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The PG Era Rant: RAW, 06.30.14

When last we left our heroes, the Champ jumped back onto the throne. Despite the Authority's best efforts to give their chosen one the gold, it was John Cena overcoming collusion to win it all. But with the belief that a Conqueror is waiting to take his gold, can anything that happens with the titles matter? And what does the man in the on-deck circle, Seth Rollins, have to say about WWE's future?

The PG Era Rant for Raw, June 30, 2014.

Live from Hartford, Connecticut.

Your hosts are Michael, John, and Jerry.

Pre-show developments, besides a new host (Byron Saxton):

Sir Not Appearing on This Raw: Uh... no one. It appears from now on, the show will be coming from Stamford.
Superstars: Nothing shown.
RAW Highlights: The new champion, John Cena, is in attendance; A former WWE Champion and Multimedia Platform Cross-Branded Entertainment Superstar™ returns; The Wyatt Family take on the Usos and Sheamus.

But first, a look at last night's main event through clips.


So with a new champion, a guaranteed future champion, and Daniel Bryan's announcements, we open with... the Authority. No, not Kane or Orton or Rollins; just HHH and Stephanie. Sign Guy sighting, but he's in a position where we won't see his signs in all likelihood. Stephanie's rocking the pantsuit; you need to know this as she feels thrilled about her homecoming (she was born in Hartford). And tonight, the Authority is privileged to be out to CM PUNK CM PUNK CM PUNK! The crowd doesn't want to hear any of this. Stephanie reiterates that Daniel Bryan is on the shelf still, but we don't live in the past. So tonight, Seth Rollins got out of the past by beating six (six?) other competitors to win the briefcase. Wait, six? Wasn't Bad News Barrett a scratch? Does Vince watch his own show?

HHH calls Seth the future of the WWE. But there was more history last night. See, the WWE Championship was decided in an 8-man ladder match. The winner was an A+ player (crowd boos it). And he made history last night with his 15th title win. And now, please welcome the Champ himself, John Cena!

Stephanie hands Cena a microphone as the crowd is harshly divided. But Cena uses it to stop Stephanie from talking... because the crowd wants to say something. See, about Daniel Bryan: when Bryan is back, he promises to be better than ever. So it's simple: Cena promises Bryan a match for the titles he never lost if it's up to him. This sets off a HUGE Yes chant.

But first, Stephanie asks how many people are gamers. Why do we ask? Because Cena is the cover boy WWE 2K15! Amazingly, Cena's none too thrilled with this development. Stephanie tries to boogie to Cena's music. Stephanie: “It looks beautiful, doesn't it? We are especially proud of this.”

Cena gives a half-hearted thank you and yeah, it's an honor, but this is not right. At all. Because HHH and Stephanie are being too nice to him... which is weird, because HHH and Stephanie had a very different opinion when Cena won, and they weren't fond of it. But that picture was out of context. They were just concerned with Randy Orton. Cena says of course they were concerned – Orton's in your back pocket. But Cena isn't. And whether the Authority likes it, they don't have the Champ in their back pocket.

HHH: “Okay, chill, homie okay? You's be droppin your r's comin' off all thuggin' and stuff.” Cena responds like a Southie, ready to kick HHH down. But HHH tells him to chill. They've never had a problem with Cena, they don't have a problem with Cena as a movie star, cover boy, video game guy... heck, they're not upset he's the champ. Well, as long as he shows respect. See, all of what Cena has can disappear overnight. And everyone knows since day one, there's the easy way or the hard way. (Crowd tries a Hard Way chant.)

Cena says he doesn't do the easy way, especially when it comes to being a stooge. HHH would've been disappointed any other way – so you want the hard way? Fine. The Battleground main event is Cena defending in a four-way. Stephanie makes it clear: there are three opponents and he has no championship advantage. Cena doesn't care. But who's in it? HHH says two of them will be his opponents tonight: Randy Orton and THEDEMONKANE. But it's a tag team match (holla), and Cena's partner will be the other man in the match: Roman Reigns. HHH tells him to enjoy the moment, because it won't last.

Cena congratulates HHH, and he says he'll be ready to earn it at Battleground – and if he doesn't, it'll be embarrassing as being pushed into a pool of crap. This joke gets beaten into the ground, and Cena drops the mic to leave. BUT WAIT! HHH has one more thing to say: see, HHH has a Plan B.

And at that very moment, Seth Rollins' music hits. He comes out with the briefcase, admiring it as he heads to the ring. John Cena quietly walks to the back.

Later tonight: it's Sheamus teaming with the Usos against the Wyatt Family! Seth Rollins has a match NEXT!

Time out! Time out here! HHH willingly put Roman Reigns in the match? The same Roman Reigns he told everyone to keep out of Money in the Bank? The same Roman Reigns who got Vickie Guerrero fired because she got him into the match? And they just include him in the main event of the next month's show? We all know Vince rewrites every segment, but does he even watch Raw?

Seth Rollins v. Rob Van Dam. Seth opens with a tackle, and a criss-cross leads to a monkey flip as Seth bails. This match has a hashtag, by the way. Seth returns and tries calf kicks, but RVD gains the edge until Seth picks the leg. RVD kicks off Seth, who rolls out again. Back in again, the two duel kicks before Seth goes back to the leg... and gets nailed with an enzuigiri. RVD works Seth over in the corner, sending shoulders into the back of Seth. A spinkick by RVD and a standing moonsault gets two. RVD kicks away on Seth, flipping over his blind charge but getting caught on a monkey flip. So he switches to an abdominal stretch into a rear cradle and legbar. Seth makes the ropes, then bails again. RVD follows, but Seth is suckering him in and a clothesline follows. Seth hooks the mouth as we go to break.

While I'm on the subject of who wrote that opening segment: bad enough they forget that there were six participants and not six other participants, what's with trying to make the crowd hate Cena, who is now the person you kinda need them to cheer? The moment you describe him as an A+ player, only two things can happen: either the crowd boos Cena as a knee-jerk reaction to Authority approval, or they get mad at the WWE in general for acting like WrestleMania 30 and Daniel Bryan's breakthrough doesn't count. Both are bad ideas.

