Long before an incredible main event between Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair, which ended with the WWE Raw women's championship changing hands for the fifth time in four months, Monday's episode simply felt different.
There was an energy within each segment that was tangible, which is something that has been scarcely felt during the past fourth months, as Monday Night Raw routinely came in second to in-house rival SmackDown Live in the court of public opinion.
Raw has always been able to handle the big, unpredictable moments with spectacular ease, but crafting a consistent storyline within each feud hasn't come as easily. All of that appeared to change Monday, as WWE presented three hours of pro wrestling that seemed to flow with ease, as the dialogue was crisp and the action intense.
In fact, it felt like more things were accomplished in terms of story lines in the first 90 minutes alone than in many other weeks combined. Only time will tell, of course, whether this was a one-off in the grand scheme, or a calculated change to the way the show's creative is presented.
But the by-product was a number of compelling angles competing for top billing, including the rocky friendship between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn's growing unhappiness on Raw and an incredible promo from Paul Heyman promising vicious comeuppance for Goldberg at the hands of Brock Lesnar.
None of those developments would have mattered as much in the overall scheme, however, had it not been for the physicality and pay-per-view quality of Banks' title victory over Charlotte, which ended with a creative submission move using the handrail in the crowd in their "falls count anywhere" match.
Anyone willing to waste emotion on the idea that seeing the women's title on Raw switch hands so often has somehow devalued it, is missing out on the overall impact of this incredible rivalry between a pair of female superstars who may one day walk away as the best in WWE history.
Banks and Charlotte put on another classic on Monday, filled with high spots and dangerous intensity. Each chapter of their rivalry has helped illuminate the idea that we are watching something memorable -- on the level of classic feuds like Shawn Michaels-Bret Hart and Lita-Trish Status -- that will be talked about for years to come.
If anything, the amount of title changes in such a short time has solidified just how evenly matched the two competitors appear to be. And the added storyline wrinkle of Ric Flair, Charlotte's estranged father whom she fired as manager in May, coming out to celebrate with Banks only adds more potential fuel to the fire.
By allowing a red-hot personality like Jericho to dominate the majority of Monday's show, only to give way to the company's best rivalry for the finish, WWE proved it has its priorities in order when it comes to its flagship brand.
For one night at least, everything seemed to make sense on Raw -- all of the dots connected. For that, we should savor the flavor.
Or as Jericho likes to say: Drink it in, man.
Hits and misses
From the attention to detail of Jericho wearing the same scarf that Braun Strowman rejected as a gift one week earlier, to Roman Reigns appearing as smooth on the microphone as, well, just about ever, credit Raw for a strong opening segment that set the stage for a great night. It also properly planted the seeds for the rift between "best friends" Jericho and Owens that created a cliffhanger of sorts entering next week. And while Jericho had many offerings for line of the night on Monday, his suggestion that Sin Cara was wearing a Jericho mask the previous week (as opposed to the other way around) was made perfect with the punchline of, "That's right, he got the mask of Jericho ... and he put it on, maaannnn."
The parking lot brawl between Jericho and Seth Rollins provided the perfect contrast of intensity to the comedic segments featuring Jericho moments earlier. Rollins not only upped the ante of physicality by throwing Jericho into a barrier on the concrete; his pedigree on top of a random car was outright vicious:
- WWE (@WWE) November 29, 2016
But the best part of all may have been how oblivious the two guys in the adjacent office were to the fight going on right outside their window.
Raw general manager Mick Foley was tremendous in terms of his intensity when he rescued Zayn from another beatdown at the hands of Strowman, before saying, "You cannot win. You will never win. It does not match up well. He's not a competitor. He's not an entertainer. He's a monster!" Zayn's comeback was just as strong, as he called Foley a hypocrite and someone "who is in my way." The segment appeared to further tease the idea that a trade is brewing between brands, especially after Baron Corbin's similar issues with authority on SmackDown Live.
I've said it before and I'll say it once more here: Tony Nese has all the makings to be the face of the WWE's new cruiserweight division for years to come. Pairing him with the heel support of Drew Gulak was a nice touch.
While the majority of the promo Enzo Amore cut on Rusev and his wife Lana -- referencing last week's backstage segment where a naked Amore was locked out of the dressing room -- was hilarious, and a nod toward the increasing TV-14 dialogue he has teased in recent weeks, the punchline may have gone a bit too far. Amore was the babyface in this case, which made such a crass insult on another man's wife feel a bit out of place when it's taken that far. In this case, the follow-up beating Amore endured -- complete with Rusev kicking him in the crotch to earn a disqualification loss -- felt justified. Yes, Enzo had that "machka" coming.
While it was great to see a trusted veteran like Mark Henry land a role in an upcoming WWE film "Incarnate," it was sad to see him once again jobbing in the brief clip that was played on Raw.
The bar scene in which Cesaro and Sheamus stopped arguing with each other long enough to team up in a brawl against a group of unruly patrons felt so much like "The Attitude Era" that it made for a welcome addition to the show. Somewhere in the WWE universe, JBL and Ron Simmons had to be smiling.
No one has mastered the art of spontaneous trash-talking in the midst of a match like Owens, who ripped Reigns for his "greasy hair" while holding him down with a chin lock on the mat before exclaiming, "Go back to football or whatever you were doing."
From his unshaven visage to his jittery demeanor, Heyman showcased once again why he's the best in the world at what he does with his promo on Goldberg. Not only did Heyman put over just how much Lesnar took him lightly at Survivor Series, he did well to explain the story line humiliation and embarrassment that "The Beast" now faces, while teasing what Goldberg can expect when they see each other again at Royal Rumble. This was about as good as it gets.
Move of the night
Charlotte's moonsault onto Sasha Banks from the elevated announce table to the floor below was incredible to behold and just another example of the two female superstars continuing to push the envelope.
- WWE (@WWE) November 29, 2016
Line of the night
"Well Byron [Saxton], listen up. My moral compass was thrown on the ground and stomped on seven years ago for the mistakes I made -- for the mistakes I owned up to. My wife was starving while you were goofing around on Twitter and you're going to tell me how to live my life, Byron? I'm a champion. You couldn't walk one mile in my shoes. You don't have the constitution. You're a quitter, Byron." -- WWE cruiserweight champion Brian Kendrick.