The PG Era Rant for Raw, November 3, 2014.
Your pre-show promises the following:
- Mark Henry vs. Big Show.
- The United States Title is on the line... after the show. Sheamus defends against Rusev.
- Dean Ambrose will face Cesaro.
Live from Buffalo, New York.
You know the hosts.
We open with a highlight package of last week. It's nice to know that even in video packages, Heath Slater jobs.
And the first one out is... VINCE MCMAHON! Oh, and HHH and Stephanie. “Have you missed me?” He says the Authority has kept things well in hand. Vince re-iterates that November is Free WWE Network Month. And yes, Free gets a hashtag. And that includes Survivor Series. But we want to raise the stakes. He wants HHH and Stephanie to have power that they've earned. (He brings up winning the steroid trials, crushing WCW, etc.) The stip: if Cena wins, the Authority is stripped of its power. Crowd is way behind this. JBL asks the unanswered question: “And who takes over?”
But before the segment can end, here's Dean Ambrose. He shakes hands with Vince on his way to the ring.
People could take lessons from this. Vince got to the point – maybe not as fast as he could have, but faster than most did.
But before our match, Vince says he likes surprises. He knows he can count on HHH and Stephanie. HHH: “With you, nothing surprises me.” HHH and Stephanie try too hard to insist they're under control... because Stephanie is in panic mode.
Dean Ambrose v. Cesaro. We look at last week's non-match. Some chain wrestling to start, leading to Ambrose working the arm. Cesaro fights out and corners Ambrose, but Ambrose reverses and boxes away. Short lariat gets one. Headlock takedown gets worked. Criss-cross leads to a cradle by Ambrose for one, and back to the headlock. Cesaro dumps Ambrose out of the ring, but Ambrose suckers Cesaro out and drops him on the barricade repeatedly. Double axhandle from the barricade follows. Back in, Ambrose works a cut on the side of Cesaro's head, but Cesaro powerbombs out of the turnbuckle. Cesaro screams about the cut before pounding away on Ambrose. Ambrose fires out of the corner onto Cesaro, then clotheslines him out of the ring. And Bray Wyatt's interruption... leads us to a break.
Hot take: if the Hologram didn't happen, we wouldn't be as mad about Wyatt's return.
Ambrose/Cesaro (and maybe Wyatt), part two: Cesaro gets a draping neckbreaker for two as Bray Wyatt is watching on the stage. To the chinlock, but Cesaro avoids the rope-tangle clothesline and gets a German suplex for two. Cesaro with mounted punches and a straitjacket camel clutch, allowing them to work out the next few spots. Ambrose bites and gets a jawbreaker to break. Cesaro charge eats boot, and Ambrose begins the comeback. Running forearm and bulldog combo gets two. Cesaro with a knee to the gut, but Ambrose fires back with boxing punches. Cesaro boots Ambrose, who responds with the rope-tangle clothesline for two. Ambrose with a tornado DDT, but Cesaro counters into Swiss Death for two. Ambrose sends Cesaro to the floor and follows with a tope suicida (apparently dedicated to Wyatt). Back in, Cesaro catches Ambrose on the top rope and gets a backslide for two. Dirty Deeds out of nowhere ends it at 12:26. Abrupt finish to a good match. **3/4 Wyatt disappears as abruptly as he showed up.
Backstage, Stephanie and HHH talk about needing to act confident and building a strong team. HHH agrees, and calls Orton, much to Stephanie's chagrin. HHH makes it clear it's about the strongest team possible, so they need Orton.
Notice that Wyatt did the distraction, but the match not only continued, but his target won and nothing else followed. There is nothing wrong with a rival doing scouting. This is how you do it.
Jimmy Uso v. The Miz. Apparently the Usos have inherited the Twin Magic trick from the Bellas. Miz with a headlock to start, with the crowd cheering for Sandow. Jimmy with a gut kick and low clothesline for two. Armdrag and Jimmy works the arm. (Jey's now doing the same thing Sandow does.) Miz gains control in the corner, pounding away, but Jimmy slides by the corner and gets a Samoan drop. Rikishi hip check is escaped, allowing Miz to drape Jimmy on the top rope. Doesn't last, as Jimmy with a hiptoss. Miz with a superkick and he stomps away. Through-the-ropes clothesline follows and Miz goes up, getting a double axhandle for two. Jimmy works out of a headlock and low bridges Miz, then dives onto him (with Sandow taking as much of it). Jimmy rolls Miz in, and Sandow follows. Jey eliminates Sandow with a superkick, but the delay was enough for Miz to recover with a Skull Crushing Finale for the win at 4:40. Well, that's one way to cheat to win. *1/4
Mark Henry turned on Big Show. That match is later tonight.
