March 27, 2014 by Joey Keogh
Wrestlemania is less than two weeks away and although the tension is palpable (er, sort of), the penultimate Monday Night Raw before the big event is a scattered show, bolstered by an incredibly hot crowd even by Brooklyn standards. Tonight is completely sold out yet again, which is great because it means that the carnie show is consistently popular no matter where it hitches its many, many John Cena-emblazoned trucks. We open with a rousing replay of last week’s finale, involving the brutal takedown of Daniel Bryan, which was a remarkably strong ending, and a classically disturbing turn which showcased just how bloody good of heels Stephanie Mc Mahon and Triple H are.
Speaking of whom, it’s Steph herself who opens the show tonight, dressed as a classic movie villain in leather pants and killer heels. She knows this crowd are into it, she knows they love DB, and she knows exactly how to play them. Immediately, she informs them they can cheer all they want for him – and cheer they do, consistently throughout the night – but their beloved Bryan is not going to appear tonight. Steph then positively wallows in the boos that follow. As Randy Orton arrives to stir shit up a bit, and a deafening CM Punk chant fills the arena, to the point that Steph has to stop speaking at one point to shush everyone, and again when the crowd turn their attention back to DB.
As for the Snoreton pants watch, he’s still not wearing any, but Batista is and he’s all hot and bothered about his opponent – or at least he thinks he’s his opponent, as he seems still unsure whether Orton is actually up against him at WM – still fancying Steph and people “squabbling” over the “WW World Heavyweight Championship” which he is certain he’s going to win (shouldn’t be hard, seeing as it’s not a real thing). His mic keeps going on and off, which JBL reckons is on purpose, and the crowd are not happy when Steph offers him a new one. Unfortunately, it gives him the opportunity to slag her off some more, to which she diverts his attention for a moment before smacking the shades right off his face, leading Orton to lose his shit completely.
Steph storms off, leaving Batista to tackle Orton, before half-heartedly holding the two belts above his head. Unfortunately, in the midst of doing so, his skinny jeans have made a desperate attempt to get away from him – much like his mic – and have split, revealing his orange underpants. To his credit, he strolls back slowly up the ramp, pausing to remove his shirt and pose at the top. What a champ (or maybe he just hasn’t noticed). The replay the unintentionally shows us the exact moment the split happened, which is pretty amazing. On tonight’s show, we can look forward to an INTERVIEW with Triple H, Scooby Doo himself, John Cena versus Luke Harper, some famous people from upcoming action movie SABOTAGE (a title like that must be shouted), and finally Brock Lesnar will be facing up to The Undertaker for the first time since he was stabbed in the hand with a pen and thrown through a table. Also, Raw has a shit tonne of viewers, and clearly this must be noted every single week.
Fatal Fourway: Dolph Ziggler -v- Christian -v- Alberto Del Rio -v- Sheamus
A pretty decent match-up to start things off, boasting four great guys, only two of whom get entrances (guess which ones!) It’s great to see Ziggles getting some exposure again, especially because he’s been sort of shoved into the background lately, in favour of pushing less-deserving wrestlers. Sheamo is boasting a new T-shirt which is emblazoned with the word “FELLA”. Very succinct and too the point, our Sheamo. Big E Langston watches everything from the sidelines, clutching his belt but not saying anything, which JBL actually prefers, noting it’s better commentary somehow. This match is to determine the number one contender to steal Langston’s Intercontinental Championship. As opening bouts go, this one is an absolute doozy, pretty much a mess of tangled, sweating bodies throughout, with a few jaw-dropping spots, most of which involve Sheamo. For instance, he catches Christian as he jumps out of the ring, simultaneously launching him into the barricade, head-plants Ziggler from the top rope, and performs an awe-inspiring Texas Cloverleaf on Del Rio. Christian, who’s really enjoying his heel turn and has turned into an absolute snake in the ring – he ran out almost as soon as the match began – seizes his moment to win as Del Rio is distracted, apparently making him the number one contender for the championship. As such, Big E approaches him and attempts to shake his hand, but Christian is, of course, having none of it.
