Thanks a lot for checking out the most unrelentingly average weekly Raw review in the whole blogosphere. As I always try to do, I’ll be going for snappy, snappy, snappy. I have some fantastic news! I’m back among the iPhone masses, meaning I have the app once more. I barely made use of it last night, but it’s good to know it’s back in my life. I hope you’re as happy to hear about it as I was to get it back. Nevertheless, I’m back with notepad and pen like a true pro journalist. Let’s dive right in to organising these notes into what is hopefully a coherent discussion.
Triple H v Curtis Axel: What a match to kick off the show! Right? Right? I know. As Hunter entered the ring, Cole was already bigging up the fact that he was rebelling against Vince by competing. It’s an angle you can see coming from a mile away, but they have already started doing some interesting stuff with it. For instance, Vince came down early on and ordered the Announcer to stop the match and call it a DQ win to Axel. Triple H then left the ring and ordered it be re-started. This went back and forth at least four times. Great stuff! At one point Triple H had re-booked it as a 60 minute Iron Man match. If only. Vince got his way in the end, and Axel won the match somehow. Really epic way to start the show and did a great job of further developing that angle. The theme of storyline development will be rather prevalent in this post, I can tell you that.
Straight after this, Hunter and Stephanie had a heated and emotional discussion backstage. Triple H was fuming about the embarrassing scenario Vince had just put him through. She is acting as the go-between it seems. Steph did a great job as always, playing the woman in the tough spot between those two egos. This was a solid way to further move the story along.
Dean Ambrose v Kane: This was a fairly forgettable match in my opinion. No real problem with that. The Shield and Hell No guys have been pulling it out of the bag week after week. They have done more than enough recently. The short match eventually eroded into the typical fracas between the two trios in the ring, after what I think was a DQ of some kind. Still no pinfall victories so far. That’s one thing the WWE do OD on a lot lately.
In one of the brief moments when I did use the app, I used it to vote for Seth Rollins to be Daniel Bryan’s opponent, instead of Roman Reigns. I love them both, but Rollins (formerly Tyler Black) and Bryan (formerly Bryan Danielson) had some tremendous matches on the indy scene back in the day. I knew they could do it again. The man responsible for me even seeing those matches and knowing about that stuff does a lot of great writing for this site on Ring of Honor. Check out his work!
Then it was time for more classic shouting matches backstage between Orton, Bryan and Kane. Vickie – or should I say Brickie – interjected in some way. I wasn’t paying attention, sorry. I can only imagine it was her booking a predictable match or saying something unimportant.
Cody Rhodes v The Miz: This was a very solid match, as you should come to expect from Rhodes. Unfortunately, The Miz got the win with the figure four. There is still something not quite right about seeing that. Wade Barrett was on commentary throughout.
Fandango has apparently been concussed, so Curtis Axel will be joining Miz and Barrett in the Triple Threat match for the Intercontinental Championship at Payback. This is of course good and bad news. It’s crazy news all the same, and it came even better because it was delivered by Paul Heyman. I have a feeling Axel will be holding his father’s old title belt in less than a week’s time.
Steph and Vince delivered another promo backstage. They are really pushing this angle. I am so excited to see how they are going to develop it in the coming weeks. One thing is for sure. Vince is having none of Triple H’s bullshit right now, not a bit.
Chris Jericho then gave a very solid promo in the ring on his opponent this Sunday, CM Punk. As the sportsmanlike babyface, he put over his opponent perfectly. The crowd were chanting for Punk at this point. Dolph Ziggler then came out to the ramp. Somehow a match was booked for Big E Langston (who is still sadly by his side) and Jericho, and it was up next.
Chris Jericho v Big E Langston: This was an okay match. It didn’t really hold my attention though. Just sayin. Dolph tried to distract Jericho, but ended up getting dragged off the apron from behind by Alberto Del Rio. This distracted Langston so that Y2J could pick up a rare win with the Codebreaker. The World Heavyweight Championship match between Del Rio and Ziggler is officially confirmed now for Payback. A lot of development towards Sunday’s PPV on this show indeed.
Antonio Cesaro v Sin Cara: Now this match was just bizarre, and that had nothing to do with what was going on in the ring. Zeb Colter was on commentary as some kind of racist correspondent. Swagger wasn’t involved in the match and is still injured. Perhaps he is going to manage Cesaro but either way it was so strange. It just seemed like he was out there to hate on Sin Cara for being Mexican and make an exception for Cesaro because he is white, European and didn’t ‘sneak’ into the country. Very strange indeed. The match itself was very entertaining. Props to both competitors. Cesaro got the win with the epic Neutralizer.
