July 10, 2014 by Joey Keogh
This week, Raw is in Montreal, Canada, so the crowd are ridiculously hot – except for when poor ol’ John Cena comes out, of course. The show kicks off with a replay of last week’s Main Event match, scored in such a way that it seems we may be going on a quest of some sort. Last week was mental in the best possible way, so for once the immediate replay doesn’t sting so much. Roman Reigns enters first, to rapturous cheers, and someone’s mom is really happy to have him walk right past her as he descends the steps. The commentators inform us that The Authority are on holiday at the moment, so they won’t be appearing tonight and HOLY SHIT King’s shirt has a goddamn bejewelled crucifix emblazoned on it – his most shirt garish yet, perhaps?
Reigns is still a little hesitant, maybe even slightly nervous, on the mic but he is getting better with each week that passes, he just needs to slow down a little because he hasn’t got the loudest speaking voice. “I assess and attack” he tells us, as the crowd chant that Cena sucks. “You’re damn right Cena sucks” Reigns answers, smirking as the cheers turn in favour of him. He reckons he’s the next World Heavyweight champ, but before he can get into why, Kane emerges and THE DEMON Cole refers to him as such, annoyingly – Uso crazy, Cole! He isn’t allowed to speak since turning evil, so he has to stand there and take it when Reigns describes him as Triple H‘s lapdog and Randy Orton‘s BITCH (cheap pop for swearing!)
The two come to blows, of course, leading to a load of referees and “officials” – including Finlay, who gets speared, along with another be-suited man – to flood the ring and get their butts kicked. Reigns Superman punches Kane and we’re off! Welcome to Monday Night Raw! We lead into all of the stuff coming up tonight, including an appearance by famous Canadian Bret Hart – why not Christian, damn it! – a squash match pitching the recently-returned Chris Jericho against The Miz and, guess what, Cena is Main Event-ing again against Seth Rollins. Wahey.
Luke Harper & Erick Rowan -v- The Usos
Before all of that, though, we get a great first match pitching The Usos against two-thirds of The Wyatt Family. The swamp brothers appear in the ring as Garth Brooks’ evil twin plays ’em out. The Usos get the half a pop to which they’ve become accustomed. For once, King actually calls it properly, describing the match as a “slugfest” which it totally is – maybe the shirt gives him magical powers? The power of Christ compels you, King. There are no other face tag teams at the minute – do the Dust bros. really count? – so it seems like it’ll be these four duking it out for the foreseeable future, which is fine because they complement each others’ styles in a weird sort of way. Rowan and Harper really show off their combined strength and nastiness in the ring here, with a rough shoulder tackle from the former disabling an Uso pretty early on. He follows it up later with a great Big Splash, too. Their opponents show off their remarkable agility, as normal, with an impressive array of gravity-bending moves including some great clotheslines, a superkick that the camera misses in favour of getting a shot of Harper’s cosmetically-soiled undershirt, a strong Samoan Drop and an incredibly smooth corkscrew moonsault from the top rope. A crazy powerbomb from Harper looks to have won it for them but an Uso intervenes, leading him to line up a clothesline to knock the other one out and finish the match.
Winners: The Wyatts (squeal like a pig, Uso)
Backstage, Orton is giving a pep talk to an uninterested Kane – is he wearing pants? Let’s assume not – so he may as well be talking to himself. Finally, the demon gets a chance to speak but before he can, teacher’s pet Rollins shows up to try to fit in yet again, showing off his new dye job in the process. He’s a head shorter than the other two, so he looks really silly, even though he’s buffed up considerably since betraying his brothers in The Shield (“HOW COULD YOU SETH ROLLINS!!!” Tumblr screams in unison). “I’m really starting to hate that kid” Orton muses, when he’s barely out of earshot. “Not as much as I’m starting to hate you” Kane responds.
Divas Match: Nikki Bella -v- Alicia Fox
Alicia gets a jobber’s entrance, but Nikki ends up looking stupider because she has to do that silly dance alone, without her sister’s superior butt to bounce off. This match is supposed to take place with each opponent’s right arm tied behind her back, but naturally Nikki gets hers tied first and then Alicia refuses to do so – what are the bets she’s going to end up separating her shoulder or popping her boob or something? Seriously though, does anyone care about this non-match? Even with this tired, blatantly silly old gimmick? The crowd chant “Bo-ring” even before it’s started, the commentators discuss the current crisis in the Middle East and everyone falls asleep as Alicia reveals there is sugar free Red Bull and a shit tonne of Gatorade hidden in a basin under the ring. Nikki is now sticky.
