The PG Era Rant for Raw, November 24, 2014.
This rant is dedicated to my mom and dad on their 41st wedding anniversary.
Our pre-show preview doesn't talk about that, but it does mention this:
- The Authority give a farewell address.
- John Cena will announce who is in charge tonight. At first, it was implied he would decide, but it was later clarified the Board of Directors had decided and Cena would merely introduce him.
- Big Show will explain why he turned heel. (And he'll have to come up with a reason other than “he was past his due date”.)
- Goldust and Stardust call in their rematch against The Miz and Damien Sandow.
Live from Indianapolis, IN.
Your hosts are a guy who should call matches, a guy who should retire, and a guy with no one left to cheer for. It's an exercise to the reader which is which.
We open with Sting's entrance from Survivor Series.
And we open – hopefully for the last time in ages – with a HHH promo. Are they still the Authority if they have no authority? HASHTAG! Stephanie's voice is half-cracking as she says the crowd has no respect. They don't know how to be a leader or how to accept responsibility for failure. And they should've won, but Sting changed everything. But now, they have no power. And on top of that, only John Cena can bring them back.
But Stephanie doesn't feel like a loser, because she still has responsibilities – maybe not in the ring, but backstage, and with their family. Stephanie finally falls apart as HHH asks if the crowd's loving seeing the humility. HHH: “You wanna see my wife cry?” Crowd: “YES YES YES!” HHH calls the crowd bullies. HHH tells them to get it out of their system, because they got what they wanted... but be careful about what comes next. No one else can handle absolute power.
HHH and Stephanie are in a financial, commercial world. The fans don't understand that sometimes what the fans want won't help the bottom line. Now who's going to make the decisions now? John Cena? Dolph Ziggler? Maybe Sting? Oh, yeah, about that...
HHH has no idea why Sting got involved. Was it just to get the rub from HHH? Not that it matters, because he'll never be in a WWE ring again. You think the Authority's gone, but the WWE is on life support without a leader. HHH has a greater responsibility than anyone can imagine. HHH says they have the luxury of not knowing that HHH had to make the decisions against the fans to keep the WWE alive. He goes into the full Few Good Men speech as the crowd is getting sick of it. He says no one makes it without the Authority. Not Cena, Ziggler, Ryback, OR the fans. So hey, you won – first question: what do you do when Raw dies? Just sit on the couch and cry? Good luck – hey, one more cheer for the death, please? We're leaving now.
But first, mark HHH's words: they will beg for their return.
AND THEN DANIEL BRYAN'S MUSIC HITS! And yes, he's here in street clothes. He gets six inches from HHH and leads YES right in his face. Then does the same to Stephanie, who can barely hold herself together. HHH glares at him, but there's nothing he can do so he just leaves as the YES chant continues. And Daniel Bryan follows them, jumping and YESing all the way. HHH is fuming and Stephanie is despondent.
HHH, as he seems to do, went on too long. But Daniel Bryan's appearance was just an awesome touch, since it started with him and had to end with him. And the way he kept rubbing it in was pure schadenfreude. Beautifully done.
And they and Daniel Bryan are still going YES as we come back. He says it's so good to be here, and it felt SO MUCH FUN to eject HHH and Stephanie. But what about their team? See, HE'S the man in charge tonight. But with only the small amount of power he has, he wants the Authority team to come out. Hey, losing doesn't make them bad people, so give them an arousing welcome! (Crowd: boo!) NEW HASHTAG! (Cole calls each one a loser as they come out. He's just giddy.)
Now, Daniel Bryan doesn't hold grudges, so no vacating titles or handicap matches. Instead, we'll start with Seth Rollins. He's been in handicap matches all the time, so now he'll be in another one: Seth/?/? v. Cena/Ziggler. (Bryan gives credit to Ziggler for “single-handedly ending the Authority”.) Rollins (after having some trouble with his mic) tries to interrupt. (Seth: “Are you in control of the microphones, too?” Daniel: “Uh... yes.”) Rollins is still the future of the WWE, so they can't stop that. But who's the partners? The dwarfs? JBL and Cole? But it won't be up to Bryan – it's up to the fans! Yes, it's a WWE App Match. Your choices are Henry/Harper, Henry/Kane, or Noble/Mercury.
