June 19, 2014 by Joey Keogh
Following the shocking revelations of the past few weeks, tonight’s Raw opens with the entire roster stood at the top of the ramp, which usually signals that someone has died. Although 3MB are no longer with us – Heath Slater sports all-black with shades in mourning throughout the show – everyone is here to discuss the current lack of a champion. Steph, after greeting Seth Rollins warmly with a pat on the shoulder, describes it as “disconcerting”. Her husband, after all, was champion, like, a million times, so how hard can it be. But then again he’s not a B+ player like that other fellow.
As the camera pans over the men – and, apparently, women although none appear to be present – Adam Rose sticks out in a red top hat and giant, white-rimmed sunglasses – seriously, who is he cosplaying as? The goddamn Mad Hatter? (do people do that?) The Authority wonder aloud who will join the other qualifiers in the bout for the belts at Money In The Bank, and apparently tonight we’re going to have a battle royal (not royale, never royale) to decide. On that note, though, there are certain men who won’t be taking part because, as Triple H so succinctly puts it, they refused to “evolve”.
Along with the obvious omissions, namely Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, none other than John Cena himself won’t be taking part either because he keeps getting involved in things when he shouldn’t. Sheamus tries to look serious as the camera hovers over Cena, who’s right next to him, but how can anyone take him seriously with that orangey, handlebar moustache of his? Cena is getting a chance at the PPV match though, but he has to win against THE DEMON KANE in a stretcher match in order to do so. He removes his ball-cap in shock. The ambulance enters, the stretchers are revealed, and The Authority stand by admiringly.
Aside from all that madness, tonight’s special guest is Kevin Hart! And later on Sheamo is going to go up against Bray Wyatt for no apparent reason!
Dolph Ziggler -v- Seth Rollins
First up, though, two of the best wrestlers in the company finally get a chance to show off (no pun intended) just how good they are, as they are finally up against each other. A “Seth Is A Sellout” sign remains firmly held aloft throughout, but I doubt Rollins can see it, or hear the boos, over his own awesome metalcore entrance music. The replay of his betrayal is still so fucking good, too. The crowd cheers for Ziggler throughout, as the two indulge in an impressive display of brutality and agility, all flips and digs and, obviously, a huge amount of selling after each hit is landed. Rollins is ruthlessly aggressive tonight, almost as though he’s spent the last two years standing behind two other dudes and now realises this is his shot. There are a ridiculous amount of near-falls during this match, particularly when Ziggler goes for the Fame-Asser, thinking he’s won it, but Rollins quickly counters and chucks him into the turnbuckle, and again immediately after he’s recovered. Just when Rollins administers a curb-stomper to win it all, Ambrose turns up in regular people clothes – as opposed to his SWAT team stripper uniform – to interrupt. Naturally, he has a mic and a lot to say about Rollins having a “punchable” face and being unable to do anything without Triple H‘s express permission. He demands that Rollins fight him like a man, but considering he’s already bleeding from his punchable face he probably isn’t up for it right this second. Suddenly, Trips appears onscreen to tell Ambrose, in a brilliantly terrible British accent, that he’s got some bad news for him – but Ambrose is in jeans! How is he supposed to fight in jeans!?
Bad News Barrett -v- Dean Ambrose
After we return from commercials, Ambrose has Barrett’s leg and is laying into him, before delivering an impressive Suplex. His jeans must be terribly sweaty already, and he keeps adjusting his belt like it’s pinching him – if he starts moving around the ring like he’s stuck in quicksand, we should all pretend not to notice. Ambrose leaps over the ropes to tackle Barrett on the outside, before throwing him into the steps. He takes the top rope, but Barrett knocks him off it and into the apron, causing him to land painfully on his shoulder which Barrett then focuses on for the rest of the match, while Ambrose punches it as though he genuinely believes he’s Stallone. His chin is cut already, too, but that’s nothing new. The man probably cuts it while preparing cereal. Ambrose fights back against Barrett by using his injured shoulder to deliver another Suplex. Barrett administers the Winds Of Change, Rollins turns up to interfere and Ambrose knocks him out of the ring with one punch, followed by Barrett, before launching out of the ring to tackle the two at once. Rollins flees into the crowd, Ambrose follows and beats the hell out of him – causing many ladies to lose their shit, as their fan fiction comes to life in front of their eyes – and gets counted out as a result. He doesn’t care, he returns to the ring and delivers the aptly-named Dirty Deeds on Barrett, which means we get to hear his weird music for the first time. It’s not as bad ass as Rollins’ but it’ll do, for now.
