March 4, 2015 by Joey Keogh
Following weeks of mind-numbingly terrible Raws, finally, finally, finally we got a sort-of okay one. It was wacky, it was tense and, believe it or not, the first few tentative steps towards Wrestlemania 31 were taken. Seth Rollins kicks off tonight’s sold-out show in Newark, NJ by being booed out of it as he tries to relay all of the fun he had recently when he stormed The Daily Show and accosted Jon Stewart (he even brought his special case with him!) Stewart was so into it, he agreed to show up tonight, in his home state and, almost on cue, a sign reading “Jon Stewart Is Raw” presents itself. Another, emblazoned with “Hi Patrice” is not so interesting.
Rollins gets major heat as he cuts a decent promo about how great he is, only to be interrupted by Roman Reigns who, on the fast track to becoming the next John Cena, has elected to insert himself into every situation possible, regardless of whether or not he is directly involved. He basks in the crowd’s boos, finally happy that someone else is hated even half as much as he is, but Rollins isn’t deterred because he has a variety of talents – including being able to out-eat Mark Henry. Reigns can’t beat Brock Lesnar, but Rollins sure can, and he reckons it should be him in the Main Event. Reigns is all “why not make it a triple threat? why not cash in?” but Rollins correctly points out it’d be more fun to wait until he is totally exhausted and then fuck him over.
It all kicks off, with Reigns Superman punching Jamie Noble, before spearing Jamie Mercury. At some point, he decks Rollins too, but he makes a quick exit and the two stand glaring at each other for a while, neither of them fixating on the sign as they should be. Following the announcement (scored by the Total Divas theme tune, natch) that there’s going to be a Divas championship re-match later on, the action moves backstage where Mercury and Noble are really selling their injuries as Rollins berates them for not having his back. “I forgot how hard he hits” he tells them, somewhat suggestively. Orton turns up, tells him off for embarrassing himself and then suggests he face Reigns in the Main Event later tonight. Er, okay then! Why not!
Dean Ambrose -v- Bad News Barrett
Ambrose still has the belt, and R-Truth is on commentary again – is this last week or what? Apparently, some interesting shit went down on Smackdown as Truth stole the belt and hid it up his shirt. Tonight, it’d be a lot easier to hide as he looks as though he’s cosplaying as Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Much like the last few times these two have locked horns, it’s an all-out brawl, loaded with earth-shattering punches and kicks. There’s a cool running bulldog by Ambrose, after which he splashes out to tackle Barrett on the outside while he’s distracted by Truth. He later hits a gnarly flying elbow from the apron, as Truth grabs the belt and hides it up his jacket, only for Luke Harper to turn up directly behind him, steal it and wander off. Ambrose unloads on Barrett at the ropes and eats a Winds Of Change for his trouble, leading to a near fall. Then, when Barrett is distracted by the departing Harper, Ambrose seizes the opportunity to hit the Dirty Deeds to win.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
Elsewhere on Smackdown, Miz interrupted Mizdow’s commercial taping and took his spot, comparing his acting to as bad as Keaton’s in Birdman (“He was nominated for an Oscar for that” Mizdow sighs). Now, Miz is ready to debut his latest work and has gathered all of the jobbers (and Summer Rae) backstage to watch, against Mizdow’s wishes as he warns him to view the advertisement alone first to avoid embarrassment. Naturally, Miz just shushes him and sticks it on anyway, only for it to be revealed as a commercial for Niagara (not Viagra, that’d be copyright infringement), a drug for erectile dysfunction. Everyone loses their shit, even Eva Marie who’s positioned just out of shot, and Miz rounds on Mizdow, squaring up to him as best he can even though he’s a full head shorter. He threatens him and Mizdow relents, apologising with as much enthusiasm as he can muster. Bray Wyatt cuts another Taker-centric promo after, during which he sets a coffin on fire. The good news is that Michael Cole has found something new, and equally insipid, to say about him: “He calls himself the new face of fear”. Is this dude literally not going to have a match until the big night, though? Really?
