5/18 RAW: Good build for Elimination Chamber

Mike Tedesco’s RAW Review
May 19, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

Happy May 19th, Kane’s favorite holiday of the year. Was the storyline ever really resolved? Anyway, while last week’s show was definitely a downer with the Daniel Bryan injury announcement, this is the third above-average episode of RAW that WWE has produced in a row. Coming off a very good edition of WWE Payback and with only two weeks to go until WWE Elimination Chamber, they had to come out firing with a bunch of angles to culminate at that show. Most were simple and straightforward, but one left me scratching my head.

What were the good and bad of this RAW? Let’s review it and find out!

Stephanie McMahon is back after a long vacation

After about a month and a half absence traveling the world with the Eisenhower Fellowship, Stephanie McMahon made her return to television. She didn’t miss a beat. She was great getting her heat early by saying no one in attendance could relate to being a winner. They then announced that they’d celebrate Seth Rollins later in the night.

They then unveiled the vacant Intercontinental Championship, which was covered on a small table, and then preceded to take some shots at Daniel Bryan. Hopefully Bryan is projected to make a full recovery and return because I don’t see the value of continually getting heat by attacking the faces and making them seem lesser. I’ve been watching a lot of the old RAWs from the early-90s, and Bobby Heenan was the master of getting heat without actually damaging the image of the face. It’d always be something ridiculous like calling them out for being bad tippers or something, but the integrity of the face was always kept intact when he was done. These days it’s the heel authority figures always having to be solvent and on top at the expense of the faces, especially Stephanie, which makes no sense because it’s not like she’ll ever get any comeuppance since she’ll never be in a match with these guys (and I’m not advocating that – I really find any violence toward women appalling in wrestling). It’s just she gets her shots in and then is never embarrassed. They need to get back to Bobby Heenan type stuff because I think the weakness of the faces is one of the things that really hurt this product. Stephanie takes their balls away from them too many times.

Anyway, Sheamus came out soon after and wanted them to just make him the Intercontinental Champion rather than putting it up for grabs in the Elimination Chamber. Sheamus also took credit for injuring Daniel Bryan. What exactly that injury is no one seems to know.

That brought out Ryback, who actually had a great showing in this promo segment. Despite what I just said, he got a line on Stephanie that put her in her place. Ryback was putting over Daniel Bryan, which led to a “YES” chant. Stephanie called the fans out as being predictable, which is fine for a heel to do, but I kind of get the sense that they actually believe that. Ryback then cut her off and got her with a great line: “Big Guy has the microphone. Big Guy’s talking, Steph.” That was really great. I don’t know if that was scripted. If it wasn’t, I hope he fares better than Dusty Rhodes did when he put his hand in front of Stephanie’s face a few years back. Ryback then challenged Sheamus to a match, which Triple H quickly booked to happen that instant.

Sheamus and Ryback went on to have a decent little match. This is one of those match-ups that I really like just because both guys are hard hitters. Sheamus focused on the ribs of Ryback, which may be actually broken due to that apron senton splash from Bray Wyatt at WWE Payback. Exactly like I thought, it was a hard-hitting affair. Ryback caught Sheamus with a scary looking press slam onto the commentary table. Sheamus then faked an eye injury and Brogue Kicked Ryback for the win. Sheamus’ reactions after the match was over when he pretended like his eye was miraculously healed was fan-freaking-tastic. Sheamus is absolutely on fire as a heel right now. All in all, it was a good opening segment and match.

