WWE RAW Review
July 14, 2015
By: Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview.com
Well, I thought WWE shook things up last week with an entertaining show heavy on wrestling with one tremendous and memorable segment sandwiched in there. The shake up continued into this week as they’re seemingly going to attempt to rebrand the Divas division. We also got the final build for the very interesting WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. Was this latest bit of shaking up a hit or a miss? Let’s find out!
Strong final build for Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins
For the 44th week in a row, RAW opened up with a talking segment. Like last week, mercifully it was a Paul Heyman promo. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out to a massive pop once again. This is the most over babyface duo in the company by a country mile. They reach through all demographics, which is what you want your top babyface to do. John Cena is the top full time babyface, but he was never able to reach all demographics once his big run started. If I’m running a company, I want a guy that everyone wants to see and cheer for. Lesnar is that guy right now. On the full time roster, Dean Ambrose is showing this ability more than Roman Reigns is. I think a change of focus is in order, but that’s an article for a different time.
Anyway, Heyman cut an awesome promo hyping up Brock Lesnar and the match itself. This was a strong sell for the show. I think if anyone wasn’t sure they wanted to subscribe to the WWE Network to see this show, I think they’d be hard pressed to not be swayed by Heyman. For $9.99, what do you really have to lose? I wouldn’t order it on regular PPV, though. Seth Rollins came out and cut a promo, using the line he’d use at least two more times in the evening about burning Suplex City to the ground. Rollins also used the line last week. It’s not a catchphrase and it shows a lack of creativity on the part of the person who wrote the promo. I kept wondering if he had anything else to add. Rollins also tripped over his words, but that’s to be expected when the words you’re using aren’t your own. Lesnar then spoke his only line of the evening when he said, “I can take you to Suplex City tonight, bitch.” One line and he brought the house down. Kane tried to calm the situation down and attempted to threaten Lesnar to comply, but Heyman cut him off and absolutely took him down. Taunting him about Lesnar ending his brother’s streak and getting a “Baby brother” chant started. This was just a fun segment and set the tone for the contract signing later in the evening.
That contract signing was quite good. It took a little time to get to the point, but once it did, it was pretty decent. Rollins’ promo to kick it off was just barely ok, which is weird because about fifteen minutes later he came back with a really strong one. Rollins repeated the line about burning Suplex City down, which definitely annoyed me. Heyman then came out with Lesnar and slaughtered yet another promo. They signed the contract and then Lesnar surprised him by flipping over the table and finding an axe handle under there. Lesnar sat down and waited for Rollins to make a move, which was really neat. A big brawl broke out. I thought this would end up with Lesnar being left lying on the mat, but he came back and destroyed Kane with an F-5 on the floor and slamming the ring steps off his foot. That looked awesome. If I were Kane, I’d have been more than a little nervous. Lesnar gets a little wild when he gets going. Luckily, they pulled off the stunt perfectly. Lesnar then held up the title and went to the back.
Rollins then came back from the crowd and cut an awesome promo on Lesnar about how he’d finally slay the beast. Rollins then turned his attention to Kane, mocking him for his big plan that backfired in a big way. Rollins cut him down and called him a wannabe Hall of Famer before stomping his broken foot. This was an awesome promo and a great way to close the show.
It’s an interesting build. Lesnar has been built up so strong and the hype has been such that it would be a huge mistake for him to lose on Sunday. It’d also be a huge letdown and a strike against WWE if they take the cheap way out and go with a non-finish in this match. I think they have no choice but to book Lesnar to win. Anything else would be a massive disappointment. The question is what they do with Rollins after that. Is now the time to pull the trigger on Rollins vs. HHH for SummerSlam? Lesnar is the hottest babyface in the company in quite some time. They can’t mess this up with a bad finish. If he doesn’t lose, it better be one of the most creative finishes in some time.
The Divas division gets a much needed facelift
Finally at long last, the Divas division got a boost from the talent in NXT. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks made their long awaited debuts on the main roster. While I loved seeing them debut and get the big pops, there were some things I didn’t like about this. I think WWE missed a great opportunity to really make this division something to be taken seriously. Stephanie McMahon talked about how women in sports are going through a revolution, which isn’t entirely true since it’s been going on for years, but I like that they’re at least going to try. Better late than never. However, they’re keeping with the lame (and I believe degrading) Divas name. To me, it just makes them sound like they’re silly, petty people who just happen to wrestle on the show. What’s wrong with calling them women? Is it the fact that they can’t trademark the word? “Divas” is the one thing that really irks me about this whole thing.
