May 29, 2014 by Joey Keogh
This week’s Raw is dedicated to all of those serving in the US military, which means there will be about a hundred messages of gratitude throughout the show, though none are as long as the one that opens it. We get it America, you’re proud. The Authority appear, to boos, of course, as two dudes struggle to get blurry shots of them on their camera-phones, and the Mc Mahon/Levesque kids watch at home wondering if mommy and daddy really do just work normal jobs. “Use the hashtag to join in!” Cole urges us, as though we have a choice. As this is the go-home show before Payback, we can expect lots of promos, but don’t despair, because Daniel Bryan is here and he’ll be on later to explain why he allowed himself to be photographed post-surgery in a 1960s-style hospital apparently run by a witch doctor.
Steph starts by telling us that tonight is all about choices, and that Bryan has to decide whether or not to do the right thing, by surrendering the championship. As the crowd start a deafening “Yes” chant, she heels it up by telling them “Yeah, it’s the right thing to do” as though they’re in agreement, which just makes them louder, and her more confident in their support. Bryan can’t physically do it, she tells us gleefully, his body is only a B+! Triple H momentarily steps in to reiterate his wife’s points, by referring to Bryan as a flash in the pan (unlike him, heh heh heh). He makes reference to the idea of evolution, and how it cannot be stopped which is quite literally true. Speaking of which, his tag team of old wrinklies are going to be signing a contract for Payback with The Shield later. Surely that will be a purely formal matter and won’t descend into useless carnage to serve as an appetiser for their bout at the PPV?
The great, and sorely missed, Brad Maddox is then called out to be reprimanded for allowing other people besides Trips to cheat last week. Maddox enters to no music. In fact, he’s so low down the totem pole, he can only afford suspenders, but no jacket. Apparently, The Shield beat him up backstage and that’s why he allowed them to participate against the boss’s wishes. “The demon Kane” as we (meaning Cole) must refer to him then shows up to deliver a pretty painful-looking chokeslam on poor Maddox, followed by a tombstone piledriver which leaves him to be stretchered off as The Authority gloat and Steph takes far too much joy in yelling “You’re fiiiiired!” in his injured little face. Will he make his triumphant return as a wrestler with a grudge against the powers that be? We can only dream.
JBL reckons that Bryan is a real man, and will therefore surrender the belt when he shows up later. But before any of that, er, fun, Bray Wyatt has a message for the entire Cenation – in particular that one guy on Twitter who, in his own words, wants to swallow Cena’s sperm. There’s a great pic of Bray to introduce this segment, which shows him deliriously happy, holding a supposedly unconscious John Cena in his arms. Whoever took that shot deserves a promotion, it’s perfect. We get another Bolieve promo (the one with the egg that can’t fly) before the action properly kicks off, because he’s debuting tonight as Bray’s good twin brother who always washes and only sings nice songs to Cena when he’s napping.
Cesaro -v- Rob Van Dam
Our first match of the night, though, is one about which nobody really cares, unless you are a massive RVD fan, in which case hopefully you enjoy his super nineties ying-yang onesie and bloated tummy once again tonight. The legendary Paul Heyman is conferring with his client in the ring as the commentators remind us that RVD is up against BNB this Sunday for a title shot. Boo. But Cesaro also has a match, against current IC champ Sheamus, so that should be good. Or at least brutal enough to leave Sheamo bruised and yellow like an old banana. Before we can see any real fighting, Bad News Barrett himself has turned up. “I love it when he has some bad news” quips JBL – basically, it’s summer, and Americans are all too fat to wear swimsuits. Also RVD will lose on Sunday. Cesaro takes advantage of this minor distraction by, quite literally, kicking things off as BNB takes a seat at the announce table to contribute such important nuggets of wisdom to the commentary as “I’m going to win on Sunday”(he reminds King of summer, because he has no class). There’s a nice throw by Cesaro, demonstrating his impressive strength, as BNB explains that he wasn’t sneak-attacking RVD last week, he was merely showing off the versatility of his signature move, the Bullhammer. That clears that up, then. Although he appears to be quite heavy on his feet tonight (pun intended), RVD manages some decent spots, including a great thrust kick from the middle rope. He then knocks his opponent clean out of the ring, and flips backwards off the top ropes to tackle him which, just looking at RVD standing there, doesn’t seem physically possible for a man of his stature. However, Cesaro quickly regains control as he has RVD pinned when we return from commercials. He lifts him up over his head and does a few reps with his body, which is awe-inspiring. Then he gets him in a headlock and the two trade uppercuts for a bit before RVD regains some momentum by delivering an okay-looking dropkick. He may be bloated and quite slow, but he’s impressive when he wants to be, in particular his Rolling Thunder is great, especially when he follows it up by tackling BNB with a springboard moonsault. Cesaro takes advantage of his opponent being momentarily distracted to end the match with a German Suplex, but just as he’s beginning to celebrate, none other than Sheamus turns up to deliver the Brogue Kick, after which he shakes a passed-out Cesaro‘s hand, to make up for his insolent rejection last week. Classy as always, Sheamo.
