April 1, 2015 by Joey Keogh
The post-Wrestlemania episode of Monday Night Raw is arguably the most important, and exciting, Raw of the year because regardless of what went down the night before, the crowd are still going to be hot – and man, are San Jose fucking nuts tonight. The show opens rather cleverly, with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar (visibly battered, bruised and covered in cuts) storming out to kick up a stink about his supposed loss last night. As Heyman sees it, it wasn’t really a loss at all because “slimy, disgusting little Seth Rollins” didn’t even pin the champ, he pinned Roman Reigns, who totally doesn’t count for anything. Furthermore, Lesnar did what he set out to do by “bitch-slapping” Reigns and taking him to “Suplex city, BITCH”. There’s a lot of barely-PG swearing going on during this promo, and the crowd are loving it because Lesnar, as Heyman so eloquently puts it, is the definitive “non-PG ass-kicker of the PG era”. And he is invoking his rematch clause; not at Extreme Rules, not at Summerslam, not at next year’s WM or the non-PPVs such as Payback or whatever but right now. Steph turns up, the crowd chant “Ronda Rousey”, she reminds Lesnar that he lost and things get a bit tense as it seems he may not get his rematch after all because Rollins isn’t here yet. But he’s on his way, so it’ll happen in a bit. Elsewhere tonight, Cena has issued a challenge to anyone on the roster who wants to take the US title from him. The fans boo a photo of him, so he’s sure to get a warm reception later on.
Intercontinental Championship Rematch: Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan
Before that, though, there’s a rematch between the only two competitors who genuinely had a shot at this title last night. And Bad News Barrett is on commentary, as he always should be, to ominously allude to the fact he’ll be claiming his rematch soon enough…but not yet. There are massive pops for both participants, and they lock up immediately, eager to pick up where they left off. There are warring chants throughout which, again, is always so wonderful to hear because regardless of how mad we get we really should always try to chant for someone we like as opposed to against someone we hate. This isn’t a spot-heavy match, rather it’s a technical, old-school brawl with a lot of chain wrestling and some nice fluidity to it. Bryan sticks Ziggler in a Mexican surfboard, into a modified cross-face, but The Show Off powers out, managing to hit some offence with a stunning dropkick and a clothesline that sends both of them flying out of the ring. Bryan soon repays him with a dropkick into the corner, as Barrett shows up the other commentators by actually being interesting. As Bryan hits a cool backdrop off the top, Barrett notes how the two of them are simply “laying it all out on the line” to ultimately lose to him. The end comes when, following a succession of headbutts (echoing what happened atop the ladders last night), Bryan wins with a running knee out of nowhere, only for Barrett to storm the ring and floor him with a forearm, before lining up the Bullhammer. Unfortunately, our old pal Sheamus is back, in punk form, with a mohawk and a beard of beads, and after checking Ziggler and Bryan are okay, he hits Barrett with a Brogue Kick. Luckily, he’s not a boring ol’ face again, it was all just a trick, as he soon Brogue Kicks Bryan and then lays into Ziggler in the corner, before hitting the White Noise on him, followed by another Brogue Kick. The fans chant that he looks stupid and he stands there basking in the heat for a bit before declaring “Oim back”.
Winner: Daniel Bryan (retaining)
8-Man Tag Team Match: The New Day & The Lucha Dragons vs. Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & The Ascension
The Lucha Dragons are on Raw! There’s a massive “NXT” chant for them and it continues for most of this match. Rightly so, because they dominate here, particularly Kalisto. The fluidity of this guy is just crazy, especially as he runs and jumps all over people like a goddamn spider monkey. To be fair, The New Day
and The Ascension (who should’ve been more prominent lately) do get a look in, but this is the NXT tag team’s moment to shine and they don’t waste a second of it, bouncing off everything in sight to the point that even Kofi looks cross-eyed. However, in one, cool spot Kalisto does manage to springboard Kofi over the ropes to tackle The Ascension on the outside. And it’s his move, the Salida Del Sol that ultimately wins it for them.
