Linus Report: WWE Raw, 18/05/2015

Hey, it’s WWE Raw! It’s that long, long show on a Monday night!

The show started with HHH & Stephanie coming down to the ring. I liked that Stephanie’s commitment to being a heel extends to wearing clothes no-one could like.

Stephanie asked the crowd if they’d missed her and they shouted back a big “no!” I tell you who else hasn’t missed her – the cut-off balls of the babyfaces.

Stephanie said life was so much sweeter when you’re a winner, which she knew the crowd could not relate to, and that the future had never been brighter than Seth Rollins.

HHH said that Rollins had proved all his doubters wrong at Payback. He said he didn’t like to say “I told you so” but he did tell them so when he made Rollins the future of WWE.

Stephanie said that tonight would be a tribute to Rollins. Meanwhile, Rollins’s opponents from Payback could go to the back of the line for world title shots because titles are reserved for those who can rise to the occasion.

And, Stephanie said, speaking of those who couldn’t rise to the occasion, she moved on to the Intercontinental title. She said she knew Bryan wasn’t watching right now because he didn’t own a TV (he’s a hippy, hilarious) but she wanted to tell him it took a lot of courage for him to admit she was right. But, she said, unlike Bryan’s career, the show must go on.

HHH said they would determine a new champion in the Elimination Chamber at the eponymous PPV on May 31st, and then they showed a video package on the chamber itself.

Stephanie said it will be a historic night on the WWE Network and then she was interrupted by Sheamus and his “Come To Beautiful Ireland” entrance video.

Sheamus came out and delivered a cringe-worthy, stuttering promo, basically imploring Stephanie to just give him the title rather than decide it in the Elimination Chamber. he was interrupted by The Ryback, who came down to defend Daniel Bryan and also to stake his claim to the Intercontinental title.

HHH’s response was to put them both into the match at Elimination Chamber and also to set up a match between them – starting now!

So Sheamus & The Ryback had a match and it was an okay match but nothing great. Sheamus really works stiff and throws his opponents around. I do not like that. The Ryback, on the other hand, works really loose, almost as if he’s afraid of killing someone with his giant muscles. Don’t much care for that, either.

The finish came when Sheamus sold an eye injury to get the referee to back The Ryback away, and then hit a Brogue Kick to get the pinfall. After the pin, he underwent a miraculous recovery, and his eye was fine. What a dick.

The announcers said that the other four participants in the Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental title will be revealed later!

Backstage, in the Authority’s office, HHH & Stephanie warmly welcomed Kane, who had done the right thing at Payback. He said he finally realised Seth Rollins had grown up and then Rollins came in, with J&J Security and some champagne. Rollins gave champagne to everyone, saving Kane for last, and declaring that Kane may as well have some as he has nothing else to celebrate.

Dean Ambrose walked up and said that he’d beaten Rollins one-on-one a few weeks ago, and Rollins hasn’t pinned him last night, and he reckoned that meant that he could probably grant Rollins a re-match – if Rollins put the title on the line.

HHH & Stephanie told Kane to sort it out and left. Kane said he would leave it up to Rollins to decide who he would fight. This pleased Rollins, who left.

Ambrose asked Kane what had happened to the Devil’s Favourite Demon, and wondered what Paul Bearer & The Undertaker would make of this. Kane told Ambrose not to bring his family into this and said that if Ambrose wanted to fight so bad he could have a match later – against Bray Wyatt. Ambrose seemed fine with that, took a sip of Kane’s champagne, and told Kane he shouldn’t drink on the job. I fucking love Ambrose.

Hey, it’s Backstage Renee! She wasn’t backstage, though. Instead, she was in the ring to interview Neville, who was about to have a re-match with Bad News Barrett. Neville said some stuff about not being the biggest guy blah blah blah and out came… Bo Dallas.

