For a moment last night I thought I was getting out of this, because Sheamus nearly cashed in his MITB contract. When he does, I am done with WWE! Probably... Anyway, I was “saved” from that by the antics of Kane, who returned wearing his mask, looking podgy, and gave both Seth Rollins and Sheamus a kicking. So now we can look forward to that three way feud. Yey.
Promo Time: The Wyatt Family
Hold the phone, we are starting Raw with a promo that isn't by Seth Rollins or The Authority!? Right, what are they up to? Bray gets a minute into his rant about how he tried to warn Roman, which brings out the man himself. “Apparently Roman Reigns is hard of hearing.” - Mackle. Swell, anymore random facts about the deficiencies of guys on the roster to spill? Roman wants to finish the feud with Bray, and god knows it has been going on long enough. Bray is unsure, so Roman goads him by calling him scared. Bray sends his heavies away and they go at it, but there is no referee so it is not a match. Just a good old fashioned donnybrook. When Reigns gets on top the other two Wyatts return, so Dean Ambrose (“the calvary (sic)”) runs down to help. One Dean Ambrose against two Wyatts, not his best idea. A big brawl erupts all over the ringside area, and the numbers advantage gives the Wyatts the upper hand. After Roman and Dean are both battered on the mat, Randy Orton decides to get off his ass and make the save. Where was he five minutes ago? Randy, being a superstar, turns the tide and collective the faces manage to bump Strowman out of the ring. Interesting way to start the show, but it does mean these guys are going to almost certainly do a six-man at Hell in a Cell.
Backstage, Seth Rollins confronts an unmasked Korporate Kane about what happened last night. Kane plays dumb and pretends like he has no idea what Seth is talking about. Seth is pitched as the dumbest wrestler on the roster. Kane announces Rollins-Cena for the U.S. Title tonight, which should be good.
Stardust & The Ascension vs. Neville & The Lucha Dragons
This is a rematch from last night’s pre-show match, so Even Steven booking dictates Neville and friends will go over tonight to get everyone back to where they started. You know, I like the concept behind this Stardust-Neville superhero/villain rivalry, but it might help if anyone gave a damn about it. Nobody cares, and it is sad to see. It takes less than thirty seconds for Sin Cara to botch a spot, and the way he favours his knee afterwards suggests he may have tweaked it. While little is going on, Cole goes off on one of his nonsensical spiels, within which he notes that Steven Amell “plays Arrow on television.” The announcers spend the whole match talking about Korporate Kane and Demon Kane, ignoring the action completely. Not that it is particularly good mind. Generic heat on Neville, a muted crowd. The usual throwaway Raw match. Kalisto flips all over the place when Neville gets the hot tag, but none of his offence looks like anything resembling a wrestling move. Including the finish, which sees Kalisto pin Viktor after a move where you couldn't tell who did what.
Final Rating: *
Seth cries to his mummy and daddy about Kane, and they act like they don't know what he is talking about. He whines about having a title shot against Cena tonight, because he is not ready after last night’s pair of matches. Hunter tells him to focus on the match and they will take care of Kane. It seems The Authority didn't know Kane was back in his Director of Operations role. Oh, the plot thickens.
Ryback vs. Bo Dallas
Kevin Owens does commentary, because, well that’s what they do around here. You can hear a pin drop when this starts, because Ryback isn't particularly over, and Dallas is a total geek. He is a waste of TV time. This gets three minutes tops, then Ryback wins with the Shellshock. Owens attacks him afterwards, because for whatever reason he wants to keep fighting Ryback even though he has beaten him and got the title he wanted. Ryback sends him scurrying, as Cole warns us that Ryback has a mandatory rematch clause. Yippee.
