Real American Wrestleblog

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

Posts Tagged ‘WWE Network

Live Reactions – Elimination Chamber 2015 – Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE Championship

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Last up is the WWE Championship match that we could have been having last fall had Rollins won the title when he tried to cash in at Night of Champions instead of keeping the title on Brock Lesnar for that many months with only a couple of title defenses.

Before that though, they are announcing a rematch between John Cena and Kevin Owens in two weeks at Money in the Bank.  They’re also announcing Neville, Dolph Ziggler, Roman Reigns, Randy Ortn, Kofi Kingston and Sheamus as the participants in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

Ambrose outwrestles Rollins in a series of chain wrestling holds to begin the match.  Rollins takes a long walk outside the ring to regroup.  Surprisingly, Ambrose doesn’t do the typical dive out to the floor and wipe everybody out spot.  Rollins back in the ring and he turns the tables and gets in a few good shots before Ambrose goes back on the attack.  After a bit, Ambrose ends up in the Tree of Woe while Noble distracts the referee.  Rollins climbs up over Ambrose and hits a Double Footstomp to the face, breaking Ambrose free from the Tree of Woe.  Rollins dangles Ambrose part way out of the ring and beats him up on the apron from the floor.  Rollins with a Snapmere and kick to the back and a cover, but Ambrose quickly kicks out.  This has been a much more slow and deliberate match than I expected from these two to this point.  Rollins with a wear down hold.  Ambrose battles back, but ends up eating the turnbuckle.  Rollins get a near fall.  Rollins with a unique Elbow Smash, tries a couple of pin attempts off it, but nothing doing.  J & J distract the referee some more, Rollins continues to methodically and slowly beat up Ambrose.  Very slow and deliberate still in this match.  It’s not bad by any means, but it’s not really either of these guy’s style.  Things pick up now as both men fly off the ropes at each other with a Double Crossbody Block attempt and both men are down as the match slows back down to a crawl.  Trading near falls, more chain wrestling.  Ambrose ducks a kick and goes for an Atomic Drop, but instead slams Rollins face first into the mat with it.  Another new innovate move thrown in tonight.  Everybody is trying new things and putting on a very good show tonight.  Now we get the spot where Ambrose knocks Rollins out of the ring and there is a HUGE Suicide Dive that knocks both men over the announce table and into the announce team’s laps.  They had to land and then dive over the announce table, so the move wasn’t really all that good, but it’s not really possible to do that move and go over the announce table that far away.  Not sure why they tried it.

Back in the ring, Rollins stacks Ambrose up, but the referee catches him with his feet in the ropes.  Ambrose rams Rollins into Mercury who was up on the ring apron and rolls him up for a near fall.  Superkick on Ambrose for a near fall.  The fight goes out to the floor and Rollins hits his Turnbuckle Powerbomb spot into the barricade instead of the corner.  Back in the ring, Rollins covers him, but Ambrose kicks out.  Rollins off the top with a Flying Knee Smash to the side of the head and covers him for another near fall.  Rollins with a big Reverse DDT for another near fall.  Rollins beats on Ambrose in the corner and badmouths him and then charges in with a Flying Forearm Strike in the corner.  Rollins slaps Ambrose around a bit and continues to taunt him.  Another Forearm Smash in the corner, but Ambrose no sells it and follows Rollins back across the ring and smashes him in the corner.  Tornado DDT on Rollins and covers him for a near fall.  More back and forth, Rollins goes for a Flying Knee Strike from the top rope, but Ambrose dodges into a Pendulum Clothesline off the ropes and Rollins does a full rotation to land on his face.  Ambrose covers for a near fall.  Ambrose off the top with his Flying Elbow Drop / Crossbody on a standing opponent for another near fall.  JBL promises to eat his hat if Ambrose leaves with the title.  Ambrose setting up for Dirty Deeds, but J & J cause a distraction, allowing Rollins to Thrust Kick Ambrose in the gut.  Rollins dives out to the floor, tackling Ambrose into the table.  Quickly back into the ring for another Pendulum Clothesline spot and Ambrose knocks everybody down and goes up to the top turnbuckle, but instead of diving onto Rollins in the ring, he dives out to the floor and wipes out Kane and J & J all in one go.  Rollins out after him and Ambrose hits another Pendulum Clothesline off the ring apron.  Back in the ring, Ambrose up top, dives at Rollins, but Rollins pulls the referee in the way and Ambrose takes out the referee.  Rollins goes for the Pedigree, but Ambrose counters.  Rollins up top for the Phoenix Splash, but Ambrose rolls out of the way.  Dirty Deeds and the cover, but the referee is out.  Second official comes out and makes the three count.

