July 24, 2014 by Joey Keogh
Following a rather rubbish PPV, Raw rolls into Miami, Florida where much polite clapping greets Triple H as he enters the arena – one dude is very respectful of him, almost as though he’s the President which he totally could be because he wears a suit to the ring. The big topic of discussion tonight – deemed so important it’s taking place instead of a match, as the Main Event – is who John Cena will face at Summerslam, to defend his title. Don’t leave us in suspense, Trips! We can’t take it! As usual, the crowd half boos/half cheers the mention of Cena and his current holding of the title.
Trips is “madder than he’s ever been in a long time” that an associate of The Authority isn’t holding the title. He’s so mad, he’s going to Tweet his displeasure and tell his buddy Mark (geddit?) not to watch anymore. This is a very subtle promo, dealt with delicately and with a huge amount of grace by a man foaming at the mouth as he tells us that “sooner or later, I always win” He guaran-damn-tees that Cena won’t be champ come Summerslam as Randy Orton strolls out to talk over his own music about how much he deserves a shot. Sure, he’s the frontrunner, but the entire roster is going to get the opportunity to impress – not tonight though, as hardly anyone gets to wrestle – because Trips hasn’t made up his mind yet.
Even though this is a totally fucking stale angle, Trips is kind of on fire during it, and he sells it like the spot opposite Cena as though it’s a really coveted position. Kane shows up next, with Roman Reigns hot on his heels. A woman in front tries to remain incognito with a beanie hat and shades but we all know she’s supposed to stay 100 yards away from him. Reigns, who’s getting better on the mic every week, acknowledges that he’s the only one we want to see in that title bout, which is absolutely true. It all kicks off and Trips diffuses the situation by demanding a match between all three of them, right here, right now.
2-on-1 Handicap Match: Kane & Randy Orton -v- Roman Reigns
Nobody wants this, even as the first match. It goes absolutely nowhere, progressing exactly how we might expect and it is dull as fuck. Credit to Reigns though, who gives his all no matter what. A Samoan Drop early on is arguably the most exciting move of the match. Orton can do better than this – he doesn’t even drop the RKO, or try to – and Kane looks half-asleep. There are some decent curbstomps from Orton towards the end, to which Reigns responds with a Superman Punch. Kane tries to tag, Orton refuses and is all “you should’ve been there for me last night!” which, again, teases a feud between the two that nobody wants. Kane throttles him for a bit, Reigns administers the Superman punch again while he has a chance, and then he follows it up with the Spear to win.
Winner: Roman Reigns (is he still really not a draw yet?)
Following the match, after Kane has scuttled off, Orton and Reigns stare each other out of it for a bit and some guy yells “Don’t do it, Randy” because, in his head, they are married. After nothing happens, it’s announced that later on in the show we’re going to get a Chris Jericho highlight reel, with special guest Bray Wyatt. Er, okay, how many people watching believe that’s actually going to happen?
4-on-1 Divas Handicap Match: Nikki Bella -v- Total Divas “stars” like Eva Marie
Backstage, Stephanie Mc Mahon is giving a pep talk to the stars of Total Divas, all of whom are more interested in standing around looking pretty than wrestling anyone. Her dress matches Eva’s hair, which is funny. All of them come out to Alicia’s music, but Nikki gets an extended entrance, during which she dances all alone like the weird kid at Prom. Her sister Brie is watching ringside, and the two hug as Nikki makes her way to the ring. The dude next to Brie is smitten and when Steph turns up to yell at her, his jaw drops to the floor. They take turns using the “b” word as opposed to the “c” word which the censor definitely wouldn’t miss on the replay. A “Yes” chant ensues, Steph takes advantage as usual by agreeing that “yes, he was stripped of the championship” and it’s really funny and stupid but come on, why line up more and more bitches to kill Nikki if we’re not going to get to see it!? Nikki does a sad face from the ring, almost as though she knows she’s being used to set up a feud between her sister and the boss. Steph slaps Brie, some poor child is hiding in his father’s arms muttering “no” over and over and eventually Brie is dragged out kicking and screaming, in spite of the fact she’s bought a ticket. Nikki suffers a beatdown. Rosa Mendes marks her annual TV appearance by wearing a doily. This was not a match.
