Armchair Booking: WWE Night of Champions 2015

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

For those who have read my articles in the past, I am a huge WWE fan. For practically my entire life, I have followed wrestling in some capacity and paid attention to most of the feuds. In addition, I have also followed independent wrestling for the past few years and on occasion converse with various wrestlers including the “Handicapped Heroes” Gregory Iron and Zach Gowen.

Night of Champions

Later this month at WWE’s Night of Champions event — which will be broadcast on Pay-Per-View and the WWE Network — Seth Rollins will defend his newly won United States Championship against former champion John Cena, while also defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against “The Icon” Sting. Rollins has already proven himself as a main eventer since winning the championship, but the upcoming Pay-Per-View event has the potential to make him an even bigger star. With that being said, I will give my opinion on what can and should be done to ensure the best outcome for all involved—and the one that can keep everybody happy.

First, Rollins will defend his United States Championship against John Cena. This will be a difficult match to book. Rollins has been booked very strong as a champion, and the WWE officials behind the scenes have avoided booking him as the typical “cowardly heel.” While he has his shortcomings, Rollins has overall been able to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Cena, on the other hand, has been booked stronger than any other wrestler in WWE history. He has far more wins than losses, and on the rare occasion that he does lose a match it is almost always due to some form of outside interference. With Rollins starting to come out as a star on his own without The Authority interfering on his behalf, it could be difficult to book Rollins in a way that makes him the victor while keeping Vince McMahon’s hand picked star strong.

What could happen is something that is incredibly rare — have Cena put Rollins over clean. A victory by Rollins without cheating or a disqualification finish would further establish him as a top face of the company for years to come, while also warming Cena up to his detractors. In recent months, Cena seems to be more willing to put over the younger stars. In the past, Cena would obliterate the young guys in the ring in order to make himself look good. A guy like Rollins would have never lasted five minutes in the ring with John Cena, but at the Summerslam event last month their match went nearly 20 minutes. Cena is an established star whether or not he holds a championship, he does not need another title reign.

Next, Sting will face off against Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In storyline, Rollins would be exhausted from facing Cena making it entirely believable that an older veteran like Sting could defeat the younger Seth Rollins one-on-one. I would continue to book Rollins strong, adding plenty of near falls and false finishes. One of the great things about WWE in recent years is that they have been bringing in stars that can electrify when given a chance to shine. At the end of the matchup, Sting should come out victorious. He can win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, exciting the many fans who never thought they would see Sting wrestle in a WWE sanctioned main event or win their world title.

But that wouldn’t be the end of the night for Sting. WWE Superstar Sheamus has the Money in the Bank contract, which grants him a championship match anytime and anywhere. Sheamus should cash in the contract and challenge the exhausted Sting. He teased it on RAW and for him to cash in would make a lot of sense. Sting would be WWE Champion for a brief time, Sheamus would win the championship and become the new poster boy for The Authority, and having Triple H begin to favor Sheamus as a champion over the former champion Seth Rollins could set the stage for the inevitable Triple H and Seth Rollins match that has been teased over the course of the past few months.

Let me know what you think of these ideas on Twitter @TimmySimko

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Why WWE Should Drop Cody Rhodes’ ‘Stardust’ Gimmick

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

stardust (2)

On June 16, 2014, WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes reinvented himself when he started wearing face paint and emulating his brother Goldust with his new “Stardust” persona. However, with the recent passing of their father WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, I believe that the Stardust gimmick will be dropped as soon as next week’s RAW.

Since reinventing himself, Stardust enjoyed a meager amount of success. Along with his brother Goldust, he captured the WWE Tag Team Championships last year as well as competing in a show-stealing ladder match at Wrestlemania 31. However, in the past year of being Stardust, not much else has been memorable.

Less than two years ago, Rhodes enjoyed resurgence along with his brother as they battled The Authority head on. Accompanied by their father Dusty Rhodes, the two brothers withstood countless assaults from the WWE superpower. The duo also managed to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship from the muscle of The Authority, The Shield.

In 2015, Stardust has seen more losses than wins. He has gone from competing in top billed matches on Pay-Per-Views, to competing unannounced on the pre-show. In less than two years, Rhodes has gone from a memorable feud with The Authority to a forgettable feud with Arrow star Stephen Amell. At one time, he was involved in feuds that genuinely engaged the fans, but now his feuds as Stardust feel forced. While the Stardust character showed promise at first, within a year it has brought him to an all time low.

This would be the most opportune time to bring back Cody Rhodes. No one would question it, as deaths within the world of wrestling always bring out the realism in wrestling.

Cody Rhodes (2)

In 2005, former WWE Superstar Chavo Guerrero reinvented himself when his character denounced his Hispanic heritage in favor of being an Anglo-American character. Guerrero dyed his hair blond and began to refer to himself as “Kerwin White,” behaving as a stereotypical white man and driving a golf cart to the ring during his ring entrance.

Following the death of his uncle Eddie Guerrero, Chavo immediately dropped his Kerwin White act and immediately began wrestling as Chavo Guerrero once more. This led to a resurgence of his career, which saw him in a memorable wrestling feud against Rey Mysterio.

While some may see this as exploitation, I see this as a way for Rhodes to carry on his father’s legacy. He doesn’t have to come out to his father’s ring music, or use the bionic elbow, but the reality is that this Monday the fans will be cheering louder for both him and his brother Goldust as a way of sending their love and support for their family.

Goldust is 46 years old, nearing retirement age in the wrestling industry, and is more well known and popular within the wrestling business as his Goldust persona. However, Cody is 29 years old and has been able to work well under many of the various gimmicks WWE has given to him over the years.

The WWE’s best idea right now would be to let Cody Rhodes be Cody Rhodes. Fans have clamored to see him in high marquee matches, and this would be the perfect time to take that chance. He will have the backing of all of the fans, and if he can grab the brass ring that WWE could offer him, Rhodes can ride that wave of momentum and take his career to an entirely new level.

He wouldn’t just be getting more coverage within WWE, he would be living The American Dream.

 Dusty Goldust Cody (2)

Remembering The American Dream

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

Dusty (2)

WWE Hall of Famer and wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes passed away on June 10 at the age of 69.

Known as “The American Dream,” Rhodes broke out as a superstar in the mid-to-late 1970s portraying the character of a working class hero. This gimmick won over the fans, as Rhodes became a top star in various wrestling territories.

Notably, Rhodes competed in the main event of two World Wide Wrestling Entertainment’s events in 1977, competing for their World Heavyweight Championship against then champion “Superstar” Billy Graham.

Rhodes built his brand as a wrestler through the National Wrestling Alliance, feuding with wrestling legends such as Harley Race, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Terry Funk.

Later in his career, Rhodes became a wrestling booker and was credited for many of the Pay-Per-View names and gimmicks in World Championship Wrestling. One wrestling gimmick, The Dusty Finish, is named after Rhodes. In a Dusty Finish, a match ends in controversy after a referee is knocked unconscious.

On March 31, 2007, his sons Cody and Dustin “Goldust” Runnels inducted Rhodes into the WWE Hall of Fame. Since then, Rhodes had made occasional appearances on various episodes of RAW while working with the developmental talents in NXT.

Various talent within the wrestling world offered their condolences through Twitter.

“I was ever so fortunate to be a friend to this man, to learn from him as a performer and as a human being. #RIPDusty,” said WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins.

In the photograph that accompanied his tweet, Rollins stood with the NXT Championship around his waist while Rhodes and WWE COO Triple H held his arms up.

Rollins NXT (2)

According to various reports, Rhodes loved working with up and coming talent and he was considered a mentor and a beloved friend of the developmental stars.

Another notable Tweet was a tribute by WWE Superstar Kevin Owens. In the tweet, Owens added polka dots—which were part of Rhodes’ gimmick during his tenure in WWE—to his T-Shirt that he wears during his matches.

“This one’s for you, Dream…#NXTPittsburgh,” said Owens.

“The American Dream” will be forever remembered as a pioneer in the wrestling business, a mentor to wrestlers and managers alike, and as a beloved friend.

Paul Heyman on Stone Cold Podcast

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

Stone Cold Podcast

Wrestling Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin interviewed wrestling manager Paul Heyman for his podcast on the WWE Network on June 2 after Monday Night RAW went off the air.

The two briefly went over their history together in the wrestling industry, Heyman first met Austin when both men were working in World Championship Wrestling. Heyman said that Austin caught his attention immediately because when we went out to run the ropes, he hit them harder that anyone Heyman had ever seen.

“You came in and your stuff looked like a fight,” Heyman said.

Heyman was so impressed that after seeing Austin run the ropes he pressed WCW management to allow him to bring Austin into his wrestling stable, The Dangerous Alliance. The Dangerous Alliance was set up to be a new version of the four horsemen built around wrestling legend Rick Rude, and Austin was a part of a new generation that he wanted to incorporate into the group.

As the two discussed Heyman’s history of managing various wrestlers over the years, Austin asked Heyman when fans can expect to see his client Brock Lesnar back in the realm of World Wrestling Entertainment. Heyman joked that Lesnar will come back “whenever he damn well pleases” before admitting that he will be back soon.

Heyman said that Brock is a man’s man. He is a farmer and a hunter, and when he isn’t wrestling he hunts on his property. When Lesnar made money through his career in WWE or his career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he invested that money to buy more farmland.

“No matter how big he gets he goes back to being a farmer and a hunter because that’s who he really is,” Heyman said.

Heyman touched upon the rumors that Lesnar considered returning to the world of mixed martial arts earlier this year when his WWE contract was expiring. It was explained that Lesnar was prepared to go back to UFC if he couldn’t reach an agreement on money with WWE. Lesnar was torn on what decision to make at the time, as he had an enjoyable run conquering The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania and decimating John Cena at the 2014 Summerslam event.

Both men explained that the fans don’t realize how much Lesnar loves the business of WWE. They discussed the fact that Lesnar only works as a part-timer, and that that fact bothers some of the fans.

“He loves the business but he loves his children more,” Heyman said. “His children need a father more than WWE needs him.”

Heyman went on to explain that Lesnar’s limited schedule also makes him a hot commodity. He compared it to Christmas, and said that if Christmas happened 365 days a year it wouldn’t be as special as it is when it is only one day out of each year.

It was also explained that a part of why Lesnar and Heyman work so well and have so much chemistry is because of their real life friendship outside of the ring. Heyman felt that this is part of the reason why other wrestlers haven’t been as successful with him as a manager, explaining that it’s always Lesnar’s guy with another person.

“The one person it worked with was [CM] Punk because we had a friendship,” Heyman said.

Between October 2012 and April 2013 — and briefly in June 2013 — Heyman was the manager of then-WWE Champion CM Punk. Heyman said that he enjoyed his run with Punk because he played a different character than the character he played when he was with Lesnar. With Lesnar, Heyman was his mouthpiece and did most of the talking. However, with Punk he was more in the background.

Austin asked Heyman if he still talked to Punk, as Punk has kept himself out of the public eye for the most part since he walked out on WWE in January 2014. Heyman confirmed that he texts him every day, but that they never talk about business.

In December 2014, Punk announced that he had signed a contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship and will fight as a professional mixed martial artist.

“I don’t think money is the motivating factor in CM Punk’s life whatsoever. I think it’s the challenge to do this,” said Heyman.

As the conversation transitioned from MMA holds to wrestling holds, Austin asked about the state of certain maneuvers. They discussed how moves that were used as finishers in the past are used liberally every week on RAW.

Austin explained that Harley Race used a suplex, Rocky Johnson won matches with a dropkick, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts won his matches with a DDT. Both men discussed how the maneuvers are becoming more and more complex.

“Are guys overworking themselves?” Austin asked.

Heyman said that wrestlers could get a move over if they consistently use it. He gave a theory in which a big wrestler like Mark Henry could utilize a basic headlock. He said that if the announcers made it sound devastating and the wrestler in the hold writhed in pain that a wrestler could get that move over.

The two men also discussed the art of cutting a promo in the wrestling business. Austin told Heyman that he is a promo master and always had the gift of gab. However, Heyman told a story of a time when a promo went wrong.

In his WCW days, Heyman was given four minutes at the end of the show to cut a promo. He explained that he promoted the stars and talked about almost every possible subject, but he didn’t promote the upcoming Starrcade Pay-Per-View event.

“The question to ask is where’s the money,” said Heyman.

Heyman explained that in the present day he makes sure that he promotes the product while also engaging with the fans. The example he gave was the way that he says “Brock Lesnar” in a vicarious way whenever he introduces Lesnar. He also discussed how for an entire summer his only line was that Brock Lesnar broke The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.

The two men discussed The Ultimate Warrior, and how while some people didn’t like his promos both Austin and Heyman enjoyed the promos. Ultimate Warrior would endorse his own character while engaging the fans, rather than simply saying that he would beat someone up. They also discussed the energy and charisma that is required when giving a promo on live television.

“It’s not just about content, it’s how you’re saying it,” Austin said.

Austin and Heyman proceeded to share old road stories as Vince McMahon began to tell Austin in an earpiece that they needed to wrap it up. Heyman asked Austin if he would face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 32 in Texas, and Austin teased that he would think about it. Austin said that if it did happen it would have to be a Texas deathmatch, but it is highly unlikely.

“The only way that match will happen is if all the stars in the universe aligned,” Austin said.

http://www.wwe.com/videos/wwe-network-paul-heyman-grills-stone-cold-steve-austin-about-facing-brock-lesnar-27456090

WWE RAW 05-11-15 RESULTS AND REVIEW

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

Last week, WWE presented the fans with a plethora of unexpected events. Fan-favorite Dean Ambrose was inserted into the main event of the upcoming Pay-Per-View Payback, NXT sensation Sami Zayn made his long-awaited main roster debut, and Rusev’s valet Lana showed more signs of a change of heart. What is next on the road to WWE Payback? Will we see more main roster debuts from WWE developmental stars? And with rumors of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon of The Authority returning, will there be repercussions for the actions of Kane these last few weeks?

Once again, it is time to get RAW.

WWE RAW

RAW went on the air as the announcer introduced WWE COO Triple H of The Authority, who is on RAW for the first time in a month.

“Daddy’s home,” said Triple H.

Triple H, Kane, Rollins

Triple H brought up the events of the past few weeks and called out Kane and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins to clear everything up. Rollins made his way to the ring with J&J Security and shook hands with Triple H after he entered the ring. The crowd loudly chanted “We Want Ambrose” as Ambrose if from Cincinnatti, where tonight’s RAW is taking place.

Rollins called Kane a “seven foot cancer” and stated that he is destroying The Authority from the inside out. Rollins highlighted the events of the past week, such as the WWE app vote that made the main event of Payback a triple threat match as well as the addition of Dean Ambrose to the main event. Rollins called the match unfair, emphasizing how he can lose the title at Payback without even being pinned.

Rollins said that Kane isn’t fit to be the Director of Operations, and that he isn’t the same person he used to be. He suggested putting Kane out to pasture as Kane made his way to the ring. Kane threatened to grab Rollins by his neck and chokeslam him. Rollins and Kane screamed back and forth until Triple H stopped both men. Triple H told Kane to check his ego and that Rollins can be irritating but Rollins is best for business. Triple H told Kane that if Rollins doesn’t walk out of WWE Payback as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, then Kane will be let go from his position as Director of Operations.

Kane said that it is a shame, but that it might be worth the sacrifice. Triple H told Kane that this might be the time to amicably part ways. Kane remained silent as Triple H announced that members of The Authority will be in action. Kane will go one on one with Roman Reigns, and Rollins will face Randy Orton in the main event. Jamie Noble of J&J Security started talking back to Triple H, and Triple H retaliated  by announcing that J&J Security will face Dean Ambrose in a two-on-one handicap match. Triple H escorted Rollins and Kane to the back as J&J Security stayed in the ring for their match against Dean Ambrose.

AmbroseJJSecurity

Ambrose’s music hit and he made his entrance as the crowd cheered their hometown hero. The commentators hyped the match as RAW went to commercial.

The match started with Ambrose in the ring with Joey Mercury of J&J Security. The match was one sided as Ambrose got Mercury into the corner and hit a series of punches. Ambrose threw Mercury toward the ropes as Mercury held on but Ambrose clotheslined him over the ropes. Jamie Noble then tried to attack Ambrose dodged. He chased Noble outside of the ring but Mercury headbutted Ambrose. Ambrose recovered and knocked both men over the announce table.

The action went back into the ring as J&J security exploited their two on one advantage to get offense in on Ambrose. J&J security started to make frequent tags and double-teamed Ambrose. Ambrose managed to knock Mercury down and Mercury made the tag to Noble before Ambrose got back up. Ambrose hit a series of punches before knocking Noble down. Mercury pulled Noble out of the ring but Ambrose dove out of the ring onto both men.

Ambrose hit an elbow off of the turnbuckle for a two count as Mercury made the save. Ambrose hit a double clothesline on both men before throwing Noble into Mercury and hitting his Dirty Deeds finisher on Noble for the three count.

This was a good match to watch. Mostly one sided and the finish was predictable, but with the Payback Pay-Per-View on Sunday and Ambrose in his hometown, Ambrose didn’t have to be in a blockbuster match tonight. It’s a great way to build towards the possibility of him winning the title on Sunday while keeping Ambrose’s hometown Cincinnati crowd happy.

RAW returned from the commercial break with Sheamus sitting with the commentators. Dolph Ziggler made his way to the ring for a match.The commentators announced that this Sunday at Payback, Sheamus will face Dolph Ziggler one on one.

King Barrett made his way to the ring next. Barrett grabbed a microphone and called out Neville, saying that he will beat Neville at Payback. Ziggler immediately hit a super kick for a two count. Ziggler immediately took control of the match, hitting a series of dropkicks and elbows. Ziggler knocked Barrett out of the ring as RAW went to commercial.

This has the potential to be a good match on the road to Payback. I could see Sheamus interfering and Neville making the save to help set up both matches. With the alliance between Barrett and Sheamus lately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as a team more often. I could even see them facing Ziggler and Neville in a series of tag team matches.

As the match came back from commercial, Barrett had a two count on Ziggler. Barrett put Ziggler in a headlock but Ziggler tried to fight out of hit. Barrett hit Ziggler and knocked him down. Ziggler got up and managed to hit a famouser on Barrett for a two count. Ziggler went for a superkick but Barrett went for his Wasteland maneuver. Ziggler countered and Barrett tried to hit the bullhammer finisher. Ziggler hit a dropkick for a two count. Sheamus distracted Ziggler and King

Barrett hit his bullhammer finisher for the win.

Sheamus entered the ring and slapped and kicked the downed Ziggler around. Ziggler started fighting back, and charged at Sheamus but Sheamus hit Ziggler with a Brogue Kick.

This was a decent match and segment that helped build to two of the matches this Sunday at WWE Payback. This Sunday, Neville will face King Barrett and Sheamus will face Dolph Ziggler.

Erick Rowan made his way to the ring, accompanied by Luke Harper. Footage from Smackdown was shown, hinting that the former Wyatt family members may be reuniting. Fandango made his way to the ring next. Fandango began the match by attacking Rowan. Rowan managed to regain control and hit a full nelson slam on

Fandango for the win.

HarperRowan

After the match, Rowan and Harper attacked Fandango and Harper embraced Rowan.

Although the Wyatt Family has been known as a dominant faction in the WWE, not much was accomplished in this segment. It established that the Harper and Rowan are reunited but not much else. I’m also not a fan of matches that take less time than the entrances.

John Cena made his way to the ring for his weekly WWE United States Championship open invitational. As he entered the ring, the commentators hyped his “I Quit” match against Rusev this Sunday for the title, where the only way to win is to make your opponent say “I Quit”.

Cena hyped the importance of the United States Championship. Cena said that the title is a symbol of excellence, sportsmanship, and opportunity. Cena emphasized that through his open challenge, everyone has a chance to win the United States Championship.

Cena hyped his match against Rusev and said he doesn’t have a chance because he never gives up. Cena asked the fans if they want to see a title match, and they cheered as he declared that the challenge has started.

Neville answered the challenge and made his way to the ring. The ring announcer made formal introductions before the match. As the match started, Cena backed Neville into a corner before the referee broke it up. The crowd began their “Lets go Cena, Cena sucks” battling chants as Cena and Neville held each other in a series of grapple holds. The referee broke them up again as they circled the ring. Cena knocked Neville down with a punch before hitting him with an elbow. Cena put Neville into a headlock as Neville struggled to fight out of it. Neville countred with a headlock of his own before Cena escaped. Neville hit a dropkick as Cena rolled out of the ring and RAW went to commercial.

This has been a good match so far. The Open Invitational concept has been fun to watch, and while I don’t like Cena dominating the main event I do like him being in the middle of the match card working with the younger stars. In every United States championship match he has had since winning the title, Cena has emphasized the possibility that any of his challengers could win his title at any time. Each star has gone toe to toe with Cena, and while some matches were better than others, each wrestler came out of the match looking better than they did before.

