August 7, 2014 by Joey Keogh
With just two weeks to go until Summerslam, the push continues with an episode that encompasses, among other things, the destruction of a briefcase and the trapping of a woman behind a boardroom table. Raw kicks off with a replay of the whole Orton/Reigns angle from last week, after which The Authority – now comprising of Orton, Triple H, Steph, Kane and Rollins – stroll out to show off their suits and how corporate they are by shilling the hell out of the Network. This is actually a very clever, running joke that lasts for the entire show, and comprises mostly of Trips repeating the line that it only costs $9.99 a month, which is ludicrously cheap in fairness – by the end of this promo, the crowd are actually saying it along with him.
Shockingly, Orton is wearing pants for once, but unfortunately he and Rollins are dressed like Goth twins. Kane, who no longer wears a suit, is clad in ring gear. Trips doesn’t like to pat himself on the back – cue Steph, literally stepping in to do it for him – but he reckons this year’s is the biggest card in Summerslam history. There are major boos for a much-too-happy Rollins, as his boss reveals that an idea he had, for a Beat The Clock challenge against Ambrose, is being utilised later on tonight, with Rollins facing Rob Van Dam, and Ambrose up against Alberto Del Rio – someone really likes the whole acronym gimmick, clearly – and whoever wins gets to choose the stipulation for their match at the PPV.
The boos grow louder as Steph takes the mic, basking in the glory of it all as she tells the assembled crowd of angry Texans that “I’m happy to see you guys too, I’m even in cowboy boots” Weirdly, the crowd cheer the idea of a contract signing with Brie being the Main Event of the night. Whatever loads your gun, Texas. Also later on, there’ll be a Lesnar/Cena promo of some sort, possibly involving puppets. Kane‘s chin is acting harder than Karl Urban’s in Dredd during this, while Orton looks bored. When he takes the mic to discuss how he’s learned a couple of new words today, which he’s going to take his time pronouncing very carefully, including “decimate” and “opportunity”, we all kind of nod off too, but luckily Reigns shows up to cut a decent enough promo from the safety of the crowd, where a chick directly behind him has her night made by getting a chance to sniff him for just a moment. Reigns is gradually getting better on the mic, but he has such a soft voice – for such a big dude, too – that he always comes across a bit hesitant unless he really pushes it. Anyway, he has a match against Kane‘s sideboob, and guess what? It’s NOW.
Last Man Standing Match: Kane -v- Roman Reigns
Although the whole “You’ve got a match RIGHT NOW” reveal has lost some of its edge lately, this is still a decent way to kick off the show. Reigns dominates throughout, utilising a classic Samoan headbutt early on, while his opponent looks near-comatose, even quite heavy on his feet at times. It may be that his heart isn’t in it anymore, and indeed later on his actions reveal that he may be turning against his supposed bosses, but regardless Kane isn’t on form tonight. A Bray Wyatt cosplayer in the crowd is so good, it took a couple double-takes to ensure it wasn’t actually the man himself – in contrast, the chick wearing just a hat needs to try a little harder. This ain’t the rodeo, love (well, not literally anyway). There’s lots of chucking each other into the steel steps and the barricade, because of the last man standing stipulation so, more often than not, one of them is just lying on the floor as the ref counts slowly and some totally cool person yells “Stay down, Reigns/Kane!” A Kendo stick is brandished but not used, chairs are teased, as is a table, and King explains the rules about a hundred times in spite of the fact they aren’t particularly complex. A flurry of punches and a boot to the face from the apron almost ends it for Kane, but he recovers long enough to be chucked into the steps again, as King quips “Get to your feet at 9.99!” A Samoan Drop is followed by an attempt at the Superman Punch, which Kane counters to clothesline Reigns through the table. Reigns gets up at nine very, very slowly, as the crowd go nuts, leading Kane to lay into him at the ropes. He then DDTs Reigns onto a steel chair, but Reigns finally manages a Superman Punch, which he quickly follows up with a Spear to win.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Next up, Lesnar is given a chance to cut his own promo for once and the results are mixed, to say the least. There’s a distinct impression that he’s been allowed too much time to talk, because he rambles quite a bit, especially at the end, but the general idea behind it is that, in spite of his lilting, Minnesotan drawl, he really enjoys hurting people. He’s very rude for a Minnesotan, actually, so his family must be pretty embarrassed. As this is Lesnar, and he’s all hardcore after his MMA stint, he swears a lot so when Humble Cena follows, it’s almost a bit sad. Cena describes Lesnar as “the most gifted athlete” he’s ever worked with, as a ridiculously clever edit follows it up immediately with Lesnar promising to rip Cena “limb from limb”. His eyebrows are kind of distracting, but much like Cena’s K-Mart sneakers, that’s a style choice. The promo ends with Lesnar referring to Cena as a pile of “blood, urine and vomit” because it’s fun to be gross when discussing someone who uses poop jokes despite being in his thirties. Also, Fozzy’s song is being used as the official Summerslam theme, which is pretty cool for them.
