The SmarK RAW Rant – 04.07.14
No, I’m not going back to RAW, but last night’s was such an awesome show that I thought I’d throw a rant your way. Also, this allows me to test out Hulu on Xbox One and gives me an achievement. So everyone wins!
Live from New Orleans, LA
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & JBL
Really spectacular video package to start, recapping the Daniel Bryan saga, in particular when the chorus goes “I’ve turned into a monster” and you see a montage of his beard and hair growing out over the years. The people they have doing these things are top notch.
Daniel Bryan joins us to start, and he’s already got “Yes” plates on the belt so you know he’s keeping it for a bit. And the crowd won’t even let him talk because of chanting his name, and then “You deserve this”. The difference between Bryan and John Cena is that Bryan comes across as a real person with real emotions who actually connects with the crowd and gets them emotionally invested in his quest. And after a bunch of Yes-ing, HHH and Steph interrupt. Oddly (or not I guess) the Hulu version edits out the “asshole” chant from the crowd. HHH is pretty sure Bryan’s moment won’t even last through the night, and to make sure he’s challenging for the title personally TONIGHT.
Meanwhile, the Douche Twins bitch at HHH about how they both deserve title shots, so Stephanie gives them a tag title shot against the Usos. HHH once again hints that when they all work together, bad things happen to people.
The Wyatt Family v. John Cena, Big E & Sheamus
The new awesomeness from this crowd: Singing “John Cena Sucks” to the tune of his music. The crowd immediately cheers for Wyatt as there is no split tonight. Bray stomps on Cena, but Sheamus comes in with a shoulderblock and the crowd boos the crap out of him as well. The Wyatts pound on him in the corner, but he fights back against Rowan to a cascade of boos. Sheamus has fun with it, however, making sure to keep punching so that people can boo him. Over to Big E, who hits Rowan with backbreakers for two, but he’s so impressive with it that people cheer him for a bit. Back to Cena, who hits Harper with the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Harper faceplants him for two as we take a break. Back with Bray hitting a uranage for two. Harper pounds him with forearms as there’s actually a “Let’s go Cena” portion of the crowd now fighting to be heard. Hot (?) tag to Sheamus, who hits Harper and Rowan with a double shoulderblock, but walks into a lariat from Rowan. Back to Big E and Bray as E runs wild with a suplex and splash, but the Wyatts clean house on the other babyfaces and Bray finishes E with the Sister Abigail (“Bray is gonna kill you!”) at 13:12. Wacky fun! ***
Speaking of wacky, Bo Dallas starts his vignettes as we learn that “impossible” really means “I’m Possible”. I thought they might tweak the character, but I guess they’re just gonna go for it. Or BO for it.
Brock Lesnar joins us after breaking the streak. And Paul Heyman told us so. He’s such an awesome heel that a heel crowd boos him. Brock is not here to make people happy, he’s here to PUT TEARS IN THE EYES OF CHILDREN. He continues his awesome roll (“John Layfield and the other two things they call announcers”) and points out that Brock might get no respect, but he also respects no one and barely tolerates Paul. Daniel Bryan never fought in the UFC! John Cena never fought in the UFC! YOU’RE ALL WANNABES! Oh, and Brock is the “1″ in “21-1″. This was MASTERFUL.
WWE tag titles: The Usos v. Randy Orton & Batista
The crowd is on Batista already, but at least now he’s fully embracing his heel status. Orton pounds on an Uso while the crowd does the thing where they chant for everyone else in the world but him. Everyone fights outside and Evolution destroys them until both are counted out at 2:14. The heels don’t seem to care, and an Uso gets powerbombed on the stairs in a crazy sick spot. So, uh, point made, I guess.
ADAM ROSE is coming. If ever there was a gimmick in NXT where it was ready to be dropped into prime time with no tweaking, this is it.
Ultimate Warrior joins us, wearing a goofy paper Warrior mask. His spirit will run forever, apparently.
AJ Lee is out to celebrate her 295th day as champion, the “best Diva in the World”, which draws a Punk chant. This brings out NXT champion Paige, and this would be the crowd that actually knows her. She just wants to congratulate AJ, but this OFFENDS your longest-reigning champion because she doesn’t like interruptions. So she wants to beat on Paige, and she’ll even give her a title shot right now.
Divas title: AJ Lee v. Paige
The crowd chants “this is awesome” for the match, and AJ attacks right away and puts her down with an elbow. AJ spins into the Black Widow, but Paige reverses out and hits the Paige Turner for the pin and the title at 1:21. ½* Finish looked terrible but the poor girl had to be nervous given this kind of pressure. So AJ gets Honky Tonk’d. The rematch on the PPV (pardon me, “WWE Special”) should be great given some time as well.
Hulk Hogan joins us, to award the ARMBAR trophy to Cesaro. Uncle Zeb won’t let him talk, however, so Cesaro changes teams and introduces Paul Heyman as his new manager. And then an hour after ripping the crowd apart with a master class in heel promos, Heyman draws a giant babyface reaction and then cuts a hilarious babyface promo on Zeb. This brings out Swagger, and he SMASHES THE TROPHY. Good god, when has that ever happened before in the history of wrestling? THIS IS WHOLLY UNPRECENDENTED.
Jack Swagger v. Cesaro
So this is an impromptu match joined in progress after the break, and Heyman is clutching the remains of the trophy like CM Punk’s belt. Swagger pounds away with knees in the corner and works on the back, but Cesaro fights back with forearms until Swagger powerslams him for two. Swaggerbomb hits knee and Cesaro comes back with the deadlift superplex for two. Running uppercuts in the corner set up the Giant Swing, but Swagger runs away at 5:00. Probably should have destroyed Swagger and moved on to something bigger for Cesaro. *1/2
Meanwhile, Stephanie rallies the Shield and makes sure that HHH will be walking out with the title tonight. Kane gets too worked up and accidentally starts blabbing things that he shouldn’t be blabbing, which is a nice subtle touch you don’t usually get. Stephanie actually sells it well too, giving him the “SHUT THE FUCK UP” look.
Daniel Bryan v. HHH
Never happens, as Douche and Douchier attack Bryan and lay him out, as does Kane. This brings out HHH for what would seem to be the easy pin (and watching live I was like “Fuck me, they’re gonna Mick Foley him”) but then The Shield makes the save in the name of justice. So there’s your main event babyface turn for them, which is exactly what they should do. And to think they were gonna split them up at Wrestlemania. We get the big staredown between Shield and Not-Evolution ala the Wyatts feud, but HHH declares that it’s not happening. Never not awesome. And then Reigns spears HHH anyway and the war is on. Ambrose and Rollins hitting dives like excited little kids is great. And then HHH takes the running knee as Daniel Bryan finally has some muscle on his side.
A spectacular show, one of the best episodes I’ve seen in the history of the show. Nothing really for good wrestling, but just pure entertainment from start to finish that set up a bunch of interesting stuff for Extreme Rules and was MOVING THE CHAINS. And after months of being stuck on a treadmill, we now have new characters, new main eventers, and best of all different things happening. What a great weekend to be a fan.