WWE Monday Night Raw Review - July 14th, 2014 - The Final Show Before Battleground
The show opens with John Cena, but he is soon interrupted by Reigns. Decent exchange on the mic between the two. Neither are strong the mic so this wasn't anything extraordinary. The best part about this opening segment came when Dean Ambrose appeared on the titantron and told Reigns and Cena to quit arguing about who's the prettiest girl at the dance. After talking for a bit and vowing to kick The Authority's ass, The Authority's "lapdogs" if you will appeared behind him. Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, and Kane beat down Ambrose then slam him repeatedly into a garage door. Ambrose is on the ground and says "That all you got?" Rollins then delivers a vicious curb stomp to Ambrose. Wow, great to start to the show. I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again - Ambrose is gold. He made that segment awesome.
1) Sheamus vs. The Miz
Nice bout to start the show. The crowd was very hot which definitely helped it. These two put on a match that was much more entertaining than I originally expected. They kept me interested throughout which is always a good thing. Miz wins with a quick roll up. I'm guessing this will lead to a feud between the two for the US Title? I'd be fine with that although I wish WWE could somehow get the US Title interjected into the Swagger/Rusev feud. But if Miz/Sheamus is the route they're going, it's still better than what they normally do with the US Title. Either way the title will continue to gain prestige, so I guess it's a win-win situation.
2) Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango
I've really grown to enjoy the Ziggler/Fandango program that's been unfolding over the past few weeks. It's been well booked and has had more depth than most stories going on at the moment. Ziggler and Fandango are both good workers so this was a fun match. Summer Rae & Layla jump on the announce table and start dancing which distracts Fandango and allows Ziggler to pick up the victory. Good storyline development once again here. Fandango isn't my dream rival for Ziggler, but atleast both men are being booked in a consistent story. Plus seeing Summer Rae & Layla every week and in a quality story is good as well. So thumbs up here from me.
Jack Swagger and Rusev had another showdown at this point in the show. I was really looking forward to this based off the momentum from their confrontation two weeks ago. Lana and Zeb did all of the talking which was the right decision. Both play their roles perfectly. Lana is the perfect heel Russian character and she got a ton of heat. Yeah, she got annoying, but that's her job. Zeb is entertaining whether he's a heel or face, but the crowd ate up everything he said here further solidfying he and Swagger as babyfaces. With the crowd behind him, I'd argue to say Zeb may be better as a face. But anyway, the segment goes on and Rusev & Swagger clash. Rusev goes for his signature kick, but Swagger catches his leg..PATRIOT LOCK! THE CROWD EXPLODES! Rusev crawls to the ropes and slides out of the ring. THAT WAS AWESOME. I'm a long time Swagger fan so I probably marked for this more than most people, but the whole crowd was hype and this feud just keeps getting better. Hope we get several matches out of it and maybe the US TItle will come into play at some point to keep things going and add more depth to the story. Phenomenal segment.
3) Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio
This is a match that we saw last year during RVD's stint in WWE. The two faced off in a solid match at Night of Champions, in which Del Rio retained his World Title via DQ. The ending ruined that bout for me, but it was still a solid outing. I'd venture to see this was almost as good except it didn't go as long. Decent encounter here. I grow more and more fond of Del Rio's in ring work as time goes along. His kicks are so crisp and his submissions are great. In fact, his cross arm breaker submission hold earned him the victory here as RVD tapped out. Decent match.
At this point in the show, WWE oddly showed a video package for CM Punk's Best In The World documentary and announced that it was coming to the WWE Network. Man, WWE really wants people to subscribe to the network, don't they? Tonight was loaded with Network plugs, advertisements, video packages, and pleas for everyone to subscribe. It gets old after awhile, WWE just sounds too desperate when doing things like this.
4) Nikki Bella vs. Cameron & Alicia Fox
The feud between the Bellas and Stephanie McMahon continued to build here as Stephanie put Nikki into yet another handicap match. Against Alicia Fox and.. Cameron. So disappointing to me that WWE chose to include Cameron on Raw tonight, but not the star of the Funkadactyls, Naomi. Yeah, I know, this was a good spot for Cameron, but WWE should have found a way to include Naomi on the show, even if it was just attacking Cameron to further their breakup/feud. This was pretty dull although the crowd was actually into it as a "Let's Go Nikki" chant got started at one point. I'm trying to decipher whether or not we will see a Bella vs. Bella feud once Brie returns. It sure seems like it. With Stephanie vs. Brie rumored for SummerSlam, it makes me think Nikki might interfere and screw Brie out of the match since she left her high and dry in all these handicap matches by quitting. Regardless of my fantasy booking, this is good storyline development and I'm glad WWE has so many programs going on with the Divas right now. They've always been an underused, sloppy division for the most part. Things are really coming together, if they'll just use the right women for the job and continue to write good stories for them, we could be in for a quality Divas Divsion again in WWE.
