July 17, 2014 by Joey Keogh
After a few weeks of great build-up, WWE spectacularly drops the ball at the worst moment imaginable – the go-home show before Battleground. This dreadfully dull installment of Raw starts as it means to go on, with John Cena in the ring reminiscing about how he couldn’t get cheered last week, even when man-of-the-moment Roman Reigns held his arm aloft for him. They’re trying desperately to build interest for the Fatal Fourway at the PPV, of which these two are the frontrunners to win, but nobody seems to really care about anyone but Reigns, who hasn’t a shot in hell, and Dean Ambrose, who probably doesn’t stand a chance in his bout against Seth Rollins either.
Cena very ominously tells us that “at Battleground the champ…may not…be here…” The crowd then take turns booing his opponents, Kane and Randy Orton, before erupting into cheers for Reigns, who enters to be groped by a dude dressed as old school rapper Cena, who’s hanging out ringside having an aneurysm. Of course, Cena introduces Reigns because he’s an attention hog. Also, he doesn’t understand irony. “Get to the damn point” Reigns demands. “Say what?” Cena responds, before suggesting they “handle” The Authority tonight and see if Reigns is actually good enough (for what, is unclear). But no, Reigns counters, let’s see if you are good enough, John Cena. Yeah, take that.
The great Dean Ambrose appears onscreen to save us from dying of boredom, calling an end to this “prettiest girl at the dance contest” because “we ain’t dancin’ tonight boys” – somewhere Fandango is sadly hanging up his bedazzled pants. Ambrose is then tackled by Kane, Orton and Rollins, which is odd because he’s broadcasting out of what can only be described as an airing closest. “That all you guys got?” he asks, visibly winded, which leads Rollins to curb-stomp him. This sets the tone for the entire show – this moment is instantly replayed, and then again about twenty times subsequently, while variations on the same promo are trotted out over and over, but with different Fatal Fourway participants. It’s truly inspired.
Sheamus -v- The Miz
Richmond, VA love Sheamo for some reason, but since we’re not there to see him in all his glory, we get a nice little promo in the confessional box from him, about how The Miz is scared of wrecking his face and “sure we all know how much I hate to kick people in the face” He goes a bit Father Hernandez here, with a weird “heh heh heh” chuckle and then a weirdly-huge, wide-eyed smile right at the end, but considering the entire match is conducted with Miz’s massive, awful head projected on the Titantron – to remind us it’s the moneymaker or some shit – it’s probably the most interesting element of the entire thing. This is a rubbish first match, with Sheamo carrying Miz who still seems unsure of where he is and what he’s doing – he still can’t deliver his lines properly either, which is embarrassing considering he just wrapped a feature film. The two go for ankle locks on several occasions, but neither manages one, so there’s a lot of foot-grabbing for extended periods of time. The Battle Royal at BG is LOADED with jobbers, we discover mid-match, as the commentators give up on calling it and instead discuss their favourites for the PPV (er, Cena?). Sheamo delivers the 10 Beats, followed by the Irish Curse. He tries to finish Miz with the Brogue Kick, but gets caught in the corner, giving his opponent the opportunity to roll him up to win.
Winner: The Miz (just so we know, how many more of these “matches” have we got to look forward to?)
Backstage, Kane, Orton and Rollins are arguing over who’s going to win on Sunday/who’s got each other’s back/who’s not wearing pants when really he should be. Rollins helpfully moves out of frame so that Triple H can pop in and tell them to ensure they get the belts back to The Authority so they can be taken care of, or whatever. He then takes care of Steph with some truly disgusting PDA – imagine if they were actually your parents!? – and we all collectively vomit as the camera zooms in way too close.
Dolph Ziggler -v- Fandango
Ziggler gets a major pop as he enters, because he’s over over over even though nobody in WWE seems to give a shit. The intercontinental championship belt is displayed on a flashy purple rug tonight, which is cool, except that nobody tries to either steal it or wear the rug as a wonderful cape. What a waste. Both of these guys are great, but they’re totally wasted in what is essentially a comedy match. Fandango is a far better wrestler than he’s given credit for, even with his hilarious post-move dancing. They’re interrupted mid-bout by Summer Rae and Layla dancing on the announce table to Fandango‘s music, which allows Ziggler enough of a distraction to utilise the Fame-Asser to win.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler (a win for him is a win for us)
Next up, there’s a really weird shill for dreadful fast food joint Sonic, which we all know totally sucks. Damien Sandow plays a fast food employee, Adam Rose and his posse are the people who steal his food and somewhere Ashton Kutcher is scratching his head over how anyone thinks this kind of shit is still funny. Neither of these guys is getting a match tonight, and the crowd hate both of them almost as much as Sonic.
