The Linus Report: WWE Raw, 03/08/2015

Hey, it’s WWE Raw! It’s that show that steals your life away like photographs steal your soul!

The show started with a graphic declaring “In Memory of Roddy Piper” and the whole roster were assembled on the stage, wearing Hot Rod t-shirts. Nice touch. The did the ten-bell salute and then showed a video package on Piper’s days in the WWF. They even showed a clip from They Live, which was sweet. Good job, WWE.

The announcers welcomed us to the show and Michael Cole hyped the six-man main event – Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Randy Orton versus Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Sheamus. Is this Smackdown?

Hey, it’s Seth Rollins! He came down to the ring wearing a new t-shirt, parodying John Cena. Instead of “Never Give Up” it said “Never Shut Up” and, on the back, instead of “You C Me” it had “You C Knee” – funny.

Rollins cut a talky on Cena, bragging about breaking Cena’s nose and then challenging him to a title versus title match at Summerslam. If Cena wasn’t fit, he could forfeit the title, Rollins said.

Rollins said that San Jose was where he won the WWE World Heavyweight title, and it was also the site of Cena’s first WWE US title open challenge, so he would mark that with the first ever WWE World title open challenge, and then they went to a commercial break. During the break, Rollins ordered a pizza for after the show. He asked for pineapple and extra cheese, and ordered a side of wings.

After the break, JoJo had joined Rollins in the ring. Is she fighting for the title? No, she’s just out there to ask him questions. She asked him if the open challenge was legit, and Rollins said it was. He said The Authority had given him permission to do it, but with some caveats. First, the challenger had to be under six feet tall and, second, they had to weigh under two hundred pounds. JoJo said he’d basically reduced the challenger pool to el Torito and Rollins said it wasn’t his decision. He then called out el Torito and el Torito’s music played.

Then it stopped playing. And Neville’s music started. Because Neville, too, is under six feet tall and under two hundred pounds. So is Kallisto, but we’ll let that slide. Neville came out and Rollins wasn’t happy but he’d been hoist by his own petard so what can you do?

So they had a match and it was an okay match but it suffered from there being absolutely ZERO chance of Neville winning. And if that’s the case, why even bother? It’s just a waste of my time and your time and all our times. That said, they did pop the crowd with some nearfalls, and maybe that’s a reflection of how strong a champion Rollins is that the live crowd could believe a mid-carder might win his title.

Neville hit the Red Arrow and covered Rollins for the win but Rollins got his foot on the rope at two point nine nine nine. The crowd chanted for Neville to do it “one more time” and so he did but Rollins moved and hit the Pedigree for the win.

After a break, The Prime Time Players were out with the announcers doing commentary. Forty-five minutes into the show and finally no Seth Rollins. And they wonder why ratings are in the toilet.

The New Day skipped down to the ring, where Big E & Kofi Kingston would join The Ascension against Los Matadores & The Lucha Dragons. Yeah, it’s Smackdown alright.

As usual with this bunch, they had a fun match. It got a bit sloppy in places, and Los Matadores seemed to forget where they were on a couple of occasions, but the in-ring was fine, Titus O’Neil & Darren Young were good on commentary, and Xavier Woods was awesome outside the ring.

It all broke down at the end, with even Woods and el Torito getting involved, and Kofi Kingston pinned Kalisto with Trouble In Paradise for the win. I’m guessing we’ll have a HUGE multi-team match at Summerslam because the weeks don’t seem to be whittling down the contenders. Call Tim Vine…

Backstage, Paige, Becky Lynch & Charlotte were shown walking down a corridor. Then they went to a commercial break. During the break, the three girls went from town to town, helping out kids in trouble.

After the break, Team Bella was in the ring, and they cut an inset promo reminding everyone that the Divas revolution began when Nikki Bella won the WWE Divas title at last year’s Survivor Series. Then Paige, Becky Lynch & Charlotte came out, and they cut an inset promo, where Paige dubbed them The Submission Sorority. She really did.

