Mike Tedesco’s RAW Thoughts
August 26, 2014
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Last night’s episode of Monday Night RAW may have easily been the most boring episode of the year. It’s at the very least the most boring show I’ve recapped since I became the RAW recapper in May. So many parts of it just felt like time filler and then there were other moments that left me just scratching my head. This show also wasn’t helped by the fact that the crowd was sitting on their hands for a good portion of it, but to be fair, there wasn’t much to get excited about. There weren’t many moments that got me interested, but when they show up, I’ll be sure to give them their due.
The show kicked off with a Hall of Fame panel featuring Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels. I did absolutely no research on this, but to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time all three men have been in the same ring together unless they were all in there at the Royal Rumble in 1992. To put it in perspective, three of some of the top talkers in the history of the business were kicking off the show. You’d think it would be a great opening segment. I’m here to tell you that you would have thought wrong. This was just a straight up time filler. I’m thinking it may have been done to possibly combat going against the Emmy Awards telecast, but that’s a weird thing to do since the Emmys are on NBC, the company that owns the USA Network. Anyway, it was discombobulated and phony. Cole was rough on trying to transition them, and the lines they were delivering just failed to pack any punch. The only one who was moderately successful was Shawn Michaels. Flair was acting like he was a little out of it, and Hogan sounded phony as hell.
John Cena then came out to address his status and where he’s at. This was probably the most anticipated promo I can think of since Brock Lesnar beat The Undertaker. I couldn’t wait to hear what Paul Heyman had to say the night after WrestleMania. This reminded me of that. I wanted to hear what John Cena had to say about the brutal beating he received at SummerSlam. This came up a bit short, in my opinion. Cena delivered his lines well, but there really is no reason to believe anything he said since he was absolutely brutalized at SummerSlam.
The promo he should have cut last night was the one he cut a few weeks back about becoming the monster he’s not proud of to beat Brock Lesnar. Cena should have cut this promo heading into SummerSlam, got his ass kicked, and then regrouped and changed his focus. His new focus should have been, “Ok, I used my usual approach and got my butt handed to me. Now I got to take off the gloves and find that monster in me that I know exists.” Or perhaps he should have come out doubting himself, but he still wants to prove that he has something left. Anything but the usual Cena “I’m going to kick his ass no matter what” drivel. It just didn’t work for me.
The first match was a SummerSlam rematch I was looking forward to: Jack Swagger taking on Rusev. However, since Rusev still hasn’t been pinned, I don’t think the live crowd really got into it because they knew that he’d eventually overcome Swagger. That’s exactly what happened. Swagger came off strong, never giving up, but he was beaten down relentlessly until the referee stopped the match. That’s the second time the referee has stopped a match in two weeks on RAW. I wonder if they’re trying to sneak in some UFC-type endings to add more realism to the product, even though the curtain has fallen years ago. You knew it was coming when Rusev wouldn’t let Swagger get up. The referee was either going to stop it or disqualify him. The problem was it went way too long and the crowd turned on it. They weren’t booing by the end of it. They were just bored.
It was also really weird that they didn’t send Mark Henry out to make the save even though he gave Rusev a beating on last week’s show. I don’t even recall them mentioning it or showing a replay of that. It was like it happened and then they forgot about it. Maybe they forgot they had him in a tag team with Big Show earlier in that night? It wouldn’t be the first time they did something and changed it because they forgot about another factor (ex. The Miz’ face-heel-face turn last year). That was definitely a head scratcher.
Cesaro beat Rob Van Dam in a match to determine the #1 Contender for the WWE United States Championship. I have to think everyone saw that coming. They’ve been teasing Cesaro vs. Sheamus for a bit now, and I can’t say that I’m upset about that. They had a fun match at WWE Payback a few months back, and I know these guys can have a hell of a match together if given some time and purpose. The only thing I wish they’d 86 is Sheamus still smiling and not taking things seriously. He’d stopped it for a bit, but last night he was smiling and being a really pale John Cena. They can make him a roughhouse brawler, and he’ll still get over. A lot of people like a guy that can go out and kick someone’s ass without having to completely heel on the fans or sweeten them up.
Paige and Natalya fought for the third time in under a week on television. It was a short match with them just doing stuff. Paige was head-butting her and hitting her in the face early in the match, and then, inexplicably I might add, she puts Natalya in an abdominal stretch. Ok, you’re working the head here and then you apply a move that doesn’t hurt the part of the body you were just working on. Does anyone know how to work or is it just “let’s squeeze as many moves into this two-minute window we have”? I know they can have a passable match if they can just have a game plan heading into it. This just screamed like they were going through the motions until AJ came out.
AJ of course did come out, and Paige still won the match. AJ then got in the ring before giving Paige a hug and a kiss on the hand. They’re doing these things to get the men in the audience thinking HLA is making a comeback 2002-style. The commentators put it over as “mind games”. I just think it’s creative trying to elicit a response from the crowd in the laziest and cheapest way possible. Oh, by the way, it didn’t really work.
The eulogy of Dean Ambrose, who is away making a movie, was next with Seth Rollins and Kane doing the honors. Rollins was good with his delivery on putting Ambrose over as a fighter before talking about how The Authority always wins. I just think he needs to work a little on his Dr. Evil laugh. It sounds really phony and like he’s watched too many bad guys in B-movies. Other than that, it was fun. Then Roman Reigns came down, and that woke the crowd and myself up a bit. This was the first segment I really enjoyed. I like watching Reigns coming out to defend his friend. After The Shield break up, he never said anything about it or really had any interactions with Rollins. Rollins hit him with the chair first, and Reigns feuds with Randy Orton as a result. Now at least we get a tiny bit of acknowledgment. This is a match I’d still like to see down the line. It looks like they’re still going with an Orton rematch, unless I read it wrong.
