WWE Monday Night Raw Review - August 18th, 2014
The show opens with Stephanie McMahon coming out to Daniel Bryan's music which really got under my skin. Just goes to show how well Stephanie plays her role. She introduces Nikki Bella and they basically just talk trash about Brie until she comes out. Nikki slaps the Brie and yells "I'll never forgive you!" Wow, Nikki is surprisingly a very good heel. Her turn was a big success too as the arena erupted with "You sold out" chants. Good segment.
1) Luke Harper & Erick Rowan vs. The Big Show & Mark Henry
This is a rematch from Smackdown last week even though the commentators failed to mention it. Their previous encounter was decent, but I wasn't that interested in it because it was so randomly put together. Since there's more of a backstory this time, I was a bit more interested and I'm glad I was because this was a very good match. Show & Henry work surprisingly well as a team and Harper was amazing as always while Rowan held up on his end too. Nice big man match, very exciting. Show & Henry pick up the win. I'm really starting to enjoy them as a team. I think they've truly found their role for the remainder of the year.
Several nice backstage segments took place at this point in the show. The first was Dolph Ziggler & Ric Flair being interrupted by The Miz only for Ziggler to say The Miz isn't an "A-lister" he's just an "A-hole". Fun segment. I was stoked about it because the rumor is that Flair wants to work with Ziggler so hopefully this was the start of something.
The other segment was Renee Young interviewing Seth Rollins. Rollins cut a good promo then Ambrose came up from behind and poured a bucket of ice water on him then stared at him and said "What? It's for charity." That was gold! The two start brawling and a match is made for later in the night.
2) Paige vs. Natalya
I was excited for this one! Both women are great technicians so I was hoping they'd get a solid 10 minutes to work with. A nice fireman's carry take over from Natalya to start followed by a northern lights suplex into a pin by Paige, but Natalya bridges out. This is fantastic. And just as I say that - AJ Lee's music hits. Ugh. This again? She skips around ringside and costs Paige the match. This was okay the first time, but three weeks in a row? C'mon. That's how storylines get stale quick. The Paige/AJ feud has still yet to live up to expectations and this only makes matters worse. If they'd give these women a decent story, more promo time, and a lengthy match slot on PPV - this could be the greatest women's feud in WWE over the past several years. Sad to see the talents of these two coming close to being wasted. So much potential in this feud. Hope WWE turns it around.
Brock Lesnar's Championship Coronation Ceremony is up next. Triple H and Stephanie introduce him then proceed to pose with Lesnar & Heyman in pictures with the title. The Authority leaves and Heyman cuts a fantastic promo putting over Lesnar like always, but he also put John Cena over too. In fact, Heyman did more for Cena in this promo than Cena has ever done for himself in any promo he's ever given. Great work from Paul and it's hype to see Lesnar as champion.
3) The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
These two tore the house down in their last two encounters so I was pumped for this one. They picked up right where they left off at SummerSlam last night with a lot of high impact action that never slowed down. Ziggler began showing signs of weakness in his left knee/leg so Miz began targeting it. This match was fun while it lasted, but Ziggler ends up getting counted out after a sick superkick on the apron to The Miz. Good way to book the ending of this match and keep the feud going. It's been great so far and I'm totally fine with it continuing. Can't wait for their next match.
4) Jack Swagger vs. Cesaro
Swagger cut a very good promo before this match, but the crowd was pretty quiet for it which was odd considering his recent rise to popularity. I think it was because they've never heard him talk since returning last year. None the less, it was a good promo from Swagger, he's definitely improved on the mic since the last time we heard him speak. As for this match, I was looking forward to it because they had a fantastic bout on Raw last week. This one started out much like their previous bout with the crowd not extremely into it, but I expected them to bring them into the match like they did last week. Unfortunately, the crowd never really got into from what I could tell. I could be wrong though because the commentators were overly annoying here and I could hardly pay attention to what was going on in the ring, much less how the crowd was reacting. This was decent, but a dud for the most part because of the commentary. Definitely the lowest point of the show thus far and it's very unfortunate because both of these guys worked hard. Just goes to show that WWE needs some new commentators on Monday nights.
5) Randy Orton, Ryback, & Curtis Axel vs. Roman Reigns, Rob Van Dam, & Sheamus
I loved the concept of this match! Mixing the tag team division and the main event singles division into one bout does wonders for all involved. The crowd was hot for their hometown boy Ryback as "Feed me more", "Ryback Rules", and "We Want Ryback" chants flooded the arena. I loved hearing that because Ryback has really come into his own as of late and as a result, I've become a fan. Such a shame that WWE didn't show he & Axel's entrance because I'm sure they got a huge pop. This reaction meant a lot to Ryback as well as he tweeted soon after "I needed that. Thanks Sin City." On top of that, Randy Orton put Ryback over big time during the match by yelling "You're gonna get in big guy" while the crowd was chanting for him. Orton then proceeded to point at him before tagging him in which got a huge reaction from the crowd. Very cool moment. As for the action, it was awesome! Everything a six man tag should be! The crowd was super hot for it and that combined with the nonstop action made for a damn good six man tag team match!
6) The Usos vs. Goldust & Stardust
I was hoping that Slater Gator would be facing The Usos here, but The Rhodes Bros are just as good of a choice. These two teams are both extremely fun to watch so I expected some nice action here and that's exactly what we got. A battle of arm drags to start off between Jey Uso and Goldust was fun to see as Goldust pulled out a sick reverse arm drag from his arsenal. You don't see that often in a WWE ring! This was a fun little match, but didn't get to develop into much as Cody picked up the win in abrupt fashion. None the less, this was enjoyable while it lasted. One other thing I noticed here was a change in The Usos' body language once the match began. They were much more serious and gave off a heel vibe at some points. I think they are on the verge of a heel turn that could come as soon as the Night of Champions PPV. It'd be a nice character change and a good way to get the titles on another face team. I could be wrong, but I think a heel turn is on the horizon for The Usos!
Rusev came out here only to be confronted by Mark Henry. Henry cuts a great promo then lays out Rusev which was pretty hype. The crowd was into it and I'll even admit that it was pretty awesome, but it doesn't make any sense. WWE has been pushing Henry as a team with Big Show, but now they are going to put him in a feud with Rusev? If that's the case, why did they win their match against Harper & Rowan earlier in the night? Confusing booking, but the segment was enjoyable.
7) Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins - Falls Count Anywhere Match
The show up until this point had been pretty good, but nothing above average. Well, needless to say that changed quickly as Ambrose & Rollins took this show up several notches with this awesome falls count anywhere match! Chairs, tables, kendo sticks, fighting in the crowd, on the stage - this one was all over the place. Several great exchanges and multiple jawdropping spots such as Rollins powerbombing Ambrose off the top rope into a pile of steel chairs, Ambrose suplexing Rollins off the top rope through a table, and Rollins curbstomping Ambrose into a pile of cement blocks. Kane was involved near the end and chokeslammed Ambrose on the announce table, but he didn't take away from the match. Ambrose had a fantastic showing here as he hit a big dive onto Kane & Rollins and he also ran across all the announce tables and dove into the crowd onto Rollins. Just awesome stuff all around and the finish was different, which is almost always a good thing. Fantastic match, easily one of the best TV matches of the whole year thus far.
Overall thoughts: Pretty well-rounded show tonight. Quality promos from Heyman & Mark Henry, good matches throughout in the form of the opening tag, the six man tag and the phenomenal main event between Ambrose/Rollins. There was also good storyline progression in the Bella story & the IC Title feud. There wasn't any filler although there were one or two dull moments, but the show as a whole was very enjoyable. Good show with a must see main event!