Rollins: “Wait, they're not even real security! I mean, they're just security!” But Bryan says he has more business to do. And now, to Kane. What would Dr. Shelby say about you now, Kane? If it was up to him, he wouldn't have the job any more... wait, it IS up to him! So, he needs to ask the crowd. (Crowd: NO!) But he won't fire Kane – he'll just demote him to working concessions. (If any of those concessions were $9.99, this would become the best segment ever.)
So we move on to Rusev. So, since Rusev is the US champion, maybe he should be more US-like. So Rusev has two choices: either a battle royal for the US title with just about everyone, or he takes the Pledge of Allegiance. (Henry can barely keep a straight face.) Rusev chooses Option C: he's outta here.
Luke Harper's turn. He won the I-C title with help from Jamie and Joey (please vote for them tonight), but tonight, he's defending the title, and it's against Dean Ambrose. Harper is... um... hard to say how he is. Mark Henry's about to leave, but Bryan isn't done. Some big guy asked for a favor – that favor being to avenge a major loss. It's “the Ryback”. He wants Mark Henry tonight, and Bryan says YES. And that match is NEXT! And Ryback charges Henry as we begin with Henry eating post before the bell rings! Officials have separate them as we go to break before we begin.
Okay, here's the thing: we spent half an hour just talking. I should hate this. I really should. But the absolute novelty of the return of Daniel Bryan, and the fact that Bryan's enthusiasm is contagious, really helps. This is the best half-hour of not wrestling I've seen in a long time. Now, what's the difference? In my mind, it's that most of the time, wrestlers act like they're reading lines. The good ones – Cena, Bryan, Rock, Punk, Shawn, Heyman – act like they're talking. It's such a difference.
Ryback v. Mark Henry. Henry is groggy as the bell rings. Ryback runs him over in the corner, but Henry shoves him away and gains his bearings. Ryback with a spinebuster and it's feeding time. Meathook, goodnight at 53 seconds. Utter squash.
HHH and Stephanie are ready to leave in the back when they meet Vince. Stephanie apologizes for letting him down, but Vince isn't mad. He's disappointed, though. He gave them “insurmountable” odds because that's what you need to overcome in the corporate world, and they failed. “I don't like that feeling.” He wants to remember the feeling of failure, and he says they can fix it. But don't be sorry – Vince has never been sorry for anything, unless you count spending Thanksgiving with them. He tells to them to leave with him, and the limo takes off.
I'm getting a night-after-Mania vibe to this show. I don't mean it'll be as good; I do mean it'll be a lot of story advancement and minimal in-ring effort. We've had 1 minute of wrestling so far and I don't even feel upset.
Intercontinental Title: Luke Harper (champion) v. Dean Ambrose (challenger). We look at the crazy both Ambrose and Bray Wyatt gave us last night. HASHTAG! Crowd is loud for Ambrose. Harper puts Ambrose in the corner, but Ambrose escapes and throws rights. Harper with a double chop and he fish-hooks Ambrose. Into the corner, and another double-chop. Harper with a tackle, but Ambrose gets a drop toe-hold and some crossface blows into an armbar. Ambrose with the Del Rio armbreaker, and he switches to a chicken wing. Harper yanks the nose to break. Blind charge eats elbow, and Ambrose with a spinning back elbow to send Harper bailing. Ambrose with a pescado as we go to break.
The way things are going, I know what the most likely outcome is, but almost nothing would surprise me. I don't get that feeling very often.
