We’re in London, England at the O2 Arena and it is packed out. 16,000+ in attendance. Hosts are Michael Cole, JBL & Booker T. Not thrilled about Cole coming back. We need Lesnar to come down and F-5 him again.
Promo Time: John Cena
He’s booed heavily, again and it is very, very loud. I guess his pro-USA stance hasn’t gone over well outside of the Americas. He butters the crowd up and says he thinks London deserves a Wrestlemania. As he’s done for the past two weeks, Cena offers an open challenge for the US title.
WWE United States Championship
John Cena (c) vs. Bad News Barrett
Barrett is greeted with his own deafening chant. “Thank you but I haven’t actually done anything yet”. This might be the loudest crowd the WWE have all year for Raw and they already had one ridiculously loud one the night after Wrestlemania. Michael Cole makes the interesting statement that Preston is “about an hours drive from here”. Going at what speed exactly? It’s closer to 4 hours away. Barrett gets a lot of love for his relentless assault on Cena. There was a time when the British crowds would do as they were told. That is no longer the case. Although Barrett’s cheap face pop of calling England the “greatest country on Earth” obviously makes a difference. Barrett actually dictates the pace and dominates Cena for nearly five minutes before getting laid out with the Protobomb. Barrett even scores a couple of near falls after that and survives the STFU. Cena’s recent performances have been wonderful because they’ve been designed to get others over at his expense. Which is how it should be when a guy is played out as a main event, which Cena most certainly is. The battle continues and Cena takes Wasteland for a near fall. The only thing Barrett has left is the Bull Hammer but he runs into the FU…FOR 2! Barrett kicks out of the FU on Raw! BULL HAMMER…for 2. This is insane. It’s like watching a Wrestlemania match. Cena gets the flying Ace Crusher (“there’s that move again” – Cole) and finishes with the FU. Cracking match. A real ten minute belter with dramatic near falls. Cena’s US title run is invigorating him. He’s averaging over *** since ‘Mania.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Post Match: Lana comes out here to distract while Rusev blindsides Cena with a chain. It’ll be a Russian chain match at Extreme Rules. I’m actually hoping Cena wins that one because his US title defences have been one of the best parts of Raw for the last 3 weeks.
Video Control takes us to ringside where JBL grills Cole about the little weasel’s lawsuit against Brock Lesnar, which he weasels out of. We plug Orton vs. Cesaro and Rollins vs. Ziggler, which are both happening tonight. Whoever wins their match will pick the stipulation at Extreme Rules. But what if they both win?
Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Battle Royal
Paige gets her entrance on TV and gets a huge pop as she’s from “Knorr-witch” (Cole, again). Nobody else seems particularly important and there’s a lot of quick-fire eliminations. I don’t even know who half these scrubbers are. Aside from Paige getting love the rest of the girls get nothing from the crowd. Anyway, the ring gets cleared out and it comes down to Naomi vs. Paige. Naomi having settled into AJ Lee’s role. Nikki Bella on commentary has this voice that’s like white noise. I’m not aware what she’s saying. It’s just a buzzing. Paige knocks Naomi out of the ring and she’s the #1 contender. They had to put Paige over as nobody else in the divas division is any use. Time to call someone up? Or perhaps have Paige win the belt so she has someone to work with first.
Final Rating: ½*
Promo Time: Paige
Byron jumps in there to get an interview. Paige points out she won the title in her first night in the WWE, won her first Wrestlemania but winning here in England means even more. She reminds us of her family and how she used to work high school gyms for £5 a night. “This is MY HOUSE”. As she’s talking Naomi jumps Paige and kicks her ass. “Who are ya?” chant the crowd.
Video Control takes us to Bray Wyatt. He says he’ll rip out our love “like a cancer”. “You’ll have to watch everything you love fade away”. Who’s he working with now? Good promo, as always.
The Lucha Dragons vs. The Ascension
NXT in the house! Sort of. The crowd chant “NXT” anyway as it’s become the new “ECW”. Say what you like about Triple H but the man is smart. He’s created his own Indy cult and the WWE owns it. Kalisto has gotten himself massively over in the last two weeks, just by running through the same spots that had him as a midcard act in NXT. But that’s how exciting that show is! The Ascension get absolutely jobbed out here, getting nothing and being bulldozed by lucha. We get some replays and JBL says “I remember when me and Ron used to do that…ok, maybe not”. The Ascension were never the best of teams so I’m not bothered about heir main card treatment, but it does worry me that others will get the same end of the stick.