Winner: Cesaro (he can celebrate once Heyman has dragged his lifeless body backstage)
Divas Match: Eva Marie -v- Summer Rae
To demonstrate just how little Eva Marie deserves this match, the commentators begin by congratulating her on making it into the Maxim Top 100 – the key number being 100, because if it were 10, 20, even 50, she wouldn’t have a hope in hell. Nikki Bella watches ringside, dressed in her sexy baseball player costume as always, while Summer has chosen to be a sexy, luminous yellow lampshade for this evening’s proceedings. Eva is more concerned with keeping her hair all swept to one side of her head than she is in actually wrestling anyone, which is a shame because Summer is giving it all she’s got and destroys her for the most part, even as Eva blows kisses and screeches like a harpy. The moments when her face is being repeatedly slammed into the mat are some of the most entertaining of the night, purely for our own sadistic reasons of course. But, before Summer can do any real damage, her ex Fandango turns up with his current flame Layla. The two engage in some disgusting PDA, which gives Eva the opportunity to pin Summer and win, leaving her infuriated but not tearing the place apart like the dreadful Alicia Fox, who will turn up to do exactly that later on (watch out, children in the front row with expensive sodas).
Winner: Eva Marie (never typing that again, ever)
The elderlies, otherwise known as Eeeeeevolushon, are backstage having a strategy meeting in what is apparently Trips’ office but actually resembles something akin to the inside of a circus tent. The Rhodes Brothers turn up to give Batista and Randy Orton shit for being the boss’s lapdogs, before offering a challenge to them, a tag team match later tonight. Orton kills it during this segment, taking his time to spit out his lines while totally showing up Boo, who just stands by and says meaningless, empty shit like “That was uncalled for” just so he has something to say. Eventually, Trips shows up (with his tie undone, no less – oo-er) to call the match for later, and apparently it is going to be “no ordinary match” either, which can only mean one thing – dance off!
Drew Mc Intyre -v- El Torito
What did poor ol’ Drew do to wind up fighting against a dwarf in a rubbish Halloween costume? Oh, it’s a comedy match, that’s cool. If only 3MB were respected as wrestlers. Or indeed musicians. “Everyone will be saying Ole!” King reckons as Los Matadores arrive and one dude shouts it, somewhat half-assedly. Drew starts things off by thrusting, which, in latex briefs, isn’t a good idea on a kids’ show such as this. Most of the match is spent throwing Torito about, until Drew delivers a powerbomb and then gets on his knees to “make it even” (King’s words, not mine). As Drew easily dominates and the bull is left crawling for his life, Heath Slater goes all Nelson Muntz on us by pointing at his mangled body and yelling “Haw-haw!” Drew takes Torito to the top rope, seemingly in an attempt to flip off it with him in tow, but the bull escapes, and the action spills onto ringside as the rest of the lads decide to take part. Torito bites Drew and then pins him to win, but just as he feels safe, Hornswoggle enters the ring to teach him a lesson. He tries to remove his mask, but in failing to do so, opts to rip off his tail and beat him with it instead. “Drew can never return to the UK!” JBL wails as Torito flees the arena, holding his bum in embarrassment in spite of his win. Hilariously, we then get a look backstage, following the replay, as a doctor explains that he cannot reattach the tail because he’s not a vet!