RAW came back from commercial with the crowd going nuts as the action was still moving fast. Neville got the advantage over Cena after hitting a moonsault like move off of the ropes outside of the ring onto Cena. The action spilled back into the ring as Cena slammed Neville and went for a five-knuckle shuffle. Cena hit the five-knuckle shuffle and went for the Attitude Adjustment but Neville held onto the ropes. He hit a kick on Cena and hit his Red Arrow finisher for a two count.

After some back and forth offense Cena hit a Taka driver on Neville for a close two count. Cena went for another Attitude Adjustment but Neville countered with a pin for the two count. Neville went for a cross body but Cena countered and hit Neville went for another Attitude Adjustment but Neville countered with a kick for a two count. The crowd chanted “This is Awesome” as Neville tried to drag Cena across the ring to set him up for another Red Arrow. Cena countered and put Neville in an STF finisher. Neville countered with a pin for a two count.

Cena hit a clothesline on Neville and knocked him down. Neville charged at Cena but Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment for a two count. Cena went to hit Neville with an Attitude Adjustment off the turnbuckle but Neville countered with a powerbomb for a two count. Neville went for another Red Arrow and it connected but Rusev ran into the ring and beat down Neville.

Rusev kicked Cena in the face as he got back up. Rusev then put Cena in his Accolade submission finisher as the referee tried to break it up. Cena passed out in the maneuver and Rusev released it. He held up the United States Championship as the Russian flag came down and Rusev’s music hit.

CenaRusev

A great match, and the finish protects Neville as Cena never officially pinned Neville. Cena retains because of Rusev’s interference and the finish helps promote the title match this Sunday. In addition, Rusev putting Cena in the Accolade also showed that Rusev could possibly regain the title at Payback in the final match of the John Cena and Rusev feud.

Kane made his way to the ring for his match against Roman Reigns. Reigns made his entrance from the crowd and Kane began attacking Reigns as soon as he climbed over the barricade. Kane kept viciously attacking Reigns as the commentators announced that the match had not started yet.

Kane started throwing Reigns around and slammed him into the ringpost and steps.

Kane threw Reigns into the ring but Reigns began to make a comeback as he slammed Kane into the barricade.

The two continued to brawl at ringside as the commentators continued to stress that the match didn’t start yet. Kane threw Reigns into the barricade and steps before hitting him with a big boot. Kane then began to clear off the announce table, but Reigns began making a comeback. Reigns went for a superman punch but Kane countered with a choke slam. Reigns fought out of hit and countered with another superman punch and a spear onto the announce table.

KaneReigns

This was a good brawl, as it showed the power of Reigns but also showed the potential return of a ruthless Kane. A regular match between the two would’ve been lackluster at best, but the brawl at ringside showcased their individual abilities better than an average match ever could.

Brie Bella made her way to the ring accompanied by her sister Nikki for a match against Tamina Snuka. As Tamina made her entrance accompanied by Naomi, a pre-recorded video showed Naomi explain that if it wasn’t for Brie she’d be the Diva’s champion and now she has evened the odds. Tamina dominated the match, as she hit a series of offense on Brie. Brie tried to fight back, but Tamina knocked her back down. Tamina managed to get a two count on Brie. Tamina choked Brie on the ropes and Brie rolled Tamina into a pin for a one count.

Brie hit a series of offense on Tamina but it barely fazed her. Brie managed to knock her down with a dropkick off of the top rope for a two count. Brie hit a knee to the face of Tamina and went for another but Tamina blocked it and hit a kick to the face of Brie for the win.

TaminaBrie

The match helped build up the Diva’s Championship match at Payback, but there’s not a lot of excitement for it. Less than a month ago, we were booing The Bellas and cheering Naomi—and now we are expected to do the opposite. The creative in the Diva’s division is very questionable. There have been glimmers of hope in the past with divas such as AJ Lee and Paige, but I don’t see the Diva’s division getting its much needed spark until the NXT divas are called up to the main roster.

Roughly a decade ago, the divas were so good that they were given the chance to main event an episode of RAW. In the present day, the main roster divas can’t seem to keep fan interest for more than a few minutes at a time.

As RAW came back from commercial, Curtis Axel was in the ring for a match. Footage from the RAW pre-show showed an argument between Damien Sandow and Curtis Axel.

Sandow came to the ring dressed as Macho Man Randy Savage with his theme song playing as he was billed as Macho Mandow. Sandow began the match by emulating Savage, as Axel began emulating Hulk Hogan.

Sandow hit a series of Savage’s signature moves, and went to hit the elbow off of the top rope before being interrupted by the tag team The Ascension. The Ascension mocked Sandow and Axel for emulating past WWE legends. The Ascension ran into the ring to attack the two as Sandow sent Konnor out of the ring. Sandow encouraged Axel to hit the leg drop and Axel hit the leg drop. Sandow went for the elbow but Konnor managed to save Viktor from the elbow as Axel and Sandow taunted them. Sandow and Axel put aside their differences and shook hands as the crowd cheered on.

Axel has gained newfound popularity since the Axelmania gimmick, and Sandow is well known for his stint as a stunt double. With these two forming an alliance emulating Hogan and Savage’s tag team “The Mega Powers”, they could form a dysfunctional yet effective tag team that could sweep the tag team division. With the alliances made in recent weeks, and Triple H reportedly trying to rebuild the tag team division, I look forward to the possibilities as far as tag teams go.

As RAW came back from the commercial break, WWE showed various video submissions from fans for the next season of Tough Enough.

After the commentators hyped Tough Enough, Intercontinental Champion Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring to make an announcement regarding his health.

Bryan said that the last few weeks he had a lot of downtime, and he doesn’t like having downtime. Bryan said he needed to be somewhere with a lot of energy as the fans begun to chant “yes”. Bryan said that the fans have treated him better than anyone else has ever treated him. Bryan brought up last year, when he was stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship due to injury. He said that if it weren’t for the fans, we would’ve never even had the opportunity to be the champion.

Bryan said that even though he hated being stripped of the belt last year, The Authority was right to strip him of it. Bryan said that the fans deserve a fighting champion. He said he had an MRI last week, and he will be out of action indefinitely.

Bryan said that the fans deserve to have wrestlers fighting for the championship, and that the Intercontinental Championship should be in the ring not a physical therapist’s chair. Bryan relinquished his intercontinental championship as the fans chanted “Thank you Daniel”. Bryan thanked the fans as he laid the title in the center of the ring and walked toward the back. Bryan stood at the top of the stage and led fans in a “yes” chant as the show went to commercial.

It was disappointing to see Daniel Bryan have to leave because of injury again. He had a Cinderella story at Wrestlemania 30, and made an amazing comeback at Wrestlemania 31. Bryan is arguably the most popular wrestler in WWE today, and can get the crowd to react in a way that most others can’t.

With that being said, Bryan’s health comes first. Going through proper physical therapy and mending his wounds is more important than wrestling at the moment.

Knowing Bryan, he will be back the moment he has the opportunity. However, right now the number one priority the road to recovery. In the meantime, the Intercontinental Championship can still find prestige through rising stars such as Dolph Ziggler, King Barrett, or Neville.

The New Day team began to make their way to the ring, They tried to lead the crowd in a “New Day Rocks” chant however the crowd chanted “New Day Sucks”. They said that everyone deserves a second chance, except Pete Rose. This drew the ire of the Cincinnati crowd.

The New Day announced that they would give Cesaro and Tyson Kidd a second chance at regaining the WWE tag team titles in a two out of three falls WWE tag team championship match at Payback. They tried to lead the crowd in a “New Day rocks” chant as Cesaro and Kidd made their way to the ring. The bell rang as Cesaro and Big E went one on one in a match.

Big E and Cesaro had back and forth offense as Cesaro caught Big E and hit him with a slam. Cesaro hit a boot on Big E before hitting a cross body for a two count. Cesaro kicked Big E in the corner to the rhythm of the “New Day Sucks” chants. Cesaro knocked Big E out of the ring as RAW went to commercial.

As RAW came back from commercial, Big E cinched in an abdominal stretch on Cesaro. Cesaro began to fight out of it and countered it into a throw. Big E picked up Cesaro and slammed him. He went for a splash on Cesaro but Cesaro dodged it. Big E managed to hit another slam on Cesaro for a two count. Big E hit a clothesline on

Cesaro for a two count.

Cesaro began to make a comeback with a series of uppercuts and jumped off of the ropes to hit another uppercut to knock Big E down. Cesaro hit a series of German suplexes followed by a slam. He then hit another series of uppercuts on Big E before going for his Cesaro swing.

Woods and Kofi caused a distraction and Big E tried to take advantage but Cesaro managed to roll up Big E for the pin and the win.

This was a good match and I am enjoying this feud for the Tag Team Championship.

With the announcement that the match will be a two out of three falls match it will be exciting to see the creative ways in which the teams pin each other.

The commentators announced that Curtis Axel and Damien Sandow will face off against The Ascension on the Payback pre-show. This will be a fun match to watch, and I am curious to see how Sandow and Axel will work as a tag team.

They also announced that exclusively on the WWE network, the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View will return later in May.

Bray Wyatt made his way to the ring. Wyatt said that people are afraid. There is fear of a crumbling economy and a dying Earth. There are people who refuse to accept the true power of fear. They are ignorant enough to believe that if you work hard enough you can overcome the odds. Wyatt said that Ryback must be such an inspiration to the fans.

Wyatt brought up how Ryback has overcome past injuries and now he is doing what he loves. Wyatt said that Ryback has overcome all the odds but has never faced anything like him before. He said that Ryback is probably asking “Why me?” and Wyatt said that it is because Ryback was in his way.

Wyatt said that nightmares won’t stop and that sometimes the bad guy wins.

Ryback’s music hit as Ryback made his way to the ring. Wyatt started attacking

Ryback as Ryback hit a spinebuster on Wyatt. Ryback hit a meathook clothesline on Wyatt and chanted, “feed me more” as Wyatt laid and watched from outside the ring.

It was a good vocal segment by Wyatt. His promos are going to be legendary one day, and when he called out the children and said that sometimes the bad guy wins I went crazy. The older I get, the more I start to like the villains.

Randy Orton made his way to the ring for his main event match against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins as the commentators hyped the fatal four way main event this Sunday at Payback. At Payback, Rollins will defend his championship against Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins made his way to the ring without J&J security. The match started with plenty of offense on both sides. Orton began to get the advantage, but Rollins made a comeback with a series of punches and kicks to Orton. Orton managed to slam Rollins to the mat before throwing him into the turnbuckle and hitting an uppercut.

Orton began to hit Rollins with a series of stomps for a one count. He went for a diving knee on Rollins but Rollins dodged it. Rollins tried to get offense, but Orton countered with a backbreaker. Rollins managed to knock Orton out of the ring as

RAW went to commercial.

