The Linus Report: WWE Raw, 13/07/2015

Hey, it’s WWE Raw! It’s the show that doesn’t know who is face and who is heel? And I don’t think it cares!

The show started with a shot of the crushed Cadillac, inexplicably still on the stage. Michael Cole wondered if it was a metaphor for how Seth Rollins would look after Battleground on Sunday.

Brock Lesnar – and Paul Heyman – came out, and the crowd chanted “Suplex City!” Heyman even angled the mic’ toward them to amplify their chants. Heyman introduced himself as the advocate for the Cadillac-smashing avenger, who would make Rollins pay for his sins on Sunday. He said he could not wait until Sunday, when Lesnar made a rare entrance as a challenger but would leave as a champion.

He said Lesnar would still be the champion today if it weren’t for the sneaky, slimy, thief-in-the-night Rollins, and told Rollins that he was going to get his ass kicked, and get suplexed, and get pinned. Then the announcement would once again be, “ the reigning, defending, undisputed, WWE World -“, but Heyman was cut off by Rollins’s music before he could finish.

Rollins came out to the top of the ramp with Kane, back from his Hawaiian vacation. Rollins asked Lesnar if the busted-up car made him proud, and said he was going to wipe the stupid smile off of Lesnar’s stupid face. His words, not mine. He said he gave Lesnar every chance to be a man but he chose to be a coward, taking out his aggression on an inanimate object (and I typed that better than he said it).

Rollins said he was a real champion and Lesnar was a thug, a criminal, and a vandal. He said he was going to take a trip to Suplex City, with some matches, and burn it to the ground.

Lesnar picked up a mic’ and said, “I could take you to Suplex City tonight, bitch!” and the crowd liked that. Kane then spoke. He said he understood that people’s emotions were running high but he wanted everyone to remain calm ahead of tonight’s contract signing. He said that if Lesnar did anything to spoil it, then… Which led Heyman to ask, “Are you about to threaten Brock Lesnar?”

Heyman wondered if they were about to be threatened by The Undertaker’s baby brother, and then said he wasn’t supposed to say that. Kane seethed. Heyman said he knew he wasn’t supposed to talk about Kane’s family but that Lesnar would come to the contract signing with peace, love, and understanding in his heart. Unless Rollins decided to break the eleventh commandment (“thou shalt not provoke Brock Lesnar”), in which case Lesnar would bring Suplex City to Atlanta, GA… Great opening segment.

The announcers hyped the matches already made for the show – including Randy Orton & The Ryback versus Sheamus & The Big Show, which Michael Cole said was “WWE’s version of the All-Star game.” Jesus.

Hey, it’s The Ryback! He came down to the ring, and was joined by Randy Orton. The Miz was at ringside, doing commentary with the announcers. Then Sheamus & The Big Show came out and the All-Star game began.

Yeah, it was everything you’d expect. I guess if you like these guys then you might like the match. If you think that they’re the drizzling shits – well, I can take Randy Orton on a good day – then it wasn’t for you.

So they wrestled and went, like, fifteen minutes, and The Ryback was about to get the win when The Miz got on the house mic’ and distracted him, which – in a roundabout way – led to The Big Show hitting the knockout punch on The Ryback. The Miz then ran for the back, chased very slowly by The Big Show. The Miz even fell over on his way and The Big Show still didn’t catch him.

Back in the ring, Sheamus was about to take advantage of The Ryback like The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express with a ring rat on roofies when Randy Orton hit an RKO out of nowhere. The Ryback miraculously recovered and hit a top-rope splash for the win. Yeah, me either.

Backstage, in The Authority’s office, Seth Rollins wanted to know what Kane’s plan was for the contract signing. He said it had better not be provoking Lesnar, as he’d shown that didn’t work last week. Kane told Rollins that if he kept this up, it wouldn’t end well for one of them…

Hey, it’s Dean Ambrose! He came down to the ring for a match with Bray Wyatt, and they went to a commercial break. During the break, Ambrose rearranged his Pokemon collection by order of release. I say “collection” but he’s only got 3 cards and he doesn’t know when any of them came out.

After the break, Bray Wyatt came out and walked slowly to the ring. He was ambushed from behind by Roman Reigns, who not only came down the ramp but also didn’t have any music so it must have been a SHOOT, brother.

Reigns beat Wyatt around ringside and then rolled him into the ring. They began brawling and all the time Dean Ambrose was just watching, casually leaning on the announcers’ desk. Reigns hit the Superman Punch, which sent Wyatt outside. When Reigns went after him Wyatt smashed him with his lantern and then stumbled up the ramp. The screen went blank and they went to a break. Huh.