Seth/RVD, part two. We return with Seth working a front facelock, but he puts his head down and RVD fights back only to run into a Lance Storm Maple Leaf Crab. RVD makes the ropes, so Seth just drags him back to the center. RVD kicks away to lead to a break. Enzuigiri is ducked and turned into the leg cradle for two. RVD with the momentum build, and he wants Rolling Thunder... which lands on Seth's back. It gets two. Backbreaker by RVD, then a split-legged moonsault to the back. Jack-knife cradle gets two. Seth finally gets the dragon screw, and he teases a piledriver, but his back gives out. Powerbomb try instead, but RVD counters with a rana that sends Seth upside-down into the corner. Five Star time, but Seth once again bails out. So RVD dives onto him on the outside instead. So there. Back in, Seth catches RVD's leg in the ropes as This Is Awesome. Seth dragon screws RVD's leg into the middle rope (!!) to regain control. Curbstomp connects, and despite Seth's back being too screwed up to follow up right away, he crawls over for the pin at 11:44. HECK of an opener. ***1/4 Renee Young tries to interview Seth, but forgets to say “Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins” and earns a “toots” for her trouble. This isn't arrogance, because he can back it up. Fans are just bitter. Seth was right, you were wrong. The briefcase is Seth's golden ticket to get a shot at the WWE Championship – any time, any place.

But wait, Dean Ambrose interrupts on the big screen. “From one scumbag to another,” this isn't over. Seth didn't win last night. Plan A failed, in fact – because daddy Hunter had to send Plan B. But Dean ain't mad, because he thinks it's more fun this way. See, every time Seth makes a move to cash in, Dean will follow. Seth Rollins can make all the plans, but that's not a contract in his briefcase, it's TNT that will blow up when he tries to do something with it. Believe that.

Still to come: Sheamus and the Usos against the Wyatt Family! Plus, our main event is the Authority against Cena and Reigns!

Ah, yes, the “titles don't change hands on countout or DQ” stip that Ambrose is implying. I love it. Ambrose as an unhinged loner is the role he was born to play. Now, if it were up to me, I'd bring his Moxley “homeless man made good” part into it. Yes, Seth brought the Shield together, but Ambrose is a scary man – because he has NOTHING to lose. When you've been to Rock Bottom, you fear nothing. (Note: there's a good chance I'm misrepresenting Moxley's promos, but what do you expect from me? It's not like I'm Dave Scherer.)

Moments ago, Seth Rollins won.

Before our next match, Lana tells us Big E Langston was a failure, but hey, America's used to that. It's part of American culture. (USA Chant now, which Lana mocks before demanding silence. This works as well as it ever does.) See, Americans teach their kids participation matters and not winning and losing. We say America's the greatest nation there is – which is a lie. See, Russia is the only superpower, and Putin is its leader. (As with before, Putin gets more boos than Rusev or Lana.) No one can stop the onslaught of Rusev or Russia. So who's America's next failure, er, I mean challenger? Rusev speaks Bulgarian, or Russian, or something... he speaks What, okay?

Alexander Rusev v. Jack Swagger. YES! IT'S ABOUT TIME! This more or less closes the biggest plot hole there is. Colter is sick and tired of Lana's onslaught of America. So what he wants is for Lana to shut up. You know why Lana (if that's her real name) is allowed to talk? Because freedom of speech, so you can say what you want, and so can Zeb. So what Colter has to say is this: “Natasha and Boris” know Russia wouldn't allow anyone to lie about them, but they can lie about America, because that's the price of freedom. So listen up, Lana: there's something that got their interest. That nothing could stop Rusev. Oh, really? A Real American can stop it! Jack Swagger can stop it! So he asks both of them to listen to a real America to crash down on them. WE THE PEOPLE! We got a huge staredown... a lot of talking from Rusev... but Lana holds her back. Rusev doesn't want to hear no for an answer as the crowd is FIERCELY behind Swagger. Rusev is called off by Lana... but he charges into a series of armdrags from Swagger! Rusev retreats as Lana tries to stop Round 2 and Swagger says to bring it! Play Swagger's music and embrace your face turn, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter!

Um, er, yeah, no match.

Sheamus and the Usos are firing each other up backstage! That's NEXT!

You know I love the guy. You know Swagger's one of my favorites. And yes, I let that cloud my reviewing of the previous segment. I don't give a darn. He's a face, finally, for the first time in his career – and I want him to succeed, even if he's just here to put Rusev over short-term. I know this can help his career in the long run. WE THE PEOPLE!

Sheamus and the Usos v. Wyatt Family. HASHTAG ALERT! Cole (delineating between Harper and Rowan): “Harper in the dirty tank top.” JBL: “As opposed to the clean one he usually wears?” Usos open with double-teams on Rowan, sending him out of the ring as a not quiet part of the crowd can be heard singing. And we already go to break.

It's amazing what a hot start can do to the crowd. They are red hot for the start of this match, even for Sheamus. This has the makings of a great first hour.