As RAW came back on the air, Rollins had Orton in a headlock. Orton began to fight his way out as he grabbed Rollins hair and hit him with a headbutt. Rollins managed to knock Orton down for a two count. Rollins charged into Orton in the corner as Orton went down. Rollins pulled Orton up and threw him into the corner. He charged toward Orton and Orton tried to throw Rollins over the ropes but Rollins held on.

Orton managed to grab Rollins for a suplex off of the top rope and hit it. Orton and Rollins went back and forth with punches and kicks and Rollins got the advantage.

However, Orton began to fight back with a series of clotheslines. Rollins made a comeback with a kick to the head and tried to hit a crossbody off of the top rope, but Orton countered with a powerslam for a two count.

Orton picked Rollins up by his hair and went for a DDT off of the ropes but Rollins avoided it and hit Orton with a kick to the face. Rollins jumped off of the ropes and hit Orton with a knee to the face. Rollins picked Orton up but after some back and forth Orton managed to hit Rollins with a T bone suplex. Orton tried to grab Rollins but Rollins countered with another kick to send Orton to the outside.

Rollins then dove out of the ring onto Orton. Rollins rolled Orton back into the ring and charged at him but Orton dodged and attempted an RKO. Rollins dodged and rolled Orton up for a two count. Rollins hit a kick and got another two count on Orton.

Rollins began to mock Orton’s taunts before attempting a powerbomb on Orton.

Orton countered and hit a DDT off of the ropes on Rollins. Orton started to do his own taunts signaling for an RKO. Orton went for an RKO but J&J Security ran into the ring and started assaulting Orton.

Orton began to fight back and knocked J&J security out of the ring but Rollins took advantage and blindsided Orton. Kane’s music hit as he walked toward the ring.

Kane grabbed a steel chair and watched on as Rollins and J&J security beat up Orton.

Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose came into the ring to help even the odds. Orton, Reigns, and Ambrose surrounded Rollins as Ambrose hit his Dirty Deeds finisher on Rollins. Ambrose picked Rollins up and Reigns hit a spear on Rollins as Kane watched on. Reigns and Ambrose picked up Rollins and Orton hit an RKO as Kane continued to stand and watch. Reigns blindsided Orton with a spear, followed by Ambrose hitting Reigns with Dirty Deeds. Ambrose and Kane stared each other down as RAW went off the air.

Overall, this match/segment was a fair buildup that helped hype the main event for this Sunday’s Payback Pay-Per-View. Keeping Ambrose as the last man standing for the second week in a row not only helped build Ambrose as being just as worthy of being in the match as the other competitors, but sent Ambrose’s hometown crowd home happy.

Notes

  • I missed seeing Sandow last week, so I was happy that they featured him on  RAW this week. I am curious to see where WWE goes with the Axel/Sandow alliance.
  • The Neville/Cena match was great to watch but all of the other matches didn’t seem as good as the matches that RAW featured last week. IT just felt like match wise the WWE was on cruise control. Perhaps they are just trying to save the excitement for the Pay-Per-View?
  • Daniel Bryan relinquishing his title was a shame to see, but his health matters most and I am curious to see how a new champion will be crowned.
  • I hope they develop the Rowan/Harper reunion more, as the idea of them simply reuniting with no explanation bothers me. I’m still frustrated that the Bellas reunited last year immediately after a long feud with each other without any explanation.

WWE RAW 05-04-15 Results and Review

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

Last week, WWE began the road to their next Pay-Per-View event Payback. The seeds were planted for upcoming feuds, dissension within WWE super group The Authority was teased, and the WWE fans even got to vote on who had the right to challenge WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins at Payback. On RAW tonight, fans will see this new chapter unfold. Who will gain momentum going into the next Pay-Per-View? Will Kane break away from The Authority once and for all? And what is next in the career of Damien Sandow?

Once again, it is time to get RAW.

WWE RAW

The show started off as Randy Orton headed toward the ring. Orton hyped the Triple Threat WWE World Heavyweight Match between him, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins at the next WWE Pay-Per-View event Payback. He said Payback is a fitting name for the Pay-Per-View event as he will get payback on Rollins and there is nothing Rollins or Roman Reigns can do about it. Reigns came out and interrupted Orton as they traded insults back and forth. Orton hyped his accomplishments in WWE as the crowd cheered him on.

Reigns reminded the crowd that he beat Orton at last year’s Summerslam Pay-Per-View and that he can beat him again. Suddenly, WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day came out.

The crowd chanted “New Day sucks” as they said they wanted to spread the power of positivity. The crowd booed The New Day unanimously as they insulted Orton and Reigns. Mid-speech, the crowd erupted into a loud “New Day sucks” chant. They told Roman not to let it bother him that he never won the big one, and not to let it bother Orton that Rollins “not only has your number, but has it on speed dial.”

They invited Reigns and Orton to clap with The New Day, but they refuse. The New Day announced that all three members Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods will take on Roman Reigns and Randy Orton in a three on two handicap match as the show goes to commercial.

The show came back from commercial as Orton and Reigns took on the entire New Day group. Orton and Reigns had the advantage in the match, making frequent tags and working on wearing down Xavier Woods. After a distraction by Kingston, Big E managed to tag Woods and get in the match. After working on Orton, Big E made a tag to Kingston. The fans started to lose interest in the match, as they started chanting for commentator JBL and became relatively quieter as the match went on. Xavier Woods had control of Orton as the match went to commercial.

This match is a good way to hype the upcoming main event at Payback; however, the match itself is very forgettable. The New Day combination features a good combination of strength and agility, and Orton and Reigns are currently being pushed as main event stars. However, there’s nothing particularly exciting about this opening bout. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t a match of the year candidate either. It is just there.

The show came back from commercial as Kofi Kingston had Roman Reigns in a headlock. Commercial footage exclusive on the WWE App is showed how the New Day kept control during the break. Big E tagged in and continued to work on Reigns, hitting him with a series of suplexes as the crowd started to chant “New Day sucks.” Big E went for a cover but only hit a two-count. Big E tagged in Woods who hit an elbow on Reigns, and Reigns managed to kick out. Woods hit a neckbreaker on Reigns for a two-count. Woods tagged in Kingston as the fans chanted for CM Punk, who is currently retired from wrestling and is signed with UFC. Fans typically chant Punk’s name when they are dissatisfied with a match. The fans are chanting “We want Randy” as Reigns manages to make a tag as Kingston tags in also. Kingston jumped off of the ropes but Orton slammed him. New Day tried to interfere but Orton fought them off. Orton hit a DDT off of the ropes on Kingston and called for his RKO finisher. Woods tried to interfere but Orton hit an RKO. Reigns tried to spear Kingston but accidentally hit Orton. Reigns was pushed out of the ring by Kingston as Woods pinned Orton.

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The New Day winning the match was unexpected, but helps fuel the WWE fans hatred for them while further creating dissention between Reigns and Orton.

WWE Director of Operations Kane came out and said there is no shame in losing. But he said their evening isn’t over, he wants to exploit their dislike for each other. In tonight’s main event, Randy Orton will go one on one with Roman Reigns because it is best for business.

The main event tonight will be a preview for fans of the main event at WWE Payback, as two of the three men involved will be in the match. I won’t be surpised if Rollins somehow gets involved.

Rollins was shown backstage, and said that Kane’s main event tonight won’t make a difference. He said that The Authority is coming back, and will punish Kane for his treatment of Rollins the past few weeks. Kane said that he doesn’t want to allow Rollins to do nothing while his opponents are in a match tonight. Kane said that Rollins’ win on Smackdown last week was marred by interference. He announced a rematch from Smackdown between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose tonight, and that J&J Security is banned from ringside. Rollins complained about his match, but Kane said that if Rollins said one more word he would make it worse. Rollins walked off infuriated.

Rollins against Ambrose was a great feud to watch last year, and to see it for free on RAW is a great way to draw in fans. While Smackdown showcased the two of them in a match last week, it has always been considered the “B” show. This is partly because the show is taped on Tuesdays and doesn’t air until Thursday while most episodes of Monday Night RAW are live. It is harder to watch a show when you can see the results days ahead of time, its like reading spoilers for the newest episode of your favorite television show. With this match taking place on RAW, fans can watch as the two bring out the best in each other.

RAW came back from commercial as WWE announcer Renee Young introduced Ryback. Ryback made his way to the ring as clips were shown from last week’s RAW when he beat Bo Dallas and was attacked by Bray Wyatt.

Young interviewed Ryback about the attacks, asking why Wyatt targeted him. He called Wyatt stupid and said that all his life he had to face fear. The fans chanted “Goldberg” as Ryback is often compared to the former WCW star. He acknowledged the chants and laughed it off as the fans chanted “Feed me more.” Ryback said how he had to face fear as doctors told him he would never wrestle again following past interviews. He said he swallows fear and turns it into positivity. The fans chanted “we want Wyatt” before Ryback led them into another “feed me more” chant. He called Wyatt out, and said that he isn’t scared.

RybackInterview

Wyatt cut off Ryback as he began another cryptic promo. He said that Ryback paints himself as an untouchable force but underneath he is a little boy. Wyatt said Ryback put on a façade. Wyatt said that everything Ryback loves will fade with time, as will he. The screen cut to black as the show went to commercial.

This is only the second time in recent memory I’ve seen Ryback get time on the microphone. I like when they add some dimension to the character, a backstory can do nothing but help the powerhouse character. As for Wyatt’s cryptic promos, they only get better and better. I recommend going on WWE’s YouTube channel and watching Bray Wyatt videos if you’re not familiar with his work.

Former WWE Tag Team Champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro came out for a tag team match, accompanied by Kidd’s real life wife Natalya. Their opponents, The Ascension came out next. With Kidd and Cesaro facing off a bad guy tag team, I am still questioning if we as fans are supposed to cheer them now. I miss when WWE used to make turning over a new leaf a big deal, it becomes more confusing when the characters aren’t defined as heroes or villains.

The Ascension dominated the match early as members Konnor and Viktor dominated Tyson Kidd. The Ascension made frequent tags and repeatedly attacked Kidd as Cesaro could only watch from his side of the ring. Cesaro managed to break up a pin as the referee made him go back to his corner. Kidd managed to dodge an attack and make a tag to Cesaro. Cesaro came in with a flurry of uppercuts too fast to keep track of as the fans went crazy. Fans got on their feet and cheered loudly as Cesaro got a two-count. Cesaro called for his Cesaro swing, as Konnor ran into the ring. However, Kidd made the save and Cesaro hit his swing on Viktor as Kidd kicked Viktor in the head and made the pin for the three count.

