WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Sept. 1, 2014) from Des Moines, Iowa 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 one week removed from doing just that.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
When you gaze long into the abyss...
With the benefit of hindsight, last week's show is almost an insult. It is the textbook definition of a placeholder until they could come up with a better idea, and that better idea came this week.
Instead of just rolling with the idea of giving John Cena an immediate rematch against Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions, you know, despite the fact that he was nearly killed in the first match at SummerSlam -- though you certainly wouldn't know it by watching Cena operate -- they bothered to provide a compelling angle.
Namely, Triple H realizing his need to do the right thing -- what's BEST FOR BUSINESS -- and remove Cena from the match for all the obvious reasons. This always should have been the story. "No, John, I won't grant you an immediate rematch because LOL, are you even serious right now, you'll die."
This creates an obvious Raw main event, one we got last night in the form of a six-man tag with everyone trying to impress Triple H, because you should always remember everything comes down to impressing Triple H in WWE. Cena is, of course, booked incredibly strong and he proves that he is, in fact, ready to rematch Lesnar.
What's slightly maddening is Cena's idea of selling is to miss a week and then completely and totally ignore the fact that he's not just supposed to be hurting in kayfabe but he's apparently legitimately hurting in his day-to-day life. Considering the fact this man doesn't really play a character, I suppose it makes sense that he would no sell his pain even when it's legitimate.
As for the rest of that opening segment, well, as good ol' Stone Cold would say it was a modified clustermuck (family friendly edition).
The Cena story was good for what it was but I'm not sure Cena has ever lost any more credibility as a babyface than he did with his response to Triple H potentially ripping him from the Lesnar match. Paraphrasing here: "What are you even doing, I'm going to sue you, ha ha, see you in court."
That's coming from a guy who was utterly and completely decimated by the guy who broke Undertaker's streak (and may have retired him) in response to Triple H basically saying "hey, I can't have one of my biggest stars dying on PPV, that's not good for business".
Cena wasn't much more than a petulant child here, far too proud of himself for playing the one lame card he had in the face of a well reasoned argument from the only adult in the situation.
Later, after Cena's team won the match and he sufficiently showed how super he is, he literally got in Triple H's face to say "ha ha, getting my match now, na na, you can't see me" before grabbing a sign that read "TAG ME IN" and unironically holding it up in the ring with the most accomplished look on his face. This was apparently a botch, as some have noted the other side of the sign read his signature catchphrase, and that makes it all the more fitting.
For the story, they accomplished what they needed to. For the character John Cena, this was about as awful as it gets.
As an aside, Triple H and Chris Jericho going back and forth was entertaining until the former went after the latter for wearing a scarf and Jericho's best response was "at least I'm not wearing a pink tie". Whole lot of dudebro right there, folks.
Segment grade: D
Dumb and dumber
I'm not sure what the hell this Brie vs. Nikki Bella feud is and I don't think WWE knows what the hell this Brie vs. Nikki Bella feud is. The "Growing Up Bella" video series may have been the worst thing WWE has aired in years.
Here are the transgressions Brie is guilty of, according to Nikki:
1. She stole her prom date, Ryan, and Nikki found them together in a parking lot, though it's anyone's guess what they were doing in said parking lot.
2. When they turned 16, their mom bought them a car that only Nikki could drive. Brie stole it, along with Nikki's driver's license. She totaled the car and then let Nikki take the fall by giving the police Nikki's license.
3. Brie is dumb and was almost held back in high school. Nikki took her final exams for her to ensure she passed.
All of this has, apparently, been building and building and building and finally Nikki has snapped and is telling all. For some reason, she also has a really big problem with Daniel Bryan, who she makes sure to call a "goat faced troll" at every opportunity.
What's interesting here, and I use that term loosely, is the fact that AJ Lee and Paige got mixed up in all this later on when Stephanie McMahon gave Nikki a Divas championship match. So either the decision was made to merge the two stories or they're moving on from one or both.
There were two good things that happened here, though:
1. Stephanie McMahon reacting to everything around her.
2. Another tease of Stephanie vs. AJ.
Neither of the Bella twins are compelling as characters and the story while sound in theory, is falling flat on its face. Two annoying people who can't perform to save their lives are arguing over stolen boyfriends and stupidity.
Count me out on that.
But count me in on Steph vs. AJ.
Segment grade: D
But not least:
- After that talk Paul Heyman had with Steve Austin, anticipation was high for how he would handle his promo on this show. His angle? That Cena is overcompensating because he's desperate. His superhero image has been shattered and while he's wearing a brave face now, it's a facade and there are obvious cracks in the armor, cracks that will be exposed and exploited at Night of Champions. Again, the story here works but Cena makes it hard to get invested because his character is so unbearable.
- The Miz has quietly become one of the best heels on the roster, although that might be due to the fact that he's one of the few heels who actually acts like a heel. Damien Mizdow as his stunt double is a brilliant play, aided greatly by the fact that Sandow commits so fully to every character he plays. The finish in the tag match with Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus was cheating done right. Miz sends in Mizdow to take a finish from Ziggler so he can slip in behind him and hit the Skull Crushing Finale. He's a cheater, and he's good at it. With a stunt double, he's also a formidable challenge for babyfaces to overcome. This works in every way pro wrestling is supposed to.
- Can we just stop with all these Mark Henry/Big Show vs. Wyatt Family matches? They've run so many that they promoted this latest match by saying "1,400 pounds in the same ring at the same time! Don't miss it!" I legitimately fell asleep during this match.
- Mark Henry vs. Rusev is going to be way too much fun when they finally get to the singles match. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever looked forward to a hoss match more than this.
- Bo Dallas is the embodiment of the annoying idiot JBL became when Jack Swagger lost to Rusev and Vince McMahon went on the kick about drilling it home that Swagger let his country down, except Bo is perfect for this. Dallas turning the tables on Swagger and the returning Zeb Colter by bringing out three stock people and claiming devastation over Swagger's loss was expert level shitheading. It might be a problem that it's easier to like Dallas for said shitheading than it is to like Swagger, who ruins everything. I mean, just look at those people Bo found who had their lives turned upside down because Jack couldn't get the job done against the evil Russian sympathizers.
- Someone at WWE finally convinced Vince that Adam Rose is chopped liver but The Bunny in his Exotic Express is, somehow, over. There was a point here, however, that you realized you were watching a program where a man wearing a bunny suit shot a double leg on Heath Slater and laid him out with ground-n-pound. This is our entertainment, folks.
- Stardust & Goldust are much better as heels because there's nothing better than a weird dude wearing facepaint and acting funny who will get ruthless and beat the hell out of you. That's turning wonder to fear, and it works.
This show had a few moments but this was yet another bad show.
Overall grade: D
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?