RAW Ramblings – May 11th 2015
US Bank Arena: Cincinnati, OH.
With only three weeks since Extreme Rules, this week’s RAW was the go home show for Payback. If you think that is a short turnaround between PPVs, and it is, Payback is only the start of it. WWE announced on RAW that the Elimination Chamber would be a Network only special on May 31st, conveniently the same night when all those free subscriptions are due to expire. So in a six week period the WWE will have run Extreme Rules, King of the Ring, Payback and Elimination Chamber. Apparently there will be two Chamber matches, one for the now vacant IC title and another for New Day’s tag straps, which is pretty much irrelevant to my point, but still I’m intrigued as to how a tag team Chamber match will work. Running four supposedly “big” shows in six weeks is simply not conducive to smart booking or compelling television and with the main focus of the Fatal Four Way, just like it was for the uninspiring Orton/Rollins cage match at Extreme Rules, on what 48 year old Kane is going to do, it isn’t surprising that fan apathy for these PPVs/Network Specials, and the product in general, is seemingly at an all-time high.
The best thing on RAW was John Cena’s US title open challenge. Cena did a promo about the “I Quit” match with Rusev then Neville showed up for what at first seemed like the second young up and comer from NXT losing to the legend story in the space of a week. However this differed from the Sami Zayn match in a couple of ways. For a start Neville wasn’t going into the match with a freshly dislocated shoulder and as a result the match was much better and was given more time. Second and perhaps more impressively, John Cena didn’t actually pin or submit Neville, who looked even stronger than Zayn last week and who also kicked out of Cena’s AA. Rusev ran in for the DQ at 14:58 just as Neville hit Cena with the Red Arrow, so for all intense and purposes, Neville had Cena beat. Rusev laid out Cena and put him in the camel-clutch afterwards. I’m not particularly interested in seeing another Cena/Rusev match, unless Rusev wins, which seems unlikely.
Daniel Bryan made his return to TV after being advertised on Twitter 20 minutes before the show started. Classic WWE. Bryan talked about getting an MRI and the doctors not knowing what is wrong with him or how long he will be out. He said it could be weeks, months, or he might never return. Bryan mentioned being stripped of the WWE World title last year and announced he was going to relinquish the IC title because it was the right thing to do. It was a real tough deal to watch, as you can’t help but feel for Bryan, who left the IC title belt in the ring and walked out to a standing ovation and chants of “thank you Daniel.” Bryan stopped at the top of the ramp like Mick Foley at No Way Out 2000 then turned around to do what could have been one final “Yes” chant and everyone in the building joined it. It felt like a really genuine promo from Bryan and the fans in Cincinnati were unanimously classy.
The WWE world title storyline featured the usual Kane/Rollins tension, however the show opened up with HHH coming out and declaring, “Daddy’s home.” Trips told Kane & Seth to get along and told Kane he would be fired if Rollins loses the WWE title on Sunday. HHH booked everyone in the Four Way in matches: Dean Ambrose beat J&J Security in 5:20, pinning Noble with his DDT. Kane was booked to face Roman Reigns, but it turned into a brawl before the match could get started and Reigns ended up spearing Kane over the announce table. Never fear though, as they announced Reigns vs. Kane in a rematch on SmackDown. – Can you believe these goofs haven’t figured it out yet? Main event saw Randy Orton beat Seth Rollins in 15:15 by DQ when J&J ran in and attacked him. The match wasn’t particular very good and it felt like they were just coasting for the most part. Kane came down for the post-match angle, which saw him just stand at ring side while Ambrose, Reigns and Orton all hit their finishes on Rollins. Reigns then took out Orton with a spear and Ambrose laid out his buddy Reigns with his DDT and stood tall to close the show for a second week in a row, so he’s almost certainly taking the fall on Sunday. The announcers played up big that Kane didn’t lift a finger to help Rollins and tried to get viewers excited about what Kane might do at Payback given that his job is on the line.
Decent Filler: King Barrett downed Dolph Ziggler in 5:55 of a solid little match. Sheamus was on commentary and jumped Ziggler and hit the Brogue kick. Erick Rowan squashed Fandango in 37 seconds. The announcers were placing bets on how long it would take Rowan to kill Fandango, which was quite amusing. Luke Harper came out with Rowan, so it looks like the Wyatt Family, minus Bray of course, are back together, which is good news for both Harper and Rowan who were floundering as singles.
Lame Filler: Tamina w/Naomi beat Brie Bella w/Nikki in 3:35. It was no good and Tamina still doesn’t seem to have improved at all. Curtis Axel had a match with Macho Mandow Damien Sandow, who did a Randy Savage imitation promo beforehand. The Ascension interrupted the match and buried the two for copying irrelevant 80’s gimmicks. Axel & Macho Mandow took out the Ascension then Axel dropped the big leg on Viktor and Mandow did the elbow drop off the top. It was so goofy. Cesaro w/Tyson Kidd & Natalya downed Big E w/Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston in 8:55 of a match that damn near fell apart. E was stumbling all over the place and blowing spots left and right. The Prime Time Players did another wacky vignette and made fun of the New Age Outlaws. Bray Wyatt cut his trademark meandering promo on Ryback, who showed up and the two had a brief brawl before Wyatt hit the bricks.
Here’s the line-up for Payback: It should be a good in-ring show, although I thought that about Extreme Rules and that turned out to be not the case.
Pre-Show: Cutis Axel & Macho Mandow vs. The Ascension.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus.
King Barrett vs. Neville.
Tag Titles, 2-Out-of-3 Falls: New Day (C) vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro.
US Title, “I Quit” Match: John Cena (C) vs. Rusev.
WWE World Heavyweight Title, Fatal Four Way: Seth Rollins (C) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton.