July 3, 2014 by Joey Keogh
An incredibly jam-packed episode of Monday Night Raw kicks off with a recap of last night’s Money In The Bank PPV, which utilises moving pictures for once, but only for a little bit in case those who didn’t pay for that shit get too greedy. Fake cheers are pumped in towards the end to make it seem as though someone besides tiny, little children was happy that John Cena won the World Heavyweight championship yet again. The Authority stroll out, looking suitably smug, to cut an amazing promo starting with how Steph was born right here in Hartford, Connecticut, and the crowd should feel privileged as a result. In fact, they only want to cheer for CM Punk tonight, even when Steph acknowledges that Cena is an A+ player – he’s also a fifteen time world champion, which is incredibly depressing considering Dolph Ziggler can barely even get a match on this show. Suffice to say, the crowd are not happy when he enters the arena, with both belts strapped to his chest like an idiot.
As usual, though, it only takes Cena about ten minutes of mean muggin’ and licking Daniel Bryan‘s butt to get the crowd on his side, and when he starts a “Yes” chant he’s pretty much done for the night. This is such a fun opening, especially when he tells everyone, in a lengthy speech, that he’s going to give Bryan a shot at the title as soon as possible because he “never gave it up” and Steph responds with an incredibly snarky “That was…very special” before revealing he is on the cover of their new game WWE 2K 15. Shockingly, because he obviously posed for the cover shot some time ago, Cena reckons “this ain’t right” because he doesn’t trust anyone, y’all! He has photographic evidence from last night to prove that The Authority weren’t happy with his win and damn it, he wants an explanation. In what will forever be known as one of the greatest putdowns ever on Raw, Triple H tells him to “chill, homie” and points out that “whenever we get close to West Newbury”, Cena drops his Rs. Cena gon’ kick his ass, but Trips demands respect.
“You can do things the easy way, or the hard way” he explains, in answer to which the crowd immediately erupts into cheers for the hard way and, obviously, that is indeed what Cena chooses since he is a martyr and all. He has to defend his championship at Battleground, in a Fatal Fourway against Randy Orton (boos), THE DEMON KANE (no reaction) and Roman Reigns (ear-splitting cheers). Before that, though, he has to face two of those lads later tonight because, that’s right kids, Cena is in the Main Event on Raw yet again. Just when we thought he couldn’t get anymore annoying, he makes a poop joke about Steph and her little incident with Vickie last week – goofy Cena is back, y’all! The other winner last night, Seth Rollins, AKA Scuba Steve, then strolls out, gaudy briefcase in hand, to pose in the ring with his masters.
Before the real fighting begins, it’s revealed that there will be a 6-man tag later tonight involving current champions The Usos, who are teamed up with Sheamus against The Wyatt Family.
Rob Van Dam -v- Seth Rollins
Rollins is unsure where to put his briefcase, so RVD takes his time entering the ring and basking in the glory of Connecticut’s love, as he struggles to find a place for it. Considering RVD was stale pretty much immediately upon his return to Raw, it’s quite surprising that he manages to deliver a great opening match tonight. He shakes his head at Rollins over-selling, dropkicking him twice in a row to shut him up. A standing moonsault is decent, but not amazing, and considering RVD is limping throughout it’s impressive in itself that he can leap around the place at all. He’s a bit slow off the mark, but still dominating Rollins, who consistently rolls out of harm’s way like a pussy, leading the crowd – who, it must be noted, are one of the hottest in ages – to admonish him loudly for doing so. He manages to catch RVD in a half-crab but he makes it to the ring, flips him over and delivers two clotheslines and another dropkick, before following up with the Rolling Thunder, which is still fun a hundred years later. RVD ultimately plays to his strengths in this match, with a cool moonsault later on as Rollins tries half-heartedly to turn everything around. RVD goes for the 5-Star Frog Splash, managing to catch Rollins outside the ring as he makes a dash for safety once again. Considering how on-point RVD in this match, it’s really disappointing that it ends with Rollins’ boring curbstomper yet again. On the other hand, shit like this really builds him up as a heel, so go figure.
Winner: Seth Rollins (and his foot)
Renee has turned up in the ring right on time, with a roll of tinfoil wrapped around her waist, to interview Rollins after his win. Given that he is in full bastard mode, he refers to her only as “lady” and “toots” before demanding she address him by his full name, “Mr Money In The Bank Seth Rollins” He then steals Ziggler’s line about backing up his own arrogance, which the crowd do not appreciate. They love it when Dean Ambrose appears onscreen, though, broadcasting from his beloved sewer as he so often does – “from one scumbag to another” he begins, before referring to UNCLE KANE because clearly his name has changed again (take note, Michael Cole) and revealing that Rollins’ suitcase is actually full of TNT and is set to blow at any moment. Following this promo, Cole reveals that tonight Cena will be paired up with Reigns against Orton and UNCLE KANE. Terrifying. Rusev enters next – it appears he’s dropped the Alexander, because much like Antonio, it sounds too private school-ish – and King is at pains to point out that he has yet to lose a match.