So, yeah, it was Nikki & Brie Bella versus Becky Lynch & Charlotte, with Paige and Alicia Fox on the outside. They had a match and it was an okay match, better than pre-NXT girls Divas’ efforts but still not on the level of the male performers. And if it’s a proper revolution, that should be the benchmark, right? During the match, Team Naomi were shown watching backstage, because BAD people do their homework.

The match finished with Nikki Bella tapping out to Charlotte’s Figure Eight bridging leglock, and then they threw backstage, where JoJo was with Team Naomi. Sasha Banks didn’t like JoJo’s line of questioning, and then Naomi challenged Paige to a match later on Raw. Naomi also heeled on Ronda Rousey and declared Team Naomi to be the baddest women on the planet. Not while Rose West lives you’re not. Then they walked off and Tamina gave JoJo a weird look again. Poor JoJo.

They actually showed an ad for NXT and hyped the matches on this week’s show. JBL even talked about NXT! It’s like they’ve finally realised they have a little brother.

Hey, it’s The Miz! He came out and put over Roddy Piper, which was really nice and heartfelt. He said The Ryback, who he was supposed to face at Battleground for the WWE Intercontinental title, should vacate the title, like Daniel Bryan did, in a pretty good promo. Then he introduced Miz TV, and undid all that good work.

His guest was Kevin Owens, who came out and complimented The Miz. He’s such a dick. The Miz asked Owens why he had such a big issue with Cesaro, and Owens said Cesaro was jealous of him.

That brought out Cesaro, wearing a natty suit, and The Miz complained that Cesaro wasn’t following the format of the show. The Miz asked Cesaro if he was hear to pick a fight but Cesaro said he just wanted to hear what Owens had to say, up close. Owens said that Cesaro was jealous of him because he had beaten Cena and Cesaro never had. He said Cesaro had made all those years of sacrifices for nothing. And, he said, no matter how hard Cesaro worked, he would never match Owens’s natural, God-given ability for the business.

Cesaro said he wasn’t jealous of Owens, he was ashamed of him. Because every time Owens walked away from a match he not only disrespected himself, and the fans, but also his opponent and every wrestler who ever stepped foot in a ring. Cesaro said he was an embarrassment.

Owens sprang to his feet (with the chair stuck to his bum, which was embarassing) and got in Cesaro’s face, saying he’d accomplished more in three months than Cesaro had in three years. Cesaro wanted to fight, and The Miz sat behind them, smiling gleefully. He said that this was what Miz TV was all about and they both told him to shut up.

Owens said he would fight anyone, anywhere, but for the right price. And this wasn’t it. He stepped through the ropes and started to leave. The Miz told Cesaro he wanted action and that he should do something, and Owens returned and pushed The Miz into Cesaro. He tried to hit the pop-up powerbomb on Cesaro but Cesaro reversed it, looking for the giant swing. Owens wriggled out and took a powder. Cesaro stood tall in the ring as Owens left, smiling…

Backstage, Rusev & Summer Rae were shown walking down a corridor and they went to a commercial break. During the break, Rusev taught Summer Rae some swear words in Bulgarian, because that’s what foreigners do.

After the break, they showed footage of Ronda Rousey’s win at UFC 190, and her post-match speech dedicating the match to Roddy Piper. Nice.

Hey, it’s Rusev! He came down to the ring, with Summer Rae, for a match with Mark Henry. It was a short match and a squash match and what’s the point of Mark Henry? Rusev won with a thrust kick and then hit another after the match had finished. And that was it. No promos, nothing. Look everyone – Rusev!

The announcers hyped the four-hour Summerslam in three weeks and JBL highlighted that you could pay $54.99 on PPV (half of which – $27 or so – goes to WWE) or $9.99 for the network (they get about $9 of that) to see it. Then, as if the shareholders weren’t seething enough, they showed what the network had to offer – a clip from Swerved. *shrug*

Bray Wyatt’s DYET! Interrupted and he & Luke Harper cut one of their talkies from wherever it is they cut talkies. Wherever it is, Sheamus found it, because he joined in, too. You can pretty much fill in the blanks.