After the break, Team Bella was in the ring. Nikki cut a talky, putting her title reign over, and saying she had given every Diva chance but no-one had taken the title from her. She declared herself the Total Diva and Dana Brooke is on the line about gimmick infringement. Nikki said that Team Bella was unstoppable and they owned the Divas division.

The worst entrance music in professional wrestling history brought out Stephanie McMahon, who came down to the ring to talk to Team Bella. Yeah, me either. She said she’d heard Nikki claim to own the Divas division, but that she owned WWE.

Stephanie said that women’s sport was hot right now, and namechecked women’s football, UFC, and tennis. She said the level of competition was not there right now in WWE, so it was time to make a change in the Divas division, and then brought out Paige, who she said had tried to make a difference.

Paige came out and Stephanie said that no-one in WWE was willing to back her up against Team Bella. So she brought out someone who was: Becky Lynch. Lynch is a big deal in NXT but you got the feeling that the Raw audience had zero clue who she was. Hey, it’s not like they have THREE HOURS EVERY WEEK which they could use to hype some NXT, is it?

Then Stephanie called out the woman who was “bred for this business,” the woman who was “styling and profiling,” and then she did the Flair walk as Charlotte came out. Charlotte did get a big reaction, so what do I know?

Lynch and Charlotte flanked Paige and stared off with Team Bella, but then Naomi’s music hit and she & Tamina came down to the ring. Naomi said they had unfinished business with Team Bella and Paige, and that they were the competition Stephanie needed.

Stephanie’s reaction was to bring out “The Boss”, Sasha Banks. The crowd popped big for the announcement but muted after that, so I return to my original point. Banks posed and then stood with Naomi & Tamina, and Stephanie wondered who was going to take the opportunity she’d given them..?

All the girls then had a really sloppy brawl – think trainee battle royal on a show with four paying customers – which wound up with Charlotte, Lynch, and Banks with their submission finishers on Team Bella, to a big reaction from the crowd. Team Bella took a powder while the other six faced off in the ring. Stephanie looked on approvingly from the outside.

Now, then. This is what the Divas division has needed for a while now. Sure, it’d be better if a couple of those still involved in the angle weren’t but you have to be grateful for small mercies, yes? Whether the main roster writers can be trusted to keep these girls strong and fresh is another matter entirely, but it’s a hell of a start…

After a break, The New Day were in the ring. No entrance but they did get to heel it up on the crowd. Xavier Woods said he was from there but still ragged on the weather and the local sports team. They said they’d win the WWE Tag-Team titles back at Battleground and then The Prime Time Players came out.

With Titus O’Neil and Darren Young was Mark Henry, because all the black fellas have to be in one match tonight, I guess. They missed a trick by not having R-Truth on commentary.

So they had a six-man match and it was okay but nothing you’ll remember past tomorrow. Mark Henry pinned Xavier Woods with the World’s Strongest Slam to win the match for his team, and then The Prime Time Players did their dance with Henry. Grown men.

Hey, it’s Bad News Barrett! He came down to the ring to fight R-Truth, who was already out there. I guess they’ve got to do something during the commercials. These two had another in their series of forgettable matches, and Truth won with the Lie Detector. In Mexico, they have a tournament where the loser progresses and eventually loses his hair or mask in the final. I can only think that the King Of The Ring is a similar deal.

After the match, R-Truth went under the ring and found his bedsheet, plunger, and cardboard crown, and paraded around the ring. Steve Austin, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Harley Race, Kurt Angle…

They showed footage from last week’s Raw of Rusev beating up Dolph Ziggler, a victory for all dumpy & dumped men everywhere. Michael Cole said Ziggler was out indefinitely. Yay!

Then John Cena came out and shouted into the camera that the US title open challenge was next on his way to the ring. They went to a commercial break and, during the break, Cena recited all thirty-three amendments to the US constitution while drinking a glass of water, because he had hiccoughs.

After the break, Cena hyped himself versus Kevin Owens at Battleground and then awaited his opponent. Out came Rusev. Oooooh. Rusev was with Summer Rae and vowed to break Cena in half.

That brought out Kevin Owens. He said if anyone was going to beat Cena for the title it would be him, so how about he beat Cena on Raw and then Cena could have his re-match at Battleground? Rusev was not happy about that and called Owens a stupid “French-American” with two first names. Owens told Rusev to take his knock-off Lana, and his flag, and shove it.

That brought Cesaro. He went nose to nose with Cena, who backed out of the ring as the other three began to brawl. They went to a commercial break and when they came back, Michael Cole announced that this was now a triple threat match, and the winner would face Cena later. Okay.