Oh my. Sheamus is in the next match. From a kayfabe perspective, why would he do that?
Sheamus v. Tyson Kidd. This is apparently hype for tonight's Network match. Tyson with some calf kicks to start, but Sheamus just pummels him in the corner. An uppercut and tilt-a-whirl Irish Curse follow. Kneedrops come next, the last off the second rope, for one. Tyson bocks some charges and trips Sheamus, adding a dropkick for one. Kidd pounds away in the corner, going until four on multiple occasions. Choking along the bottom rope follows, then a chinlock. Sheamus carries Tyson into the corner, cueing the comeback. Kidd with a crucifix try, but Sheamus with the Alabama Slam and Cloverleaf. Kidd kicks away in the ropes, but gets caught on the apron only to drape Sheamus on the ropes and dropkick him out of the ring. Running kick from the apron is caught into the Finlay Roll. Tyson puts Natalya between himself and Sheamus, allowing him to race in and beat the count at 5:14. Sheamus Brogue Kicks him after the match anyway. What was the point of this? 1/2*
If you want to hype the match, Sheamus should win cleanly. If you want to push Kidd as a cowardly heel, don't have the Brogue Kick afterwards. This result does no one any favors. I appreciate the match, but I would like the match to help someone.
Before Dolph Ziggler's opponent comes out, the Authority does. Stephanie says she's ecstatic about the opportunity because they WIN. Unlike most people, like the crowd, who pin their hopes on false idols, they just win. That's why they'll have the strongest team ever – Rollins and Kane are officially on the team. As is Randy Orton. HHH says he knows the rumors about how they might pre-emptively attack Cena's partners. But no, people are free to team up with anyone, Dolph... but if you side with Cena, then what? If Team Cena wins, Cena gets all the credit. And if Team Cena loses, Cena sure as hell won't get the blame. Not that Dolph is a failure – he just can't get over the hump. Dolph works harder than anyone else, and he doesn't even get credit for that – Cena does. Dolph Can't See through the glass ceiling. Plus, is Cena even HERE tonight? Where is he? But hey, maybe this gamble works out. You can get everything by doing this... MAYBE. But that's a big maybe. Or, he can say no to Cena. If Dolph wants to end the maybes, the Authority knows how. Deny Cena, and he can have everything he wants. It's the Last Temptation of Ziggler!
Dolph thinks it over (Stephanie: “Don't listen to [the crowd]; think about yourself.”). After a long break, he double-checks that ANYTHING is the answer. All he has to do is ask. So what Dolph wants... is for the Authority to go away and never have power again!
HHH says it's too bad, because they wanted to give the fans what the fans wanted, but Dolph said no. So now, just remember that it's Dolph's fault. Sometimes people end up empty-handed. And that could start NOW.
And as always, by “now” we mean “after the break”. That was a good segment. HHH did his Cerebral Assassination thing, Dolph played the fiery babyface, and now we have this.
Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler v. Seth Rollins. Noble and Mercury remain at ringside. HASHTAG! Rollins works a headlock to start. Tackle gets one, and we go to the headlock again. Dolph with a leapfrog and hiptoss for one, and Rollins bails. Back in, Rollins attacks out of a test of strength and takes over in the corner. Dolph fights out of the corner and gets a kick, but he runs into a clothesline for one. Dolph sends Rollins into the corner and gets a back body drop for one. Rollins reverses a Rude Awakening into a suplex for one. Rollins chokes Dolph in the corner and mocks the crowd. Dolph with a dropkick to start the comeback. Stinger Splash try is caught with a Complete Shot into the second corner for two. Rollins switches back to a chinlock. Dolph breaks with a jawbreaker and Cactus clothesline. Noble and Mercury surround Dolph, allowing Rollins to send Dolph into the apron. Rollins slams Dolph onto the apron as we go to break.
JBL is at his worst right now, doing the anti-chemistry thing with Cole and Lawler. We know he can make a match better, but it seems like he would rather get over whatever Vince is telling him to say.
