Last night’s Raw came to us from the nation’s capital, sans Beast. Last week, Brock Lesnar was beaten within an inch of his life at the hands of a newly united Authority, leaving Seth Rollins to gloat in all his cartoon villain glory. We also got some solid in ring action and…Apple Watches?
Monday Night Rollins/Anyone But You
As I said in the preamble, Rollins once again got the better of Brock Lesnar, thanks to Kane and J&J Security uniting behind Rollins once again, even after all the trash talking, inter-Authority matches and veiled threats. I guess family’s family, even if that family is a group of has-been sycophants who also somehow have huge egos consisting of a guy who lives in a trailer park, an easily swayed acolyte and a literal demon. Rollins started last night off with thanking the newly united Authority with lavish gifts, including Apple Watches for each of them in a hilarious ceremony. Next, Kane got an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii, which was of course signified by actual hula dancers and ukulele players coming down to surround the Demon and serenade him with their authentic stylings.
Next up, the faithful members of J&J Security were given a brand new car! What a guy Seth Rollins is. All of this led to the main event, which was a no DQ tag team match: Rollins and Kane vs. the last vestiges of The Shield, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, with J&J Security ringside. AKA the match we’ve seen some variant of main event Raw for the past six months.
As far as The Authority goes, I’m liking that it’s becoming less and less about Triple H and Stephanie. It feels like it’s Rollins’ group now, which is enough to inject some freshness into the whole heel authoritative faction angle that has been woefully overused for the past 15 or so years. Rollins is truly making it into his own, and proving to mom and dad that he’s capable of steering the ship alone.
Of course, by the same token it does feel a little contrived that The Authority is suddenly on the same page. It just feels like a quick fix to make Rollins seem like an actual legitimate threat to Lesnar, despite the fact that inter-Authority tensions have been rising for who knows how long. We’ve seen Rollins fight J&J Security, fight Kane, and almost get kicked out of The Authority, but now everything is hunky dory because of the looming threat of Brock Lesnar, who The Authority themselves reinstated to fight Seth Rollins…
The match itself was fun, if a bit of a step down from the hilarious opening segment. No DQ matches are always fun, even if it makes very little sense that the concept of legal/illegal men still seemingly exist. The match was actually decidedly not hardcore until about halfway through the match when Roman Reigns just started going ballistic and kendo sticking and Superman punching everybody in sight. Say what you want about Reigns, but when he turns up the badass, it’s pretty damn entertaining. I loved the bit of him snapping the kendo stick in half over his knee.
What I didn’t love is, if you’ll pardon the incredibly overused expression, how strong they made Roman look. I have no problem with him being sold as a major contender in the main event scene, but he put up more of a fight than Brock Lesnar did for crying out loud. Last week, Lesnar was out cold after a couple of chokeslams and a Pedigree. This week, Roman got slammed onto the table by an interfering Bray Wyatt, powerbombed through a table, Pedigreed, attacked at every limb by four people, and still had intermittent moments of invincibility, including a moment where he actually cleared the ring. All coming from the man who basically got his ass kicked by Lesnar for 30 minutes straight at WrestleMania. Riiiiight…
Backing up a minute though, the Wyatt interference was obvious, but well done. Taking Roman out during the match allows the Authority to get a relatively easy win, and I enjoyed Wyatt coming back later to “pick the bones” as Cole put it and take an already unconscious Reigns out with Sister Abigail. His promo earlier in the night was good, too: a mix of his usual ominous diatribe, mixed with some thoughts that came across as somehow more human, more relatable. The angle with Reigns’ daughter is an interesting one for sure, but we’ll see if it turns into anything other than simple mind games.
Wyatt has always been a character that is super interesting on paper, but in practice it hasn’t really hit its stride yet. We may be seeing some of that finally materializing here. The mind games are substantial, and exactly what we’ve wanted out of The Eater of Worlds since day one. There’s also a small amount of continuity in the fact that barring the random one-off with Ryback and the WrestleMania spat with The Undertaker, Wyatt’s main targets of the past eight months or so have been Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Add in the storied history between The Shield and The Wyatt Family, and it’s an interesting little side story, whether it was intentional or not.
The only thing that worries me out of this is that Bray Wyatt needs to win this feud, but let’s be honest, Roman Reigns is going to win this feud. And to be fair, Reigns can’t really afford to lose it either, making it a situation where they’ve kind of booked themselves into a corner. They are surprisingly adroit at getting themselves out of these types of situations on occasion though, so we’ll see what happens at Battleground before passing judgment. It felt good to have Raw end with “DEH” again, I’ll say that much.
