable of performing on the bigger stage and the sooner the better in this humble scribe's opinion.
3. End this Bunny nonsense
Very simple this one.
WWE please bring an end to the most farcical wrestler we've had to sit through since Puke. An absolute farce that is undermining one of the most talented rosters in recent years.
4. Put Sting in the ring
His appearance at Survivor Series stirred up an absolute frenzy as The Icon featured in a WWE show for the first time.
Since then we've had radio silence but it is a matter of time before he ups the stakes and it is about time that we saw him in action.
The Stinger vs Triple H at Wrestlemania would be an absolute belter and would certainly increase viewing figures.
5. Don't lose momentum from Dolph Ziggler's SS heroics
Another loose end from Survivor Series, Ziggler's performance at the heart of Team Cena's destruction of The Alliance has yet to be rewarded with a heavyweight title tilt.
It's more than the shock-blonde former heel deserves but time is quickly running out for the senior heads of WWE to capitalise on Ziggler's meteoric rise to headlining a major PPV.
Fans love him and his development as a wrestler over the last 18 months is astounding, but he will soon be back in the middle of the pack if he isn't give the chance he probably feels he is entitled to.
As the WWE Universe prepares for its final pay-per-view at Tables, Ladder and Chairs (TLC) this weekend, one man will bring the curtain down on a remarkable year in which he hopes will catapult him to the top of the franchise in 2015.
From The Shield's dominant start to the year and their engorssing fueds with the Authority and the Wyatt Family, through their eventual separation and Rollins' Money in the Bank victory, it has been a year in which the 28-year-old has truly become a headline act in his own right.
"It’s been an incredible year for me, travelling the world and making an impact in the ring," Rollins told Sport360.
"To have had my first Hell in a Cell match, a memorable match at SummerSlam and some awesome moments on Raw and then coming up to TLC where I’ll be in a tables match against John Cena. Those matches are the kind that can cap off the year and I really hope 2015 will be an even better year.
"Big things are coming from me," warned Rollins.
Rollins has been the standout star of the WWE in 2014. This week's Slammy Awards highlighted that with the Iowa native taking home no less than five trophies including match of the year (for his part in Team Cena vs Team Authority) and the anti-gravity dong for his high-flying efforts at Payback.
Not content with his efforts in 2014, Rollins has targeted the Wrestlemania main event as his primary goal next year but first of all there is the task of tackling Cena at TLC on Sunday and his Money in the Bank briefcase which allows him a title shot at any time he so desires.
It is this that is not only exciting fans, but Rollins himself who is already plotting cashing in his title entitlement.
"There are a few major goals [for 2015]. One of them is to main event Wrestlemania, and a more immediate goal is to cash in this money in the bank and become the World Heavyweight champion and represent this entire company," said Rollins.
"I could use the Money in the Bank at any point, which is the beauty of it. Every time I’m in the same building as the champion he has to be on his toes.
"I’m watching him all the time. It’ll be very interesting to see when I use it."
Rollins comes across an astute man and the disrespectful, brash performer you saw in the ring as a heel is not the man that takes time to compliment his next opponent, labelling Cena 'possibly the greatest WWE champion' in the company's history.
"John is a living legend, he’s sure to be a hall of famer," Rollins added. "He’s possibly the greatest WWE champion that’s ever lived. If you look how many times he’s won the title and how many big matches he’s been involved in and the main events at PPVs it makes this match very exciting for me.
Don't expect Rollins to be underwhelmed, however.
"John has had a chokehold on that top spot for a long time and that’s exactly where I want to be."
VILLAIN OF THE WEEK
At WWE NXT's R Evolution PPV, Owens turned on the champion Sami Zayn to powerbomb him into the side of the ring and leave Zayn in need of a stretcher.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK