Monday, November 10, 2014

The PG Era Rant: Raw, 11.10.14

The PG Era Rant for Raw, November 10, 2014.

Even though this is taped and half of you know what happened, here's the Network preview:

  • John Cena vs. Ryback.
  • Rusev vs. Sheamus (contractual rematch).
  • Seth Rollins vs. Jack Swagger.

From America's 51st state, though not quite live.

Your hosts are Jerry Lawler, JBL, and Michael Cole.

A TV-show style recap of last week and preview of this week begins the show.


And John Cena is first out, and ho boy the England crowd REALLY doesn't like him. Cena at least acknowledges the fans don't like him. He reminds us of the stips for the main event of Survivor Series (which the crowd likes), but he can't find a team. They're intimidating everyone – Zack Ryder (who will be out 6 months), Randy Orton (who is out indefinitely), and so on. But Jack Swagger IS on the team (once he gets through Seth Rollins), as is Dolph Ziggler (which earns a huge We Want Ziggler chant). But what about his opponent tonight – Ryback? (Feed Me More, sayeth the crowd.) Cena calls him out to recruit him for the team.

And here he is. “The Big Guy's back!”

And then HHH and the Authority interrupt that. And they bring out Mark Henry as a team member. Crowd: “Where's our Network!?” Stephanie spins it as the English knowing their place under an Authority. HHH says everything's on the line for all of us. HHH admits to trying to scare off opponents, claiming to be their god. So now that we're all in, and this is career suicide if you're wrong, who will step up and join which side? Cena may have Jack Swagger (Seth: “I got him”) and Dolph Ziggler, who won't make it to Survivor Series.

Cena: “You said stuff like that about Daniel Bryan, right?”
HHH: “Yeah, and where is he now?”

HHH makes Dolph Ziggler and Mark Henry for later tonight. Stephanie agrees that Cena is an inspiration, but reality trumps false hope. And that brings us to Ryback. Stephanie promises more main events with the Authority than with Cena. Crowd starts going WHAT as Stephanie all but drools over Ryback, claiming he could be WWE's biggest monster (wonder what Kane and Henry think of that). Then HHH promises more everything with the Authority.

Cena says “you two wankers” are too dumb to see that Cena will go down swinging as a man, not as some “sellout Sexual Chocolate”. Cena makes it clear: he doesn't care which team Ryback's on, but the Authority will backstab you. Join Cena's team, and the fans will be his army. A HUGE Feed Me More chant goes out.

Finally, Ryback says he's not afraid of the Authority... but Cena doesn't pay the bills. And Ryback flattens Cena. Stephanie does a YES chant as Ryback walks away. HHH and Stephanie taunt Cena as we go to break.

Man, I hate 20-minute opening promo segments. It was missing last week. At least Vince got to the point. Cena had a lot to say, but could've gotten to it faster. And I think the biggest issue here is HHH: he doesn't understand that we're not here for him. Give the message and get out.

Moments ago.

Seth Rollins v. Jack Swagger. The English fans are chanting Swagger's music. Swagger with a headlock takedown and they tussle in the corner. Rollins sucker-punches Swagger to take over and kicks away. Swagger tackles Rollins, who bails. Jamie Noble gets a chant as Rollins stalls, but Rollins takes over with an arm wringer. Suplex is reversed by Swagger. Swagger with a snapmare and legdrop (brother), then he goes to the armbar. Rollins gets a dropkick and says something naughty, but gets rushed into the corner. Swagger throws him around, but Rollins bails before the Vaderbomb. WE THE PEOPLE! Let's go to break.

Interesting that they put Swagger in this match considering he basically disappeared after the feud with Dallas. Is he just back from injury?

Rollins/Swagger, continued. Rollins gets two as we come back. Crowd chants for JBL as Rolins kicks away. Rollins goes to the chinlock as the crowd goes to Jerry Lawler. And Cole. But a Rollins charge sees Swagger launch him over the ropes. All the seconds rush over (Colter backs off) as Rollins returns and Swagger begins the comeback. Big boot and Vaderbomb follow for two. Rolins kicks Swagger away and gets a sunset flip for two... which Swagger reverses to the Patriot Lock. Crowd demands a tap, but Rollins makes the ropes. Rollins sends Swagger to the floor. He dives onto Swagger... who catches the ankle (almost) and gets another Patriot Lock, but security surrounds him and causes a break. Rollins sends Swagger into the post. Back in, Curbstomp ends it at 11:24. **1/2 Swagger gets medical attention after the match, but Noble and Mercury hold him off so Rollins can Curbstomp him again. Rollins to Colter: “Back up, old man, or we got one for you, too!” Now doctors check on Swagger.

