January 8, 2015 by Joey Keogh
It’s the first Raw of 2015! But this jaunty music won’t fool us, the final episode of last year was a jumbled mess that amounted to absolutely nothing, and no amount of cleverly-edited replays is going to hide that fact. On another note, is it really a good idea to remind us of how little time The Authority were away (since November, if you’re wondering)? However, the new titles, starring hot talent such as the recently-disbanded Wyatt Family and Paige are great, and you know it’s impossible not to sing along to that stupid “tonight is the night” song when you’re actually there, surrounded by marks, so don’t judge.
To kick things off, everyone is in the ring (well, the ladies are outside, but you get the picture) as John Cena takes a moment to apologise for bringing back those mean people last episode and Cesaro noticeably talks over him in the background, much like Punk used to do. The fans “what” all over it too, but this is Texas, so it’s more of a low hum than a loud-ass roar. The volume increases for The Authority, mind, as Steph responds to the raucous boos by arguing “I haven’t even said anything yet”. The crowd cheer for a cheap pop for, er, Raw itself, and yet there’s barely a ripple for the mention of Sting. Also, shout-out to the dork with the “Long Live The Authority” sign – good luck getting through the parking lot later on, buddy.
They introduce their little prodigy, Seth Rollins, after building some quality heat for him, before revealing that he’s now going to be taking part in the World Heavyweight Championship title match at the Royal Rumble because (wait for it) they’ve turned it into a triple threat! To say Rollins is super stoked for this announcement would be an understatement. In fact, he somehow seems to get more excited with each replay of it. He hugs Trips in thanks before looking on proudly as his surrogate mother continues to pretend Cena sort of turned heel by bringing The Authority back. Again, you ain’t fooling us, WWE. Tonight, apparently, is John Cena Appreciation Night and that means, well, nothing really except that we’re not getting a proper Main Event.
There will be lots of matches though, including a title match, a Show/Reigns bout for some reason, that goddamn ambulance match they think somebody wants and, naturally, golden boy Rollins will be facing up against his old foe, er, Ryback. This is a new era for The Authority, with no agenda, no ulterior motives and with everyone getting what they deserve. With that in mind, the first match of the night will be for the intercontinental championship, and it’s right now (of course).
Intercontinental Championship Match: Dolph Ziggler -v- Bad News Barrett
Fresh off his explosive return last time, Barrett is out for blood tonight and he kicks things off nicely with a brutal Suplex, leading to the first near fall of the match. He eats an elbow for his trouble, before Ziggler wins with a sidewalk slam, leading Barrett to freak the fuck out and unload on him outside the ring, chucking him into the barricade as Booker T, who’s taking over from the ill Jerry Lawler and counteracting Cole’s stupidity in the process, notes how ruthless he is. Kane, who is corporate again, then shows up to reveal it’s actually a two-out-of-three-falls match and is all “RESHTART THA MATCH” like Vince does, as Ziggler writhes on the floor, selling how beaten up he is. Barrett hits two Wastelands in a row, but Ziggler somehow rolls out of harm’s way, proving once again that nobody sells it like him. This match is absolutely nuts, and the perfect way to set Barrett up as a heel, even if Ziggler manages to get some offence in here and there, including a gnarly neckbreaker. Booker is all over him, commenting on how he’s become “what I like to call, a man” as Cole struggles to remember where Barrett hails from, finally settling on “Prescott”. Barrett positions Ziggler on the top rope so he can lay into him, but he remains in the game, in spite of his increasingly Dee Snider-esque hair. After landing the second pin, Ziggler is feeling confident and aims for the Fame Asser but Barrett counters and lands a stunning Winds Of Change. He then goes for the Bullhammer but Ziggler ducks, still with a little fight left in him, before Barrett lines it up again and wins the match, and the belt, with it.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
A replay of Cena’s debut (a whopping thirteen years ago) follows, because we’re appreciating him tonight, remember? He looks very young. Next, an attempt is made to sell us on the Reigns/Show feud which, as you probably recall, only began on the last fucking episode of this show. Something happened on Smackdown too, but whatever. Renee catches Reigns backstage and he appears to be performing something in preparation for his next acting class that just doesn’t come off at all. Also the fist thing he keeps doing really reminds me of Channing Tatum bursting through the ceiling in 22 Jump Street. Money well spent, anyway. A Wyatt promo makes him look even worse, as the great man waxes lyrical about rotting in bed and Ambrose’s jailbird dad. It starts off being shot through his impressive beard too, and that’s pretty cool.
Tag Team Match: The Ascension -v- A Couple Of Nobodies
Does this lad Viktor think he’s Randy Blythe or something? He cuts promos like he’s in a metal band, and his bro is no better, choosing to scream his lines in spite of the fact the crowd couldn’t care less what they have to say. All jokes aside, The Ascension are great, but this is a nothing squash match, against a couple of dudes who don’t even get names, never mind entrances. It’s over in seconds and the crowd are comatose throughout. These two should snatch the titles from the hands of The Usos and make this shit interesting. Rusev and Lana cut a super-Russian promo next (in English, of course) from an all-red room (of course), about how much the US sucks ass. It’s about as exciting as this match.
