WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (May 25, 2015) from Uniondale, New York with the go home show to the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV) on the WWE Network this coming Sunday night in Corpus Christi. It featured Dean Ambrose getting arrested in the stupidest way imaginable.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
A lesson in sympathy
This Dean Ambrose-Seth Rollins program doesn't feel nearly as worthwhile as the first time around because the emotion of that first fued has completely disappeared. It's no longer about Ambrose's pain after Rollins sold out and turned his back on him. There's no depth here.
They've gone right back to the stock "Hi, I'm Dean Ambrose and I'm kind of nuts" angle, except this time they've got Dean in the role of John Cena cutting babyface promos poking fun of the heel champion with lame insults calling him Justin Bieber.
Rollins, by the way, absolutely owned that and turned it right back around, therefore defeating the purpose of it to begin with.
If there's one good thing about all this, it's that we're getting so much throwback to The Shield and the fact that all three members are legitimate main event level players are present time, even if you could argue that they shouldn't be in the case of Ambrose (and maybe Reigns if you're feeling contrarian enough). But, again, they've ripped the emotion away at a time when it should be a central theme.
We're coming up on the one year anniversary of Rollins turning on Ambrose and Reigns and that was hardly mentioned during this show building to two of those guys headlining the next WWE Network special.
If there's a way to give Ambrose some credibility in this position, or at least forgo the reality that it makes no sense for him to be here like this, playing on that raw emotion is it.
Instead, they booked an arrest angle to get him symapthy. It just didn't work. Someone shoved a camera guy into Ambrose's back as he was brawling with J&J Security, he punched the guy without looking, the guy was pressured into pressing charges, and Dean was booked. Then, because this wasn't dumb enough already, they waited until late in the show to reveal that someone had captured footage of Rollins pushing the camera guy into Ambrose.
But of course he was coming back later, showing up in an NYPD truck (even though they don't have jurisdiction where Raw was taking place) wearing police gear (I guess because he stole it?) and signing the contract with an assist from Reigns.
There's no sympathy here.
There's no "hey, how cool is that" here.
It's just dumb.
Rising above hate
I want to talk about John Cena and what he represents here for a second. I'm not looking for any sympathy here, I should say, I'm really not. But I've been getting a ton of hate lately, both professionally and in my personal life and it's crushing. On some level you can deal with it, when it's relatively minor and there aren't numerous people dishing it out. But even if it's just a few, on a long enough timeline it wears you down.
So here's Cena listening to those familiar chants telling him he sucks, dealing with all the usual smart fans in the crowd eager to hate him for any reason or for no reason. And here's Cena, not letting it affect him and being successful despite it.
Maybe it does get to him and we just don't see it. Maybe in his quiet moments at home, away from prying eyes, he feels that same crushing weight on his chest when he thinks of all these people who don't actually know him sending him hate because he said one thing they disagree with, or he looks a certain way, or acts a certain way, or whatever it is they can't stand for whatever reason they can't stand it. Maybe he goes home and curses them and counts his money to feel better. Maybe his entire act is bullshit and I'm just in a place where I want to believe it and buy into it because I kind of need that right now. But while I realize there are many problems with the John Cena character, his continually rising above all the hate -- you're damn right I said it -- is, in some way, inspirational at a time when inspiration is exactly what's needed.
On this day, I can't help but respect that.
As for his match with Zack Ryder: I can appreciate the want to work the hometown angle and all that but using Ryder felt more like watering down a concept that has worked so well and been the best thing on the show for some time now. At least Kevin Owens showed up with another powerbomb, right?
All the best to all the rest
Sad Rusev: I'm not sure why it is WWE felt R-Truth, who is in the Intercontinental title Elimination Chamber match in just six days, was the right guy to feed to Rusev here. It serves as yet another indictment on the creative process. That said, I'm still in love with this Rusev-Lana angle because Rusev is a manipulative bastard who actually appears to care but can't help himself. That narcissitic need to be proven right and ensuing meltdown when Lana actually stood up for herself was perfect. This is WWE getting it right. How nice is it that the woman breaking free of the abusive liar trying to control her is being presented properly as the one you should be cheering for? There are some issues with the Lana-Ziggler stuff so far, but I'm going to stick with the positive here.
Ryback vs. King Barrett: Guy in multi man match at upcoming event takes on other guy in multi man match at upcoming event to create intrigue in finish in said multi man match at upcoming event.
Entourage: I don't watch the show, and never have so none of the segments they did on this show were for me. The reference to Jeremy Piven's SummerFest goof was fun and the ribbing on Stephanie McMahon over Ronda Rousey was a good bit, but the rest of it was a waste of time unless you're actually a fan of these people.
Neville vs. Stardust: Can someone figure out who Stardust pissed off to fall this far down the ladder in this short a time period? This is what a burial looks like, folks. Meanwhile, this NXT throwback program with Bo Dallas is entertaining enough, mostly because Bo is outstanding hopping in and out of his want to be inspirational and his lust for murder.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus: Guy in multi man match at upcoming event takes on other guy in multi man match at upcoming event to create intrigue in finish in said multi man match at upcoming event. This one, at least, had the added intrigue of Lana and her new role as Dolph Ziggler's ... uh ... what's the deal here? I could ignore it earlier and focus on the issues with Rusev but now we're being confronted with what exactly it is they've got planned and it's not clear at all. Ziggler outright said "I know you're just getting with me to get back at Rusev and I'm good with going along for the ride" and Lana never bothered to clear that up. But now she's broken free of Rusev and is still planting kisses on Dolph and coming out for his matches. So what's the deal? Is she just jumping from Rusev to Ziggler just to get back at the former for treating her wrong? I wanted to feel sympathy for Dolph when Rusev had him in The Accolade and was yelling at Lana to "kiss him now" but they never bothered to actually set that up. Instead, Ziggler is just the dude who is totally cool with using Lana's bad relationship with Rusev to get his. He just comes off sleazy and, again, they never bothered to give us backstory on why Lana went to him right away. If it really is just to get back at Rusev, well, then the whole thing just falls apart.
Paige vs. Tamina: It sure felt good to watch Tamina beat up Paige and pin her in the center of the ring after that SmackDown promo, didn't it? That probably wasn't what they were going for but I don't care, it was great. The Bella twins commentary was forgettable but I'm still laughing at the idea that Brie Bella actually went to counseling and came back with a great attitude about it.
Tag teams everywhere: Why did Kane book The New Day in a 10-on-3 match? Why did they then book that ridiculously dumb handicap match to end in a quick disqualification? Is this really the best they could do creatively headed into the Chamber show? I wonder who is going to win the Royal Rumble!
This show sucked.
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?