Tonight, Raw comes to us from Des Moines, Iowa on this Labor Day Monday (here in the US). John Cena appeared last week and beat down the Wyatt Family in the main event segment, but tonight he's slated to respond to a video package promo that Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman cut on him regarding the Night of Champions title match. Also, Paige and AJ continue their "frenemies" spat - what's next for these two and who will try to out-crazy the other? Also, Chris Jericho will be hosting the Highlight Reel, with his guest Randy Orton. Will the Wyatts attack Jericho? Will Roman Reigns go after Orton, or is he focusing on Seth Rollins now?
Show Open, Live from the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa
As the show opens, Cole welcomes us in and Chris Jericho is already in the ring for the Highlight Reel. JBL laments that Jericho sucks up for attention. "Welcome to Raw...is...Jericho!" It's time for the Highlight Reel in Des Moines for a cheap pop. He says it's Labor Day for the hard working Americans, but his guest is a man who has been handed everything on a silver platter. He goes to announce Randy Orton, but here comes Triple H, Orton, Kane, and Seth Rollins. Jericho looks puzzled. JBL is thrilled, and Orton is actually wearing pants.
Jericho tells Orton he was expecting him to come out alone rather than with the law firm of "Sellout, Suckup, and Schnozz." Kane starts to talk but Triple H interjects and says he has it. Triple H insults Jericho and says he never grew up "figuratively and literally." He mocked Jericho for being a little guy. Jericho says he's confused because Hunter never conducts business being conducted in the ring unless it involves his wife being thrown in jail. Hunter mocks Jericho's scarf and Jericho mocks Hunter's tie. Hunter says "it's violet, nimrod."
Hunter says he should thank him for making this the most historic Highlight Reel ever. He says that he has watched the Brock Lesnar/John Cena match over and over, and listened to the Hall of Fame panel, and watched it over again. He pimps the Network for $9.99. He goes on to say that he's not sure it's best for business to let Cena face Lesnar again. He's debating whether or not to name a new number one contender.
Jericho says "did you say you can get the Network for $9.99?" Hunter agrees and says he didn't know if Jericho heard, then proceeds to question about the new title contender. Orton speaks up, saying that perhaps it should be a twelve-time champion "that has never been given anything and has earned everything." Kane speaks up next, saying that perhaps it should be a demon that takes out the Beast Incarnate. Seth Rollins speaks up next, and gets cheered because he's from Iowa (Davenport, in fact). He says that maybe the future has arrived in the form of the Money in the Bank Contract holder.
John Cena's music hits and he walks straight to the ring with no fanfare. He paces back and forth once he's there then asks what the hell Hunter is talking about. He says that just because Hunter's friends Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels don't think Cena can win doesn't mean he won't. He says they also believed that he wouldn't beat Triple H at Wrestlemania 22, but Cena tapped him out. Cena says that Hunter can go back and watch that for $9.99.
Cena goes on to tell Hunter that if he denies him the rematch opportunity that Hunter authorized after Cena invoked it, he will sue for every penny Hunter has. He says he'll take over as the COO and his first order of business will be to tell Hunter "You're fired!" Cena tells Hunter to save himself the headache and his job. He restates that he's not just going to beat Brock Lesnar, but he's going to beat his ass.
"All I can say is wow. This is actually where you're at with this." Hunter mocks Cena for the idea of suing and says it might be a good t-shirt. Hunter says he might not feel Cena as World Heavyweight Champion is best for business anymore, but Cena's career ending at the hands of Lesnar at Night of Champions "is not best for business at all."
Rollins interjects and tells Hunter to let Cena have the rematch. "If an opportunity should present itself, there's always Plan B." as Rollins holds up the Money in the Bank briefcase. Orton agrees about letting Cena have the rematch, then asked whatever happened to his rematch from Wrestlemania. Jericho interjects and says that this is still the Highlight Reel, and he noted that Orton has had 4,000 title matches but never succeeded.
