March 20, 2014 by Joey Keogh
This week, Raw is live from the home of Shawn Michaels. Not literally from his living room, of course (though that would be cool), but from San Antonio, Texas. Unfortunately, anyone hoping to see him will soon be disappointed because, although this is a lengthy, almost two-and-a-half-hour long show, with a remarkably small amount of filler, HBK won’t be gracing us with his presence tonight. But no matter, there’s lots of other fun stuff to enjoy. We begin with an inspiring recap of last week’s “Occupy Raw” segment, before Triple H appears, to serious booing, to inform us that this is all our fault. By this, he probably means the incredible ascension of Daniel Bryan, and not the fact that he’s been relegated to fighting Trips at Wrestlemania because apparently that’s all because of CM Punk (lots of chants for him tonight, along with some great “We Want Punk” signs).
As the camera pans over the crowd, a sea of green is revealed because this is, after all, St. Patrick’s Day – a holiday that makes me even less proud to be Irish than every other day of the year – but Trips is wearing a red tie, not green, because he’s heel and that’s what Steph wanted him to wear tonight, so shut up. There are tons of “Yes” signs in the crowd, too, which bodes well for Bryan’s “chat” with the COO later, which I’m sure will end well and not descend into madness like it usually does. Batista emerges, dressed as always like a rejected member of Avenged Sevenfold (or maybe one of their dads).
He manages to fuck up his first line, because he’s not so good at memorising lines, but it’s okay, that doesn’t impact on his career at all. Randy Orton shows up next, sporting his belts but no pants (as usual). The two of them are butthurt over Bryan maybe getting a chance against them at WM, but Trips is all “As IF he could beat ME, you guys” like they’re his bratty little children, whom he’s scolding for the millionth time over the same bloody thing (no offence to the Trips brood, they’re lovely). The three men play a rousing game of Whose Head Would Make The Best Bowling Ball before Snoreton demands a no-DQ match with Bryan later on, which Trips happily obliges, and then opines that the reason everyone loves DB so much is not because he’s totally awesome in every conceivable way and is rocking that beard, but actually because Boo-tista sucks so bad.
After all, when he left, nobody cared, and now that he’s returned, we all care even less. Though Snoreton is about as good at stirring shit as Trips is at diffusing tension, he has a point, we all do hate Boo-tista and want him to go back to the MMA, where he totally didn’t fail at forging a successful career. Trips tries to skulk off while the two babies are bickering, because he’s sick of everything apart from wearing a suit, which he loves more than Steph. He calls Boo out for stirring shit, and Snoreton for needing his hand held all the time – basically, he intends to destroy the Hollywood movie star and the baby at WM and he can’t wait for his chance to do so.
The crowd are going absolutely nuts as his music starts up – perfectly cued, for once – and finally, finally there’s an angle to this that we can get behind. Snoreton flips Boo over, then does the pose as smugly as ever, which oddly sort of works. John Cena is going to respond to the Wyatts later, but next up there’s a tag team match. Before we get to that, though, Renee corners Boo backstage to ask him how he’s feeling and he tells her that coming back was a big mistake. Why doesn’t he just return to his sparkling movie career? Oh right…
Tag Team Match: The Usos -v- The Real Americans
The Real Americans are given a jobber entrance tonight – are we in redneck country? – but there’s a “We The People” chant regardless, and although The Usos are like a well-oiled machine at this stage, Cesaro’s star is truly in ascension and he really shows off his skills in this match. The Real Americans are a little more fractured in comparison to their opponents, which is feeding into the inevitable break in the team that has been hinted at for weeks. Cesaro is in peak physical condition, and much lighter on his feet than his teammate, Jack Swagger, who still sells it a little too much when he gets hit, but they bounce off each other nicely, especially in light of the brewing tension. The great Zeb Coulter hurls abuse from the side of the ring throughout, but even his jaw drops when Cesaro lines up, and jumps over a standing Swagger to land on Jimmy Uso and tag himself out. Jimmy tries to tag, but Swagger grabs his foot, then spins himself around and delivers a roundhouse kick to Jimmy’s face, knocking him out. There are so many spots in this match, it’s ridiculous, but most can be attributed to Cesaro, who is finally being given a chance to show what he can do after simply intervening in other people’s matches over the past few weeks. It all ends as, positioned outside the ring, Cesaro leaps up, knocks Jimmy out, then slides back into the ring to pin him and win – a fitting end to a match full of jaw-dropping moments.