Randy Orton v Roman Reigns: This was the first of two back-to-back singles matches. I am loving this new trend. It helps The Shield and Daniel Bryan in particular to steal the show every week. The tag partners were present at ringside, ready to jump in and begin their match straight after. So cool! It was a very solid match with a very interesting dynamic inside and outside of the ring. It looks like my thoughts on the apparent Randy Orton heel turn on Smackdown were premature yet again. At least he is having good matches with good wrestlers though. That’s something good for his character. The match broke down into a brawl again and I believe it ended by DQ or No Contest, for the third time in the night already. That’s one thing they need to get a grip of. It’s not the best booking in all honesty. Daniel Bryan hit a crazy suicide dive and it brought this half of what grew to be the highlight portion of the show to a spectacular end.
Daniel Bryan v Seth Rollins: Unsurprisingly, this match was the classic technical encounter we expected. It was easily pay-per-view quality. Literally the entire arena was chanting “Yes!” at one point. Bryan seems to be as over as Stone Cold right now. The combustible elements Randy Orton and Roman Reigns stuck around at ringside, giving the match an air of unpredictability. The insane surfboard Olympics between Rollins and Bryan hit it’s peak of impressiveness in this match. This was as good as it gets for pure wrestling on WWE TV. So many incredible reversals and amazing submissions! And more Daniel Bryan trademark dropkicks than you can shake a stick at.
Incidentally, Rollins provided some incredible offense of his own. Sidenote: He looks a lot cooler with his hair down, in my opinion. You don’t get those kind of insights on your every day wrestling blog, do ya? They did the spot again where Daniel Bryan goes for the top rope back drop, only for Rollins to reverse it into a crossbody in mid freakin’ air! Bryan was bleeding from the mouth now. Reigns got up onto the apron, but Orton took out his legs from under him. Bryan rolled up a distracted Rollins for the pinfall victory. Another popular match ending in recent WWE memory, but how could I complain about this match? It was fantastic! The real main event in the eyes of the fans I expect.
Rollins tried to attack Bryan from behind while he celebrated, but he just got a hard kick in the head and an RKO for his trouble. Another match booked for Payback: Randy Orton & Daniel Bryan v The Shield for the Tag Team Championships. Two incredible matches, especially the latter. Will Orton finally turn heel properly on Sunday and screw Bryan out of the match?
I’m sure Kaitlin has gotten lots of compliments from people on this new outfit of hers. It made an appearance again last night, and frankly it’s the only thing that made me stay awake to watch the segment. I’m really not as sexist as would appear. I’m not. She was out in the ring, where her secret admirer had said he/she would come out and do the reveal. This was the only action involving the Divas on the whole three hour broadcast. Evidently, Raw hasn’t quite taken on board the same policy on women’s wrestling as NXT just yet. Anyway, what I really need to put across to you is that Kaitlin is just perfect, beyond fit. That’s what really matters!
Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk the big reveal. Big E Langston of all people came out and said he couldn’t stop thinking about Kaitlin. The moment he stepped from behind the curtain I knew this was a rouse involving AJ Lee – a tad predictable. Big E talked sweet, pulled Kaitlin close and as it seemed they were going to kiss, he pushed her down on the ground and left. He high-fived AJ as the tiny crazy person made her way to the ring to gloat. The “AJ’s crazy” chants gathered pace. She basically just stood there and raped Kaitlin’s mind until she was in tears. She pushed her too far though, and caused Kaitlin to spark a vicious cat fight. Yet ANOTHER match announced for Payback: AJ v Kaitlin for the Divas Championship. Perhaps there is hope for the division after all.
Damien Sandow v R-Truth: This was throwaway filler, interspersed with shameless burger company plugging. The King makes me sick. I believe Sandow one this one, but I wasn’t paying too much attention. My apologies.
It was time for the biggest moment of the night, or so we were supposed to believe. Ryback stood at the top of the ramp, while Cena stood in the ring surrounded by lumberjacks – this didn’t quite go in line with the whole not being able to run concept. By this point, I was flagging hard. I missed whole chunks of this promo, although I still doubt I missed anything of note. I did see Ryback proclaim that this Sunday he is going to take John Cena’s spot. I highly doubt it, but it’s a nice idea. Ryback did get into the ring and the two of them tried to lock horns, only to be separated over and over by the lumberjacks. That was the anti-climactic ending to a not particularly sensational, but extremely productive and economic episode of Monday Night Raw.
My thoughts on the show overall are that it got a lot done. Storylines developed further, whether they were old or new. Rivalries were hinted at, and extended. Most of all, the huge wealth of matches that were announced for Payback was phenomenal. Great stuff. For wrestling, the Bryan and Rollins match was the undisputed highlight. Was I on the edge of my seat for the whole show? No. But I have to give credit where it’s due, this episode ticked a lot of boxes for the go-home show before the upcoming PPV.
Thanks a lot for reading my thoughts on Raw. Check out the official YouTube wrestling Q&A series Unsanctioned Wrestling. Follow, like or leave a comment! Get involved any way you can, and thanks for all your ongoing support. I hope you enjoyed the work, even if I couldn’t even keep it below two thousand words this time. Check back for more rambles soon!