May 11, 2015
Live from Cincinnati, OH
Your hosts are Booker T, JBL, and Michael Cole
The show starts with a clip of a limo pulling up. It stops as HHH steps out, looking a bit irritated. He then heads into the arena.
HHH's music hits as he steps into the ring and says "Daddy's home," in a delightfully sarcastic manner. He then says that is what he says when he comes home to his daughter. He then gets down to business as he wants to clear the air between Seth Rollins and Kane. Seth comes out first, flanked by J&J Security as he tells HHH that Kane is a "seven-foot tall cancer" who not only wants to poison the authority but also wants to see him lose the World Title. The crowd starts a loud "we want Ambrose" chant that Seth acknowledges. Seth then makes an "Old Yeller" reference with regards to Kane then after that happens Kane's music hits as he comes out. Kane comes out and lets Seth know that although he is old, he has wisdom and that is telling him to grab him by his "turkey neck" and chokeslam him through the mat as they bicker until HHH intervenes. The crowd continues chanting for Ambrose as HHH tells Kane to set his ego aside, despite Rollins being irritated, because Rollins as champ is best for business. HHH then tells Kane that if Rollins does not walk out of Payback as the champ, then maybe his services as the Director of Operations is no longer needed. Kane tells HHH its a shame he feels that way because it might be worth it to incinerate Rollins. HHH yells at Seth to shut up as he kept yelling "insubordination" as HHH asks Kane if they should part ways then after Kane remains silent, HHH lets the crowd know that all four guys involved in the Fatal Four Way at Payback are going to be wrestling tonight. He lets Kane know he will face Roman Reigns while Seth takes on Randy Orton. Jamie Noble interrupts HHH to let him know that Seth is the man as HHH is not too pleased then reminds both Noble & Mercury that Dean Ambrose needs an opponent tonight, while making fun of his height, then informs them that they will be facing Ambrose tonight as he wants Kane and Rollins to follow him to the back. Good segment. Excellent heel work by Seth, whose character is an unlikable shit that blames his shortcomings on everyone else but himself. His mic work continues to improve as well, evidenced by how he handled the Ambrose chants, among other things. They are doing a fine job teasing the Kane heel turn too, even if people are sick of him, you cannot deny that.
Dean Ambrose d. J&J Security after pinning Noble with the Dirty Deeds (5:18) *3/4.
Fun match. The heels took a brief advantage after Noble distracted Ambrose up top, allowing Mercuy to yank him off the top. Mercury looked good out there in the ring. Ambrose came back with a double clothesline then hit the Dirty Deeds. The crowd was hot for Ambrose and he looked strong beating on these two goofs as his hot streak continues towards his title shot at Payback. They've turned him into a viable contender over the past two weeks through solid booking.
King Barrett d. Dolph Ziggler with the Bullhammer (5:55) *1/2.
Sheamus was out for commentary here. Before the match, Barrett cut a promo on Neville, calling him a "peasant" as he plugs their match at Payback, then reminds Ziggler that he wants Payback and will go from the "common show-off" to the "Royal Ass Kisser." Ziggler hit Barrett with a super kick immediately after Barrett asked for the ref to ring the bell then took control of the match as the crowd was virtually silent as they went to break. When we came back, Barrett was in control as Sheamus went off on how he used to watch "real men" in the WWE as a child, unlike children such as Ziggler. Cole reminded him how Ziggler beat him at Extreme Rules and deserves to be there. Ziggler fought back with a dropkick then got distracted by Sheamus and ran into a bullhammer. Lame finish and the match was not particularly exciting or anything. The crowd was not that into Ziggler here, who is really stale at the moment. After the match, Sheamus beat on Ziggler as the "you look stupid" chant was aimed at Sheamus.
Highlight of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan reuniting on Smackdown
Erick Rowan d. Fandango with a Full Nelson Slam (0:35) N/A.
Rowan destroyed Fandango here as he and Harper both destroyed Fandango after the match. His offense didnt look too good. They then celebrated as the announcers talked about how they were back together as a tag team. Might as well beef up the tag division. And the fact these two split up and were set up to languish in the lower midcard made no sense to begin with.