Winners: The Ascension
Roman Reigns -v- Big Show
And next, a case of bad booking and simultaneously a contender for the slowest match in the history of Raw. Seriously, Show moves so slowly during this bout he’s practically horizontal. As Reigns enters the arena, two signs make themselves known; the first reads “Roman Reigns Is The Only Samoan I Don’t Like Believe That”, while the other proclaims “Purple Reigns”. Take a moment and consider how vastly different the lives and viewing habits of those two fans are. Actually, there’s another Cena celebration vid before this match kicks off, showcasing his rather good match opposite JBL at Wrestlemania. How cruel to taunt us with an exciting match before boring us to death with this crap. Cole is literally just talking for the sake of it at this stage (“Show is the bigger of the two” he notes, insightfully) as Show dominates a bit too easily, alerting us to the fact things are probably going to turn significantly in the second half. A knee to Reigns’ face looks particularly shit, especially in slo-mo, while a Bear Hug looks like what it sounds like, instead of the wrestling move it’s masquerading as. As predicted, a Samoan Drop by Reigns signals a turnaround, but it doesn’t go the way one would assume as Show blocks his attempt at a Superman punch and chucks him out, before getting himself disqualified by attacking him with the steps. He continues his assault following the bell, and eats a Spear from Reigns as punishment.
Divas Match: Nikki Bella -v- Natalya
The same match as last episode, except that Paige shows up and makes things interesting by fighting with Brie on the outside. Nikki counters an attempt at a sharpshooter before Nattie rolls her up to win, and that’s basically the whole match. Nikki kicks her anyway, after the bell has rung, so Paige superkicks her in retaliation. She’s a Total Diva now, after all, she doesn’t need a real feud.
Ambrose cuts a promo next, during which he smiles a bit too much and says things that make no sense but somehow work because they’re coming out of his mouth. One chick, in particular, loses her shit while he’s speaking, and you just know Tumblr are going to gif that last look he gives the camera, if they haven’t already.
Erick Rowan -v- Luke Harper
What seems at first like booking that is too good to be true turns out to be exactly that, as these two very talented gents are undersold in a match lasting about two minutes in total. This is mostly down to the interference from “special” referees Mercury and Noble, both of whom look way too happy to be given the jobs. Rowan starts off strong, attacking Harper in the corner, but his swamp brother soon gains dominance and wins pretty easily. Mercury and Noble then attack Rowan following the match, and Harper clotheslines him just to finish him off.
Winner: Luke Harper
Backstage, Naomi is combing her wig when Alicia Fox turns up to out-act her as the two do a bit about how they’ve supposedly been mates this whole time (unbeknownst to us, of course) before Foxy attacks and then Emma, Cameron and Summer Rae get some screen-time in their clubbin’ dresses as they rush in to pick up the pieces.
Ambulance Match: Dean Ambrose -v- Bray Wyatt
This is the very first ambulance match ever on Raw, but maybe there’s a reason for that because, quite honestly, this is nothing we haven’t seen before. And it isn’t the Main Event either, which is very odd considering how it’s being sold. It’s a reliably entertaining bout, because Wyatt and Ambrose are both great and their feud has been built well since Hell In A Cell, but otherwise this is overlong and a bit meh. Ambrose starts off by unloading on Wyatt, before chucking him over the table and then standing on it to bask in the glory of it all – we know the drill at this stage, come on, stand on something else for a change (foreshadowing?). The needlessly complicated stipulation, that Cole is at pains to explain to us at every juncture, doesn’t help matters either. Ambrose is first to go in the vehicle, and has leaped out again moments later. Booker compares this to the Attitude Era because he’s clutching at straws here. Ambrose, in fairness to him, does a good job of selling a sore knee while Wyatt does his best to further disable it. Ambulance instruments are used, none of which appear to be from an actual ambulance, before Ambrose drops a massive elbow from the top of the vehicle, onto his opponent who has been positioned on a table below, in what is easily the spot of the match. However, Wyatt then almost wins with two Sister Abigails in a row – one off the side of the ambulance, the other onto the concrete – before Ambrose escapes, only to suffer another one and be driven away as he’s lost the match.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
6-Man Mixed Tag Team Match: The Usos & Naomi -v- The Miz, Damien Mizdow & Alicia Fox
Mixed tags are pointless when the men can only attack the men and vice versa, but the ladies get it started anyway, before being quickly tagged out so Miz and an Uso can take each other on. As usual, Mizdow makes things palatable (kudos to the guy in the front row in a vintage Sandow tee) while Miz makes his own attempt at cleverness by yelling “Us-NO!” The Divas manage to squeeze one move in between all the carnage and Miz rolls up Uso to win.
Winners: The Miz, Damien Mizdow & Alicia Fox
Adam Rose -v- Big E
About two people say “New Day” when they’re supposed to, but no matter, it’s great to see Rose get squashed by someone as big and powerful as Big E, so who cares what else is going on. Some crap happened on the pre-show (Raw has a pre-show? Is anyone watching it?) that we’re supposed to know and care about, but we don’t and we definitely don’t. Curiously, two mimes – seemingly Rosebuds, at first – interrupt the match only to reveal themselves as Tyson Kidd and Cesaro! It’s the most exciting moment of the entire bout because they powerbomb E and it’s strange and different and unexpected. And that’s really it.
Winner: DQ (but Rose’s music plays for some reason)
The Authority show up next to prove that the only thing Texas loves more than Cena is not cheering for him when told to do so by heels. When he does appear, Emo Cena has half his face hidden by the shadow of his ball-cap and he visibly bristles during a replay of what happened last week, nor is he impressed with Trips’ rather good impersonation of him. Steph is all “you’re my hero” and stands proudly by as her hubbie cuts a promo about what’s “real”. He then introduces Rowan, Ryback and finally Ziggler as that issue at Survivor Series is brought up again and they tease all three men about the consequences of their actions.
They then step aside to take a moment to confer, before finally deciding, from the safety of the top of the ramp, that (shock, horror!) they’re all FIRED and that they can all blame Emo Cena for it! In a moment of genuine brilliance, confetti rains down as ludicrously happy music plays and The Authority smooch and celebrate like they’re just getting started. And, as much as it pains me to be this optimistic, on the strength of this half-decent episode, their return might just be the best thing for Raw this year.
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