I hope everyone had a nice, safe Memorial Day and is hunkering down with their post-BBQ drink of choice to wind down the long weekend.
RAW has been pretty good and we’re on the cusp of Elimination Chamber which, honestly, I can’t wait for. I will never understand why they put Fastlane on instead of this one. EC has been WWE’s post-Rumble Sgt. Pepper and I’m glad they booked it, despite the fact that it seems, for all intents and purposes, to be last-second and desperate.
Let’s go, shall we?
We start with the a nice video package paying homage to the soldiers who died in the name of the United States — narrated by President Ronald Reagan (who, I swear, Vince thinks is still in power) and interspersed with various WWE superstars reciting the words to Reagan’s speech.
Cody’s wife asks us to stand in remembrance of the soldiers who passed with ten-bells salute.
We are LIVE(!!!) from Long Island, New York for Monday Night RAW!!!
Just in case you aren’t fully fatigued by long opening segments involving The Authority, here’s another one. Triple H, Steph, Seth Rollins, J&J Security and Kane all come out to start us off. Rollins sarcastically asks the crowd to cheer Ambrose, then calls him a common “thug” which is strange since CNN and MSNBC fell all over themselves to tell us that white people couldn’t say that word anymore. Rollins says that Ambrose extorted his way into a Championship match. Rollins says that The Authority can punish him by taking away the match or firing him. Triple H and Steph aren’t enthused by the idea. Triple H says that a verbal arrangement is locked away. But, wouldn’t ya’ know it: there needs to be a contract signing. In fact, he has the contract and invites Ambrose out to the ring so that he can sign it.
Ambrose’s music hits and he says that he’s been dreaming of punching Rollins instead of sheep. He says that he will be the new face of WWE and that there will be changes: J&J will go barefoot like “respectable hobbits”. Kane will stop wearing a suit and will wear a collar like an obedient lapdog which is an image I really don’t want in my head, thank you very much. Rollins will always be Justin Bieber. The crowd hits that chant right away. Rollins isn’t happy. He calls Ambrose a cockroach and says that he thinks being called Justin Bieber is a compliment: Bieber is rich and has chicks and he’s “the most successful artist of his generation”. Well…one out of two ain’t bad. Rollins dares Ambrose to come down.
Ambrose says that he’d rather be a cockroach then somebody’s “human centipede”. Ambrose makes his way to the ring — and Roman Reigns interrupts. Ambrose and Reigns bump fists. Steph says that she finds their friendship cute. Dean has until the end of the night to sign the contract — in the meantime, we have to sit through Ambrose & Reigns vs. Rollins & Kane variation #73.
(We’re back to long promos again, are we? Look, you could have just had Ambrose lead this thing off, had the Authority attempt to jump him, THEN set up the main event all in the space of five minutes. But, no, it’s Ambrose fantasizing about Kane in a dog collar and Rollins being Justin Bieber — again — and this goes on and on and on and on…wrestling fans aren’t morons. We know what the situation is and what Ambrose needs to do. There’s no need for this crap. We already had the needless “party” last week. It’s time to use what intensity these two have to really make this thing pop before EC…but, no, 15 minutes of talking leading to another tag team abortion starring Kane is what we’re given instead.)
We go to break.
MATCH #1: WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins & Kane vs. Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns
Ambrose and Kane start up with Ambrose beating him from corner to corner after a sitting dropkick and press. Reigns tags in and he tosses Kane’s head into a turnbuckle. He suplexes Kane and tags Ambrose but Kane puts Ambrose into his own corner and it’s a tag to Rollins. Rollins hits a suplex for two. Rollins puts Ambrose in a headlock but Ambrose breaks and tags Reigns and the two faces hit a double clothesline on Rollins. Samoan Drop by Reigns as JBL wants to talk about how Nassau Coliseum is closing its doors and how sad that is — even though they have some of the deadest crowds ever. Reigns goes outside and sets up for the Missile Dropkick on Rollins but J&J work their magic and Rollins slide kicks Reigns on the distraction. Kane tosses Reigns back in for the headlock by Rollins as Booker actually calls HHH an “Indian Giver”. At this point, I’m convinced Booker’s doing this Kayfabe to introduce a new segment where he apologizes for the shit he said last week. Reigns escapes the hold and tags in Ambrose who beats up Rollins and hits a Bulldog. He clotheslines Rollins out of the ring and hits a Flying Lunatic. Kane comes to help out but Reigns uppercuts him. Ambrose and Reigns stand tall in the middle of the ring.