So they had a hell of a match, lessened only by Cena’s input on commentary. They went back and forth (and forth?) for twelve minutes, until Rusev clotheslined Owens over the top rope and Owens decided he’d had enough. He waved the match off, and said he’d see the champion at Battleground, and Cesaro and Rusev fought on.

They went for another twelve minutes, with very little let up (including Cesaro putting Rusev in the giant swing), and Rusev eventually got the win after a sidekick to the jaw. They went to a commercial break and when they came back Lilian Garcia was in the ring to announce the title match.

Now Rusev was fucked. This made Cena a very unlikely babyface, taking advantage of this uber-heel (albeit one who has accidentally turned babyface to anyone who hates men who steal women) to retain his title. I guess he could have offered to have the title match on Smackdown but Cena don’t work Tuesdays.

Cena wore him down some more and then casually went for an AA but Rusev slipped down into the Accolade. Cena made it to his feet and backed Rusev into the corner but Rusev wouldn’t let the submission go. Then Kevin Owens reappeared and broke it up for the DQ. He hit a pop-up powerbomb on Rusev and then told Cena that he’d said he wouldn’t let anyone else take the title from him…

So these guys worked a great half-hour, really the highlight of the show, as they’ve been the highlight of the show for the past few weeks. You kind of hope that it bodes well for the future, especially with a moribund world champion apparently about to lose his belt, but you just never know with the fucking company.

Backstage, Kane was talking to a geek and Rollins walked up and told Kane that his plan had better work out or it was all on him.

Hey, it’s the remaining cast of Tough Enough! One of the show’s hosts, Lita, came down to the ring for a brief talky, and then they introduced the contestants who were up on the ramp in their best evening wear. PLEASE WATCH OUR SHOW! was the feeling I got. ZZ looks fun. Bet he doesn’t win.

Backstage, Stardust cut a promo, talking about how the world needed more heroes, but that he would bring them all down one by one, starting with Neville. They then showed that comic book graphic of Neville and Michael Cole said the two would fight after the break. What?

So, yeah, after the break, Neville and Stardust came out, and they had a neat comic book graphic for the match. The announcers told us that Bad News Barrett versus R-Truth would be on the pre-show for Battleground which is tantamount to telling people not to tune in. Meanwhile, Neville and Stardust had a match, and Stardust got the win with a roll-up to kickstart their feud, I guess.

Backstage, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were shown walking down a corridor on their way to the ring for the contract signing, and they went to a commercial break. During the break, I assume that Lesnar & Heyman decided to stop for a taco, or maybe some soul food. They were certainly nowhere near the ring when we came back from the break, and not even first out for the signing…

Hey, it’s our main event! It’s a contract signing! Seth Rollins came out first, with Kane, and made his way to the ring. He said he was sick and tired of watching footage of Lesnar destroying the Cadillac so he showed footage of The Authority destroying Brock Lesnar on Raw three weeks ago instead. Rollins said he wasn’t afraid of Lesnar and that he would be the wrecking ball that demolishes Suplex City and the fire that burns it to ashes.

Brock Lesnar came out, with a smiling Paul Heyman, and both men sat at a table set-up in the ring. Heyman cut another talky on Rollins, and said that everyone was buying Battleground to see Rollins get his ass kicked. He said that they were going to get their money’s worth because Seth was “going to get pinned. You’re going to get dethroned.”

“You, sir,” he said, “are going to Suplex City.”

Rollins and Lesnar signed the contract and then Rollins went to reach under the table, prompting Heyman to tell him that he wanted to see hands. Rollins said he had no plan and that Heyman was worrying for nothing. Suddenly, Lesnar turned the table over and there was an axe-handle underneath, presumably there for Rollins to attack Lesnar with.

Lesnar righted the table and then sat back down. He presented the axe-handle to Rollins, who took it and laughed. Lesnar laughed, too, and then slammed the table into Rollins and all hell broke loose.

Rollins and Kane double-teamed on Lesnar but he fought them both off. He hit an F5 on Kane on the outside and Rollins jumped over the barriers and ran. Lesnar grabbed the ring steps and smashed them down on Kane’s leg, leaving Kane writhing in pain, and then went back into the ring and lifted the WWE title high. He then left with Heyman and Rollins returned to the ring.

Rollins tossed the furniture around a bit and then went down to Kane, who was being treated by medics at ringside. He grabbed a mic’ and vowed to beat Lesnar at Battleground (too late, cowardly weasel) before telling Kane he was one big disappointment, and that everything was on him. He walked up the ramp, held the title high, and that’s your show.

This was an Okay Show. I liked the US title segment, and the opening and closing segments were great. The introduction of the NXT women was interesting but the rest of it was just so much treading water. Ratings are in the toilet right now, so who knows what they’ll throw out post-PPV to try and sort that out? Strap in for a wild ride…

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