Mike Tedesco’s RAW Thoughts
July 8, 2014
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
I was really bummed about missing last week’s RAW considering how good it was, but I still had high hopes for this show being that it was emanating from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Canadian crowds are always awesome and bring a really fun buzz to the show. The performers always seem to go the extra mile and seem to genuinely enjoy being out there. As a fan, that always makes a show like this enjoyable to watch. When I see that they have a Canadian show coming up on the schedule, I always put that in the back of my mind as one to look forward to.
The crowd was red hot as Roman Reigns made his way to the ring. Reigns got in the ring, and they just showered him with loud cheers and chants of his name. It was a really awesome reaction, and he looked like a total star just standing there soaking it in. Then instead of acknowledging it, he went right into a scripted promo. I had to cringe when he did that, but it’s not his fault. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room in promos to be spontaneous, but if this guy is pegged to be the next “guy” then I would hope he can play to a hot crowd a little better. Luckily when the “Cena sucks” chants started, he was able to throw a little zinger about Cena that got the crowd hyped. Other than that little criticism, I really liked the promo he delivered. Reigns comes across like the cool, edgy kid in school who calls people “bitches” compared to John Cena, who is more about being a jokester.
The brawl with Kane was a lot of fun. I got a kick out of Kane giving the referee a Chokeslam. Always fun to watch them get beat up a little bit. That’s why I like Charles Robinson so much – when I first started recapping, like my second week in, Vickie Guerrero put him in a match with The Great Khali. Robinson was so hilarious that I became a fan for life. Then when I met him, he was super nice as well. My absolute favorite from this segment was watching Reigns toss aside Jamie Noble and spear the daylights out of Fit Finlay. That tough old Irishman can still take a nice bump. Just lots of fun, and the crowd was super receptive to everything they were doing, which really adds to the segment.
Even though we’ve seen the Usos take on Harper and Rowan quite a few times, it has yet to get old. They had a fantastic match last Sunday at Money in the Bank, and they had another great one last night on RAW. I’m not sure it was so great that it should have elicited a “This is awesome” chant from the crowd, but it was still pretty darn good. Like I said in my Money in the Bank predictions piece, the Usos are sneaky-tough, and Harper and Rowan are sneaky-athletic. Any time you put them together, you’re going to get a physical and entertaining match. I didn’t think Harper and Rowan were done with the Usos after Money in the Bank, so this win should set something up for WWE Battleground, which is less than two weeks away.
The punishment of Nikki Bella for being related to her sister Brie continued this week. Even though The Authority was on vacation and there was no established storyline authority figure, somehow Nikki was booked into this match and forced to do it. This is just being done to set up what looks to be Stephanie McMahon versus Brie Bella at Summerslam, presumably with Brie getting a contract if she wins. Alicia Fox was pretty darn good in this one. She kicked the crap out of Nikki and played her part well even though the fans kind of soured on it early in.
I really enjoyed the next match between Rusev and RVD. Yeah, RVD has slowed down a lot as he’s gotten older (just check out his match against Adrian Neville on NXT a few weeks back), but he can still pull off a decent match every now and then. They’re stretching out Rusev a little more lately with his match against Big E at Money in the Bank going a little longer than normal. This match was given a good amount of time, and Rusev, of course, picked up the win. During the match, they aired a pre-taped promo with Zeb Colter challenging Rusev to a match on behalf of Jack Swagger at WWE Battleground. I read that Swagger was denied entry into Canada stemming from him arrest from last year, but I don’t think he should have appeared before the crowd anyway. I was in Newark last week when Swagger had a stare-down with Rusev on Smackdown, and that place was rocking. I don’t know how Canada would react to a USA-centric storyline like this. Probably best to give him the week off and let this simmer a bit.
My problem with the next match (Orton vs. Ambrose) is not with the match itself; I just have a problem with a Smackdown match from the week before being redone on RAW every week. It just gives you less of a reason to watch the show. Hardly anything of storyline note happens on the show (most of the time they don’t even bring up whatever happened on the show) and the main events are redone on RAW anyway. If you miss it, you’ve missed nothing.
As for the match, it was really good. The crowd was hot for it and both guys mesh really well together. Ambrose is really firing on all cylinders at the moment. I think he’s going to be really special down the line. Not exactly a groundbreaking piece of analysis there, but it still needs to be said. My only issue is they were flowing really nicely and then Orton had the brain fart of all brain farts late into it. Ambrose came off the top rope expecting Orton to, I’m guessing, dropkick him out of mid-air. Orton forgot the spot and didn’t turn around, so Ambrose landed short. Orton then turned around and dropkicked him. There’s miscommunication in a lot of matches that don’t generally hurt them, such as messing up a whip into the ropes or something like that, but this one was really noticeable and embarrassing. With a veteran like Orton in there, this shouldn’t have happened. It was directly Orton’s fault, too. Ambrose was where he needed to be, and Orton wasn’t. I suppose one could argue that Ambrose could have pulled a Rico and said, “Jesus Christ, Randy, turn around!” but that shouldn’t need to be done. This would have been my match of the night, but that colossal brain fart really hurt it in my eyes.
Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio had a really good match a few weeks back in that Money in the Bank qualifier. If this match were half as good as that, it would be decent. It wasn’t, in my opinion. It just seemed like they were going through the motions and doing stuff. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that this match was going to contain a lame ending with Fandango dancing on the table for the distraction. Why in the world would Ziggler care about Fandango dancing on a table? How does that affect his match? I never understood these things about wrestling. You could have missed this match and missed nothing.
