Ambrose/ Cena/ Authority Segment
The opening segment of RAW featured a brilliant Ambrose, twitching and pacing around the ring, microphone in hand. Honestly, I think that at least 50% of what makes Ambrose Ambrose are his mannerisms.
The Lunatic Fringe spoke, without losing focus from Seth Rollins. He gave a very picturesque description of what he was going to do to his former Shield brotherin once the two of them fund each other locked inside a steel cage. But for Ambrose to get to, in his own words, brutalize Seth Rollins, he had to deal with the “little matter”, called John Cena.
Ambrose had barely managed to his signature microphone throw-away, when Cena’s music hit. The BOOs were loud and the smile on the 15-times champ was large. He came up to the Unstable One and told him that he needed “to relax”.
Cena then proceeded to tell Ambrose to “shut up” and to give him some “veteran advice”, which was to basically use the two weeks before Hell in a Cell to prepare for their contract-on-a-pole match. Ambrose was infuriated and rightfully so. Cena keeps talking to Ambrose as if he’s 16 and had first entered a wrestling ring the day before.
Triple H and Stephanie interrupted what promised to turn into a fight between Cena and Ambrose to make a little bet. Stephanie claimed that Ambrose and Cena are afraid to fight each other so they can coexist as a team, while The Game claimed that the two were going to rip each other apart. This set up for a triple threat tag team match between Cena & Ambrose, The Usos and Gold & Stardust.
Gold & Stardust vs. The Usos vs. John Cena & Dean Ambrose
During the first half of the match Cena and Ambrose were tagging each other in and out against the Usos. There were the standard LET’s GO CENA! CENA SUCKS! chants. The unlikely partnership between Cena and Ambrose was working just fine, but it felt like quite before the storm.
Gold & Stardust didn’t fo anything for a long time. Then the audience asked for their intervention by chanting WE WANT STARDUST. So Stardust inserted himself in the match by grabbing Jimmy Uso’s leg, dragging him out of the ring throwing him viciously over the barricade, while smiling wildly in the process.
From that point onward the match became completely chaotic in a good way. Netiher team would allow to be outdone by the other and in the Cena/Ambrose pairing, no one would allow to be outshone by the other man. This led to some action outside the ring and Cena and Ambrose in that order, throwing themselves from the top rope on everybody else. Just a note here, it won’t be the Lunatic Fringe, if he doesn’t just jump with his back to his opponents.
The match ended with a simultaneous AA to Stardust and Dirty Deeds to Goldust and Cena picking up the win.
The Authority came out after the match and announced that the contract-on-a-pole match between Ambrose and Cena was going to happen that night, instead of at HIAC.
At that time I didn’t really see the logic in that decision plotwise. After all, if the idea was to protect Rollins at any cost by making Cena and Ambrose incapacitate each other; wouldn’t it have been better for Seth if his opponent went through a brutal match right before their face-off? Also, wouldn’t that leave either arguably the current most popular WWE superstar, or the Face of the Company out of the pay-per-view?
Layla & AJ vs. Paige & Alicia Fox
Once again, AJ was paired with someone she didn’t want, to face Paige and her “bestie” Alicia Fox.
AJ kept asking Paige to tag in so they could fight but the Brit kept running away until AJ seemed to be down and out. Overall, AJ looked far more dominant than any other diva around.
When AJ tried to tag Layla in, Layla just pulled back and decided to leave. In a matter of seconds after that, the Divas Champ hit Alicia Fox with the Shining Wizard and won the match.
Then AJ ran up the ramp after Layla and threw her into the barricade a few times.
This match achieved absolutely nothing positive. Paige has completely seized to look like a threat to AJ. The champion has no competition and every other diva seems irrelevant. Then you are wondering why AJ became cocky and self-absorbed last time she was a champion.
Triple H/ Stephanie/ Randy Orton Segment
Randy approached Stephanie and Hunter backstage and expressed his dislike for Seth Rollins. In his words, if Seth is the future, then “the future is a long way off”. So Orton wanted to prove that he’s better than Rollins by taking on the loser of the Cena/Ambrose match in the main event at HIAC.
This now explains why Triple H would want to have Cena/Ambrose face each other now on RAW. This provides one of the WWE’s top stars, in the person of Randy Orton, with the opportunity to have a HIAC match. However, making this the main event, instead of Ambrose/Rollins is just insane. This company is so stuck, relying on old dogs like Cena and Orton, that it seems impossible to the higher-ups to even imagine entrusting a pay-per-view main event to two new stars, even if they are the most hated heel and the most loved face on the roster.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton w./Cesaro on commentary
Cesaro was absolutely convinced that he is going to be the new IC champion. When the commentators try to question the Swiss Superman he just stops them dead in their tracks. When asked whether he’d show off once he was champion, Cesaro responded that he’d just be himself, which is better than showing off.
Ziggler didn’t miss the opportunities he had to taunt Cesaro. As usual, he was selling Orton’s offence so well, that you’d think he might just shatter into pieces. But Ziggler didn’t fall behind when it comes to fighting back either.
