Jobber Report: ‘Raw’ January 19th, 2015
It’s Martin Luther King Day, and in front of a raucous Texan crowd, Raw comes live from Dallas less than a week from The Royal Rumble. Not wasting any time, let’s get to the meat of this week’s episode.
Show opens to the same generic Martin Luther King Day montage, featuring prominent African-American figures, such as convicted felon James Brown and war-mongering Republican Condaleeza Rice.
Is it just me, or when they use the tagline “Keep the dream alive”, are they actually discouraging people from making that dream a reality?
Brock Lesnar opens the show. Awesome! He storms down to the ring, uncharacteristically doesn’t let Paul Heyman do any talking, and instead orders Seth Rollins to come down and fight, which gets a huge pop from the crowd. Gotta give it to Rollins for being such a great heel that people are now cheering the big bad monster Brock. Triple H comes down and attempts to reason, but Brock challenges him in turn, which brings the rest of the Authority down. My god, the electricity in that stare down, I have to admit I marked out.
This is brilliant. This is the angle they need to work with Lesnar and the Authority. The Authority brought in the monster to do their dirty work and now they can’t control him. It creates such tension, and it sets up a wonderful scenario of the Authority having to resort to asking the most unlikely of superstars (Cena? Reigns? Bryan?) to help them handle the beast.
Seth Rollins taunts Lesnar from the big screen, then Cena comes out. Rollins flubs a line and the crowd let’s him have it. Both Cena and Paul Heyman tell Rollins to shut up while the adults speak.
WWE must have been paying attention to all the buzz Seth Rollins has been getting on social media since his performance last Monday, and are worried that he is getting bigger than their main draws. This week Rollins is pushed to the background while Lesnar and Cena are focused upon.
The next bit drags, as Cena is put in a position to get Ryback, Ziggler and Rowan’s jobs back if he can win a match tonight. Sound familiar? Ah, but there’s a catch: the WWE Universe will vote on whether he fights or not… What? Why? What fan is going to vote, “No way! I didn’t come here tonight to watch wrestling matches.” This is a pointless twist that is just a repeat of the far more effective vote carried out last year, where the fans voted that Cena face all three Wyatts in one match, planting the idea that the fans have turned on him.
So anyway, Cena agrees because he has no choice and walks off. Lesnar, apparently, forgets why he came down to the ring in the first place and forgives everyone. Fin.
What follows is a lesson on how to download an app.
DANIEL BRYAN VS BRAY WYATT:
The first match of the night is a rematch from last year’s Royal Rumble, Bryan vs Wyatt. Fuck yes! I love seeing these two together again, they never disappoint.
I like Bryan’s long hair look, it makes him look more serious.
Bryan lands a couple of high flying moves, including an awkwardly landed cross-body to Wyatt on the outside. Wyatt takes control and plays a bit of mind games, taunting Bryan and punishing him with high impact hits, chokes and headlocks. Bryan sells like a champ and continually holds his neck, head and shoulder, playing up old injuries perhaps not yet fully healed.
Bray Wyatt’s style and delivery is so explosive and intense. The way he can make a simple move like a clothesline or an elbow drop look devastating is masterful.
A “Yes!” chant hulks up Bryan and he lands a series of moves, before Kane distracts him and Wyatt capitalizes. Hitting a Sister Abigail on the people’s champ, the Eater of Worlds gets the pin.
I thought it was a bit of a wrong move to have Bryan lose his second match after coming back. It seems the company wants to keep Wyatt looking strong for something coming up, but I feel they could have easily had Kane interfere and cause a no contest and neither man would have to job. But I suppose Daniel Bryan’s character is one of overcoming adversity, so we’ll see how this plays out on Smackdown.
Kane chokeslams Bryan and slaps him around for a bit after the match.
Triple H is joined by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash where they plug the Kliq reunion, (wasn’t it supposed to be a “Raw Reunion”? Oh well) and Shawn Michaels joins them and they all make fun of Hunter’s suit. Triple H makes a joke about hunting, and Shawn hams it up.
Mizdow comes in dressed as X-Pac, and then the real Sean Waltman comes in. Surprisingly, they don’t wallop Mizdow, laughing appreciatively instead. The Miz shits in everyone’s cereal, is left hanging by the cool kids, and slinks off. H apologizes for his laughable roster and shitty program.
Instead of Jerry Lawler, Booker T, JBL or even Michael Cole, Byron Paxton is the host of tonight’s legend panel (can you say “Martin Luther King Day”?), and comes off as a giddy fan-boy instead of a composed interviewer.
Hulk Hogan comes down, then Ric Flair, then Shawn Michaels – who never stops hamming it up.
The first question gets a one word answer from all three legends and could have been skipped altogether, as it was about whether or not John Cena, a wrestler, should wrestle a match.
Shawn Michaels remarks how the Royal Rumble makes a superstar’s career, and that without winning the Rumble, all three of them wouldn’t be the stars they are today. Fair enough for HBK to speak for himself, but Ric Flair was a champion for years and years even before entering a WWF ring, let alone winning the Rumble. Hogan? He was already pro wrestling’s biggest star before the first Rumble even happened.