Intercontinental Title, continued. Harper has done the Gator Roll (probably) and has a headlock. Someone just got kicked out by security, which distracts the crowd, so they keep the chinlock on for a little longer. Finally, everyone's ready, so Ambrose fights out. A Hammer Throw by Harper stops it, though. Harper casually kicks Ambrose and delivers uppercuts. He shoves Ambrose around with his boot and delivers palm strikes, but Ambrose comes back with a high kick only to have it caught into a faceplant for one. Gator Roll into a headlock as the crowd has a Harper section that turns into Ambrose support. Ambrose breaks, but Harper tosses him out of the ring. Ambrose tries to enter, but Harper uppercuts him back down and tosses him into the barricade. Ambrose returns with a lariat out of nowhere. Back in, it's a slugfest, won by Ambrose with forearm shivers. Corner bulldog is escaped, but Harper misses a charge and Ambrose cradles him for two. Ambrose with a crossbody for two. Harper bails to the apron and headbutts him, but Ambrose blocks a suplex, ties Harper up, and dropkicks him. This leads to a guillotine legdrop (like the WCW cruiserweights abused) as Harper facefaults and Ambrose gets two. Ambrose works Harper over in the corner, but runs into the Scrapbuster for two. Crowd cheers Ambrose as Harper tries a powerbomb, but Ambrose escapes and gets a backslide for two. Harper nails an elbow and goes up top with Ambrose, but Ambrose blocks a superplex and headbutts Harper down. Ambrose floors him with a diving elbow strike for two. Big boot by Harper gets two. Ambrose with the rope-tangle clothesline for two. Harper bails out and tries to walk, but Ambrose stops that with a tope suicida. Back in, a fight over Dirty Deeds, but Harper shoves Ambrose into the ref for a DQ at 14:32. Lame finish to a fun match. ***1/4
Author's note: I am not taking points off for the chinlock during the crowd distraction. If they're not watching, take a rest. Perfectly reasonable.
Harper boots Ambrose out of the ring, but runs into a forearm when he tries a dive. Ambrose brings a chair in and gives Harper Dirty Deeds on the chair. Crowd DEMANDS tables, and with a wry smile, Ambrose obliges... with a ladder included free of charge. But before we can continue, Bray Wyatt appears and ambushes Ambrose, delivering Sister Abigail's Kiss on the floor. Ambrose is sent flying into the announcers, then piles up any chair he can find on Ambrose. He stands on the table, dropping the last one for effect, and raises his glance on high. Massive heat for this.
I am totally looking forward to the TLC blowoff – assuming that's the blowoff. With the way they're doing the stacking of chairs and the teasing of all three weapons, this match has to end spectacularly.
Big E's New Day is coming.
And now, Santino Marella comes out with Larry the Cable Guy to pimp their movie. Um... Lar-Rey Mysterio is out, actually. He's out in the mask, sneakers, and camo shorts. And shirtless. And he wants to wrestle. He's not happy when Santino says there's no match – but he offers the eye candy for the ladies. Larry says he beat up on Savage in Florida for his training. Fred Savage, but still. Larry admits he's trying to dress like Stone Cold... Creamery.
Okay, enough offbeat shenanigans – it's time for Goldust and Stardust to scare him off.
Okay, so Larry's comedy is an acquired taste to say the least, so let's talk about New Day instead: if this leads to Reverend Slick making a cameo at some point, I will mark out.
WWE Tag Team Titles: The Miz and Damien Sandow (champions) v. Goldust and Stardust (challengers). And yes, Sandow has a pair of WWE Shop replica titles to wear so that Miz can wear both real titles. An inset promo reveals that Miz thought all the Sting headlines were about him. HASHTAG! Stardust and Miz start, and Miz cranks the arm. He can't quite tag in Sandow, so Goldust gets in and a double-team ensues. Goldust with a kneeling uppercut and inverted atomic drop... which Sandow runs in to sell. Goldust stares at him long enough for Miz to get a cradle for two, and he punches away in the corner. Through-the-ropes clothesline, but Goldust catches Miz and gets a kneelift. Stardust in, and he drops an elbowsmash and hooks the chinlock. Stardust trips the leg and tries for a leglock, but Miz escapes. Stardust cuts off the hot tag and throws Miz from the ring as we go to break.
Okay, so during the intro: Lilian introduced them as “The Miz... and Damien Sandow.” Not just to contrast the reaction, but to get a rise out of Miz.