After a break, Rollins is back in control, hitting a shortarm clothesline on Ambrose. Ambrose comes back with a huge clothesline and makes the hot tag to Reigns. Kane is in on the other side. Reigns hits a clothesline and big boot, then a series of clotheslines in the corner. J&J tries to get involved but Reigns takes Mercury’s head off and issues a Superman Punch to Jamie Noble. Kane attacks Reigns and goes for the Chokeslam. Reigns escapes and hits a Superman Punch to Kane, tagging in Ambrose. He hits a crossbody on Kane but Rollins interrupts the pin. Rollins tags in and hits a Springboard Knee to Ambrose’s head. Rollins goes for a kick to the head. Series of counters and Ambrose hits a Backslide to win this thing at 12:29.
WINNERS: Ambrose & Reigns
RATING: **. The last three minutes of this match were worth watching. Otherwise, you’ve seen this before and it was nothing to write home about and really cold and boring for the most part.
Post-match, JBL goes off the handle, saying what a disaster it’s gonna be if Ambrose wins the title at EC while Michael Cole goes insane, acting like Ambrose pinning Rollins is something never before seen.
Kevin Connolly tweeted about RAW in Nassau. Also, him and the rest of the cast of “Entourage” is here.
Ambrose is backstage with Renee Young. He tells her that, by the end of the night, he will “have a signed contract”, which isn’t quite the way to say that, but whatever. I mean, I have no idea why since the match is already fucking booked, having been announced at the beginning of the show…
J&J show up to tease him by faking like they have said “contract”. Noble says, “Slap me on the head and call me ‘Sally'”, and states that they don’t really have the contract. So Ambrose calls him “Sally” and slaps him in the head and it’s a brawl. Oops, Ambrose belts the cameraman which comes off as supremely awkward.
JBL and Sotto Cole briefly argue about it while Booker adds whatever the hell comes out of his mouth, which isn’t much and doesn’t matter because the camera only shows JBL and Cole.
AT ELIMINATION CHAMBER: It’s Eric Owens and John Cena.
Rusev’s out here and he’s Bulgarian again all of the sudden with Bulgarian trunks and flag…so…we’re all supposed to…hate Bulgaria now, I guess? He has a match…NEXT.
Oh, wait: the cast of Entourage is here. Adrian Grenier gets out of the limo and gets about the same reaction as Erick Rowan. All of the sudden, their theme music kinda begins to play and fades out a little as if the Gorilla Room can’t quite commit to this whole thing.
Anyhow, back to Rusev: we get clips of Rusev telling Lana to leave, followed by Lana leaving and then making out Ziggler later.
MATCH #2: Rusev vs. R-Truth
Truth gets a couple licks in until Rusev hits Kick, Stomp, Accolade. Booker, during the Accolade: “C’mon, Truth! You gotta do something here!” Yeah. Truth submits at 1:00, that’s what he does. How he’s even in the Chamber match for the IC Title is beyond me.
WINNER: Rusev via Accolade
RATING: n/a – squash
Post-match, Rusev wants to talk, baby, please…and we go to a commercial.
