August 14, 2014 by Joey Keogh
It’s the go-home show before Summerslam, so tonight we can expect a shit tonne of promos, some questionable match-ups and a load of John Cena. What better way to kick things off than with a stunning, era-defining promo from the best in the business, Paul Heyman. Entering with his client Brock Lesnar – whose shirt has been altered so that it now reads “Eat Sleep Conquer John Cena” – he explains that his job is to sell us on major events and that Cena is in for a “history-making beating” on Sunday. The assembled crowd, in Portland, Oregon, are far too quiet for a Heyman speech of this quality but they perk up when Cena getting beaten up is mentioned.
Although he isn’t allowed to speak during this promo, Heyman explains that Lesnar wants to address fans of Cena – someone please think of the children! – but first he gets some major heat, once again, for beating the streak, and we are treated to a slideshow of images of horrified fans, including that one guy who’s since become famous for being really, really, really shocked at Taker’s loss. There’s also a great shot of a sweaty Heyman and Lesnar celebrating after the match, which is nice, especially considering the arena was so quiet after his win that Lesnar asked Heyman if he’d gone deaf. Heyman then lists everyone Lesnar has beaten over the years, including The Rock and Hulk Hogan, both of whom were out for months after the little rookie took ’em out.
Lesnar has a message for the Cenation, which Heyman is only too happy to transmit on his behalf: “If you’re a fan of Cena, don’t miss Summerslam because when he says ‘You can’t see me’ he ain’t lying ‘cos after Lesnar is done wit him, we won’t be seeing him around here anymore”. He already beat him up at Extreme Rules, but Cena won the match because Lesnar was ill and kind of at 50%. This time around, Heyman assures us, Lesnar is going to be at 100% and the beating will be akin to a “Shakespearean tragedy” – so, slow and with lots of monologues in between.
To finish, Heyman does an amazing white rapper impression, asking “Your time is now? Your calendar is out of date!” before assuring us that his client, Brock Lesnar, will conquer John Cena. This is Brock’s house now, even though it has about a million more people in it than he’d like, and since he’s already conquered the Universe, we’re now all his servants. And on that note, Heyman bows out and takes Lesnar off for a nice seafood dinner, after which he will never call him again. The crowd suck throughout this reliably excellent promo, but Heyman kills it as usual and, in fairness to him, he doesn’t seem to mind much.
Tonight is Hulk’s birthday and for some reason that’s a thing we’re supposed to give a shit about, so we’ll be celebrating all night. JBL makes Cole cover his face with the $9.99-emblazoned sheet of paper yet again because that joke is still funny. Hulk receives birthday messages from Flo Rida – because WWE are the only ones who’ll pay him to do anything anymore, after even the Step Up franchise has distanced itself from him – and Weird Al. The crowd finally wake up as we are shown Roman Reigns backstage, taping up his hands in anticipation of a match up that was chosen for him by The Authority. 54trcv c
2-on-1 Handicap Match: Roman Reigns -v- Rybaxel
As Reigns enters, a number of signs made in his honour are visible, including “When it Reigns, it pours” and “Welcome To The Roman Empire” but sadly none are as fun as the boat one with “Ro Ro Roman Reigns” on it. JBL assures Cole and King that he responds to all his fans on Twitter so phew, now we can sleep at night. Corporate Kane has returned and is COO again – he should never have left, so whatever – but he flubs his lines almost immediately, in spite of a nicely businesslike delivery, before leaving to go back on the promo trail for his shitty film. Ryback is like Miley fucking Cyrus – he can’t keep his tongue in his mouth. He and Axel are sporting their friendship hats again, though, which is awesome. Ryback whispers advice into his buddy’s ear before they get started, too, in a weirdly sweet moment. Axel faces up to Reigns first, and tries to pull him towards the ropes, but Reigns is having none of it and slaps him away like “bitch, please” “You’re nothing but a punk kid” Axel says, clearly misunderstanding both of the words he’s just used. Reigns flicks his hair like a diva in response. Some sap in the front row is waving at the camera as the Big Guy is tagged in, yelling “DA BIG GUY!” as he goes. This match is all about showing off just how ridiculously strong Reigns is, and Rybaxel do a great job of not only beating the absolute shit out of him but refusing to back down no matter what, coming back for more and more and more. At one point, Reigns tries to shoulder tackle Ryback but he simply won’t budge. He just stands there, cackling in his weird little way. Eventually, Reigns clotheslines him instead, and then does it again, knocking him off his feet. Ryback teases him a little, so Reigns responds with a Suplex that totally throws him off. They’re really putting Reigns over as a Superman of sorts, and considering he takes his time easily disabling the offence of both of these big dudes, and ends the match sweaty but elated, he really stands out as something special tonight. This is especially true when the two high school bullies team up to chuck Reigns into the steel post, even after the ref has warned them not to, and get disqualified as a result. This leads to Reigns utilising the Superman Punch on both men, before subsequently spearing both of them too, while the crowd, understandably, lose their shit.