Winners: Total Divas (minus Nikki, obvs)
Yo, did you forget Flo Rida is the guest star on tonight’s show? Did you block that out? Well tough shit because he is! Woo!
Bo Dallas -v- Le Bron James
Damien Sandow continues his parade of terrible, $20 party costumes by turning up dressed as “Le Bron James” to fight undefeated non-champion Bo. It’s safe to say that this schtick ain’t funny no mo’ – especially to those of us who couldn’t give a shit about basketball or any other, real sport. Sandow goes for an elbow drop early on, after screaming “Cleveland, I’m coming home!” but Dallas rolls out of the way, before swiftly utilising the running Bo Dog to win. He yells “I did it!” during his victory lap, which is really cute. JBL reckons that this is his eighteenth win and, when corrected by know-it-all Michael Cole, reveals that he gave him two extra wins because he loves him. Aw.
Winner: Bo Dallas (16 and Bo!)
Speaking of Cole, when discussing the upcoming Fozzy album, he refers to the band as a “rock metal” act. This either means that Cole is even older than he seems or whoever wrote the script forgot to remove one of those words before handing in the final copy. Up next, it’s highlight reel time, but Jericho isn’t present because he’s “indisposed”. As it turns out, the Wyatts attacked him in what King reckons is his own private locker room, although it clearly isn’t because there are lots of lockers in there. Bray fluffs his lines while delivering his promo in the ring – possibly because he’s about as sick of repeating himself as we are of hearing it – but he can read our thoughts! He also refers to himself as the “eater of worlds” for the first time in ages and reveals that he is “forever”. It’s dark the whole time but yet Jericho doesn’t emerge in his sparkly jacket, which is kind of a waste. Also he’s bleeding from his ear, so that can’t be good. Elsewhere, Flo Rida is wearing a Raw T-shirt that he’s cut up like a chick to reveal more cleavage, as he high-fives everyone while wandering around backstage. Emma is there and is clearly at pains to convince us that she did not shoplift and is not fired.
The Miz -v- Dolph Ziggler
Really? Him? Still reeling from last night’s win, the crowd are quiet as fuck as the commentators claim that Miz flew in on his private jet earlier after partying on South Beach with his “friends” When he enters, he appears to be cosplaying as Johnny Cage and refuses to remove his Aviators for quite some time – he also immediately replaces them following the match. He pussies out multiple times, a classic heel move that is monumentally more annoying because he’s such a twat, but Ziggler chases him around the ring before chucking him into the barricade and, after dragging him back in, he delivers nine, pretty gnarly, elbow drops on him in a row. He rolls Miz up, leading to the first of many near falls this match, none of which are particularly exciting. Ziggler sells the Figure-4 as best he can, in spite of it looking like absolute shit, before almost winning with an impressive Fame Asser. King reckons these two are very “evenly-matched” but he probably can’t distinguish between them, since he’s too busy thinking about all of the Divas he’s going to drool over later. Thankfully, Ziggler wins clean this week with a Zig Zag, and all is right with the universe once more. Now give him the title, damn it.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler (title title TITLE)
Trips is hanging backstage with Rollins, who’s sporting a new haircut from the lady salon that really works with his whiny, needy teenager gimmick. Cesaro and his fabulous robe no longer want to be Paul Heyman guy(s) and pledge allegiance to the totally-bald, fancy-suited instead. “No, I’m his guy” Rollins stutters, leading Trips to look well chuffed that these two dudes are fighting over him before agreeing that Cesaro can prove himself later by finishing the job that the other idiots botched last night.