Winners: The Real Americans (but really Cesaro won it, Swagger is just good at taking hits and then going “Owwwwwwwwww” for as long as that word I just typed is)
The match is followed by a promo for the most awesome thing ever – Slam City, an animated series which follows WWE Superstars as they pick up normal jobs after being fired. It looks totally amazing and hilarious and I genuinely can’t wait to watch every single one (and then collect the toys). It’s unclear whether Punk’s segment is still being broadcast, but either way this looks completely brilliant – it could even be claymation, but probably isn’t because that would’ve taken much too long and Vince is never going to invest money or manpower in that kind of thing. Also, the theme tune is just “Slam City” over and over, which fits perfectly.
Last week on Smackdown (because we all know nobody’s watching that), Kane had a match with Big Show, for which The Shield were drafted in to help. But, at the last minute, they refused to do their job – a moment that was captured with a simple yet terrifying thumb down from Seth Rollins. Show won, so Kane attacked Rollins in a fit or rage, and as a result, he was taken out by The Shield himself. Backstage tonight, Kane is having a chat with the lads about how they all made “bad decisions” on SD, something to which Dean Ambrose smugly agrees “You did” which causes Rollins to erupt into giggles. They’re all such brats, it’s amazing. When Kane wonders aloud whether he can count on them tonight, Rollins cryptically responds “Yeah, we’re united” which most definitely means that no, he cannot. Apparently, The Shield worked out their differences on SD, too, hence why they’re now playing happy – okay, fairly dysfunctional – families again. Maybe they’ll stay together after all!
Since it’s Paddy’s Day (NOT Patty, which is a lady name and definitely not short for Patrick – you’ll find that out the hard way at 2AM in Temple Bar on a Saturday night) Hornswoggle is here to deliver cheer, by handing out incredibly cheap-looking tricolour ribbons to the crowd. Why is he not here to promote the new Leprechaun movie? That’d be such an easy sell! Before the commentators can make this whole “leprechaun” angle even worse, Bad News Barrett shows up – with a working podium, inscribed with #BNB and all! – to give out about this stupid holiday and the fact that everyone is going to end up drunk and sick as a result of it. The tension is palpable as everyone waits for the inevitable and, in a blaze of glory, clad in an Irish jersey emblazoned with BOD 13 (to commemorate some sort of match that we won recently, or something) Sheamus finally appears, looking happier than ever, if that’s even possible.
St. Patrick’s Day Showdown: Sheamus -v- Titus O’Neill
For this match, dubbed a St. Patrick’s Day Showdown by Cole, the maybe-distantly-Irish O’Neill is clad in a giant, green, commemorative hat, tricolour tie, and an orange beard, while Sheamo’s current nemesis, Christian, assists on commentary throughout. Obviously, Sheamo has to win this match, for the day that’s in it, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch, especially with snarky Christian giving his best. Hornswoggle laughs at the match, from ringside, causing O’Neill to grab him and throw him into the ring. JBL isn’t impressed with Christian’s commentary, asking if they can get a blue dot over it, which harks back to a wonderful rumour involving Vince not thinking the Canadian was good-looking enough to be a WWE Superstar. O’Neill throws Hornswoggle over his head, into the waiting arms of Sheamo, who turns on him immediately, yelling “Happy St. Paddy’s Day” as he lays into him against the ropes. Of course, he wins, because he couldn’t not win today.
Winner: Sheamus (otherwise it would’ve been a bit cruel)
Renee shows up to try to interview Sheamo post-match yet again, even though last time she did he couldn’t even breathe and then was tackled by Christian. He refers to “Tight Arse O’Neill” because he’s in that kind of mood. He also plans to win the 30-Man Battle Royale at WM – “I’m gonna win!” Christian complains – but before he can revel in it too much, his nemesis escapes from the shackles of the announce table, tackles him, and throws him into the steel steps. Not such a happy St. Paddy’s Day after all. Next Monday, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Manganiello, from the upcoming movie Sabotage, are going to be here. They both do the “Yes” chant during the promo, so they’ll probably be received well. Scooby Doo is coming too! John Cena enters to boos, but he’s still happy. He currently has a drool-worthy Muscle & Fitness cover, which will pop up at various points throughout the show, to remind us that Cena is really fit and awesome.
