WWE Monday Night Raw Review - July 21st, 2014 - Brock Lesnar returns
The show starts off with Triple H talking about who he's going to choose as Cena's opponent for SummerSlam. Kane, Randy Orton, and Roman Reigns end up coming out which leads to our first match of the evening.
1) Randy Orton & Kane vs. Roman Reigns
I was totally uninterested in the main event of Battleground last night so as you would expect, I wasn't very interested in this match either. On top of that it's a handicap bout so that made it even less of a draw for me. None the less, this was a decent start to the show. The crowd loved Reigns and he got a nice showing here by picking up a big victory over Orton & Kane. It also furthered the tension between Kane & Orton. So although it wasn't the most entertaining bout, it accomplished what it set out to do.
I never thought that I'd enjoy a segment involving Brie Bella more than a match involving Randy Orton, Kane, and Roman Reigns, but damn if that wasn't the case tonight. The feud between Stephanie McMahon and the Bellas has been so great. That trend continued tonight as Brie was at ringside for her sister's 4 on 1 handicap match when Stephanie came out to get her escorted from the building. Brie cut a really good promo and called Stephanie a bitch twice before being slapped in the face. Brie goes after Stephanie over the railing, but they are separated by security. Just a quality segment. I can't wait for this match to happen at SummerSlam.
2) Bo Dallas vs. Damien Sandow
I've expressed my frustrations with WWE's use of Sandow, but I will say that Sandow has done one hell of a job with every dumb gimmick he's been given. With that being said, this was a good comedy segment for the evening and the match wasn't too bad either. Fun segment.
Chris Jericho was supposed to have his highlight reel segment at this point in the show, but The Wyatt Family attacked him backstage during the break. Therefore, Bray Wyatt was in the ring alone with Harper & Rowan for the segment. Wyatt cut a fantastic promo like normal which was followed by footage of the beatdown that ensued during the break on the WWE App. Jericho was shown backstage bleeding from his ear. Great segment that made Bray Wyatt look more dominant than ever before.
3) The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
I was pretty critical of The Miz being chosen over Ziggler to win the IC Title last night, but regardless of that, these guys turned this show from average to awesome with this fantastic match here. Ziggler continues his trend of tearing the house down every single time he's in the ring and Miz held his own despite no-selling a series of elbows from Dolph in the early going of the match. The two men went balls out for awhile with alot of action followed by a series of near falls then Miz went to work on Dolph's leg to set up for a figure four. Ziggler rolled Miz up in the process though, but it was only a two count. Miz ends up getting the figure four locked in and the crowd was so hype at this point while Ziggler was trying to reach the ropes. I thought Dolph would tap, but HE GOT THE ROPES! This match rules! That rope break was the climax I would say as the action picked up afterwards which led Ziggler to a surprising victory! Maybe after yet another great performance like this, WWE is going to give Ziggler a run with the IC Title. Some of you will probably say I overrated this match here, but I loved it! And apparently the crowd did too because they were chanting "This is awesome!"
Backstage, Triple H and Seth Rollins are interrupted by Cesaro who makes the shocking announcement that he is no longer a Heyman guy. Cesaro wants to be an Authority guy now and a match is made between him & Ambrose to prove himself. Really interesting segment. I'm actually glad for Cesaro that he is no longer with Heyman because sadly all it did was bring him down from all the hype that surrounded him during WrestleMania season. I don't like it because it makes Heyman look bad because this is his third failed client so to speak. None the less, very interesting segment, good stuff.
4) Paige & AJ Lee vs. Emma & Natalya
As if this show couldn't get any better, we got a tag team match involving the four best female wrestlers on the roster. This was pretty short, but it was still fun while it lasted. If they had gotten more time this could've been a classic. The time constraints annoyed me, but what happened after made up for it. Paige embraced her vicious side by turning heel and destroying AJ Lee inside AND outside of the ring. This feud just got a new, much needed fire under it! I can't wait to see where it goes from here! Great segment!
5) Fandango vs. Zack Ryder
It's Zack Ryder! I was happy to see him back on Raw for the first time in awhile even though I expected it to be a squash. Turns out I was wrong, Zack Ryder won! The match wasn't anything special, but seeing Ryder back in action was so cool and he hit his finisher on Fandango for the win with help from Layla who pulled Dango's foot from off the rope. Maybe Ryder is going to become relevant again! Fun segment with Layla and Summer Rae involved as well.
6) Ryback & Curtis Axel vs. Kofi Kingston & Big E
Solid tag team action here. I'm a big fan of Rybaxel so I was excited to see them pick up the win, but I was even more pumped about what happened afterwards. Xavier Woods came down and told Kofi & Big E it was time for them to stop getting pushed around and that they needed to get together and take action. Looks like we're gonna get the rumored new Nation of Domination type stable. I love this idea and hope Titus O'Neil is involved as well. All of these guys are so talented and this is a great, refreshing way to utilize their talents. Outstanding segment.
7) Rusev vs. The Great Khali
This basically just to keep Rusev looking strong after having a pretty even match with Swagger last night and going into what I expect to be another bout with the Real American. Nothing else to say here. Rusev makes Khali tap out.
8) Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose
I was extremely excited that these two were getting the main event match slot on the show and they certainly delivered. While this wasn't the match of the night, it was still a damn good encounter. The finish is the only thing that stopped this one from being as awesome as it could have been. Although the finish was fantastic in it's own right as Ambrose continued to show his unpredictability by slamming a chair into Cesaro's arm which was up against the ring post! BRUTAL! As for the match, it was really good as you would expect from these two. A great teaser for what is hopefully to come between both men in the future. I want a rematch haha! This was great stuff all around.
The closing segment was so hype. Triple H introduced Orton as the original opponent for Cena, but Reigns attacked him and they brawled through the crowd. This left Triple H alone in the ring and out came Paul Heyman who introduced Plan C, Brock Lesnar. Triple H shakes Heyman and Triple H's hand and the match is set! Lesnar vs. Cena for the WWE Title at SummerSlam! After this, Heyman proceeded to make me more excited for this match than I ever thought I would be. Just excellent work from Paul Heyman as usual. Awesome way to close the show! The Beast Is Back and coming for John Cena & the WWE Title!
Overall thoughts: This show started off pretty average, but ended up being quite possibly one of the best of the year. Miz/Ziggler and Cesaro/Ambrose provided some quality wrestling, Stephanie/Brie story ran throughout the night & featured alot of drama, plus the unpredictability of who Hunter would pick was very refreshing. I wasn't that excited for Raw going into it, but WWE really put forth a great show tonight. It had its slow/low points, but overall it was very enjoyable.