Hi, all! Last night we saw the last RAW before Night of Champions. Here’s how it went down:
Paul Heyman/Johna Cena Segment
The opening segment was mediocre at best. To be fair, it wasn’t an overall bad promo but it was below Heyman’s usual top notch quality. Instead of any actual development in the feud or let alone, the characters involved, we were offered a never changing Cena being undoubtedly in his right and a textbook Paul Heyman trying to weasel his way out of a physical altercation, without forgetting to occasionally promote the WWE Network, which you can get for only $9.99.
The whole interaction ended with Cena dragging Heyman to the back to the sound of Jerry The King Lawler making “I believe he peed in his pants” jokes.
The highlights of the whole segment were Paul Heyman singing Cena’s entrance theme, the line “You play this hero character better than anybody else in the WWE” directed to Cena and the sound of Paul Heyman’s laughter while Cena was eagerly waiting for a Beast that would not show up. It gave me chills.
After the ads, a recap of the Regins/Rollins feud and Jericho’s entrance, we were shown the backstage follow up of this segment.
That one was even worse. If the previous segment felt a bit weak, this one would have you roll your eyes back in your head. Someone in the WWE creative team for some reason still believes that 8 year after Khali’s debut in the WWE, his inability to produce any coherent speech in English is entertaining. Also, Cena and Khali bullying Heyman is a segment designed to make children laugh at the bad guy getting caught but is destined to frustrate the adults who are actually looking for some serious story development.
After this segment, I’m surprised that the audience didn’t start chanting “Save us Y2J”. And speaking of Jericho…
Jericho vs Kane
This was an A+ match. Jericho seemed to spend most of his time bouncing of the ropes and flying around the ring. His agility amazes me. I think Jericho’s immunity to ring rust is what makes the returns of people like Batista seem like an epic fail.
Kane, who, as victim of terrible booking, hasn’t felt like a credible threat in a long time, looked good in the match. He took Y2J’s springboard kicks and top rope launches like a champ. The Corporate Monster also played the strong viscous villain looking to hurt his opponent, hence the exposed turn buckle, which unsurprisingly ended up winning the match for Y2J. Both competitors had their faces bleeding here and there by the end of the match. Jericho turned a choke slam into a DDT and a bit later on – a tombstone into a running bulldog. The finish was quick and engaging – Y2J bounced himself off the top rope onto Kane but fell into a chokeslam, which Jericho managed to escape, tripping Kane onto the aforementioned exposed turn buckle.
It was fast-paced, exciting match, which served to demonstrate Jericho’s impressive energy and fluidity in the ring. The commentators tried to practice something that’s usually unnatural for wrestling storytelling – long-term memory or in other words: incorporating the Orton/Jericho feud from a few years back to make current events logical. The match between those two at Night of Champions might not have much of a current reasoning to back it up but it’s definitely going to be entertaining to watch.
The Kane/Jericho match was followed of a glimpse into Paul Heyman’s misfortunate stay in John Cena’s locker room, which for some reason lacked cell reception.
Then we moved from a Rusev/Henry recap onto Roman Reigns backstage.
Roman Reigns Promo
Reigns gave a short promo to hype his match against Rollins. He talked about having arrived with two brothers in the WWE and having been left alone to face all. Then he moved onto saying his punch line “Everyone’s got a plan till they get hit in the mouth”. Then he proceeded to threaten to beat Seth until his knuckles started bleeding.
This is the type of a macho promo that seems to have all the elements of a good promo in terms of establishing dominance, manliness and readiness to fight but lacks the soul to make the audience care. However, unlike others, I don’t really blame Reigns himself for that. The stand-alone warrior character fits him and should easily catch on. The issue is that the WWE creative relies too heavily on those premises and don’t put any effort in giving Reigns’ persona a sense of emotional depth. This inevitably brings down upon him the merciless criticism of the WWE fans. I’ll write more on that in a separate article, looking at the Roman/Seth feud, which, I believe, is a missed opportunity for greatness.
Jack Swagger vs Bo Dallas
This was a nice match. Fairly long for a Bo Dallas match but surprisingly there was no inspirational Bo speech. Bo had some impressive offense against the much bigger and stronger but ended up tapping to the Patriot lock. I believe, Swagger needed the win more than Bo did, so it was a good outcome of a very even match.
There were both “We the people” and “We Bolieve chants”. The WWE fans were really supportive of the superstars in the ring, unlike the commentators, who were too preoccupied with the whole Cena/Heyman story to care about the match. Although, it has to be said that JBL, who I found too quiet for his usual self earlier in the show, got really into it mid match. He actually makes you believe that he BOLIEVES. If someone can sell Bo’s inspirational movement, it is JBL.
