April 10, 2014 by Joey Keogh
After a ridiculously good Wrestlemania the night before, it was expected that this week’s Raw would either fall flat on its face, undoing all the good work of the PPV (Taker’s loss notwithstanding), or rise to the occasion, throwing everything at us in one ferocious blast, in the hope that something will stick. Thankfully, the latter was the case, as this week’s instalment kick-started a brand new season of high stakes sports entertainment, stuffed with thrills, spills, and more than a couple of shocks. Hopefully this is the beginning of something great, because Raw really kicked serious ass this week.
We open with the same Daniel Bryan promo that was broadcast at WM, which, although scored by a very bizarre song detailing one man’s turn into a monster (hardly fitting for the affable, universally well-liked Bryan), is effective in showing just how far the little bearded fellow has come, especially in spite of rising opposition from The Authority. The deafening, sold-out crowd gathered in New Orleans tonight go absolutely crazy when Justin Roberts welcomes “the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion” and it’s a truly special moment watching Bryan descend the ramp and enter the ring, beaming, with tears in his eyes as he admits it’s difficult to do his signature “Yes” move while holding two heavy belts in each arm. King admonishes JBL for being wrong about Bryan, telling him matter-of-factly “that’s the new face of the WWE”, to which Layfield grumpily replies “Lord help us”.
The crowd switches from simply cheering for Bryan to yelling “You deserve it” at the top of their lungs, but he quickly shushes them, arguing that they deserve it for sticking with him all this time and making the Yes Movement a real thing, instead of just, you know, a Twitter hashtag or something King refers to in order to sound hip. Before he can revel in the glory too much, The Authority show up to wreck his fun yet again, with a rousing “Asshole” cheer drowning out whatever corporate bollocks Trips is peddling this time around. Bryan stands up to him for once, clearly brimming with confidence over his win, by getting in his face and starting a raucous “Yes” chant while fist-pumping with his belts. Although Trips is refusing to get in the ring at this exact moment in time, he does think Bryan should have to defend his title against him later on (cue massive groan from all of us, as our immediate collective thought is “Really? They’re fucking him over AGAIN?”)
Thankfully, we won’t have to deal with that until later, as Trips, now totally red-faced with anger, yells “This is MY show!” until he is cut off and we are instead reminded of Taker’s loss, a reference to which elicits a serious amount of booing (and rightly so). The Johnny Cash-esque song playing over the recap isn’t helping, I mean, Taker’s not that old and decrepit. Next, we are treated to some lovely photos from last night’s show, scored by that dreadful Kid Rock song that they’re clearly still trying to get their money’s worth out of even though the show is already over. But you can still pay for the repeats, so no footage for you! Backstage, The Authority are discussing their kinky sex life, until Batista turns up to deliver the understatement of the century, “I don’t get this” Yeah, we know, that’s why you shouldn’t have come back to ruin everything, you complete waste of space.
He fucks up his second line because he sucks, but what’s worse is the words he messes up are actually “Royal Rumble” which is just mind-numbingly stupid (although this is the same man who said “WW” instead of WWE so…) Randy Orton shows up to demand a rematch, which is funnily enough what Boo is after too. But sadly they won’t be getting it tonight, because tonight is all about The Authority’s Daniel Bryan problem, so Orton and Boo are now a tag team of sorts and are going up against The Usos for the title, because that championship is being buried for some reason.
6-Man Tag Team Match: The Wyatts -v- John Cena & Sheamus & Big E
Last night’s match, which had Bray Wyatt up against John Cena, was one of the highlights of the show – brutal, unpredictable, exciting and, perhaps most crucially, with a serious amount of heat behind it. Cena’s eventual win was misjudged, but at the same time, it could lead to something cool, like his long-awaited heel turn, or the growth of his feud with Wyatt. Given how great these two are together, it’s unclear why the powers that be have decided that it’d be better to dilute the tension between them by adding four other dudes to the match, but no matter, Cena and Wyatt are sure to be the focus regardless, and in the meantime, we get some pretty decent spots from Rowan and Harper, in particular, with the reliable Sheamo and E on fine form as always. Cena is spectacularly booed as he enters, with the crowd even singing “John Cena sucks” along with his theme tune. He immediately corners Bray, before tagging Sheamo in to take over, who soon enough is up against Rowan, who then gets drop-kicked by E’s massive leg. It’s all a bit messy, until E picks up Rowan and cracks him over his giant knee, establishing their team as the leaders. Harper then face-plants Cena, much to the crowd’s amusement (they cheer each and every time he takes a hit without fail, which is hilariously entertaining). Finally, Bray gets a chance to take on the Superman, beating the shit out of him as the crowd cheers him on, before Harper momentarily takes over, followed by Rowan. Sheamo is tagged in, making it a clash of the gingers. He tackles both Rowan and Harper simultaneously from the top rope, before Big E and Bray square up to each other, meanwhile Harper launches out to tackle Sheamo, as the crowd chant “Bray’s gonna get you” like some kind of twisted nursery rhyme. Finally, Bray gains control once again as he counters E’s intended finisher with his weird backwards spider walk, before he utilises the Sister Abigail to win.