#6mantag, part two. So Rowan has one of the Usos in a neck crank. According to the announcers, it's Jimmy, so let's run with that. Jimmy fights up, but Rowan with a hairpull slam and mounted punches into a fish-hook. There's a giant head of Little Johnny in the front row. Bray in with an avalanche as both teams get chants. Bray stomps Jimmy and brings Harper in, and it's a shot to the chest (with Bray adding a headbutt). Harper gets a hard whip, but he runs into an uppercut and a boot. Jimmy up top with a corkscrew moonsault as the faces want a hot tag. Hot tag Sheamus, and it's Irish Hammers for everyone! Big kneelift to Rowan, but he escapes a Finlay Roll only to get chucked outside. It's Ten of Clubs time as he stands up. Er, TWELVE before Harper pulls him out. So Sheamus dives onto both men at once. Damn, they're feeling their oats tonight! Sheamus with an Oklahoma Slam back in, and he wants the Brogue, but a distraction by Bray allows Rowan to knock him out of the ring and bring Harper in. Running big boot on the floor to Sheamus by Harper. Bray in, and a senton gets two. Cole calls Bray “obscure, to say the least”, You sure that's the word you wanted, Mike? Bray beats the tar out of Sheamus and brings Rowan back in. Rowan with a scoop slam and splash for two. DOUBLE NOOGIE OF DOOM follows. Sheamus escapes but Rowan forces him down and gets a kneedrop for one. Bray tags in, and Sheamus can't fight out as Bray beats him into Irish potato stew. Bray gets the avalanche but goes straight into the boot. Sheamus goes up... and Bray uppercuts him to the outside! Time to conduct the choir. Harper tags in and goes outside, mugging Sheamus on the announce table, but Sheamus tries to fight back. Harper sends him into the apron instead. Back in (the crowd chants JBL since he didn't flinch at the announce table mugging), and Harper escapes the Finlay Roll to get a superkick for two. Harper sends Jimmy bailing but runs into the Irish Curse. Jey's still on the apron, and he gets the hot tag before diving onto Harper. Harper is rocked, and a dropkick sends him out of the ring. Jey follows with a huge dive over the top. Back in, a series of ducks ends in Jey getting a Dragon Whip and superkick for two, Rowan saves. Brogue Kick to Rowan takes him out, and Jimmy adds a dive to him, too. Bray enters with the uranage, though, but he bails before Jey can kick his head off. Harper's legal, and he gets the Discus Lariat to end it at 13:07. Whew. ***1/2 Harper taunts Jimmy as he leaves. Follow the buzzards and all that.

Backstage, Todd Phillips is with Nikki Bella. See, last night, Brie crashed the party and was ejected. Brie was Nikki's guest, and Nikki didn't realize she made a mistake... but Stephanie wanted to say that the Bellas and the Funkadactyls are in a match... wait, Brie abandoned Nikki and quit. So it's a handicap match and it's next. Stephanie is so great when she's a bitch.

Some major multimedia superstar is here tonight! He's in a limo! Who is it?

Okay, I'm saying this right now: with the first 70 minutes of this show, there's no way unless they really do something stupid this gets any lower than a 5 tonight.

Bo Dallas is out, and he is an inspiration to us all. Hey, Justin Roberts said it, not me. Bo is here to ask for a minute's silence on behalf of two injured superstars: Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan. He does the Tebow pose during the silence. The crowd tries to get a Bo-Ner chant started, but it doesn't stick. Matter of fact, the crowd's not sure what to do right now. Lawler (20 seconds in): “Okay, that's enough, Bo.” JBL: “Shh! We're almost there!” JBL makes more noise telling King to be quiet than King himself does.

Anyway, Bo is back after the minute saying he was a voice of inspiration but also the bigger man. We look back at Daniel Bryan's interview in which he insults Dallas for what amounts to no reason whatsoever. (Dallas last night: “Gosh! That's gotta be such a pain in the neck!”) Back to live action, as Dallas's smile hasn't left. He tells us Don't Stop Bo Lieving, and it's time for the next match as Nikki heads to the ring... rolling her eyes at Dallas as she does.

Handicap match: Nikki Bella v. the Funkadactyls. JBL calls this the first Divas handicap match in some time. Cole clarifies: three weeks. That's it. Cameron apparently cut off Naomi during an App interview. Cameron starts and mocks Nikki before shoving her around and yanking her down. She stomps away and does an arrogant cover for one as the crowd chants for Nikki (barely). Nikki tries to fight back but is Hammer Thrown into the corner. Blind charge hits elbow, and Nikki gets a facebuster for one. Cameron to the ropes, but Nikki alley-oops her out. Cameron kicks Nikki away in desperation, and Naomi tags in. High kick to Nikki, and a bodypress floors her. Inverted DDT forearm and that's it at 1:34. Cameron's none too happy and argues with Naomi for tagging in or something. Shoving ensues as the crowd wants to see them fight, but Charles Robinson separates them. Cameron's all “girl bye” and walks out on her own.

Up next: a medical update on Wade Barrett! Will Abeyance add the Intercontinental Title to his resume?

Um, I don't watch Total Divas; what is Cameron's deal? And by the way, I had said to a friend that even if nothing else happens, it's been a good night thanks to the first hour. DO NOT TEST ME, WWE!

Special Olympians in the front row!

We find out Wade Barrett has a separated shoulder. He'll be out for a number of months, so the Intercontinental Championship is indeed vacated! There will be a Battle Royal to fill the championship.

Ladies and gentlemen, his name is Paul Heyman. He is the one behind The One, in case you hadn't heard. And so on. Tonight, he's also the recipient of great news: Barrett's hurt. The championship is up for grabs! “Isn't that great?” Why is this great? Because he's also the mind behind the Andre the Giant Battle Royal winner, and that man has to be considered the odds-on favorite. So here he is, a Paul Heyman Guy, a Battle Royalty, the next Intercontinental Champion, give it up, ladies and gentlemen for Antonio Cesaro!

Antonio Cesaro v. Kofi Kingston. In an inset promo, Kingston puts himself into the Battle Royal. Cesaro gets a ride and goes to a front facelock, which Kofi reverses. Cesaro's up and gets a gutwrench suplex. He stomps away, then adds forearms and a kneelift. Plus an uppercut. Hammer Throw leads to Kofi getting the pendulum kick and springboard crossbody for two. Kofi tries for a whip, but Cesaro reverses only to get monkey flipped out of the ring. Kofi follows with a somersault senton onto Cesaro. Back in, it gets two. Another springboard, but Cesaro catches him into an Oklahoma backbreaker. Cesaro with a stump-pulling armbar, but the ref orders a break. Cesaro with a fierce right hand, then he boxes Kofi in the corner. It gets two, and Cesaro goes to a headlock. Kofi fights out, but runs into a clothesline for two. Cesaro punches away and lands a double stomp. He toys with Kofi, stomping on his hands, but Kofi gets back up. Another slam by Cesaro stops it, and he wants the Swing. It's set up... and abandoned in favor of more stomping away. Crowd hates it. Camel clutch stance with a chinlock follows instead. Kofi's back up and out of it, and this time it's a huracanrana for two. Pendulum kick gets an uppercut to the back as we go to break just in time for a CM PUNK chant.

