5/4 RAW: Best RAW of the year so far

Mike Tedesco’s RAW Review
May 5, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

There are certain nights that I just get excited to turn on WWE television. I’m excited to watch the RAWs before and after WrestleMania and SummerSlam, the first one of the year, and whenever the WWE is in one of it’s better cities like New York, Chicago, or in last night’s case, Montreal. There’s just something about those kinds of shows. The crowds are hotter, and the WWE seems to up their game. Last night, WWE upped its game big time. The best part was it was completely unexpected. I figured the show was going to be decent because it was in Montreal… but to get all the stuff they gave? We may not see another show like this for the next few months at least.

What was so good about this show? Let’s break it down.

Fun segment and match kicks off the show

The show kicked off with Randy Orton making his way to the ring. The crowd was red hot for him for his entrance and was chanting loudly for him when he was getting ready to speak. That was pretty awesome to listen to. Unfortunately, in this world of scripted lines, instead of acknowledging them and maybe getting an even bigger pop, Orton went right to his scripted lines about the Payback PPV and what he was going to do to Seth Rollins. That didn’t hurt the segment or the show, but it was a glaring reminder of all the things that are wrong in wrestling right now. Orton’s promo was kept short and sweet before Roman Reigns came out to counter him.

Reigns walked out to mostly boos from the crowd that very much had the feel of a night after WrestleMania crowd without the ridiculous stroke-job “We are awesome” chant or the wave… so actually better than a night after WrestleMania crowd. Orton and Reigns went back and forth a bit about who was going to get their hands on Seth Rollins and walk away with the title. They went back and forth until The New Day of all people showed up. This was actually really good. As much as I gripe about WWE creative, they’ve done a spectacular job with turning The New Day around. The New Day as faces were DOA pretty much, but going with the crowd reaction has done them wonders. They’re now one of the hottest heel acts in the company. They get great heat and have a chant that everyone loves to hate. The New Day was – dare I say – terrific with their promo. They were pretending to be faces while throwing in some jabs at the crowd as well as Reigns and Orton. I particularly loved the line thrown at Orton about Rollins having his number on speed dial. That was pretty darn good. This was just a lot of fun, and the crowd was responding well to everything.

This transitioned to a 3-on-2-handicap match with The New Day facing off against Orton and Reigns. This was actually pretty damn fantastic. Normally I’m out of matches like this because I never see the point of burying your Tag Team Champions to build another match up, but they didn’t even go that route. The New Day was great in this, and the crowd was red hot for everything Orton was doing. Reigns was decent with the face in peril spot, but the crowd just wasn’t into him this evening. Orton came in and lit the place on fire. Kingston did a good job cutting off the comeback before they found a creative way for Orton to finish it up. Eventually it came down to an accidental spear from Reigns on Orton to give The New Day the surprise win. I thought for sure the Tag Team Champs were doing the big J-O-B here. A nice surprise and a fun way to open the show.

Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have the best RAW match of the year

This could have been the best WWE TV match of the year period if not for that fantastic gauntlet match on Smackdown back in March. These two obviously know each other well and had a tremendous feud throughout the summer and fall of last year. I loved the way this match was set up throughout the first hour. Rollins was rude to Kane when he saw him after the first segment, which caused Kane to book this match with J&J Security banned from ringside. Rollins wasn’t happy, but Kane warned him to keep his mouth shut. Later on before it began, Rollins saw Renee Young and reiterated that there was no point to the match before adding that Kane is a “moron.” Kane then came out to the stage and gave the match a purpose: if Ambrose wins, he’s added to the title match at Payback.

That was all that the crowd needed to hear because they were absolutely red hot for this entire match. From beginning to the end, it was brilliant. They know each other so well and put on a highly entertaining match. I loved the false finishes that they did. I thought Rollins was definitely winning by count-out when he connected with that release powerbomb into the barricade, but Ambrose wound up beating the count. Then J&J Security ran in despite being banned from ringside, and Ambrose wound up clearing them from the ring. Ambrose won with a roll-up, and the crowd went nuts. Rollins took a scary bump on his shoulder doing a backflip for Ambrose’s rebound clothesline, so I’d suggest he stop taking bumps like that. I’ve seen that happen to him before. Eventually that stuff catches up with you. Go out of your way to check out this match. Tremendous chemistry, great drama, and an awesome atmosphere: all the things I love about a good wrestling match. Rollins’ face after it was over was hilarious as well.

It seems like the Rollins/Kane match is coming very soon. I think the turn will happen the night after Payback. Then they can have the title match at Money in the Bank, where it will be a co-main event, but won’t go on last because of the Money in the Bank match itself. That’s a good thing for sure. I don’t think Rollins/Kane has enough legs to close out a show.

Sami Zayn makes a very memorable debut in the US Open Challenge

To me, this was completely unexpected. I had no clue that Sami Zayn was being called up to the main roster, but the crowd in Montreal sure seemed like they were expecting it. Throughout John Cena’s promo about his upcoming “I Quit” match against Rusev, they were singing “Olé” and chanting “Sami Zayn.” The crowd must’ve known something I didn’t, but I didn’t see it reported anywhere. This was another segment that had great atmosphere. To his credit, Cena expertly turned this crowd around. They were all over him in the beginning of his promo, but he broke from the script and talked about all their sports teams and got them to turn around. It was a tour de force performance from him. Cena then went back to the promo and finished it up strong.