Darn it! He was a red herring! My hopes were up.

Hire Heroes USA spot.

We look back to SmackDown and the Peep Show segment.

This leads us to Ambrose backstage, contemplating. Yes, he's a sinner in this business. He's done a lot of bad things, but he's not about being a hero. Every time he's in the ring, he fights demons scarier than Wyatt, but he doesn't hide from them. The Authority couldn't end Ambrose; how can Bray? The only one ending Dean Ambrose is Dean Ambrose, and he doesn't mind taking Bray with him. See you in Hell, Bray.

That match is at Survivor Series.

Backstage, Kane congratulates Ryback and calls the match with Cena an opportunity. He promises to be at ringside, but Ryback thinks he can handle it on his own. Kane makes it clear: confidence must be tempered with humility, so Kane will be there whether he likes it or not. Ryback doesn't want to hear it. Kane glares as he leaves.

This would probably mean more if it weren't a taped show. Plus, we got one piece of info in like four different segments there. Lots of wasted time.

Alicia Fox v. Paige. Needless to say, Paige is face in this match. Fox jumps Paige to start, but Paige traps her in the ropes and delivers kneelifts. Fox with a big boot to drop Paige to the floor. Back in, it's a chinlock as the Brits chant... something. Fox drives Paige into the corner, and the Northern Lights suplex gets two. Bow-and-arrow follows. Lawler: “The Divas stab their good friends in the front. It's the ones they don't like they stab in the back.” Fox with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Paige falls on top of a second attempt for two. Superkick by Paige (“THIS IS MY HOUSE!”) and the package DDT ends it at 2:14. 1/2*

Stephanie stops Rusev and Lana. She congratulates them on their win (that she and HHH offered), then asks if they're on Team Authority. Lana tries to quote politics, but Stephanie says politics is not a thing. Lana says they'll consider. Stephanie gets angry and threatens that they owe her one.

So much wrong in that segment. I quote Lawler on commentary there because it's the biggest problem with the Divas: they're all self-centered brats who don't play with a full deck, and as such there's no one really to like. And on top of that, we have Stephanie threatening Lana, which by all rights should cause her to say the heck with this because she doesn't answer to anyone in WWE, but it'll cow her into submission. Because the Authority MUST look good at the cost of any other heel.

Xavier Woods is funky. A New Day is coming.

Backstage, we watch Vince's announcement on a monitor alongside the Authority. HHH and Stephanie are angry about what Vince is putting them through. HHH wonders if Vince is playing one against the other, but Stephanie believes it's just motivation. Not that it matters, because Cena will lose. Stephanie: “Still, what if?” HHH tells her to drop that line of thought because they have each other.

And now, a victory celebration for the new US Champion Rusev. Lana says it's ironic – a Russian has won the US's title. And oh by the way, England wouldn't have won WW2 without Russia. Obligatory Putin picture goes here. They read a proclamation from “Putin”. Rusev demands the anthem play. Sheamus interrupts halfway through (which is a huge breach of international etiquette) and chases everyone off. Their match is next.

Seriously, we couldn't fit more wrestling into this show? Between the opening promo and this whole block, there wasn't room for more matches? I mean... the Russian thing just isn't working outside of tiny snippets. The ceremonies are boring.

Veteran's Day thank you spot. Cena: “Tonight, we honor and celebrate America's heroes.” In England. With a Russian holding America's title. And defending against an Irishman. As always, I have no point.

United States Championship: Rusev (champion) v. Sheamus (challenger). Hey, who got the line of Union Jacks out in the back? HASHTAG! A long tussle goes nowhere. Rusev gets the edge with punches and chops, but Sheamus recovers with uppercuts. Sheamus no-sells a Hammer Throw, but Rusev works the back. Sheamus with a kneelift and running knee, and Rusev bails. Rusev gets caught on the apron, and after a long struggle, it's the Ten of Clubs – stopped at four with a headbutt battle that Sheamus wins. Rusev sends Sheamus into the apron on the outside, then gives him a fallaway slam on the announcers' table. Rusev breaks the count and returns to throw Sheamus in. Calf kicks in the corner follow as the crowd seems distracted. Rusev goes to a front chancery. He switches to a guillotine choke, but Sheamus escapes, so Rusev switches to a side crossface hold, then a plain old chinlock, then back to the chancery, then over to a cobra clutch. Crowd chants something at or about Lana. Sheamus blocks and escapes with elbows, but he runs into a spin kick as we go to break.