Final Rating: *1/2
Promo Time: Roman Reigns
This is the first time Roman has addressed the crowd since losing the main event of Wrestlemania. Booker T hops in the ring for the interview. The crowd reaction is decidedly mixed before getting a “Suplex City” chant going. Roman points out he promised a brutal fight and that’s what they delivered. The crowd start pulling the “what” chant, which is the worst thing Steve Austin has ever done. Roman points out he’s beaten Seth Rollins before so he can beat him again and win the title. Roman calls Big Show “Seth’s giant bitch”, which brings the Big Show out via Titantron. Show calls Roman a “bum” who can’t fulfil his potential. That’s rich! I wonder if whoever wrote that had a smirk on his face when he submitted it. Show ambles along until Roman tells Show to stay out of his business or he’ll retire him. Big words from Reigns. As Roman is strolling to the back Big Show makes an actual appearance and smacks the Samoan around a bit. The crowd get on Show’s case and chant “please retire” again. That riles Show into hitting a chokeslam on the black cab they’ve got by the entranceway. Cool spot but Roman is still stuck working with Big Show. The rebuilding of Roman will be a slow and steady process but his promo here showed he’s probably over the worst of the heat.
Randy Orton vs. Cesaro
Cole once again points out whoever wins their match gets the choose the stipulation. “What if they both win?” says JBL. No answer. Why did nobody ask that question when they had the booking meeting? Why does nobody ask those questions in the booking meetings? Instead we get to TV and somebody looks stupid. In this case Michael Cole so it’s no big loss. Randy Headlock, the Babyface Bore, manages to kill the crowd in five seconds flat by immediately hooking a rest hold. They try to do some counters but Orton can’t do them, Tyson Kidd gets involved and it’s a DQ. Horrible match.
Final Rating: DUD
Post Match: Kane comes out here to say the Authority is back from holiday but they didn’t want to come to England so Korporate Kane is in the boss. Kane doesn’t like the cheap DQ finish and orders it to continue as a handicap match.
Randy Orton vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd
And here I was, thrilled to have a nice short Randy Orton match, awful though it was, and he’s in another bout right afterwards. From the crowd’s reaction they’re not interested either. Kidd falls off the ropes in the early going in a massive botch and Orton embarrassingly takes a delayed bump. JBL continues to ask about the stipulations and Cole has nothing but cheap retorts because nobody has told him what happens if they both win. Naturally, with this being the WWE, Orton bosses both guys, hits the RKO on Tyson and waits ages before covering for the win. Urgh. This was convoluted, stupid and made the tag champs look useless. Why do they continually insist on booking stuff like this? You’ll never have a worthwhile tag team division if your tag team champions can’t beat a singles guy. I don’t care about the tag division, because I’ve been conditioned to not care about it, but you have to wonder why the WWE is so intent at destroying its own stuff.
Final Rating: DUD
Video Control takes us backstage to catch up with the powers that be. With the match over Kane finally reveals what happens if both guys win; they both get to pick stipulations. Meanwhile Seth Rollins says he’s not wrestling Ziggler tonight, he’s wrestling Jamie Noble. Everyone agrees this is all Kane’s fault and Seth demands to face someone he can beat more easily.
Adam Rose vs. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose was missing last week after getting powerbombed through the announce table by Luke Harper on Smackdown. Zoom-in/zoom-out cameraman is at his worst again here, doing it on every strike. It gets to the point where I’m pleased that Rose hooks a chinlock so the cameraman will stop zooming. Rebound lariat and Dirty Deeds puts jobber Rose away in short order. Total filler.
Final Rating: ¼*
Video Control takes us backstage for yet another Kane segment, with Big Show this time. Show coaches Kane on ‘winning’ and tells him to “do what needs to be done”. Kane promptly books himself against Seth tonight and promises to do “what’s best for business”.
Stardust vs. Fandango
Booker perks up claiming Stardust reminds him of the movie “The Wiz”. “Not the Wizard of Oz, the one with Michael Jackson”. I appreciate Booker’s movie love. Stardust puts jobber Fandango away in roughly 30 seconds by kicking him in the face. “Fandango has definitely lost focus” says Book. He’s also lost the match! More filler.
Final Rating: DUD
Video Control takes us back to Kane, yet again, as Daniel Bryan makes fun of him for lying down for Seth Rollins tonight. “I’m not even angry, I just feel sorry for you” says Daniel as Kane gets really pissed off. You know what would have filled the three Kane segments and two needless jobber matches? A Daniel Bryan match.
Seth Rollins vs. Kane
They’ve been trying to create a little intrigue regarding this match. Seth blatantly expects Kane to lie down but Bryan’s words about Kane’s lack of pride and manliness must be ringing in his ears. Kane has a suit on but at least he takes his jacket off. “Alright, lay down. Lay down and get this over with” – Seth. Kane then kicks out as JBL makes fun of WCW. Seth tries to bully Kane to get back down but that gets him whopped around the chops. Chokeslam and they virtually job Rollins out to Kane, of all people. Kane then lies down and drags Seth’s unconscious body over him for the pin. Good grief. Way to make your champion look like a total geek. Booking idiocy on a par with the same stupid mistakes WCW made that JBL was making fun of during the segment. Just because they reference WCW’s abject failure doesn’t make their own abject failure any better.