Final Rating: ½*
Ric Flair comes out first and tells us he is proud, then reminisces some about the partying he has done in Laredo. There isn't a city on the planet he hasn't partied in. The crowd break into a “thank you Ric,” chant, so he reciprocates before getting back on track. Flair says Charlotte’s win last night was the proudest moment of his career, and points out she did it all by herself with blood, sweat and tears. He brings Charlotte out for her title celebration, and she immediately starts weeping as she says how much she wants to make her dad proud. Ric, emotional bear that he is, does some crying of his own. It’s all very touching. Charlotte puts Paige and Becky over for being such good friends to her, telling them both how much they mean to her. Oh this is screaming for a heel turn from one of these girls. And we get one! Paige rips on Charlotte for patronising her and for basically giving a Hall of Fame speech, then goes on an AMAZING rant at Charlotte. The gist is whoop-de-do, because she won the title on her first night. She then turns on the rest of the women, referring to Brie Bella and Alicia Fox as Nikki’s “hippy sister and third wheel”. Then she calls Becky Lynch “the least relevant of all of us.” But, Tamina! After basically calling Summer Rae and Lana whores, and alluding to the real reason the Bellas get their push (who they are banging), she asks, “Where is Nattie? Do you even work here anymore?” After that, Paige storms off. Amazing segment! Oh, but then the Bella twats come out to say a few words. Nikki basically renders Charlotte’s title win pointless because she doesn't sell having lost it, instead mocking her and promising she will be humiliated. And here I was hoping the Bellas would fuck off for a while. What was I thinking?
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella
I assume this is non title because no announcement is made otherwise. Brie is far worse in the ring than Nikki, even if she is a modicum less irritating. Although, that horrific banshee wail she does makes it a pretty close run thing. Brie works over Charlotte’s injured leg, so at least there s some psychology on display, but like last night it is a whole lot of Charlotte selling and not doing a great deal else. Quite frankly the best part of the match is seeing Brie’s pants slowly come down a little further with each move. Like a builder. Charlotte wins with the Figure Eight, and I am still waiting for this Diva’s revolution. Charlotte should have came out and denounced the term Divas, then got into it with Paige and gone into a program with her. But no, instead we had to suffer more of the vapid Bellas. How awful.
Final Rating: *
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
Ah, Sheamus needs a win after weeks of doing jobs. Mark Henry doesn't win matches any more you see. Plus, this is his home state, and you always lose in your home state in the WWF. I want to see this match like I want a hole in the head. This goes two minutes before Sheamus wins. Pointless filler. Post match, Sheamus claims to be WWE Champion. Pray the day never comes.
Final Rating: SQUASH
The Authority talk with Kane, who acts like the nicest guy in the world. They are surprised that he is here after having not heard from him since he got injured, then question his actions last night. Again, Kane pretends he had nothing to do with it. Steph wants him to cut the bullshit and give him the mask back, so she holds out her hand. He gives her “five”. She gets a little cross and demands the mask, but he tells her he doesn't know where it is, but that he will help her find it. Intriguing! Kane has been really great in these segments. Honestly.
Elsewhere Paige spots Nattie backstage and expects a lecture. She gets one. Nattie reminds Paige that she does still work here, and that she has a match tonight! Well, it’s about time.
The New Day & Rusev vs. The Dudley Boyz & Dolph Ziggler
Ah, this old chestnut. Throwing two matches from the prior night’s pay-per-view into one quick and easy segment. We have Rollins-Cena later too, rendering Night of Champions almost pointless. New Day were the best thing on the show last night, especially the genius Xavier Woods. He has gone from one of my least favourite performers on the show to the most entertaining. He brings out a piece of table in a zip lock back, which he claims the medical team had to remove from his ass last night. Kofi calls the Dudleys a menace to society, while Big E thinks the solution is to build a wall around Dudleyville for their protection. I really hope they start bringing a wall to the ring with them. It’s a shame Jerry Tuite is dead. Rusev comes out with Summer, despite her costing him the match with Dolph last night. I am not sure why a character like Rusev would team with these goofs mind you. Necessity, I guess. Dolph and Kofi do some nice sequences to start, then the Dudleys come in and bring the smash mouth. When we return from commercial, Dolph is mid-dropkick, and nobody is doing a chinlock! Progress. He soon gets grinded down into heat, which means the joy of Xavier and his trombone. As I am thinking to myself, “Wouldn't it be cool if he played some of the guys’ entrance themes on that thing?” he only goes and does it! Busting out a tremendous rendition of Rusev’s tune as he takes over on Dolph. Best moment ever. This goes on far too long, with the only notable moment being Rusev screaming, “Lana is mine!” at Dolph. Summer Rae doesn't sell that at all. Bubba cleans house on the hot tag, Ziggler partakes in the Wazzup Drop, then Xavier’s trombone causes the distraction and allows Rusev to superkick Dolph for the win. More Even Steven booking!