Tag Team: The Usos -v- Erick Rowan & Luke Harper of The Wyatt Family
This doesn’t actually turn into a match, because Harper and Rowan attack The Usos mid-entrance (well, theirs is super-long) and that’s really the end of this segment. We also get an instant replay, just in case the point wasn’t driven home enough. Their match at BG should be good, but this is not the way to build to it.
Winners: No contest
Up next we have another non-match as we’re treated to an America-Russia Détente, which Cole for some reason reckons is a word that WWE fans, of all people, are going to get trending. He loves introducing this too, even though he’s shooed away almost immediately by Lana and her ten pounds of Primark-grade hair extensions. The crowd go nuts for this shit, but she gets to talk for much too long and considering most of her speech consists of telling everyone to “shut up”, it’s not particularly involving. She also doesn’t seem to be aware of the fact that Europeans do not pronounce it “stoopid” like Americans (possibly because she’s from Florida?)
Zeb Colter fares much better, with a to-the-point “hell no” in response to her speech. Also, he actually was in ‘nam so good for him for serving the country he loves so dearly. There’s a big cheer as Obama pops up onscreen, with a few, racially-motivated “boos” thrown in for good measure because this is still Virginia, after all. This whole promo lasts for ages, but suffice to say the only people Colter hates more than foreigners are women, which gets him a slap in the face from Lana that kicks off a tussle between Jack Swagger and Rusev, who are set for a match at the PPV. Boding well for Sunday, Rusev goes for his massive super kick and Swagger puts him in the Patriot-Lock.
Cena is in the locker room yelling at Reigns, which doesn’t seem like a good idea considering he’s much taller than him, and also appears to hate him intensely. Believe in the Roman, etc.
Alberto Del Rio -v- Rob Van Dam
ADR gets a jobber entrance, RVD strolls in. These two are both in the Battle Royal, but why they’ve been chosen to fight tonight is unclear, because they’ve been up against each other before, with varying results. Someone thinks the battle of the acronyms is hilarious, clearly. RVD gets a great monkey flip in early on, before ADR catches him in the apron, which was fun the first hundred times he did it but has completely lost its sparkle at this stage. The Rolling Thunder looks well, but ADR catches him mid-5-Star Frog Splash with his knees before locking him in a cross-armbreaker to win.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio (really? him?)
Up next, we’re treated to a really weird promo for Punk’s Best In The World DVD, because it’s finally available on the Network. He’s officially off the roster, so maybe it’s timely, but it feels strange (though not as much as the next promo).
Divas Match: 2-on-1 Handicap Match: Nikki Bella -v- Alicia Fox & Cameron
Nikki’s make-up looks a bit drag-ish tonight, while Alicia and Cameron appear to have teamed up due to a shared interest in really terrible fake hair. Nobody wants to wrestle, but Nikki manages to lift Cameron up, which is cool, and some little girls are cheering for her throughout, so hooray for female solidarity. The commentators always seem to think that absent Superstars – such as Daniel Bryan and his wife – are at home watching Raw, but where does that idea come from? Did Orton tweet about it once or something? Does he want more Ziggler too?
Winners: Alicia Fox & Cameron (somehow)
The aforementioned weird promo follows, which shows off how, er, Sting is the pre-order for the new game. This is played very straight, for some reason, but I guess there’s a demand for it. Backstage, Trips is having fun signing forms and acting like a Mafia kingpin, when Orton turns up, still not wearing any pants, to explain how he doesn’t trust Kane – is it because of his fake, Diva hair? – and Trips reassures him, with a wink and a nod, that there is no Plan B this time around. Elsewhere, Stardust and Goldust are being weird and making references to The Wizard Of Oz. Neither of them has a match tonight, or on Sunday.
Cesaro -v- Big E
There’s no sign of the great Paul Heyman as Cesaro enters, clad in his dressing gown as always. JBL reckons he’s been fired, or he’s quit, or he’s waiting backstage for his cue. Kofi Kingston, who is also involved in the Battle Royal on Sunday – because otherwise who’s going to hang precariously off the apron/steps/ropes/JBL’s hat? – watches ringside but there isn’t much to see here. Cesaro is thrown into the barricade early on and everyone rushes to pat his arm. A sign reading “Eat Sleep Network Repeat” is held aloft by a dude dressed in Hogan gear, because there’s always one. Cesaro is dominating when E manages an interesting Belly 2 Belly, leading his opponent to grab a chair which is swiftly swiped by Kofi. E wins with the Big Ending.
