WWE Monday Night Raw – April 20th, 2015
Back on American soil after a tour of Europe, the big fed goes live from Albany, NY on the last edition of Raw before Extreme Rules this coming Sunday.
All major feuds got air time this week, with yet more time devoted to the ongoing drama involving Kane’s relationship with the World Heavyweight Champion. There were a couple of quality matches which could easily have gone longer, a few meaningless squashes, and a lot of interesting and entertaining backstage segments.
- Randy Orton opens the show from inside a steel cage, and is joined by Seth Rollins on the entrance ramp. Orton promises to go on an RKO rampage.
- Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper: double count-out as wrestlers brawl.
- Tag Team Championship #1 Contenders Match – The Lucha Dragons vs The New Day: Xavier Woods prevents Sin Cara from beating the ten count, New Day wins by count-out. Randy Orton hits RKO on both Kofi Kingston and Woods.
- Re-cap on Big Show’s attack on Roman Reigns.
- Fandango vs Curtis Axel: short match ends with Fandango landing top rope leg drop for the win.
- Triple H announces the return of Tough Enough, encourages Universe to participate. Kane comes down, followed by Rollins. Confrontation ensues. Triple H makes Kane the gate-keeper for the main event cage match at Extreme Rules.
- Naomi vs Brie Bella: Naomi dominates majority, and wins after she hits the Rear-View.
- Backstage, Randy Orton hits RKO on Heath Slater through a table in the lunch area.
- Roman Reigns in-ring promo is short, says he doesn’t want to talk, he wants to fight. Bo Dallas returns to television with his encouragement shtick before Reigns punches him and spears him.
- Shaemus vs Zack Ryder: Shaemus grabs the mic and talks trash while beating on Ryder. Ziggler comes to help and the Celtic Warrior wins by DQ.
- John Cena cuts in-ring promo before Open Challenge. Kane answers, match begins. Cena wins with AA.
- Backstage, Rene Young speaks with Miz, then cuts away to Byron Saxton with John Cena. Rusev attacks Cena with a chain.
- Damien Mizdow vs The Miz: Summer Rae turns on Mizdow, helps Miz win with a Skull-Crushing Finale. Miz secures his brand, but eats an RKO from Orton.
- Bray Wyatt cuts a promo.
- Ryback vs Adam Rose: squash, Ryback wins with Shell-Shocked. Ryback performs double Shell-Shocked on two rosebuds. Rosa Mendes comes to help Rose.
- Backstage, Rollins apologizes to Kane.
- Dolph Ziggler vs Seth Rollins: solid back and forth match ends when Seth Rollins hits face-first DDT drop. Triple H comes down, Rollins bad-mouths Kane again. Kane comes down, Rollins hides inside steel cage. Orton sneaks into cage and RKO’s Rollins to close show.
- Randy Orton is surprisingly over as a face. His segment back and forth with Rollins didn’t go too long, which is always a plus on Monday night. Threatening to RKO everyone in sight capitalized further on the viral popularity surrounding the signature move which has been building over the last year.
- As I suspected, Ambrose and Harper will go head-to-head this Sunday at Extreme Rules. Until now, it looked as though they might be headed to a tables match, but my bet now is a “Falls Count Anywhere” contest, or possibly a “Chicago Street Fight.” It is a shame this feud has gone somewhat overlooked and under-developed, because it has the potential to steal the show.
- The Lucha Dragons continue to be over with the fans, and New Day’s new heel turn is working wonders for them. The under-handed tactics of Woods was a priceless spot, and it underlined the desperate nature of the trio to win. The tag division is suffering without the presence of The Usos, and with heel champions I’m not sure how far and fast The New Day can go in their new turn, but at least things are happening.
- Fandango continues his face push. Lack of a female escort shows a departure from the gimmick and a step toward fan connection. It’s a shame the American audiences don’t seem to share the love for the gimmick possessed by Europeans, but I have faith that if Fandango persists, he can do great things in the company.
- Triple H gave another speech that made us forget he’s supposed to be a heel. It was truly inspiring for any mark. The interaction between Kane and H came off as genuine, and Kane giving his two weeks notice was enthralling. Since losing his mask, I’ve never been so invested in Kane’s character. Rollins adding gasoline to any spark with his childish audacity makes him the best working heel in the business right now. This segment was well played by all three men involved, and Kane’s involvement in the main event of Extreme Rules is a great way to add intrigue.