Jericho talks about Reigns beating Orton at SummerSlam. Orton says the loss and Reigns mean nothing, and if Reigns were there he'd drop him on the spot. Reigns' music hits on cue, and here he comes through the crowd. Reigns hits the ring and says "Well, here I am, Randy. Drop me." He goes on to talk about how Rollins and Kane are mad about his breaking up the eulogy segment last week, or crushing Rollins' head with a cinder block. Reigns tells Triple H that he believes his name should be in the mix for a title shot.
Hunter says everyone thinks they're "the guy" and says he doesn't know if he believes Cena's resolve, or if even Cena believes it. He says he will give everyone a chance to prove themselves in a six-man match with Cena, Reigns and Jericho teaming against Kane, Orton and Rollins. "Let's see who can earn their spot. Let's see who can prove it. I'll sit right down there (ringside) and I'll be watching." The heels leave, but Rollins tries to attack Reigns from behind with the briefcase. Reigns sees it coming and punches Rollins, then throws the briefcase at him.
The live crowd was into the segment for the most part but died at the announcement of the six-man tag. I am going to assume the Cena/Lesnar match is still on, but the tease is interesting. It's like they're going away from the idea that Cena is Superman like he was last week when he ran through the Wyatts. Biggest problem here is that this segment well overstayed its welcome. Far, far too long to get to the same ending.
Cole hypes up Mark Henry and Big Show vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. They recap Miz attacking Sheamus on Smackdown, then hype up Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler taking on Miz and Cesaro. They run a split screen of Sheamus and Ziggler, so that match is next.
Match #1 - Cesaro and The Miz (w/Damien Mizdow and a makeup artist, yes seriously) vs. Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler
Miz is wearing shades. Seriously. Cesaro starts things for his team. Ziggler chases Miz from the apron, who sits in a chair at ringside and gets water from Cesaro. The makeup artist touches him up. Man is that dumb! Miz gets in the match a bit later, and he gets roughed up. Sheamus hits him the the Ten Beats of the Battern and a Finlay Roll. Cesaro blind tags in and hits Sheamus with a drop kick going to the break.
Sheamus sells for a bit, then he gets a hot tag to Ziggler. He goes on a nice run of offense on Miz. Sheamus and Cesaro tumble to ringside. Late, Miz barks at Sandow to get in the match. Sandow does as he's ordered, and the official gets in the middle of it. Ziggler hits Sandow with the Zig Zag, but Miz comes right back with the Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Afterward, the makeup artist touches Miz up and he and Sandow drink water together.
Miz is straight God awful in this gimmick. Sandow needs better than this as well. But the match itself wasn't bad and the Miz/Sandow bit with the "stunt double" routine got heat from the live crowd it seemed. If you're in Des Moines and reading this - let us know (@Bill_SoonerFan or @RingRap) what you thought of the reaction to this ending.
The announcers send it to a recap of what happened last week when King tried to reconcile the Bella Twins. I puked the first time, why do I want to puke again. They go to a serious Nikki sitting in front of a black screen. She talks about being at the prom and they show a picture of her and her date. She says her date disappeared, and she found him in the parking lot with Brie. She went home and cried, but never told anyone.
Creative, and probably Vince McMahon, are thrilled about this, but it is the worst feud on WWE hands down. Brie can't act, and should be shooting down what Nikki is saying rather than crying because viewers will eventually think Nikki is right.
Match #2 - Eva Marie, Cameron and Rosa Mendez vs. Layla, Summer Rae, and Naomi
Layla starts off but this quickly disintegrates into a scrum that the official throws out. Naomi hits the Rear View on Cameron and Layla and Summer Rae hit drop kicks on the other two to send the heels up the ramp.
This was all about hype for Total Divas season #3. Waste of TV time.
The announcers talk about the six man tag match briefly, then recap Rollins putting Ambrose out and the handicap match between Reigns vs. Rollins and Kane last week. Cole hypes up the six man tag again, then King hypes up Henry and Show vs. Rowan and Harper, next.
Match #3 - Big Show and Mark Henry vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan
This is all about the beef. Show and Henry are coming to the ring out of break and Justin Roberts tells us they weigh nearly 850 lbs. The Wyatt pair come out to their generic rock music. They're big guys too. Rowan vs. Henry to start, and Henry takes control with headbutts and shoulder blocks. Plodding offense with clubbing shots and a corner splash. The fans chant "Sexual Chocolate" as Henry continues the assault.
Harper distracts Henry on the second rope which lets Rowan sweep the leg. Harper gets a quick move and two count going to break.
During the break, Rusev and Lana have come to the ramp to watch. Show sells for the heels, taking a crash on the outside. He barely beats the count back into the ring and Harper covers for two. Rowan tags back in and goes to work, catching Show in the mush with a big kick then tagging Harper in. Some shots exchanged, then Harper hits a superkick. Show is too close to the ropes though and Harper tags Rowan in.
Rowan hits a slam that astonishes the announcers but only gets a two count. Henry is still staring up the ramp at Rusev. Show blocks a second slam and hits a DDT. Fresh tags and Henry attacks Harper with a corner splash and a slam for a near fall. Rowan saves the pinfall, and Show chases him out with a choke hold. Back in the ring, Henry sets up the World's Strongest Slam, but Rusev kicks Henry before he can deliver it. That ends the match in a DQ.
Afterward, Harper gets in the ring with a chair, but Show punches it out of his hand. Rowan jumps on the apron with a chair, but thinks better of it and leaves.
Baffled that Harper and Rowan are secondary players now. And I guess Rusev vs. Henry is back on now?
More "growing up Bella." Make it stop. Nikki calls Brie jealous and self-centered. She says that she passed the driver's test but Brie failed. She talked about the first car - a 2000 Honda Civic. She recounts how they decorated it and had fun driving around town, but one night Brie stole the car and Nikki's license. She got in an accident and put the blame on Nikki. Nikki says she never told anyone.
OHMYFUCKINGODMAKEITSTOPSOONERTHANLATER!!!!!! Someone in WWE Creative loves this but it is TERRIBLE!
We get some hype for a video segment recapping how Cena is focused for his rematch with Brock Lesnar, next.
The announcers talk about Michael Sam (the NFL's first openly gay player) being invited to Raw next Monday and will be given an open microphone.
That'd be one hell of a media exposure issue there if Sam were to appear. Sam should remain focused on getting on an NFL squad though with his talent. He has a media circus following him unnecessarily anyhow, so that makes his NFL ambitions tough to start with - so this would just make it worse.
They run a video package featuring clips from last week's Raw Hall of Fame panel segment, Brock Lesnar's video promo segment, and Cena vs. Bray Wyatt and the six man tag match that closed the show.
Justin Roberts introduces Paul Heyman. He gets a nice ovation, surprisingly. "Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman..." he starts. He says Lesnar has authorized him to talk about "overcompensation." He says Cena didn't listen to reason from the Hall of Fame panel, nor did he listen to reason from Triple H earlier this evening either.
Heyman says Cena is so desparate to hold on to the image that the fans have and that's why he will be spectacular in the main event of Raw. Heyman says you could stack the entire locker room together, multiply it by infinity, and it still won't equate to half of the brutality that Cena will be subjected to when he steps in the ring at Night of Champions against Lesnar.
The announcers hype Lesnar vs. Cena as they show the graphic. Cole asks if Heyman is right and Lawler says you can't believe Heyman. JBL reminds us that Triple H will be watching the main event.
Odd break in flow here - Triple H is saying that he will be observing to determine a number one contender, but yet they're rolling screen graphics saying Cena and Lesnar will be facing off.
Match #4 - Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Curtis Axel:
Swagger gets his entrance prior to the commercial, and Axel didn't get much of a television entrance. As action starts, they show Bo Dallas setting up chairs on the stage and bringing actors up to sit in those chairs. Swagger puts Axel away with the Patriot Lock.
Afterward, Dallas calls out to Swagger. He and Colter stare from the ring. Dallas talks about the first fan, Ricky. He says Ricky bet his whole salary on Swagger to win at SummerSlam, and then went double or nothing on the rematches. He lost his farm now.
Bo introduces "Angelo" and calls him an up and coming designer who immigrated a couple years ago. Swagger's disappointing performances caused him to fail his citizenship test and he's facing deportation. He then introduces Jennifer, who says her son used to favor Swagger, but now he idolizes Vladmir Putin. Dallas has the three stand up, along with the fans, to say "all you have to do is Bo-lieve!"
My God that was the drizzling shits. This whole first half of the show has been that. The NFL returns to Monday night next week, and right now WWE has delivered exactly ZERO compelling content to have fans tune in next week. Michael Sam isn't even compelling as I am betting he won't be there.
Out of break, Adam Rose is partying his way to the ring. Cole hypes up a game that you can download for your phone.
Match #5 - Adam Rose vs. Titus O'Neil (w/Heath Slater)
Rose rolls around the ring, then goes up top to pull a move off but gets caught. O'Neil catches him and hits a pair of backbreakers. Slater pounds the mat and that draws the Bunny over. Slater attacks the bunny, which draws O'Neil's attention. Bunny double legs Slater, Rose rolls up O'Neil for the win. Rose and the Bunny throw Slater into the steps and go off to party with the rest of the Rosebuds.
And the meaningless, no-hook content continues...
More "growing up Bella" content. Nikki shows a picture of graduation day and says Brie almost didn't make it. She would have been held back if she didn't get her grades up. Nikki tried tutoring her but it didn't work, so she took her exams for her so she would pass. "But I didn't tell anyone."
They're going to make Nikki the face by default because right now they're not letting Brie respond to any of this despicable talk. What a joke these segments are.
Before we go to break, Rusev comes out with Lana for the next match.
Out of break, the announcers shill the WWE Network for $9.99 with all the WCW content that is coming on board. For $9.99.
Match #6 - Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Zack Ryder
Lana's going to cut a promo. She says that we celebrate Labor Day, but it's just celebrating another day off. She puts over a day in Russia called a "day of knowledge" educating their youth. She says "America, and your Labor Day, you suck."
Match doesn't last long. Ryder submits to the Accolade pretty quickly. Rusev poses with his star and the Russian flag, but here comes Mark Henry. Rusev bails as Henry hits the ring. Henry grabs a mic and asks why Rusev is scared. He says he's actually afraid what he would do to Rusev if he got his hands on Rusev. He says he is the strongest man in the strongest country.
Henry says Rusev thinks he is invincible since he's undefeated. Henry says he just opened up an international wing in his Hall of Pain, and Rusev will be the first inductee. Henry's music played while JBL says he wants to see Henry beat the Russian.
Henry's promo was pretty good and filled some solid logic. I think these two would have a physical match and it should be solid.
Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie chat about the Bella situation. She says that the "Growing up Bella" segments are connecting with her, and whenever their employees have problems her door is always open. Hunter calls it cute and says she has a big heart while he stares directly at her cleavage. Stephanie says that she can't wait to see Nikki's reaction to the announcement. "Wish me luck" Steph says and leaves.
OMG!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!
Stephanie McMahon's music plays and she comes out to the ring to boos. She applauds Nikki Bella for having the courage to tell her story, and asks her to join her in the ring. Nikki comes out to the Bella music to ZERO reaction.
Nikki thanks Stephanie for the opportunity to get those things off her chest. A boring chant gains traction as this is just bad. Stephanie says the audience understands how it feels to be weak and in the shadow of people greater than them like she is. The crowd stopped chanting but started sitting on their hands instead and they're quiet. Stephanie tells Nikki she's proud of her.
Stephanie talks about being the mother of three and is thankful that there isn't a Brie among them. Stephanie says Nikki is the face she is looking for in the Divas division, and grants her a title shot. Nikki says thank you and hugs Stephanie.
