Raw returned to the scene of the crime last night: San Jose, California, where at WrestleMania Seth Rollins stole the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Brock Lesnar. We’re three weeks away from Summerslam with a lot more questions than answers at this point. Let’s see how this episode addressed them.
You Can’t See Knee
Seth Rollins kicked off the show, bragging about busting John Cena’s knee last week and rightfully so. Using this real-life dilemma as a storyline device is the right call, and WWE even went so far to whip up some parodic t-shirts for The Future commemorating the event (Although wouldn’t the equivalent to “Never Give Up” be “Never Shut Up” as opposed to “Never Shuts Up”? I digress…). I wonder how many John Cena parody shirts have been made over the years. This one, Daniel Bryan’s “The Beard Is Here” shirt, like 90% of Kevin Steen/Owens shirts…
Anyway, I do appreciate them using the broken nose to add some spice to this otherwise ho-hum feud, but I can’t help but think it would have made more sense for them to call an audible and call off the match last Monday. It feels a little incongruent to have Rollins brag and brag about last week when he actually lost the match. Sure, he threw in that he “got distracted” and gave Cena the win, but you just bragged about the irreparable damage you did to a guy’s face, and he still beat you? I don’t know if that makes you look any better to be honest.
Rollins is always entertaining on the mic these days, though, and this week he issued an open challenge of his own for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, with the strange caveat that the opponent can’t be over six feet tall or weigh more than 200 pounds. This brought out Neville, who despite the flimsy premise for this match continued doing what he does best: bust out badass wrestling matches. The match was excellent (and surprisingly meaty–including the Roddy Piper tribute at the top of the show and the Rollins promo, this segment took up a solid 40 minutes), but it was downright impossible to suspend my disbelief into thinking Neville was going to win. Maybe I’m just a jaded wrestling fan, but even after he hit the Red Arrow I just calmly waited for the ropes to be grabbed or whatever other shenanigans they were going to use to overturn it. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love the match though, because really, what kind of wrestling fan is going to complain about Seth Rollins vs. Neville?
Rollins also officially issued the challenge for a title vs. title match at Summerslam between himself and John Cena, which was about all the storyline progression we got out of the champ tonight. This was a recurring theme of this episode of Raw: entertaining segments that didn’t really amount to a whole lot in the long run.
Walk Owens Walk
Possibly the most interesting segment last night was Miz TV, with guests Kevin Owens and Cesaro. The Miz was on point on the mic, giving props to the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, without whom there wouldn’t be a Barber Shop, Heartbreak Hotel, Cutting Edge, Highlight Reel, or even Miz TV. It’s a shame The Miz hasn’t really had a compelling storyline since the Mizdow stuff (which ended disappointingly), because his character has been killing it lately. Miz is great on the stick, so adding Kevin Owens, another mic master, to the segment only made it more entertaining. And Miz’s face when Owens and Cesaro started staring each other down! Gold!
Cesaro certainly lags behind the other two in mic skills, but he makes up for it in badassery. The crowd is getting very behind Cesaro, which is surprising since something something Millennial something something Swiss something brass ring. He is clearly getting far more opportunities on the mic than he used to, which can only be good. Practice makes perfect, after all. This shows one of two things: Either the amount of faith they have in him has increased, or they are testing him in a sink or swim type way. Actually, I’m betting it’s a little bit of both, which is exactly what he needs right now.
Anyway, they more concretely set in place the rumored Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens Summerslam showdown, which will easily steal the show. And yes, for all you hardcore indie fans, Kevin Steen and Claudio Castagnoli are having a high-profile one on one match at Summerslam. Get hyped (or stay hyped, if you’re already there).
The Rest of the Card
- Sadly, not a whole lot else happened last night, even with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar involved. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s physically possible for Paul Heyman to cut a bad promo, but a feud between two part timers where only one is there at a time is always going to feel artificially extended. I also couldn’t focus on anything besides the excessive amount of saliva spitting out of Heyman’s mouth as he cut the promo. He was foaming at the mouth!
- The Diva Revolution continues, but not a whole lot has happened storyline wise. That’s okay though, I’ll take good matches over nothing. The former Team Paige also unveiled a new name: Submission Sorority, which is cool and all until you googled that phrase last night (NSFW). It looks like the WWE machine has taken over the front page of the results for that term, so they may continue rolling with it after all, but it was a pretty funny oversight.
- King Barrett beat Zack Ryder. At least Zack got some offense in…? I don’t understand the point of this segment.
- If you listened to Mark Henry on Talk is Jericho last week, he mentioned he was legitimately ready to retire and Vince convinced him to sign a three year contract. Can anyone tell me why? So he can do nothing for weeks at a time, then randomly job here and there? I don’t get it. Henry deserves more than this.
- Another week, another tag match of vague importance with Primetime Players on commentary. I was happy to hear them bring up Titus helping all the homeless people from a few days ago. He could really be a brand ambassador for the company down the line.
- I actually really dug the Wyatt backstage promo, where Sheamus somehow found the undisclosed location Bray usually spooks up for his interviews. It was surreal to see a non-Wyatt in that setting, like seeing a teacher outside of school. It was watered down by the fact that later Orton kinda did the same thing with Ambrose and Regins’ old school Shield-ish promo, but still a neat visual nonetheless.
- And no, I don’t think this in any way implies Sheamus is joining The Wyatt Family. It was just to promote the six man tag where, as Bray mentioned, they have a common enemy. So you can put down your pitchforks and delete your “OMG SHEAMUS IS RUINING THE WYATTS NOW TOO” comments.
- The main event was…fun, I suppose. They are running matches that feel like dark main events as TV main events pretty often recently, which kind of kills any buzz the show had going for it. Much like the Raw after WrestleMania that was also held in the SAP Center, this Raw felt like it ran backwards: An excellent 20 minute match featuring the World Heavyweight Champion in the opening contest, and a meaningless six man tag to close it off.
Well, that was certainly an episode of Raw that happened. That’s about all I can say about it.