WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Aug. 25, 2014) from Anaheim, California featuring all the latest build to the upcoming Night of Champions pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for next month in Nashville. That means reestablishing everyone's favorite John Cena.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Saying it won't make it true
Here's the issue with this segment, done clearly to help cushion the ratings blow the Emmy Awards was going to deliver to Raw last night.
John Cena's job here, clearly, was to get across the fact that he was so thoroughly beat down by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam he's no longer the same man. Now, because of that, his desire is no longer to simply defeat Brock Lesnar but to defeat Lesnar in at least the same manner in which Lesnar defeated him.
At least, that seems to be the idea. He utterly and completely failed to bring this across in his promo.
Here's what he said:
"I am not going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar; I'm going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar's ass."
What's the difference between the two? Cena was tasked with making the distinction between simply winning and getting payback by destroying Lesnar and the way this was achieved was by adding a curse word?
What's worse, he failed to add any emphasis to that declaration. When delivering the line, he actually spoke softer when saying he was going to beat Lesnar's ass. If the PG rating is to blame for his being unable to make a more obvious distinction -- Example: I'm not just going to beat Lesnar, I'm going to kill him -- then he needed to make up for it in how he delivered the line he was given.
Even then, I don't think the added emphasis saves the segment, although I did enjoy that at one point it devolved into Michaels and Flair telling Hogan how absolutely full of shit he is while also telling Cena he's dumb for even wanting another match with Brock.
Segment grade: D
Die, die, die, my darling
While Cena's angle is that his pride has been damaged so badly he not only has to beat Lesnar to regain the title but he has to win on the same level he was defeated just to return to normalcy, Brock and Paul Heyman's approach is anger and annoyance.
Instead of the glee they displayed leading up to and during the match at SummerSlam, they're now pissed off that Cena didn't give up fast enough in that match.
And how dare he take advantage of the rematch clause.
How dare he not get the point. Because while the "hustle, loyalty, respect, never give up" nonsense is all well and good, it won't save him. Eventually, it will fail him because, eventually, he's going to run up against someone bigger, stronger, better.
In fact, he already did.
There's a time to live and there's a time to die.
Cena had his time to live.
Now it's time to die.
Segment grade: A
But not least:
- As for the main event of this show, I do not understand why it is WWE felt it necessary to use Bray Wyatt as the guy Cena would be going over so strongly on. I understand the need to reestablish Cena after such a devastating loss to Lesnar, but why Wyatt, who is currently in the middle of a program with Chris Jericho designed solely to restore the credibility he lost when he came up so stunningly short in his long feud with Cena. This felt like three giant steps back for a guy who should be a top heel on the roster for the next 10 years. It feels so much like he'll never get there because WWE has no clue how to write for his character unless he's being fed to Cena. This was a bad loss.
- Can we end this Big Show thing now, please? Isn't it enough now?
- Seth Rollins is not a bad promo. I just don't particularly enjoy listening to him talk. I don't enjoy hearing him call Dean Ambrose "Dean Am-bros". I don't enjoy his attempt at manical laughter. Again, it's not that he's bad, necessarily, he's just not my cup of tea. So the Ambrose eulogy segment didn't resonate.
- Also unfortunate: the first Reigns vs. Rollins match was a handicap that also involved Corporate "Black Hole For Heat" Kane, was short, on a bad Raw in an even worse time slot, and ended in DQ. It felt like a time filler, like WWE had to do something with both Ambrose and Randy Orton off the show and this is all they could come up with. The match wasn't any good and the post-match angle with the heels escaping a cinderblock death wasn't any better.
- Brie Bella is easily the worst performer on the WWE roster. Nikki is no Stephanie McMahon, of course, but she did some fine heeling here. The kind of heeling you recognize because there came a point where, despite Brie being so impossible to like, you felt bad for what she was going through because Nikki was turning the knife that hard. Plus, you had to appreciate Nikki telling Jerry Lawler to back the hell off while laying it down on the perverted fans who objectify her at every opportunity. If only she had nailed the "I wish you died in the womb" line. This was really cheesy in spots but also really good in others.
- By the way, maybe next time don't put Lawler in the ring for a segment between two women where he will be tasked with breaking up a fight between the two.
- You know what I like best about this Jack Swagger-Bo Dallas thing? Swagger has no good response to anything Bo says. "Hey, sorry about you losing ... again." Yeah, he did lose again. "You let your country down ... again." A bit of a stretch, but based on the story, sure. "When are you going to realize that you just need to BOLIEVE?" Even if it's bullshit, Swagger can't say it because he keeps getting his ass kicked. He's the last guy to call bullshit here. "Think about it." Doesn't he kind of have to? Everything Jack does ends in failure. Maybe he does need to convert and become a BOLIEVER. Maybe Bo should get his own stable and Swagger can become a member. There are too many possibilities. Either way, Jack has to sit there and take it every time he loses and that makes this worth watching every time.
- The New Nation is dead and Kofi Kingston is left saving Bo Dallas from botching his finish. Meanwhile, they're actually moving into a Swagger vs. Dallas feud. By the way, did Zeb Colter die from that Rusev kick?
- Speaking of Rusev, why was he back to beating Swagger into the living death and why wasn't Mark Henry anywhere to be seen when this was happening? Just to run out with Show later in the evening to pave the way for Cena to stand tall? What a weird show this was in nearly every way imaginable.
- I don't know what that abomination of a match was between Paige and Natalya, though at least the commentators finally acknowledged that Natalya beat the Divas champion clean multiple times. Still didn't get her a title match, but whatever. Also, the Paige Turner needs to be retired. The bigger issue here was the "mind games" AJ played on Paige. It seemed clear it was sexually charged, so what's the threat there? Sexual assault? AJ making Paige uncomfortable by acting as though she's falling in love with her? This just feels like such a creepy twist, especially considering those in power who approve the stories at WWE. Not a fan.
- That Cesaro-Rob Van Dam match fell flat on its face with what appeared to be a super rushed finish. That was one of the problems throughout this show. Everything felt just a little off, or rushed, or illogical. Still, at least we're about to get some Cesaro vs. Sheamus hoss matches.
- Damien Mizdow is now the front runner for the best character Sandow has played now, right? Also, let's recognize how brilliant The Miz was by responding to his stunt double's poor performance in the match with Dolph Ziggler by nonchalantly remarking "he's fired" immediately after the pinfall. This may have been the best Miz we've ever seen. A shame it was wasted on this show.
- I think Stardust & Goldust turned heel, which is a weird thing to do the day the former got a new t-shirt. I didn't enjoy the match they had with The Usos but I did like Goldust having had enough of the count out nonsense and attempting to restart the match. This is very clearly set up for a title match at the upcoming PPV, and that's fine by me.
- SLATER GATOR! SLATER GATOR!
This was a disjointed show with weird booking, bad wrestling, dumb angles, and an infuriating finish. The best thing on the show was a pre-tape Lesnar shot backstage last week.
Overall grade: D-
There was enough here -- Lesnar pre-tape, Sandow/Miz, Nikki's heeling -- to save it from an F. But what was bad was really bad.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?