HOLY CRAP!  Ambrose is the Champion!  NEW CHAMPION!  But now the original referee is back up and says he’s disqualifying Rollins.  Ambrose wins by DQ.  Dusty Finish.  Dammit.  Now they try a beat down on Ambrose, but Reigns comes out to make the save.  Reigns and Ambrose clean house and Ambrose hoists up the title.  Ambrose grabs a mic and declares that since he won the match, he’s taking the belt.  Ambrose and Reigns leave through the crowd with the title and Ambrose says the new champ is buying the beers.  However, it won’t be official.  Very entertaining nonetheless.  They got me with the damn Dusty Finish.  But still, a very entertaining end to a very good Pay Per View.  This might end up being the best WWE Pay Per View of the year.  WWE certainly didn’t drop the ball tonight.

Live Reactions – Elimination Chamber 2015 Preshow

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Within the last hour before the Kickoff show went live, it was announced on wwe.com that Rusev had not been cleared to compete and thus will not be a part of the Elimination Chamber for the Intercontinental Championship tonight, meaning that we have a surprise opening in that chamber match.

On the preshow, Booker T announces that his sources are telling him Rusev will be replaced in the Elimination Chamber by a former World Heavyweight Champion.  That points to potentially The Miz, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, Big Show, Kane or Randy Orton.  Unless somebody like a Chris Jericho were to make a surprise appearance tonight.

Backstage, Kane is talking in the Authority’s office with all 3 members of New Day and New Day asks to be rewarded for helping The Authority out against Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns.  Kane reveals that he has decided that all three members of New Day will be allowed to compete in the Elimination Chamber tonight.  Xavier asks if this means they will get a bigger pod so that all three of them can fit.  Kane looks confused and says if that is going to cause a problem, he can arrange for New Day to start the match and make them go through every other team.  Big E and Kofi then immediately cover Xavier’s mouth before he can make things worse and says it won’t be a problem, they’ll fit.  So, the bottom line is that we know all 3 members of New Day will be in the match and they will not be one of the two teams starting the match.

Another announcement was made on the preshow, this time having to do with the Divas Championship match.  A ruling has been made during the Divas Championship Triple Threat match, nobody will be allowed at ringside.  That means that Brie Bella and Tamina won’t be in Nikki Bella and Naomi’s respective corners.  That means we will likely have a better match than just a couple of minutes full of interference and then a quick pin and a new champion.  However, even with them banned from ringside, I wouldn’t rule out some kind of interference taking place.

At ringside, the announce team talks about the Tough Enough auditions and then we have an impromptu, unannanounced preshow match as Zack Ryder makes his way to the ring.  I don’t think Ryder has had a singles match on a Pay Per View / PPV Preshow in over a year.  Tonight, he’s taking on Stardust, who lost to R-Truth on the Payback preshow two weeks ago.

Stardust controls the early going, mostly working the torso and Ryder’s left arm.  Ryder counters a Vertical Suplex into a Neckbreaker and the tables are turned.  Very nice Missile Dropkick from Ryder off the ring apron to the floor.  The announce team plays up Stardust’s run-in with Stephen Amell on Raw last week.  Ryder hits the Broski Boot and goes for the Rough Ryder, but Stardust blocks it.  Stardust ends up winning with the Cross Rhodes.  JBL says it’s now called the Queen’s Crossbow, playing up a potential Stardust / Amell program.

Tom Phillips interviews Lana.  She sells the beef between her and Rusev and gets gooey over Ziggler.  In case you missed Smackdown, Rusev is no longer waving a Russian flag.  Instead, he’s waving a Bulgarian flag.  That’s a step that seems like Rusev and Lana won’t be reuniting to swerve Ziggler, but you never know.

The Miz returns, announced by Summer Rae.  Miz is wearing an even crappier version of his black man-dress from his last run.  Not only is he a boring performer and a below average wrestler, but he continues to have the worst fashion sense of anybody on the planet.  He’s interviewing Daniel Bryan on a Miz-TV segment.  Miz does the typical heel thing and asks Bryan a question and then interrupts and answers it himself.  Bryan says his career is not over and he WILL be back.  Bryan promotes his upcoming book.  Miz says that due to doctor’s orders, Byran can’t touch him and he can’t touch Bryan.  However, Bryan says that he finds Miz-TV boring and has an alternative solution to continuing it and points to the back and Macho Mandow and Axelmania make their way to the ring and clobber Miz.  Axel drops the leg on Miz and Miz rolls out to the floor and retreats.  The Faux Mega Powers pose down with Daniel Bryan to end the segment.