Really? You're CM PUNKing this match?... well, okay, I can see it. It's not exactly going anywhere.

Cesaro/Kofi, part two. Wait, what? Kofi won during the break? And now Cesaro attacks and tries to throw Kofi into the steps, but he jumps onto them and dives back... into an uppercut. Now Kofi makes the steps, then gets tossed into the announcers. Cesaro then tosses him back to ringside as audio equipment goes flying and Cole may have been hurt. Cesaro tosses Kofi over the barricade onto the concrete in the crowd. And out there, he throws him into another barrier and drags him by the dreadlocks back to ringside. Heyman is in Cole's chair enjoying the view as Cesaro sends Kofi into the post over and over. Ten times, of course. Then he turns Kofi inside out with a short lariat before officials say enough of this and tell him to go to the back. We then find out what happened: Kofi won with a sunset flip. I'll say 8:04 as a guess. The match seemed to be heading to *3/4. Heyman gives coaching to Cesaro, who is smiling about what he's done.

Meanwhile, we have a barbecue held by Santino and no one showed up. Not even Emma. He complains about this to the Cobra... but Adam Rose showed up. And it's an ad for Twisted Tea. Santino does a trust fall. Okay, seriously, is this the best they had for either of them?

Meanwhile, Michael Cole... will recover. In the meantime, we see Hulk Hogan's tweet of congratulations for Cena... but tonight, he'll have to team with Roman Reigns against Randy Orton and THEDEMONKANE! This is a Battleground main event preview!

Wow, that was kinda gutsy of them to end a match mid-commercial. To be fair, the match result itself isn't what mattered in the long run, which is why they could do it. Even so, if it gets people to get more WWE social media stuff, more power to them, and with what we just saw – a clear upset – it's not like either man in the match is hurt by it.

THERE HAS BEEN A VINCE MCMAHON SIGHTING! Wait, no, never mind, it's Damien Sandow. Gotcha. He does the power walk and the stomp up the steps, too. JBL starts singing Vince's praises. Cole: “Has he shrunk?” Sandow does his best welcome to Raw and things go from there. He's Vincent Kennedy McMahondow. Really. He's made the WWE great by recognizing great talent like Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the most talented of them all: Damien Sandow. I must admit, the impression's pretty good. So “Vince” enters Damien Sandow into the Battleground Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Title. Anyone who has a problem is FIRED.

Uh-oh. Stephanie may have a problem. She's furious at Damien impersonating Vince. The only reason Sandow CAN make fun of Vince is... (she calms down)... Vince built the WWE by taking out giants. So tonight, Sandow can topple a giant... RIGHT NOW!

Damien Sandow v. The Great Khali. Brain chop, good night. 7 seconds.

The WWE Champion and cross-branded guy is next!

So, uh, yeah, if you're going to give the guy a gimmick, why humiliate him? If he's a jobber, just let him be a jobber. Too many guys are stale – up until today, Jack Swagger's forced heeldom was a textbook example – and you refresh a guy you intend do the opposite of push?

Jungle” is your Battleground theme! And the main event is John Cena getting it the hard way! Sorry, that's not PG.

So your WWE Champion Multimedia Superstar is... The Miz. Now with a redone Hollywood TitanTron and in a full A-list suit. JBL is kind of underwhemled. So is the crowd. Miz says he's back. “Miss me?” Nah. Yes, he's the WWE Champion Multimedia Cross-Branded et cetera. He's been off shooting The Marine 4. And he wanted to stay there: people wanted him to do films! Really! They said he was better than the WWE, and if he stayed doing movies, he'd be Hollywood's biggest star! So why is he back? He's back for all of the fans! See, unlike Hollywood, the WWE Universe doesn't know A-list talent. They took him for granted and for a fluke. He main evented WrestleMania... and nothing. But he's here to remind us that everyone's wrong. All of them. Do you know how many assistants Miz has? He's an A-lister and a jack of all trades. And he's not leaving the WWE until he main events WrestleMania again and everyone gives him the respect he deserves. He wants everyone on his knees begging him not to go. And ONLY THEN will he...

...Never mind that crap! Chris Jericho's music just hit! And the jacket is lighting up! Could it be? Yes, sir! Chris Jericho in the house! Miztista – because, let's be honest, that's what they wanted – is not amused. The crowd is electric. Even JBL is agog. (It's a real word; look it up.) A huge Y2J chant breaks out. Jericho milks the crowd for all it's worth as Miz looks super-peeved and stuff. The crowd boos Miz for just TRYING to speak. “Did you come out here to give me a lifetime achievement award?” Or is this 2012 Jericho, who doesn't talk and just wears a Lite Brite jacket? Nope – Jericho removes the jacket and has the Bon Jovi vest. Miz says HOW DARE he deprive the people of the Miz's moment. He's important! He's the Marine! He's a movie star! He's a box office draw! He's a...

...victim of the Codebreaker. And now Jericho can speak: “Damn that felt good!” He encourages the crowd like a rock star, and it's time to say it: “Welcome to RAW... IS...”

We interrupt this interruption with the Wyatt Family. They surround Jericho and stare at him. Crowd declares this whole segment Awesome. Bray charges Jericho, who fights back, but there's too many Wyatts. Jericho is mauled by Harper and Rowan as Bray has technically not touched Jericho. T&A double-team by the flunkies, and now we get the INVERTED LOOK OF DOOM. Sister Abigail's Kiss leaves Jericho in a heap on the mat. Bray and company pose and follow the buzzards.