He does not acknowledge that the man has thus far only been involved in squash matches, aside from his decent one with Big E last night. Some chick has a sign for Lana and her amazing cleavage. She cuts a promo about the US being accustomed to failure. Suddenly, Jack Swagger appears, with manager Zeb Colter in tow, to face Rusev as a REAL AMERICAN. Zeb is sick of all this pro-Russia bullshit, and he correctly points out that the only reason Lana is able to spout all of it here is because the US has ridiculous free speech laws – suck it, Europe! For the first time in forever, the entire arena gets to their feet and does the “We The People” chant in unison. Poor Lana can’t really walk in her heels, but she hobbles out so Swagger can armdrag Rusev twice. The crowd are totally behind The Real Americans, which is both nuts and kind of amazing. They argue and yell back and forth with the “Russians” for a bit.
6-Man Tag Team Match: Sheamus & The Usos -v- The Wyatt Family
These random tag team match-ups are getting a bit weird, but this is a pretty great bout, with so many near falls. We kick off with lots of people dancing to The Usos theme tune, followed by the best entrance for The Wyatt Family, the original one which involves a still-amazing sea of cellphone lights. “This will be very physical” says Cole – that’s right, so no emotional manipulation tonight, guys – following up with “Harper in the dirty tank top” later. The Usos begin by double-teaming Rowan, before a ginger fight erupts as Sheamo tags in. He goes for the 10 Beats, but forgets to count, before taking a significant beating himself from the swamp people that will last for most of the match. JBL’s hat goes flying as the action moves ringside, leading the crowd to chant for him to pick it up as Sheamo and Harper duke it out right in front of the announce table. He goes for the Irish Curse, as his teammates leap about in the ring – how do they always manage to land on their feet? Can’t one of them stumble just once? Not surprisingly, Rowan pins an Uso to win and Pastor Bray celebrates by gurning in the middle of the ring, with his disciples flanking him on either side.
Winners: The Wyatt Family (Rowan in the stained overalls, there)
Backstage, some dude named Tom who is not Renee or even the man who is not Renee, is talking with Nikki Bella‘s boobies about why she thought it was appropriate to bring her sister Brie with her last night. Before she can, er, explain, Steph appears to reveal that she’ll be in a handicap match later against two other Total Divas cast members because her sister abandoned her and also they need more viewers for that show. Before that can happen, though, Bo Dallas is here to demand a minute’s silence for the “fallen warriors” of the WWE. The commentators talk the whole way through it, with a particularly impatient King saying “Okay, that’s enough Bo” after about ten seconds, followed by “We’ve respected ’em enough” JBL tells him to be quiet and show respect, stifling a giggle as he does so. There’s then a short recap of what happened last night with he and Bryan, which is scored as though it took place in a theme park in Florida.
Total Divas 2-on-1 Handicap Match: Nikki Bella -v- The Funkadactyls
Since their stupid show has been renewed for a third season, we’re now being subjected to two Divas matches per episode, one for actual wrestlers (sometimes) and the other for Total Divas. Thankfully, this one, which falls into the latter category, is mercifully short. Nikki’s boobs are really straining in her sexy baseball player costume. The girls are admonished for pulling each other’s hair, even though that is a classic Divas move (one of two, the other being a dropkick) and should be allowed because if they tie up their hair, or wet it down like the guys, they won’t be sexy anymore and then what’s the point in watching!? Naomi wins it somehow. The Flunkies then shove each other in the ring but nobody cares – not even Nikki, who strolls out slowly and deliberately.
Winners: The Funkadactyls (watch Total Divas, damn it!)
The bad news tonight is that there will be no more Bad News Barrett for the foreseeable future because he dislocated his shoulder after being thrown into a barricade on Smackdown. We get a nice little replay of the incident, and then it’s revealed that the Intercontinental championship is now up for grabs, which sucks because Barrett was the most active holder of it in years. The title will be decided in a battle royal at Battleground because the WWE love to throw a load of dudes in the ring together for no apparent reason. Here’s hoping Barrett still appears on TV, even just to do his little bad news segments like before, otherwise things are going to get a bit dull.
