April 7, 2015 by Joey Keogh
After last week’s rather enjoyable episode, and a super-fun Wrestlemania, RAW ground to a halt this week with an instalment that, although absolutely chock full of matches, managed to elicit more of a “meh” than a “Yes!”. It starts off okay, with a lengthy yet decent enough opening segment during which Seth Rollins expertly feeds off, and basks in, the insane heat from the Texan fans, quipping “I’d be jealous of me, too” when they boo over his speech. Big Show is here too, posing next to his trophy that still means nothing, while Rollins’ security team clap enthusiastically as always and Kane, well, he has about as much of an input as he did at WM, as Rollins hilariously notes (“You…were there too!”). The Authority are on hols this week, which means that “the greatest WWE champion of all time” is free to run riot. And by that I mean there’s going to be a triple threat match to see who’ll face him at the next PPV for the title. Randy Orton shows up to throw his hat in the ring, so to speak, because he can’t have a straight rematch as that would just to be too easy. This is wrasslin’, people. Get with it. He, Ryback and Roman Reigns will all be competing later to see who is the real #1 contender but first they all must take part in singles matches. And Orton is first, against Kane, playa.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
What a slow, lame-ass match to kick off the show. Seriously, there is no other possible outcome here than a victory for the Viper but Kane could at least pretend like he might have a shot. I realise his slacks slow him down considerably, but still. The two of them hit their spots just fine, the fans boo Kane for rolling out to catch his breath and cheer Orton for breathing normally due to being thirty years younger than him, and it all ends, rather nonsensically, in a DQ when the COO grabs a chair. He also ducks out of an RKO so there’s no pay-off to this rubbish, either.
Winner: Randy Orton (by DQ)
Up next, there’s a five-second reference to AJ’s retirement, with a quick mention of the #ThankYouAJ hashtag but absolutely no reference to who started it. We then cut backstage to Kane who is with Brad Maddox, making his triumphant return in a ten-second window during which he manages to be more charismatic and exciting than the next minute and a half of Rollins and Kane yelling at each other like littl brats. We’re also treated to a replay of Lesnar’s beat-down of Cole last week, for context. Hooray for no Cole but, please, could somebody call the damn matches now?
Seth Rollins vs. Neville
Rollins’ mystery opponent is teased for ages as it’s revealed that the Network, and as a result Extreme Rules, is free for the next month meaning that PPV is more than likely going to lick balls. But Neville has another main roster match, so that’s great. His cape looks a bit silly, but the dry ice reveal is cool. An “NXT” chant immediately ensues as he squares up to Rollins, who takes the opportunity to grab a mic and goad him before the match even starts. Neville soon gets his own back by kicking him in the balls, and it all, quite literally, kicks off from there. The Geordie Superstar is his usual high-flying self, but Rollins is well able for him, firing back on all cylinders. He has control for most of the match, but somehow the underdog finds the strength to continue fighting back and gets some digs in before running into a huge clothesline and flipping right over as he does so. “Watch the hair!” the ref yells, which is kind of mandatory in a match of this nature, concerning two follicly-blessed young men. Neville teases the Red Arrow towards the end but doesn’t hit it and, although he manges to roll Rollins up, he’s curbstomped into submission. He still looks great though, even when he eats another one following the bell as the security team strand the ref in the corner and keep him from intervening. It’s little touches like these that really make a match count and, suffice to say, this is probably the highlight of the whole night.
Winner: Seth Rollins
US Championship Match: John Cena vs. Stardust
Texas sure is predictable with their blatant love of the flag-waving Cena. He waxes lyrical about how hard he is for America (he kisses the damn belt, okay?) before poor Stardust rolls out to have his ass handed to him for no good reason. Cena’s move-set is super goofy this match, but it doesn’t matter because he’s still going to win and we all know it. His elbow drops are dull and, even though Stardust hits some cool offence, it all looks a bit shit because Mr. America isn’t bothered about selling any of it. He wins with the AA because of course he does.
Winner: John Cena
Divas Tag Team Match: The Bella Twins vs. Paige & Naomi
Without our saviour AJ, it’s a never-ending Total Divas marathon around here and, although it’s great to see the ladies get some real air-time, the idea that Naomi for some reason deserves to be put over more than Nikki or Paige is frustrating to say the least. Her ring gear looks like a fifties-style bikini, too, but that’s another issue entirely. There are some cool spots during this bout, with Nikki playing up the heel angle well as she has been consistently doing over the past few months. She clotheslines Paige on the outside before hopping back up onto the apron to shrug and play the innocent, almost leading to a count-out for the Brit upstart who, shockingly, debuted on this show almost a year ago. The Bellas team up to Suplex her off the second rope but Brie ruins it by screeching like a banshee as always. The end is a bit of an anti-climax as, once again, Naomi takes the win for them.
Winners: Paige & Naomi
Usually, Smackdown replays are totally unnecessary on RAW but when they involve the recently-reunited Prime Time Players, it’s a different story. Tonight, in another pre-recorded promo, they show the goddamn New Day how it’s done by making fun of other tag teams (while clad in brand new shirts!) by, among other things, smearing ketchup on their faces as makeshift face-paint and using foil-covered cones to replicate the costumes of The Ascension.
Ryback vs. Luke Harper
Harper looks super strong in this match, but it goes absolutely nowhere. A superkick early on is ridiculously cool, while Ryback, as usual, looks on the verge of killing his opponent each and every time he hits a move. There are about ten million matches total on the card tonight so this one only lasts about ten seconds. Needless to say, The Big Guy wins.
