Friday, 6 June 2014

WWE Raw 2nd June 2014 Review - The Shield No More

It's been quite a while since we've had a Raw review up on Across The Pond, and what a one to return on! Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more content popping up over the next few months, I've got a few things planned that should keep you all coming back here for more. Keep checking back to site and remember to follow us on Twitter @ATPWrestling and like us on Facebook.

It's the Raw after Payback, where we saw The Shield topple Evolution in a No Holds Barred Elimination clash, John Cena end up the Last Man Standing against Bray Wyatt and Brie Bella quit her job to allow Daniel Bryan to hold onto the World Heavyweight Championship for a bit longer, so it's gonna be a good one, right?

Batista Quits and Rollins goes Rogue




The 1097th episode of WWE Raw kicked off with Big Dave Batista "quitting" Evolution and the WWE. Essentially, Triple H wanted to keep fighting The Shield, but Batista was tired of getting his arse kicked, so felt he deserved a World Heavyweight title bout for reasons unknown, Triple H said no, so Batista pissed right off. It was an intriguing start to proceedings, with Triple H continuing to produce some sound mic work, whilst Randy Orton stood around not wearing any trousers. Obviously, Batista is off to shill Guardians of the Galaxy for a few months, when he'll be back I do not know, and how WWE will bring him back after having him job left right and centre during his last run, I don't think anyone knows. 

Randy Orton's trouserless antics continued as he was interviewed by Renee Young (supposedly still without shoes), in the backstage area. Orton actually spoke, revealing he was on the same page as Triple H and would prove so by battling Roman Reigns later on in the evening. The announcement got a decent pop, which is all you could really want from this segment. 

Before the bout could get underway, The Shield hit the microphone each delivering short promos about the previous night. Titty Master hit all the right notes with his, oozing cool, it's difficult to look at anything else whilst Ambrose is on screen. Seth Rollins delivered a nuanced performance, which when watched in hindsight delivers more than few hints as to what's to come, including a curious little laugh. Roman Reigns worked nicely as the exclamation point on the promo, calling out Orton and getting the crowd hyped for the main event. 



Of course, it was a main event that would never happen, as after Triple H proclaimed there was always a plan B, before Seth Rollins twatted Reigns with a steel chair, as Ambrose looked on doing his best impression of Shocked Undertaker Guy. Rollins and Orton then took out The Shield with Rollins hitting Ambrose with a Curb Stomp on the chair, whilst Orton hit an RKO on Reigns also onto the chair. With the show close with Rollins standing alongside Triple H and Randy Orton it was clear that a major Raw moment, it's a shame the crowd decided not to supply any heat, as there wasn't much more WWE could have done here. Personally, I think it was the right time to break up The Shield as there wasn't much more for the group to do at this time, I will however reserve judgment on the Rollins and Evolution partnership until it get's explained a little more. 

The Usos take on Harper & Rowan in Tag Team Action

The biggest bout that did get to take place this week was a tag team contest between Tag Champions The Usos and The Wyatt Family's Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. This was following on from the two teams involvment in John Cena and Bray Wyatt's Last Man Standing bout at Payback, with all four men putting on sterling performances in that bout. Both side got to speak before the match, with Luke Harper cutting a mysterious and captivating promo in the Wyatt Family's usual setting, this time without Bray Wyatt. It was certainly the right decision to keep Wyatt off the show to sell his injuries from the previous night, just a shame that they advertised him for Smackdown later on in the week. 

The Usos got their chance to talk when interviewed by Byron Saxton in the locker room. Both did a good job of their promos, building the hype to the match, as well as presenting a few story points for them to use later in the match. Both having been getting a lot more mic time recently alongside John Cena and they seem to be coming into their own with that aspect of their game, with the added mic time allowing them to develop their characters as well as make their matches seem more important. 


I thoroughly enjoyed this match, with the teams given enough time to really show us what they can do. The psychology throughout the bout was sound with Harper and Rowan focusing on Jimmy Uso's injured ribs, presented with the obligatory white tape, with Jimmy grabbing the ribs at any relevant opportunity. The Usos early offence was impressive, with their strikes really on-point, it's something I haven't noticed about the team before. The standout moment of the match for me, followed on from a series of dives to the outside, including a Suicide Dive from Harper and sweet cannon ball type thingy from Jimmy (he even sold the ribs after, top man), with Harper lining up Jey for a Discus Clothesline, he walked straight into a Super Kick for a lovely false finish. After a few quick pin attempts, it was Erick Rowan who picked up the victory for his team with a High-Collar Slam. No complaints from me here, The Usos looked competitive enough that they weren't hurt by the loss and it sets up a rematch for the title down the line. All good stuff.

