-There's always something interesting on the hangover Raw, isn't there? Vince threatening to kill a puppy if they don't get to 1.4 million Network subs by midnight would be interesting, if not necessarily PG. Oh, and Sheamus is back. Pray he's changed something about himself to pay off his solid work.
-Live from San Jose
-On the call, Cole, JBL, and Lawler
-Lesnar is here in his wrestling attire because he's ANGRY. First time since 2002 he's worn his wrestling gear on Raw, I believe. Cole says there's a 'rumor' that Brock is angry. A little birdy told me you need air to fuckin' breathe, Michael. It's a SCOOP. Heyman refers to Brock as the 'non-PG asskicker of the PG-era'. Crowd appreciates Brock killing Reigns the night before, and chants "SUPLEX CITY" when prompted. Slam City ain't got shit on that. Heyman says Reigns can 'sink and swim on his own'. God forbid Vince is the one steering the life boat. He'd accidentally nail Roman with the outboard motor. That brings things to Rollins. Heyman would like to file an injunction against Rollins, but explains that Lesnar would rather leave the lawyers out and instead invoke the rematch clause. That's why he's our hero. And it's being invoked TONIGHT. Before the fans can get too excited, Stephanie's here to spoil the fun. "RONDA ROUSEY" chants with Lesnar in the ring. That's positively surreal. Stephanie says Rollins is still flying back from the Today Show appearance, but is sure he'll accept. I smell bait-and-switch. Heyman hard-sells it anyway, because lord knows he's built up promises that never fully paid off. So I hear, anyway.
WWE Intercontinental: Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler
Both men get jobber entrances. Not a good sign for a revamped title. Bad News Barrett provides commentary as Bryan and Ziggler begin with a test of strength and knuckle-lock leveraging, which foretells a lengthy match. Bryan rolls into ground-and-pound and it turns physical quickly. "THIS IS AWESOME" chant for the elementary work. That's like if Rikishi gets "YOU STILL GOT IT" chants for hiking up his thong. Thinking standards have lessened. Bryan gets the surfboard with arching of the chin, which Dolph quickly breaks. Bryan gets dropkicked and Ziggler takes him to the floor with a crossbody that only grazes Bryan, and Ziggler sails almost aimlessly to the concrete. Jesus.
Ziggler controls after the commercial, and we get some worthwhile App footage of Ziggler hitting this unique headscissors piledriver. Ziggler misses a charge, and Bryan responds the repeated corner dropkicks. Bryan is crotched up top, but changes position on Dolph, crotching him and hits a sick-looking back superplex for 2. YES kicks follow up, but the final one misses. Roll-up gets 2, almost countered into a Yes Lock. The two bridge out of a pin, and a backslide-battle ends with Bryan hitting the corner. Bryan goes for the Baisuke Knee but is superkicked for 2. Crowd is hanging on every move now. Slugfest turns into the Chris Nowinski Disapproved Headbutt Battle, won by Dolph. Bryan immediately counters with the Baisuke Knee to finish at 11:52. Hell of a TV match, wish, I could've seen the stuff during the break. ***1/2. Barrett attacks afterward, and motions for the Bullhammer, only to be saved by Sheamus, who now has Shannon Moore's mohawk. Barrett gets run off....and Sheamus Brogue Kicks Bryan, then assaults Ziggler. Good, the character needed some edge, rather than be the douchey smiling cartoon he'd become. Ziggler fights back, but White Noise crushes him. "YOU LOOK STUPID" chant is eaten up by Sheamus. I guess that's the point?
-JBL informs us that Rollins just walked through the door. That voyeurism is paying off.
-Hall of Fame recap, and it was hard to tell who stole the show between Madusa and Bushwhacker Butch.