Anyway, he’s been here twelve years at this stage (feels like longer) and he reckons he and the WWE Universe are “like an old married couple” but he always gives his best, and he’s always honest, which is why he chooses tonight to reveal that he is afraid of Bray Wyatt – I don’t blame him, I don’t think that dude washes, like, ever. “What!?” says an incredulous JBL, who fears nothing, and nobody. Cena’s worried that Wyatt has made it seem that, when the lights go out, “all of this is phony” which we know isn’t true because his new shirt totally glows in the dark. The crowd are already on his side by the time he starts referring to his “legacy” – which we’ve been encouraged to hashtag literally since he started speaking – and they boo the hell out of Bray Wyatt’s giant head when it inevitably shows up onscreen. Although, the fact he’s chosen to wear a Cena shirt with the arms cut off is pretty genius. Tonight, Wyatt wants to focus on how Cena isn’t a superhero, which would be interesting, except that he trails off and starts referring to his bizarre childhood which nobody wants to hear about because it was clearly spent in a bucket. The crowd are chanting for Cena, which is both weird and awesome in equal measure.
No Disqualification Match: Randy Orton -v- Daniel Bryan
Bryan still looks totally shocked by the love he gets when he enters the arena, in spite of the fact he’s been ridiculously over for what seems like years at this stage (in a good way). He starts the match off strong, by trapping Snoreton in a corner and twisting his leg around. He then lines him up at the ropes and delivers a dropkick, Divas-style, before launching both of them out of the ring. Unfortunately, Snoreton takes the opportunity to grab a Kendo stick from under the ring. “There’s no bell to ring!” he points out, shocking absolutely no one apart from someone’s mother in the front row, who was wondering up until that point what “no DQ” meant. Now she can rest easy and enjoy the carnage. Snoreton gets his own back for earlier in the match by trapping Bryan in a corner, beating him with the stick, and then performing a Backbreaker on him. The crowd are booing the hell out of Snoreton, understandably so, but their hatred seems to have lit a fire under him, as the textbook sleepwalker unleashes his rage on Bryan. “Yes No I’m Confused” reads a sign in the crowd – that dude finds that funnier than anyone else ever will – before Snoreton tries to corner Bryan again, but fails, as his opponent flips over and tackles him, before administering the classic Frankensteiner, which is his go-to move lately and always so much fun to see. The action returns to the corner again as Bryan delivers a Suplex from the top rope, before Snoreton beats him with the Kendo stick once more, and then dropkicks him into the crowd. He fetches a steel chair from under the ring, but before he can do some damage with it, Boo-tista shows up – topless but still sporting skinny jeans – to distract him, allowing Bryan to win.
Winner: Daniel Bryan (hopefully he won’t have to take another beating tonight, after that, RIGHT?)
Boo-tista performs the Batista Bomb on Snoreton to make up for earlier, when he did the thing and then the pose and then the – wait, what happened again? The pose is burned into the collective memory but nothing else. Moving on from that, JBL is going to show us how to use the Network, because it’s all terribly complicated. We literally watch him type on a computer for several minutes, it’s like that blasted Wikileaks film, only with less Cumberbatch. King then proves he totally sucks at using his own touchscreen before the camera quickly cuts away and we are told that, up next, is another message from Paul Heyman, for Taker because Lesnar still isn’t allowed to speak ever, or to even appear at this stage. There aren’t quite enough boos when Heyman enters, which hopefully doesn’t mean he’s losing his touch as a heel, because nobody does that obnoxious mentor angle better.
Further to this, his “Ladies and gentlemen…and Texans” line doesn’t really hit, especially since it’s interrupted by the noise of someone’s too-loud walkie talkie. There’s a promo for The Streak – which is presented by a British Person with a very pronounced British Accent, presumably to make it seem more official – the theme of which is essentially that Taker is old. Heyman ends his time by stating that, at WM, The Streak will rest in peace (geddit?) Oh, and that’s it! Commentators talk now! Backstage, The Authority are having a bit of a tiff, because Trips wants to talk to Bryan man-to-man later, which Steph claims she doesn’t understand because she has a vagina. But she fought Vince, so she can’t be that weak! She doesn’t want him to do it, and what she says goes, so yeah, take that Trips.
