February 5, 2014 by Joey Keogh
Welcome to Monday Night Raw! We’re not going to tell you we’re in Omaha, Nebraska until much later in the show because otherwise you might judge the crowd based on your perceptions of this area of the States. But it’s cool, because once The Real Americans turn up, it’ll be blindingly obvious.
Tonight’s show opens with current champ (groan) Randy Orton descending to the ring, as slowly as possible, while confusedly looking at the belt he has in each hand – perhaps he’s wondering why they haven’t been combined yet? Why he even deserves to hold them at all? Or maybe they’re just heavy?
Apparently, Christian came back on, of all places, Smackdown. Er, okay. Why not at Royal Rumble? Oh that’s right, WWE saved that spot for Batista even though he debuted at Raw a week beforehand. Of course. Anyway, Christian is in the Elimination Chamber alongside Sheamo and the rest, so that might be good!
In good news, Antonio Cesaro is in the Elimination Chamber. Hooray! Finally, he gets a teeny, tiny little push that isn’t based around casual racism. The Authority appears, with Steph’s boobies distractingly prominent (they may even be bigger than her earrings for once).
Trips is in fine form, trolling the shit out of Orton by leading a “Yes” chant – the first of many, of course. They announce that tonight, Orton will be facing his sort-of nemesis, Daniel Bryan, after which time The Authority may be re-thinking him as the face of the company. The pantomime “Oohs” are practically oozing from the walls.
If they were discussing Cena, I’d be hoping for an awesome heel turn, thanks to some clever wordplay, but the scriptwriters would never be that smart, and there will also be no Cena tonight because he got pulled into a rave thanks to his new merch and can’t leave out of politeness. He also had a tea party with a Make A Wish kid and I wept with happiness at the sight of it. If I could have anything in the world, it’d be a tea party with John Cena.
Cole makes reference to the New Age Outlaws and their awesome pre-show performance at the Rumble, footage from which we are given freely because it didn’t come with the PPV. Tonight, we’re going to get to see that match again for the third time, but don’t worry, it’s completely different now because it’s inside – wait for it – a steel cage. Oh, what will they think of next! Cole is practically creaming his pants again, he really does get more excited each week.
The Shield appears and, I have to admit, I still love watching Rollins tumble over the barrier to get into the ring. It’s amazing, even when he screws it up and pulls the barricade down. As the three stand around looking ominous, Ambrose whispers inaudibly to his comrades – possibly dinner plans? A trip to the L’orèal Hair Oil convention? Shit went down on Smackdown and Reigns got to talk for once, which he’s getting better at all the time, so good for him. Just as the show cuts to commercial, we are promised The Shield, but as it returns, instead we get… Rey fucking Mysterio!? Again!? Who’s he sleeping with, seriously?
The Shield -v- Rey Mysterio, Big E Langston and Kofi Kingston
As per usual, Kofi is just happy to be included, even while wearing trunks that look as though a head shop vomited on them. The match is slow and pointless, mostly involving him being beaten up by members of The Shield, while Cole remarks that Rey “is so much fun to watch!” Sure, if you’re, like, five years old and distracted by bright colours. Suddenly, Reigns has a massive gash on the side of his face, which leaves blood pouring into his eye, but even so, the match is his, as he lines up a Superman Punch (is that really the name of a move? Fucking hell) and gives it his all, just in time for Ambrose to waltz in and steal his thunder. A fight erupts and Rollins steps between his comrades, like a child begging his parents to stop fighting. But whatever, they win anyway.
Winners: The Shield (because, really, who cares about those other dudes?)
Apparently, Wyatt is going to build his empire next to the sea, by which I take him to mean the lovely, seaside town of Bray, Co. Wicklow because it is his namesake, after all. We are treated to a promo about the Superbowl and a Tweet that Bryan sent, or something. Not sure what relevance this has to, well, anything but WWE just love Twitter, don’t they? Sometimes it’s funny because they publish Tweets from loony marks with handles like xlovingortonforlyfxx. I wonder if that person is straight edge. Probably not.