Tag Team Titles, continued. Stardust and Miz are slugging it out, but heads collide and both men are down. Hot tag Sandow, and he gets the Million Dollar Neckbreaker and kipup. Goldust distracts, though, and Stardust gets the Macho Hotshot as Miz's face needs medical attention. Goldust in, and he slugs away in the corner, then hooks the chinlock. Sandow fights out, blocking a blind charge, but he runs into a spinebuster for two. JBL begins ranting because screw the match. Stardust in for a double-team (Goldust: “I got til five!”), and no one's there to tag out for Sandow, so Stardust gets a front suplex for two, twice. Stardust to an armbar as Miz may have a career-ending broken nose. Sandow tries to fight out with headbutts, but miscommunication means Sandow gets Stardust floored. Figure-four by Sandow (on a Rhodes, ironically), but Goldust saves. Sandow dumps Goldust, and Stardust escapes the SCF from Sandow. Miz tags himself in, so Sandow eating Beautiful Disaster means nothing. SCF from Miz ends it at 10:11. Lilian says Mizdow this time. Miz and Sandow raise their titles out of sync so the crowd can go “boo” / “yay”. And Sandow seems a little miffed. **1/4
It's not about being subtle. It's about making the crowd want to see it. The biggest pops are always the ones you build to until it happens, and a result you want to see coming from a mile away will usually get a bigger reaction than one that comes out of nowhere.
Kane is working concessions with an awful boss.
So here's Rusev now with Lana, who calls the whole thing unfair. And America's unfair. Who forces their will upon their people, anyway? (The irony doesn't go unnoticed.) Rusev rants in Bulgarian, then says he won't be brainwashed. So that's it, we're done. Except Daniel Bryan is on the Tron and tells them that the other option is the battle royal. But hey, they get a second chance to decide – and he's sending Sgt. Slaughter to “supervise” this time. (He was, as always, available.) He slobbers on Rusev and drops the flag, much to Lana's dismay. An argument breaks out amid the USA chant, and Sarge demands the pledge. And that's an order! Rusev refuses, but Lana meekly complies – until the line “of the United States of America”, at which point Rusev stops her. Rusev ends this and decides for Option IV: murder Sarge. Sarge, to his credit, is ready to go...
...and Jack Swagger remembers they had an issue a few months ago and races in. Rusev cuts him off and attacks, but jumps into the high-angle suplex and Ankle Lock! Rusev breaks and escapes, ready to walk off. Sarge joins in WE THE PEOPLE.
So I guess the kayfabe result is that Lana's very despondent attempt at the Pledge was enough to stop the battle royal. Then again, let's hope they pick this up later, with next week's booker – er, interim GM – calling him on it.
Meanwhile, Kane has to sell concessions to Santino and Larry and hilarity ensues.
Justin Gabriel v. “The New And Improved” Fandango. So, wait, who's the heel here? I watch NXT – does that just not count? So now he's doing a salsa dance with Rosa Mendes. Fandango cuts off a criss-cross with an elbow as the crowd tries to sing his old theme. Fandango punches down Gabriel in the corner, following with a Hammer Throw and boot rake. Gabriel cuts Fandango up and nails a diving fistdrop, then a diving elbow strike, but Fandango flips Gabriel with a lariat. Suplex cutter as the crowd gives up and chants for CM Punk. Diving legdrop ends it at 1:47. The New And Improved Fandango is neither new nor improved. Discuss.
We look back at Big Show saying the heck with this and leaving Team Cena. Then he bullies some techies.
As I said in the live thread: always make sure to turn your Big Show every 6 months or 6,000 chinlocks.
Members of the local NFL team in the house!
Your Main Event main event is Dean Ambrose facing Kane.
And here's a smiling, happy Big Show. He wants to get in the crowd's good graces – the online reactions are getting to him. They act like it's a horrible atrocity and he's “a bad guy”. He's not; he's human! He screwed up. Show is starting to cry as he says everyone makes mistakes. Look, he hates the Authority too! Remember? They took his job and house? They made him beat up Daniel Bryan? Yeah, he's a giant and a strong man and all... but it's a medical condition! But he's got feelings like all of you and a family to feed!
Yeah, last night, he panicked, okay? He looked at the sides, saw Dolph knocked out, John Cena barely standing, and three opponents... and he figured he was going to lose. So he acted out of self-preservation. So if you could see his point of view, you'd forgive him, right? Yeah, people want to boo and cheer, but now's not the time. (Crowd: Boo.)
BIG SHOW IS A GOOD PERSON, REALLY. Big Show wished he didn't do it, given how things turned out. Show: “You believe that, right?” Crowd: “No.” Show doesn't want to sound like a jerk, but look, he's been in this 20 years and they owe him one mis-step. Can we just forget what happened, please? (Crowd: You Sold Out.)
