May 22, 2014 by Joey Keogh
This week, Raw is in London, which means a ridiculously hot crowd who will cheer for pretty much anything – including Adam Rose, whom they briefly make look good for about two seconds before we go back to wanting to strangle him with his own (fake) ponytail. The show opens somewhat weirdly, with the title sequence being cut off so Bray Wyatt can sing his little song in the ring, alongside his fellow swamp people, while bathed in the glow of mobile phones, and accompanied by seemingly every voice in the O2 Arena.
He follows this up with a speech about dreams, during which he is deafeningly cheered, and explains that all he’s aiming for right now is Payback because the next Pay Per View is not called Revenge. Apparently, a mean old teacher of his figured out he was evil just by looking into his cold, dead eyes and this led him to realise that “Everything is wrong” apart from him.
The crowd starts another impromptu singalong and Bray tries his hardest not to smile, because he is still the bad guy, after all. Interestingly, although Bray is definitively the heel in this situation, it’s the mention of his nemesis John Cena that elicits the first boos of the night, and indeed the start of many “John Cena sucks” chants, too. But why does Bray need to beat Cena at again anyway? He already did so at Extreme Rules.
Anyway, he won’t be fighting him later, his bearded buddy Luke Harper will. Suddenly, the man himself appears – his entrance theme causing the boos to grow even louder – and delivers the Attitude Adjustment to Bray sneakily from behind, before strolling off, seemingly blissfully unaware that everybody hates him (save for a few chicks, here and there). Up next, Michael Cole gives us a quick Daniel Bryan update. He is fine, and he will return some day. There’s a quick recap of what happened with Steph last week, but we’ll hear about the state of the championship later on, so try to remain calm.
Cesaro -v- Sheamus
The crowd are so wise to Paul Heyman‘s game that they actually chant “My name is Paul Heyman” along with him, before following it up with a raucous “ECW” cheer, to which he pretends to pay no attention. Considering this is a far smarter crowd than he’s used to, Heyman has to adapt his speech slightly, pointing out the fact that he and his client Cesaro are the stars, while those in attendance are merely wannabes. Not content with simply referencing the beating of Taker, as he has been doing for what feels like forever at this stage (in a good way), Heyman then chooses to lie on the mat and refer to the Queen dying before revealing that he in fact symbolises Taker. The crowd still mostly cheer him as they recite the now-infamous line along with him, but when he announces Cesaro he doesn’t get quite as big of a pop as he ought to, which seems to hint that it may all be in vain. Sheamus receives an even frostier reception, possibly because he’s Irish, but no matter, he’s cornered immediately by his opponent who, apparently eager to cement himself as a heel after weeks of flitting between the two ideals, is forced to break a hold by the ref after about a hundred warnings. He slaps Sheamo in a rage, as JBL points out that the Irishman fights “even when he’s in a good mood”. Going for the Bodhran doesn’t quite work the first time Sheamo tries for it, as Cesaro flees the ring to regroup with Heyman, but when he takes a second shot, he succeeds with his ten strikes, leaving Cesaro gasping for air. The crowd aren’t particularly into it, though, and even begin chanting for the commentators, leading Cole to comment that they’re a “smart crowd” even though nobody is cheering for him. Sheamo goes for the Battering Ram off the top rope, tackles Cesaro and pins him, but he kicks out and grabs the Celtic Warrior in a headlock as his manager shouts encouragement from ringside. “Good night, Sheamus!” he yells, perhaps a little prematurely. Then, with Heyman’s screams ringing in his ears, Cesaro tries the unusual tactic of repeatedly pinning Sheamo over and over, with him kicking out each time as expected. Cesaro aims for him again, but Sheamo counters with the Irish Curse. The two chuck each other back and forth between turnbuckles – a weird element to this match that seems lacking in any real thought, in general – as a lone, screeching woman yells support for the Irishman (his Ma, perhaps?). Spurred on by the support of this one crowd-member, Sheamo hops up on the top rope and delivers an impressive flying uppercut, after which he pins his opponent. Heyman then takes the opportunity to pretend he’ll be finishing the match by removing his coat and squaring up to Sheamo, giving Cesaro a chance to elicit the German Suplex from behind to win.