Orton was vicious. He didn’t hesitate to use the steel steps, the barricade or the announce table. The audience gave him louder and louder pops. Although, Ziggler is a fan favourite, the reaction to The Viper was the reaction a face would get.
Seth Rollins came down the ramp just to stare at Orton and annoy him. This led to a very strong ending of the match. Ziggler and Orton threw everything in. There were signatures and finishers attempts and counters to their counters too. The crowd was chanting THIS IS AWESOME.
Orton topped it all off with an impressive RKO, which he step up by catching Ziggler, who was going for the Famouser, midair, throwing him up and grabbing him for an RKO on the way down. Just amazing! This is the sort of move that only a veteran can do. You mess up the timing even slightly and it all goes horribly wrong. The move was executed to perfection and it was a message to Seth Rollins. Seth Rollins responded with a curbstomp to Ziggler.
A feud between Seth and Randy could be on the table after this pay-per-view. It’s not a bad option at all. The only issue is that it might force Ambrose and Cena to feud again and this rarely ends well for Cena’s opponent.
Jack Swagger vs. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins stayed around after Orton’s match and we later found out it was because he had a match with Swagger to begin with.
Rollins is becoming more and more arrogant. He was way too cocky. At one point, he slipped out of the ring to take some time to laugh at Swagger and shout “It’s too easy!” at the audience. His cockiness is what’s going to backlash in the end and cost him everything.
The crowd wasn’t too responsive in the beginning but once Seth definitively took over and started targeting Swagger’s arm aggressively, the WE THE PEOPLE CHANTS started.
I’m always impressed with Jack Swagger’s in ring work. He’s fast, technical, powerful and what I value the most – he fights with conviction. He needs a decent run with the US championship at least. It’s ridiculous to think that a person, who has the Real American gimmick, is the one guy who doesn’t get involved in the fight for the US title.
Randy Orton decided to return the favour and stood by ringside to annoy Rollins. This accomplished two things. Frist, Seth did get angry, allowing Swagger to take over. Second, the crowd started to respond. They were chanting LET’S GO ORTON and YOU SUCK to Rollins. Orton’s face turn is going to be a huge success from what I can see. Then again, whoever faces Rollins now is bound to get a positive reaction from the fans. Mr. Money in the Bank IS a hated guy.
The match got really intense with a few near falls but in the end Seth rolled Swagger up for the win. It wasn’t a decisive victory but Rollins was still proud of himself.
Randy Orton decided to show superiority to Seth and delivered an RKO to Swagger. Rollins didn’t appreciate it at all and got in Randy’s face. The audience anticipated a clash but Rollins decided to leave and was sent off with loud BOOs.
This actually seems more and more like a good feud. Again, Seth’s heel power makes all rivalries believable and entertaining at the same time.
Dean Ambrose Promo
The Lunatic Fringe was backstage with Renee Young. This was the “I’m not a nice guy” promo. Ambrose promised to send both Cena and Rollins on “a highway to hell”.
It was a good promo but it felt a bit too restrained. I think I’m too influenced by Ambrose’s work as Jon Moxley to be unbiased when judging this.
Big Show Promo
Big Show pointed out that by knocking out Rusev, he proved that Rusev is not unbeatable. Then he moved on to threatening Rusev and went back to “carrying the weight of the whole American nation on my shoulders” storyline.
First, the content of the promo wasn’t original at all but it was surprisingly effective. I felt myself getting fired up for this match. Then, I think that Rusev having a weakness makes him a better character. There’s nothing worse than an unbeatable gimmick, regardless of heel/face affiliations. Just remember how people started turning on Roman Regins just because he was booked to win all the time. Being strong but vulnerable is actually a very good thing.
Big Show vs. Rusev
Before the match Lana fired up the crowd with some very precise verbal attacks on the country, on Columbus and the city. Objectively, it was quite funny when she called Columbus “an egomaniac who simply got lost” but the fans didn’t appreciate it. What really got the audience angry was a baseball remark. Rusev joined Lana by threatening Big Show. Lana told the fans to SHUT UP and the heels got the wave of USA chants they wanted.
The actual match started very well for the Big Show. He properly manhandled Rusev inside and outside the ring. Driving the Big Russian into the barricade got The World’s Largest Athlete some LET’S GO BIG SHOW chants. I think the crowd might have actually believed that Rusev was going to lose.
However, that wasn’t the case. In the ring, Rusev exploded with a dropkick to Show’s face. Just take a moment to appreciate the height of this kick and the athleticism need from a man, especially of Rusev’s size, to do that.
After that Big Show had one more wave of offence. He tried to jump on his opponent from the 2nd rope. Rusev managed to get away and the look of shock and horror on his face was priceless. A man, who can feel fear, no matter how strong he is, is easier to relate to than an emotionless monster.
