May 8, 2014 by Joey Keogh
This week, there’s NO JOHN CENA on Raw for the first time in about a million years (or, since he was last injured). And sadly, that’s not the only issue with a dull, overly long show stocked full of filler and punctuated here and there by slight, glimmering moments of fun. It was inevitable, but our near-perfect season of wrestling has come to an abrupt end with a dull thud. And, perhaps most annoyingly, it happened in Albany, New York, of all places, which usually boasts one of the loudest crowds in the country. What a goddamn waste.
20-Man Battle Royal for the US Championship: Dean Ambrose -v- 19 Dudes
The action kicks off straight away, with a 20-man Battle Royal (still unclear why it’s not ‘royale’), rather ominously “by order of The Authority“. These kinds of matches tend to be a mess of bodies until the very end, with maybe a few fun spots here and there, but tonight is woefully dull, even by comparison. The Shield emerge to rapturous applause, with Rollins and Reigns remaining ringside throughout to offer their words of wisdom to their teammate. The participants are mostly jobbers, as is to be expected, but Kofi Kingston makes his triumphant return to the show and shows off how he can avoid touching his feet to the floor yet again. He’s one of the first to go, along with the intolerable Zack Ryder (who does his best to stay in the shot throughout), Xavier Woods, R-Truth and Titus O’Neill.The ring is a mess of uppercuts and sort-of dropkicks, as there are far too many men involved for anybody to even attempt to do something cool. Santino Marella and Sin Cara team up at one point (well, for the day that’s in it, as the WWE are at pains to remind us) to try to eliminate some of the bigger dudes, but Big Show does away with both fairly swiftly (“Shouldn’t have done that on Cinco De Mayo!” quips JBL – see?) before Show turns his attention to spanking Heath Slater. He and the other largest participant, Mark Henry, then go toe-to-toe before everyone else gangs up on them and eliminates the two – it’s a standard Battle Royal spot, but it’s still fun to watch, especially given how boring this particular bout is. Marella focuses on trying to eliminate Dolph Ziggler, which the crowd does not like (is Ziggles finally gaining traction!?) until both are knocked out and only Rybaxel, Sheamus, Jack Swagger and, of course, Ambrose are left to duke it out. Usually, it’s around this time that a match of this nature begins to get interesting, but tonight the denouement is sadly clear and it’s a slow trudge to the end with a flurry of powerbombs, headlocks and just one, truly great spot when Ambrose counters Axel/Swagger’s (one of them, they’re too alike, so who knows who it was) attempt to knock him out by sticking his head between his legs and flipping him backwards over the ropes, without even using his hands. The others are quickly dispensed with, until it’s just Ambrose and Sheamo left in the ring – even Reigns has ceased fist-pumping at this stage. It’s woefully obvious what’s going to happen and, with just one Brogue Kick, followed by a swift toss over the ropes, the championship belongs to the Celtic Warrior and all of us heave a heavy sigh.
Winner: Sheamus (ho-hum)
“What a battle! What a battle ROYAL!” an elated Cole gushes, confirming once and for all that he is clearly watching a different show to the rest of us. Ambrose remains in the ring, selling his loss like the champ he still is (in our hearts, at least). Rollins is giving him a pep talk, screaming “Fuuuuuuuuuuck!” in the process. Triple H then turns up, clearly unable to move his neck after last night’s showdown with The Shield. He reckons their luck has run out, and to prove it, he’s setting them up in a 6-man tag against the Wyatts later tonight.
Ambrose switches to selling his anger, by shaking the ropes and foaming at the mouth, causing Rollins to bite his nails in barely-concealed arousal. Trips leaves to go sit in a bucket of ice. Or a comfortable chair. Speaking of last night, though, here are some lovely pics of Bray Wyatt with that child he’s permanently traumatised. Coming up later, there’ll be a rematch for the IC Championship (because nobody can quite believe Wade Barrett actually won it) and Adam Rose is going to debut, you guys! Here’s his awful promo again, in case you’ve forgotten just how dreadful his attempt at a so-called English accent is (sample: “G’day mate, that puddin’ was well good innit!?”)