Well then. This show just got a lot more awesome. Two big returns, one of which was SOMEHOW kept a secret in the Internet age, and a big feud for Battleground started up. The bonus is that this will keep Bray a heel because given the options, I bet they'll cheer Jericho over Wyatt. My question: how does he keep people from seeing his arrival? Does he only tell Scherer's Elite subscribers so that no one finds out? (Psst – hey, Scott – have I insulted Dave enough?)

Total Divas is getting archived on the WWE Network! Are they going to edit JoJo out of the show?

As people dance, we see last night when Fandango confirmed that he was with Layla and not Summer Rae.

Fandango v. Dolph Ziggler. We wish to take this time to let you know that Dolph Ziggler and Antonio Cesaro are your Main Event main event. Dolph with a quick dropkick right off the bat and he attacks, but Fandango throws Dolph into the post. He stomps away, posing for the crowd and doing the Rude hip swivel... which allows Ziggler to attack with punches. Fandango airballs Dolph for two. Layla's on the apron to kiss Fandango (complete with sound effect), but he runs into a back elbow and superkick from Dolph. Running clothesline and Stinger Splash follow, with ten-punch count along and Rude Awakening. This leads to an elbowdrop... and Summer Rae does a walk-in to stop the match. She gives Fandango a good look at what he threw away, then kisses Dolph emphatically. This upsets Fandango for some reason, so Dolph rubs it in with another big kiss. Fandango's all “what the heck, girl” and chases after her before the Zig Zag ends it at 2:38. All angle. 1/2* Dolph is very excited, and Summer seems to have been taken by that kiss.

Tonight, our main event is the Authority against the Champ and Roman Reigns!

Man, even the throwaway matches have a purpose tonight! This show is doing very well for itself. The crowd's been pretty hot too, but not snarky hot like you have after Mania. That's not better or worse, mind you, just different.

We look back at last week's Vickie/Stephanie showdown. Yup, tomorrow night it's a retrospective of Vickie Guerrero.

Paul Heyman's Leftovers v. The Brotherhood of the Traveling Facepaint. Yes, it's a rematch from last night. And last week. Ryback and Axel double-team Goldust to start, and Axel gets the advantage. He pounds Goldust away against the ropes, but Goldust gets an inverted atomic drop and kneeling uppercut. Axel hooks the ropes to avoid a clothesline, and it allows Ryback to knock Goldust down. Mounted punches follow from Goldberg. I mean, Ryback. Floatover suplex gets two as I think Lawler just made a Luigi's Mansion reference. To the chinlock as the crowd tries to rally with Stardust. Ryback with shoulder thrusts and chops, but Goldust fights out. Bodypress attempt is caught by Ryback into a fallaway slam. Meathook is being set up (as Feed Me More chants abound), but Goldust with the spinebuster to stop it. Hot tag Stardust, who lands flying everythings and a sliding kick. Axel airballs, and Stardust with a springboard Bionic Elbow. Straitjacket DDT to Axel, and Ryback is hung up by Goldust into the Disaster Lariat. Axel goes for the Hennig Breaker, but Stardust gets whatever that move is called for the pin at 3:26. It's kind of a half-nelson STO. Much as with Team Hell No, I have zero idea where this is going, but I like it. Now they need new opponents. 1/2*

Our main event is coming up! But before then, Paige!

Dang... even the throwaway stuff is entertaining tonight. Meanwhile, my minion has an idea: a 30-minute discussion by Dusty Rhodes and Mike Rotundo, attempting to explain Goldust, Dashing Cody Rhodes, Bray Wyatt, and Bo Dallas in kayfabe and explaining where this means they went wrong as parents. Admit it: you'd watch that.

Paige is here! Paige doesn't like to talk – she's a woman of action – but all those who think she wasn't a vital champion and should return to NXT? The last three months shut you up, didn't it? Paige has proven she's here to stay. So...

AJ! Oh snap, AJ's back! So much for those pregnancy rumors. AJ skips around like she wasn't just beaten in 90 seconds in her last match. The crowd is so happy they demand CM Punk. AJ admits Paige is right. Paige is thrown by this... but AJ keeps going. She chokes out respect for Paige, since Paige proved AJ wrong. And yeah, AJ let success go to her head, although she WAS the longest reigning Divas' champion ever. But... she didn't have to rub it in. She thought she was untouchable, but Paige was the wake-up call. So she wants to return the favor and than Paige, congratulating her.

Paige isn't fooled. AJ is doing to Paige what Paige did to AJ. She wants to get the rematch tonight for poetic justice, but Paige is smarter than that. She won't make the mistake AJ did. (We now pause for another CM Punk chant.) Besides, it's not like anyone wants to see Paige defend tonight, right?

Um, actually, they do, Paige.

AJ confirms this by asking the crowd what they want, and it's overwhelmingly true that they want the rematch tonight. Huge YES chants abound. Paige caves in and agrees.

Divas' Title: Paige v. AJ Lee. Paige is nervous. AJ jumps in and pounds away, but Paige shoves off and gets a superkick. Headbutting follows. Paige throws AJ into the corner, but eats boot only to get a clothesline on the next try. It gets two. Crowd wants AJ to get even. Paige is none too happy and says it's her house, but AJ with a huge slap and small package to get the belt back at 1:03. REALLY? Cole: “She has her baby back.” Inside jokes for the win!

Up next, our main event! Cena and Reigns! Orton and Kane!

Okay, put aside how happy we all are to see AJ back. We just saw someone be put over every single opponent, mock them for 8 months straight, never be proven wrong, lose on a fluke to a challenger no one had seen before, then get the belt back first opportunity without breaking a sweat. That's Hoganesque. Seriously, if it's not Internet Darling AJ Lee, aren't we all rolling our eyes over this? This better be the start of something, but even then, it has shades of Orton/Christian, where no matter what follows, it's tainted by the start.

On SmackDown, Sheamus will put have a US Title Challenge for SmackDown on the 4th.