When we come back, Rusev is still calling out Lana, who finally shows up (with a slightly altered version of Rusev’s theme) and actually says, “You told me to come…I came.” Rusev says he knows Lana cares about him despite his losses to John Cena. He says Lana is a woman and “all women do things to make men pay attention.” Lana says she’s done everything for him and says that they can still “crush America” which makes no sense whatsoever being that Bulgaria is a member of NATO and an ally of the United States for crying outloud. The begging goes on. Lana and Rusev hug and the crowd boos. He wants Lana to say “three words”: “I…was wrong”. Lana is pissed and walks out of the ring. Lana says that Rusev is wrong. He quit. Rusev says he owns her and that she’s to get back into the ring. Lana tells him that he’s a liar and a quitter. She leaves and gets to the ramp. Ziggler’s music hits. The two make out on the ramp and Rusev’s furious.
(On the one hand, I’m glad to see that Rusev and Lana are evolving as characters, but it’s a bit weird what they’re doing with Rusev: portraying him as this vulnerable loser who has gotten away from Russia after losing his pride, yet aligning him with an ally of the U.S., while he still hates the U.S. and praises Russia and having him still scream at Lana like a misogynist pig. Pick a lane. And why Truth? The dude’s in the EC match. Why not Zack Ryder or Heath Slater? I know he isn’t gonna win the thing, but can we at least pretend like he’s worthy of being in it?)
Ambrose is backstage. Seth and HHH show up. Ambrose wants his contract and he’ll get it — even if he has to obtain it “the fun way”. HHH says that Ambrose isn’t gonna have anymore fun tonight. He brings in two “police officers” for the silly Arrest Spot despite the fact that a) the cameraman waffled on the accusation, b) Seth Rollins ordered the dude to confess in front of the fucking “cops” and c) this show features guys who regularly take out timekeepers and announcers “by accident” during matches. They leave the arena in a police van after Rollins, Kane and J&J taunt Ambrose while he’s cuffed.
MATCH #3: King Barrett vs. Ryback
Ryback hits a press and slams Barrett’s head against the mat, then a Warrior Splash and Powerslam. He goes for the Meathook but Barrett rolls out of the ring. Ryback chases and Barrett just slaps him in the chest hard. He goes after the ribs and then gets back in the ring. Ryback gets back into the ring and Barrett puts him up on the top turnbuckle, kicking at Ryback’s ribs. Barrett hits a flying elbow from the second buckle and gets a two count. He knees Ryback in the back. Ryback comes back with shoulders in the corner. He tries to go second buckle but Barrett tosses him to the mat and hits Winds of Change for two. Barrett sets up the Bullhammer but Ryback can’t get to his feet. Barrett taunts him and slaps at him as he’s down. Barrett gets up and hits the Spinebuster and Shell Shock to win it at 3:51.
WINNER: Ryback via Shell Shock
RATING: *1/2. Ryback continues to look strong while Barrett’s just become A Guy Walking Around in a Costume from Party City. I don’t care about either guy. Barrett became dead to me the moment he was told to drop the “Bad News” gimmick.
Backstage, HHH tells Steph that Ambrose is in Booking right now and there’s just no way he’ll come back! Then the case of Entourage shows up. Each guy gets a really weird close-up and says things like, “So happy to be here” and “Jeremy Piven would have been here but he’s not” and “Dude, I grew up here”. Turtle mentions getting his ass kicked by Ronda Rousey which was “fake”, unlike when Steph actually got her ass kicked by her at WrestleMania. The cast of Entourage leaves. Am I the only person in the world who didn’t care for that show outside of Ari?
MATCH #4: Stardust vs. Neville
Some quick counters and Neville hits a forearm. Stardust comes back, twisting Neville’s injured knee against the ropes. Star hits a beautiful Delayed Reverse Suplex, getting a one count, then puts Neville in a Half Crab. Bo Dallas makes his way down to the ring. Stardust tries a Side Suplex but Neville counters it, escaping to the corner. Stardust climbs on him and the two exchange punches. Neville knocks Star to his feet and hits a nice DDT. He whacks at his own knee to “cure it” like Bruce Wayne’s spine in The Dark Knight Rises and hits the Red Arrow for the win at 3:17.
