April 17, 2014 by Joey Keogh
After a storming, post-Wrestlemania extravaganza last week, Raw opens on a much more sombre note tonight, as the various Superstars and Divas gather onstage to mourn the passing of the much-loved Ultimate Warrior, who delivered a portentous monologue just seven days previous. It’s weird seeing everyone so serious and sad. Cody Rhodes is choking back tears. Fandango isn’t dancing on the spot. Hell, Nikki Bella is so devastated by Warrior’s passing; she’s squeezed her massive tits into a fluorescent green tissue just to pay her respects.
The first of many tributes to the man is then shown, this one starring Triple H, Stephanie Mc Mahon and Hulk Hogan, all of whom speak highly of the dude who made shaking the ropes a thing of beauty. The bell is then rung ten times in Warrior’s honour, as the camera pans over to catch Batista loitering in the back with his hood up (a move for which crazy marks crucified him, because apparently only Punk is allowed to do that), and Eva Marie standing so close to Vince, she might as well have been sucking his dick live on air.
Aside from all of the tributes, tonight we’re also getting a rematch for the Tag Team Championship, while The Authority will be answering The Shield following last week’s debacle with Daniel Bryan. But first, a tournament for the #1 Contendership (not a word, WWE) for the Intercontinental Championship, the winner of which will fight current titleholder Big E at Extreme Rules. Now, you probably recall that Christian was #1 Contender a few weeks back but because he’s injured there are now, like, fifty dudes in the running – the good news is they’re all kind of good!
#1 Contenders Tournament: Round 1: Alberto Del Rio -v- Rob Van Dam
It’s the battle of the three letter acronyms but sadly ADR does not get an entrance, even though his is really funny (though less so without the car – boo, WWE). As RVD enters, to rapturous applause of course, the commentators take the opportunity to inform us that he’s been IC champ six times, but sadly ADR has never held the title, which is probably why he kicks things off by attacking his opponent and quickly gaining dominance by locking him into a corner. Backstage, Big E is watching the action on a TV next to some strategically-hanged shirts (there used to be a pair of jeans up there). I suspect he’ll be there all night, so there’s no reason for him to be oiled up and in his ring gear, but maybe he’s more comfortable that way (who doesn’t love tight spandex and oily skin?). Back in the ring, RVD is trying his best to do a few decent spots, but he can’t quite hit the mark (no pun intended, though it’s always funny to see some smug bastard in the front row getting knocked out by a giant, flying knee), at one point back-flipping out of the ring, missing ADR entirely, but landing on his feet as though he meant to do so. He then botches a move from the top rope, but tries again and lands it, thereby whacking his dick. For a moment, it seems as though he’s lost it, especially as ADR runs along the top rope to dropkick him in a moment of impossible madness, but then RVD somehow regains his momentum, taking advantage of a top rope position himself, to aim perfectly and knock his opponent out in just one, sort-of perfectly-timed move.
Winner: Rob Van Dam (sadly there will be no A-D-R chant any time soon)
Following that pretty decent opening, we are treated to a little replay of last week’s action involving Bryan, The Authority and The Shield, before the first Ultimate Moments (geddit?) segment is played, which showcases a match from fifty million years ago, when the crowd were really close to the ring and there was no security to speak of – it was a simpler time, by all accounts. Immediately afterwards, we are jolted back to the present day, and informed that there will be no Bryan tonight because he’s off getting married and whatnot, as The Authority try to convince Batista and Randy Orton to team up with Trips. Orton and Boo may be mirroring each other’s semi-stern, hands-on-hips-like-a-chick-on-Instagram pose but they’re not yet convinced. They just want to go make out somewhere, but they’ll be back later to contribute absolutely nothing.