Winner: Cesaro (so he’s just a cheating, cowardly heel. How inspiring)
Following the match, Sheamus slow-claps his opponent’s victory, almost as though there’s a punchline (or just a punch) coming, but when he goes for the handshake, Cesaro dodges him in a classic heel move and strolls off cackling to himself. Poor aul Sheamo just can’t catch a break. We’ve two weeks to go until Payback, which means it’s time to reveal that The Shield will be facing up against their elderly counterparts in Evolution in a no-holds-barred elimination match. There’s a replay of their feud thus far, followed by a pic that Roman Reigns tweeted earlier in the week of his messed up eye, which we then get to see being sewn up. Cole barely warns us of the graphic nature of the photo before it pops up onscreen, but it’s nothing compared to the news that Batista is going to be facing up against Seth Rollins tonight, with no outside intervention allowed. Also, there’s a German announce table fronted by two guys who look as though they’ve been plucked from daytime television and have no idea what they’re doing here tonight. A quick mention of Bad News Barrett gets a massive pop, as it’s announced that there’s going to be a super fun Beat The Clock mini-tournament to establish who’ll be facing up to him at PB to challenge the Intercontinental title.
Beat The Clock: Big E -v- Ryback
Apparently it’s starting right now! Hooray! What’s most shocking about this match, aside from the fact that these two are actually well-paired regarding weight and stature, is that Ryback cuts a pretty decent promo in that little box that appears at the bottom of the screen sometimes – you know the one, it makes it seem as though we’re playing some kind of interactive game? He says that the only thing bigger than the Big Bang is the big guy, and then he does that amazing laugh of his that is both dirty and charming at the same time. Anyway, the crowd don’t really care about this match, chanting “BNB” throughout. Ryback‘s bestest buddy Curtis Axel watches from ringside, sporting his special best friend beanie hat, as the commentators discuss the pros and cons of these style of matches. “You once lost a match to a 5’6″ man in 17 seconds” Cole admonishes JBL, who quickly explains that he was sick that day, having sneezed twice prior. Aside from the usual “big man” spots, this is a fairly dull, by the numbers match which features Ryback beating his chest like a gorilla and Big E looking as though he feels really fucking hard done by being stuck in a match with this jobber. All things considered, this is still the fastest Ryback has ever moved, so perhaps his blossoming best friendship with Axel has somehow turned him into an interesting wrestler. The Big Ending wins it for E, of course, in a respectable time of five minutes and two seconds.
Winner: Big E (at least Ryback can cry on Axel’s shoulder later, because that’s what best friends do)
We take a moment here to acknowledge how AWESOME the Beat The Clock graphics are. Like, wow. Someone was paid money to do those, and good for that person because they are life-changing and totally inspired. Elsewhere, the Special Olympics athletes were given shit people to train with last week, including Eva Marie and Corey Graves. They must’ve felt truly inspired to win after spending an afternoon with those two.
Mixed Tag Team Match: R-Truth & Funkadactyls -v- Fandango & Layla
It’s unclear which of the Funkies is meant to be fighting alongside R-Truth because this match never really gets going, but at least he enters with them, allowing one of them (who cares which, honestly?) to overdo it with her overly-girly “What’s up” delivery into the mic. The UK loves Fandango, and it was actually here where his track reached a stupidly high position in the charts, so the crowd waste no time singing and dancing along as he enters alongside Layla, before indulging in some sickening PDA in the ring. The commentators remark, apparently on cue, that Fandango recently publicly dumped the lovely Summer Rae, and before we know it, the lady herself has shown up, dressed like a sexy zebra as only she can, to plant one on her ex before attacking Layla. The two wrestle for a bit in heels, which is pretty impressive, as R-Truth scuttles off to the locker room to wonder where it all went so wrong for him.
Winner: ? (no, that’s it)
If you were disappointed by that non-match, don’t despair, because Total Divas has just been renewed for a third season on E! JBL is sure he’ll be invited to star this time around. Next, Daniel Bryan‘s music fills the arena, resulting in rapturous cheers, but of course it’s not he but Steph who comes out, doing a “Yes” chant in the process. She then cuts a ridiculously good promo, referencing Total Divas in the process, based around the fact that Bryan inspires us little people to achieve our goals. It’s brilliantly done, especially when she says she’s got some bad news, shows a clip package of Barrett, and then repeats herself in a deliberately awful English accent before revealing that she may strip Bryan of the title and award it to Kane (no reaction), Barrett (cheers – “You’re so predictable” Steph notes) or even Batista or Triple H. She then demands that Bryan show up at Raw next week or forfeit the title, because that is what’s best for business. Her awesome music plays her out as she does the “Yes” chant again all the way up the ramp. As the commentators reflect on what’s just happened, someone in the front row takes the opportunity to get their shitty, tiny little typed-up “Barrett Section” sign in the shot.
