Welcome to The Real Mid Card and thanks for checking out my weekly review of Monday Night Raw. I’m just going to roll through it blow-by-blow and miss out anything tedious, but that is never a lot. I’m easily entertaining and usually scribble wildly throughout the show.
An honourable mention must go to Natalya and Paige for their excellent NXT Women’s Title match on the taping shown before Raw. It’s baffling to me that the company wouldn’t want to exhibit this kind of brilliance on their big shows, but there you go. A great technical match is put on the developmental, crazy. I have to say, it was a very good episode from top to bottom.
But now to the big deal itself: Monday Night Raw.
Daniel Bryan v Fandango: The show was live from Seattle, Washington, and the boy from just down in the road in Aberdeen was there to open things up. Fandango had a great showing and must have loved being in the ring with The Beard, but after the running high knee, it was over. The crowd went wild, until Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen to make more threats. This was a decent way to open the show.
Hosts Booker T and Jerry “The King” Lawler brought out The New Age Outlaws to introduce the nominees for the first Slammy Award. The crowd went crazy and chanted “One more match!” The guys visibly loved the attention and affection, and rightly so. They were there to do the “LOL moment of the year” Award, which went to The Rock for his concert. Out of the clips they showed, this was probably fair. I would have given it to JBL for his hilarious performances every week myself though.
Damien Sandow v Santino Marella: The Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston sat at the announce table to comment on his challenger at this weekend’s pay-per-view TLC. After this squash match, they had another stare down. Compelling stuff, or not so much.
The Shield were there in amazing all-black tuxedos to introduce the nominees for “Double Cross of the year” – Dean Ambrose cut off Roman Reigns mid-sentence as the dissension between them continues to be teased. Shawn Michaels won for his superkick on Bryan in the cell, even though that wasn’t a real double cross. Mark Henry on John Cena was Academy Award worthy, let alone Slammy worthy, and he was the rightful winner here in my opinion. It was clear at this point that the farce app voting system was completely screwy. That would become even more obvious later.
The Miz v Kofi Kingston: This was a nothing match, which Miz won after getting a hand full of tights for the pinfall.
The insanely hot Eve Torres was back to introduce the nominees for “Diva of the year” – who else could justifiably win this but AJ Lee? No-one. The fact that Eva Marie is even in the business, let alone the nominations, makes me want to buy a gun and kill everyone. The ridiculously rigged app results showed The Bella Twins to be the victors. The crowd were booing them like crazy, as they tried desperately to give an acceptance speech to kill the awkwardness. It couldn’t be killed. It was obvious how shafted every fan in the building felt.
The Real Americans, Ryback & Curtis Axel v The Rhodes Brothers, Big Show & Rey Mysterio: This was a decent eight man tag, but nothing that I haven’t seen every week for the last few months. The babyfaces got the win.
The hosts brought HBK back out to the stage, this time to introduce the nominees for “Superstar of the year” – Daniel Bryan rightfully got the reward he deserves. That doesn’t change my mind about the app votes, because the entire world would have voted for him anyway. Even kids aren’t that stupid. He even put Shawn over despite the “double cross” and massively put over his kind-of hometown crowd.
Alberto Del Rio v Sin Cara: This was another excellent match and another great showing from Sin Cara. He showed off all the great moves he is known for (botch free) and worked some classic psychology. He got the win with a senton bomb from the top rope – a rejuvenation may really be on the cards!
The Prime Time Players awarded the “Fan participation moment of the year” Slammy to Daniel Bryan for his “Yes” chant. This whole segment was very entertaining and smile provoking. All of the clips of the Fandango-ing, Yes chants and so on were great. Young and Titus were great. A fun one moment!
Xavier Woods v Brodus Clay: The “rookie” took on the angry, soon-to-be-heel “veteran” Brodus Clay – oh, the irony that comes from being an actual wrestling fan. The big man laid a serious beatdown on his opponent and justified his dark choice of tights.
The Miz introduced the nominees for “Insult of the year” – every one of them was fantastic. The clips showed AJ Lee ripping apart the Total Divas cast, a host of Zeb Colter’s hilarious jabs at the fans and superstars, Stephanie McMahon’s despicable treatment of Big Show and Paul Heyman’s wicked words for CM Punk. The Boss’ Daughter won it, which is okay I guess. I thought Zeb would have been a worthy winner, but this was a fun segment.
They showed the trailer for “The History of WWE” again. This DVD looks incredible, and I simply have to get it. Expect a review to be posted on here soon.
CM Punk v Dean Ambrose: This was another world class match between these two. The Shield guys on the outside did their bit splendidly too. The psychology of the whole thing was next level. Every person in or around the ring has a clear and compelling character. We got to see another heated exchange between Ambrose and the others outside the ring. Shortly after this, Punk got the win with the GTS. Roman Reigns shot into the ring and devoured him with the spear. He and Rollins left Ambrose lying and made their way through the crowd. This Sunday could be the last time we see the three of them in a match together on the same team. I really can’t say enough about how well the two men in the match itself really did. Ambrose and Punk had another show-stealing contest!