Dean Ambrose is being interviewed.  Ambrose says that no matter what the Authority has planned, he’s going down swinging.  Roman Reigns shows up and says that Ambrose only has to worry about Seth Rollins tonight because he will be in the corner.

JBL closes down the preshow, standing inside the Elimination Chamber and reviews the rules of the Chamber match.  The chamber is set up, so it looks like one of the two Elimination Chamber matches is coming up first on the main card.

Payback, Unstoppable and the Elimination Chamber, Oh My!

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Over the next two weeks, the WWE has stacked up for us 2 Main Roster Pay Per View events as well as a 2-hour NXT Takeover, which if you don’t follow NXT is basically like a PPV event for them that they put on every 2-3 months. Starting May 17 with Payback, followed up by NXT Unstoppalbe on May 20 and concluding with a surprise Elimination Chamber PPV on May 31 that we only found out about 3 weeks before it takes place.  Now, I don’t think these are going to be the best two weeks of wrestling of all time, or even all year, but it is going to be plenty of fun and it feels like anything can happen.

Let’s start with the top of the card this Sunday at Payback.  We have a Fatal 4-Way for the WWE Championship that I am very much looking forward to.  It is a near certainty that either Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns is going to be carrying the championship into SummerSlam where they will defend against a returning Brock Lesnar.  However, a lot can happen between now and SummerSlam three months from now.  We now have 4 Pay Per Views stacked up between now and SummerSlam – Payback, Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank and Battleground.  We could see any number of things happen.  We could see Seth Rollins lose the title at Payback and win it back in the Elimination Chamber.  We could see Rollins survive both the Fatal 4-Way and the Chamber only to see Roman Reigns win Money in the Bank and cash in on him in a reversal of fortunes.  We could see Ambrose get his first World Championship, though that one is a long shot.  There are a lot of possibilities for WWE to play around with.  I do think that Rollins carries the title all the way to SummerSlam without interruption, but it is far from a certainty with all that is laid out on the road between now and then.  No matter what happens, this should be an excellent match with tons of action and mark out moments.

From there we move to the next biggest match of Payback with John Cena against Rusev for the United States Championship in an “I Quit” Match.  John Cena has never lost an “I Quit” Match.  I will be shocked if John Cena loses this “I Quit” Match.  It’s not gonna be a classic.  I expect Rusev to royally pound on Cena and maybe even go into full on prisoner torture mode like Randy Orton did in his “I Quit” Match with Cena back in 2009.  But no matter what happens, Cena will not quit and he’ll eventually hulk up and put Rusev in some crazy variation of the STF using ropes or a chain or duct tape or whatever’s handy to sell that Rusev isn’t just tapping out to an ordinary STF and Cena will retain.  Of that, we can all be certain.  The United States Open Challenge that Cena puts on is the best match of Raw every week and Cena’s new role in the company is apparently to beat everybody on the mid-card.  I actually really like this plan because eventually, he will lose and it’s gonna make for a huge push for whoever beats him for the title.  Meanwhile, for the guys he’s beating, everybody on the roster has lost cleanly to John Cena multiple times, so there is no shame in it and it doesn’t hurt them at all. The only exception to that is Rusev in my opinion.  One loss, not so bad, but you take an unbeaten monster and have him lose to John Cena at 3 consecutive Pay Per Views and there is just no point in it other than to destroy Rusev.  Rusev should have just spit on the United States Championship picture after Wrestlemania and moved on to fight somebody like Randy Orton or Dean Ambrose and transitioned into a World Champion contender.  But after losing 3 straight Pay Per View matches for a mid-card title, there is nowhere for Rusev to go.  After he quits on Sunday, he probably has to go away for a few months and then come back and start all over unless they can find a new twist for him that keeps the heat on his character.  Not that I mind seeing him go, but it seemed like WWE was really into what they were doing with him and now they’re letting him be broken all the way down.  Anything is possible in WWE, so it’s always possible that through some trickery or a shift in Cena’s never give up schtick that Rusev could regain the United States Championship, but to what end?  What does WWE have to gain by putting the United States Championship back on Rusev?  He’s already beaten all the supposed big American badasses except for Cena, so if he finally beats Cena to reclaim the championship there then becomes nowhere else for them to go with his storyline.  There becomes no more American challengers to throw at him.  There is nothing left for Rusev to accomplish in that storyline and it’s past time to end it and find something else for him.  Despite this undoubtedly being an incredibly violent match, it’s really gonna be just two guys taking turns punching and kicking each other and hitting each other with weapons while melodramatically screaming at the other one to give up.  It will be brutal and hold your attention, but it will not be a very good match in my opinion.

