Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - October 20th, 2014

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - October 20th, 2014

Pre-Show Thoughts:
Last week's episode of Raw was a solid evening of wrestling and a definite improvement from previous weeks. This led me to have expectations for a show ATLEAST as good this week. To be honest, that's all I want. Considering how bad the past month or so has been, I would be content with a show that was on the same level as last week's. Although, WWE still hasn't really sold me on Hell In A Cell so I guess they need to have an outstanding show to persuade me to watch. The rumors of Cena/Orton main eventing with no build infuriated me over the weekend so I'm interested to see if they attempt to make us want to see the match or if they just let them have the main event because of their starpower. There's alot of questions to be answered on this go home show before Hell In A Cell, but they can all be summed up into one main question - Can WWE sell the audience on Hell In A Cell? Let's find out!

The Authority opens the show
Dean Ambrose has opened Raw for the past few weeks so it was a nice change to see The Authority come out to start the show. This was your basic Authority segment as we got some announcements with the biggest being that the Cena/Orton match at HIAC will be a #1 Contender's Match for the WWE Title. I was elated at this announcement because as I mentioned in my pre-show thoughts - we need a reason to care about Cena/Orton and WWE gave us a reason in this opening segment. Now all they need to do is make us want to see it, but I'm not sure they can do that so I'm happy with just that stipulation being added. We also saw some more tension between Randy Orton and Seth Rollins here as they argued over whose match will main event the PPV. All in all, this was a solid opening segment that set the stage for the rest of the show very well.

Segment Rating: B-

1) The Usos & Sheamus vs. Goldust, Stardust, & Damien Sandow/Mizdow

We've seen The Usos & Sheamus vs The Dust Bros in six man tags for weeks now so there wasn't much to be excited about here. Kudos to the guys for not doing the same exact match this time around though. We saw some new spots such as Sheamus diving off the top turnbuckle and having Sandow in the match was a nice addition to switch things up. The most intriguing thing about this bout was the ending where Sandow pinned Sheamus. This leads me to believe that either Miz is going to win the US Title or "Mizdow" is going to get a singles run. As a Sandow fan, it's something to get a bit excited about, but I wouldn't get my hopes up too high because WWE is known for not continuing stories and unfortunately this could end up just being another example of that although I hope I'm wrong. None the less, this was a nice little match to get the show going even if this was probably the fourth time we've seen it. Mizdow was the highlight here.

Match rating - **3/4

2) AJ Lee vs. Alicia Fox
These two are both good in the ring so I hoped they'd get some extra time to create a memorable match, but unfortunately they were alloted the basic Divas time of 5-7 minutes. It was a fun few minutes though as both women showed that they are much more talented than WWE allows them to display. The story of the lackluster Paige/AJ feud has been screwing each other out of matches and that continued here as Paige caused a distraction that allowed Foxy to pick up the victory.

Match rating - **1/2

Randy Orton, John Cena, and Paul Heyman reminisce on the WWE's Class of 2002
I never, and I mean NEVER, thought I would say that I enjoyed a segment involving John Cena and Randy Orton ever again, but dammit, they showed why they've been the top guys for the past decade here and I couldn't help but love it. Randy Orton was particulary impressive here as he was on a level that I haven't seem him on in several years. He came out of the gate with a firey intense promo that was followed up by John Cena hitting the ring and cracking a few jokes (which got on my nerves) before thankfully getting serious. Paul Heyman would join the party after Brock Lesnar's name came up and this segment went from good to GREAT. This segment effectively made me want to see Cena/Orton at Hell In A Cell which is something I thought I would never say. Orton's spree of RKO's on Cena and Heyman was fantastic. The old Randy Orton is back and I'm LOVING it. I mentioned earlier in the review that WWE had executed Part 1 of selling the Cena/Orton match by giving us a reason to care about it. Well, this segment executed Part 2 by making me want to see it.

Segment rating: A+

3) Rusev vs. Big E
These two had a set of matches earlier in the year that didn't live up to the expectations I had. This led me to be somewhat excited to see these two square off again since Rusev has been booked in longer matches lately and thankfully we got another one here. I really enjoyed seeing these two behemoths go at it and although the ending felt a bit rushed, this bout left me wanting to see Big E & Rusev face off again.