Divas Tag Team Match: AJ Lee & Paige -v- Natalya & Emma
There’s no entrance for the two blondes, but the Goths get their own separate, extended moments to shine possibly because they have the two best Divas entrance themes – apart from Steph’s of course. It’s been so long since we’ve seen the Dilemma in action that it almost looks good for the five seconds it’s featured. Nat uses a sharpshooter on Paige that’s pretty cool, before a hot tag to AJ leads her to utilise the shining wizard before the Black Widow causes Nat to tap out on her butt. Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more Divas submission maneouvers, which may not be to everyone’s taste but is still cool because at least it’s something.
Winners: AJ Lee & Paige (frenemies for life!)
Immediately following the match, AJ enjoys a little victory lap while Paige slow-claps like the best troll on Catfish ever before grabbing her by the hair and headbutting her in the ring. She throws her into the barricade, licks her lips and tells the crowd “You’re gonna love this” before chucking AJ into a turnbuckle. “I told you this was MY house!” she yells, throwing her over the announce table and into the laps of the commentators, thereby making their nights. In a final insult to her supposed friend, Paige cements this too-quick, but still fun, heel turn by skipping happily up the ramp.
Fandango -v- Zack Ryder
If you live on planet Earth (i.e. have internet access) then you already know how HILARIOUS everyone thinks Ryder’s beard is. That is what they’re laughing at, right? Or is it the fact he wins against Fandango in a two-minute match that goes absolutely nowhere? It’s hard to tell, it’s all so funny. Ryder emerges with those two hussies who used to hang off his opponent in tow. He wins by cheating, because Layla kicks Fandango‘s leg off the rope and the ref doesn’t seem to notice or care. As the three of them celebrate, Fandango is all “turn the music off, I’m still talking!” but nobody listens, bless him.
Winner: Zack Ryder (first time ever?)
The commentators refer to Renee as their “broadcast colleague” – not sure if that’s better or worse than Fandango telling her she’s not even a “real journalism” – but even she seems perturbed by having to interview Flo Rida as part of her job. The crowd boo him out of it, especially as he jokes about wanting a shot against Cena himself. Heath Slater turns up and is all “do you remember me?” to which Flo deadpans “no” and the two tussle for a bit because apparently they have unfinished business. His “performance” is next, during which he raps along with a backing track, as does the lady singing alongside him, who isn’t really on key for most of it. If you enjoy the soundtrack to Geordie Shore, then this segment may be right up your alley. Otherwise, let’s face it, we’re all fast-forwarding this bullshit.
When it’s finally over, the police have arrived to arrest Steph for assaulting Brie earlier. She’s embarrassed to be taken in, in front of her esteemed special guest Flo Rida. A “Yes” chant erupts and some dude yells “Arrest her!” because the crowd are fucking loving this. King looks genuinely disturbed by this development, as JBL grins and Cole desperately looks through his notes to try to figure out how the hell he’s supposed to respond to all this. They read Steph her Miranda rights as someone’s mother really enjoys it from the safety of the front row, and finally she is handcuffed and dragged off, to rapturous applause. The two men she hired are threatened by Steph the whole way up the ramp, but sadly the whole roster aren’t waiting to humiliate her backstage, just her hubby who subsequently tells his mini-me Joey Mercury that following her to the station can wait a bit. Why can’t Mercury just go in his place? They have the same head and dress sense.
Rybaxel -v- Big E & Kofi Kingston
For some reason, Ryback has a big ol’ Band-Aid on his left pec and it makes him look really girly and weak. It’s distracting, as is the big heart on his singlet. This match is not nearly as fun as it could’ve been, especially since everything seems to be cut short tonight in favour of a longer set for Flo Rida. King is so concerned about Steph that he can’t even make stupid jokes during it. JBL correctly points out that surely, in Florida of all places, Steph hitting Brie can’t be that big a deal. A decent spinebuster to E early on lands pretty well. The crowd chant “Feed me more” for the first time in ages, bringing back memories of when Ryback was a thing. A simple cross-body wins it for the schoolyard bullies, after which Xavier Woods comes out in a hideous white suit to give some sort of “I Have A Dream”-style speech to the two losers, because apparently he’s a manager now. Kofi will go along with anything, so he’s immediately sold, but E takes a second to get onboard.