Winner: El Torito (the tail is clearly the source of all his power)
What follows next is yet another incredible promo from one of the top speakers in the WWE right now, Bray Wyatt. Before he gets started, we are reminded that he’s facing Cena this Sunday in a Last Man Standing match, which is a gimmick used purely to distract us from the fact that it’s yet another rematch. JBL claims the crowd are “Bray-washed” as the man himself strolls towards the ring, bathed in a glow of cellphone lights. He immediately kicks off another singalong, in spite of an obviously scratchy throat, and the crowd go absolutely nuts for it (for the first time tonight, really). The lyrics have never been more true than they are right now because he does have the whole world in his hands, and he’s going to do what’s best for all of us by ridding the company (the world?) of Cena.
Showing off his swampy backwoods country roots, Bray explains that the only way to deal with a snakebite is with the anti-venom. But, he asks, is he the bite or the cure? Cena is our enemy and Bray is going to be the last man standing at Payback, no matter what – he even cackles gloriously as the crowd chants for their superhero, although it’s the first time he’s had to deal with that in a while. He then switches gears by demanding King’s presence in the ring, and when he refuses, the other Wyatts intimidate him, which leads to JBL standing up, removing his jacket and quickly getting his ass kicked. The rest of the promo is conducted with him lying lifeless on the floor. King is eventually dragged into the ring because Bray blames him for perpetuating the myth of Cena (apparently the two are really good friends?)
Cena himself then shows up and has his eyelids pulled open by Harper and Rowan, the intention being to force him to watch his buddy being beaten up as Bray goes for the Sister Abigail, telling him simply “This is all your fault”. Before he can deliver it, however, The Usos intervene, giving Cena the chance to tackle Bray, and affording King an opportunity to run away. Cena removes his shirt and then spouts a load of random shit, all of which makes it sound as though he’s asking Bray on a lovely date, in response to which Bray laughs and yells that he’s a god, which is exactly the response one would expect. Cena finishes by claiming Bray is sick with power, and that unlike him, he believes in who he is and what he does, and that on Sunday, Payback will be a bitch (this minor swear elicits a cheap pop, obviously). All that remains of JBL is his hat, as the announce table is sombre and quiet for once.
Zack Ryder -v- Alexander Rusev
The commentators talk over Ryder’s entrance, as nobody in the arena seems to know, or indeed care, who he is (unless he’s dancing around in that bunny costume, of course). Even an American flag doesn’t help him, and he’s cut off mid-sentence by Lana who points out that Americans are always “relying on past glories” unlike her hero, Putin. It’s a great day for this promo, and the crowd do not take it well. Rusev’s music is still weird (unlike Cesaro‘s, which some clever person altered to make it less air raid, more wrestler entrance) and even though Ryder gives his best, by running around the ring a lot trying to avoid a beating, this match ends quickly with the Accolade once again. But then, Big E turns up to show that Rusev might have some potential if only he could be matched with someone his own size. He throws the Bulgarian out, waves the flag about a bit, and Lana screeches as she drags her client away.
Winner: Alexander Rusev (is he speaking Bulgarian or Russian?)
Backstage, Steph is chatting to Alberto Del Rio, who is in his ring gear in the hopes of becoming America’s Next Top Model. Or having a match later, who knows.