6-Man Mixed Tag Team Match: Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Natalya -v- The Usos & Naomi
Mixed tags are always such teases, because we know the men are never going to fight the women. Not properly, anyway. Thankfully, Naomi isn’t wearing that swimsuit thing to wrestle tonight (otherwise she might be in Eva’s shoes) but she also isn’t really given much to do, and nor is Nattie. It starts off fine, with Kidd kicking the shit out of Jey before Cesaro takes over with a stunning high knee. Then the ladies take their five-second window to show what they can do and it all gets a bit messy as everyone rushes to tag in but suffice to say Nattie is apparently “injured” since falling two feet off the apron last week and, as a result, she loses it for them and then blames her hubbie. If you don’t watch Total Divas, Nattie is basically a harpy bitch on the show and that’s the character she now has to play on Raw. Boo. Cesaro tries to get in between she and Kidd but soon hides behind him when she squares up for a fight.
Winners: The Usos & Naomi
Cena is here to say things again, so feel free to mute your TV, take a nap, count your ceiling tiles, whatever you like. The crowd are super hot for some reason, especially when he repeatedly points at the sign. He reckons he deserves a re-match at WM, even though it’s Rusev‘s right to say no and he did. But, if Cena can’t have that, then he’ll just take part in the battle royal. Steph disagrees, of course, and she soon appears to tell him out straight she doesn’t know what he’s talking about but he’s no friend of The Authority and, therefore, doesn’t have a shot in hell (“John Cena doesn’t define WWE” she tells him, in the most insightful line of the night). She also shows a photo of little girl Steph with Andre, which is quite sweet. Someone else who met the great man as a kid was Curtis Axel, who’s coming in hot with #Axelmania, and also wants a match against Rusev. He flatters Steph a little, so she’s into it. Cena can only have a match with Rusev if he convinces him to agree to it but, for the moment, he just has Axel to contend with.
John Cena -v- Curtis Axel
Cena, who must be straddling the tweener/heel line pretty hard right now, is like “you won’t walk out of this ring tonight” but Axel is vamping too hard to notice or care; hulking out of his shirt, flexing, screaming and getting a good ol’ chant started. Of course, he gets his ass handed to him in about ten seconds once Cena hits a succession of clotheslines on him, followed by the AA and the STF, out of which he taps after a respectable two seconds. Immediately following his beating, Rusev shows up to be like “My answer still no John Cena” which is just not what he wanted to hear at all, judging by how bummed he looks when the flag drops like it does every goddamn week.
Winner: John Cena
Trips is described by Cole as the “cerebral afassin” as he enters next, to cut yet another twenty-minute long promo about Sting. Now, don’t get me wrong, I could listen to this man recite the fucking phonebook, but enough with the old man nonsense. That match at WM is going to be garbage because the other dude is pushing sixty and Trips is pissed he has to even take part. He calls Booker T up, there’s some back and forth about whether he might fire him for warning him about Stinger but basically it ends with the boss man all red in the face yelling “I will put AN END to Sting” as we collectively (not you, one dude yelling “ECW!” that time) shrug our shoulders and go “er, okay then”.
Divas Championship Rematch: Nikki Bella -v- Paige
Cole shills Total Divas for the entire match, which is a pain, especially given all of the #GiveDivasAChance stuff that’s going on right now. He also incorrectly calls the PTO the Paige Tap Out. Again. There’s a cool Alabama Slam from Nikki during the commercial break because we need you to purchase things, damn it. She does play up her girly girl character quite well, in fairness to her, acting as though it’s all super easy and freaking out when Paige tugs on her extensions. There’s a cool simultaneous clothesline, after which Paige grabs a hold of Nikki’s arm and delivers a succession of her own to dismantle her offence. Brie interrupts her first attempt at the PTO, so she superkicks her off the apron, landing it the second time. Brie breaks it up for a DQ, after which the two sisters double-team Paige when suddenly, just as they’re laying into her, AJ Lee enters the arena, skipping happily to rousing chants in her home state, gets rid of the Bellas and teams up with the Brit to chuck them out. Following the match, they cut a promo backstage with Renee about how they’re sort of friends now because they have a common enemy.