By the way “Anyone But You” referring to Reigns: ominous Wyatt phrase, or rallying cry of the IWC?
Swiss Superman vs. Supercena
Unfortunately, everything described above about covers the storyline advancements coming out of this episode. But story is only part of the reason we love wrestling, right? The other big part is, y’know, wrestling. And on that front, Cena and Cesaro delivered in a big way as part of the US Championship Open Challenge. At first we thought we were getting Owens, but the dastardly scamp that he is, it was all a ploy seemingly to rile up the audience and throw Cena off his game. Cesaro ended up actually taking up the challenge, putting on an absolute clinic with the leader of Cenation. But then again, it’s Cesaro and Cena, did you expect anything less than a great match?
Episodes light on story are okay when there’s great in-ring action to compensate. This show wasn’t exactly rife with it, but this match was good enough to make him for anything else. It is such a shame that Tyson Kidd is on the shelf, because he and Cesaro were really finding their stride in the tag division, bringing something truly special to the table. I really hope Cesaro gets some sort of singles run in the interim, because he is just too damn talented to leave off the show (grumble grumble Swiss millennial brass ring grumble grumble). Him integrating the Sharpshooter into his repertoire is a nice touch, and that along with the fact that he’s still wearing the purple tights gives me hope that the team will reunite when Kidd is healthy (which, unfortunately, is a long time from now).
Owens ended up interrupting the match, denying the fans of a clean resolution to an excellent match; perfect heel move that actually made me legitimately angry. What’s somewhat interesting is that he interrupted a Cesaro submission move. It makes sense that he would want ot be the one to take the United States Championship from Cena, but it was a nice touch, and somewhat different than what you’d expect.
Even though not a lot happened story wise between Cena and Owens this week—and let’s be honest, not a lot story wise has happened between the two at all—the intensity of both of them, the freshness of Owens, and the chemistry the two have both on the mic and in the ring are all this feud needs to keep going forward.
The Rest of the Card
- I see why a lot of people are upset with the whole Ziggler/Lana thing, but I don’t feel as strongly about it, I guess. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen is that the two have no chemistry together. It’s pretty obvious that it’s a rebound/making Rusev jealous thing, so chemistry is really irrelevant, isn’t it? They aren’t supposed to be Macho Man and Elizabeth. Lana attached the most attractive, most American male she could think of to royally piss Rusev off, and it’s working. That’s about all there is to it. And for Ziggler, a perennial slimy blowhard, is he really going to pass up free nookie just because it isn’t true love? In my opinion both Ziggler and Lana are acting perfectly within character.
- Cool if we talk some more about how awesome and hilarious The Miz is? Cool. Because The Miz is awesome and hilarious. Tough Talk was a great show pretty much solely because of how entertaining The Miz is on the mic, and he’s about the only thing selling this Intercontinental Championship mess right now. I’m glad he actually got a cheap shot in, rather than simply being made to look like the fool as he has for the past couple weeks now. Miz is obviously not going to out power Ryback or Big Show, so quick opportunistic hits like the one he managed to get last night needs to be his strategy going into Battleground. Put the belt on him, please. He’s a four time IC Champ and former WWE Champion. If you’re looking to bring some prestige back to the Intercontinental Championship, a red-hot Miz is not a bad place to start.
- The Divas match was actually fairly entertaining, with a good amount of drama to it. And when’s the last time a Divas match was actually so long it was split up by a commercial break?! #GiveDivasAChance, indeed. Though, beware: Total Divas returns next week, which is a double-edged sword. It’s good because Total Divas is, no shame here, a highly entertaining program. It’s bad because the Divas division will most likely regress to petty, storylines that loosely coincide with what’s happening on a separate TV show that was filmed months ago. Hopefully we can get some NXT callups out of this.
- Sign of the Night this week goes to a callback to Anchorman: “It’s so hot! Milk was a bad choice!”
- Bo needs to officially join The New Day. That is all.
- Barrett and Swagger did stuff. As did Sheamus and Neville.
Sadly not a ton of storyline advancements, as just like my last review it still seems like a lot of it is in a holding pattern. Seth Rollins continues to knock it out of the park both with his antics and with his wrestling, while the Wyatt/Reigns program is really shaping up to be an entertaining semi-main event at Battleground. Toss in an excellent match between Cena and Cesaro, and you have a show that was satisfying if not exactly mind-blowing.