Intercontinental Championship, part two. Dolph fights out of the chinlock and both men collide on simultaneous bodypresses. Dolph with clotheslines for the comeback. Stinger Splash / Rude Awakening combo, then a giant elbow for two. Famouser misses, Rollins with a cradle for two. Dolph launches Rollins into the top turnbuckle and goes for ten punches, but Rollins counters to the buckle bomb for two. Rollins goes up but gets caught. He knocks Dolph back down, but a top-rope Curbstomp misses and the Rocker Dropper gets two. Rollins pushes off the Sky High DDT and gets the enzuigiri for two. Spinning back kicks by Rollins floor Dolph. Curbstomp misses, Zig Zag goes nowhere, Noble drops Dolph on the top rope and Rollins sends Dolph into the post. Curbstomp, but Randy Orton with an RKO Outta Nowhere and he glares at Noble and Mercury. The bell doesn't ring, but let's call it a DQ at 15:10. He leaves to the back as Kane comes out to bark at him. The Authority tries to regroup in the ring. ***
I just realized – the ref never called for the DQ. This match may still be going.
Okay, the match actually is over, and we get a Moments Ago. Fine.
Stephanie has an I Told You So for HHH, but Orton arrives to say he wants a favor – he wants Seth Rollins tonight. Stephanie has an honest question: why would the co-captains face off? Orton calls bull on that statement and threatens to switch teams. He says last week he finally put Rollins' ego down, handling the situation in the way the Authority wouldn't.
HHH finally has heard enough and yells at Orton to be quiet. He admits Orton holds the cards, but HHH needs him on the team. But HHH also needs Rollins. Does Orton get the stakes? If HHH burns, Orton will burn too. No forgive and forget. HHH needs the Viper, the man who has stood up to HHH for 12 years. The match will happen, sure; but get it out of your system so that you they can go back to ruling the WWE. This will be war against Team Cena, and they cannot afford to lose. Orton hesitantly accepts the deal.
A bizarre promo about looking into someone's eyes and being incomplete interrupts commentary. It looked and sounded a little like Luke Harper.
Credit where credit is due: HHH is bringing it on the mic tonight. He's been showing the passion that made many people fans of him in the Attitude Era.
Titus O'Neil gets mic time before his match, saying he'll win at Survivor Series. He won't back down from... uh oh.
Titus O'Neil v. Ryback. So did they ever explain why he's a face now? Crowd buys into it, so why not. O'Neil controls with shoulder thrusts in the corner, but Ryback fights out. Blind charge eats boot, and O'Neil with a Ventura backbreaker. Big boot by O'Neil and he stomps away. O'Neil taunts Ryback before CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY. O'Neil walks into a spinebuster as the Authority watches the match. Meathook and Shell Shock end it at 2:26. Should've been a squash. 1/2*
Renee Young is with Big Show. Show offers his services to John Cena (which makes the utmost sense). He was good friends with Mark Henry, and now this? Because that's what he do? Big Show is so mad he can't talk straight. Years of WWE experience (Show claims over 40, but the math says 33) will meet, and betrayal or no, Show wants his friend back. Even so... he will knock Mark out of his life.
Ryback on Team Cena? I could think of worse ideas. Especially if he mauls Kane and eliminates him.
The Buffalo Bills are at ringside.
Sheamus and Rusev on the Network!
Big Show v. Mark Henry. Show charges Henry into the corner and gets a Hammer Throw. He pounds away in the corner, but a charge eats elbow. Henry with right hands and a Hammer Throw of his own, then an avalanche. Thrust kick by Big Show, then an elbowdrop gets two. Show kicks away on Henry, sending him out of the ring, but Henry catches Show into the post on the outside. Show fires back with a tackle on the floor, and he breaks the count. Back in, three elbows to the back set up the Haas of Pain. Henry makes the ropes. Show with a pancake chop on the apron (or two), and he stands on Henry. Crowd is distracted, but the Authority's watching. Show goes up (!) but gets slammed off (!!) for two. Henry kicks away on Show, then gets the World's Strongest Slam for two. On the outside, Henry sends Show into the steps, then takes the steps apart and uses them for the DQ at 6:28. Way too slow compared to even Ryback earlier. 3/4* Henry with the World's Strongest Slam to the steps for good measure. Cole even brings up the Hall of Pain.
Backstage, Stephanie wants Henry on the team. HHH tells Kane to make an offer. Stephanie is still worried about Orton and Rollins combusting, but HHH assures her they just need to get it out of their system.
For the record, the crowd was dead for that match. The guys need someone to make them step it up a gear.
AJ Lee is on commentary for our next match.