Winner: Christian (but really it’s Ziggles)
The Big Heads turn up onscreen to tell us all about how fake John Cena is, but it’s starting to seem like perhaps Bray Wyatt is a bit jealous of his popularity because damn it, why can’t he be on a cereal box? Does his face not make children want to eat? Luke Harper is a better talker (and fighter) so it’s good to see him get a few seconds to demonstrate his crazy eyes before his match up with Cena later, which promises to be entertaining. Before Scooby Doo turns up in the Mystery Machine, along with Sin Cara (but not the real Sin Cara, as the Twitter fight between the two this week demonstrated) there’s an ad for the special episode featuring a bizarre variety of WWE Superstars (and one Diva, no prizes for guessing which one), including the aforementioned Sin Cara (the REAL ONE, damn it, the other one is a fraude, hombre), John Cena, of course, and, er, Zack Ryder. Perhaps one day we’ll find out who exactly is in the Scooby Doo costume, but for now let’s just hope he/she can survive this next match without dying of heat exhaustion.
Damien Sandow -v- Sin Cara
It’s lucky that this match only lasts about ten seconds, because poor ol’ Scooby is swaying from the sidelines even before the bell has rung. Sandow’s career has kind of disintegrated before our eyes since his partnership with Cody Rhodes fell apart, which is sad because he’s had some great spots, and his holier than thou gimmick was brilliant, but he deserves better than being pinned by someone pretending to be Sin Cara after about a minute of fighting with a crowd so quiet it’s possible to hear their mindless chatter about snacks throughout.
Winner: Scooby Doo (or Sin Cara, whatever)
A replay of last week’s Smackdown reveals that the greatest tag team of all time, 3MB, were featured in a match last week, which means that show may just be more fun than Raw. They’re involved in the much-feted Battle Royale at WM, too, which is awesome because if there’s one thing a 30-Man match needs, it’s air guitar.
Tag Team Match: Los Matadores -v- Rybaxel
Hey, remember Los Matadores? They’re back, in Pog form! Okay not really, but they’re back and they’re still not Spanish. Olè! Before they can do much against Rybaxel – who are clearly a couple because why else is their tag team name a portmanteau? – The Shield, an actual tag team, show up to distract the big dudes enough for them to win. And that’s it.
Winners: Los Matadores (Olè?)
Once the jobbers have cleared out, Michael Cole enters the ring to intro Triple H because he’s about to interview him, which obviously thrills the fuck out of the guy because he just loves acting like a proper journo for once. It’s weird seeing him away from the announce table though, it’s weird to see his legs. He has legs. They usually do this interview on the website, on a weekly basis (because they have that much to discuss), but tonight we are lucky enough to get to see it instead of a match. Trips eventually turns up and antagonises everyone to wonderful effect, suggesting we Tweet him to get him to change things, because he totally spends time reading all that bullshit instead of picking out suits or curling Steph’s hair.
He’s ushering in the Reality Era, which is the exact opposite of the Attitude Era in every conceivable way, except that this also involves Triple H. Cole joins him in standing up, which is adorable, as he informs us all that the reality is he’s going to be WWE (as opposed to WW) World Heavyweight Champion. As he ascends the ramp, some fat kid is like “No!” but otherwise the crowd love it. A snippet of the Rewind show is then shown, which features a match from last week’s Raw so it must be aimed at people who missed it, or maybe that select few who want to watch it again in case they missed themselves on TV.
Fandango (accompanied by Summer Rae) -v- Cody Rhodes (accompanied by Goldust)
Summer’s dresses are getting more ridiculous with each appearance, and this week she appears to be dressed as a beaded, bedazzled lampshade, which doesn’t stop Goldust taunting her ringside for the entire match, as well as challenging her to a dance off, during which she hurts her ankle. The woman is a brilliant heel girlfriend, she plays the part so well, but damn it she needs a match! Anyway, this is pretty much the same match as last week, only with a different Rhodes brother against fucking Michael Flatley over there.
Winner: Cody Rhodes (Fandango is probably never winning, bless him)
From A writer of The Fast And The Furious comes SABOTAGE, the latest action flick to pitch Arnold Schwarzenegger against a load of terrorists or the American government or something, I dunno, the trailer is hard to follow but it involves a lot of explosions and running and guns and such classic lines as “Clean up on aisle two” Hulk Hogan appears, looking more like a lady’s handbag than ever, and the camera focuses on two positive signs in the crowd for him. He points at the WM sign. Then he slowly introduces Arnie and Joe Manganiello, two “stars” of the aforementioned film who are here to plug, and play tough guys with him. Though Manganiello recently released a bodybuilding tome about his time spent bulking up, he doesn’t get to say much, as Arnie and Hulk banter back and forth about how tough and buff and awesome they are – Arnie actually pays special attention to each part of Hulk’s body, which leads him to make his pecs dance, which is terrifying for all involved.