K-Swiss/Ascension vs. New Day/Lucha Dragons
Damn, I was hoping for the Vaudevillains. Cesaro and Sin Cara start off with a mat sequence (with loud chants for Cesaro). Tilt a whirl backbreaker on Sin Cara, who comes back with the round-the-world armbar takedown for 2. Kalisto has a rana blocked, and ends a counter sequence by standing ON CESARO'S SHOULDERS, flipping off of him, and getting a double-round-the-world headscissors. Holy shit, and the crowd concurs. New Day takes over on Konnor (with NEW---DAY-SUCKS chants), and quick tags turn the tide, with Ascension dominating Kofi. Two minutes later, we get another replay of Kalisto's insane act of agility. It was that awesome. Back from break and the fans are deep into the Sami Zayn "OLE" chant. Cesaro gets a swing, because he owns Zayn. Kofi gets a lukewarm tag, and drops Kidd with the controlled frenzy, and drops the Boom. Cesaro uppercuts Kofi dead, but Viktor tags himself in, causing dissension. Kofi cradles Viktor for 2, and we get the REAL hot tag to Kalisto, who goes ballistic with his offense. Big E throws Cesaro onto Kidd for good measure. Kofi spills to everyone outside, and Salida Del Sol finishes Viktor at 10:04. Hell of a tag team match, actually, and quite the debut for the Dragons, especially Kalisto. ***
-Lesnar is still angry, so it's not just a rumor. Thanks for the tip, Cole. Heyman informs Brock that Rollins is indeed here.
-Adrian Neville teaser video, with huge cheers in the arena. This has been a helluva first hour.
WWE Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar
Something tells me it's a swerve, call it a hunch. Just noticed the foreground apron is the LED version, like NXT and WrestleMania. And hey, we do get Rollins, in his gear, with the belt and everything. Rollins has the balls to hold the belt up in Lesnar's face, because he's just such a wonderful asshole. Crowd's quieting during the intros, waiting for some sort of swerve. Rollins doesn't hand the belt over, and simply leaves the ring with the gold. Rollins takes the mic and claims jet lag, so he's not up for defending the belt. That, and his foot hurts from curb-stomping Lesnar and Reigns last night. Rollins postpones the rematch, so Brock attacks outside.Brock gets for a German inside, Rollins lands on his feet, and gets the enzuigiri to the face, which Brock no-sells. Rollins bails, but Lesnar catches up and tries for an F5 outside, but the Stooges save and Rollins escape. Lesnar tips the announce desk over and goes to kill Michael Cole, which the crowd approves of. F5 on Cole, and Cole takes a helluva pancake bump. Get Rich Brennan in there, I guess. Brock goes to F5 a camerman, which brings Stephanie out to reason with him. F5 anyway, because Brock does what he wants. Stephanie suspends Brock. Well, you figure there's some sort of hunting season coming up in Minnesota. Crowd isn't happy either way. Surveying the damage, I see Booker and JBL are pinned beneath the table wreckage. Brock F5s the cameraman once more for good measure. AWESOME segment. Shame Brock's going into his usual time away, because if Reigns had done that in December, he'd be the biggest babyface in WWE.
-Back from commercial to somewhat dead air, with the announcers and the cameraman getting medical attention.
-Stephanie runs down the carnage in a Renee interview. "He F5'ed Michael Cole!" The crowd roars with approval. Stephanie says she owns Brock. If she really wanted to punish him, she'd sign Overeem and pump him full of rhesus monkey hormones before turning him loose on Brock.
Stardust vs. Damien Mizdow
Byron Saxton is on solo duty until further notice. Maybe Corey Graves forgot to bring his gear, That's wrestling 101! Mizdow still has the name and the Miz theme song, which seems odd. It's The Rhodes Scholars Explode! Saxton's third sentence of the match talks about 'building momentum'. Vince indeed has a limited vernacular. Front suplex from Stardust before he sells anguish at the Cody chants. It's like 'IRWIN', but not. Mizdow comes back quickly with the Skull Crushing Finale at 2:25 to win, and Miz immediately attacks in the aftermath. One of the more compelling feuds, and I'm glad it's continuing. Better than being relegated on the WrestleMania pre-show. Miz blames the crowd for getting Mizdow over. In today's WWE, that kind of *is* a crime.
Curtis Axel vs. Adrian Neville
"Don't change the channel!" is my favorite pathetic catchphrase. Axel takes a long term view of his battle royal loss, but Neville's electronic music turns the crowd the other way instantly. Neville immediately gets a top-rope quebrada with his new cape still on, and the crowd is predictably on board. Wild gymnastics follow. Relative squash ends with Red Arrow at 1:11. Or as Saxton would say, "Watch. What. He. Is. Going. To. Do. Now." A home invasion wouldn't even phrase Saxton. "Wow. We are going to get robbed" as the burglars flee with the TV. Ah well. Hoping for Neville vs. Ziggler, because that would break the sound barrier.