Boomer Sooner -v- Mark Henry
This is another football joke, which those of us outside the US won’t get/care about, so the crowd eat it up and boo the fuck out of Sandow as he enters. Apparently, he’s getting crazy heat because Oklahoma suck. Or something. Henry is not only Texan, but also an ex-footballer himself, so naturally he gets a major pop when he ambles out to annihilate Sandow in twenty seconds. As expected, he lifts him up and dangles him for a bit to tease us, before the World’s Strongest Slam ends the match in spectacularly meh style.
Winner: Mark Henry
Backstage, Adam Rose is messing around with the Occulus mirror – that film was a WWE production, don’t ya know – as the actual score from the movie twinkles along in the background. He looks into it and sees an opposite, horrifying version of himself in a suit, with a briefcase. But if he’s so corporate in this “vision”, why does he still have long hair? Is so little thought being given to Rose these days that they couldn’t even take a second to give him a wig before he shot this?
Beat The Clock Challenge: Dean Ambrose -v- Alberto Del Rio
Ambrose is back, in Pog form! A “Dean Get In My Trunk” sign greets him, along with rapturous cheers, as he struts out to take advantage of his absence last week by destroying ADR in a match that lasts over fifteen minutes in total – annoyingly, the clock kind of eliminates the ability to get lost in the action, but it doesn’t feel long, which is great. As usual, Ambrose is all fists, but he sells arguably better than anyone else on the roster right now, so that even a harmless clothesline from ADR leaves him reeling and a vicious kick knocks him for six. ADR focuses on Ambrose’s still-injured shoulder for the most part, launching him into the turnbuckle and ensuring his bandages don’t last the match. Ambrose gives as good as he gets, with a Suplex at the barricade proving particularly noteworthy, particularly in a bout that isn’t exactly filled with awe-inspiring spots, but focused more on good ol’ hand-to-hand combat. The crowd yell “Get uuuuuuuup” every time he falls for even a moment, which is always wonderful to hear – especially when it’s coming from inconsolable children. Although ADR is in control, Ambrose really shows off his strengths this match, taking bumps like a champ and tackling his opponent when he least expects it. A leap over the ropes causes ADR to clear the barricade, landing headfirst in the lap of a clearly unimpressed man. He follows it up with a crazy dropkick from the top rope, before stranding ADR in the corner and headbutting him. A ridiculously cool tornado DDT by Ambrose nearly wins it for him, but ADR counters with an attempt at a cross-armbreaker, out of which Ambrose wriggles to roll him up for another near fall. After trying about three hundred times, Ambrose finally manages to finish him off with the Dirty Deeds. Oo-er.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
The match of the night is followed up by a quick replay of the whole Steph/Brie fight that ended last week’s show in spectacularly weird fashion, and it’s even more hilarious the second time around. Apparently, Nikki’s tits are also going to feature in the contract signing later. Good for her. In other strange news, Rusev beat Sin Cara during the ad break on the App. Er, okay. He enters with Lana, who wants to discuss a Tweet. How topical! She then sings happy birthday to Obama in Russian, but is interrupted by The Real Americans and blah blah blah, we all know where this is going and it’s getting uncomfortably xenophobic and weird at this stage – especially in Texas, of all places. Colter is a fantastic orator, so by all means let him wax lyrical about whatever the hell he wants, but, as he notes, we’re all getting so sick of the whole “Rusev crush” angle because it’s dull and he always wins with the Accolade and it’s boring. The racism isn’t helping while the flag waving and military porn that follows – which the crowd cheer the fuck out of, of course – is odd, as is the rousing “We The People” chant that doesn’t seem to really be about wrestling at all. Eventually, Rusev pokes Swagger with his flag and they have a little squabble, as do their managers. But then, as Swagger flees, the two fake Russians advance on Colter, only for Lana to warn Rusev off actually doing anything to him.
