March 11, 2015 by Joey Keogh
Following last week’s sort of half decent episode, Raw rolls into Pittsburgh, PA, kicking the night off in style with a replay of last week’s Main Event. Don’t worry if you missed it, though, because aside from the recap we’re also getting the same Main Event tonight, only it’s a 2-on-1 handicap and Randy Orton is legitimately involved this time. Speaking of Orton, here he is now, strolling slowly towards the ring while the rest of The Authority clap respectfully as he does so – even Rollins, who seems to have changed his tune since, er, last week.
Corporate Kane announces that Orton is back in the fold, to raucous boos from the packed out stadium (it’s impressive they can still fill venues this big, comparatively speaking). They boo even harder over Show as he tries to talk, and he responds with the ol’ “You’re ignorant, stop being ignorant” bullshit. He shakes Orton’s hand, the camera focusing on Jamie Noble for a sec and showing off how teeny he is in comparison to the others. He isn’t happy about Orton’s inclusion, calling him a “no-good snake”. Well, yeah, he’s the viper. Duh.
Rollins makes fun of him for being “sensitive”, explaining that Orton is a real part of their little family and that the fans are all idiots for thinking otherwise. This is a rather good introduction to tonight’s show, but the speeches are kind of hard to focus on at times because some idiot in the second or third row insists on making his goddamn hatchet man sign dance throughout. Anyway, an “RKO” chant ensues as Orton and Rollins shake on it, and the future of the WWE demands a standing ovation for his new partner in crime.
Orton doesn’t look quite as smug as usual though, so we know not to really trust him. He says he’s touched by their kind words, but then immediately calls them all out for being ass-kissing pussies. In particular, he hates Rollins for ruining their once great stable and promises to make him pay for it in the future. For a moment, I was super pissed at this because it seemed like they could’ve dragged this angle out for longer but then Orton reveals he’s just kidding and all is right with the world once more. Kane is not amused but who cares about him.
Daniel Bryan -v- Bad News Barrett
The fight for the intercontinental championship has become a proper storyline over the past few weeks, with pretty much all of our favourite guys (and R-Truth) stealing it and running off with it. They’re all set to face off at Wrestlemania for the title, in a ladder match, and Bryan wants a piece of the action so he’s here tonight to stake his claim. He’s also not doing that weird half-up-do thing he was doing before and has instead gone down the ol’ HBK route. Truth is on commentary again, with a potato sack that is totally for transporting potatoes and nothing else, as he winkingly tells a gleeful Cole. Speaking of Cole, he wants more attention and he’s borderline racist in his attempts to get it. Truth smartly ignores him. Bryan lands the first blow of the match with a swift knee to Barrett’s gut. He pins him to the mat and drives his knee into his back, but Barrett manages to turn things around remarkably quickly with some brutal kicks. He gains control after that, slowly taking Bryan apart – a Superplex, in particular, throws him completely off balance. He’s close to putting him away, but Bryan manages to turn things back around and win it with a running knee. Once the bell has rung, however, he eats a Bullhammer and Barrett then chants “Yes” up the ramp (to boos, naturally) only to be taken out by Ambrose, who’s just arrived for his own match. What great timing!
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Dean Ambrose -v- Stardust
Stardust is in possession of the stolen IC title but, since Truth remains on commentary with his special sack in hand, it’s pretty clear he won’t be for much longer. Ambrose immediately rolls Stardust into a full nelson, dominating easily. He clotheslines him and knocks out a flurry of punches to follow, checking out the belt as he does so and telling its current, unofficial, holder that it’s his. Stardust hits a dragon-screw off the second rope, with Ambrose’s leg all twisted up in it, and then pulls him into a lock focusing on it. Ambrose hits back with a running bull-dog, before winning the match with a massive clothesline followed by the Dirty Deeds. Naturally, he steals the belt for himself, but then Barrett and Bryan show up and they all duke it out for a bit, Harper and Ziggler joining them soon after. Truth seizes his moment to stash the belt in his sack and make a run for it, but Barrett sizes up to him and demands he hand it over, as some poor child screeches that he doesn’t have anything. Then, as Barrett triumphantly ascends the staircase, Truth runs up the ramp. Barrett opens the sack and pulls out a child’s replica belt just as Truth reveals he had the real belt the whole time. To their credit, everyone in the ring looks mighty impressed with this trick (possibly because they know Truth has no hope of winning at WM).