Winners: Rybaxel (bullying pays off, kids)
Rusev -v- The Great Khali
Watching Khali in a match is sad because he never seems as though he knows where he is. It’s unclear why, after building so much wonderful heat with The Real Americans, Rusev is relegated to yet another bullshit squash match, which again ends in the goddamn Accolade. Also, Lana isn’t allowed to talk after The Daily Mail criticised her publicly for making light of the MH17 crash.
Winner: Rusev (not undefeated like Bo though)
Backstage, Stardust and Goldust are messing around, pretending to be on Crystal Maze and shit. They don’t have a match, again, so putting on all of that make-up and lubing themselves up to get into their suits was a total waste. How sad.
Dean Ambrose -v- Cesaro
Still smarting from last night’s non-match with Ambrose and Rollins, this decent enough bout cushions the blow a little bit. Mick Foley has been singing Ambrose’s praises lately, marking him out as a top pick to do great things in future, if handled correctly. Judging by tonight, he can flourish in pretty much any situation – though he should definitely a chance on the mic every week, because he kills it every single time. Cesaro gets locked in the corner almost immediately, but he gets his own back by throwing Ambrose into the turnbuckle soon after – injured shoulder first. He eats a Swiss Death upon leaping out to tackle Cesaro later, too, before suffering a near fall thanks to a German Suplex. A stunning tornado DDT is the spot of the match, with some lady clearly wanking to it in the crowd somewhere judging by the noises she’s making. The Authority‘s henchmen watch anxiously backstage, in full ring gear. Ambrose almost wins with a clothesline, but Cesaro quickly returns the favour, resulting in another near-fall. Unlike the Miz/Ziggler match-up earlier, each near-fall in this bout ratchets up the tension. Each one feels like it could end the match. Each one feels urgent. In the end, Ambrose gets himself disqualified by shoving some poor man off his chair before stealing it, and then another. It’s an odd, somewhat abrupt ending, but given his crazy dude gimmick, it kind of makes sense.
Winner: Cesaro (by DQ)
Backstage, Renee is chastising Trips, as he tries to leave the toilet no less, for abandoning his wife in her time of need. He responds by reminding her that she is on his payroll and to maybe wear some shoes once in a while. Finally, it’s time for the Main Event, which amounts to fifteen minutes of hyperbole from the great Paul Heyman. Before he gets started, though, Trips is in the ring to announce Cena’s opponent. Orton and Reigns brawl for a bit at the barricade, leading a mother to shield her child, but they move on quickly, to fight out of shot. Plan C is Brock Lesnar, and the crowd go nuts as he enters.
Lesnar is great and all, but now we have to listen to “the beast incarnate” for the next four weeks at least – is this expression more or less annoying than “the phenom”? – even though it makes even less sense each time it’s trotted out. Heyman and Trips shake hands, leaving the boss to relieve Joey Mercury of his duties and finally tend to his own damn wife. In fairness to Heyman, he cuts a promo better than anyone, but even so this shit lasts way too long.
It could easily have been cut to five minutes, with the other ten allotted to actual matches, and it would’ve hit just as hard. During it, he makes fun of Cena and his shoes, references how he’s a “malpractising doctor of thuganomics” and, of course, does the whole Taker spiel after a nice little replay, scored by honking music that wouldn’t be out of place in a Christopher Nolan epic. He tears apart the Cena mythos, he sells Lesnar even though he doesn’t really need to be sold, and he ends the show on a weird, albeit kind of fitting, note.
Raw without John Cena is weird. Raw with less than ten matches, none of which had any real bearing on the current storylines, is even weirder.
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