Dolph Ziggler -v- Cesaro
Apparently, these two had a great match on Smackdown the other week, so it’s cool to see them get a shot on Raw too. Neither of them get an entrance, nor does The Miz, who is on commentary, drinking hot lemon to preserve his voice. The thing with Miz is, even though he’s pulling this gimmick off pretty well, it’s a very easy one to get, and regardless of whether he actually believes his own hype, he’s nothing special and he has yet to do anything noteworthy with what he’s been given. The last person to do commentary and get a great reaction was Fandango, who fucking killed it, and Miz isn’t half as funny as he was. Also, he’s cosplaying as Scott Disick, which is kind of bizarre. Ziggler and Cesaro don’t need him anyway, because their match is great. About halfway through, Ziggler goes for a Splash from the top rope, is caught by his opponent, and then held up in the air with one hand as a demonstration of the startling strength of the so-called Swiss Superman. It’s awesome. Cesaro also utilises a horrifying backbreaker, which is pretty amazing. In the end, though, Ziggler wins clean again with a Zig Zag, so yay. All is right with the world once more.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Immediately following the match, Miz grasps his moment in the spotlight by holding up the belt in the ring, as the audience chant “You can’t wrestle” Ziggler momentarily thinks they’re referring to him and looks hurt, but quickly composes himself to tell the smirking Miz “Laugh it up. Sunday” He then delivers a Superkick to the so-called “moneymaker” which is pretty cool. Elsewhere, Paige tackled AJ on SD last week, before yelling “She’s fine, she’s fine” as the medics attempted to help her. Backstage, she’s with a man named Tom who is clearly nervous about being so close to her. She wishes AJ well, before referring to her, once again, as her best friend and idol. On Twitter, Paige is actually all over AJ, while simultaneously flaunting her friendships with other, obviously unwilling people, like JBL. It’s a nice touch, even though this is the best Divas feud since, er, ever.
Rybaxel -v- Goldust & Stardust
The bullies versus the art kids again! It’s good to see the Dust brothers back on Raw, after weeks of them hanging out backstage with only a blackboard for company. Presumably they have located the cosmic key, whatever that is. The great thing about them as a tag team is that Goldust seems so unsure of his brother, almost as though he feels he’s overdoing it at times. When he hops up on the barricade, to vamp with the crowd a bit, Goldy almost puts his head in his hands in embarrassment. The match kicks off with Goldust and Ryback sparring a little, before Axel tags in, leading to a near fall, and then his partner takes over once again, utilising a great Suplex. Stardust continues to work the crowd until a hot tag from his brother, after which he lays into his opponents with clotheslines, a hip toss, a dropkick and a faceplant, all of which culminate in another near fall for the bullies. He chucks Ryback into the turnbuckle before a finisher, that he apparently calls the Dark Matter, ends it for them – it’s basically another faceplant, but it’s cool nonetheless.
Winners: Goldust & Stardust
Backstage, Steph and Trips are having a chat about their too-rough sex life when Kane appears and wordlessly removes his mask, and hair, and hands it to a disgusted Steph. Does this mean that he’s no longer THE DEMON KANE? Is he going to be Corporate Kane now? Uncle Kane? John Cena? Or is he perhaps taking a leave of absence to hit the promo trail for See No Evil 2? Only time will tell.