Match rating - ***

Rusev shocks the world
When Rusev superkicked an "army veteran fan" that entered the ring as he went to pull down the American flag, I read ALOT of mixed reactions on Twitter. "Is this scripted?!" "OMG, I can't believe he did that!" "I think this went too far!" - Those were all some of the things I read and when I read those reactions, it solidifed what I originally thought when watching this event unfold - WWE's still got it. Just when I thought WWE's laziness had reached new heights, they pull an edgy segment like this out of their bag. Before I continue, I'd like to address the people saying "I don't think that was scripted." Yes, it was scripted. How do I know? First off, there are security all along the barricades, they wouldn't have just let some random guy jump over. Second, if the security accidentally let the guy slip by, WWE wouldn't have put the camera on him, they would have panned into another direction. And most importantly, Rusev would NOT have layed his hands on a fan much less kicked him. So now that it's been clarified that this was indeed scripted, let's talk about how fantastic this was. It got the reaction WWE wanted which was utter shock and hatred towards Rusev. Before this segment, I could have cared less about the Show/Rusev match at Hell In A Cell. Now, I'm actually excited for it. Rusev is gonna get major heat for this and it's gonna give his match with Big Show a big fight feel. Perfect way to make people care about this otherwise mediocre feud.

Segment rating: A+

4) Summer Rae vs. Brie Bella
This wasn't too terribly bad for a Divas match although it was positioned in the cool down slot of the show so I didn't expect much. After that intense Show/Rusev segment, I needed to settle down because it brought me out of my seat. So this did it's job of giving the WWE Universe a breather. Not much else to say.

Match rating - **

Mick Foley explains the significance of Hell In A Cell to Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins
DEAN AMBROSE AND MICK FOLEY IN THE SAME RING! That's the first thing I tweeted out when Foley's music hit and it's the first thing that pops in my mind when thinking back on this segment. It started out solid with some comedy antics from Ambrose followed by a nice mic exchange between he & Rollins, but Foley's presence took things to a whole new level. Despite the lackluster crowd reaction, Foley delivered a great promo that could only be followed by Dean Ambrose who vowed to come out victorious at Hell In A Cell. I was already sold on this match because of how long it's been building and this segment got me even more excited for it. I have a feeling that this will be the most brutal of the two cell matches simply because of how Foley described what the Cell did to him and how it will change both men. Fantastic segment here.

Segment rating: A+

5) Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro
Just like I was glued to my TV when Foley was in the same ring as Ambrose & Rollins, I was glued to my screen as arguably the two best wrestlers on the WWE roster went at it in this non-title encounter. It's becoming clear to me that Cesaro & Ziggler have great chemistry together because every time they get in the ring together, everything clicks. They execute every move and counter with precision and without error. It's so smooth and fun to watch. For example, Cesaro went for a powerbomb only for Ziggler to counter right out of it into a facebuster. It's just awesome stuff. Cesaro picked up the win with a vicious uppercut that Ziggler sold in AMAZING fashion. I hope these two face off at Hell In A Cell because if given more time they could create a classic. Great match!

Match rating - ***1/2

6) Dean Ambrose & John Cena vs. Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, & Kane - Street Fight Match
The individual feuds that are encompassed in this match were sold perfectly to the audience earlier in the evening so they really had nothing more to do here, but they did it anyway and made me want to see the PPV even more. The bout started off slow although it had it's moments such as Ambrose diving off the announce table onto all the competitors. For the most part this wasn't anything special, but things picked up near the end as the Cell was lowered around the ring and this one broke out into complete chaos. So much so that the crowd was chanting "This is Awesome!" I agree because the booking here was indeed awesome. Seeing all these guys going crazy in the cell is the perfect way to preview the upcoming PPV. Orton hit another epic "RKO Out of Nowhere" to end the chaos, but things were just getting heated up as Seth Rollins shocked everyone by nailing his Authority brethren with a curb stomp. The way WWE booked this segment really made me happy. They knew they had sold the PPV itself so they went ahead and pulled the trigger on giving fans something to talk about as well as leaving them asking questions. Awesome way to close the show.

Overall thoughts: Wow! This was a SUPERB addition of Monday Night Raw. I'd argue to say that it was one of the best of the year simply based on the fact that the storytelling throughout this show was phenomenal. Beyond the obvious things like the intensity in the Cena/Orton feud firing up, there was a reoccuring story throughout this show and that was the tension between Seth Rollins & Randy Orton. They bumped heads in the opening segment, had a confrontation backstage mid-way through the show, and then at the end of the main event - BAM! It all came to a head right before our eyes. I love things like that in wrestling. Although that was fantastic, the main purpose of tonight's show was to make people want to watch Hell In A Cell and I think WWE knew that most weren't sold so they pulled out all the stops to make sure we were fully invested and I thank them for that. I can honestly say after tonight's show that I'm fully invested in HIAC. After weeks of subpar shows, WWE delivered an episode of Raw that reminded me of why I loved the company in the first place. If you missed it, I highly recommend checking out all the segments along with Cesaro/Ziggler match and the final few minutes of the main event. Overall this was an outstanding go home show that delivered in the areas that it needed to the most.

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