Winners: The New Day & The Lucha Dragons
Backstage, Lesnar is pacing back and forth angrily when Heyman shows up to tell him Rollins has finally arrived and it’s time. He’s in the ring immediately (following a short vignette for another NXT star, Adrian Neville, who debuts a bit later on) and the man himself follows soon after, shit-eating grin intact and the massive WHC belt in place of his previous gaudy accessory. One lad yells “Yeah!” as Heyman is introduced, and there’s a nice mix of boos and cheers for the champ as he makes his way down. This is slated to be Lesnar’s first time competing on the show in ten years, and Heyman is really selling it to us on that basis, but we know it ain’t happening. Not tonight, not this soon. Sure enough, Rollins soon excuses himself from competing on the basis that he’s “a bit jet-lagged” and his foot kind of hurts from curb-stomping the hell out of everyone. He starts cackling and Lesnar launches at him, Suplexing him roughly. Rollins manages to hit an enzuigiri but then quickly regrets it as Lesnar no-sells and bounces back even angrier. The champ just about manages to flee the general area, but his security team end up paying for it as Lesnar lays waste to them and the announce table, before rounding on Cole, who he F5s in the ring (much to the delight of the crowd), and a cameraman, who eats two in spite of Steph’s protestations. Lesnar gets himself indefinitely suspended and the fans cheer for Cole being stretchered off. Renee later catches Steph backstage for a quick interview, during which she tells her “I own that son of a bitch”. Whatever you’re into.
Stardust vs. Damien Mizdow
Byron is here to fill the, er, gap left by the announce team and he’s so happy to be commentating here instead of on Smackdown that he doesn’t even mind doing so from the ruins of the old table. There’s a massive pop for Mizdow, and he teases the removal of his sunglasses, to even more rapturous applause. He makes quick work of Stardust who, although he starts strong, becomes distracted by the “Cody” chants long enough for Mizdow to clothesline him and hit the skull-crushing finale to win. Just as he’s celebrating, however, Miz shows up in his normal civilian clothes (which include shiny sneakers) to hit the SCF on him and yell about how he did this to himself. He soon turns his attention to the fans, informing them that they did this to him.
Winner: Damien Mizdow
Curtis Axel vs. Neville
If you thought Axelmania was over, well, let me tell you something brother, that ain’t ever getting old, especially as the road to AXtreme Rules has just begun. NXT star Adrian Neville debuts under his new name Neville because two names is too much for some people to comprehend. He has a purple cape and lots of pyro so he looks a bit like a wizard but who cares when he is this fucking good in the ring. The dude is on fire, leaping around like it’s his first audition or something. He’s truly showing off his incredible, unique in-ring style tonight, running the ropes into clotheslines and superkicks before teasing, and eventually hitting, the Red Arrow, to which the crowd respond with an emphatic, and seemingly never-ending, “Ooooooooooooh”.
John Cena is here next, which must delight his father who is sitting quietly as everyone roars that he sucks. His new merch, emblazoned the American flag because that’s always cool, doesn’t really go with his old hat and towel so he looks even stupider than usual tonight. He cuts a promo before his match about how great the crowd is, but they don’t buy it, and quickly start booing the shit out of him again. He issues his challenge once more and Ambrose shows up immediately to take him up on it.
US Championship Title Match: John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose
Not too long ago Ambrose was US champ, so it kind of makes sense that he’s taken this opportunity (really, what else as he doing?). The crowd are super hot for him, or indeed anyone who isn’t Cena, but he gets himself almost immediately locked into a sleeper hold, powers out, and then gets stuck in one again. This match is all about the holds, meaning it’s a bit slow to watch but Ambrose, to his credit, still seems hungry for it. King, who just happened to be here tonight, takes over commentary with Byron so we get another voice telling us little to nothing about what’s actually going on in the ring. Ambrose runs the ropes for some offence, hitting a few clotheslines before aiming from the top rope only for Cena to counter. There’s a flurry of uppercuts and superkicks as Ambrose fires on all cylinders, another massive clothesline looking to almost have it won for him. The crowd are totally behind him, even as Cena counters the Dirty Deeds. Ambrose counters the Attitude Adjustment and the two trade blows for a bit. A flying elbow from the top to the outside again knocks Cena off his feet, but he soon locks Ambrose in the STF. Funnily enough, after crawling to the ropes, Ambrose turns it around and locks him in the STF, before finally hitting the Dirty Deeds. However, Cena still wins with the Attitude Adjustment because he does.