My current favourite stupid segment, Bad News Barrett, is rudely interrupted by King midway through, but the main point of it is that all Americans are stupid and fat and most of them probably won’t survive until the next Superbowl. Given that King recently suffered a massive heart attack, after drinking lard for twenty years, it makes sense that he should interrupt and say some childish pussy bullshit about Barrett not being there next week. It truly is cutting, and I’m sure Barrett’s barely-concealed glee relates to something else entirely.
The first Network plug of the night is also a plug for the App, which Cole will now demonstrate how to download. Thank fuck, I’d forgotten since last week – I kept downloading Weight Watchers Edition instead, it’s all just so confusing! Another new show, that’ll be debuting on the Network, is the imaginatively titled “WWE Countdown”. It is, you’ve guessed it, a countdown of matches, catchphrases, etc. that is voted for by the WWE Universe (so you know it’s going to be good – as long as the choices are between, like, Cena and Zack Ryder or something).
Batista is here tonight and wow, WWE are really getting their money’s worth out of that shitty Rumble/Fast And Furious 6 song (which is now stuck in my head, god damn it!) The following factoid is also a Network plug, because they’re really not selling it enough right now and need to push it a bit harder.
Christian -v- Jack Swagger
Apparently, if Swagger loses this match, Zeb Coulter is going to shave his magnificent moustache. Possibly in the ring, with Vince wielding the razor. It’s only during this match that it becomes evident Raw is in Nebraska, because Zeb doesn’t have a sign, nor does he shout anything offensive, or make any stupid, racially-motivated jokes. This is quite frightening in itself, but thankfully the match is quick and painless. Unfortunately, with Zeb censored, it’s also really fucking boring.
Winner: Christian (otherwise, it’d be highly embarrassing)
Next week’s guest on Raw is going to be the legendary Betty White, who apparently has something to promote, or has been misled on her way to the bingo. No word yet on whether she’ll be getting in the ring like the late, great Mae Young but we live in hope (who am I kidding, she’ll probably just swear a lot, because that’s what kids like nowadays). In all seriousness, this news makes no sense, and it’s not immediately obvious why it’s being sold to us, in advance.
Tag Team Championship Steel Cage Match: The
Rhodes Brothers -v- New Age Outlaws
Why are they fighting for this goddamn championship again!? The NAO have already won it twice! This isn’t even really a feud, because there’s no heat between these two teams, but anyway, here we go again. It’s a regular tag team match, not even a tornado or anything exciting. Road Dogg tries to escape through the door almost immediately, which is very strange considering he must have done, like, a million of these specific matches by this stage. Also, why is he a total pussy all of a sudden? A moment ago, he was telling everyone to suck it! During the match, we are told that “Steel Cage” is trending on Twitter, which seems highly unlikely because this match isn’t even interesting enough for the four men who are involved in it to act as though they care (in their defence, it is the third time they’ve done this). The crowd demonstrate their boredom by shouting for Punk again. The main problem with these matches is that the cage disrupts the view, making it difficult to tell who’s doing what – the performers have to go above and beyond (no pun intended) to really make us care about the action. Anyway, there’s a long-ass two count which Cody is pissed off about, but the best moment is easily when he climbs onto the very top of the cage, jumps off it, and botches a move on RD, who falls like a trooper as Cody sells how badly his arm hurts (it probably does, it could seriously be broken). Strangely, this moment is replayed three times, each from different angles, to make it obvious that the move was botched.
Winners: New Age Outlaws (so is this going anywhere or…?)
Who does Batista want to be champ? Who does he want to fight tonight? I’ve got a question for you, Cole – who fucking cares!? Ziggler has a match tonight, with a couple of jobbers. And speaking of jobbers…
Zack Ryder -v- Titus O’Neill
It’s good to know that Zack Ryder is still alive, and hasn’t sunk into his sofa and suffocated, but I still don’t want to watch him waste time with Titus O’Neill, who apparently ditched his partner, Darren Young, by kicking him in the face on Smackdown. He now has his own entrance music, which is hilariously try hard and not at all intimidating (it’s like that “goth” music from really bad kids TV shows, the kind made on a keyboard for no money). The Miz turns up midway through, in an ill-fitting suit, to give out about how he dressed up like a Mafia boss for nothing because he isn’t wrestling tonight. Ryder somehow gets the crowd to do some deflated “Woo”s (three, to be exact) and then he loses, the match ending just as it began, with a stutter.