When poor Joe does get to talk, he gets booed out of it, and even more so when he suggests that he and Arnie should take part in the Battle Royale. The Miz takes this as his cue to come out and remind us all that he’s a good for nothing, and has also been in movies too. Joe looks terribly confused throughout. Miz is a tough guy in a pink tie, which does not impress this crowd. Speaking of clothing attire, I don’t think Joe is wearing anything under that hoodie, which means it’s a goddamn travesty when he doesn’t tear it off to reveal his rippling muscles. Instead, the three men square up to Miz and then Hogan chucks him out of the ring, leading JBL to quip “There goes The Real World” Speaking of which, why didn’t Miz appear on Vulture’s Most Annoying Real World Housemates list? Were there really eighteen people more irritating than Miz on that show?
Titus O’Neill -v- Big Show
Show’s entrance and exit for this match are more exciting than what happens in the ring itself, as he stops to high-five every single child on his way up and down the ramp. Otherwise, he delivers a Knockout Punch to Titus within the first five minutes and it’s all over before it even really started, which is good, because the crowd are worryingly quiet once again.
Winner: Big Show (the real winners are all the kids whose nights he’s made by thumping them with his giant, sweaty hand)
Backstage, Steph and Triple H’s canoodling is interrupted by The Shield who are suspicious over their fight with Kane on Smackdown, as recent events have led them to believe they’re no longer valued members of the team. The Authority are all “nothing to do with us” about it, and fob them off with a match later tonight against The Real Americans. Then, we get a rather intrusive glimpse at Cena in the bathroom – the sight of whom is greeted by deafening boos – as he splashes his face with water and psyches himself up to face Harper later on. We watch as the infamous sheep mask appears behind him, only to disappear as soon as he turns around – an ominous call-back if ever there was one.
John Cena -v- Luke Harper
Sadly, Cena doesn’t have too much time to throw up his branded Fruity Pebbles because it’s time for the match. He is mercilessly booed as he makes his descent, clad in a new T-shirt which reads “You Can’t Stop Me” in the rave writing (he also has matching, luminous green rave sneakers!) It isn’t very clear, especially with the correctly spelled “you” instead of the text speak “U” to which we’ve become accustomed. An incredible match unfolds, though, which showcases Harper’s potential, putting him well above his mouthy comrade, as he consistently, effortlessly, counters Cena’s moves. Seemingly fearless, Harper launches Cena out of the ring, into the barricade, and then follows him. To his credit, Cena keeps powering out, in spite of his obvious exhaustion, while our trusted commentators deliver such fascinating insights as “Good-ness!” and “That hurt Cena’s arm!” Suddenly, the arena is plunged into darkness, leading the ridiculously loud crowd to notch the volume up even higher. When the lights eventually come back on, Cena is entangled in the ropes, sporting the same, totally battered sheep mask that taunted him beforehand. Seriously though, it’s clearly on its last legs, and my god it must stink in there. Bray reckons this proves how two-faced Cena is, which means he’s being a bit literal again.
Winner: ? (eh…)
Divas Tag Team Match: The Funkadactyls -v- AJ Lee & Tamina Snukka
This may seem like it’s going to be the exact same match as last week, but no no, it’s even shorter this time around. AJ is sporting a new T-shirt, which looks remarkably similar to one sported by that Superstar who’s been edited out of everything and whose name we dare not speak except to shout it when Steph is trying to talk. She makes fun of Naomi’s fetching, bedazzled eyepatch (variations of which Naomi should totally be selling on Etsy) before getting herself counted out on purpose.
Winner: ? (Er…)
But before she can get too comfortable, the great, and sorely missed on Raw, Vickie Guerrero turns up to call AJ out for referring to her as a “grandmother” on SD, which is “inaccurate”. She reckons AJ is a “real bitch” (they can say bitch on TV but not ass?) and should be punished by facing, well, all of the other Divas at WM, in what is now being referred to as the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational. If only some, or y’know any, time had been dedicated to creating heat between AJ and Tamina, this might have been an interesting development, but as it stands, if this match isn’t relegated to the pre-show, I shall eat my John Cena commemorative rave ball-cap. In other news, Taker choked Paul Heyman on Main Event because that show is totally a thing now.