The fans cheered the Kidd and Cesaro heavily, as they acted like heroic characters. I am not sure if they are good guys now, or if they are simply being cheered by the rowdy Montreal crowd. Nonetheless, Kidd and Cesaro are both talented wrestlers and I’m happy to see them getting screen time.

Rollins was shown walking backstage as he told interviewer Renee Young that Kane is a moron. Following that comment, RAW went to commercial.

Following a recap of their match from last week’s episode of Smackdown, Dean Ambrose made his entrance for his match against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. Rollins made his entrance next without J&J Security, as they are banned from ringside.

As the match was about to begin, Kane’s music hit. Kane announced that he took Rollins sentiments to heart. Kane announced that if Ambrose wins his match against Rollins, he will be added to the main event of Payback and it will be a fatal four way match. Rollins began to complain as Ambrose said he thought it was a great idea. Ambrose asked the audience if they were okay with the stipulation of their match as they cheered.

AmbroseSmile

Kane and Rollins argued as Kane said that the stipulation is on. Ambrose began attacking Rollins and brawling with him. Hitting him with a series of punches and chops. Rollins escaped the ring, but Ambrose chased him and hit him with a chop outside of the ring. Rollins made a comeback, but Ambrose quickly hit Rollins with a clothesline as the crowd went nuts. The crowd is excited at the possibility of Ambrose being in the main event.

Back in the ring, Ambrose hit Rollins with a series of elbows for a two-count. Ambrose hit Rollins with a suplex for a one-count. Rollins then managed to get Ambrose in the corner and hit him with punches, elbows and kicks. Rollins started hitting Ambrose with punches to the head, as Ambrose made a reversal and started punching Rollins in the head. Ambrose hit Rollins with another chop for a two-count.

Rollins hit a punch and hit Ambrose with a kick, followed by a diving knee. Rollins put Ambrose into a headlock. As Ambrose was about to fight his way out Rollins threw him into the mat and put another headlock on Ambrose. Fans screamed “you sold out” at Rollins referencing the breakup of former WWE group The Shield last year. Ambrose managed to get Rollins out of the ring, as the show went to commercial.

This is a very exciting match, and with all of the fast paced action it is hard to keep track of what is going on at times. That is a good thing in the WWE. With this generation of WWE fans clamoring for athletic guys that look like the average joe in the main event, the unexpected possibility of Ambrose in the match at Payback creates a new level of excitement and interest for the title match. I hope he wins the match, even if it is with something as trivial as a roll up pin. I don’t believe Ambrose has ever been in a title match either, which makes for an exciting event.

Also, we get to see all three former members of The Shield and Randy Orton in the main event if Ambrose pulls of the win. Fingers crossed.

The match continued with an all out brawl between the two and Ambrose started a flurry of offense on Rollins. Rollins escaped the ring, but Ambrose dove out of the ring onto Rollins. The fans started chanting “Holy Shit” as they are into this match. Ambrose hit Rollins with a slam for a two-count. The fans erupted into a “This is Awesome” chant as Rollins attempted what looked like a piledriver. Ambrose countered and jumped off of the top rope with a diving elbow for a two count. Rollins managed to hit Ambrose with a kick to the head followed by a knee to the temple for a two count. Rollins slapped Ambrose around and Ambrose hit a slap of his own before Rollins connected with a kick to Ambrose’s head for a two-count.

Ambrose and Rollins went back and forth with punches before Ambrose got the advantage and knocked Rollins out of the ring. Ambrose went for a clothesline but Rollins countered with a powerbomb to the barricade as fans chanted “holy shit.” The referee began to start the ten count as Ambrose ran back in at the last second. Ambrose and Rollins with a series of back and forth offense as J&J security ran in. Ambrose managed to throw both members of J&J security out of the ring, and roll up Rollins for the win as the fans went insane. Rollins looked upset as Ambrose smiled about being in the main event of Payback.

AmbroseWins

Matches like this remind me of why I am a wrestling fan. An exciting match from start to finish, the crowd was completely into it, and the WWE worked their magic and inserted a fan favorite with a huge cult following into the main event of Payback. Plus, WWE continues to promote Rollins as a strong champion while simultaneously portraying him as a champion that could lose the title at any time. Even though Ambrose might not win the title, just the possibility of it is exciting for fans.

Also, fans have wanted to see the former members of The Shield in a triple threat match since they broke up. Now they are main eventing a pay per view in a match for the biggest prize in the company, with the addition of antihero Randy Orton. If there is any fan that isn’t at least remotely excited for this match, I’d be shocked.

Backstage, Rollins ran up to Kane screaming about the fact that that he now has to defend his title in a fatal four way match. Kane said that maybe Rollins would like him to add more people to the match. Rollins quieted down as Kane said that he is helping to make Rollins the champion that The Authority wants him to be, helping him to overcome adversity. Rollins said he doesn’t believe Kane as the screen changed to an interview with Rusev’s manager Lana.

Interviewer Byron Saxton asked Lana how it feels to get a positive reaction from fans and she said she doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Recently turned hero Fandango showed up and told Lana to embrace the fans before walking out. Rusev then came on and spoke to Lana in Russian before they walked out. The WWE commentators announced that Rusev vs. Fandango was next as RAW went to commercial.

RAW came back from commercial as Fandango danced in the ring. Rusev made his entrance, and when his manager Lana came out the fans cheered loudly for her. Commentators hyped Rusev’s “I Quit” match against John Cena for the United States Championship as he made his way to the ring. The match will be the final chapter in the Rusev/Cena feud. Fans chanted “We Want Lana” as Rusev threw Fandango around like a ragdoll. Fandango was thrown out of the ring, and turned his attention to Lana. Lana started to dance with Fandango as Rusev attacked Fandango and sent Lana to the back. Fandango began to gain an advantage over Rusev and hit a series of punches and kicks before Rusev kicked Fandango and hit his Accolade submission finisher for the win.

LanaDance

Lana has won the fans over, and I am curious if she will continue to play a manager character or if she will transition to a wrestler role. It is interesting that Fandango got offense against a wrestler who usually wrestles one-sided matches. Maybe they’re trying to show that Rusev is losing his touch? It will be interesting to see where Rusev’s character will go after the final chapter of the Rusev/Cena feud.

As RAW came back on the air, commentators hyped the return of Tough Enough and showed a series of video submissions. After the videos were shown, R-Truth was in the ring as Stardust came out for a match against R-Truth. Didn’t this match happen last week?

A video was shown where Stardust talked about exacting revenge on R-Truth for beating Stardust last week in the King of the Ring tournament. The match started with some back and forth action between the two as Truth got the advantage after a shoulder block. Stardust regained control as he reached for a bag he brought to the ring. Truth manager to Stop Stardust before Stardust started fighting back. Stardust hit a series of kicks. Truth and Stardust then started hitting punches back and forth before they both hit a double crossbody. Stardust started crawling to his bag once again, as Truth began to hit Stardust with some kicks and a slam for a two-count. Truth opened the bag, which was filled with fake plastic spiders, Truth’s biggest fear. Stardust rolled up Truth for the pin and the win, and then Truth ran to the back screaming.

Very disappointed in the match, the match itself wasn’t that entertaining and the ending felt very cartoony and over the top. If it would’ve been real spiders similar to what Jake “The Snake” Roberts did with his snake Damien then maybe it’d be believable. But to see a grown man run away and scream in a high-pitched voice over a bag full of plastic toy spiders was anything but believable.

As RAW came back from a commercial break, WWE United States Champion John Cena came out for his United States Championship Open Challenge. The fans chanted, “John Cena sucks” to the tune of his theme song and booed him at the top of their lungs. Montreal, and all Canadian crowds for that matter, are well known for being very vocal about who they love and hate in the WWE. As the music stopped, the fans continued to chant “John Cena sucks” and booed loudly. John Cena hyped that there are many fans in Montreal who wish Cena would quit as the crowd started a loud “yes” chant.

Cena said that he’s dealt with adversity for years, and that no matter what the hostility he will never give up. Cena said that he will fight Rusev one last time, and it will be the final chapter. Cena asked the fans if they would quit in the face of adversity, and they responded no.

Cena said no matter what, we as humans fight for what we believe in. He said that he is proud of being known as the man who never gives up, and that Payback will be no different. He then said that he is there right now and Montreal is the place to be. Cena challenged anyone in the back to come out for a title match.

WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart’s music came on, and the Montreal native came out to a huge ovation. In a world with the Internet and very few surprises in the wrestling industry, this was a nice surprise. Hart said he was going to introduce a great wrestler as Heath Slater came out.

Slater said that he will not let his chance to be United States Champion be ruined again like it was last week. Slater insulted the crowd. He said how Orton attacked him out of nowhere, and Rusev attacked him out of nowhere, and he is sick of getting attacked out of nowhere. As he said this, Hart hit him with the microphone.

Hart introduced NXT wrestler Sami Zayn, also a Canadian native, as the crowd went nuts. Zayn is a very popular wrestler beloved by the fans, who gained a huge reputation on the independent scene long before winning the hearts of the WWE fans. Zayn entered the ring to a standing ovation as RAW went to commercial.

Normally during the commercials, I’ll go in the other room, but right now I am glued to my TV. This main roster debut had been anticipated since Zayn signed with the company. I am actually texting my friends who are wrestling fans at the moment to tell them about what just happened.

The show came back as Zayn hit Cena with a dropkick and knocked him out of the ring. The fans cheered as loud as they possibly could. Cena got back into the ring as they locked up and Cena hit him with a slam. Cena put Zayn in a headlock as the fans cheered on Zayn. The crowd was completely biased in favor of Zayn, cheering his every move.

Zayn’s shoulder appeared to be tweaked from the slam, as the referee called the doctor into the ring to check on his arm. Cena stood in the corner and waited for the doctor to check on Zayn.

Zayn opted to continue the match and the two prepared to lock up once again. Cena managed to get control of the match to the displeasure of the crowd, Zayn managed to clothesline Cena as he continued to favor his injured shoulder. Zayn hit a series of punches before Cena managed to hit a series of shoulder tackles followed by a five-knuckle-shuffle attempt. Zayn countered into a pin for a two count and then hit a cross body on Cena for a two count.

Cena rolled out of the ring, and Zayn dove out of the ring onto Cena. Zayn rolled Cena back into the ring but Cena managed to lock in his STF submission maneuver. Zayn struggled to crawl towards the ropes, and managed to make it. This forced Cena to break the hold. Zayn hit his Koji clutch submission maneuver as Cena broke the hold. Cena went for an Attitude Adjustment finisher but Zayn countered it into a pin for a two count.