After a break, Zack Ryder was in the ring. Then Bad News Barrett came out and said he was the only King in the WWE and so he was taking down all the pretenders to his throne. Or something. Anyway, apparently Ryder had called himself the King of the Internet so he was on the list. I think someone ought to send out a memo, declaring that winning the King of the Ring doesn’t make you a king or mean that you have to adopt a king gimmick. It would be a big help.

So Barrett and Ryder had a match and it was a nothing match and Barrett won with a Bullhammer, but only after Ryder had facewashed him. Dictionary definition of pointless.

Hey, it’s Paul Heyman! He came out to cut a talky building up to the return of Brock Lesnar tonight. Heyman reminded the crowd that The Undertaker picked the fight with Lesnar and that he’d had to use a low blow. I guess they’re trying to turn The Undertaker heel but good luck with that. He said that The Undertaker, WWE’s alpha-dog, became a bitch when confronted with Brock Lesnar.

Heyman introduced Lesnar, who came out to a big pop. Michael Cole got all nervous, because this was the same building where Lesnar F5’d him out of his shoes. Lesnar picked up the ring steps and hurled them into the ring. He set them up in the middle of the ring and stood on them, like a magnificent statue.

Heyman said that, after last year, The Undertaker had begged Vince McMahon for a re-match at this year’s Wrestlemania. McMahon had turned him down because he knew what would happen to The Undertaker the next time they fought. So The Undertaker forced McMahon’s hand at Battleground and WWE had to sanction a match for Summerslam or else they’d fight in a parking lot, a church, or Hell in a Cell. I didn’t get that one. Heyman said the match was too big for Wrestlemania and I didn’t get that, either.

Heyman said Lesnar would take The Undertaker to Suplex City. The last time they fought, The Undertaker left in an ambulance. This time he’d need the last rites.

They showed footage of Cena versus Rollins from last week’s show and then hyped the title versus title match at Summerslam – that’s if, they said, Cena was fit enough to fight.

Hey, it’s Paige! She came out with Becky Lynch & Charlotte, and the announcers plugged her appearance on Steve Austin’s podcast on the WWE Network after Raw. Then Naomi came out, with Sasha Banks & Tamina, and Paige and Naomi had a match.

They had the same match they were having before the Divas Revolution and Paige won with the PTO – “she calls it the Paige Tap Out!” – to get over the submission thing, even if I won’t speak its name again.

Backstage, in a “Facebook exclusive” (so why are we seeing in on Raw?), Eden Stiles spoke to Stardust about Neville. He said that Neville had lost to Rollins and if he wasn’t going to be Stardust’s hero, then who was? He pulled an imaginary arrow out of an imaginary quiver, and they showed a tweet from Stephen Amell, who plays The Arrow on Arrow, saying he’d be at Raw next week. Ooooh…

They re-showed the Roddy Piper tribute from earlier in the show, which I guess is nice for people who missed it then.

Backstage, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns, wearing Hot Rod t-shirts, cut a talky on Bray Wyatt. Ambrose misquoted the famous line from They Live and Reigns said he was ready to break some heads. Then Randy Orton walked up and told them to leave Sheamus to him. “Finally, he’s got a good attitude,” said Ambrose.

Hey, it’s our main event! It’s Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Randy Orton versus Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Sheamus!

So they had a match and it was one of those matches and it ended with everyone hitting their finisher on someone, with Reigns getting the last one in, pinning Sheamus after a spear. The announcers sold it as an incredible match but it was as much of a spotfest as any Young Bucks match, really. Better, obviously, but still.

After the match, they showed Steve Austin & Paige watching from the podcast desk and then cut back to the babyfaces celebrating in the ring, and that’s your show!

This was a Surprisingly Watchable Show. It didn’t drag and felt more like a speedy episode of Smackdown than a slogging Raw. Summerslam is less than three weeks away and they’ve only got two matches nailed on and that’s a worry from a booking perspective, but let’s enjoy a watchable Raw!

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