Winner: John Cena (retaining)
Backstage, Renee is with Rollins, who’s wearing the same shit-eating grin as before as he runs his mouth about how out of control Lesnar is and how he should pay for his transgressions (with money!). The fans cheer for the reference to his cashing in last night, but they get even louder when Orton shows up to remind him that, oh yeah, they’re still feuding and he lost last time they met each other in the ring. Renee slowly looks tinier and tinier as the two of them and then Kane and Big Show gather around her to set up the Main Event for tonight. Only problem is, how is a man with no friends going to find two tag partners in time?
6-Man Tag Team Divas Match: Paige, AJ Lee & Naomi vs. The Bella Twins & Natalya
This is the longest Divas match on Raw since their stupid reality show actually made it look as though they matter. AJ is in a Bayley shirt, much to the fans’ delight, while Paige sticks her tongue out in disgust at the Bellas as they enter. A decent fight ensues, as the fans chant for the girls (for once) and Bayley, but Naomi and Brie get a little too much of a look-in here, particularly when considering one of them performs only her husband’s moves in the ring. There are some cool head-butts from Paige and gnarly Suplexes from Nattie, while Nikki whacks the Brit off the apron several times with her forearm and taunts AJ as she tries to crawl for the tag. Frustratingly, the end comes when Nikki accidentally hits Brie and Naomi capitalises with the Rear View to win.
Winners: Paige, AJ Lee & Naomi
Goldust vs. Rusev
This is a lame-ass squash match, plain and simple, meant to alleviate the pain of Rusev losing to Cena last night for no good reason. Goldy starts off strong enough, and even manages some offence early on but the Russian is mad and he wants to take it out on him using mostly his feet and knees, which he uses to lean on his head. Soon, the guy is in the Accolade and that’s about it. The ref has to drag Rusev off though, so presumably his killer instinct is back. The crowd chant for Lana the whole time, which makes sense but is also kind of disheartening.
Main Event: 6-Man Tag Team Match: Seth Rollins, Kane & Big Show vs. Randy Orton, Ryback & Roman Reigns
After Ryback prostituted himself to Orton in the locker room earlier, there was only one spot on his team left and we all knew who was going to fill it. Reigns emerges to an insane amount of heat, and even Rollins is making fun of him as he enters the ring. The belt is placed carefully next to the Andre The Giant memorial trophy, because, as you no doubt recall, Show totally won that shit, and everything kicks off in mostly polite fashion. The main focus of this Main Event (and why, oh why, is this the Main Event exactly?) is the Rollins/Orton feud but also kind of the Rollins/Reigns feud because that’s still maybe a thing. Unfortunately, the older guys are given way too much to do here and it all gets a bit samey and boring quite quickly, especially as more and more dudes fill the ring. The crowd get a “Please retire” chant going for Show, which he seems to enjoy, and they also do the Mexican wave upon getting a bit restless (Byron joins in and is scolded by King). It’s a mess of spots towards the end, with Orton Superplexing Rollins, Ryback Shellshocking Show, Rollins curb-stomping Ryback, Orton RKOing Kane and, finally, Kane eating a Spear as the Superman wins it for his team yet again, for no apparent reason. Reigns is so strong, you guys. So strong.
Winners: Randy Orton, Ryback & Roman Reigns
As the post-Wrestlemania show, this wasn’t too bad, although there were certain moments that worked better than others and the card definitely could’ve benefited from more singles bouts. Everything is being lined up nicely for Extreme Rules and, aside from Cena being a champion yet again, the story-lines are all heading in the right direction. Add to this some great spots, particularly from the debuting NXT stars, a little more time for the ladies to their thing, and a thrilling opening segment from the inimitable Heyman to set the night off right, and most of the ingredients were there for a great Raw. Hopefully, the momentum is kept up for the next few weeks leading into the PPV as it’ll be hard to fill the void without Lesnar’s so-called advocate, but Wyatt hasn’t made an appearance yet and the tag team division finally seems to be livening up a bit so this might just be the start of something great. If nothing else, here’s hoping we never have to suffer through that goddamn Wrestlemania song again.
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