Zayn charged at Cena, but Cena hit a clothesline. Cena picked up Zayn for the Attitude Adjustment but Zayn fought out of it and both men went down. Zayn hit Cena with a DDT through the corner outside of the ring, as the fans cheered loudly. As Zayn tried to drag Cena into the ring, he favored his injured shoulder. Cena hit an Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere, but Zayn kicked out at two.

The fans went insane when Zayn kicked out and Cena cannot believe it. Zayn hit a blue thunder bomb for a close two-count. The fans began a “This is Awesome” chant as Zayn picked Cena up and hit him with punches. The fans cheered Zayn and booed Cena as they fought back and forth. Cena hit a springboard stunner and another Attitude Adjustment to retain the title.

What a debut! Zayn held his own against the man who has been the face of the WWE for the past ten years, and made a debut that fans will never forget. In a time where debuts are forgettable, Zayn’s debut will go down as one that will always be memorable.

Cena picked up Zayn and shook his hand before leaving the ring as fans gave their hometown hero Zayn a standing ovation. Between Rollins/Ambrose and Cena/Zayn, WWE has really been stepping it up with the quality of their RAW matches. I hope they find a way to make their 2-3 minute matches just as entertaining, because R-Truth running from plastic spiders shouldn’t have to take place between two great matches.

Renee Young was waiting to interview Sami Zayn after his match with John Cena, but New Day interrupted and told her that she should interview The New Day since they were victorious in their match. They tried to start a “New Day rocks” chant but the fans chanted “New Day sucks”. Former tag team champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro interrupted and criticized The New Day. After some arguing, Kidd, Cesaro, and Natalya led a New Day sucks chant. I take back what I said earlier, WWE has officially established Kidd and Cesaro as heroes.

The Bella twins came out next as Brie was scheduled to face Naomi. However, Naomi and a returning Tamina Snuka attacked the Bella Twins during their entrance. Naomi said that the Bellas dominance of the Divas division is over as they walked to the back.

Anyone who has seen my past reviews knows my opinion of the current state of the Divas division, but it was a nice change to see something unexpected. I’d rather see an unexpected attack that can build up their feud than a throwaway match that wouldn’t add hype to their match at Payback any day.

Clips were shown from the finals of the King of the Ring tournament last week, which took place on WWE Main Event. Bad News Barrett won the tournament and came out live on RAW to declare himself king. The commentary team announced that Barrett will team with Sheamus to face Dolph Ziggler and Neville as RAW went to commercial.

I don’t mind that Barrett won the tournament at all, but I feel like it was rushed. They announced the tournament on last week’s Monday Night RAW and the tournament concluded one day later. I would’ve much rather seen the matches take place over the course of a few weeks, with the final taking place at Payback.

As RAW came back from commercial Sheamus joined Bad News Barrett in the ring as Neville made his entrance, Ziggler came out next to join his tag team partner Neville.

The match started with Ziggler and Barrett. Sheamus distracted Ziggler as Barrett quickly took advantage and began hitting Ziggler early on in the match. Barrett had Ziggler in the corner and hit him with a regular elbow for a two count. As Barrett got in some offense, Ziggler countered with a DDT for a two-count. Barrett rolled out of the ring as RAW went to commercial.

As RAW came back from commercial, Sheamus had Ziggler in a headlock. Ziggler fought his way out and charged at Sheamus but Sheamus countered with a backbreaker. Sheamus taunted Ziggler and slapped him around before Ziggler countered with a kick. Ziggler crawled towards Neville and tagged him in as Sheamus tagged in Barrett. Neville began to hit a flurry of offense on Barrett before throwing him out of the ring and diving onto him. Neville got Barrett back into the ring and hit a standing moonsault for a two count. Barrett went for a bullhammer but Neville countered with an enzuigiri for a two count. Sheamus tried to aid Barrett but Ziggler knocked Sheamus out of the ring while they fought on the outside. Meanwhile, Neville knocked Barrett down and went for a move off of the ropes. However, a distraction by Sheamus led to Barrett hitting a Bullhammer elbow finisher on Neville for the win.

This was a good match and helped to further the feud between Ziggler and Sheamus as well as the feud between Barrett and Neville.

Roman Reigns made his way to the ring for the main event, followed by Randy Orton. The commentators hyped the main event as RAW went to commercial.

Orton and Reigns stood in the ring as Director of Operations Kane, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Rollins, and J&J security made their way to ringside. J&J security member Jamie Noble introduced himself as the special guest ring announcer for the match, J&J security partner Joey Mercury as the bell keeper, Kane as the special enforcer, and Rollins as a special guest commentator.

RollinsChampion

The match started with Reigns and Orton looking toward Rollins as Orton tried to hit an RKO immediately, but it was countered. Reigns and Orton traded punches back and forth before Reigns gained control and hit punches on Orton in the corner. Orton made a comeback with a clothesline before observing The Authority at ringside. The camera repeatedly panned out to The Authority, reminding fans that they are at ringside during this match. The match went outside of the ring, as Orton and Reigns traded punches again. Reigns hit Jamie Noble, and Orton took advantage by hitting a clothesline on Reigns. Orton continued to hit Reigns with punches and uppercuts before throwing him into the ring. Orton had a staredown with The Authority before sliding back into the ring. Reigns managed to knock Orton down and then picked Orton up.

Orton made a comeback with punches and a series of clotheslines. Orton went for a powerslam but Reigns avoided it. Orton hit a backbreaker on Reigns as The Authority continued to observe from ringside. Reigns knocked Orton down and had a staredown with the Authority before dropkicking Orton. Reigns stared down Rollins before calling for his Superman Punch signature. Orton avoided it and hit Reigns with a powerslam.

Orton hit a DDT off of the ropes and signaled for his RKO finisher. Orton went for the RKO but Reigns reversed it and hit a Superman Punch. Reigns went for a dive but Kane pulled him out of the ring and beat him down, followed by J&J Security and Rollins beating Orton down. Reigns dove out of the ring for the save. After Reigns stood back up, Rollins shoved him into the ring post.

The Authority threw Orton into the ring and continued their assault. Reigns tried to help Orton but they were outnumbered. Dean Ambrose, who is now in the main event of Payback, came out to help Reigns and Orton clear the ring. The three of them were alone with Rollins and Reigns hit him with a spear. Orton hit Reigns with an RKO, followed with Ambrose hitting Dirty Deeds on Orton. RAW ended with Dean Ambrose’s music playing and Ambrose posing in the corner.

Notes

  • Where is Damien Sandow? He was very popular with the crowd for months, and they teased a new direction for his character yet he didn’t appear on RAW at all. I hope that they at least give him an appearance on Smackdown. I want to see how the character progresses now that he isn’t simply The Miz’s stunt double.
  • The WWE replaced one side of the ring apron with a titantron screen at Wrestlemania and have kept it as a part of the set ever since, and it looks awesome.
  • The addition of Dean Ambrose into the main event is both exciting and unexpected; it is just another reason to watch the Payback Pay-Per-View. While it is unlikely that Ambrose will win the championship, just the possibility alone is enough to build hype for the match. In addition, having RAW end with Ambrose as the only competitor standing was a great way to promote the idea that anything is possible at the Payback event.
  • Sami Zayn’s long awaited RAW debut exceeded expectations. While most competitors in the modern era of WWE make their debuts in throwaway matches against lackluster stars, Zayn made an immediate impact against a star who has been known as “the face of WWE” for the past decade.
  • Seeing Tamina Snuka and Naomi ambush the Bella Twins was unexpected and a welcome surprise. There has been something missing in the Divas division for a long time, and perhaps the idea of having believable bad guys that dominate the competition could help ignite a spark within that division.
  • I will begin posting the links to these reviews on my Twitter account, @TimmySimko. Follow me on Twitter and feel free to tweet your comments, criticism, and suggestions. For now, my main focus concerning WWE content is RAW broadcasts and Pay-Per-Views. I may cover more shows and possibly some WWE Network specials in the future, if my schedule permits.

WWE Monday Night RAW 04/27/15 Results and Review

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

Sunday night, WWE presented their Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View. There were a lot of twists and turns, and even some surprises. On RAW, fans will see the fallout from the Pay-Per-View event. Which feuds will continue? Which feuds will end? What awaits us in the coming weeks?

Once again, it is time to get RAW.

WWE RAW

The show started off with a video package highlighting clips from past King of the Ring tournaments. It seems that the tournament is making a grand return, which will be exciting to watch in the coming week.

The announcers confirmed the return of the King of the Ring tournament and a graphic was posted highlighting the participants. It’s a great concept, and will generate more interest in the WWE’s product.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins came out to the ring accompanied by J&J Security and Kane. Photos from the previous night’s Extreme Rules event highlighting the main event match between Rollins and Randy Orton were shown.

“You cannot outsmart Seth Rollins,” Rollins said.

Seth Rollins

He cut a promo and described how he was the architect of wrestling group The Shield before he destroyed it and beat Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania 31. Rollins received massive boos from the crowd as he claimed that he singlehandedly defeated Orton at the Extreme Rules event.

Rollins showed the photo of him RKO-ing Orton at Extreme Rules and thanked Kane for his help as the “Crypt Keeper.” Rollins sarcastically apologized for the pop culture reference, and claimed it was an honest mistake. Kane accepted the apology and said that if it wasn’t for his actions as gatekeeper, Orton would be the champion.

Kane said he would rather be the WWE’s crypt keeper than WWE’s version of Justin Bieber. They went back and forth with insults as Orton’s music hit and Orton stood on the stage.

Orton said that since Kane is admitting that Rollins cheated, that he deserves a rematch. Kane said that Orton has a point before he is cut off by Reigns’ theme music. Reigns walked through the crowd and made his way to the ring.

Rollins started to complain asking why Reigns is there.

“I’ll tell you why I’m out here if you shut the hell up,” Reigns said.

Reigns stood on the broadcast table and said that Orton had his shot . He said if anyone deserves a title match it’s Reigns. The crowd started chanting Justin Bieber at Rollins.

Rollins said that they both lost matches against him, so neither of them deserve a title opportunity. Kane interrupted them, and said that they both make compelling arguments. Kane set up a tag team match featuring himself and Rollins against Reigns and Orton. Kane then said that he will let the fans decide who faces Rollins at Payback.

It was a good opening segment, I sense that there will be either a triple threat match with both Reigns and Orton or a fatal four way with Kane involved at Payback. I can’t see Rollins losing before Lesnar returns, however, this could be a good finale for the Rollins/Orton feud and elevate Reigns while adding to the Rollins/Kane feud that is slowly building.

