I think it’s best to wait until after Raw to review a PPV, as it’s the ending-after-the-credits for the PPV nowadays.
RVD vs. Cesaro
Cesaro on the pre-show in a match with no build? Match was technically fine but even Cesaro can’t get anything other than a RVD match out of RVD. If you’ve seen Raw recently (or any RVD match in the last ten years) you know how the match went without needing to view it. You could tell it was PPV because Cesaro got an entrance.
Alex Riley is still an ‘expert’ on the WWE panel. If Riley told me it was sunny outside, I’d put my raincoat on. Also the panel is still around.
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz (IC Title)
Best of infinity series going on here. They’re even so far, which must give mathematicians a headache. Miz is the most entertaining he’s been for years but you’d expect there to be something else for him to do than wrestle Ziggler yet again. Good match though. Ziggler wins the IC Title and we’re supposed to be impressed a former world champ is winning a secondary belt, when really it should be for rising stars and not guys creative has nothing for. It’s doing wonders for U.S. Champ Sheamus (who wasn’t booked).
Paige vs. AJ (Divas Title)
Much better than their previous match because they bothered to start feuding in between PPVs. The two best female WWE wrestlers based on mannerisms and facial expressions alone. Paige’s bit where she pretends she’s lezzing up on her opponent and then headbutts her is a current favourite. Plus, Paige used Konnan’s standing finisher from WCW/nWo Revenge to win.
Rusev vs. Jack Swagger (Flag Match)
They decide to go on the more basic flag match stipulation (winner gets to wave their flag) to throw the people (me)who thought they’d have Swagger win a ‘Flag On The Pole Match’ so he’d get some momentum without actually pinning Rusev. Instead, they went the whole Lex Express and had Swagger come out with a whole troop for his intro. I’m sure a lot of people in the crowd felt very at ease at the sight of armed guards, given current events. They probably wanted Swagger to come out driving an (AMERICAN) tank but they were scared he’d get another DUI. They had a decent power match but Swagger really could have been anybody out there, compared to Big E who had intensity and looked like he could kick Rusev’s arse. Swagger’s Miley Cyrus haircut let him down. And speaking of letting down, after all the hype, troops and crowd chants…Swagger passed out. They tried to hype it like Austin vs. Bret, in that Swagger’s pride made him refuse to tap out etc., but he lost. Again.
Afterwards, Rusev got to wave his flag around to an iPod favourite: the National Anthem of the Soviet Union. The Wrestlemania X7 of national anthems. He then kicked Zeb in case there was anyone watching wondering if he was a baddy or not.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Lumberjack Match)
Hey, a stipulation that matches the feud! I don’t mind them using the lower-tier Lumberjack stipulation because it at least made sense in the context of the feud and also means this feud is hopefully going to last-and-last with bigger and better stipulations. No more of this ‘two Last Man Standing matches to set up a PPV singles match’ crap like with ADR and Big Show. This match demonstrated again why Ambrose is connecting with people: the majority of the company is so rigid and mechanical in it’s approach…and then there’s this crazy guy who does what he wants. Case in point: crowd brawl during a Lumberjack match, complete with obligatory Lumberjack Match dive-onto-everyone move. Kane costs Ambrose the match and Rollins somehow triumphs. Which is fine, it sets it up nice and simple: Rollins can’t beat Ambrose by himself so he needs help and always gets it. It’s the new Orton vs. Bryan, which is a very good thing.
Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt
Well it was better than the Battleground match, but even with a pre-match summary of their feud thus far I had ask people on Twitter and FaceBook why they were feuding. Yes, Wyatt is a guy who uses long-winded promos and talks crazy, but he’s made sense during his previous feuds. As far as I can tell they’re feuding because Jericho used to call himself a saviour but now Wyatt is the saviour in 2014. Maybe Jericho had a point, given that he won the PPV and subsequent TV matches against Harper & Rowan. I’m aware this feud is happening but I’ll forget it the second they move onto something else. There was mild peril later on when we realised Wyatt lost to the Codebreaker last PPV so we were worried Wyatt might take a particularly brutal snapmare or something this time around. Wyatt overcame the odds and won. Like everyone during Christmas time, he realised he was stronger by himself.
Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
Steph has carried this feud brilliantly. Like the AJ/Paige feud, it’s the acting that’s done it so far, from her brutal YEAAAHHSSS YEAAHHSSS, her arrest and her sarcastic as fuck deliveries, I’ve enjoyed her Cersei Lannister-imitations far more than I ever thought I would. Thank Christ I wasn’t the only one, the whole room we were watching this show at loved it and threw cold popcorn at the TV when HHH pulled the ref out and made a collective ”’aragahaha” when Nikki (the bigger titted one) swerved her sister. Of course, if anybody in real life asks about this match I’ll say ”well it was crap, boo McMahon” but it was easily the best thing the Bellas have been involved in.
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton
Bit of a mis-fire putting the match with all heat and storylines before this one, which did neither man no favours. Reigns’ weaknesses shone like a lighthouse beacon in this match (everyone asked each other ”why do we care about this guy again?”) and he looked like Goldberg forced to wrestle for longer than five minutes. Crowd wanted Orton to get squashed, sure. But when one guy is booked like Ryback and the other is…Orton, having to watch Orton ”methodically” (™ Michael Cole) work over Reigns until he made a comeback is acceptable because he’s the fucking heel, but making it look like a fluke rather than a triumphant pounding is another. Crowd wanted a bullet train but instead got a Megabus that was lucky to have turned up at all.
Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena (WWE World Heavyweight Title)
Fucking unreal. Brock destroyed Cena in such an entertaining manner I was sure they’d fuck it up somehow and have Cena schoolboy Brock but to their credit, they had Lesnar go all the way with this one. Current highlight was Cena managing to pop out an AA…only for Lesnar to get up before him and start dancing on the spot to mock him. Everyone loves a villain when they’re done right, and it’s such a rare occurrence that it’s always awesome to see. Last time I could remember this type of match occurring was Henry vs. Orton and it only took them two weeks to mess that up. So with Brock’s part-time schedule, the impact should last for considerably longer. Hooray!
Overall: They may as well have booked it was Lesnar vs. Cena Plus Several Exciting Matches, as the main event definitely delivered the undercard was good (Ambrose vs. Rollins, Miz vs. Ziggler, Paige vs. AJ) and weirdly the major issues were in the uppercard matches (Reigns vs. Orton, Wyatt vs. Jericho).
I give it BROCK out of Ten.
The Raw After!
Ah, here comes Steph with STEPH, STEPH, STEPH shirt. Seriosuly, once she loosened up and stopped the I AM THE AUTHORITY screeching stuff from the Bryan feud she’s been great.
…oh God I take it all back. Nikki came out and gave a brutal promo. Like, Black Dynamite-level promo. She told us that she’s always hated her sister which is a bit of a surprise given that she’s been with her for years and never shown any animosity. Brie comes out and OH GOD it’s terrible in stereo. Nikki slaps her and we move on. I take all the praise I had from the Summerslam match back. If I’d known it meant these two on the mic constantly I’d have never said good things. Quick, someone edit my review.
Mark Henry & Big Show vs. Luke Harper & Erik Rowan
Yay, Henry’s on Raw! And he’s…wrestling the once-mighty team of Harper & Rowan. Oh. In fairness, both teams looked impressive, with Rowan showing us what wrestling is like in 2014 as he bodyslammed Big Show for a near-fall. Show & Henry (who need an old-school Japanese tag name. The Eaters of Sexual Chocolate?) triumphed because THEY’RE BIGGER.
Ambrose attacks Rollins backstage with a bucket of ice (sadly going for ”What? It’s for charity” rather than ”WHAT KEELT DE DINOSAWS?”) and this sets up the main event poll, which was genuinely hyped by the commentators throughout the night:
Paige vs. some female who isn’t AJ
It’s Neidhart, in case you were wondering. But there’s AJ, Paige, The Bellas, Cameron, Naomi…and then everyone else. AJ distracts Paige and Some Female gets the win to further the feud. Fine.