And that's the reaction the crowd was supposed to give, because Big Show gets angry. How dare that high and mighty crowd pass judgment on him when they have nothing on the line! This is his livelihood – not the fans'! He hears what they say, but that's not who he is. He deserves respect, dammit! You gonna boo him? Guess what: he hears the cowards in the locker room say it – so say it to his face right damn now!
And taking up the challenge: Erick Rowan. Big Show finds the idea that Rowan of all people comes out idiotic. “The upside-down Sheamus has something to say!?” He was expecting John Cena – he has a legit gripe. But ROWAN? What could Rowan say, considering he doesn't have his toys with him? Rowan just approaches as Show keeps mocking him. Crowd begins to chant for Rowan as Show tells him he's in a man's world now and Rowan has no place being in the ring.
But Rowan takes the mic. “I don't like BULLIES!” And with that, the fight is on, with Rowan flooring Show with a big boot. Show flips the stairs in anger as Rowan dares him to return. Show: “You just sealed your fate!” Rowan won't back down, so Show walks off instead. There was an Erick Rowan chant.
Seth Rollins is texting while Noble and Mercury try to give him a pep talk. Rollins, though, says they're a little small for him. Then Dolph Ziggler arrives to give THEM a pep talk. In fact, he asked his many many Twitter followers to vote for them. Seth feels like he's surrounded by idiots.
So, please update your 80s-to-modern day chart: John Cena as Hulk Hogan, Dean Ambrose as Roddy Piper, Brock Lesnar as Andre the Giant, Daniel Bryan as Randy Savage, Seth Rollins as Ted DiBiase, Rusev as Nikolai Volkoff, Jack Swagger as Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and now Erick Rowan as George Steele. Play along at home! And as I said in the live thread, the idea of one of Cena's teammates being mad at almost being fired is a better story.
Brie Bella v. AJ Lee. But first, AJ has a mic. She sarcastically calls Nikki on winning her accessory, and says: “Brie, lesbi-honest, you did the impossible: you proved you're an even bigger skank than your sister.” One guess what the crowd chants. Brie with forearms in the corner, but AJ fires back and sends her out of the ring. AJ floors Nikki, but Brie floors AJ on the outside. Back in, it gets two. Brie with a single-arm DDT and she works the arm. Brie wraps the arm around the bottom rope, then kicks the arm. Into a hammerlock, as the crowd finalls remembers her name is AJ and chants for her. Somewhat. AJ elbows out, but Brie goes back to the arm. Another single-arm try leeds to an AJ rollup for one. Thesz Press and she gets a corner clothesline. Shining Wizard gets two. Brie kicks AJ away, but Nikki drapes the arm on the ropes and La Majistral gets it at 3:24. 3/4* AJ is furious and says the two of them are not half the woman she is. (Nikki checks her chest in response.) AJ unleashes a hell of a line: “Talent is not sexually transmitted.”
Just an observation about that last comment: yes, it's a great shot at Total Divas and what the two are known for, but if AJ stood on her own two feet with the crowd, it may have more bite. As it is, it sounds like there's a ready-made comeback. Though I'm sure these lines will be all over Facebook as evidence of how awesome AJ is. Which means, again, I have no point.
Adam Rose and The Bunny v. Tyson Kidd and Natalya. So does this mean that the Bunny is female? Larry and Santino are on commentary, and the Bunny spreads some love. Rose is not amused and throws the Bunny in. Rose and Kidd start. The Bunny tries to fire up the crowd, but Rose makes him stay in the corner. And now, it'll be Bunny starting instead. He ducks and does the Flair Strut. Kidd corners Bunny, but Bunny escapes and twerks. Blind charge eats rabbit's feet, and Bunny gets a missile dropkick and bicycle stomp in the corner. He shows his moves to commentary, but Kidd rebounds with a spinkick that may well knock the Bunny out. Natalya wants in now, and Kidd obliges. So Natalya helps the Bunny up. Kidd is upset and tags back in, getting a kiss from Natalya... and running into a flapjack. What passes for a hot tag to Rose, and he gets a spinebuster for two. Rose and Bunny talk strategy, but Bunny trips Rose by mistake and Kidd gets the cradle for the pin at 3:07. I'm going to pass on rating this because I have no idea how I would.
Renee Young talks to Ryback. Ryback says it's Thanksgiving and that means it's time to feed. He's off to the concession stand.