The Union Jacks (represented by Heath Slater) -v- Alexander Rusev
We can’t be too sure whether this is an actual match or just an opportunity for 3MB to come out wearing their Union Jack suits again. Either way, someone really doesn’t want to pay The Stones for butchering “Satisfaction” into a theme tune for them. Slater announces that they’re home, which isn’t even a little bit true, before Lana interrupts to claim that British people are a lot like “mindless Americans” There’s more heat for Putin, as rubbish Photoshops are projected onto the Titantron, which show the Russian flag flying at the White House and the Houses of Parliament. Her client enters and says some bullshit in Bulgarian that nobody cares about (King apparently was driven back from Heathrow by a racist cabbie who hated Bulgarians, though), before squashing Slater in the ring and winning with The Accolade yet again.
Winner: Alexander Rusev (man, this guy is being sold SO WELL)
Backstage, The Shield are hanging out with a ladder, over which Dean Ambrose has seductively draped himself. He speaks first, as per usual, but it is Reigns’ battered eye which gets the most focus, especially as he rhetorically asks the camera “Is that your best shot?” (nice play on words, there). It looks pretty bad, and it took nine stitches to be sewn up, so let’s hope so. Seth Rollins, on the other hand, is getting so big that his head is starting to look disproportionately small for his body. Reigns listens intently to what he’s saying with the look of a man who’s heard this story a million times before. They end with their fists, as usual.
Beat The Clock: Rob Van Dam -v- Alberto Del Rio
RVD is still here, and this week his ill-fitting onesie appears to have been coloured in by the same child who’s holding up a hand-drawn picture of him in the crowd. Bless. ADR is tapping his wrist in the ring, because he has no watch on, and muttering to himself about time or something. Sadly, nobody cares about him anymore, and they give RVD a major pop for doing nothing but pointing to himself with his thumbs like he always does (well done for being in time, I guess). Backstage, Big E has been relegated to watching the fight on a TV once again, only without a belt this time, which is much sadder. Midway through, ADR delivers a pretty impressive Suplex. Otherwise, the match is a series of springs and flips from RVD as ADR struggles to keep up. He goes for the 5-Star Frog Splash, ADR counters, but RVD quickly regains dominance because of course he does.
Winner: Rob Van Dam (woooooo-hoo)
There’s going to be an NXT takeover next week on Main Event, so be sure to tune in for that (you never miss a Main Event show anyway, right?) Renee is backstage with Cena, who confirms that he’s at his best when he speaks entirely in cliches, telling us that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” To that end, The Usos will be accompanying him to the ring tonight, for protection. They show up on cue and the three of them seem to reference Mc Conaughey’s weird, chest-thumping song from The Wolf Of Wall Street – perhaps they watched it on the flight over and felt inspired? – or else it’s a new, tribal thing they’re doing for fun. Elsewhere, in another dark corner of the backstage area, Triple H is giving his fellow elderlies a pep talk. Orton is listening intently, while Batista punches the air in the hope his teammates will steer him towards the ring and he’ll eventually hit someone.
