The PG Era Rant for Raw, September 29, 2014.
Your preview promises the following:
- Hulk Hogan is in the house!
- Miz, Cesaro, and Ziggler face off with the Intercontinental Title on the line!
- Everyone wears pink. This is your warning.
- Rusev will discuss Big Show's SmackDown actions.
- Wait, something happened on SmackDown?
- Set up on the Pre-Show: Mark Henry faces Bo Dallas.
Live from... uh oh. Live from Chicago, IL. Getting the drinking game ready.
Your hosts are Cole, JBL, and Lawler.
We review last week, first Ambrose's Houdini act on Raw, then the briefcase hijacking on SmackDown.
Triple H and Stephanie open the live show. And before we get any plot development, TAKE A DRINK. Also, Chicago is full of quitters. Stephanie hammers this point home, saying everyone just quits... or steals. Like Dean Ambrose did. And it's an empty gesture, too – Rollins is still Mr. Money in the Bank. But Ambrose's actions will not be tolerated. The
briefcase is a symbol, and it will not be disrespected. No one
disrespects the business!
Ladies and gentlemen, this interruptor is Paul Heyman. Disrespected, eh? That's how Brock Lesnar feels. He's upset people claim John Cena would've won at Night of Champions, and that Seth Rollins tried to cash in on him. Hence, Brock Lesnar has sent word: is there a problem here? Stephanie wants to know if that's a threat...
...and hey, let's have Seth Rollins himself explain. He acted alone on Brock Lesnar – both in the cash-in and the attack. And Rollins thought Heyman would at least respect the chutzpah. He's trying to build a career on opportunity. So from one opportunist to another, that's all it was. Besides, nobody wanted Cena as champion, right? Rollins wanted to beat the best, meaning Brock Lesnar. TAKE A DRINK. Honestly, Lesnar should be flattered! But if he's upset, Rollins is contrite.
Heyman accepts a handshake and tells him never to do it again. But HHH stops Heyman from leaving. He glares down Heyman... then also shakes his hand. HHH turns around as Rollins thanks them for chastising Dean Ambrose, but Ambrose won't listen to chastisement. It's not funny, Dean! It wasn't just a briefcase – there was stuff in there! Give it back right now or else!
Hey, Ambrose is on the big screen. “Looking for this?” Seth used to be a man, but now he's letting his parents fight for him. So if they want the briefcase back, come get it. And they're off to get it back. But before they can get up the ramp, John Cena bursts through and attacks Rollins! Rollins escapes through the crowd and back to the ramp as Cena fires the crowd up. The Authority mock Cena from the safety of the ramp.
Hey, they made the crowd cheer Cena over the Authority. I call that a small win.
Backstage, the Authority is telling Seth Rollins to stay put. HHH tells Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury to get the briefcase back intact by any means necessary. Noble asks if they can borrow the sledgehammers, but HHH refuses.
Intercontinental Championship: Cesaro (challenger) v. Dolph Ziggler (champion) v. The Miz (challenger). Flashbacks show us that everyone's a cheater when the title's on the line. Dolph gets cornered to start, then pull each other away, so Cesaro tosses Miz into Dolph and gets a Karelin suplex for two on Miz. Dolph charges and gets slingshotted into the corner as Miz steals a two-count. Dolph chops Miz, but Miz tries the Million Dollar Move only to get tossed into Cesaro for a high-angle backbreaker for two. Cesaro presses Miz, but Dolph with a dropkick for two as we go to break.
Good news: no stalling, no resting. Something is always happening.
