Real American Wrestleblog

This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

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The Raw Review – 08/11/2014

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Start off the night with a mound of presents at the top of the rampway as tonight is Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration – AKA just an excuse to boost ratings on what fans know full well is likely to be a crummy take home show where nothing real happens and the entire point is to plug SummerSlam and the WWE Network as much as possible.  #$9.99, in case you didn’t know.  And if you by any chance didn’t know that, then let me inform you that Paul Heyman’s client Brock Lesnar conquered the Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania.  I think HHH and Heyman must have a personal bet backstage over who can say their phrase the most without the audience rioting.

And speaking of Heyman and Lesnar, they started off the show with a very solid promo in which Paul Heyman relives the highlights of Brock Lesnar since his return to the WWE for probably the 10-billionth time in the past 4 months, lest anybody somehow forget that Lesnar is still around because he really only shows up for maybe a dozen shows a year, yet somehow he’s going to win the WWE Championship in 6 days.  First, The Rock comes back for a grand total of two matches before he gets to win the title off of Punk and now Lesnar, who has wrestled seven matches in the past two and a half years, is going to be our next World Heavyweight Champion for a near certainty.  I personally have a problem with the spotlight being taken away from the guys that are there each and every week, night in and night out.  It’s not a big problem, but it’s like that annoying itch you get right in the middle of your back that you have to really stretch to rid yourself of.  Anyways, Heyman caps the promo by announcing that the WWE ring is now Brock’s house and he and the man of the house are going out for dinner, but not to let the party (Hulk Hogan’s birthday party) get too out of hand because after he eats, the man of the house is coming back home (back to the ring).  Pretty solid foreshadowing without boring everybody at the top of the show.  I am however, a little disappointed that Lesnar didn’t destroy the “birthday packages”, but there was still another 2 hours and 40 minutes for that to happen at that point.

In the first match of the night, Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring and then Kane’s music hits, which was good news to me as I feared after last week where he once again relinquished his mask that perhaps Kane was retiring.  Kane announces that since Reigns beat Kane last week, which was almost like beating two men, the authority would like to see how Reigns fairs actually fighting against two men this week and Reigns is placed in a Handicap match against Rybaxle.  It winds up being a typical Reigns match in which he doesn’t do a whole lot other than his usual punch, kick, Spear, Superman Punch set-up (and people give Cena a hard time over his supposed Five Moves of Death).  Reigns ends up winning by DQ, apparently meant to save Rybaxle the embarrassment of losing a handicap match in their favor.  After the match, Reigns cuts one of his best promos to date in which he points out that Randy Orton thinks Reigns stole something from him, but he hasn’t taken anything from Orton yet.  However, he says that at SummerSlam, he’s going to take everything away from Orton.  He also points out that once you punch the teeth out of a Viper, it’s really just a big worm.

Next up was Seth Rollins against Rob Van Dam in the match we were promised last week on Raw before the bait and switch that led to Seth Rollins losing to Heath Slater due to easily one of the most entertaining in-match distraction segments in the history of Monday Night Raw.  But Rollins redeems himself this week after a physical match with RVD and Rollins wins with the Curb Stomp, which for the record, is a pretty crummy finisher in my book because there are so many situations in which it doesn’t make any sense for his opponent to roll over and get into position for it.  After the match, Rollins takes a close look at Hogan’s presents at the top of the rampway, as though expecting Dean Ambrose to be hiding in one.  And predictably, just when he gives up on the idea and starts to leave, Ambrose of course comes bursting out of the biggest present and attacks Seth from him behind, rolling him all the way down the rampway and back to the ring and Seth before Seth manages to escape.  Nothing to complain about with the match, but the bit with Ambrose popping out of the box could have been done better.

Next up is some B.S. segment with Stephanie and Daniel Bryan’s supposed therapist in which Stephanie coaxes the young lady into claiming to have had an affair with Daniel Bryan and it’s obviously just a crummy ploy to pump up the hype for Stephanie and Brie, which for some reason seems to be the second Main Event on SummerSlam.  Really, after TNA did that incredibly shitty AJ Styles fake affair storyline a couple of years ago, WWE decides to do the same thing?  Thankfully, at this point in the storyline, it seems like this won’t be nearly as overly drawn out as that atrocity was and it’ll be quashed by the time Brie and Stephanie have their one and only match at SummerSlam, except for perhaps an eventual mixed tag with Brie & Daniel against Stephanie & HHH sometime in the future.  I pretty much tuned out this whole segment and if you didn’t do the same thing, then I’m sorry for your loss.  Apparently, Stephanie promised that they’re going to get it done and out of the way later on tonight instead of at SummerSlam, but I somehow doubt we could get that lucky.

