September 15, 2015 by Joey Keogh
Although it may be the go-home show for Night Of Champions, it’s also, apparently, the RAW season première and tonight that’s deemed to be of greater significance as it’s the very first thing out of Steph’s mouth. To be fair, she and Triple H do a damn good job of selling us on tonight’s show, which will feature; the highly-anticipated Divas championship match between Nikki and Charlotte, a tag to determine who will face The Dudley Boyz at the PPV and Sting‘s first ever match on the show.
Never ones to play things entirely fair, however, The Authority have decided to sign the so-called Icon up to face Big Show, in the hopes of tiring him out before he faces their golden boy on Sunday. Smart move, but he’s elderly and everything tires him out. He’s sitting as we speak. Trips finishes things off by doing his old DX thing, yelling “ARE YOU READY”, to which you can hear one poor bastard in the front row meekly whispering “No” upon realising this is not the Bake Off live with Mary Berry.
The Ma and Da of the WWE stick around long enough for some amazingly embarrassing old people dancing with The New Day, before their tag bout opposite The Prime Time Players kicks off. These are, arguably, the two strongest and most interesting teams in the division and without those pesky Usos around to steal focus (one showed up on Smackdown last week! Burn it!), they’ve really been given some room to shine. And this match is no different.
Darren Young, in particular, is on fire, whipping out clothesline after clothesline before being floored by the massive Big E, after which Xavier Woods yells “What happened to Darren Young! Oh nooooo!” It’d be nice to see Woods get some ring time soon, but for the moment he’s killing it as the ringside assist/intervener/cheerleader, blowing his trombone and giving better commentary than the three lads paid to do it put together. Titus pulls his instrument apart in annoyance, sealing the deal for The New Day to retain and steal the spot opposite the Dudleyz, who show up on cue to be like “don’t forget about us” even though they explained the whole damn thing just last week.
Backstage, Steph is complimenting her hubby on his sexy dance moves when Rollins shows up and immediately joins in, never one to miss an ass-licking. There’s a replay of the statue-crushing incident and we’re reminded that Stinger believes the vehicle is called a “trash truck”. Elsewhere, Charlotte and her father are covered in glitter and excited to speak to Renee about her match later on, what it means to be born into greatness and just how many brewskies Flair has had prior to coming on air.
Paige takes on Sasha Banks in the first women’s match of the night, a lengthy, entertaining and fast-paced bout that boasts more than a few cool spots and some decent in-ring psychology to boot. Banks takes charge easily, but her focus on disabling the British upstart’s arm does nothing to stop her landing a huge Suplex. In the end, however, Paige taps out of the Bank Statement and rolls off to lick her wounds, leaving Becky at the mercy of Team Not Good.
Prepare yourselves, because the scariest episode of Miz TV is up next – and no, it’s not the one where he gives a twenty-minute tutorial on how best to style one’s hair around one’s hood. The Wyatt Family are on with him tonight but they’re not really in the mood to talk, which is handy because Miz isn’t quite sure which PPV is next. At least, Bald Patch and Fore Head aren’t saying much, anyway. Bray is full of pseudo-religious bullshit about paying for sins and shopping in Hot Topic when you know the bands barely make a dime from each purchase and the material on the shirts is super-thin.
Soon, Reigns and Ambrose turn up to spoil their fun and, maddeningly, the former does all the talking for the two of them. BELIE DAT. Ambrose literally says nothing, it’s a fucking disgrace. Speaking of which, the pace of tonight’s show grinds to a halt with a ten-minute match-up pitting Sheamus against John Cena. We kick things off with Cena assuring the ref that the fans are not chanting about either of them looking stupid (in spite of the fact one of them has a sweatband on his bicep).
It then quickly devolves into the same, dull back and forth to which we’ve become accustomed over the years. They take turns hitting their moves, at one point Cena switches things up by knocking out the 10 Beats, there are lots of submissions that don’t feel for one second like they might actually end the match and it all ends, rather infeasibly, with Sheamo powering out of the STF, turning it into a rolling senton but still losing because it’s John fucking Cena.
Ryback appears in the ring to make the night go even slower, cutting a really weird promo that involves some ill-advised Elvis impersonation. Kevin Owens, who needs to have a match like right now instead of participating in this, gives him shit for being into The Secret. Ryback seems to think that wrestling fans would read such a book, but he should know that unless it’s ghost-written with The Rock, we don’t care. Anyway, these two have a match on Sunday, too, and oh god please take the belt already, Owens. Take it and end this nightmare once and for all.
A 6-man tag follows, based off the idea that The Ascension and Stardust have partnered up due to something or other that happened on Smackdown. Basically, they’re friends because they both know what it’s like to have people be jealous of them. They’re up against the Lucha Dragons and Neville but the match only lasts about five seconds before The Ascension are dragging their new buddy out of harm’s way, yelling about settling scores at the PPV. Pre-show ahoy!
Before we get to the Divas championship match, which should have been the Main Event, let’s be clear, Nikki stars in a pre-recorded promo that’s actually, remarkably, rather well done. It makes me sad that these women still aren’t headlining, even if this match does end in the dumbest way imaginable. Before that, though, there’s some great back and forth between the champion and Charlotte. Much like the match earlier, there are actual moves, actual in-ring psychology at play and a pace that keeps us interested.
Thankfully, the crowd aren’t dead, and they even get a bit louder as Nikki seems to tire out. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a Dusty finish as Twin Magic strikes again and Charlotte is brought back down to earth by Steph who tells her, somewhat sadly, that although she won fair and square, she isn’t the champ (yet) because she didn’t pin the right girl. She and Ric look devastated, but there’s a rematch on Sunday and, considering tonight was really all about showing Mrs. Punk who’s boss, chances are Flair will steal the win at the PPV once the length of the title reign no longer matters. Hopefully in a match as long and well-structured as this one, if not better.
Rusev and Cesaro get everyone a bit more warmed up for the Main Event, with a quick little fight that is ruined, as all things seem to be lately, by the arrival of Dolph Ziggler. It’s worth noting that Ziggler’s character on RAW is the same as on Total Divas, where he pesters Nikki for dates and she politely rebukes him. He has a present for Summer, who is still not being billed as “hot, submissive Summer Rae” for no discernible reason, but she won’t take it until he’s super-kicked her boyfriend. As for Rusev‘s actual opponent, he’s over as fuck but gets nothing to do here.
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived as Stinger hobbles out to take part in his first ever RAW match. There’s a big pop for him as he enters, and the energy is high. However, the pace of this match is so interminably slow, the impact of his moves so incredibly low, that it’s impossible to get behind anything he does, regardless of how much Show sells for him. Thankfully, Rollins shows up right on time and, after some fun double team shit, Cena arrives and Trips helpfully turns the whole thing into a tag match.
That’s the end of Sting‘s involvement until the hot – let’s call it lukewarm considering how slow he moves – tag right at the end, where he kind of saves the day. It really shows how much faith the WWE have in his brand that they sold him all show and then gave him a measly three or four minutes in a singles match before switfly moving him aside to let three other men do most of the heavy lifting. He gets the hot tag, Rollins taps out of the Scorpion cuddle and that’s that.
For a season première, it was fine, for a go-home show, it was half-good, but taken as a random, throwaway episode, RAW was downright enjoyable this week.