Tag Team Match: Rybaxel -v- The Rhodes Brothers
The Rhodes boys deserve better than these two goddamn jobbers, but at least they’re getting a match. Goldust starts things off against Axel, before tagging Cody in, and then taking over himself again a moment later. Ryback tries to intervene but is kicked out, quite literally, as Axel and Goldust duke it out in the corner. When Ryback does get a look in, he and his partner (who is so much like him they may as well be occupying the same, unflattering onesie at this stage) do some sort of lame-ass double team move that achieves nothing. The commentators are too busy shilling shit to focus on the match, which means they care about it about as much as we do. Ryback gets Goldust in a headlock and screams “All night!” over and over again, in a misguided tribute to that one Eddie Murphy hit from the eighties, before Cody tags in and the camera angle switches to show off just how good the operators can be at capturing the action (unless someone is jumping from the top ropes, which often is replayed, rather bizarrely, from a forward-facing angle instead of the side, losing most of the impact in the process). Cody flips backwards off the top ropes to tackle Ryback, and then launches the two of them out of the ring. Somehow, he and his brother still end up losing.
Winners: Rybaxel (the combination of their two theme tunes is even worse than either on its own, somehow)
As the commentators make no effort to pretend they were even watching any of that shit, King’s shirt is revealed in all its glory. As usual, it somehow manages to surpass those that came before it. It boasts a giant lion’s head, because the lion is the king of the jungle, and King is, well, you get the idea. They tell us there’s another week-long free Network trial, so you can watch whatever you like for seven days and then start paying the ridiculously reasonable price of $10 monthly for it (but not if you’re in the UK/Ireland because WWE still has a sweet deal with Sky). Also, Bolieve is still a thing, so at least the company get some use out of all this stock footage they’ve collected over the years.
Divas Match: Paige -v- Alicia Fox
AJ Lee has taken a leave of absence, possibly to get married (or because Punk ruined it all for her and now she’s being punished, damn it! Conspiracy!), so for the moment, current champ and NXT-er Paige is our most exciting prospect. There will be no Summer Rae tonight, either, which sucks because I was looking forward to seeing to which part of her appendage sequins had been affixed this time around. Paige enters wearing a leather jacket and JBL notes that she probably attends the same tanning salon as Sheamus. Pale skin shows bruising better, though, so those two always look like bad asses. Joke’s on you, JBL! There’s a replay of her title win last week, before Alicia gets to work utilising her one and only move – a spinning backbreaker – against her clearly superior opponent, who only has to put her in a Scorpion for Alicia to scream “Nooooooo” like a whiny little bitch. On that note, though, Paige should totally feud with AJ at some stage because, aside from the obvious reasons like they’re the only two women who can really fight, it’d be the Scorpion against the Black Widow and that allows for all kinds of fun puns! Anyway, Alicia taps out, because this is a Divas match, after all.
Winner: Paige (come back AJ, she can’t do it all on her own)
Tag Team Re-Match: The Usos -v- Batista & Randy Orton
As you no doubt recall, last week the match between The Usos and the two bowling ball heads descended into madness as the latter refused to fight, or do anything of interest besides glower and look stupid. So we’re getting a rematch tonight as a result. As The Usos enter, the camera pans to a giant lady (or man) in the crowd getting her groove on, even though their music has yet to start. The lads are in Warrior tees and face-paint, which is fitting. Orton emerges and one lady (possibly the same one, but unconfirmed) loses her shit for him, but her ecstasy is short-lived because Batista begins his descent before Orton has even made it to the ring. The Usos are owning the tag team section of WWE right now, they’re like a well-oiled machine at this stage, so it’s no wonder they open this match by simultaneously launching themselves out of the ring to tackle their opponents. The crowd go absolutely nuts, but considering Orton has been sort-of killing it lately, it’s annoying to see Batista tagged in so early, and the assembled fans clearly notice as the atmosphere (and noise level) dips considerably. Orton gets tagged in again soon enough, thankfully, to take a serious beating, before performing a backbreaker on one of his opponents (still can’t really tell them apart, but they’re as good as each other so wash). Batista then grabs his moment, to do a weird sitting move on the other Uso, looking like a giant baby bouncing up and down as he does so. There’s a lot of attention given to action on/by the ropes this match, but none of it is particularly interesting, and it’s almost a non-event when The Shield show up to intervene because, like, who cares what these two idiots are ruining? Surely NAO can just be drafted in to put The Usos over again, if needs be? They attack Orton and dispose of him, before stalking the ring, with Batista trapped inside looking…bored? Confused? Constipated? Hungry? There’s a plethora of emotions running across his face. It’s impossible to guess what he’s thinking (hint: paycheque, paycheque, paycheque, must get more star tattoos soon). Some chick (again, possibly the same one from before) is screeching as Reigns delivers the Superman-Punch, leading Batista to roll out of the ring and skulk off, with Orton in tow, the two of them pausing only to smirk like they’ve won again, which they absolutely have not.