Winner: DQ (sensing a pattern here?)
Backstage, Roman Reigns is chatting up Vickie Guerrero, who is in the middle of delivering some giant iced coffees to The Authority. He reckons she should put in a good word for him so he can take part in the battle royal later. Then, after distracting her, he slips something into Steph and Triple H‘s drinks. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a bit of toilet humour – not since the New Age Outlaws were drugged with laxatives by Betty White, which is even weirder to think about now, months later – so hopefully this turns into something gross and weird that has nothing to do with wrestling.
Sheamus -v- Bray Wyatt
The match opens with a lengthy speech from Bray, during which he opines on power and mice running from tigers in the jungle – not sure what kind of jungles they have in the Deep South, or what he was taught in that hedge school he attended but do mice generally get chased by tigers? Surely they have bigger prey to go after? His swamp brothers have a tag team match at MITB against The Usos, which is cool because all four of those dudes are great and not one of them is attractive so it should hold our attention pretty well, even if only lasts five minutes. “Don’t judge them for their beards!” Bray doesn’t say, but that’s what he means, before breaking into that stupid song again. Sheamo appears, to rapturous applause from the Clevelandites, and tells him to “stop talkin’ and singin'” Poor Sheamo appears to have adopted a weird sort-of American accent, so when he tries to sound Irish now, he really has to put it on, a bit like Michael Fassbender. Cole refers to him as the “Dubalin” brawler, because clearly he’s been practising his pronounciation. The crowd love both of these guys, so they go pretty nuts even those this a standard match during which both are, for example, maroooned (not Dr. Maroon) in the corner. “There’s no crying in wrestling” JBL states matter-of-factly, marking the first instance in about ten years that anyone has said that word on TV, and not referred to it as “sports entertainment”. The Usos turn up mid-match but they just watch from the sidelines, which is boring. Following commercials, Sheamo is in a headlock. Bray utilises a really effective clothesline, but Sheamo counters with the 10 Beats, before attempting the Brogue Kick, which the other Wyatts stop him doing, thereby getting their brother disqualified. They then turn their attention to The Usos, for whom Sheamo holds the ladder so they can run up it, leap out of the ring, clearing the ropes, to tackle the Wyatts. Sheamo chucks the ladder over after them, for good measure.
Winner: DQ (three in a row means we get a wish for next week, y’all)
Backstage, Vickie tries to give The Authority their coffees but, in doing so, ends up spilling Triple H‘s all over herself. He demands another as Steph tucks into hers and notes “that’s gonna stain”. Steph then strolls over to the other side of the room, where Renee is patiently waiting, but midway through the interview she has an attack of nausea and has to run off, garbling “may the best man win” as she does. Paul Heyman has been lurking in the wings, as always, and he seizes the opportunity to deliver his little Taker spiel again, before admitting that he really doesn’t want Sheamo to win (preaching to the choir there, mate). He reveals that, when he told everyone that Brock Lesnar would beat the streak, it was actually a spoiler, not a prediction, and his next one is that Cesaro is going to win the championship at MITB. Renee does not like having him so close to her face – or does she? It wouldn’t surprise me if she was into older men, when Trips pointed out her lack of shoes she got pretty giddy – but she takes it like a pro.
Alexander Rusev -v- Heath Slater
Tonight’s Raw is so jam-packed, Lana has to do her pro-Russia, anti-USA bit in the ring – after telling everyone to shut up, of course. Rusev still only knows that one line in English, but fair play to him for trying – he is actually Bulgarian, unlike, say, Santino Marella. He and Lana really recall Poison Ivy and Bane in Batman And Robin, so hopefully they’re friends in real life because that’d be an awesome Halloween buddy costume for them. Slater appears to be partying his pain away but he gets sick of the anti-USA shit pretty quickly, and tells the two stinky foreigners to go back to Russia if they love it so much. He then refers to himself as “the American rock star, baybay” thereby solidifying, once and for all, why he was kept on and his ex-bandmates were not. Rusev kicks things off, quite literally, with a dropkick which is shocking because he doesn’t look like a man who’s able to lift his leg up that high (later on, in the battle royal, he’ll further prove his surprising agility). He wins with the Accolade, yet again, and we are bored – maybe outside interference isn’t such a bad thing? If only either of these two had friends/enemies.