Tag Team Match: Batista & Randy Orton -v- The Rhodes Brothers
If you were in the mood for some Batista stripping action, never fear, he keeps his shirt on just so he can remove it on the ramp – you’re welcome, ladies. He tries to overshadow Orton’s infamous pose by taking the top rope on the opposite side, but it doesn’t work because he sucks and everybody hates him. Also, Orton is sexy and hasn’t got a tramp stamp. Cody and Boo start things off, confining the action mainly to a corner as Batista delivers headbutt after headbutt (some Animals are just jerks, after all) but Cody quickly gains dominance and taps his brother in, starting off a rat-a-tat switch that is reminiscent of The Usos best, most recent, work. They’re a seamless tag team, while Boreton, as they should be known, are not so much interested in winning as in showcasing their individual talents. There’s lots of corner action, as the crowd chants “Boo-tista”. Goldust is much too quick for him though, even making his spinebuster look weak and lifeless. Orton poses mid-match, eliciting cheers from every female present, while the commentary lags without the grace and wit of JBL and his fabulous hat, which simply cannot exist on its own. Goldust takes a serious beating for a while, before his brother finally tags in and attacks Orton – the match is strongest when it focuses on these two – delivering a great dropkick from the top rope, followed up by a Disaster Kick, which he catches a meddling Batista with, knocking him off the apron. There’s a great RKO, as Orton limps around, and Boo yells “Give it to him!” in a totally heterosexual manner. A second RKO ends it for Cody, but before the oldies can celebrate, Justin Roberts turns up to reveal that this was an elimination match, and next up it’s a handicap, no holds barred match with Batista and Orton against poor, exhausted Goldust.
Winner: Boreton (make it happen, America)
Handicap, No Holds Barred Match: Randy Orton & Batista -v- Goldust
Without even going into it too much, we all know this is going to be a quickie. The elderlies attack the not-so-elderly ringside to start, chucking him into the barricade over and over again. He has no facepaint left either, so his pain is evident but even so, some mean, Southern child is yelling “Yay-eh!” throughout – here’s hoping he gets an elbow to the jaw later on. Goldy tries to fight back by chucking Orton out of the ring, but Boo spears him and then kicks the shit out of him before delivering the Batista Bomb (snort) to win. It’s actually quite a tame match, and if this is supposed to be some sort of warning to The Shield, well, they probably aren’t shaking in their boots just yet. It’s also obvious from the way Batista and Orton shake sweaty hands that they completely despise each other. Trips probably spends most of his time backstage pulling them apart, like a dad with his bickering kids.
Winners: Boreton (seriously, make it happen)
Sin Cara -v- Bo Dallas
There’s another Bolieve promo before the match, but it’s not really necessary, given the man is a walking promo himself. Thankfully, JBL is back (“to save the show” he says) and King shakes his hand immediately, remarking that he didn’t expect it from him but he is very grateful. Aw, bless. Dallas glides into the ring with a massive smile on his face. He really does look like Bray’s good, clean-cut twin, which is distracting. “Monday Night Raw is the summit at the top of my dreams” he begins by saying, which is so unbelievably cheesy that it’s impossible to resist. He’s so wonderfully delusional, it almost makes him loveable, even as JBL compares him to, er, Winston Churchill. Considering this match is against The Artist Formerly Known As Sin Cara, it’d be easy for Dallas to go for a straight-up squash and be lazy on his debut, but he’s proud of his moves (celebrating after each one) and isn’t too bad in the ring, either. Sin Cara manages to hit a few decent spots too, in particular a backwards flip from the second rope which demonstrates his athleticism. But this is Dallas’s match, and he ends it in style, with the Running BoDog (what!?), followed up by a victory lap around the ring, during which he, sadly, does not get punched in the face by someone in the front row. He also hugs his opponent, who looks terribly confused. “I wish he’d BO away” Cole quips. “I’m so happy he’s here” JBL answers.
Winner: Bo Dallas (so it does pay off to bolieve)
Steph appears next, clad in a blazer and skinny jeans like a mouthy mother at a PTA meeting (you know she’s one of them). Bryan, meanwhile, appears to be wearing his old, grey shirt and a ball-cap in an attempt to remain incognito in the crowd (seriously, this guy looks totally bored during the promo, which begs the question – why is he even wearing that shirt!?) A “Yes” chant greets the man himself as he enters, sporting both belts (one worn, one draped nonchalantly over his shoulder) and a neck brace. Steph emphasises the word “long” as she discusses his recovery. She wants to strip him of the title, but she doesn’t want him to be a martyr because, let’s face it, one John Cena is enough.