The Daily Show with Rollins is up next, but the guy obviously isn’t taking this hosting thing very seriously because he’s wearing his usual gear – not even a bloody suit! There’s lots of anti-New Jersey sentiment to start with, until Stewart himself inevitably turns up to call him on his shit. Referring to Rollins as a “SWAT team stripper”, Stewart correctly points out that he didn’t earn this position, he has no respect and, more importantly, he ain’t afraid to say it because in Jersey the curbstomp is a brunch. Rollins and his security team advance on him, but Orton shows up to intervene (and by that I mean stand on the ramp and brood silently), giving Stewart the perfect opportunity to kick Rollins in the balls and leg it. Orton thinks better of coming out and exits too, with Stewart in hot pursuit, celebrating and throwing his jacket around happily. When Renee shows up to interview him soon after, he’s slightly nervous, admitting he couldn’t possibly be a wrestler because he just got winded during that last ten minute segment. He runs away, scared of being followed by a much taller man with a briefcase whom he just accused of having “Lady Gaga hair”.
Luke Harper -v- Daniel Bryan
This kind of seems like an unfair match-up, but Bryan, to his credit, gives as good as he gets, struggling for dominance early on but eventually managing it. He’s tossed around like a rag doll at first but he somehow emerges victorious thanks to the Yes-Lock, during which Barrett shows up to steal the belt, only for Ambrose to tackle him with a clothesline on the ramp and take it for himself. But then Harper delivers a boot and steals it back, before Truth steals his moment to rob it, then Harper again, and finally Ziggler, who manages to look cool in spite of his French braid. Everyone then looks at the sign for a bit, particularly Ziggler, who’s sat at the top of a ladder because that has something to do with the IC match at WM31.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Rollins is going kind of mad backstage when Orton shows up to scold him for acting like an idiot and almost getting fired. He offers his help yet again, because he can’t understand why Rollins won’t take it, but Show and Kane soon step out of the shadows to make it a whole lot clearer for him. Next up, Paul Heyman graces the “rancid city of Newark” with his presence to, once again, make a case for why he should be cutting promos for every single feud and match imaginable. The whole theme of tonight’s speech is the “Believe that” mantra popularised by Reigns, except Heyman’s twist on it is that Lesnar is going to win and that we should, you know, believe that. He can also do whatever he wants, including attend UFC events and fight with Vince about contract stipulations. Heyman really is such a pro, a joy to watch, even turning a fuck up with the mic into yet another sly dig (“Obviously the sound guy is from New Jersey” he quips drily) and basking in the insane heat he’s getting. He finishes off with a simple line: “Lesnar is going to beat you. Believe THAT”. Reigns enters on cue.
Main Event: Seth Rollins -v- Roman Reigns
Rollins’ balls still hurt like hell so he spends much of the first half of the match rolling out of harm’s way, but he comes into his own later on, only for Orton to show up and interrupt yet again. Show, meanwhile, is trolling the crowd (“You suck with your life!”), completely unaware. Reigns clotheslines Rollins, as Orton gets comfortable at the barricade, before stranding him in the corner for more. Rollins lands the Avada Kedavra before Reigns backdrops him from the top. Rollins then superkicks Reigns once he’s distracted by Noble. He Superman punches Mercury and tries to hit Rollins but Orton distracts him this time by pulling his leg, so Rollins can roll Reigns up to win. Following the match, Reigns splashes out to tackle all of them at once because he has to look strong god damn you.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Overall, it wasn’t a bad week on Raw. If nothing else, it doesn’t feel as though we’re treading water anymore, rather the road to Wrestlemania is clear with each match – aside from Wyatt/Taker obviously – being laid out and properly plotted finally. AJ’s return was a nice little surprise, and it’s sure to shake things up in the faltering Divas division, while the Jon Stewart angle was diverting fun. The only issue is with the missing Stinger and Lesnar but, at least in the case of the latter we have Heyman to fill the void. How long until Elderly Crow shows up again? And what about Taker, are we going to see him before the big night or are we just in for four more weeks of Wyatt talking to inanimate objects?
All things considered, the fog is clearing slightly, but the road is still somewhat unknown.
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