Seth Rollins -v- Batista
How bizarre that Evolution aren’t involved in the Main Event tonight, not that anyone is complaining of course. There’s a major pop for The Shield as their music kicks in, and Rollins is groped considerably by the horny British crowd as he strolls down the steps and tumbles gracefully over the barricade. Trips enters next, as he reveals he is the special guest ring announcer, while his buddy Orton is timekeeper (dun dun duuun). Rollins is not amused, especially as Batista descends the ramp, removes his shirt and tucks his thumb in his pants in the least arousing moment on Raw since, well, that suit he wore last week. In a shock twist, Rollins grabs the mic and announces that the two guest commentators for this match are none other than his teammates, Ambrose and Reigns – and man, do they (meaning, obviously, Ambrose) milk this opportunity. In fact, Ambrose’s constant barbs are what keeps things moving, especially as JBL quips that he and Reigns aren’t official and Ambrose counters that they’re adding “charm” to the proceedings, before scolding JBL for being unprofessional. In the actual match, which is far less interesting, Batista has Rollins in a corner and is headbutting him into submission. Rollins counters with a decent barrage of uppercuts, before he is unceremoniously flung into the barricade. Several ladies screech in arousal, as Ambrose criticises JBL for not keeping up. Punk was pretty great on commentary, but Ambrose is hilarious in his own weird way, and if he hadn’t been involved tonight, this match would’ve been pretty dull. He and Reigns refuse to sit too, which is weirdly amusing. Apparently, Reigns’ injured eye prevents him from speaking much, so he lets his buddy take the lead (not that he could stop him). But, when Batista tries for his stupid fucking Bomb, Rollins counters with a dropkick and launches out of the ring to tackle him, thereby springing Orton into action as he attempts to grab Rollins’ leg and then quickly pretends otherwise.The other two members of The Shield advance menacingly as a “Boo-tista” chant fills the arena. Rollins knees his opponent in the head, pins him, and he kicks out. He takes the top rope, Trips pushes him off and Ambrose attacks like a literal dog let off his lead. Orton grabs Ambrose and flings him into the poor German announcers, who have no idea why they’re being targeted, before Reigns headbutts him, leading Orton to grab a chair and crack it over his back. Ambrose interrupts by leaping across both announce tables to take out Orton. Trips tackles Ambrose with some swift kicks, before turning his attention to Rollins with a few well-landed punches, before Batista spears him. The bell has rung ages ago, but nobody seems to care as The Shield take out Triple H. They then go for the triple powerbomb on Batista but before they can administer it, Orton turns up to drag him to safety. Boo indeed.
Winner: DQ (a moral victory for the hounds of justice thanks to Ambrose’s awesome commentary)
Divas Match: Paige -v- Alicia Fox
As is to be expected, there is a MAJOR pop for Paige tonight – a young girl even has a sign for her! Alicia, who flipped out last week and stole JBL’s hat in a segment that far outstayed its welcome, starts off with a classic Diva dropkick, which Paige counters with a headbutt. Alicia screeches her head off throughout, as she rolls out of the ring, with her opponent in hot pursuit. She launches Paige over the corner of the barricade, clearing it entirely, before performing a backbreaker on her. Paige kicks out, but keeps smiling throughout, because this is her home country after all, so who cares if she takes a bit of a beating, she’ll still be a winner. Alicia administers another backbreaker into the turnbuckle, and then pins a crumpled Paige to win.
Winner: Alicia Fox (way to build a champion, WWE)
Following the match, and once poor Paige has dragged her battered and bruised butt backstage, Alicia parades around the ring much like she did last week. She steals King’s crown, stands up on the barricade, steals some poor child’s £10 Coke and then pours it all over her. Next up, we get a nice little promo with Harper, where he reveals that he can speak when given the chance, delivering a nice little “Come out, come out, wherever you are” reminiscent of Lestat in Queen Of The Damned, only much less goth. There’s a little recap of the current Wyatt/Cena saga, as Bray rattles on about dreams and payback and believing in one’s own evilness again.
Beat The Clock: Mark Henry -v- Dolph Ziggler
The time to beat is…four minutes something, or whatever, but RVD is watching backstage so things are tense. Henry is incredibly happy to be here tonight, pausing to pose with fans and shake hands en route to the ring. Ziggler gets a pretty decent reception himself, but when he pops up in the little box in the corner of the screen to do his promo, Henry invades and intimidates him! Ziggler kicks the match off by running back and forth from the ropes, bouncing about in an effort to distance himself from his massive opponent. Henry catches him with a swift uppercut, pins him, and he kicks out. Ziggler goes for the Fame-Asser (which Cole can’t pronounce properly because it invokes a naughty word) from the top ropes and just about makes it to pin Henry, who kicks out. He runs away, but re-enters the ring just in the nick of time to deliver two impressive dropkicks to Henry’s massive jaw. He tries to aim from the top ropes again, but is caught in mid-air by his opponent, who delivers the World’s Strongest Slam and pins him. Ziggler kicks out, and goes for the Zig Zag, but he doesn’t pin Henry in time to beat the clock, thereby forfeitting his chance to go up against Barrett at Payback, which means RVD is getting high billing at this PPV.
Winner: Rob Van Dam (woooo-hoo again)
Just as RVD is taking a moment to celebrate his win, Barrett shows up to deliver a surprise Bullhammer from behind, as the crowd erupt into joyous “BNB” cheers. In fact, they actually say his line along with him, as he reveals his bad news, which is that London sets the time for the whole world (GMT). For some reason, everyone loves it, and even more so when he says “There’s no way this Englishman is going to be beaten by a bloody Yank” Renee has been let out of her box to stand in the ring and introduce Adam Rose, of all people. JBL quips that he hates bunnies as his entourage fill the ring and Rose attempts to deliver lines in his weird fake British/Aussie accent.