HHH is at ringside, but not for commentary. He just wants to watch.

Main event: Kane and Randy Orton v. John Cena and Roman Reigns. Note: that's the order of entrance. That's kind of a big deal in my book. Cena and Orton start, as always. Orton with a headlock. He tackles Cena, but doesn't follow up and it's a stalemate. Back to an Orton headlock, and this time, Orton gets a hiptoss. Again Cena's up quickly, but this time he tags out to Reigns. Orton points to his staples in his head... and tags in Kane. A slugfest breaks out, and Reigns wins by dumping Kane to the outside. Kane and Orton regroup on the outside as we go to break.

Okay, guys... this is being treated like a main event tag match. Deliver.

Main event, part two. We return with the post-ad chinlock (Orton on Reigns) as we see that Orton got a beautiful dropkick during the break. Orton with a hairpull slam live, then a high kneedrop for two. Kane in, and double-teaming gets two. A big uppercut to Reigns, and Orton's in. Snapmare leads to another chinlock as Cena can be heard encouraging a tag. Reigns fights out, ducks a clothesline, and gets one of his own, followed by a corner clothesline, right cross, and... no, Kane cuts off the Drive-By Dropkick. Reigns sends him into the barricade, but that allows Orton to recover and bowl Reigns over. Back in, Orton tags Kane. Kane stomps away on Reigns's back, then Kane adds a big boot for two. Kane to the double chinlock, but Reigns is up fast and slugs away. Kane wins the slugfest, but Reigns fires out of the corner with a clothesline to knock Kane over. Orton is in to cut off any hot tag with a big stomp. Another big stomp follows, then a knee to the head for two. Kane in, and he gets an uppercut as Orton adds some Garvin Stomping for two. Kane with a hard throw and clothesline, but the second one in the corner eats boot. Kane recovers with the goozle, but Reigns powers out and a slugfest begins. Reigns punctuates it with a Samoan Drop. Hot tag Cena – the crowd is 100% behind him – and he does the usual to Orton. Five Knuckle Shuffle connects, but Orton escapes the AA and tags in Kane. So Kane gets the Protoslam and Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena measures Kane for the AA, but Orton with an RKO. Reigns dumps Orton and Superpunches Kane as he and Orton brawl up the aisle and to the back. This leaves Kane and Cena, both semi-conscious. Kane throws Cena into the steps on the outside when both recover. Kane grabs the steps and uses them for the DQ at 12:04. Lame finish. **1/4 HHH demands Kane finish everything, and Kane is ready with the cut-throat sign. Tombstone connects to Cena, knocking him right out. Crowd wants another. The ref wants the doctor to check on Cena, as does HHH. JBL calls for the piledriver to be outlawed. HHH calls for...

Seth Rollins and a referee! Plan B in the house! The referee is nervous, but here we go!

Cash-in: Seth Rollins v. John Cena. Wait, never mind! Dean Ambrose attacks Rollins before we can go anywhere, and he sends Rollins into the crowd! Kane and HHH can't catch up as they both look to the outside. Meanwhile, HHH calls the referee an idiot for stalling. Note: no cash-in attempt.

So Kane gets a chair to use on Cena, but Roman Reigns returns to spear Kane down and howl. And now Reigns and Hunter are the only two standing as everyone waits to see what's next. Crowd is chanting YES with gusto! HHH and Reigns stare down as the crowd declares something else Awesome. Time seems to be standing still as we wait for the next move. HHH makes that move, standing down and walking away, briefcase in hand. Reigns stares at HHH, as the two don't break eye contact the whole way to the finish.

THOUGHTS:

There were a few slip-ups tonight – the opening segment overwrote continuity, and AJ's win is setting off alarm bells – but most of the show was entertaining, there were long matches in the beginning to highlight new talent, we had some huge talking points (Swagger, Jericho, Miz, AJ), and we had a white-hot post-main event brawl. I'm willing to forgive quite a bit. This was awesome.

STATS:

MATCH TIME: 53:47 over nine matches
BEST MATCH: The six-man
WORST MATCH: The Divas' Handicap match
NIGHT MVP: Even though AJ won a belt, I'm going Bray Wyatt.

RATING: 10. This is easily the best Raw since the night after WrestleMania. Everything tonight had a purpose, everyone got good heat, and the whole show was fun. Remember that? Fun? I had it.

Matt is on deck with Main Event. Tommy slogs through Impact. Scott Keith tries his hand at NXT. Brian, Logan, and company go retro. And I think I'll celebrate the long weekend with some ranting of my own – first on the Raw I delcared the most important of all time. Then it's time for a retro Mania.

Until then...

WE THE PEOPLE!

Comments

  1. Jericho's return was spoiled before the show

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  2. I give it a ten, a ten, a fucking ten.

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  3. Not to me, and i'm a 30 year long fan.

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  4. It was PWInsider who spoiled it. Where were you on that one Bayless?

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  5. It makes perfect sense for Ambrose to stalk Rollins and wait for him to cash in. It's poetic in a way. Typically the champion has to be concerned with a cash in at anytime, but now it's the person cashing in that has to be worried about someone attacking him when he makes his move.

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  6. I just read that if Bryan has to go under the knife again, he'll likely be out an additional 6 months. Ouch.

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  7. HowmuchdoesthisguyweighJune 30, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    Loved everything really. And IMO it's a bit of an overreaction to AJ winning. It should be a actual program between the 2 now and Paige wasn't really getting over. She will be a better heel as she was on NXT. Swagger finally face in that role, miz and Jericho return. Storytelling w/Ambrose and Rollins. Reigns vs HHH anticipation. 10/10.

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  8. Even with a great show, you somehow soured my mood with your comments on AJ. She's the best "Diva" since Trish and has been an interesting female character for over two years... which, I believe, is a record for someone who hasn't been in a bra and panties match or lesbian angle. It was poetic symmetry to turn the tables on Paige, and this sparks a needed change for Paige or retooling in NXT.