- The Divas match was fantastic. Good action and a real story being told. Naomi’s heel turn was something I honestly did not ever expect to see, too set in her fan-friendly ways she was, or so I thought. The genuine mean streak she is showing has taken her already impressive physical style and made it threatening. Now, she not only possesses ability, but focus with which to use it. Aside from the match itself, I was distracted by a glaring question: are the Bellas faces now? Why? When did this happen?
- Heath Slater eating an RKO backstage was a well played bit of fun.
- Roman Reigns laying out Bo Dallas did nothing for him, but it did afford the motivated youngster a little time to shine after being away for months. I wonder if a lot of the WWE Universe didn’t even know who he was when he came out.
- Shaemus is embracing his new villainous role with the fervor that a quality superstar should. I’ve always thought the Celtic Warrior was a solid worker, but now he’s no longer simply filling a place in the card – he’s a legitimate threat. The “kiss me arse” match coming up this Sunday may be a bit of cartoonish throw-back to the “New Generation” and “Attitude” eras, but one could argue that they are treating the clause as something more symbolic than literal, as wrestlers have done in the past. The way Shaemus and Ziggler are playing it, the angle of the match is respect and pride, not puckered lips on exposed hips. The match with Ryder was not a match at all, but it was effective. I think it was funny that Shaemus actually ended up winning the match by disqualification because of Ziggler’s interference. Who would have thought it? The ref actually did his job!
- John Cena’s promo tonight seemed to go on far too long, and one wonders if he was told to stretch the segment. The great thing about the US Open Challenge is that we get to see Cena perform with a surprise member of the roster every week in what so far have been quality matches. The downside is we are subjected to a John Cena speech about standing up for what you believe in and never giving up on every television broadcast. As such, if he keeps it clipped it doesn’t matter, but if he drags it out it can get pretty old. Kane’s story of the night played in here nice enough, with the big red corporate machine looking mean and dominant. Cena really only mounted an offense at the end which consisted of an AA and a pin. I didn’t really buy Kane losing like that, but it served the purpose. It’s what’s best for business.
- The backstage segment with Miz reminded us that he was still going to be facing Mizdow for brand ownership later on. The attack on Cena by Rusev kept the monster heel looking strong on his way to Extreme Rules.
- Damian Mizdow lost the match, and the girl, and now his persona. What will become of our beloved Mizdow? Why was this match booked now, a week from Extreme Rules and three weeks after WrestleMania, three quarters of the way through the night’s line-up, between a John Cena title match and a Ryback squash? Will Damian Sandow make his triumphant return as the intellectual saviour of the masses? Or will he mirror another superstar in attempt to find a new identity? So many questions, none of which being: Why did Summer Rae turn on Mizdow?
- Bray Wyatt’s promos have still not identified a target and we are less than a week from the next big live event, telling me that we might see the Eater of Worlds shoving his New Face of Fear in the middle of someone else’s match, thus kick-starting his next feud. But who could it be? Roman Reigns? Ryback? Dolph Ziggler?
- The Ryback squash with Shell Shocked to a banana and a hotdog was worth a pop and giggle, but it didn’t accomplish a thing, except for possibly advancing the plot between Rosa Mendes and Adam Rose. Rose and Rosa?
- Backstage segment with Kane, Rollins and Triple H was just as good as the one these three shared in the ring earlier. You might think this drama of bickering egos would get old, but the character nuances keep it human, layered, and compelling. Rollins deserves to be where he is in the wrestling universe.
- Ziggler and Rollins always have good matches, and this – although not the best of their encounters – was nonetheless arguably the best match of the night. Although the show-off continues to lose matches as high profile as these, the fact he takes the heavyweight champion to the limit keeps him relevant in the main event scene. He may yet get his chance at the top spot, and working occasional programs with Rollins is a great way to build towards that end. It is a shame the Curb Stomp has been banned. It was such a perfect move for Rollins. But, I suppose it’s for the greater good. The RKO was the only way the show could have closed, and the crowd response was enormous. If you had told me this time last year that Randy Orton would be the most over face in the WWE I would have called you a filthy liar. But here we are.