Winner: No contest (presumably)
Rusev -v- Rob Van Dam
Do Lana and Rollins get their roots done in the same place or what? What about Ziggler, why can’t he ever manage to get his done in time? RVD isn’t Canadian but he still gets more of a pop than his opponent who, in fairness to him, looks the best he has yet in this match tonight. The crowd are totally behind RVD, especially as he gets Rusev pinned early on. He goes for the 5-Star Frog Splash but his opponent tosses him and he sells it like his back is broken. Zeb Colter is in the little confessional box at the corner of the screen, wondering if maybe Rusev “didn’t understand” his English before – he’s making it clear now, Jack Swagger is issuing a challenge to him at Battleground. A guy dressed as a referee in the front row is chatting on his mobile as the match goes on, while Cole admonishes his fellow commentators by demanding to know why they don’t “just call the match!” It seems as though RVD is dominating, but as he goes for the Rolling Thunder, Rusev shows off just how high, and hard, he can kick yet again – it’s still shocking, considering how stocky he is – before administering the Accolade, out of which RVD taps after a respectable minute or two. Stay strong, RVD. There are lots of snacks backstage.
Winner: Rusev (better than a squash match, at least)
Randy Orton -v- Dean Ambrose
This is, without question, the match of the night – rough, nicely lengthy, and with both participants on fire, it showcases just how much of a star Ambrose is while also giving Orton’s naysayers pause. He gets a big pop as he enters, taking his time to deliver the pose so the females in attendance can come on cue. Ambrose’s shoulder is still bandaged up, but he’s a cocky bastard and he starts off by jeering Orton before laying into him like a complete loon, his fists flying everywhere. He really plays up the crazy angle throughout – so much so that it’s remarkable his eyes don’t pop out of his fucking head. Orton momentarily disables him with a clothesline, but Ambrose retaliates with a flurry of fists – are any of his blows even landing!? He’s literally foaming at the mouth, continuing to deliver hits even when Orton grabs a hold of his injured shoulder. There’s an impressive DDT as Cole acknowledges that Ambrose knocked Ambrose down – he must be really nuts to have done that! Ambrose catches Orton in the figure-4 lock, Orton grabs his hair, Ambrose grabs his wrist and finally Orton makes it to the ropes. Ambrose then bounces off the ropes to clothesline Orton, gurning and panting as he dips out to grab some chairs, which are quickly disposed with once the ref cops what he’s doing. Orton runs off but then returns to deliver a great DDT off the barricade, after which Ambrose is nearly counted out. He makes it back in the ring in time to fall victim to the RKO, though.
Winner: Randy Orton (he does the pose again to celebrate, so drink it in, ladies)
Renee is backstage interviewing Cena, who basks in the boos he’s receiving from the crowd. The question is, what kind of Cena is he tonight? Gangsta Cena? Goofy Cena? Serious Cena? Goth Cena? It turns out he’s Rapping Cena, as he delivers his lines with a weird beat to them before explaining that his belts are “a symbol of handling business”, an admission for which he gets a cheer, surprisingly. Reigns turns up to wish him luck, and Cena calls him “homes” because he’s confused about how close he is to Massachusetts. Renee moves the mic between the two as they spar, which looks quite difficult given how much shorter she is than them. Reigns ends the conversation by telling him that “you’re gonna need a tonne of it [luck] when you face me tonight, homes” which is almost as good as Trips telling Cena to “chill out, homie” last week but not quite because nothing will ever be that funny again.
Alberto Del Rio -v- Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler is ridiculously over right now, so it’s wonderful to see him in a match, even if it is with this bloody jobber – remember when ADR was a thing? He drove in, in a fancy car, and had a butler who’s now eclipsed his fame on NXT in his own right? Ziggler gets a crazy pop as he enters, while Fandango is revealed to be on commentary. Now, usually, having guest commentators is a bit dull – except when Paige called Alica Fox “crackers” a few weeks back, that was genius – and this match is good enough on its own that it isn’t necessary but damn it Fandango is good tonight. He speaks entirely in hushed tones, which means actually straining to hear the commentary for once, instead of trying to block it out. He’s hilarious, responding “Bonjour” upon being told where the show is tonight, reacting with a simple “Ohhhhh” to the action in the ring, and finally getting onto the table and dancing, presumably for a horrified JBL (“Is he dancing for you?” Cole asks. “I hope not!” JBL responds in disgust). As for the match, Ziggler lives up to his reputation as the show-off by going for a backbreaker right off the bat, before being caught on the apron as ADR delivers a killer ensigury. Fandango‘s dancing – and fanning himself suggestively with JBL’s hat – ends up having an even more sinister effect, however, as he distracts Ziggler so ADR can end the match with a superkick.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (really? him?)
The Dusty brothers, or whatever stupid name this tag team will eventually be called that doesn’t do them any justice, are backstage preparing for a match that will never happen – no Rybaxel either, so stop reading now if you were after some BFF bully action – with Stardust blowing confetti and talking to his brother’s wig. “There’s nobody more bizarre than us” he tells Goldust, “where we’re going, we don’t need roads” This may be simply a Back To The Future reference, or it could be a clever play on words given their surname, but for the moment let’s assume the former because the less clever answer is usually the correct one when it comes to WWE. Even Goldust is freaked out by his brother, so he must be REALLY weird.