Intercontinental Championship, part two. Cesaro has a cobra clutch on Dolph, but breaks to go for Miz. Dolph gets a sunset flip for two, Miz cradles Dolph for two, etc., etc., etc. Dolph with a Sky High DDT on both men. Dolph with a Stinger Splash on Miz, then Cesaro, into a Rude Awakening / DDT combo. He covers Miz for two. Cesaro falls out of the ring as Dolph is tripped by Sandow. Miz gets two. Dolph beats up Sandow, then returns with a sunset flip on Miz for two. Miz catches Dolph off the second rope, but Cesaro nails Miz with an uppercut and Dolph with a big boot. Sunset flip try on Miz, but Dolph catapults Cesaro into Miz's trunks. Ahem. Dolph gets the figure-four on Miz, but Cesaro double-stomps Dolph to break. He covers Dolph for two. Twice. Miz avoids an uppercut and gets his through-the-ropes corner lariat on Cesaro. He goes up top, but flies right into Swiss Death. Superkick by Dolph on Cesaro, and he covers Miz to win at 9:44. Would've been nice not to have a commercial break, but perfectly good match. *** Sandow imitates Miz's leg injury.
Jamie Noble asks Adam Rose where Dean Ambrose is, but the entourage is clueless. So are Big E and Xavier Woods. Great Khali pretends Noble is too short to be heard.
If this is Sandow mocking Miz subtly and getting away with it, I would approve of a future face turn.
Bray Wyatt interrupts to talk about how he found Luke Harper and fixed him. “What do you give a man that has nothing? I gave him a reason to exist.” Wyatt is setting Luke Harper free.
Mercury and Noble report on how they can't find Ambrose yet. They've been everywhere over the past 20 minutes, but Noble has mustard on his face. So Stephanie ups the ante: find him or you're fired. Miz and Sandow argue they want a rematch (Sandow speaking on Miz's behalf). HHH finds the overacting hilarious. In the meantime, Damien Sandow will face Sheamus. Isn't that FUNNY? Oh, and if Miz tries to order HHH around again, he's fired.
Because nothing gets a heel over with the fans like being laughed at by another heel.
Layla v. Rosa Mendes. Total Divas' cross-promotion alert! Tyson Kidd is in Rosa's corner and doesn't care. Slapfight to start, and Layla throws Rosa down as Natalya tells Kidd to pay attention. Layla and Summer choke away and pose for photos and stuff, and we have a sleeper by Layla on Rosa. Does a Daniel Bryan chant count as a drink? Kidd once again tunes out. Rosa fights out as Layla gets one. Rosa with a kneelift and forearms, but Layla rips out hair extensions and dumps her. Natalya checks on Rosa, Summer Rae comes over, and a catfight breaks out. Crowd cheers, Tyson isn't even looking. Rosa has Layla on the ropes, but Layla leverages her into the middle rope, and the Rude Awakening ends it at 2:54. JBL: “Thank god.” -*1/2 Natalya walks off with Tyson's phone as Layla and Summer take photographic souvenirs.
Hey, remember when Vince cared more about his product than what some NBC synergistic suits thought of it? Me neither.
Okay, Joey and Jamie, let's make your job easy: Dean Ambrose is headed to the ring with the briefcase! First thing he does is set up a table in the ring. He has his suitcase with him, too. If you're looking for him, he was in the concession stand watching them eat a hot dog. Anyway, while there he decided to one-up the Authority on running the merchandise stands. Everything must go! Except the briefcase. Yes, Ambrose found what Seth hid in the briefcase – and it creeped him out. And in the suitcase... T-shirts! Quick! Make an offer! Bidding starts at $1, who wants it?
And Noble and Mercury head to the ring to interrupt. “They sent the Cruiserweight Division out to get me.” They want Ambrose to throw him the briefcase, but that's not happening. Ambrose tells them that if they want the briefcase, cool, come get it. They... don't? They walk off instead. Ambrose is amused, then says the heck with it and throws the T-shirts to the crowd for free. Ambrose uses this to stall for time until Seth Rollins' music begins.
Rollins arrives with Mercury, Noble, and security. Ambrose is unamused. “Busted.” But that can't be real security – weren't they Rosebuds last week? Ambrose has had his fun, so fine, have the briefcase. Come get it back. Ambrose rolls away and enters the crowd as Rollins goes to the ring. Rollins – with one eye on Ambrose – takes the briefcase and opens it. And gets slimed as it opens. Noble and Mercury corpse on the apron. Ambrose feigns innocence as Rollins fumes. Rollins chews out Noble and Mercury while throwing a tantrum. Cole is cracking up at ringside.