Brock gets the new belt. He’s still known as the clumsily-titled WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but whatever. We got a Heyman promo which are a definite highlight. I type this in case you were reading from a cave with wi-fi or something. Cena ain’t here, he’ll be here next week. Good. So often, WWE tries to make Raw the end-all show, but you can’t do that every week as it means the achievements mean less and less if they’re a regular occurrence. If there’s a WWE Title match every week, it means the PPV defences mean less and less. I approve of the (three-hour) minimal approach.
The Miz vs. Ziggler
They’re at infinity + 1 by my count. Before the match, Flair makes a brief appearance as Ziggler insults Miz backstage and they both laugh at his coat. And then Miz just leaves. I hate these cookie-cutter backstage shit segments, takes away all pretence of these people being real and paints them as characters as no wrestler should take an insult and simply leave because the segments finished. Anyway, Ziggler retains via count-out win after accidentally-maybe-maybe-not kicking himself off the apron due to an injured leg. JBL was all over him afterwards, insisting he was faking. Interesting…
Swagger by himself sucks up to America backstage. He comes out for a match…to exactly no heat. Who would have thought losing two consecutive PPV matches and the most entertaining part of the act (Zeb) would have this effect? Oh and he wrestled Cesaro (with no entrance again. He was just on the Summerslam panel for WWE 2k15!) The best thing about the match was JBL riding Swagger for his loss, letting him know he let millions of Americans down and I’m sure it was meant to be a heelish thing and we were supposed to go ”yeah but he put up a good fight (BEFORE HE LOST AGAIN)” but the crowd’s utter lack of fuck gave you the impression that the vast majority agreed with JBL. And why shouldn’t they? He then loses to Cesaro to further the point. And then all is forgiven as Bo Dallas shows up and urges Swagger to Boleive. See, if this turns into Swagger feuding or teaming with Bo because of his losses to AMERICA, then it’s good. If he wrestles Rusev again, it’s bad.
Jericho gets a promo and tells everyone Wyatt was scary. He didn’t suck up to Canada though so I’m not sure if I should be cheering him or not.
Ryback, Curtis Axel & Orton vs. Reigns, RVD & Sheamus
The usual good crowd-pleasing six-man Raw has been pumping out…but with a difference! Because we’re in Ryback’s back garden, crowd turned on everything mid-way and just chanted for Ryback constantly. As a Ryback fan, I fucking loved it. I hope people on TV saw this match and will then want to imitate these chants, like the Raw After Wrestlemania. RVD got the pin though, when his partners are the US Champ and Maybe-Future-Champ Reigns. I don’t get it.
Rusev and his lass bragged about winning last night. But then Mark Henry came out, sweating! They brawled and Henry left him laying. Apparently they were supposed to do Henry vs. Rusev a few PPVs ago but changed to Big E instead because of Henry’s nagging injuries. Well, what better way to get him ready than to have him do two segments on Raw! Seriously though, excited for Rusev vs. Henry as Henry has credibility, can speak and doesn’t have a Miley Cyrus haircut.
Goldust & Stardust vs. The Usos
The Lumberjacks explode! Thankfully, The Dusts are getting reactions in arenas now. They were too entertaining to get the Swagger response. Weird finish as Stardust gets a pin after trying to get the hot tag from Goldust for a few minutes, but hopefully this leads to a feud between the two teams. You know, something other than Rybaxel for the Dusts and The Wyatt Family for The Usos.
Ambrose vs. Rollins (Falls Count Anywhere)
Ignoring the silly vote-for-the-same-match lead-up, this match was PPV-level crazy. I’d question why they’d have this on free TV but fuck it, I get my enjoyment where I can. Crowd brawl, Masato Tanaka tribute spots and unbreakable tables. And it just went on and on, in a good way. Once again though, Rollins realised he couldn’t beat Ambrose by himself…so Kane de-tied and assisted Rollins in CURB-STOMPING AMBROSE INTO A PILE OF CEMENT BLOCKS. Ref called the match off as Ambrose presumably died on air. And it was because we voted for the stipulation. If only we’d voted for one of the other choices, this might not have happened.
Overall: Fast-forwarding the Bellas, Swagger, Cesaro’s lack of hype and RVD’s inexplicable dominance this was a fantastic show with flashy news graphics and same old problems.