The crowd boos the hell out of her as she tries to persuade him, but it’s to no avail as he tells her in his lovely, smooth, radio voice that his injury is thanks to an employee she claimed she can’t control but clearly can since he beat up poor Brad Maddox on cue earlier (he’s fine, the commentators hastily add). Bryan fakes us out as though he’s going to give it up, but Steph and her glittery eyeshadow cannot convince him as he uses words like “negate” in a wonderful underdog promo that reminds us all just how much shit he put up with to get here. “A word you’re not used to hearing, that you probably haven’t heard since you were a kid – no” he ends simply. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, his wife shoved the boss the other week and as a result, she’s going to be fired – which she would be, if this were a real workplace – unless he surrenders at Payback.
Divas Match: Alicia Fox -v- Emma
Considering this is such a jam-packed Raw, there’s really no need for two Divas matches tonight. Alicia’s entrance music makes me feel as though I’m in Cyberdog, almost like she should be cage-dancing in luminous underwear instead of wrestling. Emma, on the other hand, is annoying as hell, but she can fight, easily dominating from the get-go and delivering a pretty cool Dilemma early on. JBL reveals he had to call the cops to get his hat back from Alicia last week, because he’s scared of her, and almost on cue, she exits the ring as though she’s giving up, only to tackle Emma again once her back is turned. On a side-note, why does Alicia talk so much during matches? Can anybody even hear what she’s saying? Paige is watching backstage, because she’s the new Big E. Just when it’s starting to drag, Emma pins Alicia to win, which results in yet another meltdown encompassing more theft, drink spillage and a wedgie. JBL doesn’t know what to do because there are no police in Tennessee!
Winner: Emma (quickly tackled, and left to lay ringside while the woman she beat prances around like an idiot for much too long)
The commentators get to announce a match-up for Sunday next, which would be cool if it wasn’t Hair V Mask, i.e. Torito V Hornswoggle. It’s a pre-show match, if that wasn’t immediately obvious.
Davy Crockett -v- Adam Rose
Fresh from his show-stopping performance as Magneto Just Before Bed, Damien Sandow returns this week as Davy Crockett, boasting a purposely terrible accent in an interview which was apparently broadcast on the App and only included one question, about being a Rosebud. Hey, Zack Ryder is on twice tonight, good for him. On that note, why are Adam Rose‘s own bitches starstruck by him? Don’t they party with him, like, every day? Or has it all been a LIE!? He tumbles around the ring as Crockett tells him “You’re not right” which is funny coming from a grown man who’s basically cosplaying. Just as Rose is showing he might actually be able to wrestle, The Real Americans show up with a lemon they are holding hostage! Unfortunately, this does not distract Rose, and he uses the Party Foul (seriously?) to win. Swagger immediately launches himself at him, but Rose is tougher than he looks and gives as good as he gets, pummeling Swagger as JBL wonders “what happened to the lemon?” Rose is carried off by his posse once again, but will they do so if he ever loses a match? Only time will tell.
Winner: Adam Rose (no, really, he won)
Sheamus -v- Alberto Del Rio
Look at that, ADR does have a match! Good for him! The fact this is so late in the show also means the contract signing won’t last for twenty minutes so double yay. Sheamo is actually up against BNB on Smackdown this Friday, in a match that should be happening on Raw because they should be feuding by now, damn it. Anyway, these two indulge in a bit of chain-wrestling to start, before Sheamo gains dominance, thereby showing off an impressive gash (a word which means something entirely different in Dublin) on his shoulder – say what you will about Sheamo, but his paleness means his wounds show, and that makes him kind of a bad ass. He goes for ten beats of the BOW-RAWN says Cole but, when we return from commercials, ADR has turned it around on him to take control. “Lots of ringside action tonight” Cole notes, to which JBL quips “You’re astute” Sheamo goes for the Brogue Kick but ADR counters with an impressive backstabber. “Come on Irish!” he yells in his already-yellowing face “Fight like a man!” Unfortunately for him, his opponent responds with the Irish Curse, followed by the White Noise. He’s a bit shaky on his feet though, so much so that he can’t even thump his chest like a big, albino gorilla as he normally does. A dropkick from ADR looks as though it’s going to end it, but Sheamo manages to power out and deliver a Brogue Kick to win.
