Tuesday 19 August 2014

That RAW Recap 18.08.14

I wrote in my SummerSlam review (read that here) that the show was possibly the best WWE had put on this year. So the following evening’s RAW had a lot to live up to. An average show wasn’t going to cut it. It had to be memorable, building on the successes of the bigger show.

I’m pleased to say it did.

The show began with Daniel Bryan’s music playing. Elated, the audience burst into a “Yes!” chant. They were left disappointed when Stephanie McMahon came out (dressed down in her own Bryan-esque T-shirt and a pair of jeans). She mocked Bryan’s entrance. The crowd booed her at first and then became bored.

After trolling on about the Network and reminding us she’d won a match at SummerSlam Steph brought out Nikki Bella. Nikki  revealed she'd turned on Brie because she was tired of Brie's selfishness. Brie, she claimed, had been jealous of her since they were kids and had raced her to the alter.

Brie came out to refute this and did the betrayed babyface “Why, Nikki, why?” routine. Nikki slapped her to the mat and pouted. Steph laughed. Brie left the ring looking teary-eyed. The whole thing could have been worse but it also could have been significantly better. Nikki’s explanation speech was horribly overacted. It did at least make sense. That was something.

The first match saw the tandem of Mark Henry and Big Show defeat the Wyatt Family. That was disappointing, considering how over the Wyatts are as a team. It’s made worse by the fact that WWE almost certainly have no long term plans for the big lad team.

After that Seth Rollins was attacked by Dean Ambrose backstage. Complaining to Triple H he was told that he’d have a match with Ambrose later in the show, the idea being to get rid of ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ for good. The WWE App hosted a poll to decide the stipulation for Rollins v Ambrose. The choices were no holds barred, falls count anywhere and no disqualification. The commentators did a great job Filing to acknowledge that those gimmicks are all basically the same.

Match two saw Paige pinned by Natalya (non-title, natch). The reason ‘The Anti-Diva’ lost was AJ Lee. She skipped to the ring and distracted the champ. To be honest they should both be used to his sort of thing by now. Paige had said she still loved AJ and was dedicating the match to her before the bell rang. AJ said she loved Paige and was dedicating her life to her. Their rivalry is clearly going to continue.

Hour two opened with The Authority. Stephanie had changed into a dress. She couldn't embarrass Tripper by not being well turned out, could she? 'The Game' said Cena and Lesnar’s SummerSlam match had been an instant classic that represents the future of the company. They then unveiled "the symbol of that future," the new WWE championship belt. It was sat on a table underneath a red cloth. There were scattered boos for it. JBL said "That is a championship belt." I suspect that was some sort of in-joke or rib knowing Layfield.

Not enough wrestlers pose for pictures during promos.
Lesnar was then introduced. He, Heyman and The Authority pair posed with the belt to all four sides of the ring. A photo op for the audience. Generous, no? This was booed at first, then a Lesnar chant broke out. That’s what happens when you give someone a strong push while most of the rest of the roster stagnates: people are drawn to the proven winner.

Triple H and Stephanie headed backstage, leaving Paul Heyman to gloat. Naturally this took the form of talking about Lesnar ending The Streak, winning the championship, and giving Cena such a beating that he couldn't physically be there. Heyman did a tremendous job of putting Cena over, emphasising how long he'd been on top compared to Rock and Austin and reminding us (as if it were needed) that Cena had been a near constant WrestleMania headliner for ten years. The former champ earned his respect by adhering to his slogan and not giving up, to the extent that Heyman said if he had time he'd take Cena on as a client.

Why did he do this? Because it makes ‘The Beast’s’ accomplishment far greater, of course. Heyman also talked up Lesnar and his reign. He's more than a man and anybody stepping into the ring will have to deal with that, basically. Nothing was said about when Lesnar will defend his title, or who he’ll face. My assumption is he’ll work a rematch with Cena at Night of Champions and then work most, not necessarily all, pay-per-views until he loses the championship, which will probably be at WrestleMania.

After that Dolph Ziggler beat The Miz in a rematch from the previous night. It was good stuff. So was Jack Swagger v Cesaro. 'The Swiss Superman' won with a Neutralizer and then Swagger was told to Bo-lieve by Bo Dallas. Rob Van Dam, Sheamus and Roman Reigns v Randy Orton and RybAxel was also enjoyable enough. RVD won that for his team when he pinned Axel after a Five Star frog splash. Reigns wiped ‘The Viper’ out with a spear. Goldust and Stardust then defeated the Usos following a sunset flip. JBL called them the Dust Brusters. WWE needs to get their tag division back on track. They’ve got some popular, talented teams, but they don’t seem interested in penning storylines for them.

A Rusev and Lana promo was interrupted by Mark Henry. ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ said he doesn't usually have a problem with people and their countries but he does have a problem with Rusev. The Russian flag being raised at SummerSlam made him sick so called Rusev boy and announced he was going to induct him into the Hall of Pain. They exchanged punches then Rusev hurt his foot (injured the previous evening) kicking Henners. A World's Strongest Slam and a splash followed. That's Rusev's next conquest sorted then.

Crazy ol' Dean Ambrose.
Jerry Lawler announced that a falls count anywhere stip had won the Ambrose v Rollins vote. The pair quickly brawled through the crowd and up onto the stage where Rollins took a suplex. After the obligatory foray they headed back to the ring where Ambrose brought a chair into the match, body slamming and elbow dropping 'Mr Money in the Bank' with and on it. Seth took control when he ran Ambrose headfirst into a chair then grabbed a cane. When Ambrose eventually got his turn with the cane he really walloped Seth and exhumed Sandman's ECW Singapore cane leg sweep spot.

Ambrose survived a power bomb onto a pile of chairs as Kane showed up at ringside. Rollins set up a table in the ring. His attempt to Curb Stomp Ambrose through a table backfired when Ambrose intercepted him and suplexed him through it. They diverted out to ringside so Ambrose could lay out Kane with a suicide dive, then returned to the ring for a rebound lariat and Dirty Deeds. People were convinced that would be the finish, but Kane pulled Ambrose out of the ring to make sure it wasn't. Deano dropped Kane onto ring steps and back dropped Rollins into the crowd.

An announce desk was cleared and Ambrose went for Dirty Deeds again but Kane intercepted him with a choke slam. The table didn't break. It withstood a Curb Stomp too.

Things got a bit silly at that point. Kane moved a table aside to reveal a stack of cinder blocks. Kane held Ambrose in place as Rollins Curb Stomped his enemy through the blocks. Yes, through them. Because concrete really would crumble against the of mighty bone and flesh. Ambrose did a stretcher job as Kane and Rollins raised their arms and nodded. Meanwhile Jerry Lawler predicted we would never see Dean Ambrose again. Oh, 'King'. Will you never learn?

Overbooked finish aside the main event was very enjoyable. In an ideal world Ambrose would sit out for a month to sell the injury and Rollins would challenge Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental championship at Night of Champions. Ambrose could come back and cost him the gold or, better yet, attack him straight after he’d won it. Involving the IC strap in such a high profile feud would give it a much-needed boost and Ziggler v Rollins on a pay-per-view could be great.

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