So, it's the last Raw before Battleground on Sunday, so I came into the show expecting a hard sell for the show, with very little in the way of development of storyline, just setting everything in place for Sunday. It was also the final hours of the free preview for the WWE Network so I expected we'd get plenty of plugs for that as well. That was about it heading into the show. Let's see how it went down.
The show kicked off with everyone favourite Doctor, JOHN CENA plugging Battleground and the Network heavily. It felt really quite awkward when Cena was plugging the Network in the opening segment, I like my advertisment a little more subtle, but I guess that if that's what WWE needs to do to make the Network a success then I'll let them get away with it. He also reminded us of how a Fatal Fourway works. Cheer John, I love having my intelligence insulted.
Cena was quickly interupted by one of his opponents on Sunday, ROMAN REIGNS. I thought the confrontation between the two was well done and it felt like the two had chemistry on the mic. Cena delivering the line "We'll see if you're as good as you think you are" was a nice moment, and Reigns sending it back at Cena made Reigns feel like he belongs in WWE's main event scene. I was especially happy to see Cena stay serious throughout, as it helped to make Reigns feel like a serious threat to the title.
The pair were then interupted by DEAN AMBROSE, for some curious reason, appearing on the titan tron. Ambrose is just electric to watch. When he talks, I stop looking at Twitter and focus entirely on him. This was no different, as he proposed a plan to take out THE AUTHORITY tonight. Unfortunately for Ambrose this wouldn't come into effect as he was ambushed by The Authority's RANDY ORTON, KANE and SETH ROLLINS, who beat him to a pulp, finishing him off with a Curb Stomp from Rollins onto a box of some description. This felt really really awkward to me, as whilst the attack was vicious and looked impressive on screen, Cena and Reigns just stood their watching. Had they forgotten how to get backstage?
Following a replay of the opening segment, we got our first match of the evening and it involved THE MIZ! Yay!
Match 1 - The Miz vs Sheamus
Before this one got underway, we heard from both men. Sheamus' invision promo focused on how Miz didn't like getting hit in the face. The Miz's focused on how he would have to avoid the Brogue Kick. The story for this match seemed obvious following those words. Just for good measure they stuck The Miz's mug on the tron for the entire match, which must have been frustrating for those sitting in the cheap seats.
They didn't miss much though. The Miz attempted to work the leg, which was sound psychology seeing as Miz uses the Figure Four Leglock as a finish, and it would also prevent Sheamus from hitting the Brogue Kick, of course, no one on commentary picked this up. The problem was that Miz wasn't focused enough on the leg and Sheamus didn't seem arsed about selling it. The crowd was completely dead and after a few near falls for each man (Miz with DDT and Sheamus with the Irish Curse Backbreaker), Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick in the corner and Miz scored the victory with a school boy roll up.
It wasn't particularly a bad match, it was just a bit meh. I wasn't given a reason to care about either man and both seem to be floating around doing nothing at the moment.
In one of many backstage segments on this show, there was tension teased between Randy Orton and Kane. This makes a lot of sense heading into the Fatal Fourway on Sunday, as it creates a bit more intrigue into what is going to happen, rather than the clear cut match that many had been anticipating. TRIPLE H calmed them down and as soon as Orton and Kane had left, STEPHANIE MCMAHON turned up and snogged the face off of The Game. Marvellous.
Match 2 - DOLPH ZIGGLER vs FANDANGO
There really was nothing too this match. The only real moment of notice was a double clothesline. As soon as they'd hit the spot, SUMMER RAE and LAYLA turned up and started dancing on the announce table, while JERRY LAWLER tried not to have a heart attack. I have no idea what's going on here, something of note must have happened on Smackdown (for a change). Ziggler used the distraction to hit a Rocker Dropper and get the win. He then left with the ladies, looking a bit like a goof, a world apart from the Show-Off character we used to see.
DAMIEN SANDOW and ADAM ROSE then attempted to get me to buy some fast food, which isn't available over here. Complete waste of time for me, but I suppose WWE needs that sponsor money at the moment.