Dallas, who has shaved off his weird-looking goatee, came out to insult Neville, calling his inspirational tale a children’s story, like The Little Engine That Couldn’t. Neville said that Dallas was upset because it was Dallas who Neville beat to start his record-breaking reign as NXT champion. Dallas attacked him, beating on the knee that Neville injured the night before, before scampering out of the ring as Bad News Barrett came out.

Barrett came down in full King regalia and Dallas sat in on commentary with the announcers. Barrett and Neville went back and forth but Neville’s knee gave out and Barrett was able to finish him with a Bullhammer.

After the match, Dallas worked Neville over, wrapping his knee around the ring post, and then stood triumphantly over his fallen victim. Could it be? Could Bo Dallas have his first proper feud since October???

Hey, it’s Rusev! He came down to the ring looking all grumpy. The crowd chanted for Lana and he told them there will be no Lana. Booooooooo! He said that, at Payback, he’d made Cena pass out and that Lana had quit on his behalf because she was weak. Rusev told Cena to come out so they could re-start the match.

Instead, Lana came out. She said she wanted to explain herself to everyone, and that Rusev is not what he seems. She said he wasn’t just the Bulgarian brute, he was misunderstood. She spoke to him in Russian and then said she believed in him and she had since they first met. She said she believed that Rusev would be the first man to make John Cena say “I Quit!” but it didn’t turn out like that and so was just trying to protect him.

He told her he didn’t need protecting and ordered him to the back, saying she should go back to where she came from because he did not need her any more. Although their accents slipped a little, this was good stuff, and it still keeps the mystery of whether Rusev actually said “I Quit!” at Payback.

Hey, it’s Dean Ambrose! He came down to the ring for his match with Bray Wyatt, which was pretty good, even though it seemed to be all we saw in the run up to Christmas.

They went back and forth, with both men getting opportunities to win but it was Ambrose who was about to win when J&J Security turned up. Joey Mercury occupied the referee while Jamie Noble shoved Ambrose off the top rope, and Wyatt hit Sister Abigail for the pin. Backstage, HHH & Stephanie were shown smiling evil smiles as they watched on a monitor…

They showed some more videos from Tough Enough hopefuls. Somewhere in there are the people they’ve already hand-picked to be in the show. What even is reality any more???

Hey, it’s Tyson Kidd & Cesaro! They came down to the ring, with Natalya, for a re-match for the WWE Tag team titles, ordered because of the shenanigans that gave The New Day the win at Payback.

The New Day came out, only it was just Big E & Kofi Kingston because Xavier Woods had been banned from ringside. The New Day were not happy about this, and also not happy about having to defend their titles at Elimination Chamber in the eponymous structure, but were trying to stay positive. They’ve grown into this so well.

So they were off on their way to having another good tussle when the referee threw the match out because The New Day wouldn’t listen to his instructions when he was trying to get them out of the corner. Erm, isn’t that a DQ?

After the match, Kidd & Cesaro tried to set up Big E for the Big Swing & Dropkick but Xavier Woods ran in to break it up. Then the Lucha Dragons ran in and attacked The New Day, and threw them out of the ring. The Matadores arrived and did twin topés suicida out onto The New Day, The Ascension ran out and attacked Tyson Kidd, and finally the Prime Time Players came down and cleared out The Ascension!

They all brawled all over the shop, until the Prime Time Players stood tall in the ring at the end, and these SIX teams will do battle at Elimination Chamber!

Oh, and the announcers told us that, alongside Sheamus & The Ryback, three other names had been added to the Intercontinental title match at Elimination Chamber: Bad News Barrett, Rusev, and R-fucking-Truth.

Hey, it’s John Cena! He came out to do his WWE United States championship open challenge, but before he did that he did a long, patriotic talky that probably swelled your heart if you’re a dumb ‘murican.

Anyway, he threw out his challenge and it was accepted by… Kevin Owens. Yes, Kevin Owens. NXT Champion Kevin Owens. This show suddenly got great.

