May 12, 2015 by Joey Keogh
We’ve made it to the go-home show before Payback, a whole, er, three weeks since Extreme Rules – can you feel the excitement!? The card is kind of weird for Sunday, but nobody could suggest it isn’t jam-packed and, getting right to the good stuff, this week’s RAW opens with a shot of Triple H‘s feet exiting a fancy limo. The Cincinnati crowd cheer Trips until he shows up for real and then they quickly turn on him, especially as he opens the night by proclaiming; “Daddy’s home”. Apparently, this statement works on his kids (and Steph) so he can’t understand why Rollins and Kane refuse to fall into line when they hear it, too. He summons the two brats, the crowd don’t want to know about it and, when Rollins tries to tell his daddy how much he missed him (no, really), he’s drowned out by chants for home-town hero Dean Ambrose. He’s all “I’m trying to talk to my boss here, come on!” but it doesn’t do any good, sadly. Rollins reveals that he wants Kane killed, which seems like a bit of an overreaction from someone kooky enough to put a blonde streak in his hair. The man himself turns up, there’s lots of screaming, Trips acknowledges that he, too, finds Rollins a bit annoying sometimes and the whole thing culminates in a stipulation being added to Sunday’s fatal fourway match; namely, Kane has to quit The Authority if Rollins loses. The Cincy fans are super mad at this suggestion for some reason. Still, Rollins is ridiculously over as a heel, and he interacts so well with the crowd, so it doesn’t sting too much that he’s main eventing yet again tonight, opposite Orton. Well, at least it’s not Reigns again. But never fear, he’s got a match too, with Kane. And, just when you thought that this opening segment couldn’t possibly pack in any more action, Jamie “By God” Noble speaks up and gets himself and his buddy Joey Mercury lined up against, well, you’ve probably guessed it by now.
2-on-1 Handicap Match: Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury Vs. Dean Ambrose
The way Trips sees it, the two little security lads equal one real man so this isn’t actually an unfair match-up at all. Ambrose is so over with his home-town crowd, so it’s pretty much guaranteed he’s going to come out on top here but that doesn’t make this bout any less fun to watch. Noble kicks things off by asking for a time out, as Mercury flees the ring. The two of them take bumps really well, and it’s great to see them selling Ambrose as a proper mentaller. They manage to double team him at a few key moments, but he fires back with double clotheslines and flurries of double-fisted uppercuts. Mercury takes most of the action, with Noble happy to scream his support from the sidelines. The end comes when Ambrose, after hitting a crazy flying elbow, and another double team clothesline, lands the Dirty Deeds to emerge victorious. Opening the show with him is a bit of a gamble but, naturally, this probably isn’t going to be the last we’ll see of him tonight.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Dolph Ziggler Vs. King Barrett
Sheamo, Barrett’s new heel buddy, is on commentary for this, wearing a Paddy cap and waistcoat but thankfully not doing a jig because that would be overkill. Barrett is introduced as King Barrett now, which is cool, and watching him descend the ramp, resplendent in his royal robes and crown, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else getting this shtick better than he does. He’s up against Neville on Sunday, while Sheamo faces Ziggler, so this is kind of a warm-up of sorts. Ziggler hits a superkick right off the bat, establishing the tone of the match as Sheamo excitedly rushes to call it (which is more than can be said for the so-called commentators, who hit an all time low tonight). Barrett later eats a dropkick as he aims for the Bullhammer, but manages to hit his finisher soon after to win, in a fast but fun little bout, to which Sheamo added a bit of an edge. And a hat. Speaking of the Irish Bastard, he enters the ring to taunt Ziggler a bit following the match. After eating a bit of offence as a result, he screams that he isn’t fit to shine his shoes and poor Ziggler ends up falling foul of a Brogue Kick as a result. Also, JBL refers to Ziggler as “Susie Chapstick” because he has an eighties era, aerobics instructor-style headband now. Or maybe it’s because of the butt-kissing that never happened, who knows.
Winner: King Barrett
Erick Rowan Vs. Fandango
Smackdown is being sold to us as an important, must-see show again with the news that ex-swamp bros Rowan and Harper bonded on it over being really stinky or never washing their beards or some shit. As a result, Harper accompanies Rowan to the ring tonight, but he’s barely got comfy in his boots before Fandango is pinned. JBL predicted the match would only last about ninety seconds, even before it started, and lo and behold he was right. Harper and Rowan beat on Fandango for a bit immediately afterwards, saving it from being a total non-event, but otherwise this is a blip in an otherwise strong, match-heavy show.
Winner: Erick Rowan
US Open Challenge: John Cena Vs. Neville
“It’s not as bad” Cena remarks to his cameraman buddy, as he enters the arena to mostly cheers. For some reason, he takes this as a signal to talk for about ten minutes, in a particularly strong Southern accent, about how much he loves ‘Murica. As if it wasn’t bad enough that we have to watch him have the same goddamn match from week to week, now we have to listen to him for nearly a quarter of an hour beforehand too? To his credit, Neville kicks ass tonight, more than solidifying his position as a main roster contender. But we all know he’s never winning this, so, in spite of the very high highs (a couple of insane Red Arrows, a gnarly powerbomb from the top rope), the impending low puts a dampener on the whole thing. Somewhat impressively, it doesn’t end as predicted as Rusev intervenes, whacks the two of them and then locks Cena into the Accolade. It’s not exactly a win for Neville, but at least the Geordie looks strong.