Winner: DQ (nobody wins!)
Another Ultimate Moment plays next, featuring the match from WM VI with Hogan. Backstage, Orton and Batista are sweaty and mad and roaming the premises looking for a quiet place to have a chat and discuss their feelings when The Authority show up and Trips is all like “Told ya so” which, again, makes Batista look bored/confused/constipated/hungry.
#1 Contenders Tournament: Round 1: Cesaro -v- Mark Henry
Referring to every single match in this first round “Round 1” is very confusing, but it’s at least better than the god-awful graphic being utilised to announce the winner of each bout – seriously, it looks like a late-night MS Paint job, and not in a good way. Paul Heyman is here to introduce his new client but, never one to shy away from being a dick, first he wants to remind us all that Lesnar beat the streak. He repeats this fact several times over, much to the audience’s annoyance, before showing photos of WM 30 once again, pointing out how much Taker sucked throughout the match. He then introduces what he refers to as “the next top tier talent in WWE”, Cesaro, who hasn’t got new music yet, so he emerges to scattered applause and shouts and little else. Henry gets music obviously, because his song is funny (for the longest time, I thought the line was “bake a cake” and that it was a really horrible way of describing kicking the shit out of someone). He starts the match off by yelling at Heyman about making him “his business” which sounds even more frightening than baking his cake. The action begins with both men locked in combat for a bit, before Cesaro is thrown over the top rope and has to have a pep talk with his manager, who suggests reverting to Plan 2 (Plan B is copyrighted). The commentators mention that Cesaro is pound-for-pound the strongest man in WWE, which may explain why he’s always picking everyone up. Big E is still watching backstage, stroking his belt affectionately. It’s difficult to tell what he’s making of the matches thus far, but he’s probably on Twitter whenever the camera’s not on him. Or napping in the corner, while cuddling his belt for comfort. The match rumbles on, with several uppercuts delivered to a trapped Cesaro in the corner, as Henry dominates. He tries for the World’s Strongest Slam but Cesaro counters with a flying uppercut before utilising the Neutraliser – to spectacular effect, considering Henry’s size – and Heyman, of course, announces him as the winner, to serious booing.
Winner: Cesaro (still no music, sorry dude)
The lovely Raw promo that debuted last week plays again following the match, thanking all of us for having such bizarre taste in entertainment. It’s very sweet, and well done, even by WWE’s standards. Next up, The Authority are backstage with the fabulous Brad Maddox and his beautiful head of hair. They discuss the fact that The Shield has a match tonight with a MYSTERY opponent! Kane, perhaps? His mask has been on display in a case for the past few months, after all. Tonight could be his night!