I'm pretty sure this is more or less what Roddy Piper would be doing in today's WWE were he to come up nowadays.
October 10 – SmackDown's 15th Anniversary show!
Orton finds it funny as Rollins is complaining of eye trouble. Kane says Ambrose is headed for John Cena, so tonight it's Cena/Ambrose against Kane/Orton. Orton protests having to clean up Rollins's mess again when a loud noise can be heard... from inside the briefcase. Rollins grabs the briefcase... “It's an electric razor.” (Cole: “He has a beard.”) Rollins takes it and runs off.
Mark Henry is out. We review his losses to Rusev. Henry is about to apologize again when Bo Dallas interrupts. Dallas tells Henry not to apologize to anyone but himself. Henry is underachieving, so close the Hall of Pain and enter the Hall of the Bo Lievers.
Mark Henry v. Bo Dallas. Dallas attacks right away on the back and gets headbutted. Henry throws Dallas into the corner and slugs him down. “You wanna believe something boy?” A Hammer Throw foors Dallas. A big slam follows. Henry with a series of headbutts, but the Vaderbomb airballs. Bo Dog connects for the pin at 1:43.
So... wait, were they... Rollins has a... implying he... was this Dunn's idea or Vince's?
Renee Young interviews and congratulates Bo Dallas. But Mark Henry is right behind him and angry, tossing him into everything he can find and beating him down. He throws a steamer trunk into him twice. What a hero.
Stardust stairs into a Van de Graaf generator and talks about how his destiny was written in the stars. Goldust makes it clear: the belts are the Cosmic Key. But only the belts matter – everything else is science fiction. They destroy the props and declare the belts science fact.
Just to compare: Swagger loses by refusing to tap out to Rusev repeatedly, then listens to Dallas' taunting and beats him cleanly 2 out of 3. Henry taps out, loses to Dallas, and sneak attacks him backstage. Henry will be pushed. Swagger won't. Harumph.
Brie Bella v. Wait a minute... Nikki Bella is out to rub in the quitter quitting where she quit. And it was all so Daniel Bryan could keep the belt for another, what, week? (YES abounds.) Brie didn't quit for Daniel, though; it was so people would care about her. But when Brie quit, Nikki took the punishment while Brie stayed at home. Payback is tonight, though, as Brie gets her own handicap match.
Brie Bella v. Cameron and Eva Marie. Eva Marie starts, but Brie throws her into the corner and gets an armdrag and armbar. Crowd wants AJ. Brie kicks Eva, then sends Camero off the apron, but Eva with a hairpull slam. Eva with a boot choke, and Cameron kicks away. Eva back in, and the double-teaming in the corner continues. Suplex by Cameron gets two. Crowd skips chanting for CM Punk and chants for JBL instead during a chinlock. Then for Lawler. Brie fights out, but Cameron tosses her into the corner as the Cole chant begins. More doube-teaming as Eva grabs Brie's hair, but Brie throws the two together and cradles Cameron for the pin at 2:56. I've seen worse – like the Divas match an hour ago. DUD Brie leads a YES chant.
I get the story and all, and the symbolism and all that, but couldn't they find two better heels to do the fighting? The Bellas are the type who don't add anything to a match quality-wise, but at least they don't detract unlike Cameron and Eva.
Slater/Gator v. Los Matadores. Adam Rose and company are on commentary. Thankfully, only Rose has a headset. Hornswoggle is dressed as an alligator. The Most Reverend Jesse Jackson is at ringside. Epico and Titus start, and Epico gets chops. He dives off the second rope into a backbreaker, then another one over-the-shoulder. Slater tags himself in, but Epico escapes a back suplex and hot tag Primo. Dropkicks abound. Primo with a clothesline, and he goes up, but Gatorswoggle runs in and picks a fight with El Torito. Slater uses the distraction to sweep the leg and pin Primo with the tights at 2:06. Yecch. DUD They pick on El Torito for a while post-match, with Gatorswoggle doing the Gator Roll to El Torito, until the Bunny and Adam Rose make the save. I wish I was kidding.