Winner: Dean Ambrose
The incomparable Paul Heyman is here to introduce a Roman Reigns clip package that is about as exciting as his catchphrase, which he utilises right at the end (snore). Heyman responds to it by introducing Brock Lesnar, who looks bored as hell as his manager waxes lyrical (sarcastically) about Reigns. He reckons all Samoans are criminal cannibals or some shit, and he hopes that Rollins cashes in at Wrestlemania and Lesnar wins because anything would be better than Reigns triumphing yet again. There’s not enough heat for Heyman tonight, which is annoying, but he creates his own by name-dropping UFC and getting his mic “accidentally” cut off twice as a result – okay, maybe it really is a technical glitch, but it’d be hilarious if it wasn’t. In closing, he screams: “This title no longer belongs to the WWE. This title belongs to Brock Lesnar. And he is NOT giving it back” Simple, but powerful. A Heyman classic in the making. Following this stunning display of oratory prowess, Bray Wyatt shows up to wonder aloud where Taker is (as are we). He has the urn and he tells him “Find me”. Or maybe he’s telling us. Who knows.
Tag Team Match: Big Show & Kane -v- Erick Rowan & Ryback
This match already happened on last week’s Smackdown, but there’s a replay in case you missed it like everyone else in the world and it showcases how Ryback‘s meathook clothesline looks like absolute shit on someone as big as Kane. The demon/corporate stooge starts the match eating Ryback‘s roid-infused, slower-than-Big-Slow move-set but soon knocks him out with a boot, allowing his partner to tag in. Rowan seizes the opportunity to show off what he can do, ahead of the battle royal at WM, in which, presumably, all of these men are taking part. He wins it for them, while something more exciting is simultaneously happening on the outside. Apparently, Show accidentally hit his team-mate with his dull finisher, and as a result the two bicker a bit following the match, meaning Steph has to come out and scold them for acting like brats. She subsequently banishes them from the arena. Great, now stop trying to make these two old fogies happen and let the younger set shine.
Winners: Erick Rowan & Ryback
JBL thinks Miz’s erectile dysfunction commercial from last week is hilarious but Miz is too busy trying to charm musical guest Wiz Khalifa (dressed as though he’s come straight from Sunday school) into a collaboration with him to care. Mizdow, or should I say Wizdow, shows up to steal his thunder once more in a borderline racist promo during which he wears a black mop on his head as fake dreadlocks. He’s in the battle royal, though, so Miz better watch his back or something else that he can rap quite well in his face. Wiz Whatever performs next and I’m not going to even pretend I watched that shit but he did wear a Cena shirt all cut up the way a chick who’s trying to be sexy for her man at a show might do it. So there’s that.
Divas Match: AJ Lee -v- Summer Rae
Speaking of trying really hard to be sexy, and failing miserably, the Bellas are dressed in cheap-ass sexy Flintstones costumes (no, really) to promote the crossover movie. Brie says “yabba dabbo do” in a suggestive manner and it’s honestly quite frightening. But no matter, two ladies who can actually fight have got about two minutes to show off what they can do and, man, does AJ fill the time well with move after move after move. Summer, to her credit, holds her own and she is loaded with personality too, seeming genuinely devastated to learn a DDT and a roll up haven’t won the match for her. AJ hits a cool neckbreaker on her but Summer falls a little too fast, spoiling the impact slightly. She wins it with the Black Widow, out of which Summer taps. It’s worth mentioning that Paige, Cameron and Eva Marie‘s new tits were watching ringside and only one of those things managed to be interesting (you can guess which one for yourself).
Winner: AJ Lee
Stinger speaks for the first time (via video package) next and sounds nothing like he looks. It seems that maybe it wasn’t him talking, which would make sense considering a few weeks ago it wasn’t him in the ring with Trips either. To put it into perspective just how shit this whole thing is, Cole has a favourite line from it that he goes on to repeat ad nauseum. However, the spooky music that accompanies the Trips/Stinger bout at Wrestlemania is brilliantly odd and incredibly theremin-heavy, so kudos to whatever loon composed it for making this shit slightly more bearable.
Rusev -v- Curtis Axel
Rusev and Cena meet backstage before the match and he tries to bully the Russian into a re-match with some “American dream” bollocks. He also threatens him not to say anything anti-USA tonight or there will be trouble. Is Cena still a face then or…? A little girl really doesn’t like Rusev and gives him the thumbs down as he enters with Lana. Axel went mental on Smackdown and Hulked out of his shirt again and Lana was really into it. Axel’s Titantron has a timer counting how long he’s been in the Rumble, which is a nice touch, but this is a pitiful squash match and he taps out of the Accolade after about a second. The real fun comes after, when Cena shows up to use yet more bully tactics to get his way, under the guise of defending his country or some shit. He puts Rusev in the STF until he “passes out”, then pours water on his head so he can wake him up and hurt him more, to the point that Lana gives him what he wants just so he’ll let him go. Cena then makes possibly the most evil face he has ever made in the history of his career. Seriously has he turned heel? Would we even be able to tell anymore?
Wyatt is still waiting for Taker with that damn urn. He promises that if he doesn’t show up tonight, he’s going to raise the dead, which really just seems like the same thing entirely. Elsewhere, Rusev is getting checked out by the doctor when Lana shows up. The two of them argue in Russian and then he dismisses her, which is kind of callous considering she just saved him from death.