So Owens came out holding the NXT title and the announcers called him a vile, despicable man. He told Cena he would itroduce himself but Cena already knew who he was. And if anyone in the crowd didn’t know who he was, they were not worth his time.

Cena introduced him anyway, and Owens politely thanked him. Owens said that Cena must be feeling guilty about injuring Sami Zayn on Raw last week, ahead of Wednesday’s NXT Takeover: Unstoppable live special, but that he shouldn’t. Owens said Zayn was already injured, by him, and that he was going to do it again on Wednesday.

Cena said that Owens should never call the fans a waste of time, because there’d be no WWE without the fans. And he wanted to give him some veteran advice. Owens cut him off and pointed out that he’d been at this longer than Cena, so Cena said he’d make it a warning instead.

He said Zayn had fought him despite being injured because he had heart. He said that he didn’t see any heart in Owens, just a scared kid who bit off more than he can chew. He told Owens not to under-estimate Zayn on Wednesday or he’d take the title from him.

Cena told Owens that the Open Challenge was still open, so if he wanted some, he should come get some. Owens said he might be a prize fighter but he already had a prize, the NXT title, but that they would fight one day, and it would be on his terms.

Then he suckered Cena with a kick to the gut, whipped him into the ropes, and pop-up powerbombed him to the mat. Owens left the ring, sneering, as Michael Cole put over what a despicable act he’d committed…

Some weird muscle-obsessed fans have already got the knives out for Owens, because he doesn’t have the traditional look to make it in the WWE. But what he does have is a quiet aura of menace. If you fight Owens you better kill him, because he won’t stop coming after you until you do. He looks like killing you wouldn’t trouble him one bit, and that’s worth more than a thousand Muscle Marys.

Hey, it’s Dolph Ziggler! He came out to fight Stardust, and quickly dispatched him in just over a minute with the Zig Zag. After the match, Michael Cole got in the ring to talk to Ziggler about his match with Sheamus at Payback, where Ziggler had bled all over the place. Cole told Ziggler he was the final man in the Intercontinental title match at Elimination Chamber and he was PUMPED about that.

Suddenly, Lana came out. She tottered down to the ring on her ridiculous heels and played all coy. She walked up to Ziggler and kissed him. Then she retreated back to looking coy. Then, as the crowd chanted “one more time!”, she kissed him again. Ziggler couldn’t believe his luck and began looking over his shoulder for Rusev, but Rusev ran down the ramp, tackled him and superkicked him out of the ring.

Rusev turned to Lana, who slapped him across the face. He got VERY angry but was Zig Zagged by a recovered Ziggler, who left with Lana as Rusev lay in the ring. Poor Dolph, every nervous, overweight teen (or anyone with memories of being one) could tell him he’s being used to make someone jealous. Sad face.

Backstage, Kane played butler and insisted that the production crew got the carpet clean for Seth Rollins’s celebration. He then walked past Adam Rose and Rosa Mendes, who were making out, and was disgusted by what he saw.

Hey, it’s Luke Harper & Erick Rowan! They were already in the ring, for a match with Zack Ryder & Fandango, who were also already in the ring. Because jobbers versus jobbers? I caught a bit of Main Event last week, and Ryder was tagging with whichever Uso isn’t injured, so he’s quite the go-to man for random tag-team matches these days, it seems.

Anyway, Fandango played Ricky Morton for most of the match, and then Ryder got some shine, but and Rowan won, when Rowan hit the Full Nelson Slam on Ryder. The crowd were deathly silent for this, because I guess they’d already seen over three hours of wrestling up to this point and nobody wants to see Zack Ryder in hour four.

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon sarcastically greeted the Bella Twins, and said she felt bad for Brie, what with her husband having to stay home with injuries. She said she’d put Brie in for some counselling, and that because of her fragile state of mind she didn’t think Brie should accompany her sister to the ring for the next match. Bitch.