Back in the arena, LUKE HARPER and ERICK ROWAN attacked THE USOS from behind. Harper sent one of them over the barricade with a big boot and the other was taken out with Harper and Rowan's new finisher thing. I guess this was all they could do to keep the feud ticking over one more week, after mining this well to death of the last six months.
It was then time to hear from LANA and her RUSEV, opposite ZEB COLTER and JACK SWAGGER. The crowd was so into this storyline, and the reactions to some of the political verbage was great to hear. The promos from Colter and Lana were good, if not a little repititve from Lana (but I guess that was the point). Unfortunately I'm just not into this feud at all, as a Brit I have no real reason to care. If there tussle to close the segment is anything to go by Swagger and Rusev will put on a decent match on Sunday though.
After another replay of the opening segment, it was backstage to tease more tension between Cena and Reigns. Cena spoke very very quickly for some reason, like he desperately had somewhere to be. Reigns delivery came off nicely by comparison and built up nicely for the main event.
Match 3 - ROB VAN DAM vs ALBERTO DEL RIO
These men have faced off a number of times in the past and with the exception of the Hardcore Match they had at last years Battleground, all of those matches have been poor. This was no different, the two just don't seem to have any chemistry when in the ring together. There were a lot of rest holds from Del Rio, which really aren't needed when the matches is only going for four minutes, surely? The finishing sequence wasn't awful, with Del Rio blocking a Five Star Frog Splash and locking in the Cross Armbreaker for the Submission victory. Neither man has much hope in the Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal on Sunday.
They continued to plug the WWE Network, with commercials for Main Event on Tuesday night and the airing of CM Punk - Best in the World documentary on Sunday night.
Match 4 - NIKKI BELLA vs ALICIA FOX and CAMERON
Stephanie made this bout a handicap match because BRIE BELLA had been fired a few months ago. I'm sure they've used this twice before? I had no real interest in what was going, as it was obvious how the match would go. We seem to heading towards Stephanie vs Brie for SummerSlam which I'm sure all the purists can't wait for.
The first promo aired for WWE 2K15, revealing that STING would indeed be available as a Pre-Order bonus for the game. The production of the video was fantastic, Sting looked like an absolute star, and even the use of some old WCW footage was a very nice touch.
There was more backstage segments as Orton visited Triple H again. At this point I was beginning to get tired of these segments, and there were still a lot more to come. It was clear what they were trying to do, but they could have left two or three of these out and used them on Smackdown instead.
Match 5 - CESARO vs BIG E with KOFI KINGSTON
Conspicuous by his absence was Cesaro's manager PAUL HEYMAN, who according to the commentary team had been fired. It was a strange moment as social media looked on puzzled.
The match itself was probably my favourite of the night as these two powerhouse went out there with some big offence. Power vs Power doesn't always work very well, but I enjoyed seeing Cesaro hitting a Tiger Bomb and a release Belly to Belly from Big E. For less than five minutes of action, this had a lot to offer. The new development with Cesaro losing his temper, with Kofi Kingston having to save his buddy from a chair shot, and allowing Big E to hit the Big Ending for the victory. I'm interested to see where this is going for Cesaro, I know many are frustrated that he isn't doing better, but I think it's a matter of having patience and waiting for the right time to let Cesaro go at the main event scene full time, remember they did something similar with The Shield this time last year.
CHRIS JERICHO's feud with BRAY WYATT continued with both men cutting blistering promos on each other. Jericho ran through a number of past WWE talents before saying he'd never seen anything like Wyatt, before Wyatt went for a similar route as last week. "Where were you when we needed you, Chris?" Riffing nicely off of Jericho's Save_US_Y2J promos from his 2009 return. Harper and Rowan then turned up to attack Jericho, who swifly escaped, only to be ambushed by Wyatt and take a Sister Abigail on the entrance way. Despite the boring chants from a small section of fans, this was anything but boring, I am very much looking forward to Wyatt v Jericho on Sunday.
Match 6 - AJ LEE vs EVA MARIE
Rejoice! Eva Marie is on Raw in a singles match! It's exactly what we've always wanted. Luckily this only went two minutes and AJ had enough about her to lead Eva through the match, before picking up the victory with the Black Widow. PAIGE on commentary was an absolute revelation, nailing every comment and both adding to the match and building to her title match with AJ at Battleground.