Cesaro -v- Kofi Kingston
The winner of this match is decided during the commercial break, which understandably has many fans up in arms, but it’s fun for the most part. Paul Heyman enters first, cutting the same ol’ promo about his client Shmock Shmesnar beating the Streak and his other one, Cesaro, winning some trophy nobody cares about, before the man himself strolls out – in his robe again! – and his manager reveals he’s going to win the IC championship at the PPV. Kofi enters, does a spin, and instantly hurts himself so he’s limping for the entire match. He appears in the little box at the corner of the screen to remind us that he’s a very smooth speaker – when was the last time we even heard him talk!? – and that he’s going to win something at some stage so just be patient. The match begins with the two flipping each other over and over until Cesaro throws Kofi. He’s dominating throughout, but the crowd chant for Ziggler, and the commentators bicker amongst themselves as JBL accuses Cole of stealing what he says which totally seems like something he would do. Cesaro teases the Swing, but then doesn’t go through with it, leading to lots of booing. As previously stated, Kofi wins during the ad break, so unless you’re glued to your phone, you’ll just have to settle for the replay. Cesaro doesn’t care, he attacks him anyway.
Winner: Kofi Kingston (does it count if it happens on the App?)
In a move that will infuriate fans further, the action quickly moves to Santino Marella and Adam Rose shilling iced tea at a makeshift barbecue backstage in the parking lot – seriously, they’re literally right next to a truck. Elsewhere, Cole is recovering from Cesaro “accidentally” being thrown into him during the last match. Also, Hulk tweeted about Cena because he thinks he’s a new guy who needs a rub. Or he’s desperately trying to be down with the kids – literally. Since we’re in Connecticut, it’s only fitting that Vince Mc Mahon himself should make an appearance, except that tonight, it’s just Damien Sandow dressed like, and doing a damn good impression of, him. He gets the voice down pat, and the pimp walk is perfection, but when he calls out the names of wrasslin’ legends like Trips and Hulk, barely anybody makes a sound. The biggest cheer is for Stone Cold, but sadly “Vince” isn’t here to discuss him, he wants to talk about the “most talented” wrestler currently on the roster, who we’re all “too ignorant” to appreciate – Damien Sandow! The crowd are hating this, especially when Sandow enters himself into the battle royal, but they can’t resist his delivery of the infamous “you’re fired” line. Steph pops up onscreen to give out, but the camera keeps zooming in and out on her face so it’s kind of hard to take her seriously. She forces Sandow to take part in a match immediately.
Damien Sandow -v- The Great Khali
There have been rumours swirling all night that a recently-departed Superstar would be returning to Raw, but nobody really noticed that The Great Khali was missing so surely it can’t be him? He’s also in the battle royal at Battleground, because clearly it’s going to be loaded with jobbers, and in preparation he wins this non-match in seconds.
Winner: The Great Khali (welcome back..?)
Actually, The Great Khali isn’t the big surprise tonight – he wouldn’t have fit in that limo they keep showing, anyway – because guess who’s back? The fucking Miz. Whoop de doo. The one person who noticed he was missing is probably thrilled right now, but everyone else is taking a well-deserved piss break while this prick prattles on about nothing, in an all-white suit. He was off filming The Marine 4: Moving Target – best self-reviewing film title ever? – in Hollywood, even though IMDb shows it was shot in Canada but hey, The Miz is easily confused. If he’s so good at acting, why is he flubbing his lines during this relatively short promo? Just when we’re about ready to kill ourselves at the revelation that he isn’t leaving any time soon, Chris Jericho turns up to shut the bastard up with his impressively eighties hairdo. A kid in head-to-toe Cena gear is confused, but everyone else is thrilled that Jericho is out here to deliver the codebreaker on Miz and shut his smug ass down. He removes his jacket and under-hoodie, before asking the crowd “Did that feel good!?” because clearly he thinks he’s still at Donington. The Wyatt Family appear and confuse him because they are new and bearded and taller than him. Bray quickly performs the Sister Abigail as the crowd go nuts trying to figure out who to root for – this is replayed immediately afterwards, in case we missed it. Let’s all have a minute’s silence for the poor soul who had to drag The Miz‘s lifeless corpse away.
Fandango -v- Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler has a match! It’s totally silly and inconsequential, but hell, there are some decent spots and Fandango proves he can wrestle, even if he still shakes his butt after each move. He and Layla are dancing in the ring as Ziggler enters, to a MAJOR pop from the crowd, weirdly wearing a Battleground T-shirt. The crowd are totally behind him throughout, and when Summer Rae turns up to smooch him in front of her ex, they go even more nuts. Fandango is sad, but Ziggler takes advantage to do the Zig Zag to win so joke’s on him.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler (Ziggler wins! Hooray!)