Not sure what's going on here, but this crowd seems intent on hating this show. Of course, so far, the show's making it pretty easy.

US Title, continued. Rusev drops Sheamus on the apron as we return. He stomps away, then goes back to his side crossface. Are they chanting for Sgt. Slaughter? Sheamus fights out as Noble and Mercury are at ringside. A slugfest breaks out, won by Sheamus. An Irish Hammer finally floors Rusev and begins the comeback proper. But Rusev comes back with a dropkick (!). Crowd is watching something arena security is doing for some reason. Rusev charges into an Oklahoma Slam for two. Rusev sends Sheamus to the floor, but he pops back up to the apron and it's the Ten of Clubs and Battering Ram. White Noise is escaped, but Sheamus recovers and tries the Cloverleaf. He can't hold it,but he gets a jack-knife pin for two, reversed by Rusev to a butterfly suplex for two. Rusev pounds away on Sheamus as the crowd chants ECW. He sets Sheamus on the top rope and boxes away at him before trying a fireman's carry, but Sheamus escapes and gets White Noise for two. Crowd chants Ole. Sheamus is up first and ready to Brogue, but it misses as Rusev bails. Sheamus dives after him from the top instead. An Irish Hammer on the floor follows, then a throw to the barricades. He rolls Rusev in, but Noble and Mercury jump Sheamus and it's a countout at 15:25. All this for THAT finish? *3/4 The finish docks a half-star from that match.

The match looked like it was picking up steam, but the finish was just bad. Is the WWE phoning this show in under the theory that the fans will be too busy trying to get themselves over? If so, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Side note: we have an ad for Velasquez/Verdum on PPV on my USA Network, featuring Cain punching Lesnar out. Well played, Dana White.

So anyway, Stephanie applauds Rusev and Lana and asks: so, you in? Lana gives a yes. Stephanie cuts off a Russia-centric comment from Lana and reminds her it's about what Stephanie wants. She does a weak impression of Lana's CRUSH.

Earlier Tonight.

Backstage, Rollins gives Ryback a pep talk and lets him know he did the right thing. He's ready to lead the team to victory. He then says, yeah, they've fought in the past, but they need to be on the same team now. He says there's no need to take orders from Kane – take them from Seth instead. Ryback makes it clear: he just destroys.

Well, it's obvious where they're going with Ryback. But the moment will still get a huge reaction.

Los Matadores v. Miz and Damien Sandow. Hornswoggle accompanies the heels because OF COURSE HE DOES. The crowd is firmly behind Sandow here. Miz and Primo start as the crowd wants Miz-dow. They do a long rope-running segment (with Sandow on the apron mimicking Miz), but an Austin straddle and tope atomico from Epico gets one. Sandow distracts, and Miz with the Million Dollar Neck Breaker as he stomps away. Miz teases tagging Sandow, but decides to keep himself in the match. Chinlock, during which the crowd wants Mizdow. Miz with the through-the-ropes clothesline and he goes up, landing a double axhandle for two. Miz asks if they want a tag to Sandow... then keeps pounding on Epico before finally bringing Sandow in. Sandow with a snapmare, but Miz tags himself back in. Crowd chants NO at him. Epico escapes, hot tag Primo. Headscissors, but a blind charge eats elbow. Springboard press gets two, Sandow saves. Miz sends Epico out and boots Primo. El Torito kicks Mizswoggle down, but Miz with a cradle for two. Primo goes to suplex Miz, but Miz lands on top with Sandow doing the Heenan 1989 hook for the pin at 4:44. Match was nothing, but the crowd saved it. 3/4*

Meanwhile, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler reveal Swagger's out. It's 5 on 2. Those aren't good odds, but Cena says they still have time – although Cena offers Dolph a chance to leave. Dolph refuses because he knows the Authority must go. Dolph is in. But Cena knows something's up, so he'll be with Dolph... and then HHH shows up to gloat and make clear Cena is banned from ringside. Another one bites the dust, says he. And the crowd sings along.