One of his girls wants to be in the shot really badly, which is sad because they’ll get sick of paying her pretty soon and she won’t have the option. The Real Americans show up, to rapturous applause, and Zeb immediately tells everyone to shut up so he can ask “Ray-nee” what the hell she thinks she’s doing giving mic time to this idiot. My thoughts exactly, Colter. “You fit a lot better here with these freaks” he tells Rose, as he removes his jacket as though he’s going to fight the man himself. Of course, Swagger is the one who delivers the kicks, but Rose counters and chucks him out of the ring. This is probably the biggest surprise of the night, aside from the fact that the crowd have put Rose over at all.
Main Event: John Cena -v- Luke Harper
Cena is accompanied by The Usos, as Harper has his swamp buddies ringside as normal. But before we can get started, Bolieve this Friday on Smackdown y’all (surely the Brits put him over too!?) Hogan will also be there, kids, so prepare yourselves because we haven’t seen him in a few weeks at this stage. Cena is booed out of it as he enters, but less so because of his company. Wyatt’s pop for the city goes over well, as always, as it’s revealed that his match against Cena at Payback is going to be a Last Man Standing match – NOT, Cole is quick to point out, an I Quit match. The chants are mostly of the “Cena sucks” variety, but there are a few scattered lady cheers here and there (of course). Both men take turns confining each other to the corners, before Harper gets Cena in a headlock, follows it up with a Suplex, and pins him. Cena kicks out, almost immediately goes for the 5-Knuckle Shuffle, and then the Attitude Adjustment, which Harper counters with a faceplant, before pinning him again. Cena kicks out again, seemingly full of energy after the success of his impressive Muscle & Fitness cover (Trips is on the following month’s cover – scandalous). Harper is a formidable opponent though, especially as he’s been given the opportunity to step out of Bray’s shadow and show off some of his own crazy man tics, such as sticking his tongue out after each move. Cena delivers a DDT from the top rope, pins Harper, he kicks out and uses a dropkick, pins Cena, and he kicks out also. Harper’s offence is pretty brutal, but Cena knows exactly how to play it, refusing to be either cowardly, or to resort to his usual Superman tactics. He takes the top rope once more to deliver a neckbreaker and pin Harper again. He goes for the STF after Harper kicks out, which leads his opponent to drag both men to the ropes. Rowan tries to intervene, but The Usos stop him and drag Bray into the ring instead. Bray delivers the Sister Abigail to an Uso (maybe both?) but Cena gets rid of him soon after. Harper takes advantage to deliver a powerbomb, and pin him. Cena kicks out, the crowd goes nuts, he tries for the Attitude Adjustment but Rowan attacks him and everyone gets disqualified again. The fighting continues unabashed, as Rowan grabs Cena and holds him still so Bray can deliver the Sister Abigail which, let’s face it, is all this crowd really want to see. The three of them then beat the shit out of Cena all the way up the ramp, before holding down his lifeless body while Bray kneels on him and Harper counts to ten. He has unfortunately lost a shoe in the process too, which is never fun.
Winner: DQ (seeing the Sister Abigail used on Cena was enough, though)
UK crowds are always super hot, so it stands to reason that this Raw probably seemed a lot stronger than it actually was. The Beat The Clock gimmick was unnecessary, especially given the recent #1 Contenders Tournament which worked much better and didn’t have a goddamn time limit on it. We’re under pressure, because the PPV is just around the corner, but still. Elsewhere, the two main feuds are being built consistently, and although RVD isn’t who I’d have chosen to face Barrett at Payback, he’s at least capable of selling, and producing a few decent spots.
Their match probably won’t be a highlight, but it’ll be passable. The less said about Adam Rose the better. Likewise, Alicia Fox. Paige needs a real opponent, can’t AJ hurry up and get married so she can make her triumphant return and steal the title back!? Next week should be interesting either way, provided Evolution aren’t given the Main Event again (don’t drop the ball now WWE, you’re doing so well), Harper is given some room to breathe, Zack Ryder is finally revealed as the man in the bunny costume, and Bryan isn’t dragged into the arena by his feet once more. Or, if he is, let’s hope he’s got Cena’s shoe with him.