Alexander Rusev -v- Xavier Woods
Lana is the best thing about Rusev, and she’s wasted on him. He has shit music, a shit gimmick and he looks like he’s time-travelled from a weight-lifting contest in the seventies. Poor Xavier doesn’t even get an entrance, and he has to stand and watch while Rusev does his weird, sumo shit again. In fact, Rusev demonstrates lots of different martial arts as part of his, eh, style of wrestling which I suppose is interesting from the perspective of an easily-pleased, semi-conscious lunatic. R-Truth is ringside, because he and Xavier are buddies, but he’s actually had more matches so surely he should be taking the beating from this newbie instead of Xavier, who is still a newbie himself. Anyway, this match is so boring, it might as well be happening in slow-mo. Rusev uses his submission hold (the Sleepy Sleeperson) on Xavier, who taps after about a second, and then R tries to intervene, but Lana stops him, before unleashing her client on him. Perhaps this is meant to show his Bulgarian brutality? If they wanted to do that, maybe they could give him some not Asian moves to utilise during matches and have his manager not be a goddamn Russian lady who’s more interesting than him.
Winner: Alexander Rusev (his music has to be the worst composed since Emma’s – good god)
The next Ultimate Moment is from Summer Slam in 1990, with a match that featured the great Rick Rude, a man whose gimmick is sort of enjoying a rebirth on NXT right now with the wonderfully narcissistic Tyler Breeze. Then, there’s a promo for a documentary piece following Daniel Bryan and his road to WM 30, which looks rather promising until it becomes apparent that most of it is played in character, which is very odd. Anyway, they have to fill the dead air somehow, so there you go.
#1 Contenders Tournament: Round 1: Jack Swagger -v- Sheamus
As the match opens, Swagger is receiving a pep talk from the great Zeb Colter, who will be greatly missed alongside Cesaro (surely this match is going to line Swagger up to go against his ex-teammate in the semi-finals of the tournament?) but still appreciated wherever he is. He’s whispering things tonight, because we’re in Alabama and all. Sheamo gets a massive reaction, as always, but finds himself locked in the corner almost immediately. He turns it around on Swagger eventually, but when Colter tries to intervene, Sheamo gets distracted enough for his opponent to tackle him and deliver a massive Power-bomb. Sheamo kicks out, builds some momentum, dropkicks Swagger and pins him. Swagger kicks out, and Sheamo rounds on him again, giving him ten beats of the bodhrán, which Cole cannot pronounce no matter how hard he tries. Swagger utilises the Patriot Lock, which Sheamo rolls over to counter and deliver the Brogue Kick to win, meaning no Swagger versus Cesaro. Boo.
Winner: Sheamus (practice your pronunciation for next week, kids)
There’s that shit graphic again. Wahey! Speaking of shit, Adam Rose gets another promo next. Man, his party bus looks like fun. Can I have a fake English accent and hop like a bunny too, please? It must be the most fun ever, because Rose is really selling it to us. Up next, someone who is actually worth paying attention to, the great Damien Sandow, who has a bone to pick with the WWE for burying the shit out of him. He doesn’t get any entrance music, but he’s got a mic and he knows how to use it. Big Show appears and Sandow continues to talk over his music, which is amazing, telling him that if he has something to say, “now would be a good time to keep it to yourself” He’s unsure why he’s being booed, while Show is cheered, and he kind of sounds a bit like Heyman in his delivery, which can only bode well for him.
Sandow is right though, he does deserve a chance, and just because Cody has paired off with his weirdo brother doesn’t mean he isn’t worth it. Even so, poking Show is not a good idea, and Sandow pays for it with a stunning knockout blow which is delivered mid-sentence. Show strolls off, grinning widely. If this is the beginnings of a feud, it’s a weird one, but I like it. Anything that involves Sandow is good. Speaking of feuds – in this case, a great one – the giant heads are onscreen to tell us we’re next. Bray has a new hat! (Possibly Taker’s? He doesn’t need it, or anything, now that he’s been beaten) As usual, the shameless pop for the city of BirmingHAM (sorry, Ozzy) goes down a treat, as does Bray’s impressive promo, during which he is illuminated only by cell-phone lights.