Fandango (accompanied by Summer Rae) -v- Goldust (accompanied by Cody Rhodes)
This is an odd match up, played mostly for laughs, as Fandango dances around the ring, Goldust tries to freak him out, and the two Rhodes boys blow kisses and such to poor Summer, who seemed like she was getting a push there for a second (though she is currently starring on Total Divas, so good for her?) Cole once again proves how good of a journalist he is by showcasing how little he knows about wrestling moves, referring to an Inverted Atomic Bomb as a regular Atomic Bomb and vice versa. Oh, Cole. That’s what Google is for, and you have a laptop right in front of you, too! He also doesn’t know the difference between Saturday Night Fever and Saturday Night Live, which is odd considering one is a comedy show and the is about John Travolta dancing a lot to fund his drug habit/prove he is totally straight. Fandango is also taking part in the 30-Man Battle Royale, which is terribly exciting. He aims from the top rope, misses and lands on his butt, which gives a coasting Goldust the opportunity to pin him and win.
Winnner: Goldust (considering he’s bleeding through his make-up, good for him)
Corporate Kane enters, looking very smug, which he might’ve been this whole time but it just wasn’t obvious under his mask. He explains that the ring is not for all action, just some action. Occupy Raw violated SAFETY CODES, y’all. But more important than that, someone helped Bryan to be cheeky and out of line last week, and that person must be punished. The culprit is…Fargo Boyle! Or rather, King, who feigns shock in the best way, by shrugging and going totally wide-eyed. He refuses to meet Kane in the ring, so The Shield show up to administer death by snoo snoo (because they are walking sex) and drag him in, causing JBL to quip “Not so proud of yourself now, are ya King?” because it was, after all, him who started this rumour last week. “This is really uncomfortable” Cole admits. “Not for us” JBL responds, gleefully.
The crowd responds to this injustice with an old school, Springer-style “Jer-ry” chant, except that it’s only really one dude, who clearly won’t let that show go, bless him. Once in the ring, upstart Rollins gets to talk for once as he informs King that “Daniel Bryan won’t be coming to save you, because The Shield always does what’s best for business” There’s a beat of awesome, heart-stopping silence as the three men slowly turn away from King, towards Kane, before unleashing a merciless attack on their sort-of boss. It’s one of the coolest moments of the night, as each man delivers his signature move in succession, culminating in Reigns’ Spear before the three join forces to triple Power Bomb Kane which is quite simply amazing. The mood dips slightly as we get another Wrestlemania promo, though. Yee-haw!
Divas Tag Team Match: The Funkadactyls -v- AJ Lee & Tamina Snukka
Naomi has returned with a fetching, bedazzled eyepatch after she nearly lost her eye to Oksana’s knee the other week, while Nikki Bella’s tits are doing commentary, along with her sister. They offer up fascinating nuggets about Summer stirring it up on Total Divas (but you have to watch to see what happens, guys!), and their pelvis tattoos, which you can see on Twitter, if you’re so inclined. Tamina and Cameron start the match off, as King sucks up to the Bellas by telling them he DVRs Total Divas – why doesn’t he just watch it on the goddamn Network!? JBL’s fave, and longest running Divas champ, AJ eventually gets a chance to shine, by putting her opponent in a headlock. Divas spots are so weird! This whole match is really just a promo for their stupid show, but a few things hit, such as a couple of dropkicks, a Black Widow, and some other actual wrestling moves that haven’t been seen in a match of this nature since the nineties. But AJ lost, so it was all for nothing.
Winners: The Funkadactyls (dance celebration, I guess?)
AJ yells at Tamina for making her lose yet again, so she pushes her over, which makes AJ do her crazy eyes as she sulks on the floor. That’s it though, because Divas don’t get the same kind of airtime, or storylines, as their male counterparts (not that anyone is complaining, of course). A promo for the latest WWE game, imaginatively titled WWE 2K 14, follows, which begs us to play it in spite of the fact its graphics look about ten years old. To give an idea of just how bad they are, King reckons they look AWESOME. Next up, Mr. T is inducted into the Hall Of Fame, and I mean it when I say I have absolutely nothing to write about that. Hey, remember when Hulk was shilling really badly on last week’s show? Well, here’s a replay, just in case you don’t!