Jack Swagger takes on Cesaro in our next match, and obviously Swagger has to come out looking strong in this one to promote his match with Rusev at SummerSlam.  It’s a shame that Cesaro apparently isn’t working the show and if he is, it’ll be one of those matches with no build-up where he jobs to somebody that they want to push but couldn’t decide what to do with until the last minute.  Like every Cesaro match, this one delivered plenty of excitement and unique spots before Swagger ultimately made Cesaro tap out to the Ankle Lock.  WWE, you’re pushing the wrong guy here.  However, once Swagger vs. Rusev is done, that will probably be rectified.  After the match, Rusev interrupts and proceeds to kick off another round of what I like to call the worst flag waving competition ever.  Thankfully, this round of flag twirling didn’t last very long.

Next up is pretaped footage between Bray Wyatt and Chris Jericho talking face-to-face in an interview segment.  This is really not the best setting for Wyatt, whose character is better served sticking to the shadows or working a crowd from a pulpit.  It was kind of like watching Batman walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the day in plain daylight.  I think the segment took away some of Wyatt’s mojo.  Both guys were brilliant, but Wyatt’s character just seemed out of place.

AJ Lee is in action in the next match against Eve Marie.  And you know when you see Eve Marie in the ring, you are about to see a terrible match.  From what I’ve seen from Eve in the past, she has no hustle in the ring.  She lollygags along at less than half speed and does nothing exciting or entertaining.  She only has a job because she has a slim waist and a boob job.  Paige comes out and causes a very boring distracting by skipping around the ring.  As much as I like Paige, that was a snoozer and Eve Marie for some reason gets handed a win over the Diva’s Champion in a match that lasted all of about 30 seconds before the distraction and Eve rolling up AJ for the win.  Paige wraps up with a poem and that part was pretty brilliant.  Diva’s promos usually suck balls, but that one was pretty decent.  Eve for no apparent reason is then down on one knee rubbing her neck outside the ring, so AJ goes out after her and beats the crap out of her while wailing and screeching.

John Cena’s then comes out to respond to Lesnar and Heyman’s comments from the start of the night.  I really like Cena when he gets ready to go into the ring with somebody that he legitimately doesn’t like, like he was with The Rock and now with Lesnar.  The dude is very underrated as a talker.  He almost had me convinced that he was actually going to beat Lesnar at SummerSlam.  Almost, but not quite.  Very solid promo.  Cena can occasionally bring it and when he does, he’s on par with any of the internet darlings out there.

Then it’s back to Brie and Stephanie and it was obvious that this match wasn’t actually going to happen tonight instead of at SummerSlam.  Instead, Stephanie turns the tables on Brie from a few weeks ago and gets Brie arrested for slapping her husband’s physical therapist earlier in that crummy segment.  Another waste of time here.  Stephanie was at least mildly entertaining as she flopped around with her tongue hanging out of her mouth while Brie put her in a horribly executed version of the Yes Lock.  The second time for the night, she was as boring as it gets, sticking hard to her overbearing bitch boss character hardcore.

Next up is Dolph Ziggler against Heath Slater with The Miz once again joining the commentary team.  I don’t know who convinced WWE that The Miz was a good talker, but that person should be shot.  I find it hilarious that even Michael Cole, the guy that was the biggest Miz mark back in 2011, has turned on the Miz and makes fun of him all the time.  Miz is a joke and a bad one at that.  Anyway, he stands on the announce table for the entire match in yet another suit that exhibits his poor taste.  Meanwhile, Ziggler puts in a decent appearance against Slater until it looks like Ziggler is about to get the W, so Miz starts to interfere, only to have Ziggler cut him off at the pass and beat the crap out of him and throw him around outside the ring.  This causes Ziggler to get counted out.  After the match, Ziggler offers to shake Slater’s hand and Slater goes to kick him instead, so Ziggler KOs him and heads into SummerSlam looking strong.  This current edition of Ziggler vs. Miz reminds me a lot of Booker T vs. Christian from 2003 and it should ring some bells for you because it’s pretty much the exact same scenario.  A PPV battle royal for a vacant Intercontinental Championship gets won by the heel who people thought was already eliminated and then the face comes back and beats the crap out of him for a month and beats him for the title at the next PPV.  Here’s hoping that history repeats itself in this instance.

