Thursday, 21 April 2016

TV Review: WWE Monday Night RAW #1195 (Ambrose Asylum with Shane McMahon + Jericho vs. Zayn)

On 18th April 2016, WWE aired the 1195th episode of Monday Night RAW, having taped the show earlier that same day at The O2 in North Greenwich, London, England. With 13 days until Payback 2016, Shane McMahon was a guest on Dean Ambrose's talk show segment The Ambrose Asylum which would eventually lead to Chris Jericho facing off with Sami Zayn, Cesaro and Maryse guested on WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz's talk show segment Miz TV leading to Cesaro teaming with WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day to take on Miz and The League of Nations and Kevin Owens squared off against Dean Ambrose...but was it any good? Let's take a look!

monday night raw #1195 match card

Match 1 - Singles - Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho

Match 2 - WWE Tag Team Championship #1 Contender's Tournament Semi-Final - Big Cass & Enzo Amore vs. The Dudley Boyz: Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley

Match 3 - Singles - Fandango vs. Baron Corbin

Match 4 - Eight Man Tag Team - WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz & The League of Nations: Rusev, Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio with Maryse vs. Cesaro & The New Day: Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods 

Match 5 - Eight Woman Tag Team - Natalya, Becky Lynch, Paige & Sasha Banks vs. Naomi, Tamina, Summer Rae & WWE Women's Champion Charlotte with Ric Flair 

Match 6 - WWE Tag Team Championship #1 Contender's Tournament Semi-Final - The Vaudevillains: Aiden English & Simon Gotch vs. The Usos: Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso

Match 7 - Singles - Heath Slater with The Social Outcasts: Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel vs. Apollo Crews (If Slater wins then Crews must join the Social Outcasts)

Match 8 - Singles - Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose

owens, zayn and jericho interrupt the ambrose asylum with shane mcmahon, jericho defeats zayn

I get a big kick out of opening segments like this one, for some reason. I think it's because they're the promo equivalent of a spot fest, that keeps the good times coming. Things were helped by the fact that everyone involved is popular and more than capable on the microphone, with a red hot O2 giving the segment the extra drive that it needed. The opening was essentially there to confirm two matches for Payback 2016, as well as make two matches for later in the show, but was padded out nicely by the work of all five men who each bought their different styles to the table and created an entertaining talking segment. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose stood out in particular for me, as Jericho's salty old vet gimmick is coming together nicely, whilst Ambrose used his off beat humour to work as the glue of the whole opening. A weird moment where The Lunatic Fringe pointed out James Corden's parents in the audience was probably the only thing that let this down, as it showed just how desperate WWE is to have anyone remotely notable in the front row of it's shows.

Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn could have a good match with their eyes closed and their hands tied behind their backs, if that was what they so wished. That's exactly what this was a good TV match with Jericho and Zayn running through a series of nice sequences and creating a solid narrative that meant there wasn't a dull moment to be had. It was very well put together, to get the most out of the twelve allocated minutes. The two characters slotted together nicely and this propelled the narrative of the bout, with the more experienced Jericho making sure that Zayn couldn't hit a lot of his high-flying offence, only for Zayn to be able to pull something else out of his sleeve. Y2J moving out of the way of a potential outside dive from Zayn, only for The Underdog from the Underground to nail Jericho with a Tornado DDT after soaring through the turnbuckle.

Another defeat for Sami Zayn on television leaves him without a singles win since his 18th March victory over Stardust on Main Event #130. However, the manner of Zayn's defeat probably means that this isn't the end of the world, as Y2J poked him in eye before delivering a Codebreaker for the victory in a satisfying ending. As I said last week regarding Zayn's loss to AJ Styles, I feel that Zayn's popularity actually increases with every loss, he is after all branded as "The Underdog from the Underground", and it really wouldn't work if he was winning left, right and centre. Jericho's character was enhanced by the victory and his cheating ways should continue to increase his heat as he heads into a match with Dean Ambrose in 13 days time. 

fast-forward...Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows interrupt an interview with AJ Styles, oooh Bullet Club friends...

amore and cass defeat dudley boyz to advance to the final of the wwe tag team championship number one contender's tournament 