In the end, Big Show missed a KO punch and got locked in the Accolade. Mark Henry came to the ring to cheer for him. At first Rusev didn’t pay attention to that but Henry got on the apron, so Rusev just punched him down and got back to Show, locking the Accolade for the second time. Big Show was fading and wasn’t going to tap out so Mark Henry attacked Rusev, causing a DQ.
After the match, Rusev and Lana, standing in front of the announce table, got surrounded by Big Show and Mark Henry. I found myself rooting for Rusev here and I’ll tell you why. When Rusev saw the two giants approaching and realized he couldn’t get away, he gave the flag to Lana and told her to run away. He protected his woman and the flag he represents without thinking about his own safety. Many heels would just hide behind Lana to escape because Big Show and Mark Henry wouldn’t hurt her. Not Rusev. He made sure she was safe and launched himself onto Mark Henry. Big Show attacked Rusev from behind and knocked him out. Still, Rusev acted like a man and I respect that. I like it when heels have their pros too.
I had forgotten than Sheamus can actually be quite funny. He said that the only thing worse than the Miz is two Mizes and then mispronounced “Mizes” in a few different ways. It might sound lame if you haven’t watched it but in reality it was funny.
Sheamus vs. The Miz
Mizdow was the center of attention once again. The crowd chanted WE WANT SANDOW. The cameras cut quite a few times to Mzidow, who was applying different locks to invisible people outside the ring, imitating Miz’s in-ring work.
Sheamus was undoubtedly dominating Miz in the ring but Sandow saved the day. Sheamus dumped Miz over the top rope. Mizdow flew in, rolling forward and landed right next to Miz, mirroring his actions. Then both of them hid underneath the ring. Sheamus pulled the wrong guy out, then brogue kicked Mizdow. Meanwhile, the Miz got back in the ring from the other side and beat the 10 count, getting a victory over Sheamus.
I can’t wait until Sandow gets his push and shows who the real star is. Let’s just hope it won’t end like Alex Riley’s experience of being a sidekick, who turned on the Miz.
Cameron. Summer Rae & Nikki Bella vs. Naomi, Natalya & Brie Bella w./ NeNe Leakes & Rosa Mendes
This was a useless Total Divas match, which followed a backstage segment of Cameron being obnoxious to the guest star NeNe.
Nothing really happened in the ring in terms of wrestling. However, Brie and Nikki finally faced each other and Brie pinned her sister.
My reaction was: “That’s it?! All that build up for THIS?!”. I still can’t believe that we’ve been watching weeks of Bella family drama to finally see Brie get her retribution in a 6-divas tag match that lasted under 10min. I just have no words.
Cena’s face on the screen was met by booing from the audience. Apart from that, it was a generic face Cena, over-hyped promo. Then again, I can see how he sell merchandise with this sort of talking.
Bray Wyatt Vignette
Now the third member of the Wyatt Family got his vignette too. “I used to be afraid but she came to me”, said Bray, referring perhaps to Sister Abigail. What she saw in his destiny was “smoke, desolation and damnation”. Now, the Leader warned us that “it’s coming”, followed by whispers in an unknown language. I can’t wait to see what’s coming. It will be big, I feel it.
Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena
Before the match started, The Authority in full – Triple H, Stephanie, Kane, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins, came out to the ring.
The energy was high. Cena and Ambrose tried to quickly go for the contract but obviously had no chance while they were both in the ring. Ambrose threw Cena out of the ring but instead of climbing the pole, followed Cena up the ramp, where he superplexed Cena on the steel.
The Lunatic Fringe was hurting from the damage he got form his own move and limped back to the ring, which gave Cena the opportunity to catch up. Cena and Ambrose tried to climb the pole a few more times but kept stopping each other. Dean went for the Dirty Deeds but Cena countered with the STF. Typical Ambrose bit his way out of the situation, literally.
The action spilled out of the ring when Ambrose kicked Cena off the apron and launched himself through the ropes on Cena. Randy asked Ambrose why he wasn’t going for the contract, which I wanted to know too. The lunatic Fringe answered by attacking Orton but Cena attacked Amborse in the back and threw him at the Authority.
Cena got back in the ring but Orton stopped him from winnig the match. Then everyone there, except Stephanie, entered the ring and got involved in a chaotic fight. While Cena was delivering an AA to Kane, Ambrose climbed the pole. The Unstable One didn’t take the contract though until he was sure that Cena was looking at him and taunted him with the “You can’t see me” move. This way Ambrose won what was rightfully his – a match with Rollins inside a Hell in a Cell.
It was weird though that Ambrose kept going after Cena instead of the contract. I know it’s The Lunatic Fringe and he’s unstable and all but it didn’t make sense even for him. Ambrose’s sole goal was to get his hands on Rollins. It would have made more sense if he kept trying to attack Seth, thus almost losing the match a few times, rather than chasing Cena.
Also, I still can’t accept that Cena vs. Orton will be the main event at HIAC. This is just infuriating.
What did you think of RAW? How do you like the build-up to HIAC? Share your thoughts in the comment section, on FB or Twitter!