A Raw Awakening

Linus Report: Raw 12/01/2015

Hey, it’s WWE Raw! Brought to you tonight by TALKING TALKING TALKING!

The show started with John Cena coming down to the ring. Last we saw him he was Sad John Cena but tonight he seemed to be Happy John Cena. Some would call that mood swings.

He spoke about how last week The Authority fired Erick Rowan, The Ryback, and Dolph Ziggler, for the heinous crime of fighting to get The Authority banished. Turnabout, as they say, is fair play.

Cena said that The Authority fired three guys who the crowd live in New Orleans, and the WWE Universe watching at home, very much wanted to see. I wouldn’t go that far. He implored us to tweet #AuthoritySucks. I’m going to assume you did.

He revealed a grand plan to get the boys their jobs back: he was going to win the title at the Royal Rumble and then take the belt and go home. And he wouldn’t be coming back until they reinstated his buddies.

The GLARING flaw in this plan is that we have a champion right now who doesn’t defend his belt and rarely turns up to TV. Sometimes it feels like this show is trolling its own audience.

This brought The Authority out and they made fun of Cena for being responsible for his friends getting fired last week. Stephanie said that they didn’t want to fire them but Cena had made them. Hmm, I remember it differently.

HHH offered Cena an olive branch: if he could win a match tonight, his friends would return to the roster. Cena joked that it would be a 5-on-1 or 10-on-1 match, but HHH insisted it would be 1-on-1, against Seth Rollins. Cena looked intrigued. HHH then announced it would a lumberjack match, and it would start right then!

The lumberjacks for the match trundled down the isle. It was basically the heel locker room. There was Kane and the Big Show, and Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. Titus O’Neill was out there, along with FANDANGO!, Curtis Axel, Justin Gabriel, and the Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett, his only appearance of the night. That’s a shallow heel locker room.

Finally, Seth Rollins came out, accompanied by J&J Security, and the match was on!

You know how this went. It was every lumberjack match ever, except that there were no babyfaces to beat up the heel when he was thrown out of the ring. Instead, he got encouragement and succour. The fact that NOT ONE babyface came out to try and even the odds continues this show’s story that the babyfaces have no balls. Sad but true.

There was a spot in this match where Cena delivered a sliding kick to Cesaro on the outside and, as he fell back, Cesaro grabbed the ring apron covering and stretched it out of shape. All I could focus on for the next few minutes was that damn ring apron being imperfect. WELCOME TO RAW!

The match finished when the Big Show hit a knockout punch to Cena’s jaw and threw him back in the ring for Rollins to pin him. As a result, John Cena’s friends are still fired. Sucks to be them.

Michael Cole then told us that Cena and Rollins will be back later in the show for a contract signing with Brock Lesnar for their WWE title match at the Royal Rumble. I can’t see any problems resulting from that, no sire!

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon was with the Usos. Dean Ambrose showed up, and Stephanie thanked them for coming. She was holding a GIANT ‘phone. She wanted to talk to them about their words and actions on Smackdown.

The Usos had said that those three guys getting fired was unfair. Stephanie assured them she would not punish them for that. They looked relieved. No balls, see? She then told Jimmy Uso – except it was Jey and when he pointed it out she blew him off (no balls) – that his wife, Naomi would wrestle her match tonight with one hand tied behind her back. They walked off, disappointed. No. Balls.

She turned to Dean, who had said nothing thus far. She told him that he shouldn’t have signed himself out of the hospital after his knee injury on Raw to fight against The Authority on Smackdown. Doing so, she said, showed a psychological problem. She booked him in for a psychiatric assessment tonight – live on Raw! – and if he failed he was out of the Royal Rumble. He stayed silent but his facial expressions did seem to indicate that he, at least, had balls.

In another part of backstage, the Miz (with Mizdow in tow) congratulated his good friend George Clooney on his Golden Globe win and said that one day he might win the big one – the Slammy. Oh, you goof!

And in yet another part of backstage, Dean Ambrose was beginning his psychiatric evaluation with Dr Corbett. The doctor said he wanted to know what made Dean tick, and then placed a VERY LOUD ticking clock next to him. Ambrose stared at the clock in wonderment – it was VERY LOUD – until we went to commercial.