WINNER: Neville via Red Arrow
RATING: 1/2 a *. Man…I like Neville. He deserves so much better than matches with Stardust and a feud with Bo Dallas.
Post-match, Bo has a mic. He tells Neville to get up and face him and says that all he has to do is BO-lieve. Then he kicks at Neville’s knee and leaves, doing a victory lap.
Oh, look, the Divas are all friends and nobody’s an enemy because it’s the Cast of Entourage! Like, OMG! Summer can’t wait for the movie! Then they meet Zack Ryder and he’s got this thing he’s gotta speak with The Cast of Entourage about!
Lana and Ziggler speak, inaudibly, with one another.
We get a plug for Money in the Bank.
MATCH #5: Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus
This match again. And, once again, Cole can’t help but reference the “Kiss Me Arse” match. Sheamus levels Ziggler in the corner and hits a lariat. He chokes Ziggler with a knee and then puts him in a headlock. Ziggler breaks it but takes an elbow to the face. Sheamus tosses him out of the ring and goes after Ziggler but Ziggler tosses his head against the table and gets back in the ring. Sheamus immediately attacks Ziggler’s knee and goes for a Side Suplex. Ziggler counters and hits a dropkick and clotheslines Sheamus out of the ring but Ziggler goes over as well. Both men get up but Sheamus gets the advantage and hits a backbreaker as Lana makes her way out from the back to the entrance ramp. We go to break.
When we come back, Lana looks on as Ziggler is on the attack. Sheamus catches him for the Spinning Backbreaker for a two count. Sheamus picks him up and Ziggler fights back again, only to take a knee to the gut. Ziggler gets back up again and fights, hitting a chinbreaker. Ziggler hits some forearms, knocking Sheamus down. Ziggler tries the DDT but Sheamus counters and dumps him outside. Ziggler immediately gets up and hits a Crossbody off the top rope plus a Fame-Asser for a close fall. A few counters later and Sheamus flies into the ringpost. Superkick by Ziggler gets a two count. Out comes Rusev, who smirks at Lana. Ziggler sees him running down and hits a Superkick as he tries to enter the ring. Sheamus hits a Brogue and wins on the distraction at 10:18.
WINNER: Sheamus via Brogue Kick
RATING: **. We’ve seen this already and it’s pretty much the same thing each time.
Post-match, Sheamus leaves Rusev to pick Ziggler’s bones. Rusev beats Ziggler up and it’s an Accolade while Rusev yells at Lana to “KISS HIM NOW”. He finally lets go and leaves as Lana just glares.
NEXT: Cena’s gonna challenge someone.
Cena joins us for his usual spiel where he indulges in the crowd loving/hating him. The crowd does the Cena chant. He praises the positive fans while the rest chant for Zack Ryder. He acknowledges the fans that hate him and says that fans like them hope he gets knocked down. But he always gets back up. He says he met Kevin Owens last week. Owens destroyed him as well as The Internet and Sami Zayn. Cena says that, at Elimination Chamber, it will be “Let’s Go Cena/Fight, Owens, Fight” — then he shits all over it, saying that “Fight Owens Fight doesn’t mean Win Owens Win”, so fuck the crowd. Also, hey, Long Island! Cena loves you. So, the challenge starts now and it’s…
THE FUCKING CAST OF ENTOURAGE.
They all stand on the entrance ramp and the arena boos them. Cena introduces them. More heat. Cena wants to know which guy will face him. Connelly has the mic and says they’re here to introduce a superstar who will take him up on the challenge:
Hooray. Nobody fucking cares. Also, the CAST OF ENTOURAGE is at ringside.