Backstage, Renee is with Sheamo, whom she introduces as the new US champ, prompting serious boos from the crowd. He’s going on about broken clocks or some shit, but for all we know he could be referring to how good his mammy’s rashers are, because even Irish people have trouble understanding his brogue – he’s like Fassbender! “No hard feelings, fella” he says to Ambrose, who is surely gurning somewhere in the vicinity, if he’s not being comforted by Rollins, or watching Reigns punch a hole through a wall (probably all three at once). Ambrose and Sheamo are both gingers, so really they should be a tag team and work together to promote equal opportunities for people with freckles, or whatever it is red-haired people complain about.
Next, that dreadful Extreme Rules theme song accompanies some pics of the Kane/Daniel Bryan forklift incident, because Vince paid for that shit, so fuck you. Bryan himself is hiding away backstage, in his new hoodie, in a room described as a locker room that actually looks more like a shoddy office, alongside his wife, Brie who is in normal clothes and therefore isn’t wrestling tonight. Steph interrupts, freaking them both out with what she describes as her “heavy-handed knock” before informing them that “the demon Kane” (which is, apparently, that man’s full name) is on the loose and to watch out. She closes the door to reveal his mask hanging there ominously, like the door has a secret identity.
Rob Van Dam -v- Cesaro
Why the hell is RVD still here? Shouldn’t he have fucked off by now? It seems like his return is being dragged out, and yet WWE have absolutely no idea what to do with him. This match isn’t even for any reason, it’s just a match. The great Paul Heyman turns up to tell us all about how his client beat the streak, which never gets old, before introducing the king of extreme (not swing, that sounds a bit too girly these days), Cesaro, who is really over thanks to winning that trophy or because his jacket is sparkly or whatever. The match kicks off with some chain-wrestling, before RVD administers the Rolling Thunder and Cesaro splits to get a quick pep talk from Heyman. There’s an ECW sign in the crowd with lots of shit written on it that nobody but those in the closest vicinity can read, so well done to that guy. RVD is sporting a bloody eye, which his opponent targets immediately upon re-entering the ring. He aims for him, RVD ducks, leaves the ring, then tackles him before a leg drop from the top rope renders Cesaro pinned. He kicks out easily, counters RVD’s attempt at another hold, pins him, and RVD kicks out, leading his opponent to chuck him out of the ring entirely. When we return from commercials, Heyman is happily gurning away ringside until RVD delivers a flying uppercut from the top rope, pinning Cesaro again. He kicks, out, gets another uppercut for his trouble, and powers out again. There are then three gut wrench suplexes in a row, which feels a bit like overkill but looks pretty cool, before RVD gets trapped upside down, hanging from the ropes in the corner. It’s here that the match ends as Cesaro lays into him, kicking and punching the absolute shit out of RVD, from outside the ring, as he hangs suspended, trying in vain to protect his eye. The referee counts him out, and attempts to pull Cesaro off but Heyman has to step in and warn him not to get suspended before he’ll let up.
Winner: DQ (nobody wins if we don’t play by the rules)
The crowd boos loudly as Cesaro and Heyman ascend the ramp, both clearly loving the heat they’re getting. Cole tells us to subscribe to the Network before it’s too late, and to refer our friends also. “You don’t have any friends” JBL taunts him, “we don’t even like you!” The Wyatts emerge next, with Bray cutting a suitably impressive promo from the comfort of his rocking chair, about how he grew up in a swamp and wore a potato sack to his Prom and his mother didn’t love him and Abigail was the only one he could trust because she saw past his resemblance to those hungry rednecks from Wrong Turn.
Some dude screams “Go home Wyatts!” at the most inopportune moment, but Bray is a master of managing the crowd, always disregarding the infamous “What” chants with ease, so it doesn’t even register with him. Funnily enough, it’s during this promo that we get some actual footage of ER, as Bray reminds us that Cena’s fear was personified by a creepy singing child. That wasn’t clear at the time, and something tells me that WWE think that idea is a lot scarier than it is, but whatever. The world is apparently going to be reborn in Bray’s image, even though he enjoys watching it burn (Ambrose must be seriously mad someone else is playing up the Joker angle – imagine the face he’s making right now). He sings and cackles, and then we are informed that ER is currently the top show on the Network, so the old dudes participating in Legends House are probably waving their walking sticks in anger at the TV.