A week after a terribly boring match between The Usos and Goldust and Stardust, we have another match with the titles on the line. It was the same uninspired and boring mess it was last week. Goldust and Stardust won by count-out after Jey Uso tweaked his knee doing a cross-body out of the ring. Before I go on, I know that The Usos like getting the crowd going with their high energy moves like the stereo dives over the top rope, but if they’re doing them on TV as well as house shows, a real life situation like they faked on Monday may happen. Just look what happened to Daniel Bryan, who was told to chill his style out but continued against doctor’s advice. They’re asking for a knee blowout. Anyway, I digress.
Goldust and Stardust then turned heel on them, but the crowd unfortunately didn’t care. It got no heat whatsoever. I kind of felt bad for them. A year ago, this was the hottest duo in the company. After losing the titles to the New Age Outlaws on the Royal Rumble pre-show, they haven’t been able to regain any steam. Now they’re at the point where a heel turn doesn’t mean a damn thing.
I absolutely loved the Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman promo video they aired. As much as people knock Lesnar as not being a good promo (rightly so), with some coaching from Paul Heyman and probably a couple of retakes, his sit-down interviews are killer. The ones he did heading into SummerSlam were awesome. This was just as awesome. See, he doesn’t need to be on TV every week to be impactful. It’s not a big deal whatsoever.
The Miz came out with Damien Sandow as his stunt double in order to protect his moneymaker from Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler made pretty quick work of Sandow. This is a good way to use Sandow instead of having him randomly dress up as whatever local celebrity there is for whatever city they’re in. Having a stunt double could be pretty funny.
The Bella Twins were out next as Jerry Lawler attempted to get them to reconcile. That didn’t work so well. Nikki Bella did most of the talking. She mentioned how selfish Brie is and how she had been stealing from her since they were kids. It was much better than the promo she delivered last week, but that’s not really saying much. The delivery still isn’t there, the facial expressions still aren’t there, and the audience interest wasn’t there, but that was a recurring theme all night. I liked the ending to it when Nikki said she wished Brie died in the womb (kind of cheap, but it worked here) before slapping Lawler in the face as he tried to intervene on her attack of Brie, but it just took too long to get there. It really dragged at times. I am interested to see the match between these two though.
Roman Reigns fought Kane and Seth Rollins in a handicap match that ended quickly when Reigns easily dominated them in mere minutes and almost picked up the pin, but Rollins hit him in the head with the briefcase. They need to stop making him so ultra dominant because that could have a Cena effect if it continues for the rest of the year. The guy has to be a chink in the armor somewhere. It’s ok. It reminds your audience that he’s still human. Rollins and Kane tried to put him through the cinder blocks after the match, but Reigns fought them away. Reigns tried to kill Rollins with a cinder block, but he ducked. The cinder block exploded on the ring post and a piece caught Jerry Lawler, who was probably still feeling the effects of the slap from Nikki. That’s a rough day at the office. It certainly looks like they’re going in the direction of Reigns vs. Rollins coming out of that, but like I mentioned earlier with a potential Henry vs. Rusev feud that was forgotten from last week, that can change quickly.
Fernando returned to action, so Los Matadores is complete. They fought Heath Slater and Titus O’Neil in a match that I only recalled after reading through my recap. Completely and totally pointless.
Bo Dallas squashed Kofi Kingston before being attacked by Jack Swagger. Dallas had antagonized Swagger earlier in the night by mentioning that he let down his country. This is the first real feud Dallas is getting involved in. I’m pretty excited to see how he does in it.
What followed is probably one of the most maddeningly stupid and ridiculous things I’ve seen in some time. John Cena, the man who has dominated competition in WWE for years, fresh off an ass whipping at SummerSlam that really couldn’t hurt or change people’s perception of his tough guy nature if they tried, had to come back and destroy Bray Wyatt to save face. For what reason, I have no clue. Does John Cena really need to prove something? Were they really that fearful that people forgot all about ten years of Super-Cena just because of one beat down? Wyatt was the hottest act in the company at the beginning of the summer. Yes, he’s definitely lost some steam, but he’s going to be a future big time player. You do not do what Cena did to a guy like that. Cena didn’t lose any heat at SummerSlam, and he has nothing to prove. This was just so mind-numbingly stupid, I literally cannot comprehend the thinking here.
Then Big Show and Mark Henry made the save after Harper and Rowan got involved. They changed it to a six-man tag team main event, which was quite boring and Cena dominated anyway. The Wyatt Family was made to look like a bunch of “flashes in the pan” losers who never truly had any business going against Cena. To make it worse, Cena didn’t look any worse for the wear after Lesnar’s offense at SummerSlam. Couldn’t he have at least sold a rib injury? Good god, this was truly, truly, truly awful. There were a few options to go with Cena coming back after SummerSlam, and they went with the worst one. I usually try to be positive about the product, but this was so god awful and ridiculous. This put the cherry on what was probably the worst RAW of the year.
Bump of the Night: Nothing blew me away
Match of the Night: Rusev vs. Jack Swagger * 1/2
Final Rating: * 1/2
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.