See, it was tolerable last week because Memphis is the kind of crowd that appreciates silliness in wrestling. But you can't escalate like this. Comedy needs to be a one-off or it hurts everyone involved.
Tomorrow night, the Main Event main event is Henry vs. Dallas in a rematch.
Rusev and Lana are here as we review Big Show knocking Rusev out. They lower the Russian flag pre-speech. The anti-American Lana does have a pink pocket square to support Susan G. Komen, then speaks a lot in Russian. We get their interpretation of the events on SmackDown. Before Lana can have flashbacks to being cornered, here's Big Show. Show calls them out on spin doctoring, saying their lines are crap. “YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Sorry, I always wanted to say that.”
He then plays his interpretation of what happened, including with Mark Henry against Rusev and Big Show promising revenge, complete with Murica background. Rusev now takes the mic and declares he will maul Big Show in graphic detail. Big Show: “We don't. Speak. Russian.” (Neither does he; he speaks Bulgarian.) Show heads to the ring and Rusev bails out. Show decides to rip down the big Russian flag as a consolation prize. Lana is half in tears as Rusev charges and gets dumped right away.
A recap of Dean Ambrose's night.
Renee Young is with John Cena and his usual Chicago reaction. Cena loves Chicago and their weird reactions, but tonight Chicago is unstable – just like Dean Ambrose. So it's a good thing Cena's on Ambrose's side... for now. The problem is they both want Rollins.... and Ambrose is behind them. “Would you like to add something?” “Not really.” Well, just that after tonight, Rollins belongs to HIM, not Cena. But Cena wants Rollins too. Ambrose: “Right.” Nobody takes food off of Dean's plate – including Cena.
Let's just say it: what Big Show did was a gross breach of international etiquette. JBL was furious when Old Glory accidentally hit the ground at SummerSlam. This was intentional. I just kinda wish Vince wouldn't go there, but I'm used to it.
AJ Lee v. Wait, before we go there, here's Paige. TAKE A DRINK. Paige says people mistook her kindness for weakness, and that's a mistake she won't make again. So here's AJ Lee's opponent, Paige's new best friend...
AJ Lee v. Alicia Fox. Staredown leads to TAKE A DRINK as AJ gets a running headscissors. Clothesline in the corner and a heel kick and Fox bails. Paige helps Fox up, so AJ dives onto both women. She skips to celebrate as TAKE A DRINK. Back in, she grabs Paige and gets scissor kicked in the back for the pin at 1:26. That's impressive – three gratuitous CM Punk chants in 90 seconds. And didn't this crowd say they wanted to see AJ earlier? Paige and Fox beat down AJ post-match.
A replay of the Wyatt video from earlier.
So to recap: during an earlier Divas' match, they demanded AJ take part. They get AJ, and their response is not to cheer her, but to use her existence to chant for CM Punk. Stay classy.
Sheamus and Ziggler face Miz and Sandow on SmackDown. And along those lines...
Sheamus v. Damien Sandow. Non-title. Miz is on commentary. Sandow insists Sheamus avoid the face. Sheamus backs Sandow into the corner, and Sandow ducks out. Sheamus with a headlock takedown, then another. Sandow escapes and bails, then imitates Miz on commentary. Sheamus catches Sandow, who drapes Sheamus on the top rope and kicks away in the corner. A punch just wakes Sheamus up, and he goes to town on Sandow. Hiptosses follow, but a charge hits the knee. Sandow with a DDT for one. Sandow goes to the chinlock. Sheamus fights out before running into a knee, then Sandow clubs away in the corner. Knee strikes and a boot choke follow. Blind charge runs into Irish Hammers to cue the comeback. Sheamus fakes a Popeye punch, then goes to the Ten of Clubs instead. Miz checks on Sandow, so Sheamus tosses Sandow into Miz. Brogue Kick ends it at 5:25, which is about four minutes longer than I'd have it go. 1/2*
So Henry/Dallas, which has a story, goes two minutes, while Sheamus beating up Sandow goes five. Ambrose can only save the show so much.