Sheamus made his return after sitting out the last two weeks due to severe flu symptoms, which I believe is the reason why we have another AJ / Paige title match at SummerSlam.  After their Battleground match was so terrible, I thought they would continue building the program between them and skip over SummerSlam to give them time to work together some more at house shows and build some better in-ring chemistry and then have their next title match at Night of Champions next month.  Instead, we are saddled with both AJ vs. Paige and Stephanie vs. Brie at SummerSlam instead of them potentially building a Sheamus US Title defense against somebody like Cesaro or Rusev.  Sheamus has turned into a really solid in-ring performer.  You can’t dispute that the guy gives a max effort every time he’s in the ring and like Cena, he blows other big musclebound wrestlers out of the water in terms of athleticism and willingness to experiment with new maneuvers that you don’t see coming from a big guy, so I support Sheamus and Cena where a lot of people don’t.  I’m not going to mark out for either of them, but I have no problem with either of them carrying championships and I give them a lot of respect.  In tonight’s final match, Sheamus takes on Randy Orton and these two put on a very solid match together as they’ve done many times in the past.  It wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was very solid and for a Main Event on a take home show that didn’t feature anybody from the Main Event of the upcoming Pay Per View, it was more than adequate and it ended with another phenomenal RKO.  Randy Orton is among the best at finding exciting ways to hit his finishing maneuver when we as a viewer aren’t expecting it.  He may be the best at hitting his finishing move as a surprise since Shawn Michaels. 

Finally, we cap the night with Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration, which was the ratings grab they’ve been promoting all week to try to bring in viewers.  I’m kind of surprised that they saved it for the end of the show instead of leading off the second or third hour with it to reach the largest audience as the segments at the top and end of each hour easily get the best ratings of any given wrestling show.  Anyways, typical token appearances by legends and then Brock Lesnar comes back to try to spoil the party, but then Cena comes out and cuts him off and Lesnar disappointingly backs off and exits without the two having any real contact at all in the only show where they both appeared before their title match Main Event at SummerSlam.  This isn’t going to be a match on Sunday, it’s going to be two guys taking turns beating on each other and resting with numerous wear down holds and it’s probably going to suck, but because it doesn’t end with Cena winning and keeping the title, people are going to probably love it anyway.

Overall, not that great of an episode of Raw, but pretty good for a final episode of Raw before a PPV (Aka a take-home show).

 

 

Written by I Am a Real American

August 12, 2014 at 3:29 am

Posted in AJ Lee, AJ Styles, Antonio Cessaro, Battleground, Booker T, Bray Wyatt, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Christian, Curtis Axel, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Eve Marie, Heath Slater, Hulk Hogan, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kane, Lesnar vs. Cena, Michael Cole, Monday Night Raw, Paige, Paul Heyman, Pro Wrestling, Randy Orton, Raw Response, RKO, Rob Van Dam, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Rybaxle, Seth Rollins, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, SummerSlam, The Miz, The Rock, Triple H, Undertaker, United States Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE Championship, WWE Network, Yes Lock, Zeb Colter

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Five Things to Take Away from Extreme Rules 2013

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Folks, I was actually there for the show, so I have a slightly different perspective than the viewers at home, so keep that in mind.  I’m sure all of you who bought the Pay Per View or managed to watch it through other, more dubious means had a better view of most of the action, but sitting up in the stands, I might have caught some things that the cameras missed, for example, the first takeaway I got from the night.

1) Mark Henry sells harder and better than the Big Show, or at least he did last night.  What really sold me on this was the two similar spots they did where they got pulled or pushed into the ring post.  With Henry facing off against Sheamus in the Strap Match, at one point they took the fight out of the ring, but exited out different sides, leaving a ring post in between them.  Sheamus then used the strap to pull Henry into the ring post and when Henry through himself into the spot and made contact, the ring post moved violently and I almost thought they could break it off the side of the ring if they did that spot just one more time.  But they went back in the ring and completed the match.  Then, three matches later, Big Show takes on Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules Match and they too take the fight out to the floor and Big Show swats a ladder away from Orton and hoists Orton up like he’s going to use him for a battering ram and slam him into that same ring post that Henry collided with.  However, Orton counters and gets down behind Big Show and shoves him into that ring post and low and behold, nothing happens.  The ring post didn’t shake at all, which after what Henry did during his spot led me to believe that Big Show took it easy on himself while Henry went full bore.

2) Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H should not have been the closing match of the night.  I understand why they thought it had to close the show, since it was supposedly going to be the third and deciding match of their rivalry and thus should prove to be the best match between them, but it wasn’t.  On top of that, after the St. Louis crowd violently cheered on the hometown hero Randy Orton against Big Show and then going through the self-imposed obligation of showing all the kids in attendance who the boss is during the “Let’s Go Cena – CENA SUCKS,” chants, the crowd was pretty well out of it.  Coupled with the fact that the match didn’t end cleanly immediately after the only WWE / World Title match of the night didn’t have a winner and everybody leaves feeling slighted.  I don’t even think people cared who won, it just would have been nice to see a clear winner and a clear loser.  By the way, as my brother pointed out about the finish of that match was Paul Heyman was doing a sell job and then he pops up to low blow HHH and then goes right back to doing his cell job and acts like he’s unconscious up until Lesnar exits the cage and then reaches in and drags Heyman out by the leg.  What exactly was the point in that?  That was horrible planning on Heyman’s part.  Once you pop up and hit the low blow and don’t get touched again, how do you go back to being knocked out?  I thought Paul Heyman was smarter than that.

3) The Shield might not actually be a cohesive unit for much longer.  We’ve seen it before with pretty much every heel group that’s been cut from the same cloth as The Shield.  The Nexus, the Corre, Evolution, the nWo – once the members start winning titles, jealousy starts to set in and it becomes a pissing match over who is better.  That’s pretty much the way all of these things end and the beginning of the end usually comes once one or all of the members start winning titles.  As we saw with Evolution and the nWo, that can lead to a series of decent rivalries and play out for a long time, or as we saw with the Corre, it can completely break up the group in pretty much no time flat.

4) Dean Ambrose and Kofi Kingston put on a pretty sloppy match while Chris Jericho vs. Fandango seemed pretty sound.  During the United States Title Match, it seemed to me that Ambrose was having quite a bit of trouble keeping pace with Kofi, which led to Ambrose looking pretty stupid by having to hurry at the last second to get into place to take some of Kofi’s moves.  And there was also the botch where Kofi tried to jump over Ambrose, but Ambrose didn’t get out of the way quick enough and Kofi kicked him in the head accidentally, which they no sold and moved on.  Conversely, Jericho vs. Fandango didn’t seem to have any slip ups at all, but then again Jericho is amazing and Fandango doesn’t do any moves that can really be screwed up except for usually landing wrong on his opponents heads.  His move set strikes me as overly basic, which sometimes when you’re still just getting the hang of the business, it’s better to K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid).  So there really wasn’t any opportunity I saw for him to really screw up the match other than if he had taken Jericho’s flying crossbody at the start of the match wrong and dropped him on the floor kind of like The Miz did to R-Truth last year that got him in hot water.  So, Fandango can at least take other people’s high spots without screwing up, which is more than can be said for The Miz or Sim Snuka / Deuce.  However, I’d rather watch a match like what Ambrose and Kingston put on that is slightly sloppy because at least they were taking some risks to try to put together a better match even if they couldn’t get the timing right.

5) HHH’s Sharpshooter is almost as bad as The Rock’s.  Anybody that is a part of the fan group I comment in on facebook knows that I’m pretty hard on The Rock for his extremely bad version of the Sharpshooter.  Well, Triple H brought it out for the cage match against Brock Lesnar last night and it ended up being every bit as bad as the version utilized by The Rock.  However, it didn’t start out that way.  It looked like HHH actually did a semi-decent job of applying the move at the start and had a decent version locked in, but Lesnar fought to stretch himself out to lessen the pressure because he apparently couldn’t take it, but that wasn’t supposed to be the finish of the match, so the move just ended up looking really bad by the time Lesnar drug himself almost all the way down to the mat instead of letting HHH hold him up and selling the hold.  So, I put most of the blame for HHH’s version on Lesnar not cooperating, unlike when Rock just plain puts the hold on wrong from the start.  Chris Benoit is the only one who has come close to doing the move correctly since Owen and Bret Hart’s time, and Bret gives him credit for it, but always points out that it isn’t right any time I read anything where he’s asked about it.  In this day and age though, nobody cares about doing the submissions correctly and making it look good (with the exception of Daniel Bryan’s Crossface No Lock and Punk’s occasional Anaconda Vise).  Pretty much the only time Jericho gets to put in a decent looking Walls of Jericho any more is when he’s wrestling the human gumby known as Kofi Kingston.  Maybe it’s just that wrestlers are softer now than they were ten years ago or maybe they just don’t care about the technical wrestling side of things as much, but something has to be done to reverse the trend of horribly applied submission locks.