8-Man Tag Team Match: Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Big E Langston & Mark Henry -v- Damien Sandow, Ryback, Curtis Axel & Alberto Del Rio
A wealth of talent on show from this lot (excluding Rybaxel, obviously) and it’s especially nice to see Ziggles getting a shot, even though he spends most of the match being beaten to a pulp. We begin with Ryback against Big E which, weight-wise, is kind of interesting, before it switches to Henry versus Axel, and then finally Ziggles is introduced to the proceedings as he leaps over Ryback, grabs the ropes, and delivers a roundhouse kick to his jaw. Del Rio responds by throwing him into the announce table, causing Cole to run off in a panic screaming “I’m sorrrrrry, Vince!” Each opponent then takes turns laying waste to Ziggles, who tries desperately to tag, before finally getting Show to take his spot as he crawls off to fix his cute, single hair braid. The world’s strongest man throws everyone out of the ring with glee, before a brave/stupid Sandow tries to sneak up behind him and winds up choke-slammed and writhing on the mat in pain.
Winners: Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Big E Langston & Mark Henry (it might be something to do with the “big”-ness of each man, but then Ziggles took the most beatings)
Backstage, Boo-tista appears to have been just wandering around, fully-dressed to leave, with his backpack on all night, like a child pretending to run away in order to get some attention. Renee is jogging along next to him, so he takes pride in telling her that he never quit nothin’ (that’s right, the MMA are just jerks, and those movie people too!) Renee watches him walk away, though. She wants it. Next up is that terribly cringy Network promo starring the Bellas as air hostesses, followed by one for Main Event this week, which will feature Taker, and another for a match pitting Cena and Luke Harper against each other on Smackdown on Friday. Hands up who’s watching neither of those shows!
Kofi Kingston -v- Bray Wyatt
Another weird match up but Kofi doesn’t care, he’s just happy to be here, and even happier to wait in the ring for Bray to make his super-long entrance, or for a bizarre promo, scored by an Eminem song (one of the official tracks of WM!) to play in its entirety. Cole thanks Eminem afterwards. He can’t hear you, Cole. That was Aaron Paul, before. And Chris O’Donnell, after him. Kofi can leap so high into the air, it’s amazing, but this is a short match and the Sister Abigail ends it rather predictably – at least Kofi can sell like a champ, though, so good for him.
Winner: Bray Wyatt (kudos on his first change of clothes all year)
The moment we’ve all been waiting for, and that social media has been blowing up about all week, finally arrives because Trips is here, and he wants Bryan. We Want Punk, though, according to a sign in the crowd that is positioned directly behind a completely oblivious Trips. This is all best for business, he tells us, and it’s nothing personal. What’s best for WWE is to end this uprising, and shut down the Yes Movement once and for all.
Bryan won’t shake his boss’s hand, which almost distracts from the raucous “CM Punk” chant that threatens to drown out the two men in the ring. For a moment, it seems that Trips has accepted the situation and is about to walk away, but then his wife turns up to, er, arrest Bryan with a load of totally real cops who don’t look like strippers at all (especially not the one pouting directly behind Bryan, who is totally checking out his butt).
They tackle him to the ground as the crowd boo like crazy, but then Trips calls them off because they’re not real cops, shockingly. Cole is very confused by this revelation, but we are not. The action then turns very, very dark indeed as Trips kicks the absolute shit out of Bryan while Steph watches and cheers him on. It’s one of those moments that really encapsulate how brutal this sort-of sport is, and it is a lengthy, lengthy segment, and a truly great way to end a very solid episode of Raw. We try to turn away as Trips drags Bryan all over the ring, even beating him up on the barrier, much to the disgust of someone’s mother who clearly only agreed to be here for her son/husband.
They even fight on poor ol’ Justin Roberts, who looks like he just wants to go home and take a nap, bless him. Trips also dunks Bryan’s head in a cooler, rips off his shirt, throws him on the announce table, holds him so Steph can get a few digs in – “You hit like a girl!” Bryan jeers, to his credit – and even lines his head up at a post so he can whack it with a steel chair.
It is a truly vulgar display of power, perfectly rounded off by a bone-crunchingly brutal Pedigree, which leaves Bryan battered, bruised, and exhausted in the ring. Trips signs off by shouting that “This all belongs to us” and there is no Yes Movement and sadly, it’s kind of hard not to believe him a little bit. Then he and Steph have a gross smooch, which pisses the crowd off perfectly. It’s an impeccably strong, truly shocking, ending to a rather brilliant Raw that was stuffed with fun, carnage, great spots, brutal hits and even some genuinely interesting storyline angles. Finally, we care about the triple threat match at WM, which is a major development. Finally, Cesaro, Ziggles and all the other little guys are moving out of the shadows. And just as importantly, Bryan is still front and centre, which is exactly where he should be. With Wrestlemania just over the horizon, it’s shows like this that are really going to get us pumped.