John Cena came out for his weekly preamble prior to the U.S. Title Open Challenge. He got a much more favorable response here than last week. Cena does a good job in making the title seem important, even if the lines he is fed are dated. He took a lot of shots at Rusev here then asked the fans for a vote on whether or not to continue the Open Challenge and they approved then after that Neville was revealed as the challenger. Okay segment but nothing we havent seen before.
John Cena and Adrian Neville went to a No-Contest when Rusev interfered (14:43) ***3/4.
Very good match here. Neville's timing is superb. He might not be much on the mic but in terms of psychology, timing, and facial expressions he is excellent. He knows when to bust out the crazy stuff. Back from break, Neville hit an insane springboard sky twister that got the crowd behind him. He also hit an awesome corkscrew splash and even powerbombed Cena in an impressive feat of strength. The match had several other hot nearfalls then when Neville hit the Red Arrow, Rusev ran in and broke it up as the match was ruled a no-contest. Rusev then put Cena in the Accolade as the crowd was screaming for Lana. Rusev grabbed the belt and held it up as the Russian flag dropped down. I liked the finish as it kept Neville strong and hyped the "I Quit" match at Payback between Cena and Rusev.
Kane came out to the ring. He then jumped Reigns as he hopped the guardrail after entering from the crowd. Kane beat on him for a minute or so as the action mostly takes place on the outside. The bell never rang so this is not an official match for those wondering. Kane then tossed the monitors off of the announcers table but that allowed Reigns to make his comeback and hit the Superman Punch. Reigns hit another punch then speared him over the table then poses on the table as his music plays, with Kane still down. The segment itself was alright but it made Reigns look fairly strong as he heads into the title match at Payback. It also furthers the rift between the Authority and Kane, who failed at his role of roughing up Reigns before the PPV.
A plug for the new "ECW Unreleased Volume 3" DVD. It was over 7 hours of footage.
Tamina Snuka w/ Naomi d. Brie Bella w/ Nikki with a super kick to the face (3:35) -*.
Before the match, Naomi & Tamina were shown in an insert promo. Naomi did a good job as she promises to show the Bellas, with her family by her side, who exactly runs the Divas Division. Brie looks scarier by the week as she is far too skinny. The match itself was wrestled at a very slow pace and it was absolutely terrible. Crowd was not into this match and they were a decent crowd tonight too. Part of that was the virtually non-existent turn of the Bella's, as the company gives you no reason to get behind them in a feud after being heels for months. Looks like they are setting up for a tag match between these four ladies, with Naomi & Tamina pushed as the dominant duo of the division. I don't mind this idea for a feud but this particular match was a wreck. Tamina still can't cut it in the ring.
Damien Sandow vs. Curtis Axel went to a no contest when The Ascension came out (2:02) N/A.
Sandow was "Macho Mandow" this week. The two barely did anything in the match as the Ascension came out and yelled at them for being knockoff acts (oh, the irony) then attempted to attack Axel & Sandow but their attack failed as Axel hit Viktor with the Hogan leg drop then as Sandow set up for the Macho Man Flying Elbow Smash, Konnor pulled Viktor out of the ring. After that, Axel and Sandow shook hands as they are now a comedy team version of the Mega Powers. I'm all for a comedy team in the tag division and Sandow & Axel are entertaining enough to make it work. And its not like the two are going to be doing better on their own as singles wrestlers.
Daniel Bryan came out to the ring. He did not get a very big response here and even got some scattered boos. He talks about how he has been to a lot of doctors appointments lately but is not doing well with the down time and has been waiting to come back to the reaction he received just now (clearly that was a scripted line). Bryan then talks about how Stephanie McMahon stripped him of the World title last year but was right in doing so as the crowd deserves a fighting champion. He then tells the crowd that they were the ones who got him the opportunity as that got the crowd to cheer louder for him. He then said that they had an MRI last week and doctors are not sure that he will ever be able to wrestle again. He then says despite the uncertainty of his career, he knows what needs to happen to the Intercontinental Title as the fans deserve to have stars like Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose (which got a huge pop) fighting for the belt as he says the title deserves to be in the ring and not on a chair of a physical therapist so he will leave the belt in the ring and officially relinquish the title as the crowd is shocked. A "thank you Daniel" chant breaks out as Bryan tells them they have it wrong as he thanks the crowd, who then applaud. This seemed totally legit as Bryan looked on the verge of tears while saying he might never wrestle again. Who knows what the future holds for Bryan as a performer but in terms of the IC Title, my guess is that we get a tournament. I just hope Bryan gets healthy and the proper amount of rest before returning to the ring and if he cannot return at decent health then do what is best and retire as an in-ring performer.