MATCH #6: John Cena (champion) vs. Zack Ryder (challenger) for the WWE United States Championship
Crowd is surprisingly hot for Ryder as Cena hits a suplex and a headlock, followed by another suplex. Cena squashes Ryder in the corner and tries to follow up but Ryder gets his knees up and hits a Missile Dropkick. Broski Boot misses and Cena hits Moves 1 through 3. 5KS by Cena but Kevin Dillon actually enters the ring to distract Cena. Ryder rolls Cena up on the distraction but only gets two. Ryder hits a nice Kill Switch and gets two. Broski Boot also gets two. Rough Ryder by Ryder gets two. THE CAST OF ENTOURAGE is going insane. Ryder misses the 450 Splash. Cena hits the AA and retains at 4:06 as the announcers praise Zack Ryder for jobbing in THIS HISTORIC ARENA. They even declare Ryder and Cena “friends” despite the fact that Cena let Kane eat Ryder alive and practically fucked Ryder’s girlfriend after Kane slaughtered him week after week.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: John Cena via AA
RATING: **. Quick match and far better than expected — but that isn’t saying much. It’s painfully obvious Ryder doesn’t have much to challenge Cena with and this felt more like a glorified squash than a real “championship match”.
Cena gives Ryder the rub and THE CAST OF ENTOURAGE joins in the celebration. They leave the ring — right as Owens gets in the ring to jump Cena and hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb. He steps on the U.S. Title again and raises the NXT Title.
Backstage, Steph praises Kevin Owens. HHH agrees. Rollins says that Owens is awesome — but he’s still the present and future of the WWE. Renee Young shows up (OUT OF NOWHERE!) and shoves a mic in Steph’s face to ask about Ambrose, which is weird since I was able to hear Steph talking without the mic five seconds ago. She says that it’s unlikely Ambrose will ever come back tonight. Rollins tells Renee that this is all Ambrose’s fault and brought this on himself.
EARLIER TONIGHT: Ambrose was arrested. Not that I’m an editor or anything…but shouldn’t this have been shown before the HHH/Steph/Rollins segment?
The Bella Twins are here — and they’re on commentary so, yes, tonight can get worse.
ON SMACKDOWN: Ryback takes on Rusev.
LAST MONDAY: Tamina and Naomi jumped Paige.
AT ELIMINATION CHAMBER: Nikki Bella faces Naomi and Paige for the WWE Divas Title.
MATCH #7: Paige vs. Tamina
Paige slaps Tamina, then kicks her in the stomach and hits some quick knees until Tamina sends her outside. Once back in the ring, Tamina puts Paige in a chinlock, then tosses her to the mat. Another chinlock and Paige fights out. Tamina fights back with punches of her own but Paige kicks her in the face. Quick roll-up from Paige gets two as Tamina nearly runs over Naomi on an Irish Whip. Paige hits a dropkick and Superkick and Tamina bails from the ring. Paige hits a flipping splash to Tamina and rolls her back in the ring. Tamina attacks Paige as she re-enters the ring but the ref pulls her off. Naomi distracts Paige and then slaps her which the ref should have seen as he was practically facing that direction, but whatever. Tamina hits the Samoan Drop to beat Paige at 3:36. Tamina. Who isn’t even IN the EC Match. Beat Paige. Who is in the match.
WINNER: Tamina via Samoan Drop
RATING: 1/2 a *, if that. Nothing here. And I owe Phrederic an apology…Tamina sucks. And it was just made ten times worse with Nikki and Brie doing the “LIKE OMG” bit on commentary. And it was made even worse than that with Paige jobbing to Tamina fucking Snuka. I don’t care if it wasn’t clean. Even with interference, that’s just fucking low.
Post-match, Nikki holds up the Divas Title as Naomi jaws at her.
We get a look at The Rock getting his feet and hands put into cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Cole talks up “San Andreas” even though it’s a critical flop.
The New Day enters the ring and starts yacking about injustice and how they’re being cheated. Big E mocks THIS HISTORIC ARENA and the Islanders. New. Day Sucks over and over until Kane shows up, because reasons, and says that “fair” is their match at EC, unlike tonight when they pretty much face every single stable. Also, Kane isn’t wearing a shirt, meaning that he’s been walking around for the past three hours backstage, shirtless. What, is he farming corn back there?
