We begin the Memorial Day edition of Monday Night RAW with a tribute to those who served our country.
I neglected to talk about it last week, but last Friday, May 23rd, was the 15th anniversary of the passing of Owen Hart. I was talking about it with some friends over the weekend and it is astounding to believe it. Fifteen years ago we lost one of the greatest wrestlers of the time. Most fans today have no idea who he is unless they do a Google or Wikipedia search. I grew up watching a young Blue Blazer, then to one-half of High Energy with Koko B. Ware, and then finally a King of the Ring, multi-time Intercontinental Champion and Tag Team Champion, and probably would have inevitably become World Champion.
We kick off the show with The Authority throwing down the ultimatum for Daniel Bryan to make the decision voluntarily hand over the WWE World Championship. They then turn their attention to The Shield and discuss how last week, the Authority had to fight off the Shield after Brad Maddox allowed them to be guest commentators during the main event. So, Brad is brought out and is planted via chokeslam and Tombstone by Kane. The Authority fires Maddox. Aww.
Stephanie is so vile. Her smirks, over-the-top dramatic hand waves, baiting the audience into spewing the hate right back. Triple H is a jerk, plain and simple.
The first match of the night is highlighted by a man who did not even wrestle, Bad News Barrett! Although he ate a superkick from his challenger, Barrett distracted RVD which allowed Cesaro to defeat the ECW original via a standing German Suplex pin combination. Barrett delivered some early summer bad news to the crowd before the match, and as he joined the commentary team, he introduced himself saying “It’s me, it’s me, it’s B-N-B.” Genius. Match itself was pretty run-of-the-mill. RVD hit spots, and Cesaro then tossed him around. Post-match, Sheamus charged the ring and bashed Cesaro with a Brough Kick.
Paul Heyman is awesome. Did not say a word on the mic at all, but his facial expressions are damn priceless.
Next up Eva Marie pinned Summer Rae when Fandango and Layla showed up and sucked tongue. Marie cannot wrestle at all. She cannot act at all. She needs to GO.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust are demanding to see Triple H, however Randy Orton and Batista are in the way. Cody calls Batista a “skinny jeans sellout” and Triple H comes in before a brawl breaks out. Triple H makes a tag match between the four men for later tonight. Triple H says “it will get interesting.”
El Torito defeats Drew McIntyre in match worse than the earlier Divas match. No further comment.
The Wyatts come out to address John Cena. Bray cuts a beautiful promo about being a leader and a follower. Bray is creepy as hell, and if I believed it, I would join his cult too. However, things take a turn when he tries to get Jerry Lawler into the ring. JBL attempted to run interference, but is taken out by Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Lawler is brought into the ring, but before he can be “sacrificed” by Bray, the hero of the hour, John Cena attempts to save the day, but is overwhelmed. Bray attempts again to make an example out of Lawler, but then Jey and Jimmy Uso rush the ring and even the odds.
Great segment which turned strange. Cena then talked on the mic about how he will expose Bray for being true evil. I mean, I get we are getting this whole good vs. evil thing going, but I hope a loss for Wyatt does not hurt the gimmick. Cena beat him at WrestleMania, another win might begin to hurt the momentum for what I believe to be one of the greatest characters in recent history.
Zack Ryder comes running out the ring, waving the American Flag. My wife immediately looks over and says:
“He’s facing Alexander Rusev, isn’t he.”
YEP! Rusev comes out and defeats Ryder in under two minutes. Big E. Langston comes running out to make the save and the two big men brawl longer than the match itself. Michael Cole notes the “Bulgarian Brawler” is now hailing from Russia. Huh. Go figure.
Evolution defeats the Rhodes Brothers. Triple H was not kidding when he meant it would get interesting. Match went evenly paced, until Cody went for the Disaster Kick, and wound up eating an RKO in mid-air. He is pinned following a second RKO. As Evolution celebrates, ring announcer Justin Roberts informs us all this was actually an elimination match. So now it is Evolution vs. Goldust. Well, the Bizarre One winds up taking a beat down for the next few minutes until Batista pins him following a Batista Bomb.
JBL compares our next contestant to Winston Churchill. Who is this? It is Mr. Bo Dallas who defeats Sin Cara following Sliced Bread #2, or currently called the Bo-Dog. He has a shit-eating grin on his face, and spews motivational rhetoric like Joel Osteen. Anyone notice the two “cult-promo-cutters” are brothers?
Up next, Stephanie McMahon calls out Daniel Bryan to relinquish the title. While Bryan admits someone worthy should be champion, he cannot, in good conscience hand it over to the person who made his life hell since main eventing. So, instead, Bryan brings back one of his old chants… “NO! NO! NO!” and Steph is fuming. Bryan calls her a spoiled brat and will never give up the title to someone like her. In retaliation, she issues one final ultimatum. He has until WWE Payback to give it up or else his new wife Brie Bella, will be fired.
I dunno, option B does not seem so bad.
Alicia Fox goes on another wild rampage following a loss to Emma. I thought Emma could wrestle? Her dance is supposed to come off as goofy, but she comes across as bland. The “Wild Fox” gimmick is decent, but like most things in WWE, it will not last.
We learn the pre-show match for Payback is a Mask vs. Hair bout, El Torito vs. Hornswoggle. Argh.
Damien Sandow comes out dressed as Davy Crockett. No relation to Jim Crockett. He loses to Adam Rose following the “Party Foul” facebuster. Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger hit the ring and fight Rose, however the tables are turned as we suddenly see a vicious side to the party leader. Rose parties his way to the back while Swagger and Colter watch. Uhm. Yeah. I see much jobberdom for all three in the near future.
Sheamus and Alberto del Rio have an AWESOME match. Del Rio and Sheamus hit each other with everything, and suddenly I am reminded why both guys were main eventers, and should stay that way. Damn, ADR kicked serious ass in this match, and he sells so well. Sheamus is a damn brute and these two guys really work well in the ring together. Post-match was also great, as Paul Heyman does the announcement, making fun of “the big guy with red hair who likes to kick people in the face” as the winner. He then reminds the world Brock Lesnar defeated the Undertaker to end the legendary streak, and went on to sing the praises of the soon-to-be-Intercontinental Champion, Cesaro, who coincidentally blindsides Sheamus. Fight ensues and refs have to help Sheamus to the back.
The Shield makes their way out to the ring for the contract signing. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins make fun of the fact contract signings are meaningless. Roman Reigns immediately rids the ring of the chairs and table as Evolution make their way out. Of course, this winds up as a brawl, and Evolution gains the upper hand as Triple H nails everyone with his trusty sledgehammer. Reigns takes a triple powerbomb through the announce table to close the show.
Well, this certainly raised the interest level for Payback, but in my opinion, only slightly. To be honest, not even the Bad News Barrett vs. Rob Van Dam match interests me. I know Barrett will win. Cesaro vs. Sheamus will be good, but not PPV good. Bray vs. Cena will be a good match, or should I say, had better be a good match, with the only match we know will live up to the hype is Shield vs. Evolution.
I am pretty sick of Sandow being buried. Does he go “pipe bomb” gimmick or go back to being worthy of donning the Doink the Clown mask?
Perhaps my mind will change by the end of the week, but if I was not watching on the WWE Network, I would not order WWE Payback.
Did anyone else see a TNA/Impact commercial during RAW?