Hulk Hogan's big appearance is all about Breast Cancer Awareness and pink and Susan G. Komen and so on. At least the survivors given front row tickets were given YES chants, so there's that.
Meanwhile, Orton complains to Kane about having to babysit Seth Rollins. Kane sympathizes. But Stephanie tells them to do their jobs. The Authority is family, you know. Tonight, Seth was embarrassed, and he can't be there. Besides, don't you look forward to tonight given last week's backfire? C'mon, man up. Squash what people say about you. “Like what?” Like that the two of them have gone soft and lack killer instinct. Kane: “Are THEY saying that or are YOU?” “Kane, does it really matter?”
Orton needs to walk away and come back when it's time to get what he's been denied for a long time. It seems like every time he's around HHH, he looks bad.
Next week: Roman Reigns will talk to us! Plus, Big Show and Rusev one-on-one!
Dean Ambrose and John Cena v. Kane and Randy Orton. Ambrose rather reluctantly lets Cena start against Orton. Orton with a back elbow and he stomps away in the corner, but Cena with a bulldog for one. Kane in, and the double-team continues as Kane punches away. Cena floors Kane and goes for a quick AA, but Kane collapses the pile and tags in Orton. Orton stomps Cena down and suckers Ambrose in, allowing him a facewash. He chokes Cena in the corner as we go to break.
The odds of Mikhail Prokorov being mentioned next week have just been taken off the board in Vegas.
Main event, part two. Cena is fighting out of the corner, but he runs into a powerslam (with pose) for two. Orton taunts Ambrose, then signals for the RKO to Cena. Cena escapes, but Orton with the back-to-back backbreaker for two. Kane in, and he boots Cena as Orton stays between Ambrose and the action. It gets two. Crowd DEMANDS Ambrose. Kane goes to the NERVE PINCH OF DOOM as we replay Rollins getting slimed again. Cena dropkicks to break, but runs into a Dino Bravo Slam for two. Orton in, and he and Kane work the arm. Ambrose is taunted into the ring again, so Orton with the Garvin Stomp for two. To the chinlock as the crowd “rallies” Cena. Orton switches to try the Draping DDT, but Cena vaults him over the top. Ambrose is shaking with anticipation. HOT tag Ambrose, and Orton and Kane get run over repeatedly. Bodypress and punches by Ambrose to Orton, and he's sent out of the ring. Kane stops a dive, so Ambrose does a slingshot plancha to Kane, then the tope suicida to Orton. Rope-tangle clothesline back in on Orton, and Dirty Deeds connects just as Rollins runs in (conveniently) for the DQ at 10:41. **1/4
Kane holds Cena back as Rollins and Ambrose go to war. Ambrose gets the upper hand, so Rollins bails. Kane is low-bridged, and Ambrose dives onto Kane... but not Rollins, who races away. Cena cuts Rollins' escape off, and now it's 2-on-Rollins. He sends Cena outside, but Ambrose goes nuts on Rollins. Orton stops it, so Cena tosses Orton and goes to work on Rollins. Ambrose leaps over Cena and onto Rollins, and now both men are pulling each other away to get to Rollins (crowd wants it to be Ambrose). Ambrose wins the argument and takes the briefcase with Rollins cornered, but Orton enters with an RKO. Kane floors Cena on the outside, and it's 1-on-3. Chokeslam to Ambrose from Kane, and Rollins wants a Curbstomp on the briefcase. Kane and Orton help, and he gets it. But now Cena recovers and tries to clean house, but runs into an RKO. Rollins calls more shots, and it's a chokeslam to Cena. Orton eggs on the crowd as Rollins is ready to do another briefcase Curbstomp, this one to Cena. With Kane's help, he gets it too. Crowd thanks Rollins for attacking Cena because screw logic, we need our anti-Cena cred.