Shawn plugs Bray Wyatt, while Ric plugs Dean Ambrose and, not surprisingly, super baby-face Hogan plugs Daniel Bryan. I’m glad all three of these men got some nods going into the Rumble, it plants the idea that it’s not just a one man show this Sunday.
Big Show interrupts the panel, and the commentators say because of his enormous size he has got to be a favourite to win the Rumble. Every year since it’s inception, they have done this, and nearly every year the big men are “unbelievably” thrown out.
Big Show cuts an awesome promo. He has been doing some wonderful mic work these days. His delivery is smooth, his voice is truly menacing, and he speaks with such conviction. He says what’s on many fans minds, calling the legends pathetic old timers “begging for attention”. He shoots them down – verbally – one by one, until Flair has a go at him and looks like a goof in the process. Flair takes a punch to the face, as the slightly more able-bodied Michaels and Hogan do nothing about it.
Roman Reigns takes his time coming down to the ring and gives a brief “Is he okay?” to the legends, and squares off with Show. Thankfully, he doesn’t say anything this time and we are spared another horrible promo. Instead, he just punches Show a few times before (surprise!) putting him over the top rope, proving that the “impossible” is actually possible and quite probable.
I thought this was going to become an opportunity for any one of the legends – or all three – to show their appreciation to Reigns. Maybe join him in the ring, raise his hand up for the crowd, something like that. Nothing. He doesn’t even get a handshake. He stands alone as Hogan and Michaels are outside the ring seeing to Flair. You wonder if any of them really want to endorse the guy? Anyway, they do let him walk behind them up the aisle.
BAD NEWS BARRETT (INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION) VS DEAN AMBROSE:
Bad News Barrett is the Intercontinental Champion, having recently returned from an extended absence… and as we come from commercial, he is already standing in the ring. Why does WWE hate the Intercontinental title so much?!
Dean Ambrose comes out to a huge pop, proof that although he may have lost some steam after the Bray Wyatt feud, he is still well over.
Some nice tie-ups, go-behinds and fancy grappling to start off, with Ambrose being sure to throw in lots of Ric Flair chops to thank him for the plug. A superkick from Barrett (!) and drop kick from Ambrose, and the match devolves into brawling, punching and kicking.
Ambrose plays up his bad knee again. He likes to play out injuries for a bit. Remember when his shoulder was taped up for over a month?
Barrett sets Ambrose up for Wasteland, but gets countered as Dean hits his Mick Foley DDT for the win.
I admit to being a Dean Ambrose mark, and I love to see him winning a match finally, but did it have to be at the expense of the mid-card champ? Barrett’s hasn’t had the belt for long and he’s already lost to Ambrose and Sin Cara. Sin Cara! I know it sounds old man-ish, but in my day the IC belt actually meant something. WWE seems to think that when you slap a belt on someone, you don’t have to protect them anymore with strong booking.
NEW DAY VS CESARO & TYSON KIDD:
Xavier Woods tells the crowd he’s going to sit this one out on account of his bad ankle. Ok. Great. Why did you have to tell me that?
And why is Adam Rose at ringside in the corner of Cesaro and Kidd? Is he a manager now? Michael Cole tries to explain this by saying that Rose stated earlier that he feels the three of them share a sense of being under-appreciated. Truth much? Either way, it seems like a flimsy alliance.
Good high impact uppercuts from Cesaro, awesome tag team spots from him and Kidd. These two guys are showing people what tag teams are supposed to be doing, what made tag matches so exciting to watch: innovative tandem offense! Cesara holds a suspended suplex while Kidd hits with a flying sidewalk slam, then a Cesaro swing into a dropkick by Kidd – great stuff.
After what looked like a botched spot, Kingston gets a roll-up for the upset pin! A New Day continues to look underwhelming, and the impressive pairing of Swiss and Kidd jobs out on their way to a potential title shot. This match made so little sense I don’t know where to begin, but there were some nice looking spots in it.
Hall rightly asks the crowd whether if they came to see a Raw Reunion, or if they came to see the NWO.
Nash takes over because he’s a better talker. He loses points in my book by plugging the WWE Network, but wins me back by saying, “Your welcome, Hunter” into the camera.
With Hall’s problems over the years and Nash being known for his shoot interviews, do you think the production team were at all afraid of what these guys would say on live TV?
The Ascension interrupts and JBL calls it a disgrace. They cut a promo much like the one Big Show cut earlier, except far worse. Up against such natural talkers as Nash and Hall, the rookies sounded like amateurs trying to sound tough, and nobody was impressed.
JBL gets a huge pop as he gets up, cuts a helluva shoot on Konnor and Viktor, rips his shirt off and reveals an APA tee. Ron Simmons joins him and they climb into the ring.
