7/6 RAW: WWE shakes things up a bit

Mike Tedesco’s RAW Review
July 7, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com

It’s pretty well known that last week’s episode of Monday Night RAW was the lowest rated episode of 2015 and the lowest non-holiday show since 1997 (click here to see the article). Many people thought that this week’s show would be a reaction show to that number, which means there would be better content and changes made to the format. Last week’s show was one that dragged on and on with the same old stuff that happens every week. Did WWE shake up the format of the show and make things more interesting? Let’s find out.

Everything is just better when Brock Lesnar is around

For those who would have thought that RAW would open up with anything but a long promo as a way of changing up the format, you would be wrong. For the 43rd week in a row, RAW opened up with a promo, but mercifully it was a promo from Paul Heyman with Brock Lesnar by his side. The crowd popped huge when Brock Lesnar’s music hit to start the show. Being that they were in Chicago, the crowd was red hot all night long. Heyman cut a tremendous promo about putting over Lesnar incredibly strong (of course) before making the hard sell for the WWE Battleground PPV. The crowd booed a few times like when Heyman mentioned that Lesnar conquered The Streak and the title match is taking place in St. Louis, but he brought them back each time. The crowd reached a fever pitch when Heyman said that the beatings were going to start tonight.

Boy did they ever start. Seth Rollins, after having a chat with Triple H, decided that he would call out Brock Lesnar because it was something no one would expect him to do. J&J Security drove the car into the arena, so everyone pretty much knew what was about to happen. Rollins cut a promo that I thought was just ok, but he definitely got the crowd going, particularly with the final line about how Lesnar is Heyman’s bitch.

That brought out Brock Lesnar, who was looking absolutely crazed. Rollins and J&J Security were holding axe handles, so Lesnar didn’t get in the ring. Heyman wheeled out a crate, and Lesnar pulled out two axes from it. Lesnar then absolutely went to town on the car. Lesnar completely destroyed the thing. It was so impressive and entertaining to watch. Even though everyone knew it was coming, it lived up to the hype and then some. There were certain moments where I was definitely nervous watching. I’ll never forget when Lesnar destroyed Triple H’s office at the WWE Headquarters in 2013 and slammed the desk with the sledgehammer so hard it broke off the head. I was definitely worried he was going to hit the car so hard that the axe head that it’d break off and go flying into the audience. One incredible moment saw Lesnar rip the back door off the car and slam it on the ground. Unfortunately when he did that, the side panel with the handle and window button came loose. Lesnar then threw it and the side panel came dislodged, sending pieces into the audience. Lesnar then demolished J&J Security by breaking Jamie Noble’s arm with a Kimura Lock and suplexing Joey Mercury on the hood, breaking the windshield. Lesnar then chased Rollins through the crowd and stood on top of the car to end the segment. It was a truly wild and memorable spectacle that was easily one of, if not the most entertaining moments of the year on RAW.

John Cena and Cesaro put on a tremendous main event

This was the change to the format that many people were wondering about. The 10:00 EST hour kicked off with Brock Lesnar destroying the car. Up to that, RAW had been slowly building toward these main event storylines. The biggest change was John Cena getting the main event slot against Cesaro of all people. I don’t say “of all people” as disrespect to Cesaro. It’s just surprising that after keeping him down for so long, they’re finally utilizing him the way he should be utilized. This was also unique because they’ve been trying their best to move on from Cena in the main event. The last time Cena wrestled in the main event of RAW was January 19, 2015. They went 24 weeks in between that time. The problem with moving on from Cena is they don’t have a viable guy to replace him. Cena is still the top merchandise seller and still has the ability to move tickets with his name on the marquee. Roman Reigns isn’t that guy and honestly, he’s shown no indication that he’ll ever be that guy. Brock Lesnar truly is the biggest star in WWE, but he has no interest in working the schedule. Depending on the RAW rating, I’d expect to see Cena get the main event slot more often. It won’t be an every week thing, but I could see it happening more often than it has.

Cena came out to his traditional loudly negative reaction from Chicago. Cena cut a promo where he basically went heel for the evening by taunting them with “The Champ is here” line. Cena then brought them back by putting over the town and how many great moments he had there. That brought out Kevin Owens, who came out to a huge pop. Owens was livid about losing the NXT Championship to Finn Bálor and talked about how he needed to beat Cena for the United States Championship that instant. Cesaro then came out and intimidated Owens out of the ring by saying that Owens cost him his victory last week. Owens then did the heel thing and left. That’s why I love Owens. He’s not afraid to be an old school heel and get heat by taking the coward’s way out.