Backstage, Renee is with The New Day, who are hurt by fans chanting that they suck all the time. However, once they keep clapping, chanting and dancing, they know it’s all going to be all right because, once again, they’re all about having fun – just in case that wasn’t immediately clear the first ninety times we were told. Big E tells a terrifying story about a kid, an airport and a breakfast menu and suffice to say I hope I never run into him in the departures lounge.
Tag Team Match: The New Day vs. The Lucha Dragons
The Dragons are here to make things interesting again, taking the place of the insufferable Usos and the unfairly pushed aside Ascension. But will Kalisto steal the spotlight once more? Tyson Kidd, Cesaro and Nattie watch backstage, making fun of them the whole time (there’s no audio, but it’s pretty evident by their wild gesturing) even though the NXT upstarts totally kill it yet again, with Kalisto more than stealing the show. His partner Sin Cara gets his own moment to shine, though, as he wins it for them with a stunning Swanton Bomb.
Winners: The Lucha Dragons
Roman Reigns vs. Big Show
Hey, if you’re excited for this match raise your hand. Now slap yourself in the face. Seriously, who the hell wants to see this? Is there anybody outside of Austin, who isn’t wearing a flower crown and Tumbling mid-match about how hot they, and Reigns, are? Show kicks things off by posing next to his massive trophy. Again. He yells at Reigns to stay down after momentarily knocking him over. But, hey, you guys, Reigns looks super strong and that’s really all that matters here. Plus, it takes him two Superman Punches and a Spear to win it so, obviously, it was a hard-fought battle for him too. He’s a true underdog, you know.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Backstage, in Kane‘s “office” (i.e. a well-lit corner of a random hallway, in which a red curtain and some branded posters have been hastily hung to give the illusion of some sort of corporate paradise), some jobber Divas are pestering him to #givethemachance by organising a battle royal next week in order to determine who the real #1 contender is. I can tell you right now, ladies, it ain’t any of you. Elsewhere, Sheamo is walking around, confused about why nobody is recognising him. Reigns is walking too, and he shows his fist to Renee. But what does it mean?
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
The Irish, er, Man has a new Titantron, comprised entirely of footage from last week’s show and scored by The Dubliners’ most depressing song, “Being From Ireland Makes Me Really Really Sad So I Sing About It All The Time While Wearing A Jumper And Smoking A Pipe”. He shushes the crowd’s boos by informing them that “the grown up is talking now” and calls out anyone who thinks they can beat him. For some reason, Henry shows up, instead of Bryan, Ziggler or Barrett – all of whom he took out last week. Henry is a Texan so we know he’s going to beat Sheamo’s pasty ass, especially after he refuses to fight him on account of him being a “has been”. The Irish Stallion wins it anyway because reasons.
Bray Wyatt shows up in a pre-recorded promo next, talking about how dedication is stupid and we should all go kill ourselves because Taker won at Wrestlemania even though that made no sense because he doesn’t have to show up every week and justify his existence like this poor swamp-dweller. Ryback is with Renee and he tells her he’s so hungry he’s going to eat the belt. The humanity!
The Miz vs. Damien Mizdow
This match should’ve been saved for the PPV, it makes absolutely no sense to have it on RAW. In fairness, it’s a short one because the Main Event is just moments away, but nonetheless this is annoying and unnecessary, especially given the terrific build-up (WM included). Miz enters first, to boos, with Mizdow following immediately after, to chants. They play off the whole he’s hated, he’s not angle for a bit before laying into each other. Miz wins by grabbing Mizdow’s tights and rolling him up.
Winner: The Miz
Main Event: Triple Threat for #1 Contender for World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Ryback vs. Randy Orton
It’s like the same Main Event every single week, except this time Ryback is involved, which somehow just makes it worse. Once Reigns looks strong, though, we’re good. The commentators over-explain the rules of a triple threat like this is our first rodeo, and Rollins, Show and the security team show up to watch ominously after about a minute of dull back-and-forth. There’s one cool spot, where Reigns splashes out to tackle all of them at once, before grabbing Rollins by the hair, but naturally it’s Orton who manages to drag him into the ring and teach him some manners. He escapes, leading Orton to RKO Ryback to win, so Rollins can sneak back in, curbstomp him and then lord the belt over all of them once more.
Winner: Randy Orton
At the risk of being negative, we knew it was too good to be true. Two weeks in a row (three if you count the weird go-home show for Wrestlemania) of great TV was more than we deserved and it had to end some time. To be fair, this week’s wasn’t a terrible edition of RAW, it just wasn’t terribly interesting. Aside from the fact that Ambrose, Ziggler, Bryan and Barrett were all missing, poor AJ only got about two seconds dedicated to her impressive career and Reigns, once again, was the star of the show in spite of the far superior work of Rollins and Orton. Leading up to Extreme Rules, it’d be nice to think it’s anyone’s game but, given his family were very upset over his WM loss, it’s unlikely that Reigns isn’t being set up for a massive comeback. That thought alone should fill you with dread, but on the off-chance it doesn’t, just remember the next PPV is free, which means they don’t even have to try.
Check back again next week when everyone settles their differences by talking things out and Lesnar makes his triumphant return to apologise, in person, to Michael Cole‘s widow. Just remember, it’ll all be all right once Roman Reigns looks strong.
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