Winners: The Wyatt Family (more Cena v Wyatt, less other people, please)
Next up we have a very odd promo for none other than Bo Dallas, who nobody cared about six months ago, and definitely don’t care about now. Also “Bolieve” is not a word, nor will it ever be, so enough of that, WWE.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Fandango & Summer Rae -v- Santino Marella & Emma
Mixed tag matches can be really good fun, but we’ve seen this all before and the most interesting thing about it this time around is that Fandango is wearing a bizarrely massive peacock-feather-embellished hood. Otherwise, it’s business as usual. He dances a lot, Santino uses his stupid gimmick almost immediately, then Powerbombs him, making him flee and thereby giving the ladies about ten seconds to showcase what they can do. Emma utilises her signature move, the Dilemma, which is actually a Tarantula, but it looks cool nonetheless. She then uses the Emma-Lock to, once again, make Summer tap. And that’s about it.
Winners: Santino Marella & Emma (yet again)
Next up, more WM pics! Hooray! Have you paid for the replay yet? Brock Lesnar is here, with his manager Paul Heyman, who once again will be doing all the talking. Lesnar is rocking a serious shiner tonight, but he’s ecstatic over his victory over Taker, in spite of the fact the crowd really are not (especially one little girl, who looks on the verge of tears as he enters). There’s a guy in the front row dressed as Sting, because I guess certain people still hope he’s going to show up every Monday, while another is dressed as Hogan. Guess which is cooler! (hint: neither, but props to the guy rocking a Bray Wyatt costume with Hulk-esque feather boa). Heyman bows down to Lesnar, before proceeding to babble on about nothing in the most interesting possible way, as only he can do, while the crowd chants “Bullshit” over him. He reads out Lesnar’s T-shirt as slowly as possible, because the crowd are stupid and can’t understand anything, before recounting how Taker collapsed last night and Vince had to go to the hospital with him! Let’s face it, he may be annoying, but that’s the point – Heyman is the best at what he does.
He cuts a seriously good promo tonight, purely using the idea of Lesnar being “the one” when everyone else is just a wannabe, because after all he is the one in 21-1. His sense of humour is unmatched in WWE too, as he refers to JBL “and those two other things they call announcers” before making fun of Hogan’s embarrassing misuse of Silverdome instead of Superdome last night. It may only last a few minutes, but Heyman manages to build some extreme heat nonetheless, especially since Taker isn’t here to interrupt, so he’s basically given free reign to go on and on and on as only he can do. He closes by slowly telling the crowd, yet again, that Lesnar is the one in 21-1, before scuttling off back to his hole to think of yet more ways to piss us all off. Up next we get a rather odd promo for a man named Adam Rose, who is basically a cheap Mick Jagger with worse hair who cannot do an English accent to save his life. He’s aboard a tour bus, decorated like a child’s birthday party, with lots of ladies, having a great time, and he delivers his lines like he’s hearing them for the first time so we know he’s going to be great fun in the ring.
Tag Team Championship Match: Batista & Randy Orton -v- The Usos
Fuck knows why this match is even happening – who decided the tag team championship was suddenly worthless? So much has been done to build it up over the past few months, and the matches have been so great as well, it just seems like such a waste. Anyway, Batista gets booed out of it as he approaches, but he manages to sort-of hit his cue, for once, so good for him. Orton gets a better reaction, but that’s probably because, as most of us have realised, he looks good compared to Boo. He’s also wearing his too-tight trunks again, which is very amusing. The crowd chant “Boo-tista” throughout this very uninvolving match, as the man himself coasts while Orton attempts to do a few spots and The Usos wonder where it all went so wrong. The chants turn to “Justin Roberts” because that’s how interesting this match is, and when the action moves outside the ring, it all ends rather confusingly in a count-out. Boo doesn’t care, he slams an Uso into the steel steps regardless, and then he and his partner pose in the ring as though they’ve won.
Winner: DQ (Usos retain thankfully)
Up next, Hulk is here to present the Andre The Giant memorial trophy to Cesaro, even though he already got it last night. But before that, though, more pics from WM! Hooray!
Rob Van Dam -v- Damien Sandow
RVD has taken time out of his busy schedule haunting the indie wrestling circuit (i.e. smoking lots and lots of weed) to come and lay waste to poor ol’ Damien Sandow, who continues to be buried for no apparent reason. RVD begins by asking if he can do his taunt, but Sandow is in no mood, and tackles him as he makes his first attempt. An “ECW” chant erupts, after which the action moves to the barricade, where RVD attacks Sandow before returning to the ring, finally finishing his taunt and then leaping out again to tackle him. He pins Sandow easily, just because, and that’s really it.