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  9. I'll say it better lead somewhere good, but as it stands, we appear to be back to everyone-else-on-earth-is-beneath-me AJ, which gets old fast unless she's proven wrong.

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  10. Bray Wyatt some some of the whitest pants in this business.

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  11. Whiter than Sheamus?

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  12. Yep, that's a fresh take on the MITB briefcase holder, I like it.

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  13. HowmuchdoesthisguyweighJune 30, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Makes the briefcase hold such importance to both ex-shield members.

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  14. It seemed to work for eight months as she was getting far and away the biggest pops of any other Divas. I think it's just a case of the division being weak and the company not having any other credible challengers for the belt.

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  15. AJ is a goddess, so everyone else *IS* beneath her. (I wish I were also. *Rimshot*)

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  16. Good stuff as always!

    TJ question:

    So the WWE Network has the AWA, and WCCW documentaries. I think there's a Mid South one, too. Am I missing any of the 'big' docs they've done about specific promotions outside of the WWE WCW NWO ECW stuff?

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  17. Sheamus in white pants would really help elevate him to that next level.

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  18. HowmuchdoesthisguyweighJune 30, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    AJ deserved that kind of return... Plus it is good storytelling that they both got "fluke" wins on one another. AJ is well above all other divas so I don't mind this kind of return

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  19. My thoughts:

    1. Did Paige piss hot?

    2. Wouldn't it make more sense for Ambrose to let Rollins cash in and THEN fuck up his shot? The MITB cash-in match isn't No DQ, so let him cash in and then attack him or punch the ref or something. You kill his case right then and there.

    3. Why on Earth is HHH putting Reigns in the 4-way at Battlegroud if he never wanted him in the MITB match to begin with? This is "DANIEL BRYAN IS A LIAR, CHEAT AND NOT CHAMPIONSHIP MATERIAL, SO I AM GONNA GIVE HIM 7 MORE TITLE SHOTS BECAUSE [throws smoke bomb on floor, runs]" all over again.

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  20. So is the fact that we agree on stuff as bad as when Gorilla and Heenan did?

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  21. What if Roman Reigns is turning heel? This could be why Triple H has put him in the main event at Battleground. Note: I'm kidding but holy shit how pissed would people be if that happened? Then Ambrose jobs clean to Kane and Cena holds the belt for eight months until he jobs to Triple H. Bwahahaha.

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  22. "She was getting far and away the biggest pops of any other Divas."


    You know she was a heel, right?

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  23. OH WILL YOU STOP

    I think it's just a sign that some things are so dumb that people who take the opposite view on most everything can agree.

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  24. Eh. Depending on who and what you read, AJ is pregnant and nobody's discussing her return to the company, The Miz is the big return for tonight, etc.

    Until Daniel Bryan, the company or his doctor says something, take any kind of timetable proposed by internet geeks with no medical background with a full cylinder of salt.

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  25. CruelConnectionNumber2June 30, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Just a heads up (good write-up) that it's Tom Phillips, not Todd.

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  26. CruelConnectionNumber2June 30, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    HHH sees the chance to burn the two top babyfaces at once. In his eyes, it's two birds with one stone. He'll succeed in costing Reigns the title, but not Cena.

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  27. You're a good writer; you are. But these are just so long.

    Anyway, I had a gut feeling that, as soon as Paige kissed the title, she was kissing it goodbye, and that's exactly what happened. I don't necessarily like it; I want an actual feud out of this. Who knows, maybe they'll progress with one.

    And now that AJ's back, maybe she can coax Mr. Punk back into the fray with her refreshed zeal. One can hope, anyway.

    I love Jericho, and I'm glad he's back. I hope he sticks around through WrestleMania.

    I also love Dean Ambrose. That is all.

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  28. See, that makes no sense. If the goal is to burn both babyfaces, why give them each, in WWE math, a 25% shot at the title? Book Cena in a triple threat with Orton and Kane and put Reigns in a handicap against himself and Rollins.

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  29. I can't decide if Bray Wyatt's look is ripped off from Max Cady or ECW Hat Guy.

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  30. CruelConnectionNumber2June 30, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    No, that's all. A Stampede doc hasn't been released but you can get a look at the Hart Family Anthology for some of it.

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  31. Yeah and The Wyatts are heels too but they're leading crowds with sing-a-longs. She was even able to muster a reaction at Mania after she beat every diva on the roster. She was the only thing in that match the crowd was invested in and this was after they had been shocked by Taker's loss.

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  32. So MitB is now kind of like a Reverse Hardcore Title?

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  33. You know this was a face turn, right?


    Aren't you the same guy that was gushing over the HEEL Zeb Colter and HELL Jack Swagger getting cheered earlier in the report?

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  34. It's not a rimshot, it's called a "sting."

    But ISWYDT

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  35. CruelConnectionNumber2June 30, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    I thought Paige was going to walk out or hit the ref with the title as soon as the bell rang. Would have been much better. She looked so stupid.

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  36. CruelConnectionNumber2June 30, 2014 at 10:25 PM

    He still is giving the Authority a 50% chance at winning the title which is better than two 25% chances. This stuff isn't really written for deep analysis, haha.

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  37. Why is it that when Wade Barrett gets injured, he's immediately stripped of the title, but when Daniel Bryan needs NECK SURGERY, he holds on to his strap(s) for an extra month+?

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  38. See, "it's just wrestling" is such a copout for shitty writing. Danielle Matheson did a whole write up about this, but when you say things like "it's not meant for deep analysis," what you're saying is "the shows I watch treat me like a retard without the capacity for critical thought or memory longer than 3 hours and I'm OK with that."

    You shouldn't be. And I'm not.

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  39. TM CooltrainerBretJune 30, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Andy, its acceptable when a guy we like plays politics, but not a guy we hate.

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  40. I have no problem with Paige, but no one gives a shit about Paige.

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  41. That's about it. They booked her to look like a blank slate who happened to be good at wrestling.