Winner: DQ (Cena retains)
Kane Vs. Roman Reigns
Reigns doesn’t even make it to the ring, through waves and waves of adoring fans, before Kane attacks, chucking him into the barricade. What follows is the usual, dull back and forth from these two, to which we’ve become sadly accustomed; Reigns hits his two spots, Kane looks as though he’d rather be some place else. Reigns’ music plays in the end, even though it’s not entirely clear whether he managed to win or just chuck Kane into something hard enough that he couldn’t find the strength to force himself back up again. Oh, what a thrilling element Reigns will bring to the fourway on Sunday!
Winner: Roman Reigns
Divas Match: Brie Bella Vs. Tamina Snuka
Let’s face it, no match involving Brie Bella is going to be amazing. But, at least with her sister on the sidelines, we get to enjoy another rousing rendition of the “come on, Brie” song. Naomi wears Tamina’s jacket during the match, as though she’s her fella or something. Tamina is, apparently, injured, but she still comes off better than Brie whose running knee should be retired lest she actually manages to connect it to someone’s face one of these days. Of course, Tamina wins, and all is right with the so-called women’s division once more.
Winner: Tamina Snuka
Macho Mandow Vs. Axelmania
This is more of a promo than a match, setting up an interesting pre-show bout that’ll feature these two and The Ascension. First up, we’re introduced to Sandow’s new character, Macho Mandow, via a lively interview with the adorable Renee, who seems to be loving it in spite of Axel’s obvious annoyance. Mandow is really, really over, but The Legion Of Doom interrupt mid-bout to remind us they’re still employed by the WWE, ruining the, er flow. Mandow encourages Axel to drop the leg on Fat Danzig. He does and then reluctantly joins forces with his opponent in preparation for Sunday.
The one, big, non-match moment of the night comes in the form of Daniel Bryan – who’s still ridiculously over, in case anyone is wondering – addressing rumours that he’s injured and out for good. So, if you haven’t watched RAW for six months, fear not! Nothing has really changed! He drags it out a bit and it all gets quite sentimental and lame, but suffice to say he gives up the intercontinental title, which is fine because he didn’t need it in the first place anyway.
Big E Vs. Cesaro
As The New Day enter the arena to a chorus of patronising cheers, Kofi good-naturedly assures the fans that “one day you guys are gonna get that chant right”. They get heat for slagging some sports-person, but it’s not long before Cesaro shows up to Suplex the shit out of E and, following a ringside distraction with Xavier (not Kofi, as Cole suggests), he wins, setting up yet another Payback bout.
Two promos follow before the Main Event, the first showcases the Prime Time Players’ uncanny knack for doing impressions of famous tag teams (put them in a match already) and the second features Bray Wyatt, live and in person for once, trying to get heat for his match opposite Roidhead on Sunday but failing miserably due to being really, really fucking over (put him in a match already, too!). Naturally, Ryback shows up to spinebust him and then Wyatt licks his own blood suggestively on the ramp.
Main Event: Seth Rollins Vs. Randy Orton
As tired as we all undoubtedly are of this match-up, at least it’s not Reigns again and, regardless of whether they’ve done this a hundred times already, Orton and Rollins still have great in-ring chemistry and are still super fun to watch. Orton hits a gnarly Superplex early on, flooring his cocky opponent, as the commentators, instead of calling the goddamn match, instead choose to over-explain the rules of a fatal fourway to us. Mercury and Noble show up to intervene as Orton is going for the RKO, followed in quick succession by Kane, Ambrose and Reigns. How shocking (Cole still feels the need to point out who’s who, just in case it was unclear from the previous two hours or, maybe, six months of television). Finally, in quick succession, Ambrose hits the Dirty Deeds on Rollins, Reigns follows it up with a Spear, Orton RKOs him, Reigns Spears Orton and then Ambrose hits the Dirty Deeds on Reigns, all while Kane stands by doing nothing, chair in hand, which is probably how it’s going to go down on Sunday. Enjoy this victory for Ambrose while it lasts, kids, because it sure as hell won’t be happening at Payback.
Overall, this was one of the tighter go-home shows in recent memory. Each upcoming PPV match was built up and referenced effectively (some better than others), everybody got a bit of the limelight and, even though Cena’s section was bloated, as per usual, at least he got his ass handed to him by Neville and Rusev for a little bit. It’s funny to think that Extreme Rules was less than a month ago, or that the build-up to it was so terrible. The show itself was a massive disappointment too, so hopefully the difference here is that Payback will actually deliver. If not, at least we can be safe in the knowledge that Sandow is going to make us laugh during the pre-show.