Cody Rhodes -v- Ryback
If there’s one thing that gets me interested in a match, it’s the inclusion of fucking Ryback. They’re playing up the warring brothers angle, possibly in order to break up the Rhodes’ tag team later, but Cody and Goldust (who stands ringside throughout) don’t seem particularly mad at each other, and since every other good tag team has been, or is being, dissolved, would it kill the company to just save this one for now? At least until they come up with a better reason to break them up. The match starts with Ryback trapping his opponent in the corner and laying into him with his trademark, eh, skill. Cody then turns it around on him, as Cole takes the opportunity to wish his mother a happy Mother’s Day (“She deserves better than you!” JBL quips) because even he can’t feign excitement for this. There’s a lot of meaningless punching and throwing each other against the ropes. A sign which reads “R-Nasty” is revealed, signalling that there’s at least one person present tonight who thought he was attending an R Kelly show, but damn it he made the sign and he is going to wave it somewhere. The crowd are near-silent throughout, which is worrying considering this is New York, especially when an okay-looking Suplex elicits only yawns and scattered chatter. The commentators discuss Bray, Goldust shouts encouragement from ringside, Ryback powerbombs Cody and calls him “Stoooopid”, there’s a chokeslam, the camera makes it look as though Ryback botched it when, for once, he didn’t, Cody just rolled away. And finally, Cody leaps off the top rope for a disaster-kick, making it look as though he’s about to win, as Axel and Goldust tussle outside, but the distraction proves too much and his opponent seizes the opportunity to pin him and win.
Winner: Ryback (hey, remember when he used to win all the time for no apparent reason? Your days are numbered, Rusev)
Backstage, Brie and Bryan are really bored of hanging out in the cloakroom, with not even a closet in which they can make out in peace. Suddenly, the lights go out, but when they return, it’s not the Wyatts holding a lamp, it’s Kane‘s mask again. They leg it out into the hallway, where Steph is waiting to play dumb and refer to “the demon Kane” yet again. She is of no help, and the happy couple run off into the halls to find somewhere with no lamps and no doors and nowhere else to prop a mask, to hide.
Next up, we get some pics of the WEELC, in case you blocked that out, before Los Matadores emerge with El Torito because someone has forgotten they’re not actually Spanish and therefore should not be used to showcase Cinco De Mayo. One of them (who cares which) has a really racist accent either way, but hey, they have a pinata filled with sweets, so who are we to judge!? JBL wants candy, but he’s bold, so he’s not getting any. Nor is Cole, but for different reasons. 3MB emerge, mid-celebration, with Drew sporting a pleather jacket, which he has tied around his waist like a confused nineties grunge kid. Jinder demands they all speak English, which elicits a “USA!” chant from the crowd (probably the loudest moment for them all night).
Drew attempts to say things in his heavy Scottish drawl and JBL quips “Is THAT English!?” Torito offers sweets to Hornswoggle as an olive branch of sorts. Swoggle throws them away and Torito attacks – “The bull is mounting him” Cole notes, innocent little soul that he is – as Heath tries for an “Ole!” to avoid a beating. It doesn’t work, and 3MB are disposed of like the customs of the Latino people, which the pinata and colourful streamers decorating the ring obnoxiously seek to exploit. Torito uses a sombrero as a weapon, and that’s kind of it. Happy Cinco De Mayo! Ole! Next up, there’s a great Bolieve vignette, that originally seemed like a segment on that poor child who died, but sadly neither will be appearing tonight – all we get is Adam Rose.