Following the bout, AJ and Paige had a small confrontation at the announce desk. The presentation felt fresh and the two characters clearly fit together very well. Paige's characterisation feels a lot more natural than the lucky rookie role she was playing previously. I would imagine this feud will be sent into the next gear after Battleground heading toward SummerSlam.
Shockingly, it was backstage again to Triple H's office, as this time he was visited by Kane. Obviously, Triple H told Kane a completely different story to the one that he told Orton earlier in the night. If these were getting repetitive before, I was almost falling asleep at them now.
Match 7 - BO DALLAS vs THE GREAT KHALI
I am loving Bo Dallas at the moment, he's hitting the right notes with his character and promo work and entertaining me for every second he is on the screen. His post-match promo actually made me pop when Khali made his entrance.
This was potentially Khali's best match in years and it only last two minutes. That's because he made Dallas look like star, with some excellent booking helping as well, as Dallas hit a Bo-Dog on the outside to gain the countout victory. I'm not sure why Khali had to get his revenge at the end with a Chop to the head, but I imagine it's to allow the two to have a rematch either on Smackdown or next week's Raw.
After plugging The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro on the Network, it was time for another backstage segment with The Authority. This time it was Rollins visting Triple H, reminding The Game that he had the Money in the Bank briefcase and that could always be Plan B at the PPV. I liked that they were adding more storylines into the Fatal Fourway as I think it's still fairly obvious who is heading out as the Champion so the more red herrings they can throw into the mix the better. PAUL HEYMAN then made an appearance to offer a Plan C to Triple H, I imagine this will be revealed a Cena's rumoured opponent at SummerSlam BROCK LESNAR the night after Battleground.
It was revealed that rapper Flo Rida will be appearing on next week's episode. The crowd went mild. Unless he get's a follow up segment with Heath Slater I'm really not interested.
Before the main event, RIC FLAIR was interviewed by RENEE YOUNG about the upcoming Battleground main event. Flair seemed more interested in Young than talking about the match, eventually giving his endorsement to John Cena. After shaking hands with Reigns and Cena, that was it from Flair. Whilst Flair's appearance was fairly unimportant, he is still entertaining as hell to watch, so he can keep turning up whenever he wants.
MAIN EVENT - ROMAN REIGNS & JOHN CENA vs THE AUTHORITY (ORTON/KANE/ROLLINS)
A decent television main event, that set up nicely for the main event of the Battleground PPV. Reigns and Cena both took turns taking a beat from The Authority, allowing both to get in a flurry of offence following hot tags. The action wasn't particularly thrilling but neither was it sloppy, with Rollins in particular looking smooth in the ring as he attempted a three Amigos to Cena. The finish was perhaps the most disapointing part of the bout, as in the mist of Reigns comeback, Rollins seemed to injure his knee as he took a fall to the outside of the ring, this seemed to result in the rest of the show being called on the fly with a little help from referee Charles Robinson and his magic earpiece. The match ended in DQ when Kane and Orton refused to stop beating on Reigns. I seemed stange that Ambrose didn't make a reappearance to make the save here and maybe he was scheduled to do so, who knows?
The action after the match seemed to be completely unplanned, with Kane crashing into Orton, before Reigns accidentally speared Cena, Orton then hit an RKO on Kane. With Orton celebrating in the corner, he ended up taking a Reigns Spear after turning round to close the show, with Cena looking on with his best discomfort face on. If this was indeed not the planned end to the show, all four men should be commended on creating something that was not only fun to watch but also worked towards the PPV on Sunday.
As a show, this was sort of, just alright. There wasn't anything that was particularly mind-blowing or spectular, but there was nothing that was offensively bad either. I feel, it did it's job as the go-home show emphasing the big matches on the PPV and giving the viewer a reason to tune in on Sunday. However at times there was too heavy a push on both the main event Fourway and the Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal, and whilst WWE did need to push there matches, I ended up getting tired of hearing about both because of the over exposure they were recieving.