Renee has turned up out of nowhere and is waiting in the ring to interview Reigns, who can’t get a word in because the crowd are so hot for him. A cheap pop for the city makes them go even crazier, as he cuts a strange, gangsta promo about Orton being a viper and losing his fangs and then being a worm and it’s, like, most people just take the crown and leave, Roman. He’s all “Do I look like I’m read-aaaaaaay?” and “believe DAT” and then he does his own pose on the top rope as a final “fuck you” to his opponent as Renee wonders why she wasn’t given two microphones for this segment.
Elsewhere, Corporate Kane is strolling around backstage thinking about how good he looks in a suit when Orton shows up and is like “oh hello, fancy meeting you here” even though he’s clearly been lurking in the shadows, waiting for him, so he can tell him he’s going to “end” Reigns on Sunday. Kane looks amused and clearly isn’t listening to him. Orton has a match tonight, though, and it’s going to be against Sheamus because that makes total sense for both parties, right? Plus he wasn’t on the show last week so we kind of owe him.
Later on, Steph has a confession to make and it’s not about her boobies. This announcement is scored to disco music, which is odd, but not quite as strange as the fact that Cole conducted an actual interview with Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt, like a proper journalist. And we get to see it later, instead of a match.
Rob Van Dam -v- Seth Rollins
Is this RVD’s worst singlet yet? It’s hard to compare it to all the others but picture this – it’s an alien and a skull and a load of vomit and looking at it makes me feel as if I’m a bit high. Anyway, this week he’s not just running out to the ring for nothing, but actually gets a shot at Rollins, who is sporting a new T-shirt that looks like something a mother would choose from the Primark boys department for a son who’s just recently got into gaming. The action kicks off with a little hand to hand combat, before a standing moonsault from RVD puts Rollins in his place. This is a match built on a strange combination of cool spots and tough kicks/uppercuts, but most of the fun comes from RVD, while Rollins focuses on playing the cowardly heel. In one of the coolest moments, RVD asks the front row to move out of the way so he can flip Rollins over the barricade, and line up for a knee off the apron. Unfortunately, Rollins moves at just the right moment and RVD ends up writhing around on the floor for a bit before recovering to deliver a cool Rolling Thunder, followed up by a boot and another moonsault. Rollins somehow regains his composure long enough to curbstomp RVD for the win, ending the match on kind of a dull note.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Following the match, RVD’s corpse is dragged off and Rollins is allowed a special moment to himself, to ascend the ramp and bask in the glory of his win alongside some wonderfully garish red and yellow presents, for Hogan. “Those are not for you, Seth” Cole admonishes Rollins, as he eyes a strangely large one before poking it a bit, deciding it’s fine, and then turning his back for just long enough to allow Ambrose to burst out and attack him.
Rollins flees, eventually moving through the crowd to get away as Ambrose grasps at the air like a particularly murder-hungry Michael Myers. He then cuts a promo on the top rope, starting by telling Rollins to run while he still can. “Your ass belongs to me” he tells him ominously – a message that will surely please the Tumblr fangirls no end. It’s revealed that the two will face each other on Sunday in a lumberjack match because, in spite of the huge amount of heat their bout is getting, someone still thinks the two of them can’t hold their own, alone, in the ring.
Next up, Steph strolls out to major heat from the crowd as always, to do the whole “best for business” angle again, as she refers to Daniel Bryan “aggressively rehabbing” which, as a phrase, is a misnomer really but who cares because she’s here with his physical therapist “Megan Miller” – a woman who somehow manages to look more stoned than RVD and can act about as well as Bryan’s wife – who spills the beans about her “affair” with the ex-champ. The crowd really do not like this, and they boo and “No” as though their lives depend on it, until Brie and her terrible delivery turn up in a half winter/half summer outfit comprising of jumper and shorts, to kick off with Steph.
