WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Sept. 8, 2014) from Baltimore, Maryland featuring all the latest build to the upcoming Night of Champions pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for later this month in Nashville. That includes more interaction between John Cena and Paul Heyman, and Jerry Springer showing up to moderate a talk between the Bella twins.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Don't sell your soul to the devil, he already sold his to me
The angle we got with Paul Heyman and John Cena last night was the former trying to talk the latter into turning heel. That's the gist of it, really, and, of course, it didn't happen.
Instead, John Cena reaffirmed -- roughly 15 times or so -- that he is, in fact, John Cena. That's what he's always been and what he'll always be.
This time, though, he cut a promo centered around WWE basically telling you, dear fan who badly wants John Cena to turn heel, all the reasons it would be a really dumb idea to actually turn John Cena heel. There's something really powerful within the fact that a dying child's final wish would be to spend a day with John Cena. This was all about getting you to understand the actual real life gravity of that fact.
Imagine the responsibility you would eventually feel for it. That yeah, this is a cartoon world and we older fans see it for what it really is, but those kids who don't who are staring death in the face think that Cena being Superman is the best damn thing in the world and when they could have anything they want they choose him.
Yes, he's Superman and Superman is everything they need in those moments. Who the hell are we to take that away from them for the sake of a storyline?
Imagine being John Cena in that spot. Sure, he could do it, and as he alluded to not long ago, he's got it in him. He would probably be one of the best heels of all time, too, no different than longtime babyface who turned heel when he had no other choice Hulk Hogan.
But, in his mind, that juice isn't worth that squeeze. It's not worth giving up for the alternative. All the shots he takes are worth it for the difference that he makes.
To that end, this was a well executed segment. Heyman was good, as always, as the devil on Cena's shoulder attempting to bring the worst out of him. But, of course, there were problems.
- That shot at Undertaker was bizarre and it was a surprise the fans in Baltimore let it slide.
- I imagine it was in the script but the "wifebeater" reference shouldn't have made TV. They were in Baltimore on the same day the Ray Rice tape dropped. Yeah, this was minor and they showed exactly what they were referencing in two guy's clothing choices, but this was the very definition of tone deaf.
- The segment ending with Cena basically saying "I want to beat the hell out of you, Heyman, but I won't because I know they would bash me for beating a helpless old man. So I'll give you seven days and then I'll beat you up." The idea was to force Heyman's hand and make him convince Brock Lesnar to return next week -- and it worked, as it was later announced that Brock will be back next week -- but it came off a whole lot like Cena was just saying that Heyman has a week to become less old and helpless than he is right now because he's got an ass whooping coming to him.
There was a lot of good here but some unnecessary bad that hurt what should have been a very strong lead-in to the final confrontation before the big rematch.
Segment grade: B-
Let's quick hit the rest, in order:
- Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt: Slow to start with some wonky psychology early on but they turned it around building to a big spot late with Jericho flying off the cage -- but not before shrugging his shoulders because he's a rock star and fuck it -- and selling a knee injury he already had a brace on. They earned the "This is awe-some" chants by the end, even with the weird, sudden finish.
- Absolutely hated the Dolph Ziggler-Miz-Damien Mizdow abomination for all the reasons you should already know. It's unbelievable to me that -- and I know it shouldn't be -- WWE would take this recent scandal and have its babyface (good guy) in the story, Dolph Ziggler, play the role of the hackers who stole the celebrities nude photos and posted them online while its heel (bad guy) in the story, The Miz, was mocked for being outraged about it. How terrible is it to think that this wasn't even "edgy" and if they really wanted to be edgy they would have attacked the assholes who think it's okay to invade people's privacy like that because "well, they're douche bag celebrities"? This comes at a time when this entire feud has been enjoyable and Miz has arguably been the best thing on the show. Just awful.
- AJ Lee and Paige are in the middle of a feud that is just long enough in the tooth that WWE writers are now just telling them to go make out with the Divas title and let people think whatever the hell they want.
- Meanwhile, Sheamus and Cesaro are playing tug-of-war with the U.S. title. How's that for balance?
- Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus wasn't bad, actually, until the finish when Sheamus suddenly went on delay for like three seconds and the Curb Stomp looked like someone paused Sheamus and scrambling to click play again as quick as possible.
- Here's a fun thing to consider: the best part of this show was when the stars of NXT showed up and worked a match to promote Takeover 2 (Electric Boogaloo). These four characters, three of which had never once appeared on main roster programming in this capacity, were better than everyone else. Props to the folks who attempted to get an Ole chant going.
- Jerry Springer showed up, Brie and Nikki Bella said things, they ran videos of their mom and dad, they brought out their brother (who sides with Brie), and then they brawled. All of us who actually sat through it all are now dumber for having watched it, WWE is awarded no points, and may god have mercy on all our souls.
- Actually, Stephanie McMahon doing the overexaggerated roll over the pile of bodies was mildly entertaining.
- The Usos are heels and Stardust & Goldust are justified in their actions over the past few weeks. Can we just roll with that narrative because the Dusty brothers are actually entertaining and have potential for a fun story while The Usos are the worst thing to happen to the tag team division in recent months?
- The tribute to Joan Rivers was touching. It's sad to think but WWE is exceedingly good at this video packages for anyone who has died.
- The Bunny used Sweet Chin Music this week, and it looked pretty damn good. However, The Bunny danced and it wasn't the worst thing you'll ever see so we can rule out Shawn Michaels. The mystery of who is donning The Bunny costume remains.
- Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton wasn't a bad match, but it lacked energy. This may have been viewer fatigue, as they were coming on at the end of a show that dragged along for two and a half hours. The closing angle also failed to hit home and, as we detailed already, tragedy was averted when Seth Rollins realized at literally the last second that he was about to be impaled by the steel cage that was dropping down from above the ring. Nothing they did in this main event made you want to tune in next week. Obviously, that's a big problem.
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?