The next spot was a really nice moment. Jerry Lawler was in the ring to open up the segment because it was the first time he’d been back in the building since his near-fatal heart attack in September 2012. The fans gave him a great hand, and he seemed genuinely touched by that. It was a really nice, real moment. Lawler thanked the staff and the hospital that kept him alive before thanking the fans for their prayers and support.
Lawler then introduced Bret Hart to the ring, and he came out to an awesome reception. Hart said some things to get the crowd going, like if he could have one more match, he’d have it in Montreal. Other than that he didn’t really say anything. Damien Sandow came out dressed as Hart and got some verbal jabs in on him. Hart then punched him in the mouth to end it. I suppose they put Hart on this show because it’s Canada and because they probably wanted to bring some old school fans back as they were heavily pushing the WWE Network all night with that free week. Putting Hart on this show just creates that interest. Hopefully they pick up some subscribers from it. Personally, I really like the WWE Network. If I were them, I’d just give a free week or two automatically for signing up. Netflix gives a month free. WWE doesn’t have to be that generous, but it seems desperate to me when they say, “Oh one time only for this free trial” only to do another free trial a few weeks later. Alas though, this isn’t a business blog, though I do have other ideas to help them with their Network. Back to my thoughts…
Damien Sandow was absolutely hilarious in his role against Hart. That would have been enough for me, but they put him into the match against Sheamus. Sandow hasn’t won a match probably since he won the Money in the Bank contract, so that result was never in question. This was just a time waster.
Chris Jericho had his first match back in a year against The Miz, and I really enjoyed it. Jericho looked like he hasn’t lost a step, though he does look much older in the face than he did last year. Kind of like when Undertaker came back this year, and he looked ooooold. Jericho can still go though at a high level. I really got a kick out of The Miz’ new character. Miz’ days of main eventing are over (just don’t tell my girlfriend that), but he can still contribute or be in the mix for a mid-card title. This character is a lot of fun though. Miz was protecting his face like crazy during the match. Finally Jericho got a shot in at the end, and Miz sold it like he annihilated his face. It was a classic little story that led to an enjoyable finish.
Bray Wyatt came out after, and he cut nearly the same promo on Jericho that he did on Smackdown (again, you can miss Smackdown and miss nothing). Wyatt cut a damn good promo, but I’ve already heard it before. I like the issue with him and Jericho. This could be another tremendous program for Wyatt along the lines of the Cena one. I reckon Wyatt will get much cleaner wins over Jericho than he did against Cena. The only match Wyatt won against Cena had a million pinfall breakups by the Wyatts and a seven-year old had to get involved so he could win. Jericho is a lot more giving because he’s one of the few guys who knows how to lose and not lose any steam. A lot of characters (and egos) these days are too fragile for anything like that to happen, hence the bushel of non-finishes that plague RAW and Smackdown.
The Funkadactyls had their long awaited breakup in the next segment. It was kind of anti-climactic. There didn’t appear to be an established issue with the two of them, but I guess we’ll find out what drove Cameron to do this in the coming weeks. Cameron is still green and not a good worker, but we’re going to have to suffer through a match with her and Naomi, probably at WWE Battleground. On the other side of the ring, Paige is still buttering up AJ Lee for what appears to be a heel turn coming very soon. I read someone’s status (for the life of me, I can’t remember whose it was), but they made a good point. Cameron/Naomi, AJ/Paige, and Brie Bella/Stephanie McMahon. When is the last time there was this many storylines firing in the Diva division?
Cesaro lost to Kofi Kingston for the second time in a week. For me, Kingston does nothing for me. I’m completely uninterested in anything he has to do because there hasn’t been one time in years that he’s been close to being relevant. It’ll probably come down to him and Cesaro in the Battle Royal, and I don’t think it takes a super sleuth to guess who would be my pick to come out on top in that affair.
Bo Dallas was hilarious once again. This time he faced El Torito. Man that was great. Dallas is so awesome, and the crowd is really into what he’s doing. The victory lap after the tiny Bo-dog was great with him unknowingly knocking over El Torito at ringside was absolutely hilarious.
Back on the last Smackdown of 2013, John Cena had an absolutely awesome match against Seth Rollins in a main event that was given a lot of time to build, and the action was solid. I had high hopes for this one, but because they always seem to be running short of time on a three hour show (how does that happen?) this wasn’t given any real time to build. The match was a nothing match that ended in a no contest just when Cena looked like he was going to easily dispatch Rollins, who holds a briefcase that means he could be a future champion. Kane and Orton attacked Cena until Reigns made the save. Cena and Reigns then cleaned house before taking turns raising one another’s arms. Throughout the night, they had some promos against one another to build an issue for WWE Battleground. To end the show, they were on the same page, but I doubt (hope) it won’t stay that way for long.
All in all, this was a good episode of Monday Night RAW with some good matches and a really hot crowd.
Bump of the Night: Damien Sandow ripping Sheamus out of the ring
Match of the Night: The Usos vs. Harper and Rowan ** 3/4
Final Rating: ***
Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Be sure to check out my Smackdown recap this Friday!
Thanks for reading!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE RAW and Smackdown for Wrestleview.com.