Renee Young tries to interview Brie Bella, but Nikki cuts it off. And then Erick Rowan creeps on Renee. “Pretty.” “Thank you?”
Nikki Bella v. Emma. Crowd turns on the match right away. Like, before first contact they're chanting CM Punk. Nikki runs over Emma, then gets a spinebuster for two. Hammerlock slam follows for two. Surfboard next. Emma elbows out and gets a clothesline, then a bodypress. Tarantula follows, but Nikki intercepts the corner splash with a dropkick. Rack Attack ends it at 2:24. 1/4* Brie is asked to raise Nikki's hand, then tells her to sap AJ on Nikki's behalf. AJ floors Brie and chases Nikki off. Crowd chants for CM Punk.
One of my minions just compared the CM Punk chants towards AJ Lee to a slut-shaming. Here's how he put it:
“Each week, they basically derail AJ's job for the guy she married. Best case- because "CM PUNK!" is code for "F-YOU!" Worst case, because AJ married CM Punk and not THEM.”
I want to end this right now. How much of an exaggeration is this?
Xavier Woods is now acting like James Brown. Film at 11.
Zack Ryder v. Rusev. Earlier tonight, Ryder told Cena to consider him for Team Cena. Ryder fights out of the corner and gets nowhere. Judo hiptoss into a cobra clutch. Crowd chants for Lana. Ryder gets his knees up, then adds a missile dropkick, but the Broski Boot runs into a superkick. Rusev Crush ends it at 1:18.
Post-match, Lana wants us to shut up. The title match is a directive of Fearless Leader. Because Putin wants the US Title personally. Rusev promises annihilation. Sheamus has a rebuttal, though. He says the US Title represents American opportunity, and those “two lapdogs” won't take it from him. He promises Rusev the fight of his life.
A thing about the Rock, since he's getting a Monday Night Wars episode: if you had told the WrestleMania 13 crowd that Rocky Maivia was going to be the #1 draw of the WWF at any time in the future, they'd have assumed the WWF was on its deathbed.
Rusev and Lana are backstage when Stephanie makes an offer to them. She reminds them of their title match and wants reciprocity. Lana says they will discuss it with Putin first.
Fernando v. Stardust. I think Fernando is Epico. Miz/Sandow are at ringside. Stardust does something but the camera's on Miz. Fernando gets the knees up and does a rana, but Stardust with a clothesline. Stardust stomps away and gets a snapmare and surfboard. Fernando avoids a suplex but gets dumped. Stardust hisses at Sandow and knocks away JBL's hat, but that allows Fernando a comeback. The seconds get involved, El Torito kicks Goldust into Miz and Sandow, everyone gets mad, and the Backstabber wins it at 2:25. This show's REALLY gone downhill in the last 30 or so minutes. DUD
Show/Henry served a purpose, and if you go from there to the main event, you have a thumbs-up show. But there's so much filler!
Your SmackDown main event is the Usos against the Dusts in a steel cage for the Tag Team Championships.
TV Main Event: Randy Orton v. Seth Rollins. The Authority is at ringside. HASHTAG! Orton fires away on Rollins, getting a clothesline and glaring at HHH. Slugfest follows, with Orton winning and tossing Rollins from the ring. Orton with a Northern lariat on the outside, and then he throws Rollins left and right as we go to break.
This is unfair to say, but: the show's better off for not having Cena on it. Not because Cena isn't talented or anything, but Cena tends to mean there's a long talk session as opposed to more time spent in the ring. If Cena's only appearances are to throw down, it's better. But on the mic, he tends to take too long to say his point.
Orton/Rollins, part two. Orton is now on the outside arguing as the crowd sounds like it's 100% behind Orton. Rollins drops him on the top rope and tries for a plancha, but Orton sidesteps it. Back in, it gets two. Orton gets a corner clothesline, but the second one runs into an elbow. Complete Shot by Rollins into the turnbuckle, and he chokes away on Orton. Rollins with kicks to the chest and a running stomp. Bret Hart gut-stomp follows, then a kneedrop for one. Rollins boxes away in the corner, but a Stinger Splash misses and Orton sends Rollins to the floor. Orton sends Rollins into the announcer's table with a back suplex, then rips the table clear. HHH tells him to stop, but Orton won't listen. Back in, Rollins gets an apron high kick with help from the ropes, then goes up top. Orton crotches him, then punches him right in the jaw before getting a superplex. It gets two. Orton sets up the Draping DDT, but Rollins dumps Orton (as per usual the first time he tries). Rollins with a tope suicida to Orton. Back in, the springboard knee gets two. Rollins lands on his feet from a backdrop and gets the enzuigiri. Curbstomp is caught with a powerslam for two. Draping DDT on the second try works (as he smiles at HHH). Crowd is behind Orton as he signals for the RKO, but Rollins with a backslide for the pin at 13:13. **3/4 A humbled Orton tells HHH that even Hunter would be conflicted right now, but he shakes... Noble's hand. Then Mercury's. Then Kane's. Crowd wants an RKO to Rollins, who tries to play peacemaker. He even apologizes. They shake hands...