Winner: Alexander Rusev (no DQ for him, yo)
Backstage, outside what looks like the grottiest toilet imaginable, Trips is disgusted by Steph puking her guts up and refuses to go in to check on her. He sends Vickie, who stands by the door for a good five seconds as we all wait to see how far they’re going to go with this. As it turns out, pretty far, because Vickie gets covered in projectile vomit not once, but twice. It’s absolutely amazing, to the point that I kind of hope someone pukes on someone else every week, just so we get to see what that cannon they’ve apparently got hidden backstage can really do. Trips takes Steph away and tells Vickie she’s in charge, and “for god’s sake, take a shower”.
Unfortunately, just as she’s about to do so, Reigns turns up to demand inclusion – in the battle royal, not her shower – and Vickie relents because she’s feeling quite delicate right now. Elsewhere, it looks as though special guest Kevin Hart has been puked on too, but it only hit half his shirt so it’s not so bad. His new movie is so filled with bachelor party shenanigans, it’s rated a whopping PG-13! Wahey! Renee tries to interview him about it, but Adam Rose turns up – minus the hat from earlier, because someone told him it was a bit much – to say random, meaningless shit as per usual, to which Hart responds simply with “I don’t know what you’re saying”. Rose liked his movie though, so expect to see a quote from him on the side of a bus any day now – “Not a lemon in sight, but needs more party”.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Fandango & Layla -v- Summer Rae & Adam Rose
Hart is actually on commentary for this match, which a fat, white dude holding a sign reading “Raw Is Hart” in the crowd seems very excited about. It’s hilarious listening to the commentators trying to explain the dynamics of the match to him – he genuinely looks dumbfounded at the sight of Fandango, and the explanation for his girlfriend’s beef with Summer – and he looks like Hornswoggle with JBL towering over him. Speaking of Layla, shegot her own back earlier in the week by pelting her love rival with kitty litter and milk. It was on Main Event, so someone must have been watching. The crowd sing for Rose because they’re stupid. The men kick it off but the women quickly take over, and after about five seconds of fighting Layla runs off, with Summer in hot pursuit. “Would you dump a woman on Twitter?” Cole asks Hart, who responds with “Absolutely” as he tweets covertly about the too-keen man seated one down from him who keeps asking inappropriate questions about his love life. Rose utilises the Party Foul to win, and Hart joins him in the ring to celebrate, before the two are carried off by his fellow revellers. It’s fair to say Hart owned Raw tonight. Take that, Wolverine!
Winners: Adam Rose & Summer Rae (she may be being pinned somewhere, we really don’t know)
Battle Royal for MITB Championship Match
Everyone is in the ring but Reigns, who enters last to a remixed version of The Shield entrance theme. He still enters via the steps, but he seems awfully worried at the idea of being groped all by himself. These kinds of matches all follow a similar pattern, but suffice to say that the jobbers go out first, with poor old Damien Sandow – who is still paying for whatever he’s done to piss off WWE – eliminated right off the bat, followed by Santino Marella, Titus O’Neill, Sin Cara, etc. Kofi Kingston, who tends to land similar spots during every single one of these bouts, manages to use the ropes to flip Jack Swagger over and out, while keeping himself involved in the process. Ziggler is knocked out by Ryback, which draws serious boos from the crowd, before Rob Van Dam finishes up his pre-match blunt just in time to show his face for a split second. Simultaneously, four dudes in the crowd, all sitting side by side in full referee gear, are revealed – coincidence? Bo Dallas knocks him out, celebrates, and Barrett takes the opportunity to try to get rid of him but ends up eliminated himself. Dallas knocks Big E out, before Reigns spears him to get rid of him and square up to Rusev, who by now is the only other dude left in the ring. The crowd are loving it for some reason. Rusev proves his shocking agility, and that he has the moves when paired with someone of a similar build, but this is Reigns’ match, and he wins it easily with a Superman Punch.
Winner: Roman Reigns (could he be champ? Is he the new Cena because of that tea party he had with his kid?)
Backstage, Renee is with Cena, who is in one of his goofy moods, so he spouts nonsense and twisted metaphors that only he finds funny. He says shit like “crap sandwich” and “every which way but loose, y’all” – pop for that new Nickelodeon show about witches, perhaps? – before pretending to give the finger, but really he’s just pointing at his own hat or whatever. It’s dull, but at least he makes a bird noise as he’s running off. Goofy Cena is the worst, but considering his match tonight is a stretcher match, being serious and brooding and angry would’ve made much more sense. We know he’s going to win, so at least try to make it interesting. Maybe he’s just tired from making all of those wishes come true.