Chris Jericho -v- Luke Harper
Before this match can start, we get an instant replay of what’s literally just happened a second ago. Just in case you decided to take a piss and missed Kane removing his hair. Jericho recently defeated Rowan on SD, which means he won’t be interfering at his SS match. Consequently, if Jericho can defeat Harper tonight, which he probably will because Jericho is calling this shit, he won’t be able to interfere either. That stupid singing kid should be shot. There, I said it. But hey, the swamp music works here so good for you, Texas. Harper gets Jericho in the corner almost immediately, dominating from the outset, but Jericho counters with some mean uppercuts. Harper regains his advantage with a vicious neckbreaker, but as Jericho tries to catch him in the Walls, the lights go off, Bray turns up, and it’s subsequently ruled a no contest. Boo. He does the Sister Abigail on Jericho and vamps in the ring for a bit, though, so that’s kind of okay.
Winner: No contest
Fandango -v- Diego
Accompanied to the ring by those, eh, “ladies” of his, in barely-there shorts, and Torito, Diego may not even be the same dude he was last week, but much like the artist formerly known as Sin Cara, nobody really cares. Fandango has Hornswoggle, because even he is a better dancing partner than Eva Marie. He has to lift him up after he gets stuck doing the splits, though. The match ends after about ten seconds, once Diego delivers a backbreaker on Fandango, after his opponent gets distracted and accidentally tackles poor Swoggle. The chicks take him away, so presumably he’ll recover just fine. Everyone dances around Fandango in the ring and he weeps silently into his fabulous rhinestone trousers. He then gets mad all of a sudden and hits Swoggle, leading Diego to defend his honour for some reason by tackling him himself, and then getting Torito to do likewise.
Renee is backstage with Orton, who has removed his pants in the intervening time (probably) and doesn’t want to see footage because he has brought his own, damn it! After it’s finished, he’s all like “How was that?” and Renee is totally freaked out. It doesn’t help that they’re alone, in a red locker room, surrounded by dirty clothes.
Bo Dallas -v- R-Truth
Fresh from destroying his streak last week, and suffering the consequences of doing so, R is out for blood while Bo is his usual happy-go-lucky, yet secretly mean, self. He rolls R up to win in a non-match that goes absolutely nowhere. However, Bo tackles R after and ends up utilising the Running Bo Dog on him, so that’s kind of cool maybe?
Winner: Bo Dallas
JBL has a sign that he’s clearly just made, brandishing $9.99, and he holds it up to cover Cole’s face while he and King shill the Network. It really shouldn’t be as funny as it is, because they’re just picking on the loser kid, but damn it Cole is irritating. Next up, Bray has a question – Why? Not Y2J, either, just why? He is different, you see, but he is never alone, even when he has no brothers or no bucket in which to wash/play pirates. Wyatt hasn’t cut a promo like this in forever, so it feels immediately fresh and urgent. “Beyond time I stand” he finishes by saying, before singing his little song that’ll always be better coming out of his mouth instead of that goddamn child. The Lesnar/Cena promo for SS follows, but it’s chopped and changed a little in an effort to trick us into thinking we’re watching something new – nice try, WWE, but there are several kinds of John Cena, and until Wolf Of Wall Street Cena returns, we’ll call bullshit. We’d also settle for Goth Cena.