A fairly simple, but non the less captivating slice of tag team action here, as Enzo Amore & Big Cass won their first match on Monday Night RAW and advance in the WWE Tag Team Championship Tournament. The high-energy duo had the crowd rocking with a charismatic promo, before both put in a strong performances, opposite the veteran tandem. It wasn't particularly flashy and stuck to the basic tag team format that pretty much everyone knows, with Amore playing the Certified G in peril, before Cass was able to make a wonderful comeback. Cass and Amore's big man, small man act works very well on WWE's main show, perhaps more so than I'd imagined it would and the commentary made a point of bringing up the dynamic of the team. Bubba Ray and D-Von allowed their opponents to look great throughout, and when Amore pinned Bubba Ray following some heel miscommunication and a Rocket Launcher, the new kids on the block seemed like genuine stars. 

reigns and styles meet face to face, gallows and anderson attack reigns

A very interesting segment here for sure, as WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns cut his most heely promo to date in front of a fairly hostile North Greenwich audience. After repeating his "I'm not a good guy" speech for the third week in a row, Reigns addressed his match with AJ Styles at Payback 2016 and threatened to hit anyone who got in the way of victory. Reigns character has been getting closer and closer to the sweet spot over the last few weeks and keeping his television time fairly limited (the entire segment went just over 8 minutes) took away the "forced down our throats" element that many fans like to bring up and has meant that his appearance have begun to feel special. Styles was on form also and had some nice back and forth on the microphone after interrupting Reigns that managed to push their bout on 1st May, but of course, that wasn't it. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows jumped Reigns and left him laying, whilst Styles walked away, adding an extra layer to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship bout and leaving things wide open heading into Monday Night RAW #1196 next week.

fast-forward...Styles tells Reigns he didn't have anything to do with the attack...Baron Corbin destroys Fandango and takes out Dolph Ziggler who was on commentary, more banter for The Big Breakfast...

miz tv with cesaro, cesaro & new day defeat miz & the l.o.n.

The Miz and Maryse's act at the moment is spot on, they easily get on the crowds tits and that's exactly what they are supposed to do. Miz bringing up a picture of Prince George on the big screen was a little bit corny and perhaps a misunderstanding on WWE's part of how attached a lot of Britons are to the Royal Family, but the WWE Intercontinental Champion did come across as a massive jebbend when he began insulting a small child. Cesaro's suit game was strong as he interrupted The A-Lister and things got heated between the pair. Miz quoted Taken which got "boring" chants, before Cesaro put the exclamation mark on things by quoting Roddy Piper and claiming he was all out of bubblegum. After a few teased match-ups, we'd eventually get a Eight Man Tag bout, introduced by Cesaro ripping away his suit to reveal The New Day as his partners.

A lively eight man tag bout, that kept the action coming and continued to have the London crowd on board. Another straight-forward structure here, but one that was done well with all eight participants in the match working hard to put on an entertaining contest. The initial face-shine made the most of the exciting offence that the New Day and Cesaro could come up with as a unit, whilst Xavier Woods worked particularly well in the face in peril role with some strong selling as he took an extended beatdown from the heel side. The closing stretch of the contest was thrilling spot-fest with Big E in particular standing out as he managing to hit a Belly to Booty suplex on Alberto Del Rio, before evading the Miz's Skull Crushing Finale attempt to hit a Big Ending. The excitement came to a head when Cesaro transitioned beautifully into a Neutraliser to get the win for his team by pinning Sheamus. A fun match, that gave Cesaro some momentum heading into his Intercontinental Championship match at Payback 2016, although it was pretty much a case of treading water for everyone else.

fast-forward...Mauro Ranallo interviews WWE Women's Champion Charlotte and Ric Flair, Natalya interrupts and reveals that she a rematch at Payback and says she'll have Bret Hart in her corner...