-New US Champion John Cena is here. "John Cena Suuuuucks" chants break out, as expected. Saxton says Cole may have a cervial fracture, which probably isn't the best time to mention that as a kayfabe injury. Not saying WWE is insensitive, but that's just an unfortunate choice of injury to have picked. Cena encourages the singing and basks in it, because he's a man of no fucks given. Cena's raring to defend the belt right now, because he knows if it's non-title, he loses clean in 3 minutes. Saxton: "Here comes Rusev!" Awkward pause, and then Ambrose arrives. Jesus, what is the disconnect between he and Vince?
WWE United States: John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose
If Ambrose wins, we'll never see the belt again. Saxton's narration of still photos from the ladder match are about as exciting watching bugs fuck. Ambrose gets snippy with Cena early, and Cena muscles him down with a couple headlock takeovers. Cena with a crossbody for 2. Ambrose responds with a hiptoss for 2 and we hit the commercial as Cena bails. We come back, and Lawler's finally out here to bail Saxton out. Ambrose off the top misses, and Cena gets the spinout powerbomb, but the Shuffle is blocked with a kick. Ambrose strikes away, Cena blocks with a kick, and catches the rebound lariat with another spinout. Shuffle connects, and Ambrose counters the AA into a sunset flip for 2. Rebound lariat hits this time, for 2 again. Cena blocks the Deeds and goes for the AA, but Ambrose elbows out. YAY/BOO strike session, and you can probably figure out which noises are for who. Tornado DDT by Ambrose leads to a 2 off an unconventional cover. Ambrose leaps onto Cena with a diving elbow outside the ring, and both men are out. Ambrose tosses Cena in, but walks into an AA....for 2? Wow, rebuilding Ambrose. Of course, he'll probably lose clean to a second one, but at least he gets out of the first one. That's how WWE has Cena give the rub. Cena tries for a super-AA, but Ambrose elbows free. They botch the sunset powerbomb, and Ambrose does finally connect, but Cena somehow rolls through (?) into the STF. Ambrose crawls all the way to the ropes, and now Cena's questioning himself. Sucks-chorus kicks up. AA is blocked, and Ambrose....gets the STF?! Ambrose tries to pull Cena away, but walks into an AA, escapes, and hits Dirty Deeds for 2! Man, are they trying to top WrestleMania? Slugfest develops, and get more finisher reversals until Cena rolls through a crossbody to get one last AA at 14:21. Out of Ambrose's 600 losses in the past year, that one made him look the best. ***3/4. The respect deal is teased, and they tag hands, which the crowd doesn't much care for.
-Renee interviews a gleeful Rollins, and he's not exactly broken up about Lesnar's suspension. How's Brock supposed to represent WWE from a corporate standpoint? I mean, for all we know, maybe nudes of Brock will end up on Instagram, and we can't have that! Rollins is all smiles until Orton shows up to confront him. Orton wants a rematch, but The Bloats of Attitude Past show up to back Rollins. Rollins challenges him to a six man tag. We know one will be Reigns, that's for sure.
Six Diva Tag: AJ Lee/Paige/Naomi vs. Natalya/The Bella Twins
Didn't the Bellas refer to Natalya as ugly? I seem to remember a duck call was involved. AJ promotes Bayley with the "I'M A HUGGER" shirt. Naomi and Natalya kick things off as we get the "WE WANT BAYLEY" chant. On the main roster, or in another sense? Naomi bounces the ass in Natlaya's face, but eats a basement dropkick in return for 2. Brie tags in and I notice Saxton and Lawler are actually conversing in somewhat smoother fashion. It's not exciting, but it beats Cole and JBL's volume-busting arguing and laughing. Tag to Paige, and Brie dares taunt her with the wicked L-for-loser taunt. Geez, stick your tongue out at her, why don't you? Paige spears Brie to the floor, and we go to commercial.