Winner: Titus O’Neill (shocking)
WWE then honours Black History Month by showing The Rock, and other assorted wrestlers, in amongst a load of clouds, that seem to have been rather hastily compiled using MS Paint. There is a segment on Ernie Ladd that is neither informative, nor does it “honour” him. Next up there’s a DANCE OFF (no, really!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dance Off: Fandango -v- Santino Marella
So, this is what it has come to, a goddamn dance-off. I suppose we all knew this day was coming, since it’s already kind of happened before. JBL reckons nobody can beat the gorgeous (and hilarious) Summer Rae, but Marella wants to pick someone from the crowd at random. Who will it be!? That randomer over there? The big dude, shaking his Cheeto-covered moobs about the place? Of course not, it’s going to be Emma from NXT, who has been showing up every week, brandishing a big ol’ sign, without fail and now finally gets her moment to shine. She looks completely out of it, and her entrance music (which she dances to, obviously) is absolutely dreadful – it’s like the mutant brother of O’Neill’s goth keyboard extravaganza from earlier. Emma can’t dance, but she beats Summer anyway, because why the hell not? Too bad it wasn’t a battle of the hair extensions, because Summer’s at least look like they cost more than ten bucks. Apparently, the two wrestled on NXT and it was pretty good. Maybe if Emma gets booked on Raw, Summer will finally be given an opportunity to do more than swoon over Fandango!
Winner: Emma (snore)
Sheamo enters as Cole tells us he “loves to fight” – ‘cos he’s Irish! Geddit!? Hilarious! He misses a dude dressed as the Irish tricolour, but maybe that’s because he’s so blinded by the whiteness of his own, wonderful skin. Also, the App has been downloaded a kajillion times. And the Irish love to fight!
Sheamus -v- Curtis Axel (who approaches with his boyfriend, Ryback)
Just as the match is heating up (haha, not really) the best sign of the night appears in the crowd – it reads simply “My other CM Punk sign got confiscated”. It’s amazing, and it makes the match tolerable, even in spite of the fact that it features Curtis Axel. I seriously can’t remember how this guy got over. Is he even over? He was tied to Paul Heyman for a while. I’m confused. Thankfully, Sheamo is a star and a national treasure and he always gives one hundred per cent, regardless of his opponent(s). He’s so happy to be there, he’s like the Niall Horan of WWE, except he can deliver a Brogue Kick with brute force and he doesn’t wear tank tops whose prime function is to reveal his nipples.
Winner: Sheamus (it’s like he never left!)
There’s a promo for HBK which proves what I have been saying for years – he got sexier with age. Also, he rocked the hair better than Trips, who looks like a loon standing behind him, sporting a perm that would make Xavier Woods baulk. HBK has a DVD due for release soon, entitled “Shawn Michaels: Mr Wrestlemania” It looks like standard WWE fare, but considering Michaels is so charismatic, it could be great.
Speaking of the Oirish, Batista has found an even more ridiculous outfit than last week, seemingly taking inspiration from legendary girl band B*Witched. He looks, sounds, and acts like he could not care less about anything which is good because we are definitely not listening to him.
Del Rio appears, sporting a spiffy blazer, and since they’re both in jeans, we know there’s not going to be a match, and that this is going to just be lots of talking, so yay. Batista has a tiny nose stud that makes him look like a fourteen year old girl. It’s really distracting.
ADR is overly Spanish, using an accent that would be considered racist were he not actually Latino. He strips off his blazer to reveal that they are wearing the same outfit, which enrages Batista so much that he tears off his shirt and the two end up screaming nonsensical shit at each other from opposite ends of the arena – Batista shaking the ropes, ADR gurning against the big screen.