“Seducer, accuser, destroyer” he describes himself as, before reminding us he has never lied, unlike JOHN CENA, right guys!? “He is not man” Bray reveals, “he is beast” He encourages Cena to come out to play, which he does, immediately wondering aloud why Bray is so serious. Ain’t no monster here, bro! He wants fun, and the crowd are into it, mostly because he refers to “Birmingham honeys” – all five of ‘em. “This guy’s secretly a ladies man” Cena reckons, which makes Bray blush, but that may be because Cena keeps saying “y’all” even though he’s from Massachusetts, while Bray is a native of the dirty south (well, really he’s from Florida, but in comparison he’s a swampy swamplands man).
“Takes a man’s man to wear white pants” Cena opines – much like it takes a man’s man to broadcast one’s boner in jorts on national TV, eh John? Anyway, he’s reverted back to his childish “haha, poopies” jokes, as is evidenced by the show-and-tell section that follows, which features badly-shopped images of the Wyatts as women and a baby, in the case of Rowan. Apparently, TMZ leaked them, so you know they’re legit. Bray thinks all of this is hilariously funny, but Cena has a serious message tonight about him refusing to fight without his so-called family. At Extreme Rules, the two are going to go up against each other in a STEEL CAGE MATCH, y’all. Bray is really hard for this idea. He shouts a bit and then sings his creepy little song, thereby showcasing his awesome metal band voice once again. He has truly missed his calling and it is sad.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Santino Marella & Emma -v- Fandango & Layla
You might be thinking “This AGAIN!?” but never fear, because Fandango and Summer Rae had a very public breakup on Twitter earlier this week, so Layla is his new partner, in tag team and in love and in life. Speaking of Fandango, he should talk more, because the little segment he gets before the fighting kicks off is hilarious, especially his “it’s NOT me, it’s you” line. Anyway, the men kick things off, with Fandango turning each spot into a dance move as usual. Then, the women take over as Layla attacks, but Emma is too quick for her, utilising the Dilemma before Santino launches Fandango out of the ring after he distracts Emma with some arousing dance moves.
Winners: Fandango & Layla (somehow?)
Backstage, Steph is giving Kane a stern talking-to while his mask looms in the background, proudly displayed in its decorative case. “We thought you had no moral code!” she tells him, as though that is a good trait in an employee. She gets in his face, so he stands up, breathing heavily, and for a moment it seems as though they may kiss or something which would be totally creepy. He finally picks up the mask and the crowd begin chanting “Put it on”, but we aren’t getting that payoff just yet. Kane tells Steph he’s going to eviscerate Bryan and send him to the depths of hell – but will he emerge in the mask and his suit for this occasion? We’ll have to wait and see. There’s another Bolieve promo next, which informs us that eggs cannot fly. This dude sounds like Manny from Modern Family, which isn’t a good thing. It’s Warrior Week on the Network though, so yay.
#1 Contenders Tournament: Round 1: Dolph Ziggler -v- Bad News Barrett
Both of these guys kick major ass, so it’s great to see them in a match with each other and considering it’s the second last of the night, it’s lengthy too. Ziggles enters wearing a shredded Warrior shirt, but before his opponent shows up, there’s another HILARIOUS Adam Rose promo – this gimmick definitely isn’t getting old any time soon, right?! Bad News Barrett gets a phenomenal reaction, rightly so, with a “BNB” chant starting almost immediately. He tells Ziggles to shut up, before punching the hell out of him, and dragging him into the corner. He flips him over, but then Ziggles puts him in a headlock, before returning him to the corner once more. Both stand on the top rope, but neither manages to do anything. BNB then flips Ziggles as he leaps towards him, straight into the barricade. As we return from the commercial break, BNB has his opponent in a headlock, but it’s turned around as he is finally cornered himself, and then pinned. BNB kicks out, and tries for the Wasteland, leading Ziggles to kick out. Ziggles utilises the Fame-asser, and BNB kicks out. Ziggles tries for a Superplex, but messes it up, then Power-bombs BNB anyway, leading him to kick out once more. BNB utilises the Winds Of Change, before trying for the Bull-hammer, which Ziggles counters with a Roll-up, until BNB finally gets a handle on it properly, and wins.