5) Cesaro vs. Big E (w/ Kofi Kingston)
This match was weird and disappointing for me. Weird because Heyman wasn't with Cesaro and disappointing because of how irrelevant Cesaro has become. The guy was the hottest thing going coming out of WrestleMania, but he has slowly declined as the months have gone by. If Heyman has left his side, we may just see Cesaro jobbing before the end of this year. That's probably just negative thinking on my part, but I have that fear. Look what happened to Ryback and Axel once Heyman dropped them! But Heyman hasn't outright dropped Cesaro yet, so we'll see what's next. I actually enjoyed this match though. Very hardhitting and physical. I wouldn't mind seeing the two go at it again. Despite my disappointment with Cesaro's place on the card, I enjoyed this match. Let's hope Cesaro goes up from here and not down. He was my pick to win the IC Title at Battleground, but without Heyman by his side this week predicting it to happen, I'm not so sure.
Chris Jericho and Bray Wyatt had another great segment here. Both guys ooze charisma and mic skills so it's no surprise that every time they interact with each other, it's quality TV. The segment ends with Wyatt delivering a Sister Abigail to Jericho on the stage. Excited for their match at Battleground. Jericho is going to put Wyatt over hard during the next few weeks. It's gonna be so cool to watch. Good stuff here.
6) AJ Lee vs. Eva Marie
Earlier I spoke about using the correct Divas and here is an example of WWE NOT doing so. I'm not going to write off Eva Marie just because everyone else says she sucks. I have never seen her compete so I watched closely here. It's clear that she's very green in the ring and I don't think she was the right pick for this match. Naomi would have been a great choice. It would have been a better and more competitive match plus it could plant seeds for possibly inserting her into the Divas Title picture in the future. None the less, the only interesting thing here was the Paige/AJ feud continuation. I'm looking forward to their match at Battleground and have high expectations. The booking is a bit weird as it's like they are both trying to act as if they're friends, but it seems like a front because they are being TOO nice to each other. We'll see how things play out. It's definitely interesting.
7) Bo Dallas vs. The Great Khali
Dallas always serves up the comedy on Monday nights and this was no exception. Just funny stuff all around. From the opening promo to Dallas saying "Hey big guy" and getting chopped in the head by Khali after the match. Glad to finally see WWE correctly displaying the entertainment aspect of the show without being corny.
Backstage, Paul Heyman appears and tells Triple H that if he needs a Plan C for Battleground then he should talk to him. Interesting stuff. Teasing a Lesnar return? Heyman is great.
Ric Flair headed out to the ring and took part in one of the most pointless segments I've ever seen. He whooo'd, flirted with Renee Young, and picked Cena to win at Battleground then left. What was the purpose of that? I like Ric Flair as much as the next guy, but that was a waste of time.
8) John Cena & Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, & Kane
This was your basic multi-man TV main event that we've been seeing on RAW for basically the past year now. Solid bout with each man getting their signature spots in. As usual with main events lately, this bout ends in DQ after Orton & Kane go to work on Cena together. There are a few odd things that happened here that I'd like to discuss. The first and most notable being that Seth Rollins appeared to injure his leg near the end of the match. He springboarded off the top rope and landed on his feet and appeared to tweak his leg. Rollin quickly rolled to the outside and a doctor ran over to check on him. He wasn't shown at all for the rest of the show. I really hope he isn't hurt. He's the Money In The Bank case holder, he's in a key feud with Ambrose, and Bryan is already hurt so WWE is already lacking top stars. It would really suck if Rollins is hurt. The other odd thing is that Ambrose didn't come back and interfere like I think everyone including myself expected. Instead of that, Reigns speared Cena which was huge. Orton ends up standing tall, but then Reigns spears him out of nowhere and stands tall to close the show.
Overall thoughts: Decent show tonight. I enjoyed everything for the most part. The storyline development was outstanding and definitely the best aspect of tonight's show. There were some pointless segments like Flair's promo and some annoying stuff like repeated Network plugs, but as a whole it was a fun show. The ending wasn't predictable like I expected. I figured Cena and Reigns would stand tall with a returning Ambrose, but instead we get the epic moment of Reigns spearing Cena which was cool. Pretty good way to close the show, the crowd was definitely happy so I'd say this was a successful go home show. There were some things, I would have done differently, but for the most part it was good. All the feud got highlighted and built further which in turn makes people want to watch Battleground. With that being said, good show tonight as it accomplished what it set out to do - sell the upcoming PPV.