The first match of the King of the Ring tournament featured Bad News Barrett against Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler made his entrance first to a good ovation, followed by Barrett. A video package showed a previously recorded interview where he said there will be “payback for Sheamus.” It looks like Ziggler will likely face Sheamus again at Payback.

The match began with Ziggler throwing punches but Barrett regained control of the match. There was a lot of fast paced action as Barrett hit Ziggler with elbows and kicks. Ziggler countered Barrett with a kick to the face followed by a dropkick as Barrett rolled out of the ring as the show went to commercial.

This is a great matchup so far, but it is hard to keep up with the action. In the wrestling world, that isn’t always a bad thing. With Ziggler teasing a rematch with Sheamus I see them either facing each other in a later round of the tournament, or them losing their spots and facing off in a regular match.

The match came back on as Barrett had Ziggler in a headlock, after some back and forth Barrett tried to shoulder him in the corner and missed. Ziggler and Barrett fought back and forth before hitting a clothesline. Barrett went for his Wasteland finisher but Ziggler countered with a DDT for a two-count. Ziggler went for a kick but Barrett countered and slingshot him into the corner. Barrett hit Wasteland but only got a two-count.

Barrett went for a Bullhammer elbow but Ziggler dodged and hit a kick. Sheamus came out and distracted Ziggler as Barrett hit his Bullhammer elbow for the win.

It was a competitive match, not a match of the year candidate but still good. The distraction from Sheamus was predictable, but it will be interesting to see what will happen with their feud. After their traditional matchup at Extreme Rules, I hope there will be some type of stipulation added at Payback.

RAW came back from commercial as new WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day came out. Although New Day member Xavier Woods didn’t win the title at Extreme Rules, he was wearing the belt. New Day is using the Freebird Rule, where all of the members of the group are considered champions. Woods tried to start a “New Day Rocks” chant but they kept chanting “New Day Sucks.”

The New Day

Tyson Kidd came out accompanied by his wife Natalya and his tag team partner Cesaro for a match against New Day member Big E. Kidd dominated the match early on, and seemed to be angry about losing the tag team titles at Extreme Rules. Out of nowhere, Big E hit a clothesline as Xavier Woods held Kidd’s ankle down preventing him from kicking out of the pin attempt before the three-count.

It was a good way to keep the fans irate at The New Day, however, the match felt a bit rushed. There will likely be a rematch at Payback, but I am not sure whether Kidd and Cesaro are still classified as villains or if they are transitioning into heroes. They are in that grey area right now along with The Bella Twins as characters who aren’t established as heroes or villains.

Ryback came out next for a matchup as the show went to commercial. Ryback is often compared to former WCW star Goldberg because they both essentially have the same gimmick. They are intense, well-built bodybuilder types that show ruthless aggression in the ring. As generic as the gimmick sounds, it is something that fans can always get behind. Ryback has been building momentum since his failed run as a villain two years ago, hopefully WWE doesn’t drop the ball with this character again.

Ryback usually competes in short matches, but I hope that he is in a feud with a well established star by the Payback Pay-Per-View. While he is fun to watch when he dominates short matches, he can also compete in longer matches and further developing his character will only get the fans behind him more.

As the show came back from commercial, Bo Dallas came out for the match with Ryback. Dallas said that Ryback’s actions at Extreme Rules were reprehensible and said he would be the bigger man and give Ryback the chance to walk away. Ryback refused as the match started. Ryback immediately started attacking Dallas. Dallas fought back and dropped Ryback down. He went for a pin but Ryback kicked out at one. Another pin attempt but Ryback kicked out at one again. Dallas put Ryback in a headlock but Ryback picked up Dallas and slammed him on the mat. Dallas tried to jump off the turnbuckle onto Ryback but he countered with a spinebuster. Ryback hit his meathook clothesline signature move and shellshocked finisher for the win.

Although I’d like to see them further develop Ryback’s character, I will never get sick of seeing him beat up guys for two to three minutes.

The screen went black after the match and when the lights came back on Bray Wyatt appeared behind Ryback and hit him with his Sister Abagail finisher. Wyatt posed as Ryback laid on the mat.

Ryback Wyatt

There were rumors for a couple of weeks that this feud would happen, but I don’t like to incorporate hearsay into my reviews. Now that it is confirmed, I can say that I am happy to see this feud as Wyatt is a big star who has fought the likes of John Cena and The Undertaker and that this will be a big challenge for both men. It doesn’t matter who wins and who loses in this feud, as both men will come out better once it ends.

Following the commercial, WWE United States Champion John Cena came out for his Championship Invitational.

“The Champ is here,” said Cena.

Cena said he respects Rusev for refusing to quit, but that at Payback they will face off in an “I Quit” match. He said that he will not say “I Quit” while defending his US Championship on American soil. He said he will never surrender as the crowd started a loud “USA” chant. He announced that Payback is the final chapter between Rusev and John Cena.

Cena said he is providing opportunity and invites someone to come out and face him for the championship. Heath Slater came out to answer the challenge. Slater declared that he will become the United States champion, and will create his own variation of the discount double check. Rusev attacked Slater and had a staredown with John Cena.

Rusev said that the audience is full of quitters—that all of the fans in the audience gave up on their dreams. He said that at Payback, Cena will quit too. He taunted Cena as his music hit and the Russian flag dropped down from the ceiling to end the segment.

Cena Rusev

It added some much needed build-up to Cena/Rusev IV, which is hard to do when two people face off at four consecutive Pay-Per-Views. I also missed Slater’s comedy act.

Rollins and Kane were talking backstage as Rollins seemed to complain about the fans having the ability to choose an opponent. Kane said that since Rollins doesn’t seem to enjoy having the fans pick either Orton or Reigns for the title match at Payback he will now be adding the option of Rollins facing both of them in a triple threat match. Kane said that fans can vote exclusively on the WWE App, and that the results of the poll will be shown after their tag team match.

It appears that the triple threat match at Payback is the most likely option. With WWE teasing Kane as the next person to break away from The Authority super group, I am curious to see if he will be involved in the matchup at Payback. What is more interesting is that in a traditional triple threat match there are no disqualifications, which would allow for the possibility of outside interference in the matchup. I only hope that Big Show doesn’t show up for another feud with Reigns.

R-Truth and Stardust came out next for another King of the Ring Tournament match. Both of them are unique characters, which will make for an interesting match. Stardust dominated the match early, as he repeatedly attacked Truth. Stardust had Truth in a headlock, but Truth fought out. Stardust regained control with a series of kicks. He tried to pin Truth again but Truth kicked out. Stardust with another headlock, and then he raked Truth in the eyes. Stardust repeatedly used a headlock variation, but Truth tried to fight Stardust off again. Stardust punched Truth and did a cartwheel before attacking Truth again. Truth regained some offense with a series of clotheslines before going for a scissors kick. Both competitors were back and forth with roll ups. Truth hit his Lie Detector finisher out of nowhere for the win.

I was shocked to see Truth win, as Truth hasn’t had much exposure on WWE television in recent years. The last time he was featured on a main show was in the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at Wrestlemania 31, but he was just there. Truth is a talented individual, but he has been used mostly as an enhancement talent to make the other wrestlers look good in recent years. It will be interesting to see if this could lead to Truth getting more TV time on RAW in the future.

Fandango came out for a matchup against Adam Rose, who was already in the ring. They locked up as Rose gained control with a headlock. There was fast paced action with some back and forth. Rose soon gained control and was choking Fandango against the ropes. Fandango regained control with some chops to Rose’s chest and then clotheslined Rose over the roped. Fandango then jumped over the ropes and took out Rose. Fandango’s ex girlfriend Rosa Mendes then danced outside of the ring to distract Fandango. Rose took advantage of the distraction to hit his Party Foul finisher and win the match.

“I can’t believe you chose them (the fans) over me,” Mendes said.

Mendes then started making out with Rose as Fandango looked on in disgust.

Interviewer Renee Young was backstage with Daniel Bryan’s real-life wife Brie Bella. Young asked Brie about Bryan’s health. She explained how Bryan loves WWE so much and the injury is killing him because of how bad he wants to compete. She said he loves the fans and he loves wrestling as Naomi knocked Brie down.

“No one cares about you or your husband,” she said as she walked off.

For storytelling purposes, I can understand interviewing Brie and even incorporating the story into the Naomi/Bellas feud. However, I think it would’ve been better if the announcers simply gave the health update. I paid close attention because I am curious about the condition of one of my favorite wrestlers, and I don’t know any more information than I knew prior to Brie’s interview. If there was any sort of medical update, they didn’t do well in conveying that to the fans. If someone like me, who watched closely, didn’t catch it I can’t see a casual fan catching it either.

RAW came back from commercial, with Brie Bella already in the ring and her sister Nikki at ringside. Naomi made her entrance next.

The match started with a catfight, as both divas started attacking each other. The referee pulled Brie off of Naomi as Naomi got in a cheap shot on Brie. Naomi hit a bulldog variation with Brie’s head hitting the turnbuckle.

Why isn’t that her finisher?! That move was way more impressive than that “Rear View” nonsense.

Naomi was in control and hit a legdrop for a two count. She started pulling Brie’s hair as Brie tried to fight her way out. She managed to escape and started getting in some offense. Brie hit a clothesline and a dropkick before hitting another dropkick off of the top turnbuckle for a close two-count. Naomi hit Brie with a kick and a roll up for the win.

Those who have read my previous reviews know that I am not high on the Divas division at the moment, however, I was impressed by that bulldog variation. In a world where everything has been done before, I have never seen a bulldog done like that. Naomi’s current Rear View finisher isn’t believable in any sense, but that finisher is one that could win over the crowd.

Dean Ambrose came out next for another King of the Ring tournament matchup as the show went to commercial. When the show comes back, photos were shown highlighting the Chicago Street fight from Extreme Rules. Sheamus made his way to the ring next.

The matchup started as both men locked up. There was a lot of grappling between both men, as the action went back and forth. I like that this match has more of a technical aspect, interesting to see between two men who as known as brawlers. Ambrose started to stretch Sheamus as the referee broke it up. Sheamus hit Ambrose with a right hand and took control. More grappling and then Ambrose made a comeback with some chops. Ambrose went for a bulldog but Sheamus countered, Sheamus went for a clothesline but Ambrose knocked him out of the ring. Ambrose was about to dive out of the ring but stopped himself as Sheamus ran away before the commercial break.

This match has captured my interest with all of the grappling. I am used to seeing these two wrestlers in all out brawls, so seeing something like this is completely different. Grappling types of matches are hard to pull off, as it typically slows down the action and can lose fan interest but this match has been a good combination of grapples with punches and chops thrown in the mix to help keep the pace.