The main event story of Cena and Ambrose not able to get out of each other's way and paying for it was well-played, and Rollins as cowardly heel hiding behind Orton and Kane is making fans want to see Ambrose murder him. So the main story's fine, but the midcard is meandering and disjointed. It's clear Vince runs out of ideas by the middle of the third hour and just puts stuff out to amuse himself (the “electric razor” joke was totally unnecessary if you ask me).
On top of that, there was just no actual wrestling. This show had less bell-to-bell action than any I think I've ever recapped. I don't know why they were so stingy with match time when they have three hours to fill – unless they were afraid of the dreaded CM Punk chant or open rebellion by the crowd. But they got that anyway, so what good did it do them? Even with what little you had, you had obvious filler like SlaterGator v. Matadores. Have longer matches if that's what you're going to do.
Still... there were good things on this show. Dean Ambrose looked like a million bucks tonight. The three-way IC title match was fun and didn't degenerate into the “three singes matches” formula you often see. And Brie Bella is going to be a big star in the Divas' division if this keeps up, just through being Daniel's Husband and an Authority target.
Oh, and before you go off to whine about my attitude...
AN OPEN REPLY TO MATT PERRI ET AL:
Look, yes, it's true I love wrestling. Perhaps too much. But when you've seen rock bottom in WCW 2000, you begin to look for the positives in a show. And when you've witnessed both the AWA and World Class at their nadirs as a kid and wished for more, you know what's going on now is still champagne compared to what people have seen. Hell, I'd take this kind of mediocrity over TNA's disasters any day of the week.
You wanna know why I defend the good things to people? Because someone has to fight. Because when people from outside this community say “Wrestling is a waste of our time and you're stupider for liking it”, I will stand up and defend it as a show, as an art form, and as a part of my life. And the last thing I need is to have it torn down from within.
Give me Jack Swagger's logical character development from the ugly side of America to the fierce side. Give me Sheamus kicking everyone's ass because he can. Give me Dolph Ziggler flying around the ring to make others look good. Give me Dean Ambrose scaring his enemies through being so unpredictable not even Batman knows what's next. And yes, give me Brie Bella standing against the world, keeping her husband's good name in the news as she fights alone.
I will stomach Big Show, stomach the Total Divas, stomach the bad acting, stomach it all because each week I get the goods too. Because three hours of wrestling means three hours where something fun can happen. I come home from a Monday job, cranky, and I get to tune out and be happy.
And look, it's not because I have low standards. It's because I LOVE THIS SHIT. I will watch a show over and over until I can memorize the commentary on it if it makes me happy. I have this time, and this time alone, to pay everyone back for giving me a dream that someday, the big evil bully will fall before the forces of right. That dream doesn't die. And neither does my love for wrestling.
So mock me all you want for being verbose or being some Pollyanna or claim I'm a WWE mark. Fine. Just know that when Monday night is over, I'm happier at 11PM than I was at 8PM. That's what wrestling is to me.
MATCH TIME: 36:55 over eight matches
BEST MATCH: Dolph/Cesaro/Miz
WORST MATCH: Layla/Rosa
NIGHT MVP: Big Show
SCORE: 3. Below average show overall, but not the kind where I can't find anything to like. Plus, with any luck, they'll go all out in Brooklyn next week.
Matt Perri will be back to hate on you during Main Event. Tommy Hall will suffer through Impact and be rewarded with NXT and SmackDown. Miss Danielle will be forced to watch Total Divas because it's not like any of you will. Brian Bayless will continue booking BoD Wrestling, our e-fed. Scott Keith suffers fools for the rest of us. And Princess and I will be back to get you through Monday.
Until next week, so long and thanks for all the fish.