Cesaro w/ Tyson Kidd & Natalya d. Big E w/ Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods with a rollup (8:55) *1/2
Before the match, New Day tells us to not embrace the negativity over Bryan leaving. They heeled on the crowd by ragging on Pete Rose as well. Big E and Woods are money on the mic. Woods also was highly entertaining when cheering on Big E at ringside. I love those guys. JBL used this as a platform to criticize the NFL for being "fixed" over the suspension handed to the New England Patriots and Tom Brady today. Cesaro hit a few power moves as the "New Day Sucks" chant broke out. After the break, Big E was working an abdominal stretch. The match itself was mediocre as their timing was off a bit. The finish came when Tyson and the rest of the New Day brawled on the floor then Cesaro caught Big E in some sort of wacky rollup for the win as the challengers have the advantage heading into the 2/3 Falls match at Payback. This feud remains solid.
The news breaks that we will have an Elimination Chamber show added to the network on May 31st. I believe it is exclusive to the Network.
The Prime Time Players are doing impressions of the New Age Outlaws as they continue their act of ragging on teams from past and present. I like how they are now giving the lower card guys direction. It makes for a better show all around. I've enjoyed the past month of RAW as there a fewer time-wasting segments.
Bray Wyatt heads out to the ring as he feels sorry for us and wants to help but fear is all around us as he talks and talks until telling us that Ryback must be an inspiration to us as he came back from a shattered ankle as this went on for far too long. I cannot even tell Wyatt's promos apart as they all blend in together. He then finally tells us why he wants to go after Ryback and that is because he was in his way, which is followed by laughter. He then informs the kids that the nightmares will not stop as sometimes, the bad guy wins. Ryback's music hits and brawls with Wyatt. Ryback gets the best of this then clears the ring of Wyatt as he does his "feed me more" chant. At least we have a reason as to why they are feuding, even if it is a weak one.
Randy Orton d. Seth Rollins by DQ after J&J Security attacked Orton (15:15) **1/4
Orton took control early in the match. Rollins rammed Orton's head into the turnbuckle then sent him to the floor just before the break. That turnbuckle smash might have knocked Orton loopy as he looked way out of it, unless he was doing a fantastic sell job. He rested on the mat for a bit and seemed barely able to stand on his feet. Orton came back with a superplex then they brawled from their knees and went back and forth for a bit. Orton got the crowd back into it after hitting the draping DDT but after that J&J Security ran in for the DQ to prevent a RKO. Kane's music hit and he stood out watching from ringside as Ambrose and Reigns came in to clear the ring of J&J. The show ended with the rest of the guys in the Fatal Four Way hitting Rollins with their finishers as Kane stood on the floor with a chair in his hand. After that, Reigns dropped Orton with a spear then Ambrose hit Reigns with the Dirty Deeds as the crowd erupts as RAW ends for the second straight week with Ambrose as the last man standing in the ring. The announcers then plug the replay of the Owens vs. Zayn match from the last NXT Special. The match itself was odd but entertaining enough.
Final Thoughts: Another good show. The WWE is starting to show some direction that features tighter storytelling and good utilization of the entire roster. They are trying to give everyone, from top to bottom, some sort of feud or character development. The Authority stuff was not as dominating as the past few weeks and they put over the guys in the title match huge tonight. The news about Bryan was a bummer and I wish him a speedy recovery. They are also starting to add depth to the tag team division for the first time in years. I like the direction the company is going in at the moment in terms of the product and Payback looks like a decent show and should be better than Extreme Rules. As far as matches go make sure to see Neville vs. Cena. That was awesome.