LAST TIME ON RAW

All jokes aside, Randy Orton’s unexpected return at WWE Fastlane really was — ahem — outta nowhere. But the surprise of seeing Orton back in action and RKO’ing anyone whose name began with a “J” had nothing on Stephanie McMahon’s reaction to the return of the Superstar she ordered to be destroyed the last time he showed his face. She welcomed him right back.

Incredulous as it sounds, McMahon — flanked by Kane, Big Show and Triple H — was more than willing to allow the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion to rejoin The Authority and take his place as The Face of WWE once more. Even more incredulous was Orton’s eventual reaction to the offer: a tentative, if somewhat sinister-sounding, commitment to attend a backstage "business conference" to formally cement his re-induction via a tag-team bout against Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns, with Seth Rollins as his partner.

Anyone expecting another explosion of physicality between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns on Raw can settle down. The two most volatile elements in WWE remained at rest 24 hours after they blew the roof off WWE Fastlane, instead focusing their collective energy on the returning Randy Orton and Seth Rollins.

All in all, the bout was a tale of two teams, one that buried their hatchet and another that maybe, juuust maybe had not. When Rollins (with Kane & Big Show on the outside, supporting Rollins before their Fastlane rematch against Dolph Ziggler, Ryback & Erick Rowan on SmackDown) tagged himself in during Orton’s decimation of Reigns, the former World Champion threw a fit and stormed off. Yet when Bryan tagged himself in after Reigns laid Rollins out with the Superman Punch, the 2014 Superstar of the Year happily ceded the floor while The Beard annihilated Rollins with the Running Knee. Teamwork makes the dream work, but it seemed as though Rollins was headed for a waking nightmare when he found himself in the sights of The Viper’s punt. Instead of kicking Rollins into next week, however, The Viper offered a rough, if seemingly genuine, pat on the arm. Probably best Rollins takes that with a grain of salt, though: Orton’s mood can famously change, well, outta nowhere.

Call it a technicality if you must, but the record books don’t lie: John Cena submitted to Rusev at WWE Fastlane. Granted, there were some events that led to him being locked in the Accolade into unconsciousness that weren’t exactly on the up-and-up, which is why a dumbfounded Cena is officially on his road to redemption. The first stop? A potential rematch with The Super Athlete for the U.S. Title at WrestleMania. Only Rusev wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to face the Cenation leader again. Instead, he settled for kicking the 15-time World Champion while he was down, rubbing the loss in his face, rejecting his challenge and posing from the stage as the Russian flag descended over Cena’s head. Hey, no one ever said The Road to WrestleMania always got off to an easy start.

In other action… Dolph Ziggler def. Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett… The Prime Time Players def. The Ascension… Paul Heyman confronted Roman Reigns… The Usos def. WWE Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Tyson Kidd via Disqualification… Jack Swagger def. Stardust… The Bella Twins def. Paige & Emma… and Ryback def. Curtis Axel.