Final Rating: **
Naomi vs. Natalya
Anyone who watches Total Divas will be hoping Nattie doesn't piss herself tonight. Nattie is wearing a full body PVC suit, which looks warm. It makes a change from the revealing attire that the other girls wear, because it makes her seem like a wrestler rather than a sex object. It’s a shame the crowd is mainly indifferent to the action, which is perfectly solid but hardly thrilling. The finish is annoying though. Nattie, in her big comeback match, gets beaten after a distraction from Sasha.
Final Rating: *
Mom and Dad decide that Kane got all of his rage out of his system last night, so he won’t cause Seth any more problems. Poor frightened Seth is still afraid of being disembowelled, but the Authority tell him to focus on his match and not Kane.
The Big Show vs. Cesaro
In the worst booking decision of the year so far, Big Shite beat Cesaro on SmackDown. Thankfully that is in another universe and no one watches that show, so hopefully it won’t have hurt Cesaro too much. Show spends much of the match jawing with the crowd, hilariously calling someone “fat boy”. He dominates the bout, and the announcers talk about Brock Lesnar, who is wrestling Show at MSG in a few weeks. Oh no, they are going to put Show over her to build him for a house show match with Lesnar, aren’t they!? Again, the crowd is absolutely dead because they don't want to see the fucking Big Show. Nobody in the world wants to see him in 2015. Cesaro mounts a little offence and tries to suplex Show back into the ring from the apron, but he can’t do it. He won’t be deterred though, and eventually connects with the move. That’s his big spot for the match, then Show punches him and pins him clean. This company is a joke. Never mind this bullshit about keeping him strong for Brock. We have seen that match a hundred times, both in Brock’s first run and his current one. We know how it goes. And anyway, the problem in the first place is that they have even booked the match. Brock vs. Cesaro, now that would be worth seeing. After the match, Show claims to be the greatest big man of all time. I feel sick. He then reminds us that he beat Brock Lesnar as Survivor Series 2002, but all that does is remind us of just how insipid WWE’s booking now is that they are dredging up matches for over a decade ago. Show calls Brock a “vanilla gorilla” then says he won’t be going to Suplex City. Sure he will.
Final Rating: DUD
WWE United States Championship
John Cena (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Well, we have seen this on the last two pay-per-views, and a match on Raw a few weeks back, so what more is there to see? The crowd clearly feel the same way and bust out the Mexican wave, just like they did last night. What a fun new way to turn on a match. Even though it’s a battle between two of the biggest stars on the show, the heat is nowhere near what it should be. Nor is the match, which is fairly boring and struggles to hold my attention. As usual, WWE ruins something good with overkill. It’s the same moves, the same story, the same everything. Cena goes over clean after powering out of a frogsplash and pin into the AA. Strange to beat the WWE Champion twice in two consecutive nights. Cena makes a sharp exit so that Korporate Kane can appear on the screen and frighten Seth with threats. As he does, Demon Kane bursts through the ring and drags Seth into “His own personal hell”. Hokey and silly, but mildly amusing because of how much Seth oversells it. Look, I don't actually mind Seth working Kane on the Hell in a Cell undercard, because that show is built on the Lesnar-Taker HIAC match (which I am not even sure they really mentioned tonight) and they have a long-term storyline there, plus Seth is running out of fresh opponents.
Final Rating: **1/4
THE RAW RECAP:
Most Entertaining: Xavier Woods. Paul Heyman aside, he is the best annoying heel manager to come along in nearly twenty years.
Least Entertaining: The Big Show.
Quote of the Night: Take your pick from every single word of Paige’s promo. It wasn't quite a “pipe bomb”, but it was pretty awesome.
Match of the Night: Nothing doing.
Summary: Another drab Raw, with the usual post-PPV nonsense going on, with a bunch of rematches and reruns of the same programs we have seen for weeks on end. Nothing new happened, nothing was developed, it was just the same old elongated programs being stretched out beyond their points of being interesting. It’s a typically tough to endure three hour show, with nothing particularly bad (Big Show and Sheamus aside), terrible commentary, and nothing really worth seeing outside of a brief promo from Paige. Raw is going to continue to get battered in the ratings until it becomes a more vibrant and less predictable show.