Winner: Rob Van Dam (seriously, who did Sandow piss off?)
Rey Mysterio -v- Bad News Barrett
Barrett has a match! And he’s now being officially billed as Bad News Barrett because that segment finally put him over! He emerges in a 300-esque cape, throws it off, and glowers, much to everyone’s amusement. The camera pans over lots of proud English folk in the crowd, all of whom are ecstatic to see their fellow countryman getting a shot, even if it is against the rather bland Mysterio. BNB has bad news, as always, but his opponent stops him from delivering it, causing a chant to erupt in favour of it. Barrett quickly gains dominance over the diminutive Mysterio, however, and even the 619 doesn’t stop him, as he plays dead to trick his opponent into going easy before finishing him with the Ballhammer.
Winner: Bad News Barrett (now let’s have a feud with Sheamo already!)
WWE are taking over The Soup next week, which is a match made in heaven if ever I’ve heard one because Joel Mc Hale has featured a ton of great bits from Raw recently, including when Jinder Mahal charmed Santino’s cobra (a legendary moment, for sure). We then get another Adam Rose promo, during which he further proves how utterly devoid of a personality he is. Seriously, why is he getting a shot instead of, say, Tyler Breeze, who could easily feud with Fandango due to the fact they’re both hilariously narcissistic?
And speaking of dudes getting a shot who really don’t deserve it due to overwhelming dullness, here’s Alexander Rusev! His manager Lana has the potential to be a great heel character but she’s totally wasted on him and, for the time being, she’s the most interesting thing about him, too – why is a Russian accompanying and introducing a Bulgarian anyway? How does that make sense? Rusev looks like an old-school body-builder, and he isn’t in particularly good shape, so it’s unclear what the draw is with him.
Alexander Rusev -v- Zack Ryder
To show just how little we’re supposed to care about Rusev, he is up against, of all people, Zack Ryder – can you remember the last time Ryder had a match? I can’t. Anyway, Rusev begins by doing some weird sumo wrestler-style shit in the ring, which is very disconcerting, before this five second match begins how it’s going to end, with a big ol’ whimper. There’s a sign in the crowd which reads “Rusev, how much for the blonde?” further cementing the fact that people only care about Lana, who is shouting things from ringside throughout, trying desperately to make it interesting. There’s a weird “USA” chant in the middle of everything, showcasing some possible xenophobia from the crowd, before Rusev uses his submission move, the curiously-named Accolade, on Ryder, who taps out after about a second.
Winner: Alexander Rusev (WHAT a debut, eh?)
Following that disaster, there’s some footage of the Hall Of Fame ceremony, which is actually quite moving. Ultimate Warrior is here, but first, more WM pics! And that goddamn song is still being used, too. Given the fact that Warrior has since passed away, his appearance on Raw has a weirdly poignant edge. If, like me, you watched it late then his segment will be very bizarre because he spends most of it discussing his own mortality. He also looks like he’s about to pass out throughout, which is very sad. RIP obviously, but thankfully this segment is followed up by a lovely promo thanking the WWE fans for their support, which features Bryan emerging to an empty arena and being freaked out until it magically fills with screaming fans. It’s very well put together, and very sweet, especially given just how goddamn popular this carnie show still is.
Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee -v- Paige
Shockingly, there’s an interesting Divas match tonight (even though it literally lasts about two minutes). AJ enters the ring to brag about how she retained her title the night before, to ecstatic cheers from the crowd. She’s trying her best, but she’s just too sweet and cute to be a convincing heel, although a pop for Punk is well-received as she refers to herself as “The Best Diva In The World”. However, as she’s mid-speech, an unlikely opponent surfaces in the form of current NXT Divas champ, Paige who, unfortunately for AJ, looks a bit like a younger version of her. The crowd love Paige, in spite of the fact she’s from Norwich and speaks bit like she has toffee in her mouth. Then, as AJ somewhat confusingly offers to put her title on the line in a match with her, it quickly becomes apparent that the chick can wrestle too – even if she’s given a mercifully short amount of time in which to showcase her talents. AJ tries for the Black Widow almost immediately, but to her shock and disgust, Paige counters it with her submission, the brilliantly-titled Paige Turner, to win the match, and the championship, meaning she now has two, which is more than anyone from Norwich could ever hope to achieve, ever.