Elsewhere, Fandango is dancing and basking in the triumph of his assault on JBL’s delicate sensibilities when Layla turns up, looking and acting like his mother, to demand his affection yet again. “If anyone embarrasses me, it’s an insult to our love” he coos, holding her close as the camera pans back to reveal the much hotter, and clearly demented, Summer Rae is actually standing seductively in the spot where his gaze is aimed. Scandalous! When we return to the ring, King is standing there in all his perma-tanned, bedazzled glory, telling the crowd how glad he is that he didn’t die after his heart attack here the last time. A nice, old school “Jerry” chant ensues and he looks genuinely touched at the reaction.
Someone else who isn’t dead yet is Bret Hart, who looks about as excited to be here as King was to give up eating butter with everything. Even the mention of HBK elicits boos, but when Damien Sandow enters the arena dressed as Hart, the crowd nearly mount the barricades to defend their idol. His mention of the infamous Montreal Screwjob doesn’t go down too well either, nor does his description of Canada as a third world country. He reckons “his” biggest regret as a wrestler is not getting to share the ring with the greatest of all time, Sandow. The crowd chant “You suck”, leading JBL to note that “they learned English quick”, but they turn quickly as Hart half-heartedly decks Sandow, sending him flying out of the ring as he sidles off to collect his paycheque.
Damien Sandow -v- Sheamus
This is the first real low point of the night as, completely unsure what to do with the Irish brawler – and star of Stallion Farm – the powers that be decide to stick Sheamo in a ninety-second squash match, during which he manages to dominate a try-hard Sandow without even bothering too much. It’s hard to imagine Sheamo without a giant grin on his face, but his light has dimmed tonight, and it’s easy to understand why. A Brogue Kick wins it for him after Sandow manages to sink a few decent, albeit fruitless, blows.
Winner: Sheamus (next!)
Fresh from interviewing two actual stars, Renee is now stuck with The Miz who reads fan mail aloud that was clearly written by himself. Hopefully next week he’ll be reading his own fucking eulogy.
Chris Jericho -v- The Miz
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait too long to see him get his ass handed to him, again, by Jericho. He’s more awake than his fellow countryman, and pummels the shit out of his opponent throughout – particularly when Miz tries to protect his prized face. Jericho catches him with a wonderful DDT, as JBL calls Cole out for referring to a non-existent profession known as “facelift surgeon”. Miz manages to get Jericho in a Figure-4 but he makes it the ropes before turning it around on him to put Miz in the Walls Of Jericho, out of which he taps in his annoying, attention-starved Miz way.
Winner: Chris Jericho (if Miz gets stabbed in the showers, nobody will ask any questions)
The lights flick off and back on, revealing none other than swamp daddy himself Bray Wyatt, sat in his rocking chair looking pissed off because he has no match tonight and his stupid brothers are taking all of the attention off him. “How are you gonna save us all when you can’t even save yourself?” he asks Jericho, who is still wondering who this dude is after only having met him for the first time on last week’s show. Bray gives his usually long sermon about people needing to wear hats and eat rats and other shit that rhymes but makes no sense, but the gist is that he’s going to feud with Jericho now, so hopefully that means The Miz will be shipped off back to Hollywood (read: British Columbia) in a box with no air-holes. “Shut the hell up!” Jericho tells him, dropping the mic to advance on him. However, when the lights flash off and on again, suddenly his swamp buddies have appeared, and Jericho thinks better of his earlier intentions because, let’s face it, that ‘do takes time and he can’t risk messing it up for someone who hasn’t cut his own hair in about twenty years.
Divas Tag Team Match: The Funkadactyls -v- Paige & AJ Lee
Why the hell aren’t AJ and Paige in a proper match against each other!? And who cares about the Flunkies feud so much that we’re still being subjected to it on a weekly basis!? Paige insists on introducing her tag team partner, which may be intended to show how much of a heel she is, after last week’s turn, but considering she seems genuinely honoured by AJ’s presence, it doesn’t really come off. Cameron won’t tag throughout this match, as she applies lipgloss – the commentators refer to this act as “painting her nails” – and looks bored. Annoyingly, both Paige and AJ are on fire tonight, delivering great move after great move after great move, while managing a few hot tags too. Paige rolls up Naomi early on, while AJ kicks butt like her ass depends on it. It is ultimately Paige who wins it for them, but sadly until they have proper competitors – or are up against each other again – all of their hard work will be for nothing.