Tag Team Match: Rybaxel -v- Goldust & Stardust
Before this match begins, we get a nice little replay of the Steph/Vickie pudding dunking incident – it’s still good, even a week later. This feud has been described as the high school bullies beating up the art kids, which is hilariously accurate (apologies to whoever I just Michael Cole-d for that line). Stardust enters and vamps for the crowd on the barricade while Rybaxel – not wearing matching beanies this time, sadly – growl in the corner. Cody kind of looks like The Crow in his make-up, but either way this is still a great storyline and it was utterly unpredictable too, which is wonderful to see. He dominates the match, ultimately winning it for them after his brother has taken a beating, but the meathead bullies get some good shots in, thanks to their low attention span. Ryback delivers a pretty cool Suplex on Goldust, followed by a spinebuster. It ends as Stardust clotheslines Ryback from the second rope before faceplanting Axel to win.
Winner: Goldust & Stardusts (let’s sculpt our feelings on this match later)
Divas Championship Match: Paige -v- AJ Lee
There’s lots of polite clapping as Paige enters the ring and cuts a promo about how English she is and how weird she talks and how lovely it’s been to be Divas champ for the past three months – has it really been that long!? She’s got little bits of torn fishnet under her bralet, which is a nice touch and recalls another Diva who, funnily enough, is here tonight. She’s all like “I’m here to stay!” as AJ Lee makes her triumphant return to Raw, tanned, toned and showing off a massive rock on her finger – she gestures a lot with her left hand, just to rub it in. Some dude screams “I love you Paige!” as AJ waits patiently for the rest of the crowd to stop cheering for her husband, before calling Paige a “sweet little crumpet” and then demanding a championship match right here, right now. For some reason, it’s left up to the crowd to decide whether they’ll fight or not. They’re into it, so they do but it’s an annoyingly short match, considering how good both competitors are and that we’ve been waiting months for Paige to have an actual opponent. She gets a good dropkick in early on, but AJ wins it by pinning her pretty easily, much like when she lost the belt originally.
Winner: AJ Lee (the dirt sheets are probably still going to argue she’s pregnant, with the foetus hiding somewhere in her abs)
Main Event: Tag Team Match: John Cena & Roman Reigns -v- Randy Orton & Kane
This is such a blatant excuse to get Orton and Cena in the Main Event, but at least Reigns is included too, and he gets the biggest pop out of everyone with a little girl losing her shit as he appears next to her at the top of the arena. Trips is a proud papa ringside as he watches Orton and UNCLE KANE sleepwalk their way through the match. Cena yells advice from the sidelines, and we all know that when he gets tagged in late it usually means he’s going to win it somehow. Reigns performs an impressive Samoan Drop on UNCLE KANE. Cena is eventually tagged in and administers the 5-Knuckle Shuffle on Orton. He tries for it again but fails, and Orton utilises the RKO. Reigns delivers the Superman Punch on Orton, but UNCLE KANE ends it for him with a tombstone piledriver. The match ends in no contest after UNCLE KANE betrays his cuddly new nickname by using some steps to beat Cena. The crowd beg him to do it again, but as Cena lies motionless in the ring, Rollins turns up, briefcase in hand, to cash in. For some reason, the ref refuses to ring the bell – so what if he’s unconscious, right!? – giving Ambrose time to barrel in and chase Rollins out of the stadium. Reigns then Spears UNCLE KANE and stares Trips out of it as the crowd scream their lungs out for him to hit the boss.
Winners: No contest
All things considered, this was a particularly action-packed, thrilling, and surprisingly shocking instalment of Raw. From Paige losing the championship to the returning AJ Lee, to Rollins trying to cash in on Cena’s corpse and Chris Jericho turning up to deck The Miz, it was a non-stop assault of madness and mayhem, with not a second wasted (apart from the weird product placement with the iced tea). The matches were great, too, especially considering there were so many awesome promos – who doesn’t adore Bo Dallas, seriously? – and Jack Swagger even managed to turn face in spite of his and his manager’s blatant xenophobia.
Ziggler not only had a match, but won it, even though it was mostly for comedic value while Sandow was given an opportunity to make us laugh instead of cringe, and exploited it as best he could. Even the 6-man tag, which seemed like an odd choice, was great, as was the tag match pitching Rybaxel against the Rhodes brothers. We’re still smarting from Cena’s victory last night, but his Main Event match was great because of the other people in it, and there were some decent spots, so we can’t really complain. The pulse of the show is still the splitting up of The Shield, and to this end, the three ex-brothers are really kicking ass in their own right – the action could stand to focus even more on their feud(s) and it’d still be totally awesome – with the Rollins/Ambrose angle a particularly rad highlight of tonight’s show.
Battleground isn’t a PPV that most of us are majorly excited for, but this is the beginning of the build-up for it, so judging by the evidence so far, it might actually be good. Otherwise, hopefully we can have more fun in the meantime. With less Miz.