Beat The Clock Challenge: Seth Rollins -v- Rob Van Dam
The time to beat is, like, five hours so it’s pretty much guaranteed that Rollins is going to win this. Even so, in spite of the fact his opponent has put on his best cheetah-inspired singlet, the powers that be have decided RVD is too good for their precious little prodigy and have opted instead to banish him back to the locker room and bring out HEATH SLATER. Just let that sink in for a moment – RVD has to leave and pass Heath fucking Slater on his way in/out. It’s amazing. He looks totally pissed/confused/stoned. Anyway, yeah baybay! Slater has a match that is technically the highest on the card tonight so he’s kind of main-eventing! Good for him. Rollins tries not to laugh as he hops into the ring, his torso the same colour as his hair, which he has neither wet down nor tied back for the match. Rollins first tries to convince Slater to leave and get counted out, to save him the trouble of whooping his ass, but just when it seems he’s going to run away, Slater turns back and ATTACKS! Ambrose is watching ringside, trying to throw Rollins off, and he turns out to be the main focus of the match, which is both sad and brilliant at the same time. He acts nonchalant, even though he’s sporting a jacket that he clearly discovered while rooting through a dumpster outside. A neckbreaker from Slater causes an audible gasp from the assembled crowd – Slater has offence? Slater has moves? Ambrose grabs the briefcase, rips up the contract ever so slowly and then proceeds to steal a Coke and a popcorn from a couple of fans, which he dumps inside, along with a traumatised JBL’s hat – he does pretend to be a cowboy for a bit though, because nobody can resist doing that with a hat in his hand. “You’re gonna look good in that, John!” Cole teases, eager to be a part of the gang once more. Ambrose then stands on the announce table, with the briefcase leaking everywhere, as Rollins bats Slater away. Unfortunately, he can’t quite regain focus after such a horrifying display, and is rolled up to win. That’s right, Slater won, and he immediately runs off before anyone can take it away from him. Ambrose gets to choose the stipulation, but you’ll have to watch SD to see what it is. Or, you know, just wait for next week’s Raw, or Twitter, to catch up.
Winner: Heath Slater
Following the match, Rollins gives out to King for not protecting the sanctity of the briefcase, and he laughs in his face all “what do you expect me to do about it, kid?” He then attempts to destroy the table in revenge, but doesn’t get very far and eventually stomps off in a mood after emptying his sodden briefcase of all its unwelcome contents. JBL claims that stealing his hat should be a felony, and really, we’re in Texas, so it could be. The Main Event is next and, funnily enough, the actual signing takes place without any outside interference, but there’s plenty of bitching before they get to that, beginning with Trips advising he cannot officiate because it’d be a conflict of interest and that tonight he’s nothing more than a “loving, proud, devoted husband”
The Bellas have their own, shitty T-shirts now, so yay for them. Nikki’s boobs do indeed take centre-stage, but she doesn’t get to speak. Her sister, on the other hand, who cannot deliver a line to save her life, gets far too much mic time before Steph takes over to utterly destroy her. A “Yes” chant follows her description of Daniel Bryan as a “puny, little hippie dippy husband” – watch him on Total Divas, telling a politely-listening Cena all about the different types of trees in Washington – but apparently she’s going to be revealed as a fraud at SS, as Brie fights for Vickie, Big Show, and some other people who have been wronged by the Mc Mahons. Considering Brie is dressed like a red M&M tonight, it’s annoying that she doesn’t get hit sooner, but it’s Nikki who suffers Steph’s wrath – a goddamn Pedigree, no less – first, as Trips looks on proudly while simultaneously trapping Brie behind a boardroom table. Once freed, Brie hits Trips, and ends up suffering the Pedigree herself as a result. He and Steph then snog in the ring as the crowd boos, and that is how Raw ends this week.
So, with just one more show to go until Summerslam – unless you are counting Smackdown this week and next, in which case good for you – the stage is set for some pretty interesting matches, even if one in particular isn’t standing out as the most-anticipated just yet. We may have seen it all before with Cena/Lesnar, but at least the two of them can cut a promo. The AJ/Paige feud is the best two Divas have looked since forever, and shockingly the Brie/Steph bout is shaping up to be pretty great, too. Wyatt/Jericho is being built up well, even if it still feels a bit empty, while Rusev/Swagger has gone the other direction by overly pushing some uncomfortably xenophobic ideas on both sides. The Shield lives on, so to speak, with all three members involved in high profile matches. And if Ziggler doesn’t win against The Miz, we may actually riot.
Trips reckons this is the best SS card ever. It isn’t, but it’s tight nonetheless. This episode of Raw proved, though, that he and Steph are the anchor of the show, as not only are they the best heels right now, but they create stability and a sense of purpose regardless of the circumstances – they, quite literally, began and ended the show tonight, which is great to see. The go-home show is to follow, and it’s obviously more important, but this was a great way to lead into it, if nothing more.
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