Kofi Kingston -v- Alexander Rusev
Kofi has a match! What has he done to deserve this, though!? He hasn’t been on in weeks! Lana delivers another brilliant Putin promo before we get started, including an Edward Snowden reference that nobody seems to cop, to boos and a rousing “USA!” chant, before Rusev emerges and does that thing he does with his feet and his head and his potato body, as Kofi runs around, scared shitless of what will happen if he’s caught. In fairness to Kofi, he’s the most capable opponent Rusev has had since his debut, and he is giving his best, even though it’ll likely mean nothing in the end. He manages some dropkicks, and even tries for a move off the top rope, but Rusev catches him in mid-air and delivers the Accolade to win (if I never have to type that sentence again, it’ll be too soon).
Winner: Alexander Rusev (snore)
Backstage, Brie and Bryan are still living some sort of weird horror movie, as they attempt to escape in his car and Steph scares them with her heavy hand again – I’m sure Trips enjoys that, eh? Eh? But you see, Bryan can’t leave just yet, because he’s not just in his ring gear for no reason, he has a match! Now!
Alberto Del Rio -v- Daniel Bryan
As much as it’s great to see ADR in a match, there’s no reason for pitting him against the champ. “Yes” chants greet Bryan as he enters the ring, of course. ADR starts with a flying dropkick. A “Circo Del Rio” sign presents itself in the crowd, as JBL quips that Bryan has no respect for the day that’s in it. There’s one ginger kid in the crowd doing a “Yes” chant all by himself in the front row, with a big ol’ foam finger, so he must be having a great night. ADR delivers a backbreaker, pins Bryan, but he kicks out and gets thrown into the barricade, right in front of Brie, for his trouble. There’s another mention of the “the demon Kane” so hopefully he’s under the ring yet again and is going to pop up at any moment and make this match interesting. ADR administers an impressive German suplex, Bryan kicks out, so ADR turns his attention to his injured arm while delivering a sarcastic “Yes” chant of his own. Bryan counters by turning his attention to ADR’s leg, before sliding out of the ring, echoing a move his opponent made earlier in the match. He’s almost counted out, but Brie’s vocal encouragement from ringside helps him power through and deliver a super kick. The two prop themselves up on the top rope and ADR tries for a superplex, but Bryan counters, pausing for a moment to do a “Yes” chant before delivering a flying headbutt. It feels as though this match has been going on for years at this stage, but there’s still more to come. ADR is thrown into the barricade, but Bryan grabs him and throws him back into the ring, before countering his attempted move and putting him into the Yes-lock, out of which he taps pretty quickly.
Winner: Daniel Bryan (yes yes yeeeees it’s over)
Just when we thought it was all over, FIRE! Not the kind that requires an evacuation of the building, the type that signals the arrival of “the demon Kane“. Brie and Bryan leg it to the car, with her taking the precious belts for safekeeping, but when they try to start it, Bryan discovers a wire has been removed and, horror movie style, when he lowers the hood Kane himself is revealed to be sitting in the back.
He and Brie struggle, she screams in a totally unconvincing way, Bryan kicks him out, they try to drive away with him on the hood but then he falls off and, like every horror protagonist ever, Bryan checks if he’s okay only for him to sit up and chase them once more. It sounds terrible, but these little horror nods were the highlights of tonight’s show. Adam Rose‘s vignette follows, and my god doesn’t his just look like the best party EVER!? There’s then a replay of the Kane/Daniel Bryan segment that we literally just saw a moment ago, which makes no sense.
Rematch for the Intercontinental Championship: Big E -v- Bad News Barrett
The bad news is BNB has to defend his title already. Oh, and everyone here tonight is ugly, apparently. The good news is he appears to have shrunk his shorts in the wash so we get a good look at his junk throughout yet another dull match. E goes for the pin almost immediately, followed by three backbreakers and another pin, which Barrett kicks out of easily. A “BNB” chant echoes around the arena, but it’s lacklustre. He deserves better. Barrett does another elbow drop off the apron, Foley-style, just like he did last night with a little “Bang bang” to preface it, which E follows up with the Big Splash and the Belly To Belly. Barrett counters, E kicks out, so he spears him out of the ring, leading E to go for the Big Ending, which Barrett counters with the bullhammer after raking his eyes a bit, which may be an illegal move, but he’s British so who cares!?