Look, just unmask the Bunny and pull the trigger already, because this is hurting both of them.
Big E, Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston are together in their New Day! And in this vignette, more character development than before: their strengths (Kofi's speed, Big E's power, and Woods's brains) mesh well enough to make them stronger united.
Ryback visits Kane and orders things not on the menu. Kane throws a hot dog at him. The end result kinda writes itself. “Hey Kane! You forgot your nuts!”
Renee Young is with Cena and Ziggler. It's been a heck of a 24 hours. Last night, after Big Show's backstabbing, Cena saw that Ziggler was on his own against three guys. People's jobs were on the line, but Dolph promised he would never stop surviving. But still, the team needed a miracle – and that's where Sting came in. And because of him – and Dolph – the Authority's done. Daniel Bryan is running Raw and the fans are in charge. It's all about the WWE App, but the show's gonna be stolen.
Cena had to get his lines in, but he still spent some time getting Dolph Ziggler over. So wait, who's Dolph in the 80s comparison? Steamboat? Is that too generous?
Your SmackDown highlight will be MizTV with the Big Show.
Daniel Bryan will announce the winners of the WWE App vote, as if we didn't know.
Dolph Ziggler and John Cena v. Seth Rollins and Noble/Mercury (93%). Noble and Mercury are excited. Rollins... isn't. Noble (with a chant) starts with Cena. Cena even offers a headlock. Mercury tags in, and we get a comedy criss-cross that ends with the two stooges colliding. Rollins stops an AA to Mercury and pulls them out to regroup as we go to break.
The funny part about this is that being a nameless security guy has made Jamie Noble more popular than he ever was a Jamie Noble. With Mercury it's debatable given how big MNM were, though.
Main event, continued. Cena is stuck in the wrong corner as Noble works him over with shoulder thrusts. He stomps away on Cena, but a blind charge eats the post. Hot tag Dolph, and Noble goes flying. Rude Awakening and giant elbowdrop follow. Sky High DDT gets two, Mercury saves. Rollins lariats Dolph to put Noble back in control. Rollins tosses Dolph to the outside, and Mercury sends him into the barricade. Rollins adds a Hotshot onto the apron. Back in, Rollins with a hairpull armbar. Noble in, and he kicks away and gets a slam and legdrop for one, brother. To the chinlock, but Dolph breaks with a jawbreaker. Stinger Splash by Dolph misses, though. Noble with a headstomp, but Dolph wakes up with a dropkick out of nowhere. Mercury stops a hot tag, but Dolph flips out of a back suplex and gets it anyway. Cena goes through the comeback sequence on Mercury, then chases Rollins off the apron before the Five-Knukle Shuffle. Rollins is surrounded, but Noble and Mercury attack only to collide on the double-whip. Stereo finishers end it at 10:02. ** Seth Rollins tries to walk away, but Daniel Bryan tosses him back for a superkick and AA. YES CHANTS FOR EVERYONE!
This was essentially a breather episode after a red-hot finish to Survivor Series. Everyone got to have a good time, Daniel Bryan being around made it entertaining and exciting, and we had decent matches. New Day even got some love. Sure the 10:00 to 10:30 time dragged a little, but overall a very entertaining...
Wait a minute – the anonymous Raw GM signal goes off. Michael Cole giggles as he gets to do his routine again. And I Quote: party's over. It's Cyber Monday next week as order and discipline return.
YOU END THE SHOW LIKE THAT!? Really? Kill all the positive vibes of a feel-good show with that? I don't get it. It won't... it won't bug me too much, but it is a head-scratcher. And don't we know that Hornswoggle is the anonymous GM?
MATCH TIME: 43:56 over seven matches
BEST MATCH: Ambrose/Harper
WORST MATCH: Mixed species match
NIGHT MVP: Daniel Bryan
FINAL SCORE: 7.5. Hey, all I ask is entertainment, and I got it.
Matt Perri is going to be here with Main Event. Danielle will recap Total Divas at gunpoint. Tommy Hall checks out NXT and SmackDown. Scott Keith runs the mailbag. And on Thanksgiving, I'll do a special WrestleMania Retro Rant. And maybe Brian Bayless will run the e-fed.
Enjoy the turkeys. I love you, Mom and Dad. I'll see you Thursday!