Winner: Bad News Barrett (if he isn’t up against Sheamo in the next round, complete with racist banter on both sides, it’ll be a damn shame)
Following the match, Barrett has some bad news for us – he’s going to win the IC Championship! Evidently, nobody thinks this is actually bad news, but the dude can barely breathe anyway, so who cares, they’ll cheer anything at this stage. Up next is a Kane promo, starring Zack Ryder, whom he beat up consistently while feuding with Cena a while back. So, just to remind you, Kane is a bad ass and he beats jobbers up so Bryan better watch out. Finally, Did You Know that Smackdown is really good and all of the cool kids watch it? Well we tell you every week, so you should know by now. Sheamo and Batista are fighting on it this week, so set your DVR for that shit, yeah?
The Shield -v- ?
Man, ? is such a star, I’m so glad he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. Okay, that sucked, but the whole MYSTERY OPPONENT angle is pretty silly, especially in tonight’s case because The Shield’s MYSTERY opponents comprise of about thirteen dudes, including Barrett, who literally just stepped out of the ring a moment ago. Rollins tumbles over the barricade as normal, Ambrose leaps, and Reigns carefully hops – these moves don’t go with their appearances at all, which never fails to amuse me. The biggest news of this match is that 3MB are involved, y’all! Also Hornswoggle is with them, and dressed like them, so that’s pretty weird. Nobody gets in the ring at first apart from poor ol’ Heath Slater, who takes a serious beating for most of the first few minutes. There’s a massive “Shield” chant as the others gather around the ring like cowards, until finally Drew Mc Intyre enters, and Rollins starts taking the hits, which he will continue to do for much of the match. Ryback enters, putting us all to sleep and adding nothing. The action then spills out ringside, where Reigns joins in and more chaos ensues. Rollins then launches out of the ring to simultaneously tackle everyone. There’s some crazy fighting pretty much everywhere in sight, until suddenly, out of nowhere, the infamous Evolution music starts playing and out stride Trips, Orton and Batista, looking smug as fuck as per usual (there is no sign of Flair, but perhaps Kane will take his place at a later stage?) Trips immediately orders everyone out of the ring, and the three of them enter to face up to The Shield, who look bemused, also as per usual. Poor Rollins has suffered enough at this stage, bless him (stop it, stop it, he’s already dead) but he takes another beating anyway, with a combination Batista-Bomb/RKO utilised on him, along with an RKO on Reigns, too. Ambrose tries to tackle them, but subsequently suffers a Bomb also. They try for the combo again but kind of fuck it up, before Trips begs the only surviving member – Reigns, of course – to crawl over to him before whispering “Believe in Evolution” in his ear and finally delivering the Pedigree to finish him, and this segment, off. One woman is very aroused by this shocking turn of events and, at this stage, we’ll have to assume it has been the same one all along. I reckon it was the dancing lady/man, but we’ll never know for sure. Anyway, the three dudes raise their hands in victory once again, even though technically they haven’t won. Again.
Winners: ? (good job, ?, you’re killing it right now)
This week’s Raw, although not really a patch on its incredibly strong predecessor, was consistently entertaining throughout, from Sandow’s hilariously pissed-off tirade, to Bray’s brilliant promo, and the several, equally effective, matches in the first round of the tournament for #1 Contendership, all of which were quite exciting – it was especially good to see Barrett and Ziggler face off against each other – and suggest that the IC Championship match at ER, and indeed the PPV itself, should be great.
Given that we’re building up to ER, Raw should keep the momentum up for the coming weeks, and seek to further establish some of the brewing rivalries and feuds that have made themselves known thus far. The bar has been set very high, and it doesn’t feel as though things are going to fall apart any time soon, but the less time given to Cena to show his Photoshop disasters, and the more airspace given to genuine talents like BNB and Sandow, the better.