Mike Tedesco’s RAW Thoughts
July 30, 2014
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
After WWE blew up a yearlong streak of very good PPVs in a row with the mediocre WWE Battleground, they have begun a new streak of some highly enjoyable episodes of Monday Night RAW back to back.
The show kicked off with John Cena making his way to the ring to make a statement about having to face Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam with the title on the line. I was initially worried that Cena would do his normal shtick of smiling and making jokes about the situation, and I must say that those fears went unsubstantiated. Cena came out with a very serious look on his face and acknowledged that he was going to get destroyed at SummerSlam. Cena looked scared and was positioning himself as a huge underdog in this. This is only the second time I can think of him feeling like a real underdog heading into a match since he started his whole huge run in 2005 and the last time came in 2012 against Lesnar. It’s very refreshing from him.
That’s not to say he did this all by himself. He was given a major assist by Paul Heyman, who seems to bring out the best in everyone with his promos, which are the greatest in the business as if you needed me to tell you that. Heyman cut a great promo about how Cena has been roughed up plenty of times in his career, but he has never been victimized. Heyman then told Cena he should ask The Undertaker what it is like to be victimized, but you can’t since no one has seen him since WrestleMania XXX. I thought that was a really nice touch and may make some waves about a possible appearance from him at SummerSlam. I highly doubt it, but you never know.
Cena then went back at him with a very, very good, emotional and passionate promo about how WWE is his life and how much he respects the company. Cena had tears in his eyes as he talked about it and how Lesnar doesn’t have that same passion. It was probably the best and most seemingly real promo Cena has cut in quite sometime. I’m not the biggest fan of all the decisions John Cena makes when it comes to the promo side of things, but this was a fine performance by him. It’s one of those promos that they’ll probably use some lines from in his future Hall of Fame video package.
Cesaro then came out and gave a surprised Paul Heyman a hug. Oh, by the way, the crowd was red-hot through this whole entire thing. They responded equally well to Cesaro, who challenged Cena to a match where he’ll wrestle circles around him because even though he’s separated from Heyman, no one can talk about his friend like that. That was a nice touch. Rather than just throwing Cesaro out there to face Cena in a throwaway match, they created some kind of tension between the two to keep the interest up.
That worked big time as the people in the arena were really into this. It even piqued my interest a bit more than usual. They wound up having a really good match. I may have overrated it a bit in my recap. After watching it again, I’m not sure it was worthy of being only the sixth four star match I’ve rated since I became a recapper back in 2008. Four stars is my highest rating, which is something I’ve thought about changing to the more commonly known five star rating system, but I’m still on the fence about it. Anyway, this was a really fun match. Stemming from the comments Cesaro made moments before the match started, Cena pulled out a couple of traditional wrestling moves as well as a monkey flip and a rather scary-looking hurricanrana. After previously having a neck injury in his career as well as building up some goodwill amongst the fans through the years, there is no reason why Cena should ever do another hurricanrana again.
Cesaro looked great in this as well. There were a couple of times it looked like Cena would go on his finishing sequence, but Cesaro would keep countering him. One of my favorites was Cesaro landing on his feet to counter an Attitude Adjustment before hitting Cena with a Very European Uppercut. Great stuff. The finish of the match was never in doubt as Cena is heading into a huge match at SummerSlam (also, it’s Cena), but they still put on a hell of a show, and the crowd provided an extra boost as well. Major kudos to the crowd in Houston.
That was it for wrestling for about the next forty-five minutes. Paige was out next to talk about her attack on AJ Lee. Paige tried to play it off as a “young and dumb” type move and that she was still friends with AJ. AJ then came out and, after the highly stupid and unnecessary CM Punk chants, talked about how when she has a problem with someone, she’ll say it to their face. Paige then accidentally called AJ crazy, and they had a brawl. That was fun to see AJ dip back into the crazy side of her character, and I’m hoping she lets loose a little more in the coming weeks. This is what this rivalry has needed. The first real meeting at WWE Battleground felt like a placeholder for the real thing.
I really enjoyed the next segment with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Chris Jericho. Triple H initially started out scolding the fans for cheering when his wife got arrested the previous week. They both called Brie Bella out to clear up the charges, but Chris Jericho came out instead. When that happened, I’ll admit that I got really excited. It instantly brought me back to my adolescence when Jericho taunted Stephanie on a weekly basis. Jericho had a lot of fun with this, including getting the crowd to sing the theme song from “Cops.” Jericho then brought back a little nostalgia when he called Stephanie a “filthy, dirty, brutal, bottom feeding, trash bag ho.” That was fantastic.
Jericho then finished up his little nostalgia trip and brought it back to present day. Jericho talked about how he wanted Bray Wyatt that night. Of course, when you ask the heel authority figure for something that evening, it almost never happens. Triple H then gave him that match for SummerSlam and booked him to face Seth Rollins later. By that point, Rollins had attacked Jericho from behind with the briefcase. How did Rollins know to come out at that exact moment? We’ll never know, but this was a fun segment that stretched out the Brie Bella thing to happen later in the evening.