There’s even a replay of this whole incident, and I’m not entirely sure why, but at least it’s given me time to spot another great sign in the crowd – “Boo-Tista” it reads.
6-Man Tag Team Match: Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth and Xavier Woods -v- The Wyatt Family (once Truth stops rapping about pimples, of course)
Though I’m terribly glad Ziggles has returned, I’m enraged that he is stuck with these stupid jobbers. He deserves better! Oh, but apparently Mark Henry returns next week, so I guess soon Ziggles will have more people to not wrestle? The match begins with Bray Wyatt sitting down in his rocking chair, only to immediately get back up again, and for some reason, he and the rest of his “family” settle in what is most commonly the face corner. Luke Rowan is difficult to watch, because he always has that distracting bum stain on his overalls. Thankfully, nobody is awake for this match apart from Ziggles.
Winner: The Wyatt Family (er, okay)
There’s a promo for Rusev, some dude who hangs out with an overly Russian transvestite. Eh, cool?
Divas Match: Naomi -v- Oksana (I could have written anyone, really who cares!?)
Thank fuck AJ is here, otherwise this match would be REALLY dull. Hilariously, she takes her hat off and gives it to a delighted/bemused JBL. I mention this because it is, quite literally, the only thing of interest that happens while these ladies are in the ring – apart from when AJ asks Cole how to use the App again, because she’s forgotten. I sincerely hope Summer gets to wrestle soon, because she is the only one, apart from AJ, with any worth.
Winner: Naomi (AJ is the only winner here, let’s be honest)
The Wrestlemania promo is still hilariously focused on the fact the PPV is happening in Louisiana, exhibiting the bayou, country music, swamp murders, Victor Crowley. Wait, I trailed off there. Oh good, another Network promo! It will be 24/7 and WM is the first PPV on it. We already knew that, but I suppose there’s not much else to say about it just yet because it hasn’t launched. This promo is scored by a Macklemore song, though, so you know it’s serious.
Main Event: Daniel Bryan -v- Randy Orton
Bryan is still so ridiculously over, and he beams as he enters the ring to rapturous applause. Orton, on the other hand, looks like he wants a nap. He does the pose twice though. Such a tease. Funnily enough, this is quite an interesting match, with Bryan focusing on disabling Orton’s leg, and Orton simultaneously working on Bryan’s arm. Bryan is still quite a technical fighter, but he works hard and he focuses on his strengths. At one point, Orton is launched onto Cole’s lap – much to the commentator’s delight – and re-enters the ring with Cole’s headset wrapped around his leg, which is absolutely hilarious. In fact, the sight of him crawling desperately towards the ropes to break Bryan’s submission hold is the most engaged he’s looked in ages! But, just when things are wrapping up, it’s Kane, playa! He’s turned up to cause trouble, but Bryan quickly gets rid of him, which makes me yearn for the days of Team Hell No.
Winner: Daniel Bryan (miracles do happen!)
Quite a disjointed Raw this week, with a lot less in-the-ring action than the last instalment, but a decent amount of energy and fun at the same time. CM Punk’s shadow loomed large over the proceedings, and Cena was sorely missed – even though he’s annoying sometimes, and will probably never turn heel, he’s such an integral part of the show now, and it feels really weird without him. There aren’t many constants in wrasslin’, but Cena is one. He’s like the anchor that weighs all of the craziness down. Plus, he has tea parties with sick kids!
Overall, this was an enjoyable episode that drove the non-story forward at least a little bit and further established Bryan as the star he rightly deserves to be. It’s not entirely clear why the NAO are being thrown into the same match every week, or why The Shield and The Wyatt Family are only sort-of feuding, or even why Batista is getting a push while wrestlers who deserve it more, such as Sheamo and Ziggles are left to waste time with jobbers, but this is WWE, after all, and sometimes it makes a little bit of sense, often it makes none.
But we keep on watching because maybe, just maybe, it’s all leading somewhere great (not to WM, of course).