The Bella music hits again, and this time Brie comes out. Stephanie demands the music be cut and says that music is reserved for Nikki from now on. Brie tells Stephanie that this doesn't concern her, and she wants to talk to Nikki. Brie tells Nikki she is tearing apart the family and asks why she's doing it. Nikki says she's doing it for herself, as the boring chants get going again. Nikki even brings up Daniel Bryan as "the goatfaced husband."
AJ's music hits and here she comes skipping to the ring. Cole reminds us that she's the former champion. Full throat "CM Punk" chants from Des Moines. "Hi Boss Lady!" AJ says that she wants to remind her of #1 Contenderships, and it's the fact that there's one. She says she never got her rematch, so that contender is her. She tells Stephanie to leave the Bellas to solve their problems and save the title for her. Stephanie thanks her for the enlightenment. Doesn't take long for Paige to make an appearance.
Paige says that you can't have a conversation about the contender to the title "without the bloody Divas champion." Quickly the focus swings back to the Bellas anyhow. Nikki says she will forgive Brie if she quits. She tells Brie to go have troll babies with Daniel Bryan. Brie teases leaving, and Nikki starts screaming at her to go and leave her alone.
Brie turns around and shoves Nikki down, which takes out Paige in the meantime. Brie exits to silence and the fans chant "yes!" AJ picks up the title belt and skips around the ring. Stephanie steps in front of her and demands that AJ hand over the title belt. "NOW!" Lee smiles and lets Stephanie take it. They exchange a look, and AJ skips away. Paige gets her belt back and skips away, then Stephanie and Nikki leave together.
Oh my God. WWE has completely phoned things in on this show. This is the top of your third hour, a segment featuring two women who can't act, two women having a feud that just lacks any sort of traction and heat, and a woman bigfooting her way all over the situation because she's a McMahon. This was just the drizzling shits, and nearly made me turn my TV off. Horrible.
The Main Event hype centers around Dolph Ziggler appearing on Miz TV tomorrow night. They recap the segment we just saw in case you wanted to get sick again. The announcers hype up Jericho facing Bray Wyatt in a steel cage next Monday.
Wyatt sounder. He cuts a promo saying that he hears they'll be locked in a cage like animals next week. He asks how far until the steel walls turn their back on Jericho. "Run."
FINALLY - something worth hyping against Monday Night Football!
Match #7 - Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso) vs. Goldust (w/Stardust)
Cole points out Jey's bad knee being taped from last week's match with the Dust Brothers. They also recap the finish to that match. Goldust takes a mic and apologizes for what happened last week but the Usos attack. Goldust and Stardust fight them off quickly and things settle in to a one on one match.
Stardust kicks Jey's bad knee. Jimmy hits a dive, but gets kicked in the head when he goes back in the ring. That lets Goldust hit the Final Cut to get the win. Afterward, Goldust and Stardust pick on Jey's injured leg and work him over. Stardust slams a chair on his bad leg.
Jey sold that chair shot hard. The bad thing is they moved on right away to the next thing rather than cut to commercial.
They recap the injury angle between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, as well as the handicap match with Roman Reigns facing Kane and Seth Rollins.
They run a preview of Total Divas season three, hyping in particular that Rosa Mendes will be on the show this season. They haven't exactly done anything with her on TV so why should I give a damn?
Backstage, Big Show talks to Mark Henry. He says that he understands that Henry needs to stop Rusev, but he needs Henry to focus on them being a dominant tag team. Henry says he has to get Rusev first though. Show says he supports him and he'll be in his corner. Henry says he has to do this alone for him and for his country. Show tells him he respects him and to induct Rusev in the Hall of Pain.
The trademark "King of Kings" rings out, and here comes Triple H and Stephanie to watch this main event. ZERO reaction from the live crowd. They take their place next to King at the announce position, without saying anything. John Cena gets his entrance before commercial.
Match #8 - John Cena, Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, Randy Orton and Kane
After the break, Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho make their entrance to join a waiting Cena. Cole recalls Cena threatening to sue for breach of contract because he has already signed off on Cena's rematch for Night of Champions. Seth Rollins gets a nice hometown reaction from the Iowa fans as he comes out. Kane is still corporate, not a demon, so he's not winning this. Orton gets the last entrance.