Brie&AJ vs Nikki&Page
This match was fairly disappointing. Technically, Nikki was in the ring for about 10 seconds in the begging of the match but realistically, AJ and Nikki didn’t even get to wrestle. Brie got manhandled by Paige for the whole duration of the match and before she could make a tag, Nikki pulled AJ off the ringside. Then Paige picked up the win with the RamPaige.
Post-match Nikki did the Rack Attack on helpless Brie to establish her evilness. However, I don’t think that anyone’s buying this feud. That’s mainly because both Bellas have high-maintenance, over-the-top personalities that neither of them can get any sympathy of the audience.
Paige and AJ kept playing their usual antics with Paige skipping around in the ring and AJ imitating her (or imitating herself…what is the correct term for imitating someone who is imitating you).
The Divas Title match at Night of Champions is a mix up of two completely separate storylines which have been thrown into one because there’s just one title.
Bray Wyatt Promo
The One, who once had the whole world in his hands, had to give a promo to an opponent that he doesn’t even have a feud with. Honestly, is there any reason at all for the Big Show and Bray Wyatt to fight each other? More importantly, what happened that Bray Wyatt and his family fell from grace in the eyes of the WWE creative? The eater of worlds hasn’t lost his eloquence. Someone lost faith in him.
Paul Heyman/Khali Segment
There goes another segment showing Paul Heyman’s misfortunes in Cena’s locker room. Apparently, the biggest star in the WWE doesn’t have phone reception in his locker room and this just baffles me. Paul Heyman somehow managed to pull off an entertaining segment with a person who doesn’t even speak the same language. Then Khali attempted to be funny again by smashing Paul Heyman’s phone. How is he supposed to summon Brock Lesnar to protect him from Cena if he can’t actually call him? Does Cena actually want to beat Heyman?
Bray Wyatt vs Big Show
We return to the ring for a filler match with no actual purpose. The logic is that Big Show and Mark Henry used to be into some sort of a feud with Rowan and Harper but Henry’s too busy with Rusev to care about team work, so Bray Wyatt ended up facing the Big Show. The lack of a storyline took away from the match itself.
There was nothing particularly impressive about the action in the ring, apart from Bray Wyatt launching himself onto the Big Show just before the end of the match. The reason why I mention this specific spot is that it is a manifestation of Wyatt’s devotion to his mission and lack of concern about his own wellbeing. It’s an example of in ring movement that creates character depth.
In the end the Big Show won by DQ after being attacked by Harper. After the match Big Show proceeded to manhandle both Rowan and Harper while Wyatt was watching from his seat, laughing hysterically. I’m afraid that even Bray’s insane character won’t save the Wyatt family from oblivion if one single superstar, a giant or not, can dominate all three of them at once.
Gold and Star Dust & Cesaro vs The Usos & Sheamus
There you go – two storylines with one bullet! It was a fairly entertaining match though. Stardust’s bizarreness reached another level after he started meowing to Golddust. Cesaro did a great job of keeping his issues with Sheamus in focus. The Swiss Superman kept taunting the Irishman throughout the match. At one point he even did Sehamus’ signature move Ten beats of the Bodhran. Sheamus himself showed some solid work as usual. He had a nice spot where he did the Battering Ramp from the top rope onto Cesaro and Stardust, who were outside the ring.
The Cosmic brothers and The Usos have insane chemistry. Star and Gold dust’s bizarre antics and the Usos’ spectacular high flying spots create a great overall experience. Jay picked the win for his team with a splash onto Cesaro. This is a clever move because neither of the rivaling sides in either of the stories got the upper hand over their opponents.
A side note: is Cole allowed to call Stardust “Cody”?…because he actually did it twice in this match.
After the match we were reminded that Dean Ambrose is missing and why. Then we were taken backstage with Randy Orton.
Randy Orton Promo
It was a nice short promo from the Viper. He explained that he attacked Y2J because he felt offended by Jericho, who claimed that Orton had had everything handed to him. I say, fair enough. The he proceeded to swiftly return the offence to Jericho by saying that Y2J has had to work twice as much to achieve half of what he has. Randy finished his speech off with a promise to give Jericho “ the beating of his life”. Clean, crisp and effective.
By the half-time of Raw are back to Cena and Heyman. This segment undid all the damage done by the previous few interactions between those two the same night and built a thick layer of creativity on top.
Heyman was amazing on the microphone again, showing why he’s considered to be the best mic worker in the WWE. It sounded painfully true when he told Cena:
“What do you say John, The Champ is here! You CAN’T because my client took it away from you!”
The crowed started frantically chanting “YES! YES! YES!”, when Paul Heyman turned to Cena with the words: “Hit me! One time! Let I flow, John! Become my vision of you as a Paul Heyman guy!”. Obviously the answer was “No” but I give all respect to Paul Heyman for making the possibility of changing John Cena feel realistic.