natalya, lynch, paige and banks defeat naomi, tamina, rae and charlotte

Who booked two eight person tag team matches right next to one another? I was genuinely surprised that the O2 didn't turn on this one, as it was a real piece of filler, that never felt like it truly got going. The only storyline that was involved was Natalya and Charlotte's family feud thingy and whilst the other women have had numerous ins and outs with each other before it didn't feel like this was even thought about being explored and left things feeling just a little bit flat for me. Natalya locking the Sharpshooter on Charlotte and making her tap out for the second week in a row, strengthened her position as Number One Contender, but beyond this I can't help thinking that the time could have been better spent. Allowing two women to shine bright would have been a much better option than having eight of them get lost in the mix.

fast-forward...Recap of Gallows and Anderson attacking Reigns and Styles and Reigns backstage confrontation...

the vaudevillains defeat the usos to advance to the final of the wwe tag team championship number one contender's tournament

Considering this clash went under four minutes, I thought the Vaudevillains and The Usos managed to create an quality tag bout, that crammed a lot into the time. The finishing sequence especially was done well and showcased Aiden English and Simon Gotch, while also protecting the Usos. The story played out with Jey Uso diving to the outside onto Gotch, and then grasping his taped up shoulder in pain, with English taking advantage and sending Uso into the ringpost before a Whirling Dervish gave the Vaudevillains a victory on their Monday Night RAW debut. Having Big Cass and Enzo Amore and The Vaudevillains go over The Dudley Boyz and The Usos on the same show, sent out a big message about WWE's plans for the tag team division over the coming months, with the division looking the healthiest it has done for a very long time. 

crews defeats slater

It was nice to see Apollo Crews involved in a little bit of storyline this week, as he picked up his eight TV win in a row. It wasn't exactly the biggest chunk of story and featured a stipulation that seemingly came out of nowhere, but none the less it gave Crews' weekly squash just a little bit extra. Basically, had Crews suffered his first loss since early February to Heath Slater he would have been forced to join The Social Outcasts, after the stiplation was made on the RAW Pre-Show. Two moments from the contest made this one stand out from Crews' previous matches on Monday Night RAW, the first being a beautiful moonsault off the apron onto Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel and the second being a decent near fall for Slater as he rolled through on a Crews crossbody for a two count. The Spin-Out powerbomb would get the win for Crews. 

ambrose defeats owens, jericho lays out ambrose

The seventh televised bout between Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose since November closed the show, with the pair stringing together a decent television contest. Similar to Zayn and Jericho earlier, these two are always going to deliver some very watchable action and that's exactly what this was, even if it lacked a little bit of substance that you'd really want from the final match on the show. Perhaps that's why the crowd began to chant for commentator John "Bradshaw" Layfield at one point during the match? All in all, this was a good wrestling match, that suffered from an over familiarity and a lack of purpose. Very easy to watch, but almost completely missable at the same time. 

The finish was perhaps the freshest part of the bout, as Ambrose dodged an Owens cannonball attempt, and used a school boy roll up to get Owens in position for a Dirty Deeds that would give The Lunatic Fringe a clean victory in his first match on Monday Night RAW since WrestleMania 32. Ambrose is still undefeated against Owens in WWE, with five clear victories over his rival. The show would close with Chris Jericho attacking Ambrose and nailing him with a Codebreaker as their feud became even more physical. With both picking victories up on this show, their rivalry has been elevated above that of Owens and Sami Zayn, as WWE sets the pair up for what should be a must-see clash at Payback 2016.

atpw scale rating - 5.54/10

Perhaps a slight step down in quality from the two weeks that proceeded it, but this week's Monday Night RAW was still a watchable slice of wrestling television pretty much throughout it's three hour running time. A hyped crowd drove things along from the exciting opening segment, with the three marquee bouts all providing something different. Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn flowed through a well-crafted, if a little brief main event, the eight man tag was a thrilling clash that showcase both sides well and Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens closed the show by adding another chapter to their storied rivalry. The undercard was highlighted by Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows attacking Roman Reigns following a solid segment with AJ Styles, whilst both WWE Tag Team Championship #1 Contender's matches managed to set up the winners nicely for a fresh clash in 13 days time. The show was let down by a pointless eight woman tag clash and a lack of urgency at times, but WWE is still in fine shape for the most part as they head to their next milestone event on 1st May.

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