Orton vs. Reigns to start it off. Reigns gets the better of Orton early, but the fans want Rollins. King tries to cover it by saying that they just want to see him get his for last week's attack. Reigns takes a shot at Kane, then hoists Rollins into the ring. He stalks him, then roughs him up in the corner a bit. Orton gets involved but takes a stiff shot and gets dumped to ringside. Rollins scampers out as Reigns stands tall going to break.
Back live, Kane is controlling Reigns. Rollins tags in and gets a run of offense in on Reigns, but Reigns backs Rollins into the corner to break it up. Kane tags back in as Reigns continues to sell for the heels. The fans fire up for Cena, who is on the apron begging for a tag. Orton tags in and continues to bring the offense to Reigns.
Hot tags to Jericho and Rollins. Jericho goes off on Rollins, hitting Kane with a springboard drop kick and a Lionsault on Rollins. Jericho locks Rollins in the Walls of Jericho in the middle of the ring. Orton runs in for the save. That sets off a series of moves, with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch, Kane hitting a chokeslam and Cena hitting the AA. Jericho rolls up Rollins for two, then takes a kick.
Back live, Orton is controlling Jericho. Jericho gets a couple chops in, but Orton powerslams him down. They show Jericho hitting a Codebreaker going to break, but Orton pulled him out and roughed him up outside the ring to put the heels in control. Rollins has the tag and keeps the pressure up on Jericho. He goes up top and waits, but when he jumps off Jericho is there with a drop kick. That draws Triple H off his chair, and Kane gets the tag and keeps Jericho from tagging.
Jericho fires off some chops on Kane, then goes to the second rope, but takes a shot from Kane. Kane tags in Orton as the Authority team keeps up the offense. Orton perches him up top and throws some shots the tries for a superplex. Jericho fights back and chops Orton off the ropes. Jericho hits a cross body for two and rolls over to tries to tag. Kane stops him at first, but Jericho hits him from behind with a forearm shot and makes the tag to Cena.
Cena goes off on Kane, hitting him with the trademark shoulder blocks and side slam. He takes out Rollins with a boot and a German suplex. He hits Kane with the AA after mocking Triple H with "you can't see me." He tags in Reigns and heads to ringside to jaw at Triple H. Reigns fires up and hits Kane with a spear to grab the win. Cena continues to jaw at Triple H.
Seth Rollins tries to attack Cena, but Cena loads the AA and hits Rollins with it onto the table. Cena jaws some more at Triple H, telling him he will go to Night of Champions to face Brock Lesnar. Cena goes back to the ring to pose and celebrate and play to the crowd while Stephanie and Triple H look sternly on.
The finish to this was a bit predictable, but it was a good main event. The match worked especially for the live crowd with how they popped for Cena getting the hot tag. I'm not sure I agreed with the story they tried telling here, with Cena having to prove himself worthy yet again to Triple H after he mowed through the Wyatts last week, but it was well executed.
This show was an "F" show from me. Nothing really worked until the main event. The mid-card stories are pretty basic, and basic can be good but they're just not finding ways to execute those stories in a compelling way. The Bella Twins and Stephanie McMahon just flat suck ass, and need to get off my television. That story is God-awful and a complete waste of my time and effort to cover. With Total Divas coming back this weekend, I guess we better get used to this. Above all else, until they started late in the show with hype for Jericho vs. Wyatt in a cage, and Orton vs. Reigns in a SummerSlam rematch (which got ONE mention), they didn't push anything for next Monday - when the juggernaut that is the NFL returns to prime time Mondays.
This was a marathon show I couldn't wait to see end. I will have a lot more to say in Raw Afterthoughts tomorrow night, and on RingRap Audio this coming Wednesday night. Feel free to send in your thoughts and opinions as well between now and Wednesday for us to discuss on the show. Thanks for following!