They showed another spine-chilling Champion v Champion vignette. I did notice though that Chris Jericho wasn’t included. As the coverage returned to the arena, the hot and smart crowd made their feelings known with huge “Y2J” chants.
Booker and King brought out Mick Foley to give the award for “Extreme moment of the year” – Punk got the win for his tame kendo stick attack and GTS to Paul Heyman on the top of Hell in a Cell. This was kinda lame. I’m not saying bring back the death matches, I’m saying don’t have such an award if you can’t give a justifiable winner.
The Wyatt Family v The Usos: This was a pretty great match, with a high speed finish culminating in a wicked clothesline (Bradshaw style) by Harper for the win.
Bret Hart was invited out next to give the Match of the Year award. He looked almost depressed when he handed the award over to John Cena for his match against The Rock at Wrestlemania. I can think of ten matches that happened on Raw this year that were better, let alone on pay-per-view. This was the moment that made the WWE app voting bullshit a true laughing stock. The crowd were not happy.
Tamina Snuka v Natalya: It was cool for Natalya to embrace Bret on the way to the ring, and win with the Sharpshooter, but this was a nothing match that shouldn’t have been on last.
Then it was time for the big moment of the night – the Championship “Ascension” Ceremony. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before, but it was very entertaining. They invited all of the former WWE and/or World Heavyweight Champions who were still in or around the company, to the ring, to witness an “historic” moment to end the show. I have to admit that this was a cool visual. Steph yet again put over Hunter as the best of the bunch, which was hilarious. When Triple H tried to give his soppy speech, the crowd let out deafening Daniel Bryan chants. The Washington Native looked genuinely touched. Mark Henry held his hand up to the crowd after a while, in an attempt to calm them. Hunter quipped “That’s a lot of your family, Daniel”
Incidentally, when did Mike Chioda win the World Heavyweight Title? He was in the ring next to HBK and Bret for the whole thing, for no reason. I guess he was there to keep the peace if it went sour. I don’t know how he would do that with around twenty wrestlers in there though. Hunter then brought out the two champions, and the crowd gave their verdict, with either booing or indifference. Orton tried desperately to cut a good promo over the “Boring” chants. He did raise a smile from me by sticking the knife into the legendary Foley, Michaels and Hart.
Cena got the mic and responded excellently, winning round a rowdy negative crowd yet again. He does this on an almost weekly basis and gets no credit. He spoke mostly about respect. Bringing Daniel Bryan into the spotlight and putting him over, he compared the fan favourite to The Viper and accused him once more of having his whole career handed to him. This could seem like kind of a half-shoot if I didn’t know any better. When he wasn’t criticising Orton, he was putting over Bryan, Dolph or Punk. He even went over to Bryan, shook his hand, and said that if he wins, he looks forward to a rematch that everyone deserves and wants to see. This put the segment over the top for me.
The belt was lifted above the ring as the two champions reluctantly shook hands conveniently for a photo opportunity, with my love for John Cena as great as it’s ever been. Then Randy hit him with a cheap shot and a huge brawl ensued. The heels tried to hold Orton back, and the faces tried to hold Cena back, but then it got interesting. Orton shoved Punk away by the face, so he started beating on him. Hunter ragged Punk back off of him and got a punch for his trouble. HBK didn’t like that, and so hit him with the Sweet Chin Music. When he turned around, he got a running high knee to the face from his prodigy Daniel Bryan. Randy Orton thought he might get the last laugh with an RKO on Bryan, but instead he got pushed into Stephanie. Hunter checked on her, and then hit him with a vicious pedigree. The Viper looked very lonely as he scrambled out of the ring, leaving The Authority in there side-by-side with the babyface that even they can’t touch, John Cena.
I’m sure most people hated this show, but I found it very entertaining. The whole app voting Slammy Awards thing left me a bit sickly, but it was cool to see the clips and the old legends coming out to introduce the winners. I have no problem with it on the whole, and felt it made the show a lot more memorable than a standard episode of Raw. The majority of the matches were okay, and yet again Ambrose/Punk put on a clinic, but this show was about the promos and the build work, more than the matches. The “ascension” was clearly the highlight though, and something that I won’t forget for a while. It was out-of-this-world entertaining, with the finishing moves, the promos and the legends.
I don’t know if they want TLC to replace Survivor Series in the big four, but it certainly seems that way. This was a great Go Home show, and I’m now looking forward to Smackdown and then the pay-per-view this Sunday. They have managed to yet again make a card that looks so average on paper seem so enticing. I’m not sure how they do it, but they just keep over-performing so well on TV in the lead up to their big shows, and it really does the trick. The only problem is that the end product on PPV usually ends up being anti-climactic. But so far, so good.
Thanks for reading,