Winner: Bad News Barrett (retaining, so yay)
Up next, there’s a weird Mother’s Day message from WWE Hall Of Famer Mr T, which utilises some impressively rubbish Photoshop. Swagger has a match, but we don’t know who it’s against, which can’t be good. The wonderful Zeb Colter emerges with a sign which reads ‘Zeb’s Deportation List’ and includes such disgusting foreigners as Emma, Sheamo and, er, Paul Heyman (though, Colter notes, no country would take him if he were deported). He cuts a pretty good promo in the ring, but is sadly interrupted mid-speech by the arrival of none other than Adam Rose.
He enters with his party posse (and a bunny, rumoured to be Zack Ryder, if anyone cares) in tow and pretends to be English while dancing around the ring like a shitty, humourless Fandango. The silence in the arena is deafening, and the fact that, following this debut, ‘Zeb’s Deportation List’ was trending on Twitter instead of Rose himself speaks volumes. Being the pros that they are, Colter and Swagger pretend they’re intimidated by this weird man in a wig and run away, leaving him to wave to the crowd like he’s Princess fucking Diana.
Main Event: 6-Man Tag Team Match: The Wyatt Family -v- The Shield
Given the format of this match, the carnage kicks off immediately, before the bell has even rung (this lot are outside the law, duh). Rollins spends most of the first half taking bumps, because he’s really good at that and he’s the smallest so it’s funny, while Ambrose sells from ringside and Reigns oils his muscles in preparation for his inevitable takeover at the end. Eventually, Ambrose tags in to give Rollins a break, and launches himself at the Wyatts, before performing another great figure-four on Harper (suck it, Miz). A standoff ensues as we cut to commercials, with everyone in the ring bouncing up and down on the spot like Street Fighter characters. As we return, Rowan is tackling Ambrose as Bray and Reigns look on, eager to get a piece of the action. Ambrose chucks Harper and Rowan over the ropes, before tagging Rollins in, who launches himself out, tackles both and lands gracefully on his feet. He then flips backwards, pins Harper, he kicks out, chucks Rollins into the announce table, tags Bray in and he starts laying into Rollins. Harper is tagged in again, but Ambrose breaks his pin on Rollins before tackling Rowan and Wyatt simultaneously. Bray turns it around on Ambrose and lays into him, over the announce table, as the commentators scatter, leaving JBL’s hat to suffer the wrath once more (RIP, hat). Finally, Reigns is tagged in and the crowd wakes up momentarily to cheer him as he delivers a Superman punch and everyone gathers in the ring to rub each other’s butts in triumph. Ambrose and Rollins simultaneously launch out to tackle the others, before Reigns delivers another Superman punch. The three Shield members line up to deliver the triple powerbomb but before they can, the three grumpy Grampas known as Evolution emerge, sporting their new shirts which only Trips looks good in (probably on purpose, you know he’s that girl, er, I mean, guy). Orton gets knocked out by Rowan before he’s even entered, as Rowan launches out of the ring, with the camera catching his hilariously real reaction just at the right moment. Bray seizes the opportunity to perform the Sister Abigail on Reigns to win, and then Evolution take over as Reigns suffers a Pedigree and an RKO in quick succession, with a triple powerbomb to finish.
Winners: The Wyatt Family (believe in the beards)
We all knew it was coming, but even so, this week’s episode really sucked. It was all over the place, and not in a fun, mad kind of way like it was with the very theatrical Raw last week, but in a haphazard, distracting manner. The matches were dull, the intervening promos uneventful, and the story-lines weren’t advanced in any real way.
Adam Rose‘s debut was dreadful, with everyone caring more about a hastily-made, racially-motivated sign than anything he had to say or do – the sooner he gets beaten up, the better. Bryan and Brie’s little mini horror movie was fun, but his match against ADR was coma-inducingly lengthy. It seemed like all the good work done at ER was forgotten, like we were starting afresh, but with a load of crap. Hopefully it picks up again next week, with the return of Mr. Raw himself, John Cena, and the death of Adam Rose at the hands of everyone. This can’t be the beginning of the end, we’ve had it so good up until now.