As for the rest of the card, Bray Wyatt vs. Ryack is intriguing and has a very good chance to exceed expectations.  However, it feels like WWE just threw these two together because they didn’t have anything else to do with either of them.  Those kind of situations can lead to phenomenal matches, but more commonly than not matches under those circumstances tend to suck majorly.  Then we have a Ziggler vs. Sheamus rematch and despite being a fan of both guys, I really just don’t care about this one.  That stupid Kiss Me Arse Match at Extreme Rules has just made their entire program a flop to me and they haven’t done anything to save it.  Sheamus is very athletic for a guy his size and I thought he put on some of the best matches of his career against Daniel Bryan and Big Show during his run as World Heavyweight Champion, but I haven’t been impressed by his matches with Ziggler in the past.  And we all know Ziggler is phenomenal.  These guys just need to be matched up against anybody but each other, it feels like to me.  King Barrett takes on Neville in a rematch from the King of the Ring Finals, which is also a rematch from the Extreme Rules Kickoff show and other than the Main Event, this is my pick for the best match on the card.  Cesaro & Tyson Kidd challenge New Day for the Tag Team Titles 2-out-of-3 Falls Match, which makes me think of last year’s Battleground with Harper & Rowan against The Usos in the same type of match in what I think was the best match of the year.  However, as great as Cesaro & Kidd are, New Day is not that good and I expect a decent match out of this one, but not a great one.  That just leaves the Divas Tag Match and the Preshow tag match and let’s just call those what they are – space fillers.

NXT takes over the WWE Network for the 6th time on May 20th with Unstoppable and right at the top of the card you have what promises to be a match of the year candidate for sure in Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship.  Their last match wasn’t the match that I was expecting, but that’s because first and foremost it was a beatdown used to write Sami Zayn off of NXT TV for a couple of months and it was only secondarily a wrestling match.  This time, I’m expecting a classic on par with the Sami Zayn and Cesaro matches of 2013 and 2014.

The NXT Divas look to be set for another amazing night with Sasha Banks defending the Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch.  This is kind of the opposite of the Ziggler / Sheamus match for me.  With Ziggler / Sheamus, I like both guys, but don’t think they fit well together.  However, with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, I don’t care for either lady, but their work together to this point has been riveting.  Both ladies were a part of the Phenomenal Fatal 4-Way title match at the last Takeover along with Charlotte and Bayley and for this match the two had probably the most interesting contract signing segment I can remember seeing in a long time.  As for Charlotte and Bayley, they team up to take on Emma and Dana Brooke in a Tag Team Match and Charlotte and Bayley have yet to put on a bad match that I’ve seen, so I have faith in this one though I’m not really feeling it.

Then we have the Triple Threat #1 Contenders Match between Finn Balor, Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze.  Unfortunately for Itami because I feel like he was probably slated to win this one, he’s suffered a shoulder injury and is expected to be pulled from this match.  Whether he is replaced by another contender or it becomes a singles match between Balor and Breeze, it should still be a top notch match.

As for the rest, we have Baron Corbin taking on Rhyno.  While the buildup for Baron Corbin and Rhyno hasn’t been as fun as the buildup for Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey was, this match should be much better than that one was.  And rounding out the card, Enzo Amore and Big Cass take on Blake & Murphy for the NXT Tag Team Championships and while Enzo & Cass are a great act on the mic, they aren’t really that impressive in the ring and Blake & Murphy just seem very bland to me, so I’m not expecting much out of these two teams as far as wrestling, but Enzo & Cass will no doubt rock the mic with a new variation on their usual schtick and the crowd with eat it up like candy.  Also, I’ve felt from the time she debuted that her character has just been waiting for the right opportunity to stab Enzo & Cass in the back and with Blake & Murphy showering her with jewelry over the past couple months, I think the union between Blake, Murphy & Alexa Bliss could be a misdirect and Carmella could be leaving with the defending champions at Takeover.

As for the Elimination Chamber, we only know so far that there will be at least two Elimination Chamber matches – one for Daniel Bryan’s recently vacated Intercontinental Championship and one for the WWE Tag Team Championship.  We’ve never seen a tag team Elimination Chamber, so we don’t know for sure if it’s gonna be 3 teams, 4 teams or 6 teams taking part.  It could be 6 teams with multiple guys locked in each pod.  It could be 3 teams with 2 guys starting and being handicapped without their partner until their partner is released.  Or it could be 4 teams with 2 full teams starting out and 4 individuals locked in the pods with one individual released at a time, giving the teams locked in the pods the advantage of not having to wrestle the beginning of the match and get worn down, but also giving them the disadvantage of entering the ring without their partner against two complete teams, although theoretically worn down and weakened at that point.  Any way it goes, it will be a first time and thus will be interesting.  We also have a mid-card title being up for grabs in the Elimination Chamber for the very first time.  And not that he’s really a candidate to win it, but I’ve read a lot of speculation about Adam Rose being booked as a part of that match and given somewhat of a push after his was featured on the E:60 NXT special.