Hey, it’s A New Day! They’re already in the ring, so the best part of their schtick is gone already. They – or at least Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods – are fighting Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. Big E is on the outside supporting A New Day, while Tyson & Cesaro have Natalya and Adam Rose with them. They have Rose there because his matches with Big E kickstarted this A New Day/Tyson & Cesaro feud. Oh, sure, they can remember THAT continuity…

Tyson & Cesaro did that cool giant swing/dropkick combination but apart from that this was forgettable mush. The match finished with Xavier Woods doing a really bad double footstomp on a tiny part of Tyson Kidd. Every man involved in this deserves better.

Michael Cole teased that Randy Savage would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at Wrestlemania. They celebrated this by having their superstars do Randy Savage impressions. They really did.

Next week’s Raw will be RAW REUNION! Hulk Hogan, Razor Ramon, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels will be in attendance! Kevin Nash will not, however, after getting arrested for fighting his own son. Ah, a wrestler’s life!

The Big Show came down to the ring and TALKED FOREVER. He bragged about winning the WCW title on his first day on the job and told the crowd they were losers. He also said that Roman Reigns was a loser. Why should we care about him then?

Loser Reigns’s music then hit, and Reigns did his usual entrance through the crowd. I notice that they have spotlights searching for him every week but he always seems to come out opposite the hard camera. Maybe spotlight guys aren’t too quick on the uptake?

Reigns got in the ring, and the Big Show got out. If Reigns is a loser, what is someone who runs from a loser? He said he remembered the Big Show winning the WCW title but that he was TWELVE when it happened. The Big Show is old, you see.

Reigns then told a story. I am sadly not joking. HE TOLD A STORY. About a boy called Roman who had some magic beans. He did not say how he had come by these magic beans but I think we can assume some skulduggery and a cow was involved.

Anyway, the boy called Roman grew a magic beanstalk with his magic beans and climbed up to the top. He found a golden harp, a hen that laid golden eggs, and a pile of gold coins. I’m sensing a theme. He also found a giant. The boy called Roman said, “screw the treasure, I’m going to beat the crap out of the giant”. As the boy called Roman was preparing himself for the fight of his life, the giant walked away. This proved that the giant was the only loser in the entire kingdom.

He told the Big Show that the part in the story about the giant being a loser was about him and finished with a BELIEVE THAT. Oh, I believe it.

Now, let’s step away from the show for a minute. Despite what people would have you think, wrestling is cool. And wrestlers are cool. Especially the top guys. They’re the coolest. And because they’re the coolest, men want to be them, and women want to be with them. Kids have a different relationship with them that doesn’t fit into that saying. Look, the point of this is that ROMAN REIGNS IS A FUCKING GEEK. He’s probably a cool guy in real life but this show is pretty fucking far from real life for Roman. It may as well be a fairytale…

Anyway, Roman is out there for a reason, and that’s to fight Luke Harper. Remember when the Shield (with Reigns) and the Wyatt Family (with Harper) had those hot battles? Remember when a fight like this – two old foes clashing for the first time – used to get a build up? Nope, not even a trail. Welcome to Raw!

The Big Show sat at ringside, watching the match. The match itself was okay. Let Reigns wrestle just don’t let him talk seems to be the secret here. They went back and forth and did a ton of stuff and the Big Show got frustrated at Harper’s inability to win and threw his comfortable office chair at the steel steps. He tries to interfere but Reigns kicked him for his troubles.

Reigns won the match with a spear, clean, and the crowd – who had obviously been able to repress the memory of the story Roman told before the match – seemed happy for him.

After the match, the Big Show attacked Reigns and laid him out with the knockout punch. NOBODY IS GETTING OVER TONIGHT.

Backstage, the Miz (and Mizdow) talked about how Boyhood, a film created over a 12-year period, won the Golden Globe. Miz said that Mizdow had a film of his own. Mizdow revealed that he had secretly been filming the Miz going about his everyday life for the last six months for a film he called Manhood. The Miz looked like this was the first he’d heard of this. The big goof!