RAW came back from commercial as Sheamus had Ambrose in a headlock. Sheamus took control of the match as he showboated to the fans. The fans booed Sheamus as he started to kick Ambrose around. Sheamus hit a series of punches. Ambrose made a comeback with a clothesline.

Ambrose and Sheamus sped the match up as they started brawling. Ambrose ran towards Sheamus but Sheamus countered with a slam. Sheamus started to signal for his Brogue Kick finisher, but Ambrose sidestepped it and rolled Sheamus up for a two-count. Sheamus tried to shoulder Ambrose into the corner, but Ambrose sidestepped it. He dove out of the ring onto Sheamus before bringing it back into the ring. There was more back and forth action as both men traded blows. Sheamus put Ambrose in a Cloverleaf submission hold, and Ambrose crawled to the ropes to force the referee to break the hold.

Ambrose hit Sheamus with a series of elbows and hit him with a diving elbow from the top rope for the two-count. Sheamus stepped out of the ring and Ambrose chased him but Sheamus threw Ambrose into the announce table. Ambrose tried to throw Sheamus into the post but Sheamus countered with a brogue kick.

Ziggler came out and started attacking Sheamus as the referee rang the bell and ended the matchup. Sheamus officially won the match by disqualification, and advances to the next round in the tournament. Ambrose heard the announcement and was frustrated as he had nothing to do with it.

That match was easily the match of the night so far. There was a great combination of traditional on-the-mat wrestling as well as unorthodox brawling that the fans have grown to love in the past two decades. I am questioning the idea of having Sheamus advance in the tournament while he is feuding with Ziggler, but with some of the semifinal matches taking place on Main Event it is possible that the tournament could be finished within a week or two. Sheamus was known as King Sheamus when he won his first King of the Ring tournament a few years ago, and it could be interesting to see WWE explore that character change once again.

A video recap showed Damien Sandow losing to Miz last week, losing the rights to Miz’s music and gimmick.

Sandow was in the ring and explained how when he first came to WWE, he was told that he wasn’t entertaining enough. He said that some people may have thought he lost his mind, but he was on a quest to entertain. He showed some photos of some of his old gimmicks he did in the past year.

Sandow explained that he lost the respect of a lot of his peers while he was Mizdow, but that he gained the respect of the fans. He explained that without the fans, he wouldn’t be a WWE superstar right now. The fans thanked Sandow as he said “You’re Welcome”, an homage to one of his previous gimmicks. Before being interrupted by Curtis Axel.

Sandow Axel

Axel said that nothing bothers him more than a guy that tries to be someone else, so he asked Sandow “whatcha gonna do-“ as Sandow began to mimic Axel’s dialogue and movements. Axel told Sandow to get out but Sandow continued to mock him.

Sandow began to emulate Hulk Hogan’s taunt much like Axel before he hit an elbow on Axel. Sandow showboated for the fans as they cheered him.

Bray Wyatt appeared on screen for another cryptic promo. He said that what happened tonight is only the beginning. Everything that comes out of Wyatt’s mouth is gold, even though its difficult to explain through text. It is truly something that must be seen on live TV or through YouTube clips to be understood.

RAW returned from commercial as the announcers showed some audition tapes for Tough Enough.

Neville made his way to the ring for the final King of the Ring first round matchup. The winner of this match will face Sheamus in the next round. Harper made his way to the ring next.

The match started as Harper picked up Neville but Neville escaped. Neville hit Harper with a hurricanrana that knocked Harper out of the ring. He hit another one outside of the ring. The action went back into the ring and Harper regained control. The match went to commercial as the action continued.

The match is unique, as Harper is taller, stronger, and has been on the main roster longer than Neville. However, Neville is quick and can pull off maneuvers that Harper cannot. I like this clash of styles, and I truly don’t know who will win this match. Neville looks to be making an impact, which is a good thing as most wrestlers seem to be in a sink or swim situation when they make their main roster debuts. With Neville competing in some matches against high-profile superstars since his main roster debut after Wrestlemania, the future looks bright for the young star.

The match came back from commercial with Neville in a headlock. I feel like that is always the situation when a match comes back from commercial. Neville regained control and jumped off the ropes to dropkick Harper. Neville hit a standing moonsault on Harper in the ring for a two-count. Neville charged at Harper but Harper countered with a kick. Harper attempted to pin Neville, but only got a two-count.

Harper called for a powerbomb as Neville escaped and suplexed Harper. Neville hit another dropkick that put Harper on his knees. He charged at Harper but Harper countered with a powerbomb for a two-count.

The crowd started to chant “This Is Awesome” ad the match continued. Neville began to make a comeback and then Harper regained control. Harper set up Neville on the top turnbuckle for a suplex. Neville started hitting Harper as Harper knocked him off the turnbuckle. Neville hit a kick before powerbombing Harper off the turnbuckle. Instead of pinning Harper, Neville hit his Red Arrow finisher off of the top turnbuckle for the win.

This match was exciting to watch, and has surpassed Ambrose/Sheamus as match of the night. Neville is a representative of the NXT developmental system under Triple H, and shows great promise for future WWE superstars to come.

With the popularity of superstars like Neville, Seth Rollins, and Daniel Bryan and NXT focusing on more athletic individuals, I think that the days of larger WWE superstars may be over in favor of smaller athletes with a larger variety of moves in their repertoires.

Roman Reigns made his way out to the ring next for the main event of RAW as the show went to commercial. The show came back from commercial and the announcers hyped that fans can still vote for Rollins opponent at WWE Payback. The choices are Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, or Both. Orton made his way to the ring next, followed by Kane and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. J&J Security accompanied Rollins to the ring. Rollins and Kane shook hands before walking to the ring.

The bell rang as the fans chanted Justin Bieber at Rollins. Rollins and Reigns started off the match. Rollins wrapped Reigns around in a series of grapples. Reigns countered as Rollins rolled out of the ring for a short breather. Rollins slowly made his way back into the ring and locked up with Reigns before kicking him in the chest. Rollins charged at Reigns but Reigns countered with a slam. Reigns threw Rollins into the turnbuckle before tagging in Orton.

Orton hit a series of offensive maneuvers, including stomps to the chest. Orton hit a series of uppercuts and tagged in Reigns.

Reigns picked up Rollins but Rollins escaped and slid out of the ring. Rollins slid back into the ring and then tagged in Kane.

Kane wrapped Reigns in a headlock but Reigns picked him up and slammed him before Reigns tagged in Orton. Orton started kicking Kane and hitting uppercuts on him in the corner. Orton charged at Kane but Kane hit a big boot on Orton. Kane hit a series of punches on Orton in the corner before tagging in Rollins. Rollins kicked Orton in the corner before throwing him out of the ring as RAW went to commercial.

This is a traditional tag team match, and has been an average match so far. It’s not extraordinary, but it is not bad either. Perhaps it is because the main event of RAW has been a tag team match in most episodes lately. I don’t love the match, but I don’t hate it either. For the purpose of storytelling, it does the job of helping sell the idea of Reigns and Orton competing against Rollins, and can perhaps fuel the inevitable feud between Kane and Rollins.

The match came back from commercial and Orton was in a headlock. Orton fought out of it as Rollins took Orton down and attempted a pin. Orton kicked out as Rollins got in more offense.   Rollins hit Orton with a clothesline before showboating to a chorus of boos. Orton managed to get in some offense as he crawled to Roman Reigns and tagged him in as Rollins tagged in Kane. Reigns started dominating Kane in the ring, getting in a large variety of offense. Rollins ran in for an assist but Reigns hit him with a Samoan drop before knocking him out of the ring. Reigns threw Kane out of the ring and attempted to dive out of the ring but J&J Security grabbed his leg.

Kane took advantage and slammed Reigns into the ring post. Kane brought the action back into the ring before kicking Reigns on the ground. Kane threw Reigns into the corner before kicking him again and tagging in Rollins.

Rollins hit a series of kicks on a downed Reigns, but as Reigns stood up he started exchanging blows with Rollins. Rollins managed to hit a kick to the head of Reigns before tagging in Kane. Kane started to dominate Reigns again before putting Reigns in a bear hug as Reigns screamed in pain.

Reigns started to fight his way out of the bear hug and started to make a comeback before Kane hit a big clothesline for a two-count. Rollins tagged himself into the match and continued to stomp the back of Reigns. Rollins tagged in Kane and Kane and Reigns started to exchange punches back and forth.

Kane quickly took control and tried to suplex Reigns, however Reigns countered with a suplex of his own. Reigns began to crawl towards Orton but Kane tagged in Rollins who stopped Reigns. After some back and forth action Reigns managed to slam Rollins down and tag in Orton.

Orton started punching Rollins and hit a series of clotheslines. He went for a powerslam but Rollins avoided it. Rollins jumped off of the roped but was caught in a powerslam. He went for a pin but Kane stopped it. Reigns went into the ring to save Orton. Kane tried to chokeslam Reigns but he blocked it. Reigns hit J&J Security with a superman punch as Rollins threw Reigns out of the ring.

Orton came back into the ring amid the chaos and tried to hit an RKO, however Rollins reversed it into the roll up for a two count. Rollins tried to dive out of the ring onto Orton but Orton sidestepped and Rollins accidentally grazed Kane. Kane started to lose his temper as he hit J&J Security followed by Rollins. Reigns and Orton took advantage as Reigns hit his superman punch on Rollins followed by an RKO by Orton for the win.

Kane announces that it is time to se who Rollins defends his title against at Payback, and the result is that 78% of the fans want a triple threat match featuring Orton, Reigns, and Rollins.

Reigns hit a spear on Rollins to end the show.

Notes

  • I still think Reigns should spend more time feuding with other wrestlers before he is put into another title match, however, I don’t see him winning the title so I’m not going to complain about it too much.
  • Randy Orton does a good job as an antihero. He hasn’t changed anything about his character since coming back, he simply fights the bad guys now—and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Out of all the nonwrestling segments, Sandow’s segment was the most fun to watch. There was a level of realness in his promo, you can tell he wants to be there. I hope WWE can find a way to make Sandow a top star because he has taken so many bad gimmicks in the past year and turned them into gold.
  • Where are Triple H and Stephanie McMahon? RAW isn’t the same without the two main faces of The Authority. I miss seeing them on RAW.
  • I am excited for the King of the Ring tournament’s return, but I wish there would’ve been some hype for it. They could’ve easily promoted it in a 30 second video package last Monday, or even during the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View.
  • I plan on doing coverage and reviews for all future RAW episodes and WWE Pay-Per-Views. If my schedule permits it, I may expand upon this over time and include recaps and reviews of NXT, Smackdown, or even WWE Network Specials. However, I will have to play those ones by ear.

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