This is the only cool moment of this promo, because aside from being put in a weak-looking Yes Lock, Steph manages to screech and sort-of wrestle in heels. Eventually, of course, Joey Mercury, or the back-up Triple H as he is otherwise known, shows up to break it up and his buddies Jamie Noble and Finlay drag Brie off as Steph screams that they’re going to finish this tonight, instead of on Sunday – does that mean their match has been bumped? Boo that. Next, lots of weirdly small footballers wish Hulk a happy birthday and two fucking minutes is knocked off the next match. One of them obviously submitted a message that was much too long, though, because he’s been edited down quite a lot – imagine him sitting on his sofa, cracking open a beer, all excited to see this lengthy speech on Raw about how much he loves Hogan, and then he switches it on and it’s been cut down to about a minute long. Sucks to be him.
Jack Swagger -v- Cesaro
Thank fuck we’re not being subjected to yet another Rusev/Swagger promo that goes nowhere and errs on the side of being kind of totally racist. Tonight, we get an actual match! Starring Cesaro! Swagger waves the American flag about as he descends the ramp, with manager Zeb Colter looking terrified he’s about to be hit in the head at any moment, while Cesaro looks on, stewing in his own anti-USA sentiment. Cesaro‘s in-ring personality is one of the most exciting of the current roster – from his teasing of Swagger, to stopping to adjust his knee pads, to just plain smirking at his own genius, he’s a joy to watch. Thankfully, he can wrestle too, delivering a powerful backdrop on Swagger, which leads Cole to refer to his “spike” instead of his “spine”. He then aims for him again, but Swagger catches his opponent mid-air and turns it into a belly to belly. Later on, Cesaro‘s weird side comes out as he bites at Swagger’s bandaged ribs, so Swagger takes the opportunity to mimic what the Swiss Superman did a few weeks back by lifting him up and holding him loftily above his head with one arm. Once Cesaro is released, Swagger goes for the Patriot Lock, but Cesaro makes it to the ropes, so he has to go for it again after wriggling around with him for a bit and finally he taps out.
Winner: Jack Swagger
There’s a dude in the front row dressed as half Bray Wyatt, half Cactus Jack, who is incredibly distracting, even while Colter is delivering one of his crazy racist promos about how Summerslam is actually called “Deportlandia” and shit. Poor Swagger looks as though he’s about to pass out, even using the flag to hide his face at one point, but Colter won’t shut up until he gets an “Amen”, or a “We The People”, which is basically the same thing. Next up, Cole is kicked out of his own interview as Bray tells him he isn’t needed as he and Jericho’s evil twin – dressed in black, with a weird goatee and no smile or bursts into song – sit down in someone’s darkened den to have a loaded chat about Summerslam. Wyatt reckons Jericho has daddy issues, and that he should bring him his pipe or talk to him about the war or something. He uses the words “decimated” and “fortitude”, leading Jericho’s evil twin to brood even harder. All joking aside, this is a really weird way for these two to cut a promo about their match, especially since having them sit face to face adds no tension whatsoever. In the end, evil twin Jericho opens his mouth just long enough to promise he’s going to shut Bray up for good at the PPV. Bray, as per usual, looks totally turned on by this idea.
Divas Match: AJ Lee -v- Eva Marie (no, really)
Seriously? Not only do we have to deal with this tramp on NXT but now she and her glorified underwear-as-ring-gear are stinking up Raw too? Was there really no one else? AJ tries her best, in fairness to her, but just when she has Eva in a headlock, her frenemy Paige shows up to skip around the ring and distract her. Naturally, Eva takes the opportunity to roll AJ up to win. Paige then stands at the top of the ramp and cuts a promo about how she still supports AJ, even though she pushed her the other week on Smackdown. She then reads a poem that is better than the match itself, ending with a “Love ya” that melts JBL’s heart. AJ looks suitably pissed. She attacks Eva and beats her down and Eva screams and then AJ skips off and all is right with the world once more.
Winner: Eva Marie (no, really)
The champ is here next, and he is sporting some hideous new merch, all of which is red and yellow like Hogan – Cena is more of a Rock though, he’s not as dull and one-dimensional as Hogan – and emblazoned with his giant hand. “Ladies and gentlemen” he begins, “my name is John Cena” The crowd hate him for what is, by all accounts, a pretty decent impersonation even if he uses the word “prognosticator” which is up there with “thuganomics”. He makes it all a bit more interesting by teasing a heel turn, even throwing off his hat as he demands to know when enough will be enough.
But this is still Cena, and at its core, this is just the same ol’, same ol’ promo about how Lesnar is going to lose on Sunday no matter what and the house belongs to the fans and there’s a stranger in the living room who Lesnar should leave his dinner for and come out and beat – the analogy kind of gets away from him, to be fair. Some kid loses it when Cena calls Lesnar a “punk bitch”, possibly because he’s never heard a swear word before. He ends in typical fashion with two, very strong closing statements: “This Sunday, I conquer the conquerer” and “This Sunday, the champ is HERE” As much as everyone claims to hate his guts, Cena always manages to eventually get the crowd on his side somehow, and it’s pretty impressive to watch, especially after this long.