Naomi, having her hand tied behind her back, is in the ring to fight Alicia Fox. Alicia Fox has what a kind commentator would call “an unorthodox style” at the best of times, let alone when her opponent can’t properly play her part in the match. The parts of this match where one-armed Naomi was on offense were okay. The rest was not. Alicia won. This feud must continue!

In Dr Corbett’s office, Dean Ambrose was undergoing more psychiatric evaluation. This time it was image association. Dean associated HHH with “irritable bowel syndrome”, Reigns with “brother”, Rollins with “scumbag”, Hacksaw Jim Duggan with “Hooooooooooo!”, and Stephanie McMahon with “Hooooooooooo!” By saying this he was indicating that she had sex with men for money. Dr Corbett was shocked.

Hey, it’s the WWE Heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar! DEFEND THE TITLE, YOU DICK! He and Paul Heyman came down to the ring, and Heyman did a great talky, putting over Brock for ending The Undertaker’s streak in that very city, and said that any ideas Cena and Rollins have of winning at the Royal Rumble are fantasies, and Brock is reality. A non-fighting reality.

After a commercial break, the Usos were in the ring with Miz and Mizdow. For some unearthly reason, one member each of these two TAG TEAMS were to fight in singles’ competition. I’ve never understood that. Anyway, it’s Jey Uso versus the Miz.

Mizdow did his usual comedy, which is still getting over with the fans live, but it’s surely reaching its limit. This was short, and then they did most of the Usos/Miz stuff that they always do, and the Miz won with the Skull Crushing Finale. After the match, the Miz imitated the haka. What a goof!

DANIEL BRYAN came out to the ring, still very much looking like a garden gnome. It would be fair to say that the crowd liked him. He announced that, not only was he entering the Royal Rumble, but that he was going to win it! And then he was going to headline WrestleMania again, and the fans were happy about that.

Stephanie McMahon came out and talked to Bryan about his health issues. She offered him a free Stephanie McMahon workout DVD but he declined. I’ll have it! She told him that he overcame enormous odds to get where he got to last year, and wondered if he thought he could do it again. Bryan answered with a YES! YES! YES! and told Stephanie that doing the arm-point-thingy that accompanies the chant would probably be better exercise than her DVD.

She did not like this. She told him that his first match back will not be at the Royal Rumble, it will be on Smackdown on Thursday. Against the man who nearly ended his career, Kane.

In the video package they showed from last year, of Kane almost ending Bryan’s career, Kane was wearing a frightful mask, and dressed in a sinister shade of red and black. Tonight, Kane was wearing a suit and tie. A purple tie.

Kane came down to the ring and Bryan attacked him. Kane fought back and sent Bryan into the ring steps. He then struggled to remove his suit jacket and that purple tie. He moved to tombstone Bryan on the steel steps but Bryan fought back and PUMMELED Kane. The crowd started to boo, which means that referees – the police force of the WWE universe – were on their way to break things up, and sure enough they arrived.

BUT! Bryan kept fighting. He kept PUMMELING Kane until the Big Red Machine fled up the ramp. BRYAN WINS!

Backstage, Seth Rollins was talking to his goons about how happy he was to pin John Cena. He turned around to be confronted by Brock Lesnar. Lesnar asked him if he was the guy who weaselled himself into his title fight at the Royal Rumble. Rollins informed Lesnar that he was the future of the company, but Lesnar told Rollins that the future did not start until he said it did.

Paul Heyman appeared and put himself between the two. He said they should work together to eliminate Cena and then fight it out between themselves. They liked this. Rollins looked great in this – at no point did he act like Lesnar was beneath him, even though he obviously is.

It’s a night for matches with no entrances because already in the ring were Brie Bella and Paige, ready to lock up. They are fighting because Nikki Bella and Natalya are feuding, and Paige is best friends with Natalya now. Oh, watch Total Divas. It’s all on there. Brie had Nikki with her, and Paige had Natalya, and also Tyson Kidd because reasons.

Ehh, they had a match. It ended when Tyson Kidd thought Paige had won and started to climb into the ring to celebrate with her. The match was not over and Paige was distracted by this, and she fell victim to the DEADLIEST FINISHER in professional wrestling today, the schoolboy roll-up.