Winner: Sheamus (and his impressive gash)
As he celebrates his win, Paul Heyman appears ringside to announce that “the winner of this match is the big, red-headed dummy, Sheamus” who is not, as you may know, a Paul Heyman guy and who is not, as you may also know, the man to have conquered The Undertaker‘s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania – the more he does this little bit, the more amazing it becomes. Heyman is a diamond. Anyway, this match wasn’t a real victory for the Irishman because it wasn’t against a Paul Heyman guy but at Payback it will be and he won’t win so ha! Cesaro shows up and attacks Sheamo. It takes three refs to pull him off, but he manages to deliver the Neutraliser anyway. Sheamo lies completely dead in the ring as Heyman cackles, impressed by his client’s stamina, resolve and pure evilness.
Up next, we have a contract signing. Not a match, a contract signing. And boy, it sure does look like a professional, binding contract, with its ten words, all printed in massive, 18pt bold font. Tonight is historic, because it’s the last time The Shield are going to tease us by wearing so much clothing in the ring. Seth Rollins takes the contract and cuddles it for a bit, as Roman Reigns throws all of the furniture out of the ring and Dean Ambrose grabs the mic to speak first (of course) about how pissed they are at those old people who keep messing with them. When Evolution do appear, Batista isn’t wearing their special shirt, which feeds into the idea that he and Orton are always fighting like bratty kids and maybe it got ripped in the process and now he has to show everyone how irresponsible he is by coming out without it. The basic idea behind this so-called signing is that, if The Shield lose on Sunday, they’re out of the job, but there are no consequences for the elderlies because Trips is the boss, yo – “You sure you wanna sign that?” he asks, as Rollins clutches the contract in fear.
Funnily enough, he signs first, followed by Ambrose, who drops the pen, and Reigns, who takes his time doing a fancy lady signature (presumably). He then throws it at Evolution, as Trips refers to them as a “statistic” (possibly harking back to one of my favourite promos of all time, delivered by the great Mick Foley). The two teams size each other up for a few moments, before it erupts into total carnage. Rollins hits a pretty good spot, backflipping over the top rope to tackle Orton and Trips, before the latter grabs a sledgehammer and lays waste to Reigns. Orton delivers the RKO on Ambrose as the three men line up Reigns and triple powerbomb him through the announce table – the ultimate “fuck you” to Reigns, as it was fast becoming his team’s signature finisher.
It was an explosive end to an explosive Raw, a jam-packed go home show that managed to simultaneously whet our appetites for the PPV while also giving us some decent standalone matches, with a few great spots here and there that were impressive in their own right. There is an element of repetition to certain things, such as Cena/Wyatt and Evolution/Shield, but the competitors involved are all so strong, and mostly great on the mic (not you, Batista, you can fuck off) that it doesn’t really matter. No Ziggler this week, sadly, but at least we got another installment of Sandow playing dress up to hilarious effect – and who knew Rose might actually have a good wrestler buried under that horrible accent and wig!? The Divas were short-changed as usual, with actual fighters like Emma, Summer and Paige relegated to the background while dead-behind-the-eyes Eva and dull-even-when-she’s-mad Alicia given starring roles. Bo Dallas‘s debut was fun as hell, and he even proved he has some tricks up his sleeve, while top managers Zeb Colter, Paul Heyman and newbie Lana kept the jokes (and hits) coming hard and fast.
We only have to wait till Sunday for more carnage, when Payback rolls into Chicago and only one thing is for sure – there will be at least 100 idiots who think chanting for Punk throughout is a good idea. And, if BNB doesn’t come out in his hoodie, to his music and piss them all off, it’ll be a damn shame.