Also, Did You Know that the App has been downloaded 11 million times!? Of course, most of those could be attributed to Cole, who just cannot figure out how to use it, no matter how hard he tries, and King, who still can’t figure out his touch-screen. Next up, the final inductee into this year’s Hall Of Fame is revealed as the great Razor Ramon, the man who made being a bad guy cool, and whose ladder match at Wrestlemania against HBK – the very first of its kind – is one of the greatest in history. I’d love to know why The Miz is always involved in these segments. Is it because they just can’t shut him up, or is there literally nothing else for him to do apart from turn up where he’s not wanted and spout mindless garbage?
Tag Team Match: The Shield -v- The Real Americans
Since Zeb Coulter isn’t actually fighting as part of TRA, The Shield are kind of being given an unfair advantage here, but they don’t give a shit, not even allowing their opponents to remove their hoodies or descend the ramp before they launch their full scale attack on them. King immediately references the Ba-Ha Men yet again, because that joke is still funny. Poor Rollins is dying to be a part of the action, hopping around on the sidelines like an excited child. Ambrose won’t let him in just yet, as he utilises his oddly Joker-esque persona to demand repeatedly that Cesaro hit him. When Rollins finally is given an in, he immediately disposes of Cesaro, launching him headfirst over the ropes, and the barricade, into the crowd, nearly smack bang next to Noelle Foley, who looks as though her night has been well and truly made. Rollins then takes the opportunity to dropkick Jack Swagger to win. Then, after the bell has rung, Cesaro returns to the ring to tackle Rollins, and launch him out, which leads Reigns to deliver the Spear. The Shield then triple team Cesaro by throwing him through the announce table, leaving Zeb to stand there, inspecting the damage, not really sure what else to do.
Winners: The Shield (who let the cats out, huh?)
It’s Kane, playa! And he’s with the New Age Outlaws, who are almost unrecognisable in dapper suits. They’re here to announce that they’ll be up against The Shield at WM, which kind of makes no sense, because they’re not a real tag team, but should be totally awesome nonetheless. Up next, Brock Lesnar appears, clad in a shirt which reads “Eat Sleep Break The Streak” He has no mic, so I guess Paul Heyman will be doing his talking for him yet again, and talk he does, blabbing on and on and on about The Streak and John Cena and Andre The Giant until his client finally tears the thing out of his hand and unleashes his gloriously weird, squeaky voice on the crowd.
He’s not here to promote, he’s here to fight. He wants Taker. Now. On cue, two rows of hooded druids emerge, leading a coffin in front of them (one of them may have been in the Scooby Doo costume earlier, we can’t be sure). The stage and surrounding area is filled with smoke, the atmosphere is tense, and the crowd are going nuts, as we all wonder what the hell is inside that box. After kicking it and poking it with his foot, Lesnar finally summons the courage to open it, revealing a big ol’ nothing.
“Rest In Peace, Lesnar” yells some opportunistic dude, who clearly cannot see what’s going on as it’s so dark and smoky we might as well be in a really specifically-themed strip club. Heyman refers to Brooklyn as a “slum”, which obviously leads the crowd to erupt into indignant boos, designed to distract them as the coffin ominously opens again to reveal Taker, who sits bolt upright, causing Lesnar to retreat slightly into the ring. It’s to no avail, as the Deadman grabs him and launches him out of the ring, clearing the coffin totally. Lesnar composes himself and points to the sign as Taker rolls his eyes back and extends his tongue.
And that, my friends, is where this week’s Raw ends. It was a disjointed show overall, but the ridiculously enthusiastic crowd made it work, and there were genuine moments of brilliance. The Shield are clearly gearing up to make an impact at WM, whether it’s their much-mooted break up or some sort of attack at a pivotal moment, and while we’re all pretty tired of The Streak talk by this stage, Taker’s match is all but guaranteed to be a good one. Cena’s feud with the Wyatts has the potential for some great spots, especially if he’s going to continue taking them on one by one, and if there are more incidents of them getting inside his head. Trips is finally building momentum for the WHC match, and he and Steph have totally come into their own as heel authority figures. Bryan was sorely missed this week, but after last week’s incredible finale, it’s only fitting that he’s absent for at least one show.
With Wrestlemania so close we can practically taste it, the only way to go is up, so let’s just hope the momentum continues to build as we take the final, tenuous steps towards New Orleans.