I also wasn’t a fan of these forced teams of three. I get Team Bella and Team Paige, but Team Naomi came out of nowhere. Why would Sasha Banks side with them? Naomi was talking about how she’s the competition Stephanie was looking for. Moments later she’s teaming up with fresh competition against her. How did Stephanie plan that out if Naomi wasn’t out there? Was Sasha Banks supposed to just wait around and hope to get a team? I know it’s fake, but it’s stuff like this that takes me right out of the moment. They did bring it around with a fun brawl that wound up with the three women applying submission holds on Team Bella. I’m going to give it a chance and hope that they don’t squander these three great talents with lame three-minute matches. The start was questionable, though.
A fantastic triple threat followed by a strange match
John Cena came out for the US Open Challenge. Rusev answered the challenge and cut a promo on Lana before being interrupted by Kevin Owens. For the second week in a row, Owens talked about how he wanted to be the one to take the title from Cena before going babyface and trashing Rusev. Cesaro then came out and just got physical with them.
This transitioned to a triple threat match that was unexpected, long, and very good. They went over twenty minutes with lots of intensity and tremendous spots. Cesaro was lights out in this as was Owens. Heck, even Rusev was looking great. Rusev really impressed me by competing in this long match after being off for so long. I liked the boots as well. This match was given a ton of time before Owens walked out, which led to the first commercial break. They’d gone something like fifteen minutes by that point. Rusev and Cesaro was a great one-on-one match with lots of drama, unfortunately the ending was completely flat. The crowd wasn’t ready for it and the camera angle on the supposed superkick clearly showed that it was a weak kick to the chest.
This led to a visibly exhausted and beat up Rusev taking on a fresh John Cena. This was just weird. Talk about a roll reversal. Cena, the face, was getting a huge advantage against the heel. Rusev was actually getting sympathy from the crowd. Cena was a heel in this without turning. The crowd didn’t know what to do here. It wound up with Rusev trapping Cena in the Accolade. Owens then ran in for the disqualification. Normally I hate non-finishes, since WWE relies on them so much, but this one actually made sense. We sat through an unbelievable triple threat that went over twenty minutes to determine who would face Cena for the United States Title only for Owens to spoil it at the end. Owens wound up with a lot of heat for spoiling that after such great competition. I liked it. I think it’s time for Owens to take the title on Sunday. I hope they continue with the open challenges, though. I’ve really enjoyed these kinds of matches. The United States Championship is the Television Championship now.
The tag team match with Randy Orton and Ryback defeating Big Show and Sheamus was pretty decent. It was a good time waster and decent hype for the two matches on Sunday. Was I the only one who rolled their eyes when Michael Cole called this WWE’s version of the All Star Game?
Even though the build for this feud has been atrocious, I liked the beating Roman Reigns gave to Bray Wyatt ahead of their match on Sunday. I don’t like that Dean Ambrose was just in the background here and didn’t do anything else on the show. It’s strange that they’re keeping him off the PPV. Ambrose is consistently getting some of the best pops on television week in and week out. Run with what the crowd is going with. Don’t fight it. That’s how we got John Cena. Cena had a lot of steam behind him with the rap gimmick and got the company to go with him. If you remember, they really wanted Batista to be their guy, but Cena emerged in a big way and became, well John Cena. I’m not saying that’ll happen with Ambrose, but don’t squander him while he’s hot. See where it can go.
The New Day lost to The Prime Time Players and Mark Henry in an ok tag match. That signals to me that The New Day will get the titles back. If they don’t, this was just a stupid way to book the tag team feud.
Good lord, why can’t we be done with this terrible King Barrett vs. King What’s Up feud? It’s not funny or interesting in my opinion. It’s a waste of a great talent in Barrett. The King of the Ring has done nothing for him.
Nice to see the Tough Enough cast and Lita on the show. I loved that ZZ got such a big pop. He’s definitely my favorite guy to watch.
I was incredibly disappointed that they continued on with the lifeless Stardust gimmick instead of going with Cody Rhodes as a face. The crowd wanted to be behind him, but they marched him out there with that awful gimmick. Are they really going to stick with this just so we can see a match between Stardust and The Green Arrow actor at SummerSlam? No one wants to see that match. That’ll be eviscerated in Brooklyn. If you’re reading this and want to see that match, you’re one of probably eight or nine that does.
This was a solid go home show for WWE Battleground. It should be a decent event. There are definitely some things to keep watching for in the coming weeks, particularly how they handle the three newest “Divas” (ugh). It was a nice follow-up to a very good RAW last week. Hopefully they can continue the trend for the rest of the summer and beyond.
Bump of the Night: Rusev suplexing Cesaro on the ring apron!
Match of the Night: Cesaro vs. Rusev vs. Kevin Owens *** 3/4
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.
Check out my recap of this week’s RAW here. Please check out my live recap of RAW every Monday at 8 PM EST.
Also be sure to check out my predictions piece on WWE Battleground, which will be up this Sunday afternoon.
Thanks for reading! Enjoy WWE Battleground!
Mike Tedesco is the official recapper of WWE Monday Night RAW for Wrestleview.com.