After a very long wait, we finally had our second match of the evening, which was a six-man tag with The Miz and RybAxel taking on Dolph Ziggler and The Usos. The crowd was hot for this match, but I think they may have just been happy to see some wrestling again. The segments that they saw weren’t bad at all, but they should have been spaced out a little more evenly. When you go to a wrestling show, you expect to see some wrestling. The Miz continues the trend of someone winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship and then they don’t win nearly any of their matches after. Miz lost last Monday to Ziggler, and this week he was on the losing team again. Ziggler looks primed to face Miz at SummerSlam for the title, but I have a feeling that’ll be a pre-show match rather than an actual match on the PPV itself. I just have a gut feeling. I am very much enjoying The Miz’ character right now and his reactions to nearly getting punched in the face weekly.
Bo Dallas was out next to face R-Truth. This seemed from the get go to be another Dallas enhancement match, but R-Truth wound up picking up the victory in a bit of a shocker. I personally like the move. They should be shaking things up a little bit as you should be expecting the unexpected. They started doing that a week ago when Heath Slater eliminated the favorite Cesaro in the Battleground Battle Royal. Even if I hadn’t picked Cesaro to win that match, I never would have thought Slater would have eliminated him. Dallas loses nothing in the exchange. It actually lets him get started on to the next phase of his career. They’ve introduced him perfectly to the audience, and now he should start the next phase where he gets involved in some feuds. Dallas also got a lot of heat for the post match beating of R-Truth. This was some really good stuff.
One of my favorite feuds in WWE continued with The Real Americans versus Rusev and Lana. A week after the controversy from WWE Battleground, Lana was out to cut a promo live on RAW. She ran down President Obama and former President George W. Bush, which was presumably done just because they were in Texas. Zeb Colter then came out with Jack Swagger, and he cut a great promo about what it means to be a Real American. Colter was fantastic here, particularly with the comment that part of what America stands for is pickup trucks, pretty girls, and beer. Jack Swagger and Rusev then had a brawl that ended with the two of them waving their flags around, presumably signaling for a Flag Match at SummerSlam.
Damien Sandow was dressed as an astronaut this week, and he was defeated in seconds by Adam Rose. I like what Sandow does. I haven’t seen anything from Rose yet on the show. One could argue that he hasn’t been allowed to let loose yet. It’s been a few months. Will they ever let him take that next step?
Kane was scheduled to take on Roman Reigns in the next match, but Randy Orton attacked Reigns as he made his way through the crowd during his entrance. This was a well-done beat down from Orton. Reigns had gotten the better of Orton nearly every time they’ve been together in the ring. If they’re going to have a match at SummerSlam, Orton needs to have a little bit of heat on him. This should do it. Orton gave him the hanging DDT on the floor before giving him two RKO’s on the commentary table, the second of which broke it. Kane did assist Orton by giving Reigns a Chokeslam before all this started. Orton had mentioned earlier in the night that he had a problem with Kane and Triple H, so this may calm those feeling for now. I really liked this segment.
Fandango continues to have problems with Summer Rae and Layla, and I continue to have problems finding a way to give a flying f… crap.
I’m wondering who exactly has the cosmic key that Goldust and Stardust are looking for. I’m also wondering what in the hell the cosmic key is. I must say I do enjoy watching Stardust blow stardust into Goldust’s mouth each week though.
Naomi and Natalya beat Alicia Fox and Cameron when Naomi made Cameron tap out. There hasn’t been much to care about with the Naomi and Cameron break up. Hopefully this ends it. Not only has there been no real story built up between them, but Cameron can’t do much in the ring.
Chris Jericho was out next to face Seth Rollins. They were given sometime and actually had a very decent match. It started off slowly and built into a nice match. They were just getting on a roll at the end when The Wyatt Family appeared in the ring and beat Jericho down. Wyatt finished him off with the Sister Abigail. That was ok. It didn’t have as much heat as I thought. Maybe it’s because their first encounter left more to be desired. I thought it would be way better than it was.
I really enjoyed the final segment, which may have been the first Divas segment to ever end RAW. I know Divas have main evented the show in the past, but there’s never been a big league segment to end the show with them to the best of my knowledge. Who’d have thought this semi-historic segment would involve Brie Bella of all people who isn’t particularly renown for her mic skills. Don’t get me wrong, she does just fine with the few big lines she needs, but she never really seems comfortable.
Stephanie McMahon was great in this. She was talking about the shame in her children’s eyes after her arrest and was begging Brie to drop all the charges. Brie made some demands, such as getting Nikki a raise and getting her job back. Stephanie agreed to those, but when Brie said her final demand was a match against her at SummerSlam, she didn’t want to do it. Brie finally got her to agree to it, and Stephanie agreed while crying. Stephanie then slapped her in the face and dropped the crying act to tell her that at SummerSlam, she was going to make her her bitch. That was a lot of fun. They then had a big pull-apart brawl that saw the agents and Triple H run down to break it up.
That was an interesting and fun way to end what I found to be a fantastic RAW. That’s two in a row for them. Hopefully the trend continues into next week. I’m very excited for the show.
Bump of the Night: Randy Orton RKOing Roman Reigns through the table!
Match of the Night: John Cena vs. Cesaro *** 1/2
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.