While anything can happen on this schedule, I expect a fair amount of disappointment from certain matches on the cards as I have outlined.  However, I also expect a few pleasant surprises and maybe even a big surprise or two and I’m definitely going to be glued to the TV on those three nights.  $9.99 well spent.

Written by Arron Hustead

May 14, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Adam Rose, Baron Corbin, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Big E Langston, Bray Wyatt, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Charlotte, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Elimination Chamber, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, New Day, Nikki Bella, NXT, NXT Championship, NXT Takeover, Payback, Randy Orton, Rhyno, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, SummerSlam, Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd, United States Championship, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Xavier Woods

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Why you should be watching Lucha Underground

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If you’re tired of seeing the same old thing every Monday Night on Raw, you really don’t have anybody to blame for it but yourself.  From 2001-2005 there were no other alternatives to WWE programming.  Then TNA came along and there was an alternative, although it was crap.  TNA tried too hard to beat WWE at being the WWE and as a result failed miserably to provide quality entertainment.  They provided excellent wrestling at times, but we all know that there is more to a wrestling show than the wrestling and what TNA tried to do to fill that part of the show was some of the most god awful crap ever to make it on the air.  But now there are alternatives.  And don’t get me wrong, I still love WWE programming.  I still watch Raw and Smackdown every week.  But WWE in some respects is a victim of their own success.  In trying to satisfy the demand created by putting their competition out of business, WWE has steadily increased the amount of weekly programming they create, thus creating a much more watered down product.  It’s still fun.  It still has it’s high points every week.  But 5 hours of Raw and Smackdown every week makes for a lot of down time and failed entertainment experiments.  Plus, WWE has become more about using Raw and Smackdown to promote the WWE Network, the WWE App, the WWE iPhone games, etc., etc. and less about providing a show.  In 3 hours of Raw, it feels like roughly half the show is spent plugging products or other WWE branded shows.

Lucha Underground, however, only provides one hour of programming per week, and it is always stellar.  The storytelling is compelling rather than a rehash of reality tv episodes.  The promotional segments are always focused around the wrestling and what you are going to see in the ring either that week or the next.  There is no prolonged two or three months of promotion for one match before you finally see the guys fight that you want to see fight.  The wrestling is top notch.  It can become a bit of a spotfest at times with all of the high flying that is going on, but it’s always well connected and not just something that the performers do to try to keep the crowd interested.  If you watch the crowd during the show, they are always on the edge of their seats.  And whereas the WWE fans will frequently try to hijack Raw and Smackdown with sophomoric though sometimes amusing chants, the Lucha Underground audience is a part of the show without distracting from the performance with a different chant every two minutes.  This is from beginning to finish a well put together wrestling show with a great and varied cast of characters, a dastardly authority figure who doesn’t make himself the center of attention every week and announcers who genuinely love the product and hang on every second of action in the ring.  And that’s without delving past the surface of the in-ring product at Lucha Underground yet.

If you were a fan of wrestling in the attitude era, Lucha Underground gives you the brutality and violence that has been missing from the WWE product for the past decade.  If you can’t or don’t want to go back and watch every episode of Lucha Underground from start to finish (which I highly recommend), then at least check out a sampling from among some of the better matches that they have put on the air so far.  Watch Mil Muertes vs. Fenix in a Casket Match.  Watch the Best of 5 series between Drago and Aero Star.  Watch the Trios Championship tournament matches.  Watch the Aztec Warfare Battle Royal.  You can find most of those matches on YouTube or full episodes on dailymotion or various other video streaming sites.  And I’m not in any way advocating that you replace the WWE with Lucha Underground.  I am advocating that you broaden your horizons and that you supplement the entertainment that you are getting from WWE every week by also watching Lucha Underground.  WWE has made it clear over the past decade that they are going to follow a certain business model and more power to them.  Regardless of whatever criticism they receive from their vocal detractors, what they are doing works.  You can’t refute that.  They are the global leader in the industry and they just keep growing and expanding with each passing year.  So, enjoy WWE for what it is and stop trying to pressure them into being something that they aren’t any more.  By watching both WWE and Lucha Underground, you get the best of both worlds.  You get the entertainment brand that WWE has become and you also get to witness a young thriving promotion that’s filling the void left by the WWE outgrowing what they used to be.

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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