Holy cow, what is it about Miz that he can launch his sidekicks? First Riley, then Truth, now Sandow?

Non Title: Dolph Ziggler v. Mark Henry. But first, Luke Harper's eyes to interrupt Dolph's entrance. HASHTAG! Ziggler gets tossed around to start. Dolph with a dropkick that doesn't drop Henry, but he runs into a clothesline. Henry with a Hammer Throw to Dolph. Avalanche misses, though. Dolph tries a sunset flip, but they're in the ropes. He escapes something into something else that gets a double KO. Dolph superkicks Henry out of the ring, but when he follows, Henry tosses him into the barricade. Henry's charge is missed, and he flies into the timekeeper's area. Henry returns with a chair and tosses it at Ziggler for the DQ at 2:46. DUD Henry keeps pounding on Ziggler on the outside and threatens to drop him on the steps, but Big Show storms out with taped ribs. Henry drops Ziggler and grabs the steps, but Show yanks them out of Henry's hands. Show demands Henry get in, but doesn't care if he runs – because they'll meet at Survivor Series as part of the main event.

So you tease Jack Swagger in an attempt to lift up a midcarder and put a mechanic in the match who can make the opponents look good, then pull him out for Big Show? You take my favorite wrestler out for my least favorite? Thanks for nothing, Vince!

Kofi Kingston is part of the gospel choir bit now.

Backstage, Cena welcomes Show to the team. But who else is crazy enough to join? Sheamus is!

Non-title: AJ Lee v. Brie Bella. AJ will face Nikki at Survivor Series. Apparently, earlier tonight, Brie was dressed as a butler. AJ fights out of a headlock, getting a high elbow for one. Brie with a kneelift and running knee (which the camera clearly showed missing) for two. Brie does hairpull slams to AJ, then reluctantly kicks away. She goes for a powerslam, but Nikki yells at Brie and AJ reverses to a tornado DDT. Brie recovers first with a missile dropkick, but runs into AJ's knees and gets twisted into the Black Widow for the win at 2:22. Nikki instantly attacks AJ after the match, getting the Rack Attack. JBL botches a Batman reference TWICE on commentary, which is a microcosm of this entire show. 1/4*

They replay a feel-good moment with a wounded soldier from SmackDown. No lie, the crowd chanting for the soldier was awesome.

Now Mark Henry welcomes Ryback to the team. But the Big Guy ain't that big, and didn't Henry win at WrestleMania? Henry tries to laugh off what he said.

Can we just have one of the road agents backstage take the women's book and try to make good stories with it? Malenko? Noble? Someone who gets wrestling and isn't a total Vince-level misogynist?

Grumpy Cat will be on Raw next week. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Adam Rose v. Tyson Kidd. Hey, we found Waldo! So apparently Rose and Bunny are not getting along. This is not a joke. Crowd is chanting the theme as the match starts. Criss-cross leads to a Rope hiptoss, but Kidd hangs him on the ropes and gets the Sin Cara kick. Kidd jumps onto Rose as Erick Rowan comes out. (Kidd has a chinlock.) Rowan stares at the match in the ring as the camera follows him and not the match. Rowan: “She's not here.” (He clearly means Renee Young, but the announcers don't catch on.) ANYWAY, Rose fights out of the eternal headlock or whatever and begins the comeback with an elbow and clotheslines. Spinebuster follows. Then the Bunny wants to attack and has to be talked down by Rose. Kidd trips Rose and gets the Sharpshooter for the tapout at 2:45. The cameras spent so much time on Rowan I can't rate this. Rose takes it out on the Bunny afterwards, kicking him out of the Exotic Express (literally).

Backstage, Team Authority (sans Ryback) tries to get on the same page. Kane makes it clear they don't think Ryback is a team player... but he heard that. HHH tries to calm everyone down. He makes it clear the match with Cena is about Ryback alone. All he has to do is destroy. Oh, and Team Cena is banned from ringside. Stephanie: “I feel like I'm talking to a bunch of kindergarteners.” She says their livelihood is on the line if they don't come together as one. It seems to work.

On SmackDown, the Authority will be interviewed by Chris Jericho.

I can't believe I'm relying on Cena to save this show.

Another look at the Ambrose/Wyatt stuff.