It was fantastic to see tag team wrestling focused on so heavily on Raw, showing how far the division and especially The Usos have come in the last year or so. Both teams looked like stars, with both their promos and the match. I'd imagine we'll see the two teams face off again, hopefully at the Money in the Bank PPV with the titles on the line. 


Stephanie addresses World Heavyweight Title Picture & Cena goes all Hulk Hogan


At the top of the first hour, Stephanie McMahon was out to address the situation regarding the World Heavyweight title, as well as Brie Bella slapping her in the face the previous night. After quickly dismissing Brie, fairly nonchalantly, Steph revealed Daniel Bryan would defend the title against Kane in a Stretcher Match at the Money in the Bank PPV, that's if he's able to compete. If not the title will be vacated and placed on the line in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match instead. It's clear that Bryan's recovery is taking longer than WWE had hoped for, and it would be a real shame if he had to drop the title in such a fashion, especially after having so much momentum heading out of WrestleMania XXX. 

With Stephanie berating the crowd for still chanting "YES!" for Bryan, out came John Cena. Cena looked fresh as a daisy following his Last Man Standing bout the following night, because it would be ridiculous for him to sell it any longer than a few minutes. Cena took to the bat for Bryan, reminiscent of Hulk Hogan's defence of other babyfaces, such as Ultimate Warrior or Bret Hart, during his reign at the top of the WWE. Cena ran down Steph, made jokes about her ample breasts and said Bryan was too scared to vacate the title. I didn't like this at all, firstly it's difficult to not agree with Stephanie about Bryan vacating the title, especially when she mentions the old 30 day defence the rule and secondly it made Bryan look like someone who couldn't fight his own battles. Once again the World Heavyweight Champion was playing second fiddle to Mr. Cena.




For his disobedience, Cena earned himself a match with "The Demon" Kane. Why Cena should've given a shit, considering Kane has never defeated him in their four previous TV bouts. The match was quick over in three minutes, with Kane getting himself disqualified for beating on Cena too long in the corner. Beyond a brief Cena comeback, there really wasn't much to this one. After the bout, Kane attempted to Tombstone Piledrive Cena on the steel steps, only to get pushed into the ringpost and then get twatted with the steps himself. It was another baffling decision to leave the supposed Number One contender lying on the floor, and once again hurt Daniel Bryan after he was unable to fight off a similar attack three weeks ago. Kane smashing up the ringside area didn't rescue the segment either, making the supposed "Demon" look more like a spoilt child. 

I've had some time to think about this whole thing and it certainly feels like WWE are edging their bets when it comes to the WWE title. With Daniel Bryan's recovery time unknown, if they have to vacate the World title, John Cena would have be a front runner to win the belt in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, being a safe pair of hands, whilst they re-evaluate the situation, and with the second biggest PPV of the year not too far away, they'll want a big name to be holding onto the title, rather than risking an unknown entity holding the belt. However, they need to be careful with the way they are presenting Kane, because if Bryan can defend, Kane needs to look like a viable contender, which at the moment he certainly doesn't.

Intercontinental and United States Champions clash in Tag Action



In a rough and tumble tag team bout Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett clashed with United States Champion Sheamus, with their partners being Cesaro and Rob Van Dam respectively. The highlight of this match for me was Cesaro's manager Paul Heyman joining the commentary, it's always a pleasure to listen to Heyman and he actually managed to get the commentary team talking about the match. The bout was decent, with basic tag team psychology and the brawling style of Sheamus once again working well when paired opposite Barrett and Cesaro. The bout was let down whenever Van Dam was in the ring, however, as both his offence and defence looked sloppy throughout. I enjoyed the finish, as the live crowd seemed very into the action, with it setting up two potential championship rematches, whilst also teasing tension between Cesaro and Barrett for a potential bout in the future.

Rob Van Dam got a shot at Barrett's Intercontinental Championship the next night on Main Event (I haven't seen it yet!), which is clearly why he picked up the pin on the champ in this one. I can only imagine Barrett retains, and whilst I'm happy this feud looks to be coming to a close, it has helped Barrett get off to a good start with his title reign. Cesaro and Sheamus seem like their feud has a little more legs, I'd be up for a rematch between the two at Money in the Bank, perhaps with a stipulation, allowing Cesaro to take the title and continue his charge up the WWE ranks. Certainly both the Intercontinental and United States titles have looked more valuable in recent months, hopefully this focus continues.

Cody presents Goldust with Sin Cara-Shaped Albatross




In a strange twist, Cody Rhodes hand-picked a new tag team partner for his brother, for some bizarre reason picking Sin Cara to take on RybAxel. Why Rhodes picked Cara, last seen losing to Bo Dallas on Raw and Smackdown, is anyone's guess. The match did the job it needed to do, keeping it short and developing the story between Goldust and Cody, as of course Sin Cara did the honours for Curtis Axel. RybAxel continue to improve as a tag team, and becoming enjoyable to watch in the ring, it's certainly been my favourite run that either man has had in WWE to date. 