The Rusev/Lana saga has culminated

After teasing a face turn since inadvertently causing Rusev to take his first pinfall loss in WWE at WrestleMania, Lana has finally broken away from Rusev in what I thought was a red hot segment. They made their first appearance at the 9 PM EST hour in which Rusev was addressing his loss to John Cena in the “I Quit” match the night before. The crowd was chanting “We Want Lana” throughout. Rusev said he had Cena beat before Lana quit for him because she’s weak. Lana then came out to a big hand from the crowd. Rusev was furious with her for disobeying him and coming out. She told him that she truly believed he’d be the man to make Cena finally quit, but it didn’t happen. She then admitted that he was quitting in Bulgarian, which made him angrier. Lana said she did what she did for them. Rusev said that it’s all about him and he didn’t need her before ordering her to the back. Lana sadly walked off as Rusev berated her all the way up the ramp. Lana’s emoting was spot on as well as her acting. Rusev was no slouch in this either. The fiery temper was fantastic. You could really feel the tension.

Later in the night, Dolph Ziggler, who beat Stardust in a nothing match with ten or twelve stitches in his head, was interviewed by Michael Cole, who informed him that he was in the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Lana then randomly came out and got in the ring smiling at Ziggler and acting coy. She then slowly approached him and gave him a kiss. Ziggler was shocked and was looking around for Rusev to attack. The crowd was on fire for this and chanted for her to kiss him one more time. She did, and they had a bigger kiss. Rusev then stormed out to the ring and laid out Ziggler before screaming at Lana. Lana slapped Rusev in the face to a huge pop before Ziggler laid him out with a Zig-Zag. Lana walked off with Ziggler, so I guess they’re a thing now. I’m interested to hear how that came about. Rusev and Lana are a real life couple. These on screen breakups never work for the real life couple. I hope they survive it! Tremendous angle and a great way to kick off the Lana face turn. I guess Rusev will be matched up against Ziggler for the foreseeable future, including seeing him in the Elimination Chamber in less than two weeks.

Now that’s how you make a WWE Superstar!

John Cena was out to defend the WWE United States Championship in another open challenge. I think the thing they’ll be doing going forward is Cena will want to have an open challenge the night after a PPV only for someone to thwart it. After Extreme Rules, he was supposed to face Heath Slater, but Rusev attacked Slater and that was called off. This month… well they found a much better way to keep Cena out of it.

Cena was out and cutting a patriotic promo about never giving up and even pointing out some soldiers in the crowd, which was a nice touch. The crowd was quite receptive to him even though they were singing, “John Cena sucks” during his entrance. Cena then called out for the person who would accept the open challenge… and it was the NXT Champion, Kevin Owens.

I mean – wow – what can I really say? I don’t watch NXT that often, but I’ve seen enough of Owens to know he’s a killer and a hell of a talent. I don’t pay attention much to the Indy scene, but this guy’s reputation precedes him. Owens blew me away. He looked like he belonged in the ring with Cena, and they booked him in a red-hot segment. Owens put himself over by saying everyone should know who he is and if they don’t, they’re not worth his time. Cena introduced him before Owens took credit for injuring Sami Zayn originally. Zayn injured himself heading into a match against Cena a few weeks back. Owens put over the NXT special this Wednesday before warning Cena to watch it because he’ll do that to Cena as well.

Cena said that Owens still has a lot to learn, and this led to the best part of the segment. Cena said he was going to bestow on him some veteran advice, but Owens cut him off and said that Cena isn’t going to give him some veteran advice. Cena got lucky getting his shot earlier than he did, but they’ve been doing this about the same time, so Cena cannot give him advice ever. That was a killer line. Absolutely killer. Cena then warned him to not take Zayn lightly before challenging him to a match. Owens then said that he’s a prizefighter, but he already has a prize in the NXT Championship, but they will fight one day on his terms. Owens then surprised him with a kick to the midsection before laying him out with a Pop-up Powerbomb. Owens stomped on the United States Championship and held the NXT Championship up. That was an absolutely incredible visual. That’s the way you make a star. Hopefully they don’t screw it up. Isn’t it sad that I’m always in fear WWE will spoil something somehow? They overthink things way too much. Wrestling should always follow the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Later in the night, Owens was seen with Triple H. Owens’ terms were that he wanted to face Cena at Elimination Chamber, which Triple H allowed. I was blown away with how well they put over Kevin Owens here. It makes me wonder what the hell they were thinking when they were building up Roman Reigns. This is the same company that scripted Roman and The Beanstalk?