More Hulk birthday messages follow, including a rather ominous offering from Larry King, who seems rather pissed at him. Next to contribute are Florida Georgia Line. Remember them? The ones whose performance you fast-forwarded through on Raw that time? Brie and Steph are supposed to fight next but, thankfully, it’s just a tease and no match actually takes place, which is great because it’s still an exciting prospect for Sunday. Brie pouts a lot in the ring, Steph shows up still in her suit, the “physical therapist” from before wants to press charges for earlier on when Brie slapped her and Mrs. Daniel Bryan is taken away in handcuffs while Steph taunts her. “I love you, Brie” some poor, deluded child yells. “If you make bail, I’ll see you at Summerslam” Steph adds.
Heath Slater -v- Dolph Ziggler
Slater has another match! And he looks about as surprised as we are about it! The Miz is on commentary again, and he blocks the view of the people who paid $500 to sit front row by standing on the announce table throughout the match. The commentators talk over his entrance though, which is pretty funny. Ziggler is sporting a Miz shirt tonight, and Cole reckons Sean Connery was the first, and best, Bond. In fairness to Slater, he’s not bad in the ring – he can move well, take bumps and he has some decent defensive moves – but this match is all about Ziggler and Slater seems to know and accept that fact gracefully. He rolls Ziggler up quite early on too, making it seem as though he may get a win in early. Meanwhile, JBL is asking Miz why he’d ever return to Cleveland – a good question coming from someone sporting a giant cowboy hat. A great Zig Zag distracts Miz from talking about himself though, and he aims for Ziggler, who knocks him off the apron with one, swift elbow to the jaw. He then chucks him headfirst into the barricade, and chases after him, leaving Slater alone in the ring. Ziggler subsequently gets counted out, leaving Slater to celebrate by shrugging as if to say “Yeah, I won. Deal with it!” But just as he’s basking in the glory of it all, Ziggler reappears and delivers another Zig Zag.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Randy Orton -v- Sheamus
Orton starts off by doing the pose as normal. King reckons Sheamo loves to foight, like all Irish people. Sheamo wears that horrible, gaudy crucifix again. This all feels a bit too familiar, especially as Sheamo is somehow already sporting a big, yellow bruise on his arm. He utilises a nice, flying knee drop early on, which Orton counters, chucking him into the announce table. Sheamo sells it well, writhing around as Orton poses again. “You think it’s okay for us to sit back down?” King asks his colleagues as they hover in mid-air. 10 Beats of the Boredom follow, along with a rolling senton. Orton utilises a backbreaker, followed by a DDT. Sheamo goes for the Battering Ram, leading to a near fall. He then launches from the top rope but Orton counters with the RKO, and it’s sad but this is the coolest spot of the match. He wins and poses again to celebrate.
Winner: Randy Orton
As strange as it sounds, Raw does not end on this okay match, but in a big ol’ birthday celebration for Hulk, which includes lots of old dudes. But first, a very well-edited Lesnar/Cena promo juxtaposes Cena’s admission that he loves wrestling more than anything, with Lesnar’s that he’s sick of him. But that only lasts about a second before we’re subjected to twenty goddamn minutes of Hulk and his buddies, including Ric Flair (who Hogan looks horrified to see), Rowdy Roddy Piper (who looks horrified to see Hogan), Paul Orndoff, and the NWO.
As they all gather round to discuss how wonderful Hulk is, while conveniently forgetting that he’s a piece of shit, Lesnar and a gleeful Heyman return from their romantic dinner to cause trouble once again. Lesnar checks everyone out first, paying particular attention to Piper by bumping him slightly, before telling Hulk the party’s over. Of course, Cena then turns up to remove his shirt and stand in the ring and say things he doesn’t mean like “come on, I’m ready” as Lesnar stands outside, laughing his ass off.
It’s a weird ending, that doesn’t quite fit with what was, for the most part, a decent go-home show. The promos should be the focus, after all, and tonight they were. Hulk’s birthday celebrations were a load of shit, and should not have taken up the last precious twenty minutes of airtime, but it all kind of came together with Lesnar and Cena so in a way it sort of fit.
Summerslam is up next and, with any luck, it’ll be a better party than Hulk’s birthday. And hopefully Florida Georgia Line will not be invited.
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