Winners: AJ Lee & Paige (the saps chanting for Punk throughout need to find a new hobby already)
Cesaro -v- Kofi Kingston
Fresh from his during-the-ad-break victory last week, Kofi is featured on Raw yet again, in a decent bout against everyone’s favourite Paul Heyman guy – no, not HIM – Cesaro, whose robe is almost as spectacular as his ability to insult the entire population of Quebec. He even insults them in their own language, which leads them to cheer in Québécois later on in the match. Kofi kicks it off, quite literally, with a number of impressive dropkicks, before settling into one of his bouncing castle-style rhythms, during which he uses everything from the ropes to his opponent to propel himself through the air. He wins it with a pin, again, but Cesaro chucks him into one of the posts after the bell has rung, which let’s face it nobody really cares about because no one is chanting for Kofi. Heyman looks disturbed ringside, especially when Big E turns up, with the remnants of what used to be a shirt hanging off his massive frame, to attack Cesaro.
Winner: Kofi Kingston (undefeated champion of the world, mon)
In the grubby-looking locker room, Cena is pensive, as he wonders whether he should wear six sweatbands for his match tonight, or seven. Rollins turns up to refer to his “measuring stick” before getting so close to Cena it honestly feels as though we’ve stepped into someone’s badly-written fanfic (“and then Cena’s pants come down a little…”). Funnily enough, Reigns doesn’t turn up to “double-team” them. Instead, goofy Cena emerges to tell Rollins he’s “full of crap” but also “damn good” He ends with “savvy?” like he’s Jack fucking Sparrow, so hopefully that means Pirate Cena will debut next week. Aaaaar, etc.
Bo Dallas -v- El Torito
No seriously, this is a real match that is happening on Raw tonight – not only that, it’s the penultimate bout before the Main Event, so take from that what you will. Only one Matador accompanies Torito to the ring, because maybe the other one got fired or injured or something. Were there definitely always two? Could this one have been using a mirror the whole time, to create an optical illusion? Apparently, Bo advised Torito on Smackdown that, if he wanted to grow up big and tall, all he had to do was bo-lieve, so that’s where this has come from. He gets on his knees at first to make it more fair, but soon hops onto his feet to admonish Torito for being a “bad bull”. A running Bo-Dog off the second rope wins it for him, solidifying his undefeated streak – the greatest ever in sports entertainment, says JBL. Bo knocks Torito down during his victory lap too, which is a nice touch.
Winner: Bo Dallas (soon Heyman will be the 1 in 1 and…4?)
Main Event: John Cena -v- Seth Rollins
Rollins’ new glamour shot, with his briefcase, is genius – it makes him look like pop punk Two Face. Cole reckons Montreal is in Connecticut, which should give some indication of how rubbish the commentary has been tonight. There are mostly boos for Cena, but the crowd get onside when Rollins starts heeling it up. His music is so similar to Ambrose’s, and Reigns’s ring gear is so similar to Rollins’s that, at the risk of sounding like a Tumblr fangirl, maybe there’s hope for a Shield reunion yet!? Cena leaps clear over Rollins’s head to start the match off in spectacular fashion – it’s his coolest move in ages, which is sad because it’s nothing really. He then outdoes it, sort of, by lifting Rollins clean off the ground onto his shoulder before pulverising him with a Rocking Chair. There’s an STF next, as he continues to spend the match showing off his considerable strength – something most forget, because he’s so annoying – before going for the 5 Knuckle Shuffle. Kane turns up, kind of waddling into view, just as it’s getting interesting, to distract Cena so Orton can tackle him from behind. Rollins appears to have run off, as Reigns turns up and the crowd go mental for him as though he didn’t open the whole show tonight. He Superman punches Kane, then Orton, as Rollins knocks him on the back of the head with his briefcase, echoing his now-infamous betrayal, before catching Cena with it. He tries to cash in but, as promised, Ambrose turns up to wreck it for him, and the two brawl all the way up the ramp. Cena wakes up in the ring as Reigns does away with Orton, before Spearing Kane. Reigns then, somewhat shockingly, grabs Cena’s arm and raises it for him, leading Cena to follow suit with him – guess which action got the bigger cheer?
Winner: No contest (technically Cena, because he finally has a buddy)
Considering we’re only a couple of weeks off the next PPV, the past two Raw episodes have been building up to it really well and it seems as though the momentum is going to continue, too, which is great. Everything is moving along nicely – almost worryingly so. Storylines are progressing, personalities are clashing, and there has been some really great action, too, even in the wake of the biggest shock of the year thus far.
Of course, there are still gaps here and there; Paige and AJ are being completely undersold, given they’re arguably the strongest Divas on the roster right now, and poor Ziggler still can’t seem to catch a break no matter how over he gets, Sandow is little more than a cosplayer, and Bo had to fight a bull this week, but for the most part, we’re on the right track.
Who would’ve thought that Battleground, arguably one of themost badly-titled PPVs in WWE, would turn into such an exciting prospect?