Dean Ambrose is the new #1 Contender… but not a strong one

Seth Rollins was gloating earlier in the night, which came right after Kane said Rollins was more mature. Rollins got a zinger in on Kane about saving his job before Dean Ambrose walked in. Ambrose talked about beating Rollins a few weeks back on RAW, so he wanted to grant Rollins a rematch, only the WWE World Heavyweight Championship had to be on the line. Triple H and Stephanie let Kane handle it, who in turn let Rollins make the decision. Rollins, of course, turned it down before walking off. Ambrose then teased Kane about going from the Big Red Monster to a glorified butler before wondering what Paul Bearer and The Undertaker would think. Kane then warned him to not talk about his family before booking him in a match against Bray Wyatt. Ambrose was more than fine with that.

I kind of assumed Ambrose wouldn’t win this match, so I thought he’d have to have a good showing against Wyatt. They did have a very good match, and Ambrose was left lying after some interference from J&J Security. OK, so Ambrose was obviously going to get the title shot, so obviously he should be able to get even at the end of the night… right?

Well… not really. The “Seth Rollins: Architect of a Dream” presentation really dragged toward the end of the show. It’s always tough to recap the final segment of the show because the crowd is always dead after three and a half hours of wrestling (they have to sit through WWE Superstars and dark matches as well), and this one in particular dragged. The Authority was gloating about Rollins for quite a while before Ambrose finally broke up the proceedings. Ambrose demanded the title match for Elimination Chamber before they came to blows. Ambrose got the better of him and laid him down on some cinderblocks before threatening to hit him over the head with a steel chair. Stephanie then granted him the title match to protect Rollins. Ambrose was happy before going to hit him anyway, but he was stopped. It all culminated with Rollins leaving Ambrose down and out after a Pedigree, which I guess Rollins is officially adopting. I just don’t see the value of leaving the title challenger for a match that is less than two weeks away lying in a heap and losing a match in the same night. How is that supposed to build him up and make him a credible challenger?

Quick Thoughts

I wasn’t a fan of Neville’s cookie cutter promo that they scripted for him. After nearly defeating John Cena last week on RAW, he’s losing to King Barrett after an attack from Bo Dallas. He’s also being kept out of the Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber, which I thought he was a slam-dunk for. I guess they want to build him up a bit with a couple of quick wins over Dallas. That’s not a guy he should be trading wins with. You can’t go from beating John Cena one week to losing to Dallas the next.

They advertised the WWE Tag Team Titles, the WWE Divas Title, and the WWE US Title being defended. Of the three, one match never happened and the other two ended by disqualification… cheap disqualifications, I might add. The New Day fought Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in a match that ended when The New Day wouldn’t stop double-teaming by the count of five. Just garbage. At least they had a cluster of tag teams come out for the train wreck portion where they just take each other out. That was the build for the first ever Tag Team Elimination Chamber.

I thought last night would be the night to do the title switch for Naomi, but they didn’t go that route. Now with Paige coming back, Naomi’s possible title run is questionable for the near future.

We saw a match with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan beating Zack Ryder and Fandango in quick fashion. Why in the world are they not in the Elimination Chamber and the freaking lifeless Ascension is?

Overall impression

I thought this was another solid episode of the show. With less than two weeks to go until WWE Elimination Chamber they had to do something to get people motivated to want to watch it. Despite the thing with Dean Ambrose being questionable, I think they did a fine job of getting people excited. I’m particularly excited to see the John Cena/Kevin Owens match. That should be pretty spectacular. Where were these solid shows for the WrestleMania build? Oh yeah, the writers were too busy overthinking things. Always, always keep it simple… stupid.

Bump of the Night: Wyatt suplexing Ambrose on the floor!
Match of the Night: Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt ** 1/2

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.