This match between Cena and Cesaro was absolutely fantastic. It started slow with two lame commercial breaks thrown in, but the final fifteen minutes or so were absolutely tremendous. They pulled out all stops in this one and it was even better than last week’s match, which was also brilliant. Cena pulled out many different moves that he never does, such as a spinning sit-out face-buster and even dusting off a hurricanrana that saw Cesaro flip and land on Cena’s leg. Cesaro was absolutely tremendous in this one and really brought it. Cesaro should be so much further along than he is. I fear this performance won’t lead to a single thing. If they used Cesaro correctly, he’d easily be one of Cena’s greatest opponents of his career. This was given a half-hour of time and is well worth going out of your way to watch. It was highly enjoyable. If RAW started with the Heyman promo at 9:00 EST and was two-hours long only to cap off with this, this would have been a perfect episode.

Quick Thoughts

I liked The Miz doing running commentary over the house microphone during the Big Show vs. Ryback match. The only thing I didn’t like was that everyone knew Miz would interfere in the match, so for it to go through a commercial break was just a waste of time. I did like Miz trying to beg both men off before being knocked out.

I just didn’t care at all about last night’s Diva match between Paige and Brie Bella. I have absolutely no interest in Paige’s “struggle” against The Bella Twins and their contingent. It has to be building to some of the women in NXT (they aren’t called “Divas” down there… and they’re taken way more seriously – go figure) coming up to help. I just thought of a neat idea. Nikki Bella’s 295th day as Divas Champion falls on September 14, 2015, which is a Monday. How great would it be if someone like Charlotte debuted on the day Nikki ties AJ’s record and pins her to become the new Divas Champion? Just a thought which definitely won’t happen, but if this angle is building to new NXT women coming up, that would be a hell of a way to debut them.

Roman Reigns and Sheamus had another tremendous match, but it was hurt by the fact that I knew going in there was no way it’d work to an actual finish. Just like two weeks ago when they did this, they were in the midst of having a tremendous match when something kooky with Bray Wyatt happened. This time, the lights went out and what appeared to be Bray Wyatt started making his way to the ring. Reigns cut him off on the ramp and gave him a Superman Punch. Wyatt then appeared on the titantron laughing. Reigns then inexplicably got counted out through this whole stupid thing. Reigns looked like a total idiot at the end. This was another one of those maddening segments on RAW where you get a long match only to get an unsatisfactory finish. Randy Orton then came back and dropped Sheamus with an RKO, so that feud is continuing. That should be a decent match.

The Rusev apology segment started off quite lame. The pairings just don’t feel right whatsoever. Rusev and Summer Rae is totally lifeless as is Dolph Ziggler and Lana. This did build to a hot finish though when Rusev attacked Ziggler to show that he is fully healed from the broken foot. That definitely had a lot of heat. I’m guessing this will happen at Battleground. Hopefully it culminates with Rusev and Lana getting back together and we can forget this other garbage ever happened.

Dean Ambrose was red hot over with the Chicago crowd in his quick match against Bo Dallas. Ambrose is looking more and more like he should be the guy WWE runs with. There needs to be some disparity between the current face of the company (John Cena) and the next. They tried to make Roman Reigns the next John Cena, but that clearly isn’t working. Could Ambrose be the guy who is different enough to run with the ball? I certainly think so.

King Barrett finally beat R-Truth to show him who the true king is. Can we move on from this garbage now?

The New Day beat The Lucha Dragons in a pretty good tag match. I loved Titus O’Neil on commentary ripping into JBL for not calling the match. That was fun stuff.

I would’ve liked to see Neville on this show to follow-up on what was a tremendous match against Chris Jericho at Beast in the East on Saturday. Even though he lost, he looked strong in defeat. It would have been nice to see him and get him a quick win back while putting over his resiliency in the match against Jericho. It definitely would have been better than having Big Show and Ryback go through a commercial break.

Overall impression

This RAW was certainly a marked improvement over last week’s offering. The subtle changes to the format worked well for me. Having the United States Open Challenge in the main event was the right call and probably will pay out big dividends and the Lesnar segment with the car was a classic RAW moment. The rest of the show still dragged, but it built nicely from the undercard stuff to the main event. It still needs to be an hour shorter to be passable. However, as history has shown us with WWE, quantity always overtakes quality, particularly when advertising money is at stake.

Bump of the Night: Brock Lesnar suplexing Joey Mercury onto the hood of the car!
Match of the Night: John Cena vs. Cesaro *** 3/4

Final Rating: *** 1/2

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.