Winner: Big E (no shot on Sunday either, this was his moment)
Chris Jericho is here to try to hurriedly cut a promo, to build his very rushed non-feud with Bray Wyatt, while clad in teeny, tiny jeans. Opposites attract and he’s got the whole WWE Universe in his hands so he ain’t scared, y’all! He’s saying “baybay” a bit too often during this – possible homage to Heath Slater? Bray appears onscreen to chuckle and talk about children, which leads the crowd to give him his first “Bo-ring” cheer ever. Jericho is confused because he just met this guy and now he’s supposed to hate him. The lights flick on and off, with Harper and Rowan in the ring once the arena is lit up again. Jericho is so mad he removes his shirt and backs slowly up the ramp, right into Bray’s waiting fist – a moment which is ruined by Cole yelling “watch your back” like an excited child the whole time. Bray’s hat flies off as he performs the Sister Abigail on Jericho, before showing off a rather impressive shiner he’s sporting to the camera. Ambrose is teased again next, even though he’s “in hospital” after Rollins stepped on him earlier. How cruel to remind us of what could’ve been.
Divas Match: Eva Marie -v- AJ Lee
Eva’s still a thing? Really? Paige is on commentary for this one, talking about how much she loves and respects AJ ahead of their match on Sunday which is the only Divas match of the whole PPV so rejoice and pretend that the whole Funkadactyls angle isn’t happening because that has “piss break” written all over it. The most annoying thing about Eva, apart from her very existence, is that she fixes her hair constantly mid-match – not flicking it back, out of her face, like a normal chick, but pulling it to the side so she can look her best. It’s infuriating. Also she can’t wrestle for shit. Luckily, AJ gets her in a Black Widow pretty quickly, to win, and she scarpers off to enjoy her two minutes in the spotlight. AJ then props herself up on the announce table, steals a horrified JBL’s headset, and proceeds to have a very girly chat with Paige about how well they both look – neither of these two seem to be girly girls, so clearly this is them psyching each other out. This isn’t really necessary either, because we’ve been dying to see them duke it out for months, but hey it fills time.
Winner: AJ Lee (of course, otherwise the world would implode)
The Authority are backstage basking in the knowledge that they have none other than Flo Rida on next week’s show – spare a moment to weep for Steph’s clearly humiliated children as she tries to be gangsta while saying “Flo Rida” – when Kane shows up and is all “I hate Randy” and so his bosses respond with “we hate everyone who works for us” Seriously, this is just the same promo over and over again and we still don’t care – why is Ambrose missing again? And why didn’t they book Pitbull instead? He’s still popular, right?
Bo Dallas -v- The Great Khali
JBL shushes Cole as he hopes that Bo will take more than a minute of silence to gather his thoughts before tonight’s match against an unknown opponent whom he hopes has “as big a heart” as Torito, who he faced last week. See, he’s gone from smallest to tallest because he’s up against Khali – get it? It’s very deep and meaningful. He wins easily, after yelling “Bad giant” and utilising a Running Bo Dog outside the ring, which leaves his opponent to be counted out.
Winner: Bo Dallas (15 and Bo!)
The Authority are now with Rollins and his briefcase, which is Plan B because that is the first letter of that word. Heyman turns up unexpectedly to offer Plan C and if it’s seriously Lesnar v Cena at Summerslam, we should all commit mass suicide – or maybe just refuse to eat at Sonic because that’d probably cause more damage to the WWE brand, right? Legend Ric Flair is here, apparently sober for once, being introduced by the lovely Renee Young, who aside from getting her hair done has just nabbed a spot commentating on Superstars which isn’t a surprise, given her wonderful work opposite the great William Regal on NXT – clearly this means your days are numbered, King/Cole. Flair sounds like he’s trying to swallow his tongue. He dances a lot and then Cena gives him a belt. It makes no sense, even to Flair.
Main Event: 2-on-3 Handicap Match: John Cena & Roman Reigns -v- Randy Orton & Seth Rollins & Kane
The crowd, quite literally, only chant for Reigns throughout which isn’t surprising considering how utterly boring and pointless this match is. At one point, Cena tries for the Attitude Adjustment on Kane, his knees buckle, and he slips, thereby throwing his opponent a little. It’s lame as fuck, and indicative of just how little anyone seems to care about this bout. Reigns still tries his best, of course, because he’s hungry for it, and a Superman Punch to Kane is well-executed if ultimately futile as he is double-teamed by THE DEMON and Orton, leading to a DQ which ends the match, and indeed the show, on a whimper instead of a scream. Orton celebrates with the pose, and gets Speared for his trouble.
Winners: Orton, Rollins & Kane (was Rollins even in this match or was he too busy guarding his briefcase?)
Unfortunately, weeks of good work were undone with a single episode that deflated like a popped balloon. Battleground seemed like such an exciting prospect after last week’s show, and now it just feels like it’s pathetically predictable.
Let’s face it, the top guys right now – Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose, Ziggler – haven’t a chance between them to win on Sunday, and that was especially clear tonight, given how easily they were pushed aside to make way for more Cena/Orton bullshit. It’s disheartening, especially if the rumours of a Cena/Lesnar match-up at Summerslam are to be believed.
Battleground could still be great, it might even surprise us if this is meant as a fake-out to throw us off, but given that this is the go-home show, it doesn’t bode entirely well for what’s to come whether purposely or not.