Divas Match: Cameron -v- Paige
Paige‘s mummy took to Facebook recently to assure everyone that Vince does not hate her daughter, he just hates foreigners. And women. And paleness. Paige is much buffer and cockier since she became champ, so this is an easy win for her, but Cameron does her best to fight back – although she runs away pretty early on – while she has the chance. “Paige I love yooooou!” screams some poor fellow during a quiet moment in the proceedings, proving that it’s not just Orton who gets people going. A dropkick signals the end is nigh, and Paige wins it with the stupidly-titled PTO.
Winner: Paige (now she can sew more patches to the back of her leather jacket, like an eagle and shit)
After losing his brother Cody a few weeks back – due to him being a pussy, not his death or anything – Goldust has been waiting impatiently for a new partner, and after teaming up with a couple of jobbers, he’s finally found a proper replacement. However, try as he might, the man who is not Renee is not going to get the information out of him on who it is. We’re just going to have to wait until the match, which is right now, to find out who his “super-galactic” new teammate is.
Tag Team Match: Rybaxel -v- Goldust & Stardust
Credit where it’s due, nobody saw this one coming. When Cody quit a few weeks back, blaming himself for the failure of his tag team, it seemed inevitable that he’d turn heel and eventually blame his brother for their misfortune. But shockingly, Cody has instead re-emerged as a kind of Goldust spinoff character called Stardust, who apart from sporting a similar bodysuit to his brother, also reveals his painted face from behind identically painted hands. He looks a bit like The Riddler, but the crowd are already kind of chanting for him. He lays waste to Rybaxel first, and ultimately wins it for his team by pinning Axel. Cody is clearly loving this, and it was an amazing misdirect, so well done WWE.
Winners: Goldust & Stardust (the Dust Brothers perhaps?)
Main Event: Stretcher Match for MITB Championship Match: John Cena -v- Kane
Stretcher matches are generally dull as fuck, but this one definitely shouldn’t have been main event tonight, as the rest of the show was so strong and the narrative was so loose and exciting. This is the first stretcher match on Raw in almost a decade, which is pretty cool, meaning Justin Roberts has to explain the rules before it starts, as though anyone is actually listening instead of taking ringside selfies for Facebook. Cena gets the usual reaction, while THE DEMON KANE practically sleep-walks his way to the ring, and indeed through the match. He gets Cena on the stretcher after about two seconds, and then not again. Cena uses it to hit him, he throws him into the turnbuckle, Cena crawls away a lot – none of this is new to us, and when Kane grabs a chair it’s almost snore-inducingly obvious, as it is when he gets chucked through the announce table after dismantling it himself. To his credit, much like when he lifts the steps, Cena really sells how heavy his opponent is and when Kane turns it around to DDT him, it’s almost exciting for a moment. Rollins turns up, then Orton, and finally Ambrose. Kane takes the opportunity to choke-slam Cena, but he manages to get him on the stretcher and push him all the way to the line before Kane magically wakes up again and hops off. Don’t worry, he flips him back over and onto it, though, so he wins. Phew.
Winner: John Cena (and all is right with the world once more)
Although it’s still mostly rode the shock-wave from Rollins’ betrayal, this week’s Raw was, once again, quite strong. It seems odd, but a loose, messy narrative actually suited it better than a more rigid structure of just match after match after match. There were only a handful that ended neatly, and they were probably the least fun – hasn’t Slater sufffered enough!? – but the combat was great across the board, and the skill level was incredibly high. The reveal of Stardust was a brilliantly clever misdirect, while the battle royal for a spot in the championship bout at MITB, although gimmicky, at least put some serious momentum behind the match and it’s looking like Reigns might actually have a chance of winning it, too.
The dismantling of The Shield is sad, but unavoidable considering Rollins’ departure. At least Ambrose and Reigns are equally great in their own ways, so they will survive on their own, but hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Hounds Of Justice. Although it’s annoying to watch Cena get a pretty much guaranteed shot at the title again, and likewise Orton, especially in a stretcher match, it’d be weird without him and his recent anti-establishment behaviour hints that he may have more layers to him than anyone thought possible (though he should cool it with the goofy shit). Bray Wyatt continues to kick ass, although his brothers will finally get a chance to shine at MITB, and poor Ziggler, at the very least, had a decent match, as did BNB.
Everything seems to be lining up nicely in the build-up to the PPV, and with just the go-home show to go – er, and Smackdown, if you’re that way inclined – we can only hope that the momentum continues and we get a helll of a show at Money In The Bank. If not, I’d settle for more projectile vomit on Raw.