Hopefully, the storyline with Cody and Goldust gains some traction soon, as whilst the slow burn build has been enjoyable, it really is time to kick this one into the next gear. A bout between the two at SummerSlam could be on the cards, with hopefully Rhodes getting a major push heading out of the event, after last year's bout with former tag partner Damien Sandow failed to help either man reach the next level. If this doesn't work for Cody, then it may be his last chance, he has all the talent to become a strong upper midcard guy, being capable as both heel and face, but seems to hit a wall anytime he get's close.

The Exotic Express Rolls On




Adam Rose and his Exotic Express rolled into Raw to face Jack Swagger. Before the bout Zeb Colter got on the mic, and cut a promo essentially calling for the unemployed to be deported or put in prison. This character has literally gone bat shit cray. This match saw a Rookie beat a former World Heavyweight Champion and none of the commentators could be bothered to mention that! For what it's worth this was fun bout and everything inside the ring looked pretty crisp, Adam Rose still isn't quite as over as many had hoped but it's still early days in his WWE run, so I'm still holding on to my metaphorical horses.

Nikki Bella feels the Wrath of McMahon




As punishment for sharing the same DNA as Brie, Stephanie McMahon punished Nikki Bella by placing her in a Handicap Match against FoxSana. This would have been good storyline development, however I couldn't give a flying Fox about Nikki Bella, therefore her taking a beating for a few minutes simply made me want to do anything else. Alicia Fox's character continues to develop nicely and Aksana is still shite. Where was Paige? Shouldn't the Diva's Champion feature in some fashion on the show? Especially after they shot an angle with Cameron following Payback.


Ziggler and Del Rio Have Another Match



In their 16th televised singles match, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio battled for a chance to compete in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Essentially, this was a condensed version of some of their longer matches, Del Rio worked the arm, Ziggler got a comeback with some high spots including a Super X-Factor, before Del Rio locked in the Cross Armbreaker for the win. Both men seemed to be going through the motions and there wasn't really anything new here, so whilst there wasn't anything particularly wrong with it, it failed to hold my attention. Ziggler must've done something pretty bad to piss off WWE managment, as he's clearly over with the audience and could have been an asset in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

Shenanigans (and Midgets)



Los Matadores and 3MB continued their feud, with another bizarre encounter as Diego and Fernando partnered against Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre. Hornswoggle wore a wig, El Torito stole the wig, Hornswoggle fell over as he attempted run away to hide his hideous barnet, El Torito did a funky dance with the wig on. At some point, Los Matadores picked up the win. Ole! 

Big Show punches a chap



An awkward piece of filler, Damien Sandow donned a Basketball jersey and pretended to be Lance Stephenson. Who Lance Stephenson is I have no idea. After getting a pretty decent amount of cheap heat for saying some bad stuff about Indiana, Sandow got knocked out by Big Show, because why not? It's really not been a great time for Show lately, has it? I guess Creative has run out of ideas for the Giant. 

Rusev Earns Gold Star




The push of Rusev continued as this week he earned a gold star from Putin. I have to be honest, this segment did absolutely nothing for me, as absolutely nothing happened! It doesn't make me angry that Rusev is Russian or is Bulgarian or whatever he is, I'm not too fussed that Lana doesn't like America, I'm more fussed about her appalling Russian accent. It did garner a fair amount of heat though, but maybe that says more about America than it does about Rusev

Bo Doubt About It



With a little set up for this one from the following the night, Dallas got some mic time for cheap heat. Essentially an enhancement bout for Dallas, allowing lots of time for the audience to get to know the character and see what he can do in the ring, Kingston also pulled out some nice looking, high flying action during the match. It was a shame that the commentators didn't make a bigger deal of Dallas beating a 4 time Intercontinental Champion in just over four minutes, as that would have made the victory feel more important than Michael Cole's "And Bo Dallas wins again" line. I'm looking forward to seeing the continued development of Dallas over the next year or so, and at the age of only 24 he could be around for some time.

Finally...


In closing, this wasn't the greatest Raw we've seen heading out of a PPV. Whilst Batista leaving and Rollins turning on The Shield book ended the show nicely, and The Usos, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan put on a solid tag team outing, a lot of the show felt like filler. It's clear that WWE has a strong focus on new talent at the moment, as they continue to build the likes of Adam Rose, Rusev and Bo Dallas, so it's a case of having a bit of patience in some cases. Meanwhile, the World Heavyweight title picture needs sorting out as soon as possible, as edging their bets with two possible matches harmed the presentation of the Kane and John Cena segment. I'd like to see a decision made on whether Daniel Bryan will be able to compete sooner rather than later.

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