Cena then wanted to start the US Open Challenge… and Bret Hart’s music hit to a tremendous reception. Even I sat up a little more for that. That was awesome. I didn’t think Hart was going to accept the challenge, but I was definitely curious as to why he was out there. Hart went to talk, but he was interrupted by Heath Slater, who has the running gag of wanting to accept the challenge before something thwarts his attempt. This time, Hart clocked him in the head with the microphone before continuing on. Hart then introduced Sami Zayn, who came out to a huge pop. That’s quite a debut for the guy. Zayn debuts in his hometown with the Canadian hero Bret Hart in the ring shaking his hand, and it’s against John Cena.

Unfortunately, Zayn popped his shoulder out throwing his arms up in the air during his entrance, so he was injured coming into this one. To his credit, he worked through it. I think at one point when the doctor came into the ring to check on him, he actually popped it back into place. That says a lot about his makeup. Hopefully it was a freak thing, but he was out for a while with a shoulder injury earlier in the year and missed the NXT show during WrestleMania weekend. That definitely hurts the follow-up to his debut as well as his NXT Championship match against Kevin Owens in two weeks.

Still, Zayn and Cena had a very good match. I think the point was that Zayn was making his debut similarly to how Cena made his debut against Kurt Angle in 2002. I don’t recall hearing that from the commentators (wouldn’t be the first time they missed a big story point), but I did read that on Triple H’s Twitter. Cena was actually doing some subtle heel mannerisms in this. Cena couldn’t believe Zayn kicked out of the AA and argued with the referee, something he never does. Cena was also smiling and seemingly not taking him seriously to start the match out. I thought it was great stuff all around. Even though Zayn lost, he looked great in defeat. I just wish Cena would stop doing that ridiculous springboard stunner. Everything else was fantastic. Memorable debut for Zayn, and hopefully just a scare with his shoulder injury.

Not enough time allotted for a solid main event once again

By the time the main event rolled around, the crowd was pretty exhausted. I think it hurt that they had already seen Randy Orton and Roman Reigns earlier in the night. Of course, we also had too many things happening in a short period of time with The Authority taking the roles of timekeeper, ringside enforcer, and guest commentators, all of which played absolutely no role in the match itself. They just started attacking them after three minutes of spot-after-spot-after-spot action, which is something they could have done anyway without wasting our time with Jamie Noble talking about who has what job. The crowd was waiting for Dean Ambrose to come out for the save, and they responded big when he came out. They cleared the ring of The Authority, and Orton gave Reigns an RKO to get even for the spear earlier. Then Ambrose gave Orton Dirty Deeds and was the last one standing to end the show. It was a good ending for the show.

The Payback title match is certainly interesting. It’s all the members of the Shield and Randy Orton. I think an all-Shield title match could be something we see at WrestleMania 32, but we’ll see. We’ll get a taste of it in a few weeks. I don’t think anyone is turning heel in that one. In fact, the only reason Ambrose was probably added was so he could take the loss rather than have Orton or Reigns take the pin. It should still be a good match and a good litmus test for how an all-Shield main event could be. I’m definitely interested in watching it.

Quick Thoughts

Ryback’s promo was pretty lame. It was the same promo he cut back in December, only this time he was stumbling and bumbling over every line. Ryback did do a good job of getting the crowd to turn around after they were chanting “Goldberg” at him. Bray Wyatt then cut a promo from the titantron. This match doesn’t really get me excited. It just feels like something for Wyatt to pick up a quick win or two before facing someone like Roman Reigns.

I loved the enhancement match Tyson Kidd and Cesaro had against The Ascension. This is a tremendous tag team that can have a good match against any team. The Ascension may be the worst gimmick WWE has had in quite some time, but at least they served a purpose last night.

Even with all the surprises such as Ambrose being added to the title match, Bret Hart appearing, and Sami Zayn debuting, Lana may have had the pop of the night. I don’t know if it was just my TV, but when Lana started doing Fandango’s dance, that crowd exploded. It may have been the loudest pop of the night. Rusev then got huge heat when he sent her to the back. That was pretty awesome.

R-Truth and Stardust combined to have the single worst wrestling match of 2015. The finish may be one of the worst finishes in wrestling history. R-Truth lost because he got scared by a bag of plastic spiders. On a show where so much was done right, this match had no place. This match has no place on the show period. It’s one thing if it were funny. It wasn’t. How this made it out of the writing room, I’ll never know.

I loved the return of Tamina Snuka and how she’s teaming up with Naomi. They attacked The Bella Twins while they were coming out to the ring and looked vicious. Naomi and Tamina are related because Jimmy Uso is “cousins” with Tamina. Naomi is really impressing me with her heel character. I wasn’t on board at first so she’s turned me around.

Bad News Barrett and Sheamus picked up a win over Dolph Ziggler and Neville in an OK match. It started too late and probably should have been cut to give the main event more time. It wasn’t overly interesting.

Overall impression

From top to bottom, this was the best episode of RAW of 2015 so far. If the RAW after WrestleMania was a two-hour show, that would be the best. That last hour really hurt them. With this show, the crowd was red hot throughout the whole thing, and the content was very good. Even when they cooled off for the main event, the ending sequence turned it around when Dean Ambrose came out. Payback was really well built – way better than how WrestleMania was built – and I’m excited to see the show. I know not every episode can be like this, but I hope they can cut out the ridiculousness and put out another entertaining episode next week.

Bump of the Night: Sami Zayn’s DDT through the turnbuckles on the floor!
Match of the Night: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose ****

Final Rating: ****

Well those are my thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know by commenting or using one of the other two options to get in contact with me.

E-Mail – MikeyT817@gmail.com
Twitter – @MikeTedescoWV

Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.

Thanks for reading!

Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.