and Orton apologizes before RKOing Rollins! He clears the ring of the suits and has Rollins alone in the ring. He wants to Punt, but HHH cuts him off and yells at him to stop. He tries to get everyone to step aside, then talks to Orton man-to-man. Crowd wants SOMETHING to happen. Orton cools off... just kidding, he clotheslines HHH! He holds his own, but the suits beat him down. Orton escapes a triple-team and clears the ring, then runs for Rollins and pummels him on the table before an RKO to Mercury. Back to Rollins, but Noble and Kane try to pull them apart...
...by which I mean hold him in position for a Curbstomp. Orton is out on his feet, and HHH tries desperately to stop the attack. Stephanie yells that Orton deserved it. Orton's cut as HHH calls the other suits off and converses with Stephanie. On her orders (“Finish this”), HHH reluctantly tells them to finish Orton off. HHH walks away in disgust as Rollins delivers a Curbstomp to Orton with the steps as help. (But not before Kane trips over Orton – there's one for Botchamania.) Rollins mocks Orton's pose before the Curbstomp even. And that's how the live show ends.
LIVE SHOW MATCH TIME: 65:44 over ten matches
BEST MATCH: Dolph/Rollins
WORST MATCH: Fernando/Stardust
TV SHOW MVP: Seth Rollins
LIVE SHOW RATING: 6. This had an awful slowdown in the third hour, but there was a ton of wrestling, no long meandering mic segments, and it ended on a hot segment that gets Orton out of the way of Rollins' heel rise. Rollins is now the #2 heel in the WWE, no questions asked. A good way to end the show.
Network-Exclusive Match for the United States Title: Sheamus v. Rusev. Second match for both men. Lockups go nowhere. They tussle by the ropes next. Sheamus gets the arm and works it over, but Rusev backs Sheamus into the corner and takes over. Sheamus gets the advantage after separation, but Rusev sends Sheamus into the corner and adds hip attacks. Sheamus recovers with an Irish Hammer as the crowd gives Sheamus the Cena treatment. Ten of Clubs is set up, but Rusev blocks #4 only for Sheamus to headbutt him down. Rusev fights away again with a middle kick, but Sheamus sends Rusev to the floor. Sheamus dives into a Rusev powerslam. Rusev stomps away on the outside before throwing him into the barricade. Back in, Rusev gets an amateur ride into a cobra clutch. Sheamus with headbutts to break, but he runs into a spinning heel kick. Rusev with kicks to the kidneys and he chokes Sheamus against the ropes while yelling about becoming champion. Guillotine headlock out of the corner by Rusev. He switches to a standing crossface, but Sheamus elbows out only to get kicked. Rusev runs into the Oklahoma Slam, though, for a Double KO. Slugfest when both men get up. And Rusev with Irish Hammers to floor Rusev. Running kneelift dazes Rusev, and a second one follows. Sheamus gets launched to the apron, but he catches Rusev into the Ten of Clubs and Battering Ram for two. Sheamus goes up but gets slammed off, and an avalanche and fallaway slam follow for two. Rusev Crush is on, but Sheamus gets his arms free. Rusev tries to apply it again, but Sheamus headbutts his way out and gets the White Noise for two. After both men take a long time to recover, Sheamus wants the Brogue Kick. It misses as Sheamus is caught on the top rope, and Rusev gets two superkicks. Rusev Crush is on for real, and that gets the KO and the title at 12:04. **1/4
FINAL FINAL SCORE: 7.5. A title change is worth a bonus point, and it wasn't even a bad match. Put this all on the main show and we're talking about the WWE being on a hot streak entering Survivor Series.
Matt Perri will disagree with me on Main Event. Danielle is stuck doing Total Divas. Tommy Hall goes through Imapct, NXT, and SmackDown. I'll check in with Superstars because wrestling. Enjoy the week.
Begin debate now!