Hey, it’s Nikki Bella! On her own! She came down to the ring to fight Naomi, who had Tamina with her. Naomi & Tamina cut an inset promo, and Naomi said she doesn’t understand why people are so behind the Bella Twins. What people?

So Naomi & Nikki had a match, for the WWE Divas title, and it was crappy. You knew that, though, right? They went back and forth but Nikki got on top and was about to hit the Rack Attack when Tamina ran in for the DQ.

The heels double-teamed Nikki until Paige ran down for the save. Yes, Paige. Presumably Brie was busy. Paige cleared Naomi & Tamina out of the ring, and then helped Nikki up. Then she dropped her with the Rampaige, because women. Paige said, over and over and over, that this was her house. I don’t fucking care, love.

Backstage, Kevin Owens shook hands with HHH, who said Owens had made him proud. Backstage Renee asked Owens what that was all about, and Owens said that he was right when he told Cena that they would fight on his terms, and that fight would be at Elimination Chamber. Squeeeeeeeeeeee! He told Cena to pay close attention to what he does to Zayn at Takeover, because he’ll do the same to Cena. Fuck YEAH.

Hey, it’s our main event! And it’s not a match! Again! It was a celebration for Seth Rollins, and HHH, Stephanie, and Kane were in the ring to welcome the champion. Rollins came out with J&J Security, and embraced The Authority.

HHH said that they’d believed in Rollins from the moment they first saw him on NXT, and that when he looked at Rollins he saw his own reflection. He said that when he saw Rollins give Orton the Pedigree at Payback, it gave him goosebumps. Okay then. He said that they were here to celebrate Rollins and invited the members of The Authority to share some words about him.

Kane went first and the crowd chanted “Justin Bieber!”. Kane said that they hadn’t seen eye-to-eye lately but that wasn’t surprising since he was over a foot taller than Rollins. He said that he was glad Rollins was still champion and that it was best for business.

Rollins wondered if that was all Kane had to say, and Kane said a reluctant thank you for saving his job – Christ – and then introduced a hype video he had made about Rollins.

They showed the video and then Jamie Noble spoke. He said it was an honour to protect the champion on a nightly basis and then passed the mic’ to Joey Mercury, who took forever to speak and was interrupted by Dean Ambrose’s music before he could.

Ambrose came down to the ring and Stephanie told him he had a lot of nerve for coming out. He apologised for being late to the party, and said it was because he was looking for a Justin Bieber outfit for Rollins. Ambrose said he was there to offer Rollins another chance of a match with him, as long as the title is on the line.

Rollins told him that this was his moment and that he’s at the back of the line with Reigns & Orton, anyway. Ambrose said he was a notorious line-jumper and he wanted his title match. Stephanie said he was in no position to demand a title match and then told Rollins to “get him”.

Rollins looked a bit “what???” at the suggestion but charged at Ambrose, who ducked, and the fight was ON! They spilled to the outside, where Ambrose suplexed Rollins and then threw J&J Security into the barriers. Ambrose then backdropped Rollins over the announce table and revealed… a pile of cinderblocks, like the ones Rollins drove him through last year.

He set Rollins up on the cinderblocks and grabbed a chair, threatening to end Rollins right there, and Stephanie reluctantly agreed that he could have his match at Elimination Chamber.

Ambrose went for the chair shot anyway, but Mercury made the save. Ambrose fought off J&J Security and Kane and then went after Rollins again. HHH saved Rollins so Ambrose attacked J&J Security again until Kane took him down with a big boot.

Kane went for a chokeslam but Ambrose escaped into a rebound clothesline and looked to give Kane Dirty Deeds. Rollins rushed back into the ring and gave Ambrose a Pedigree and stood tall over him as the show went off the air…

This was a Good Show. They’re on a bit of a run at the moment. Sure, there’s some stupid booking decisions but the individual performances of half a dozen on the roster are making this must-watch TV at the moment.

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