The New Age Outlaws come out, because they were in the building anyway. Road Dogg cuts an awesome bit of mic work, as always, and they take out the rookies. JBL hits his clothesline, and the Raw Reunion class celebrate.
I can’t tell what they were hoping to accomplish in this segment, at least as far as The Ascension is concerned. They could have used the legends to put them over, made “legend killers” of them, but instead they made the newbies look like complete jokes. Perhaps it was an initiation. Or, maybe they’ve done something to piss some people off. Or, maybe this is a push. They are now slated to face the Outlaws at Royal Rumble, and that will be the telling point. If they job out to two retired wrestlers, well, it’s been fun guys. But if they win, especially in dominant fashion, it will build their cred in a hurry.
PAIGE & NATALYA VS ALICIA FOX & SUMMER RAE:
That being said, I have some questions. Why are Paige and Natalya suddenly teaming? Why are Fox and Rae suddenly friends? And why is the Diva’s Champion competing in a tag team match at the Royal Rumble? Do that on Raw! Defend your title at the big event!
Anyway, a “CM Punk” chant starts up as soon as the match begins, as Paige plays up a bit of lesbian business. Alicia Fox takes control with some crisp offense, hard knees and a lovely suplex into a bridge for a near fall.
Paige hits a couple of nice short-arm clotheslines and does a war cry.
Summer Rae shrieks and acts like a teenaged girl having a tantrum – and does it well, by the way.
Paige gets the submission and she and Natalya celebrate.
Oh yeah, and while all this is going on, Brie and Nikki are doing bland commentary and spend so much time dragging out every word they say, that it is impossible for the commentators to actually call the match.
RUSEV (UNITED STATES CHAMPION) VS R-TRUTH:
They give R-Truth a full entrance, complete with song. I begin to think, “Oh yeah, Martin Luther King Day,” until JBL mentions that it’s Truth’s birthday. Fair play.
Truth hits a couple of moves before Rusev finishes the match with The Accolade.
I know Rusev is this unstoppable force and all, but can you let a guy like R-Truth go more than two minutes before he jobs out? Does he just have no interest in wrestling?
THE MIZ VS THE USO:
This match proves to me that not only is the Intercontinental title irrelevant, but so are the tag titles.
Schoolboy by Uso while Miz poses for the crowd, boot by Miz to take control. Neck-breaker, rest hold, “We want Mizdow” chants. Clothesline into corner, which Mizdow tries to replicate.
Miz misses Uso by a mile and for no reason whatsoever launches his shoulder into the ring post, which sets him up perfectly for a top rope splash, and Uso gets the win.
This match was a non-match, this feud is a non-feud, and nobody appears to care. With so many writers on staff, you’re telling me they can’t come up with something more compelling?
MAIN EVENT – JOHN CENA VS SETH ROLLINS, KANE AND THE BIG SHOW:
Earlier it is revealed that Cena will have to beat three opponents to win, but it is not clearly explained whether he has to pin all three, or only one of them.
Big Show starts it off with big punches to the gut. Rollins takes over and works Cena over. Rollins is becoming a real expert heal, goading the crowd and being really despicable. The action is slow as Cena takes punishment like he’s in a match with Brock Lesnar, really playing up the hopelessness of his plight.
Show misses a splash and Cena goes on a rally, but good ol’ J&J Security interferes, and Rollins takes the edge back. The crowd gets into the action as Cena and Rollins go back and forth. Cena hits an AA but Kane and Show take over.
Cena is taunted by Triple H and Stephanie at ringside and is almost counted out. He waits until 9 to roll back in. Kane choke slams him, and then —
Sting (!) appears on the big screen. Everyone freezes and turns to look. The lights flicker, his music teases, and then — Cena rolls up Rollins for the three! Cena sells the joy of his victory by flipping out and celebrating in the crowd.
Sting stands at the top of the entrance ramp just long enough to point a finger at Triple H before disappearing again. The COO is furious, gets on the mic and yells “No!” which incites the crowd to yell “Yes!” A chorus of “We want Sting!” goes through the audience, but its abruptly cut off by Brock Lesnar’s theme music.
Lesnar throws his belt to Heyman, jumps into the ring and tackles Rollins, grounding and pounding him. Show and Kane try to step in, and they each get an F5. The crowd goes nuts when Lesnar hits the F5 on Big Show. Lesnar stands tall at the end of the show, bodies and chaos all around the ring, and we fade to black.
Wow. What a way to close out the episode. They obviously thought they were making Rollins look too strong, and needed to give Brock a little boost to balance the scales. As I said before, they really have a nice angle with this whole “monster on the loose” thing, and they are playing it beautifully. Having Lesnar closing out the show was the best way to end, since he is the champ. However, when you think about it, it seems a bit lop-sided; after spending so much time making it seem like beating three men in a handicap match was the most impossible task in the world for John Cena to accomplish, Brock came in and easily decimated those same three men in a matter of seconds.
I’m not sure how the Royal Rumble WWE Championship match will go this Sunday. I’ll have to save my official predictions for another day