Back from break and Brie works a resthold on AJ, as I believe I hear a "YOU SUCK CENA" chant at Nikki. Well, it's none of my business, but if they're in love, that's their business. Natalya snap-suplexes AJ for 2. Crowd foregoes the dirt chants and reverts to "LET'S GO AJ", which I haven't heard since the days of the Nashville Fairgrounds when AJ Styles was a heel. AJ and Nikki blow something and the crowd isn't appreciative. Nikki applies a low deathlock on AJ and we get a "LET'S GO DIVAS" chant. See, that's the spirit. Nikki turns the hold into a bow-and-arrow, and AJ fights free for a two count. AJ gets the tag to Naomi as Brie yells "COME ON NIKKI" for the 9000th time. Nikki gets the Alabama Slam for two, broken up by Paige. Scrum develops, the Bellas have a miscue, and Naomi ass-faces Nikki for the pin at 13:10. Spirited effort from the Divas, continuing a recent trend. **3/4.
-I know Raw does too many replays, but I can watch Lesnar killing the entire announce team all night. He loves fucking up people who are undefeated at WrestleMania, doesn't he?
-Ryback reports for Orton-befriending duty. He can't look Orton in the eye, sadly, because that's not where the cuecards are.
-Ziggler/Bryan vs. Sheamus/Barrett Thursday. Bet Bryan takes the fall. Stupid belt-a-tross.
Rusev vs. Goldust
No Lana tonight. Rusev's rocking a nice Brain Busters satin jacket, though. Lawler is 'just handed a note' that there's cervical damage. Thought that was established? Crowd wants Lana as Rusev kills Goldust. Lawler's reminding me of 1980s Bruno on commentary, minus the thick accent. Rusev cuts off a brief Goldust comeback with the side kick and gets the Accolade at 2:17. Hope Rusev doesn't get lost in the shuffle; he's become one of my recent favorites. Stands out too much among the commonality.
-This "take a swing at my ego" is hurting my eyes, because they're kind of attached to my brain and ears.
Seth Rollins/Big Show/Kane vs. Randy Orton/Ryback/Roman Reigns
Reigns walks past a "ROMAN IS A WANK PHEASANT" sign. That's awful specific. And who's holding that sign, Regal? Crowd still doesn't like him, in spite of his bold performance last night. It's gonna be a while. Kane and Ryback start off, giving me horrid flashbacks to TLC. Kane takes a front spinebuster. Kane rolls away to avoid the Meat Hook, and Reigns throws himself over the ropes onto all the heels. Crowd boos him anyway. THAT'S how damaging that booking was. Back from break and Orton covers Kane for 2. Sami Zayn Ole chants, because that's who everyone wants to see challenge Rollins for the title. Ryback suplexes Kane for 2, as he and Orton are only tagging each other. Cutting back on boos for Reigns, I presume. Rollins gets in there finally and he and Orton give us a probable preview of Extreme Rules. Crowd's kinda all over the place with chants and hijinks. A "HOW YOU DOIN" chant? Show tags in and stands on Orton. I guess we'd have to be there appreciate how big he is. Crowd chants "PLEASE RETIRE" at Show, and he just laughs it off good-naturedly. Kane tags in and we get "SAME OLD SHIT." Crowd resorts to the wave as Rollins tags in, and even his presence can't stop it. Crowd even pans around to show it in its glory. "CM PUNK" chant leads to Rollins crotch-chopping the crowd. Orton lands a superplex during a "WE ARE AWESOME" chant. Crap, the crowd's gone meta. Reigns and Kane get double tags and now the fans are focused solely on booing Roman. Show gets a pop for spearing Reigns, and Ryback legit brings the crowd around by Shell-Shocking Show. Reigns stalks Rollins and everyone's angry again. RKO drops Kane and Reigns gets the spear to end the madness at 13:00. Match was mostly dull aside from the inebriated crowd, who did all but the Fandango'ing. **1/4
OVERALL: The first hour was some blowaway fun, but the show got a bit disjointed along the way, namely after solo Saxton ground it to a halt. A lot of good wrestling and some of the residual post-Mania silliness from the crowd made it a well-above average show, but it feels like it was a bit down from previous years. In other words, we needed Fandango desperately. But it's a winning night for sure.