Final Rating: -****
The Miz vs. Damien Mizdow
Summer Rae is allegedly a “movie star” now, having appeared in The Marine 4. She corners Mizdow here despite co-starring with The Miz in that “movie”. Mizdow wins here with a roll up after about 30 seconds. Where is this going? Is it going anywhere? Why did they have these two together for so long for no pay off. The mind boggles.
Final Rating: DUD
Video Control takes us to the Prime Time Players. “I don’t understand how we can’t get a response” – Titus. They make fun of Los Matadores. “Please don’t tell them I’m Puerto Rican” – Darren Young. They’re entertaining enough but it must be worrying for the WWE that a tag team nobody (important) cares about goofing around for a minute or so is the second best segment on Raw.
Ryback vs. Luke Harper
Harper DROPS Ryback with a superkick after a few seconds and it looks so awesome that it could easily have been a finish and it’s sold as such by the announcers. They try and sell it like an MMA style near finish with Ryback having to get his groove back but unfortunately the crowd is rather pissed off after a bad card and is chanting for “CM Punk”. Harper gets himself disqualified after about 90 seconds anyway and Ambrose runs down for the real fight with Harper. Then Harper runs off and Ambrose just stands in the ring watching. What the hell are they doing in this company? At least Harper’s big kick was a cool moment. Otherwise a total waste of air-time.
Final Rating: ½*
Video Control takes us to the Byron Saxton robot, who replaces the usually easy-going Saxton on Raw, interviews Naomi. She points out she beat Nikki twice already and yet they had a battle royal anyway. “Do wins and losses mean anything around here?” – Naomi. A just and valid point. She’s sick of waiting for a chance, she’s taking it. This made excellent sense. Congratulations! That’d be one segment on the show. Whoever wrote that “wins and losses” line should be promoted.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Neville
Can Neville have his Adrian back? Did Vince McMahon think it sounded effeminate or something? Or is it an intricate rib on Gary Neville’s Dad who’s name is also Neville. Ziggler calls Kane “the devil’s favourite dumbass” before issuing an open challenge, which is how this gets booked. Lilian Garcia misses a trick by announcing Neville as the “man that gravity forgot” rather than announcing him from England. Although it is cool he’s still rocking that nickname as I can remember him being introduced that way back in 2006 in Billingham. Was that really 9 years ago? Cole gets his geography mixed up again, claiming Newcastle is “about 3 hours drive” away from London. It’s about 5 hours drive away mate. If there’s no traffic. Booker points out that Neville is completely in control when he’s doing the standing flips to the point where Cole thinks an SSP, off the goddamn mat, is a standing moonsault. He makes it look that easy. He always has done. The crowd alternate between chanting for Neville and NXT. Neville takes a stroll along the rail and HITS A 450 SPLASH OFF IT! Ziggler is kind enough to give Neville a lot of flashy spots and only hits big spots like the superkick and a DDT. Eventually he dodges the Red Arrow, throws Neville into the ring post and finishes with the ZigZag. If people didn’t already know it, Neville is a tremendous talent and has the potential blow everyone’s mind. This was a good showing from Neville. I was worried about how he’d get treated on the main roster and there’s still concern as he’s faced nice people so far. Sheamus runs in afterwards to hit Brogue Kicks. He’s set to face Ziggler at Extreme Rules in a “Kiss Me Arse” match. EXTREEEEEEME!
Final Rating: ***1/4
Promo Time: Seth Rollins
Ten minutes left on the show, no more matches and only time for Seth and Orton to have a chat about their stipulations at the PPV. Riveting, I’m sure. Seth calls Orton out and tells him his stipulation is that the RKO is banned at Extreme Rules. An EXTREEEEEEEME stipulation if ever there was. I thought the point of Extreme Rules was that ‘anything goes’? Orton’s stipulation is to make their title match a cage match, so the Authority “can’t interfere”. Has he never seen a WWE cage match? People climb over those damn things all the time or pass weapons inside, or come up through the mat. Orton clears out J&J to finish the show and hits an RKO to demonstrate what a one-note guy he is and how Seth took that note away. The weird thing is that Rollins vs. Orton at Wrestlemania was a pretty good match and yet I have no interest in seeing a rematch, because of the booking.
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Neville.
Least Entertaining: Randy Orton. Kane. Big Show.
Quote of the Night: “I did go to Suplex City…and it hurt” – Roman Reigns.
Match of the Night: Dolph Ziggler vs. Neville.
What We Said: Two good matches (Ziggler-Neville and Cena-Barrett) and a whole load of horrible booking. Most of the booking was like Vince McMahon walking to the ring, taking a dump and saying “there’s your damn Network” and then urinating on the Union Jack. Some absolutely terrible stuff on this show, headlined by Rollins being treated like a complete bitch by Kane. A overreaching, frankly staggeringly good Wrestlemania was just a few weeks ago and already the WWE’s booking has fallen off a cliff. At least there were two good matches on this show but they squandered a hot crowd, which is a crime in wrestling, had way too much filler for Raw and main evented the show with something completely lame.