Winner: Paige (this is the biggest shock in a Divas match since forever, seriously)
As a jubilant Paige flees from the wrath of Tamina Snukka, we are treated to another weird Bo Dallas promo, because just when you were excited about the thought of a new person being good, it’s about time to remind you that someone else is coming along who sucks. Up next, Hulk is here with the Andre trophy but we can’t really hear what he’s shilling because the crowd are chanting so loudly for Cesaro. The man himself finally appears, accompanied by his manager Zeb Colter, and Hulk congratulates him and skulks off, having completed the two minutes of work he no doubt was paid a ridiculous sum of money to do. Zeb refuses to let his client speak, grabbing the mic and opining about how it’s been ten months since he joined The Real Americans (really? It’s taken nearly a year to give Cesaro a proper push?)
He makes the mistake of referring to him as a “Zeb Colter guy” and it’s at that moment that Cesaro decides he’s finally had enough, taking the mic to confess that, actually, he’s a Paul Heyman guy. We can almost hear the atmosphere change in the arena, as a result. It’s been so long since he’s been allowed to speak, I’d almost forgotten what Cesaro sounded like, but holy shit this was an amazing moment – especially as Heyman smugly descends the ramp and Colter flails about, totally confused by this development. Heyman calls him “Grampa”, which is amazing, before referring to Cesaro as “the King of swing” which the crowd immediately latch onto and start chanting. As Heyman strolls over to the announcers to explain to them how to handle his new client, Cesaro’s ex-teammate Jack Swagger seizes the opportunity to tackle him, before throwing the trophy out of the ring and wrecking it (there’s a Total Divas promo before we actually get to the match, though).
Jack Swagger -v- Cesaro
Apparently, the great Brad Maddox, who was cruelly eliminated much too early in the 30-Man Battle Royal at WM, came out during the commercial break to make this a real match so, yay! Cesaro is laying into Swagger as we rejoin them. A sign which reads “Hunter those kids are mine” becomes visible in the crowd early on and doesn’t go away for much of the match, which is pretty funny. Heyman is stalking the ring, carrying the little gold Andre from the top of the trophy. Swagger tries his Swagger-Bomb but Cesaro immediately counters with a swift kick to the jaw, before utilising a crazy Suplex which causes his opponent to flee the ring and inevitably be counted out, as Zeb refuses to let him return.
Winner: Cesaro (he’s finally over!)
World Heavyweight Championship Rematch: Triple H -v- Daniel Bryan
Tonight’s show was so stuffed full of great promos and interesting spots and shocks and new faces that it’s easy to forget the main event is Trips v Bryan (sigh). Backstage, Steph is with Kane and The Shield, going over the plan for the match. The Shield reckon the New Age Outlaws are too scared to show their faces again, but we know better, they’re too bloody tired and having a good sit-down somewhere warm and cosy. Steph explains that Bryan being champ is an injustice, and that the lads should correct it ASAP. Reigns rather cryptically agrees as he clutches his chest in an effort to look intimidating in spite of his small voice. But before we can get to any action, yet more WM pics are shown! Somebody should just purchase it already, this is getting ridiculous. JBL compares Bryan to Chewbacca, as he descends the ramp, only for Batista and Orton to show up and tackle him almost immediately as he enters the ring. They corner him, but then Kane shows up to have a go, and he choke-slams him into oblivion. The crowd chant for 3MB, clearly unsure of how else to react to all this madness. Trips emerges to his other music, which we haven’t heard for a while and thus sounds kind of silly (it’s like Lemmy is just stringing sentences together and then making noises in place of words), and demands that the bell is rung, even though Bryan is clearly passed out at his feet.
The crowd erupt into a “No” chant as it all begins to fall apart in front of their eyes. Not now, we’ve waited so long for this! Don’t take it away from us! But then, just as all seems lost, The Shield emerge, thereby showcasing a bizarre sign reading “Titty Master Dean Ambrose” as they descend the staircase (lots of great signs tonight, this is a very sign-heavy crowd). Trips doesn’t want them to fight, but they attack once he’s distracted with the others, launching themselves out of the ring to tackle Boo and Orton, allowing Bryan the opportunity to recover and dropkick his sort-off boss. Kane drags Trips to safety and the four men run off like total pussies, leaving Bryan to start another triumphant “Yes” chant, ending Raw just as it began.
Winner: Daniel Bryan (let’s hope this is the case for a while to come)
Thankfully, this edition of Raw more than lived up to its preceding, very strong, PPV, with lots of fun, a few shocks and some decent storyline development. There’s potential for greatness with the Wyatt/Cena clash, and likewise Cesaro’s movement to Heyman’s camp is inspired, while for once we actually give a shit about the Divas thanks to a surprising development with NXT rising star Paige.
Overall, this could, and indeed should, be the beginning of a new era for Raw. The two new guys (three, including the dull-as-fuck Rusev) are boring beyond belief, but at least there will be some fresh blood on the apron soon enough, and in the meantime, all the usual stalwarts are kicking serious ass (aside from Batista, who needs to be put down immediately). Here’s to more shows like this, and not just the ones following PPVs – let’s make this a weekly event for real.