After the match, Paige slapped Tyson and Natalya laughed.

Backstage, Ambivalent John Cena was sat, lost his own thoughts.

Bray Wyatt said something about the Royal Rumble. I’m not sure what because, you know, Bray Wyatt. Still better than Roman Reigns.

They announced that Randy Savage will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Wrestlemania. By Hulk Hogan. A man who Randy Savage, shortly before he died, recorded a rap album about his hatred for. Wrestling!

Hey, it’s the Ascension! As they were coming to the ring – they got an entrance – they played a pre-recorded promo where they said they were better than Demolition, the Powers of Pain, and the Road Warriors. The most contemporary of those teams last competed in the WWE TWELVE years ago, and one of them split TWENTY FIVE years ago. Hell, one of the six guys making up those teams has been DEAD for ten years! I believe this is a feud that the Ascension can win.

Anyhoo, they were fighting two unnamed Area Jobbers again tonight (who were actually Bu Ku Dao & Carlos Socorro, for those who are taking notes), and the beat up the smaller guy – who Booker T informed was Asian not Cajun – and elbowed the other guy off the apron, before hitting the Fall Of Man for the win. Ascension 4 Area Jobbers 0.

In Dr Corbett’s office, Dean Ambrose had turned the tables on the psychiatrist, who was blubbing on the couch. Dean told him that if he signed off on him he’d make sure the doctor would get some help. The doctor signed and Dean told him that, no, it wasn’t normal to pee sitting down. Tim & Eric disagree,

Back in the ring, Rusev and Lana were waiting for a match with The Ryback that, obviously, would not happen. Lana, who managed to look amazing even in BROWN, wanted to thank the Authority for firing The Ryback, and said it was typical that an American who actually had a job would choose to be subordinate.

Rusev took the mic and cut a promo on The Ryback. Who is, as we know, an ex-wrestler. He told The Ryback he was lucky to have been fired because if he hadn’t he would have ended up in the Royal Rumble and been thrown out by Rusev, along with twenty-eight others. Doesn’t seem so bad. What with The Ascension cutting promos on dead men, and Rusev picking fights with ex-wrestlers, this was quite the show for feuding.

Suddenly, Dean Ambrose appeared! He punched and kicked Rusev to the floor and the show went to commercial.

After the commercial, the announcers told us that the Authority had made this a match. So they had a match. A couple of minutes in, Ambrose reinjured his knee, but fought through the pain. Eventually, the referee decided that Ambrose could not continue and so even the one babyface left with any balls was forced to surrender them because of a bad knee. After the match, Rusev kicked Ambrose in the head. Poor Ambrose.

Hey, it’s our main event! And for the third week in a row the main event is not a match! It was the contract signing for the WWE Heavyweight title match at the Royal Rumble, and HHH & Stephanie were already in the red-carpeted ring.

They brought out Seth Rollins, who has his goons with him, and then called out John Cena. Lastly, they were joined by WWE champion Brock Lesnar, and his advocate Paul Heyman.

Heyman cut a great talky, laying out the scenario for anyone not paying attention. He said that it was Rollins’s plan that had played out, which Rollins told him was a hell of a plan if he says so himself, and Heyman told him that he hadn’t finished. Spiky.

Heyman then finished up and allowed Rollins to speak. Rollins wondered if Lesnar could survive a Triple Threat match, and Heyman was about to answer him, but Seth told him that he wasn’t finished. Spikier.

Cena had his say, but really this wasn’t his show, and they all signed the contract, before Rollins moved to attack Cena. Cena sees it coming but gets German suplexed by Lesnar, who then hit Rollins with one for good measure.

Cena popped up and put Lesnar through the signing table with the Attitude Adjustment, but is then kicked by Rollins and given a kerb stomp for his troubles. Rollins then kerb stomps Lesnar and he stood above the wreckage, surveying the damage he had caused…

This was an Okay Show. It seemed very long in places, because of all the TALKING TALKING TALKING, but did move things along, at least in the main event feud. Everything else is treading water.