Tag Team Match: Xavier Woods & Big E (The New Day) -v- Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Big E looks totally possessed while they’re vamping in the beginning. Apparently, he and his teammates are going for the tag team titles at Wrestlemania. Er, good luck to them. Kidd and Cesaro are sporting new, incredibly plain, grey T-shirts and Nattie looks on the verge of tears as per usual as she accompanies them to the ring. Cole manages to get Kofi and Xavier mixed up yet again because he’s an idiot. Kidd and Cesaro work a great double team angle by focusing on stranding Xavier in the middle of the ring, away from his partner, and disabling his right leg. The New Day can’t get their stupid clap thing going, but all it takes is one “Hey!” from Cesaro to drive the crowd wild – the power of charisma and a not-stupid gimmick. Woods gets caught in a half-crab and can’t tag. But Nattie distracts Kidd to the point that Woods can flip him over for a face-plant to win.
Winners: The New Day
Divas: Naomi -v- Natalya
There’s no time to rest between matches as it’s time for more Divas action (okay, action may be stretching it, but you know). The two ladies roll around a lot to start, taking turns pinning each other’s shoulders down for about five seconds at a time, before Nattie powers out into a bridge. She soon manages to get Naomi in the sharpshooter, but she crawls to the ropes and counters by chucking Nattie into the turnbuckle, and her injured ankle that prevented her from competing last week when it meant helping her husband. The Usos brawl with Cesaro on the outside and Naomi wins with the Rear View. For some reason, The Usos‘ music plays.
Tag Team Match: The Usos -v- Los Matadores
This match goes exactly how you’d expect it to, with both teams showing off some impressive agility and athletic ability, while nothing of interest or note really happens. The matadors win after Torito distracts The Usos, allowing them time for a quick, totally dull, roll up. It seems unfair to give this match time instead of dividing it between everything else, but whatever.
Winners: Los Matadores
Rollins cuts a promo backstage, to his security team, about how they can definitely trust Orton 100% and to just relax and trust his judgement. Surely this won’t bite him in the ass later? Wyatt shows up next with the urn in tow and calls out Taker in a decent enough promo, for which the ropes have been turned black. Although the Deadman’s music hits and the urn is magically turned into Wyatt’s rocking chair and then struck with lightning, the closest we get to actually seeing Taker is a hastily-rendered message on the Titantron accepting Wyatt’s invitation to a match at WM.
Main Event: 2-on-1 Handicap Match: Seth Rollins & Randy Orton -v- Roman Reigns
There’s a “Fifty Shades Of Reigns” sign that’s pretty amusing. It has more personality than he does, for sure. Rollins and Orton argue over who gets the first shot at him, with Orton eventually conceding and taking his spot at the turnbuckle like a good little boy. Rollins takes the hit (literally) as Reigns shows off his considerable strength yet again. Orton fights with Mercury and Noble on the outside, leading Rollins to banish them (uh oh), telling them he and Randy got it. However, when it comes time to tag, Orton won’t take it and flips him two fingers that the camera hastily moves to cover. Reigns capitalises on it with a Spear to win. He then fucks off so Orton can stalk Rollins in the ring for a bit while yelling about how he’s such a dumbass for trusting him. He chucks him out and into the steps as Rollins crawls and begs for mercy. The crowd are screaming for the RKO, but he teases it for ages, taking a chair to Rollins on the outside (much to the delight of some nearby screeching females) before hitting a DDT off the barricade and finally dismantling his old nemesis, the announce table, so he can RKO him through it. Orton leaves, covered in sweat and utterly euphoric, as Rollins struggles to even take a breath.
Winner: Roman Reigns
This was a storyline-heavy, promo-driven, Raw and that’s either going to infuriate you or make you salivate for what’s to come. There isn’t long to go until Wrestlemania so it makes sense to build plot-lines now and save the action for later, even when that means there isn’t a match lasting longer than five minutes on the entire goddamn card, but it helps that the writing was pretty good this week.
It’s shaping up to be a weird event, overall. The Go Home Show guys pointed out last week how strange it is that the three main sells (Taker, Stinger and Lesnar) barely even appear on the weekly shows, if at all, which is an interesting point considering this is the biggest wrestling night of the year, not just some random, insignificant PPV. Lesnar appeared this week, Sting kind of did and Taker was there in the form of…lightning but is that really enough?
The whole mid-card is being thrown into a battle royal and a ladder match for the IC title, while Cena plays the bully opposite one of the most brutal and unstoppable forces on the roster. Rollins is, presumably, preparing to either cash in or face up against Orton while Reigns works hard on proving to everyone, including himself, how he’s earned his spot. All things considered, there isn’t one, big selling point like WM30.
In fact, comparing this year to last, it all feels kind of messy but, then again, we didn’t realise how good 30 would be until the night itself so maybe there’s still hope for 31. We’ve got a few more episodes to feel it out either way but, for the moment, it’s anyone’s guess.