A Raw Awakening

Linus Report: RAW 26/01/15

Hey, it’s WWE Raw! Boooooooooooo!

So, Raw got cancelled. Not forever, just for this week. There’s a big blizzard blowing through the north east and they can’t hold a taping, so some of the crew have decamped to Titan Towers in Stamford, Connecticut, like the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse.

The show opened with a weather report. Well, lots of them. All saying the same thing. WEATHER IS BAD. Michael Cole and Booker T then welcomed us to the show, and explained that they would be showing the two big matches from last night’s PPV on this show. For free. Fuck you if you paid anything to see them.

JBL was up on the roof, trying to do a comedy piece about the weather. Only it wasn’t that bad, just a few wisps of snow. He drew a funny picture, said he was cold, and came back inside. He did not bury any WWE superstar while he was up there so it was probably JBL’s best contribution to Raw for years.

Hey, it’s last night’s WWE Heavyweight title match! It was a Great Match! But I just watched it last night so FFW, yeah?

After the match, Michael Cole interviewed Seth Rollins, who was good here. He said little of interest but what were you expecting? He was told that Brock was going to be interviewed next so decided to wait around for him.

After the break, Lesnar appeared and told Rollins he was sitting in his seat. Rollins told him he could have it and then knocked it over. Dick.

So, Cole sat down with Brock Lesnar and Lesnar’s advocate, Paul Heyman. Heyman was incredible here. He emphasised just how important Brock is, and how the WWE universe should enjoy him while they have him because he’s a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. Oh, they’re going to enjoy him, alright: enjoy him kicking Roman Reigns in the face.

Cole asked Brock’s thoughts on Reigns, and Brock said he was happy for him, and would like to meet him. This had a weird vibe to it, but if the fans are going to turn Brock you have to go through with it.

Hey, it’s last night’s Royal Rumble match! FFW! FFW! FFW! (It seems they lowered the volume of boos a little, but still left them in. They’re calling it a “controversial match”, rather than a “bad idea”, which is novel).

After the Rumble, Byron Saxton sat down with Roman Reigns for a bit of a chat. This was basically set up to address the boo-boys’ claims that he’s being pushed into a spot he’s not ready for. Reigns talked around that without really addressing it.

Byron then asked him about the boos, and whether he thought it was fair. Reigns said that life isn’t fair and people who buy a ticket can do whatever they like. Interesting.

Finally, Byron asked him if he felt handicapped by appearing to be the chosen one, picked by the WWE higher-ups. Reigns said he was grateful for the opportunity, but that it was just that – an opportunity. And he still had to capitalise on it. Which would be true if he didn’t just get the rub without earning it.

It must be me, because lots of people who saw this show thought Reigns was good here. I can’t see it. He doesn’t have that x-factor that all the top guys have. There’s no spark, no feeling that I want to see what this man does and says and that I will pay money to do it. In that, in my eyes, he’s a failure. That’s not to say he can’t be a good hand, he’s just in the wrong spot.

Anyway, they showed a clip from the Rumble post-show, where a John Cena interview was interrupted by Rusev, who ranted something in Russian. Or Bulgarian. I don’t know. They had a bit of a to-do, and they were pulled apart, and Cole announced that the two would fight at Fast Lane in four weeks’ time. Interesting.

They announced that Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in March. I see.

Kane versus Daniel Bryan in a Casket Match – in 2015 – was announced for Smackdown on Thursday, which will be a live show. If the snow stops, anyway. Otherwise it might just be a tape of them playing Karate Fighters. I’d watch that.

Outside the building, Dean Ambrose was wandering around in the snow. He made it inside and bumped into Byron Saxton. He was fantastic here. He told a story of hitch-hiking from Hartford, where Raw should have been, to Titan Towers, which included the line, “I nearly lost a finger, but that’s a story for another time”. He said he made it to prove that he is up for the dangerous conditions on the Road To Wrestlemania. And then wandered off to find posters of himself. Gold.

Time for another sit-down interview, this time with Backstage Renee talking to Daniel Bryan. Bryan spent most of the interview talking himself down and talking Roman Reigns up. He may as well have worn a t-shirt saying, “YOU FANS IS WRONG”. Renee then asked him about his match with Kane and I kinda zoned out because Kane.

Hey, it’s our main event! And it’s a sit-down interview! Another one! Michael Cole was going to ask questions of Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, but Paul Heyman elevated himself to King of the Universe by sending Cole off so he could ask the questions. I love Heyman.

Heyman was brilliant here once more. He somehow managed to make Reigns more credible and dismiss his threat to Lesnar at the same time. While this was going on, Lesnar was just chilling. Gold.

Heyman asked Reigns how he’d feel when he disappoints his family at Wrestlemania, and Reigns turned to Brock to answer that question. He said some flim flam and Brock stood up unexpectedly. Reigns did too, and did not back down.

Lesnar held out his hand and Reigns shook it, and then Lesnar told him that – unlike Heyman – he did not respect Reigns. Reigns hit back with a “but you will”, and also said that he was rubber and Lesnar was glue, and that Lesnar’s words bounced off him and stuck back on Lesnar. Or something. And that’s your show.

This was an Odd Show. As a professional wrestling telecast it was awful. Two matches we’d already seen and a bunch of Inside The Actor’s Studio-style interviews that lacked passion and drama. It did, however, further some angles, and at least tried to build Reigns back up after the demolition he received the night before. They should probably have a better Plan B for next time, though.