    Well, if that got people over in the WWE, Daniel Bryan would have been WWE Champion 3 days after his NXT debut.

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  42. Why didn't Vince just strip Austin of the title in 1998?

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  43. If you're going to be out might as well be out in the Sept-Dec period.


    Bite the bullet and aim for the big Rumble comeback.

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  44. "But these are just so long."

    I don't understand that. This is a wrestling blog for wrestling fans to read recaps of wrestling shows and comment upon those recaps. And you want less of that?

    Dude's got the time to write as much as can be made entertaining...and, who are we kidding? We've got the time (and the desire) to read them.

    "You know that thing we like? Yeah. I wish there was less of it."--who says that?

    (Other than bitching about 3 hour long Raw episodes...there SHOULD be less of Raw shows...like an hour less...)

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  45. Stranger in the AlpsJune 30, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Good show, big returns to help spice up the roster. I didn't miss The Miz at all but at least we can get some somewhat fresh matches with him as a heel. The same holds for Jericho. With him, I would hope that less is more, which means hold him off RAW except for promo work, and let him take part in big PPV/Special Event matches.


    And AJ needs a fucking triple meat triple cheese Whataburger STAT. Whatasize those french fries.

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  46. Here's the problem: maybe she's a symptom and not a cause, but her title reign was basically "treat opponent as not worthy of my time, beat opponent to prove myself right, repeat". It's not fun.


    Heel or face, when you treat all your opponents as nobodies, who benefits?

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  47. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryJune 30, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    Not gonna lie, Jericho coming back = awesome. Wyatts immediately beating him down = awesomer. AJ coming back and getting back her title off a wrestler more supergreen than The Fifth Element= awesomest.

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  48. "Even JBL is agog. (It's a real word; look it up.)"

    You're making great use of that Word of the Day calendar.

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  49. Uncrusimatic_Buck_NastyJune 30, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    if they're able to hold off on ambrose/rollins and bray/jericho, and also give us hhh/reigns and cena/lesnar, it might be the best summerslam ever

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  50. Uncrusimatic_Buck_NastyJune 30, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    wwe is now doing 50/50 booking in terms of quality. after last night's mediocre ppv, they turn around give us what could have passed for a post-wm raw

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  51. Actually, I was in the National Spelling Bee in my day. So there.

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  52. I was one of the lucky boys who got to have sex with their young female teacher.

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  53. Maybe it's just my particular taste in girls, but Paige is the hottest diva in years. I love that pale, gothic, white trash look.

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  54. I agree. I think that's the best plan. Get the Edge/Cena return-from-injury pop at the Rumble.

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  55. That is the darkest timeline.

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  56. You must be so sad that they aren't making any more Twilight sequels.

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  57. You were raped. Get counseling.

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  58. For legal reasons, they obviously couldn't say it, but the idea that he could leave and go work for WCW was there.

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  59. Virgil's Gimmick TableJuly 1, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    You're not alone. I prefer that look as well compared to the bleach blonde tan look.

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  60. No, that was that other time in San Quentin.

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  61. Who doesn't like Robert Pattinson?

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  62. Oh, and that time I chased Butch after he ran me over.

    I was pretty fuckin' far from OK.

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  63. LOL, I knew the moment I read a paragraph critiquing Paige that I would see a retort by Petuka in this thread. It's like waiting for wynxmcneal on a Jesse Baker post =)

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  64. Kristen Stewart?

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  65. So: Miz, Chris Jericho, and AJ, for Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett, and Vickie Guerrero.

    Good trade?

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  66. It's an ok one, Miz is a bad one in any instance, but Y2J and AJ's power outweigh his.

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  67. If Punk returned, it would have been one of the top 10 Raws.

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  68. Why does the first thing that comes to mind have to he Adam Sandler's "That's My Boy"<

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  69. Because they didn't know the severity of Bryan's injury at the time. For Barrett, they did.

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  70. I think when females spend some time around Robert, they stop being smitten with him.

    Na mean?

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  71. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryJuly 1, 2014 at 1:27 AM

    I do too, plus the accent. And again, she looks like a real girl, not some implanted out model that Johnny Ace hired on behalf of his dick.

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  72. Rusty ShacklefordJuly 1, 2014 at 4:17 AM

    Nicccceeeee....

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  73. 1. How much longer does RVD have left in the ring?
    2. Are we witnessing RVD's last run, hence him putting any and everybody over while it still means something?
    3. If RVD does have a few years left, how will they tweak his look when he can no longer pull off the long-hair look? He'd look too weird with his current attire and no hair.

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  74. I had no idea it was coming. Shit, I had no idea Miz would be there until they started to promote the return of a former WWE champ.


    AJ was also a surprise. Fantastic set of circumstances last night.

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  75. Finally, right? They've done the same thing with the cash in for way too long now. Very happy they seem to have found a new angle with it.

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  76. I have a feeling that they give Paige a PPV rematch at Battleground, and from the minute they had last night, I believe the two of them can go. For once during a PPV, maybe I won't turn away from the television during a Divas match.

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  77. In terms of Rollins and Ambrose, Ambrose is a loose cannon. All he cares about is fucking Rollins up. Character-wise, it makes perfect sense.


    I'm with you on Reigns, though.

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  78. Del Rio could be great as a long-term IC champ. Have him act all superior and faux-cultured and most-interesting-man-in-the-world delusional ('cause he sees himself as a true "Intercontinental" champion), let him be vicious in the ring but with chickens***-heel tendencies, give him somebody good for his first feud, and you've got something.

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  79. I was thinking the same thing. At the very least, hit AJ with the belt for a heel turn. At least build the program to the PPV.

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  80. Girl being the operative term. She makes me feel a bit like a pedo watching her on TV.

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  81. I picked the wrong show to skip apparently. Does RAW get replayed on the network?

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  82. In about a month.

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  83. TheOriginalDonaldJuly 1, 2014 at 5:51 AM

    are we talking eighteen-month reign as THE GREATEST INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION OF ALL TIME?

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