Monday Night RAW (is Authority Free)
Tonight’s RAW gave us a lot of wrestling matches, many of which turned out to be more entertaining than initially predicted. Some surprising performances, showing some people are not being scripted to lie down as we thought, and a long awaited heel turn begins for three individuals.
Before we get to WWE Monday Night RAW, we have to talk about the big news, AJ Lee officially announcing her retirement from in-ring competition. While her career might not have been as long as Trish or Lita, there is no doubt the impact she made on the Divas Division. Her antics and unpredictability made her a fan favorite, regardless whether she was face or heel. The former multi-time champion proved once again, WWE does not need the bleached blonde Barbie doll to make for an entertaining division. Her matches with Paige are 100% proof of that.
Thanks for everything AJ, as a fellow New Jerseyian, I’m proud of your accomplishments and impact on the wrestling business.
Getting over to RAW, we kick off with Byron Saxton leading the commentary team with the inured JBL and Booker T. Apparently Michael Cole took a harder bump than thought, so he is out of action for a while. In the ring, the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins is gloating about his reign, with Big Show offering his praise repeatedly. While the segment went way too long, it was funny when Rollins tried to offer praise to Kane, however could not come up with a damn thing.
“Kane… Kane, yeah… He was there!”
The bored crowd comes to life as Randy Orton arrives, demanding a title match since he defeated Rollins at WrestleMania. Kane, asserting his usefulness, decrees Orton has to earn his chance, by defeating Ryback and Roman Reigns in a Triple Threat. However, each one must hve a singles match, with Orton facing Kane immediately. The match is short, goes nowhere, ending in a DQ when Kane uses a chair, however Orton chases him off.
Ryback goes up against Luke Harper and Reigns takes on Big Show later tonight.
Backstage, more tension between Kane and Rollins leads to the D.O. putting Rollins in a match, and it is against… Adrian Neville! Crowd erupts into a huge NXT chant. I did not realize how tall Rollins is, or how short Neville really is. Also very glad to hear the commentary team acknowledge Seth Rollins as the first NXT Champion going up against a former NXT Champ. Rollins comes off great as the arrogant jerk, calling Neville a “rook” and completely belittling him. Neville pulls off a bunch of his signature high-flying moves, stunning everyone. We get a good showing from Neville, but ultimately Seth Rollins earns the win after timely interference by J&J security. Rollins plants Neville with a second curb-stomp.
Good match. Makes sense, the heel-champion underestimating the newcomer and nearly eats a loss for it. Needs interference to secure victory.
We find out WWE Network is free for this month for new subscribers, highlights of Brock getting suspended, and now John Cena is once again issuing an open-challenge to anyone for his United States Championship. Tonight, it is answered by…
… Star Dust, and we get a great match. I’m noticing the subtle theme of great matches where we know the outcome, but comes about in an unexpected way. Cody Rhodes puts on a hell of a match, and Cena breaks out that second-rope springboard Stunner, setting up for the Attitude Adjustment and retaining the championship.
Paige and Naomi defeat The Bellas in a tag team match, so my guess is Naomi replaces AJ in the title hunt.
Prime Time Players are officially back together and make fun of other tag teams… What tag teams?
Recap of Dean Ambrose being hurled through a ladder at WrestleMania, then plowed through a table on SmackDown courtesy of Luke Harper. Is Dean Ambrose being billed as their token Hardcore Extreme Wrestler-Guy?
Ryback takes on Luke Harper, eating a superkick when he goes for the Meathook a tad too early in the match. Despite being overpowered, the Big Guy manages to lift and plant Harper with the Shell Shock for the win.
In what might have been the best segment featuring The New Day, they are asked by Renee Young regarding recent chants of “New Day Sucks.” To which Xavier Woods turns cynical, Kofi says they have to “clap or they snap” while Big E. suddenly grows a comedic persona and the trio all put on some fake shit-eating grins.
I SMELL HEEL TURNS!!!!! Finally! Their opponents have a chant pumped through the arena “Lucha! Lucha!” I think Kalisto is the more popular one, although Sin Cara can eat a beating. Kalisto comes in to clean house, allowing Cara to hit his signature Swanton Bomb for the win. Very interesting, during the match Xavier Woods having issues with Kalisto, when suddently Kofi strikes via outside interference. Initially Woods seemed confused, but soon appeared to embrace the vile tactic.
In case you did not hear me the first time… *ahem*
I SMELL HEEL TURNS!!!!
Our next match pits Roman Reigns against the Big Show. Show puts the hurt on Reigns until the former Shield strongman hulks up, blasting Show three times with the Superman punch, followed by dodging a chokeslam and spearing Show down for the pinfall victory.
Backstage: Kane’s headache gets worse as Natalya, Summer Rae, Cameron, and Alicia Fox show up to convince the Director of Operations to book a Battle Royal to determine the next #1 Contender to the Diva’s title, you know, plugging the whole #GiveDivasAChance movement. Kane agrees and books it for next week, as the ladies scream and shrill.
Sheamus arrives on RAW with a new intro, although he still shouts “Fella” before his match, which I thought was a face-type thing… So much for consistency. We get a recap from SmackDown showing Sheamus knocking Daniel Bryan to the outside, only to get blasted by a Bull Hammer from Wade Barrett. Back live and in the ring, the crowd is chanting “You Look Stupid” over and over, while Sheamus puts himself over as “a real warrior” and “a real man” while also claiming guys like Dolph Ziggler give people false hope. Sheamus claims there is no one who can stand toe-to-toe. Enter Mark Henry, who puts up a valiant fight, but inevitably falls to the rejuvenated Celtic Warrior.
We find out Wade Barrett will get his rematch for the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules.
Before the main event, we get a match in the works for months! The Direct-to-DVD star, The Miz takes on Damien Miz(San)dow! I guess he is keeping the Mizdow moniker, theme, and everything associated with The Miz. Crowd loves it. I am a bit saddened this gets a five minute rush-job instead of the pay-per-view treatment. Looks like there was a botched spot as they did the Miz-boot twice over. Damien owns the match until Miz goes for a blatant low-blow, which winds up allowing Miz to roll up his former understudy with a handful of tights for an extremely anti-climatic win.
This feud deserved a better conclusion… Unless it is not over yet.
The main event featured Orton, Ryback, and Reigns in a #1 Contenders match, everyone gets their shots in until The Authority interferes. Orton manages to hit the RKO on Ryback during the very sloppy action to gain the pinfall victory. However, the show ends with Seth Rollins on top as he curb stomps the #1 Contender to close the show.
Tonight was another solid edition of RAW. Many will always use the “Raw After Mania” as the yardstick, but keep in mind WrestleMania is the culmination of a year’s worth of storyline, so consider the Torah rolled back to the beginning, as we build up to each monthly supercard. I caution readers, do not expect every week to be as solid as the RAW following WrestleMania. There will be weeks of bad programming, and weeks of awesome. Will next week maintain the momentum, or will the build to Extreme Rules fizzle instead of sizzle?