Now Bray speaks. Society says we may be imperfect, but we need to be accepted. But Dean Ambrose was too different for society. Bray is another man like that. Bray keeps bringing up daddy issues, saying that's where Ambrose got it from. But they say sin is to be forgiven, but that's a lie. Ambrose is done, with no going back. Bray knows his future – and that is to be saved through Bray. Dean Ambrose has been through hell, but Bray is sin and he scares gods and monsters. So Dean has a choice: walk with Bray and be saved, or walk away and burn.

Hey, you know what would've helped this show? If Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt had MATCHES rather than just giving promos via the big screen. What a concept, right?

Paul Heyman and Joey Styles promote the ECW show on the Network. Oh, and Brock Lesnar.

Main event: John Cena v. Ryback. Team Authority is out with Ryback. HASHTAG! Ryback shoves Cena out of the ring to start. Cena with a headlock, but Ryback knocks him over. Cena tries a quick AA, but Ryback escapes and knocks Cena down. Cena slugs away, but he runs into an Oklahoma Slam for two. HHH and Stephanie are not with the others at ringside, watching on a monitor as Ryback dominates. Cena tries to fight back, but Ryback tosses him to his teammates. The Authority team backs off as Ryback kicks away. Ryback keeps clubbering on the outside, and back in... wait, Kane is giving orders before Ryback returns, causing Cena to knock Ryback off the apron and into Kane. The team calms Kane down as we go to break.

Not that I could write subtlety to save my life, but this is the opposite of that.

Cena/Ryback, continued. Cena is going up top, but he's caught and given the Catatonic for two. Kane is saying something as Ryback and Cena get in a slugfest, ending with Ryback getting a slingshot Nodowa Otoshi for two. Is that the right word for it, Dock? Cena is knocked to the floor, getting back in at 7. Ryback with a suplex for two. He drops knees onto Cena's back and gets a snapmare and heel kick for two. Cena with a belly-to-belly out of nowhere for a double KO. Ryback comes back with a Thesz Press and mat slams, then a splash for two. Ryback says it's Shell Shock time, but Cena escapes and begins his comeback only to get caught and powerslammed for two. Cena backdrops out of a powerbomb attempt, but gets caught in a military press slam for two. Crowd is watching something else. They even ignore Ryback trying to start a Feed Me More chant. Cena escapes a slam attempt, but Ryback catches him in the corner with a powerbomb for two. Ryback tries Splash Mountain, but Cena escapes and gets the STF. Ryback makes the ropes. Ryback with a slingshot crossbody for two, but Cena switches to the STF again. Ryback breaks the hold, reversing it to Shell Shock, but Cena's out of that and gets the Protobomb. He knocks Kane off the apron, but Ryback gets a spinebuster. Kane finally has had enough and attacks Cena for the DQ at 15:07. **

Ryback's all “Hey, what the heck, dude?” and he shoves Kane. Kane removes the jacket, and it's up to Seth Rollins to keep the peace in an ironic moment. But Ryback will have none of it and slugs Rollins, only to get booted by Kane. Now it's an everybody-on-1 on Cena, but Sheamus races out to take Rusev away. Rollins with an enzuigiri to stop him, and Kane gets a chokeslam. So Big Show tries his luck, knocking out Noble and Mercury before going after Henry. But Rollins with the flying kneesmash and we're back where we started. Crowd knows who's next and wants Ziggler as Henry gives Show the World's Strongest Slam, but instead it's Ryback flooring everyone. Kane tries a chokeslam, but Ryback powers the hand away and gets Shell Shock. He and he alone stands tall, now on no one's team. Cena gets up, confused, but reluctantly applauds Ryback's performance. And then backstage, Dolph Ziggler is annihilated by Luke Harper, who offers his services to the Authority.

STATS:

MATCH TIME: 56:47 over eight matches
BEST MATCH: Swagger/Rollins
WORST MATCH: Ziggler/Henry
NIGHT MVP: Ryback

FINAL SCORE: Phi. Look it up on Wikipedia.

Matt Perri does Main Event. Brian Bayless does our e-fed. Dock Muraco tells you you're all American Philistines for not watching Japan. Chris Fothergill-Brown proves that WCW has always been worse than anything I have to put up with. Tommy Hall does NXT, Impact, and SmackDown in between buying retro jerseys. Zanatude may show up with SSW, god help him. And I'll be watching the Network.

Vince + pre-taped show = death. Discuss.

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