Also, I think John Cena was actually sad having to say “No”. Not because he actually wants to turn but because it must hurt knowing that a lot of people really hate what you are when technically you’ve never done anything wrong. After all John Cena has merged his real life with his professional life to such a degree that a heel turn would be impossible. It is unfortunate that the constant nature of an ideal can make that ideal be despised.
In the end, Paul Heyman managed to get to Cena by mentioning his mom, so Cena pushed him out of the ring, which led to the appearance of Brock Lesner.
The Beast Incarned seemed to have no intention of fighting Cena but then he entered the ring and disposed of his opponent with authority. However, Cena came back strong and furious, which turnedthe situation into chaos. About 10 security guards came out to restrain Cena.
Let’s just say that some credibility has been restored for the Champ but The One in 21 to 1 hasn’t lost any of his momentum either. Cena, for once, feels a bit like a genuine underdog.
Cameron vs Naomi
That was such a useless Total Divas promotion match. Apparently, Cameron and Naomi were fighting because on Total Divas, Naomi was mad at her partner for leaving the Funkadactyls, in order to go back to NXT.
Why would anyone want to go back to developmental after being in the main roster? Why are we even having this match now when the Funkadactyls broke up months ago? Are Total Divas related matches supposed to happen in a different time continuum than everything else on the show?
Point is, Naomi got the pin but that doesn’t really mean anything, does it?
Dolph Ziggler & R Ziggler vs Miz & Damien Mizdow
This face off was a copy/paste of a match that happened last week on Samckdown. R Truth dressing up as Ziggler was fun when we saw it the first time. All the jokes about who’s who and twin magic had also lost their amusing qualities over the weekend.
It felt like lazy booking, trying to emulate the unexpected success of a good joke that’s been done before. The Intercontinental Title feud deserved more.
Miscommunication between the Miz and his stunt double led to the Show off pinning the A-lister. At least, Miz got pinned for once.
Seth Rollins Promo
What.The.Hell?! Seth getting on all four, imitating a Neanderthal version of Roman Reigns was a sight I did not expect to see. The promo was bizarre, to say the least, but it was strong. Calling Roman “part gorilla, part Samoan, part rhinoceros” reminded me of those Shield promos that had the three men arguing about sheep/lama masks or describing themselves as ponies or stallions. It just made the more entertaining without taking away from their credibility. Seth is Mr Money in The Bank. He can joke as much as he wants to because he was dead serious when he says that He is the future of the WWE. Overall, that promo was excellent – it was unforgettable and it proved a point.
Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns
This match was good. The Architect outsmarted the Juggernaut in a few spots. The match had barely started when Roman threw Seth viciously over the announce table and onto the chairs. However, Rollins took control of the match with his unique style and speed.
I loved the fact that Rollins didn’t just lie down on the bottom rope waiting for Reigns to leap onto him from outside. He made it realistic. Roman got his signature spot later in the match but it occurred naturally and didn’t feel forced.
I was also impressed with Rollins’ strength. He picked up Reigns, who is considerably heavier than him, and carried his full weight across the ring, in order to slam him onto the turnbuckle.
The spots in the match were flowing one after the other, having the audience chanting eagerly. Rollins got superman-punched and survived. Reigns got hit with Avada Kedavra (Seth’s FCW finisher) and survived. Reigns tried to hit a spear but Rollins leap frogged over him. I give props to Rollins for developing the break-up storyline by mocking the Shield sign before the end of the match. In the end, Regins managed to pull out a spear on the back of another quick exchange and pinned Rollins.
To be honest, I’m surprised that Rollins lost clean here. I don’t think it takes away from his credibility because the two competitors were evenly matched through the fight. And still, if someone needs a clean victory here, it’s Rollins. Since he turned heel, he hasn’t had a legit win at any top ranking match without help.
Promo wise, this was a repetitive segment between Rusev, Lana and Mark Henry. Mark Henry didn’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said before either by him or by Zeb Colter before him. Lana had some photos to show, supposedly, to show the athletic dominance of Russian athletes over American athletes such as Mark Henry himself.
When Rusev and Henry finally got to exchange blows, Henry found himself locked in the Accoalde. Here comes the new part: for the first time, since Rusev’s debut on the main roster, someone managed to break his submission hold. Mark Henry got the upper hand and closed down Raw standing tall in the middle of the ring with the American Flag waving above his head.
I’m sure that’s a sight most WWE fans have been longing to see. It’s quite likely that it will happen at Night of Champions too.
That’s my review of this week’s RAW. Do you agree or disagree? What are YOUR impressions? Feel free to comment!