MATCH #8: WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Xavier Woods, Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/ Natalya), The Primetime Players (Titus O’Neil & Damien Young), Los Matadores (Diego & Fernando) (w/ El Torito), The Ascension (Viktor & Konnor) and Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) in a 10-on-3 Handicap Tag Team Match (non-title)
We join the match after a break. Xavier has Kalisto in a Cobra Clutch but Kalisto breaks only for Woods to knock him to the mat. Woods taunts everyone on the other side of the ring and, fuck it. This match is over because everyone decided to wrestle a whole lot and all at once. Mark it at 0:51, if you care.
WINNERS: The New Day, presumably by DQ
RATING: DUD. WTF was the point of this? Why was Kane even punishing The New Day? Aren’t they all heels? And why did everyone beat the hell out of everyone but The New Day if they were all there to punish them?
Post-match, everyone hits a spot until it’s a giant pile of muscles and tights on the floor outside. Lucha Dragons get on the top rope for a high spot, killing everyone below. The New Day avoids this and gets in the ring to celebrate…whatever that was as they’re announced the “winners” by DQ. Then Kidd comes into the ring with Cesaro. Dropkick off the Spin and, mercifully, this ends.
Cole plugs Daniel Bryan’s new YES YES YES special.
ON THE ELIMINATION CHAMBER KICK-OFF SHOW: MizTV hosts Daniel Bryan.
EARLIER TONIGHT: Ambrose attacked J&J Security, accidentally hit a camera guy that got in the way and was arrested for it.
ALSO: Surprise! Seth Rollins was the dude who shoved the camera guy because an alternate video stream of the incident was caught by WWE’s own YouTube channel. What is this, Poirot?
Triple H, Steph, Seth Rollins, J&J, and Kane walk to the ring to give us the other moldy piece of bread for this shit sandwich. Rollins says that what happened on the Sherlock App doesn’t matter because Ambrose is a lunatic. Steph says that RAW is a show they “work hard to produce” which is ironic, considering tonight. Steph says that the cameraman is “a father with triplets”, then says that they can’t “talk about Ambrose because there’s an ongoing investigation” even though we just saw Rollins shove the father with triplets into Ambrose. I just can’t…oh, then, Reigns shows up and he goes right after every member of The Authority until THENUMBERSGAME. It’s a mudhole stomp until Reigns throws Rollins and J&J away from him like he’s Vigo in Ghostbusters II. For some reason, they taunt him with the contract which they brought to the ring despite not needing it.
Then, a police van shows up backstage and it’s Ambrose driving the thing with a police jacket and nightstick. Cole speculates that “Ambrose was cleared of the charges after the YouTube video surfaced” because that’s how the law works. One could ask how Ambrose got a hold of a police truck, but I gave up on this episode about a year ago. Or, so it feels like it’s been a year. Anyhow, Ambrose gets in the ring and beats Kane senseless, then goes after Rollins but loses the nightstick. Rollins grabs it but Reigns takes it back. Ambrose and Reigns take Rollins out of the ring. Kane gets back in to help out, beating on Reigns while J&J try to ambush Ambrose. Reigns fights Kane off and hits a Spear on J&J. Kane tosses Reigns from the ring but Reigns does a stupid Ambrose-style “Rebound” and comes back with a Superman Punch to Kane.
HHH, Steph and Rollins are at the top of the ramp, looking unhappy. Ambrose finds the contract and signs it and we end the show with Ambrose and Reigns standing tall.
OVERALL: Holy shit, this was a mess. Not a total loss but, compared to the last few eps, this was like watching Smackdown and Main Event back to back. It was full of generic lazily-booked matches and a terrible, nonsensical sub-plot. Let me get this straight: the main event at EC was already booked — but only “verbally”, so HHH comes up with a scheme where Ambrose has to “sign a contract if he can get to it” instead of…oh, I dunno, JUST NIXING THE MATCH ALTOGETHER? Lana and Rusev were the only interesting thing on this show and even that’s dying a slow death.
Before we go…the Best of Internet Water Cooler regarding Monday’s show: